November 12, 2008

November mode

People have different favourite seasons, but at least up here I think everyone agrees that this has to be some sort of extra bonus. When you're battling through sheets of pouring water, sitting in a bus with no clue as to which street you're on, dodging broken umbrellas and drying yourself constantly, there's not much question as to what month it is. Some other side effects of November mode I've experienced this week include: cursing the fact that one of the escalators at the metro station is closed for maintenance DURING RUSH HOUR, standing in pouring rain waiting for the tram in Pasila and not wanting to squeeze myself into the crowd under the roof for fear of getting accused of sexual harassment and wondering whether my filthy windows are about to fly through the walls with the wind howling outside. Oh, and running to a rehearsal with tomato sauce somewhere inside my clothes after a messy accident in the kitchen.

Of course, it's not only the weather which can get you gloomy. Try this: one of your dearest friends falls off her horse and breaks her back. Honestly, November is such an absurd month you have to laugh at yourself. Since everyone is walking around looking like a wet dog anyway, why not join in the fun? Who needs an umbrella when you've got hair? Of course, for choral conductors, the hilarious stress of the imminent Christmas season just adds a bit of spice to the fun. Gulping down some really horrible coffee with Mikko today at the Academy, with Anna angry at us for being such "nicotine addicts", the three of us have a conversation which pretty much sums up what we can expect over the next days. "One week before the concert, every day is a small catastrophe and nothing goes like you want it to", Anna explains. "Then, on the morning of the concert - disaster strikes". There are nods across the table and I shudder at another gulp of coffee.

"But afterwards!", we conclude: "After the concert, you feel so euphoric!". And she's absolutely right. We are studying for a profession which is incredibly much fun, but even the best of jobs can get your frame of mind wobbling. Will all this organising never end? Calendars for next year are already filling up ("I forgot which year it is yesterday", Anna announces). Halls and churches have to be reserved, music organised for the singers, programmes written and sent forward, players and accompanists arranged, songs rearranged, etc. I was supposed to inform my boss at the Adult Educaton Centre what we'll be performing on the 6th of May next year and woke up to the fact I haven't yet planned our coming Christmas concert. But is it really worth to break your head over every single singer who gets a cold at the worst time, or realises he can't come to the most important performance of the year because of a vacation? The answer is no!!

At our conducting lesson today, several of us seemed to have had a telepathic connection overnight, and the Vocal Ensemble got to experience our very own ad hoc "Toivo Kuula festival" (in case you didn't understand, three of us happened to bring along music from the same composer). Usually, when we are sitting at the feedback session, watching ourselves conduct with anything but our hands (my own new speciality: the head-nod.... watch me now, here it comes.. WHOOSH!! Did you see that?? Hit rewind!), we all realise it's actually more fun to observe and comment on anything but the actual music. Edward likes my new jumper, while Ruut is shocked: "what am I wearing??" (the camera tends to distort the colours). Meanwhile, someone praises Florian's new hairdo while others try to restore order. I flip at someone for not pressing the "record" button at the right time and someone tries to explain it's not such a big deal. Today, it's Airi's turn to play our traditional "dash-and-grab" game with the DVD machine, which tends to close up right after opening, leaving us a microsecond to grab our disc back before losing our fingers.

There'll probably be a lot more to laugh about next week, but in the meanwhile: November! You've got to love it :)

November 02, 2008


It's inevitable. One day, it will start raining in my room - and when it does, it won't be pouring water, but half-used Labello sticks. Oh, and tuning forks. My room is ten sq m big, I have twelve drawers and only so many coat pockets. Why is it so easy to lose things? From now on, I'll have to ask at the counter if Labello comes in packages of 100 sticks. If they look at me strangely, I'll say something about stocking up for Armageddon and customers' rights.

It's been a while since the last blog post. After a beautiful September came October with its rainstorms straight from the Flood. The funny thing about our winter light is that, no matter how bright the sky is on a clear day, you'll probably still need to keep your lamps burning. Keeping physically active is probably not such a bad idea, if only to keep your eyes open, and so I have decided to explore the many different sports & fitness possibilities offered by the university.

My first excursion was to a half-hour session recommended for people who haven't done a lot of moving lately, and so I thought this would be something suitable for me. On the contrary, the rather slow and meditative pace of the lesson made me almost fall asleep, and so a few days later I confidently arrived at an Afro dancing lesson. The African beats, rhythms and wild movements soon got me hopping around the hall together with about forty female students, which I didn't think much about until the teacher suggested we shake our boobs with a bit more vigor. Happens what happens, next Friday will see me flapping my hands around with no less enthusiasm.

On the travel front, things have been extremely active. This past month has seen Dea and me queuing over an hour for immigration in Miami, depending on American Airlines for nourishment, taking one of the scariest chair lifts ever, spending quality time with our cousins, uncle and grandmother, crying over the non-existence of a Starbucks in Terminal E and spending the last hours of a 24h trip behind a screaming baby. Meanwhile, Hamsa and Carlos have been flying all over the place - from Iceland to the Ukraine via Finland: Carlos cursing Icelandair for the delay which made him miss a daytime landing in Reykjavik and Hamsa joining the bulging masses at Kiev's metro stations.

After a family reunion, I walked home today with some really exotic gifts from Iceland's Blue Lagoon spa: a bottle of algae & mineral shampoo and a bottle of algae & mineral shower gel. I have to admit I'm extremely curious as to what the effect of a shower with this stuff will be. I see myself confidently walking into my lesson with some very wind-blown hair full of solid minerals raining out of it, seaweed on my neck and volcanic sulfur blowing out of my ears. Suddenly, Hair & Shoulders is just so last season - however, I still have half a bottle to use up before opening my souvenirs.

As for studies and work, it's all the same old fun. However, now it's Sunday evening, and before the clock starts ticking on Monday, there are some more moments to lie down and read, listen to music, have a chat with my new flatmate Julia, and listen to Sarah Palin making a fool of herself. Then, the lights will go off and I'll dip into newly changed sheets.