Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Grey hairs from grandma. A self-portrait of sorts.

My maternal gran was a tiny lady. At ten, I was the same height and weight as her - I am five six, and reached that at fourteen. No idea what I was at ten, or my gran all her adult life.

She was a dink, no doubt about that. That Sami look was all over her, the almost-cliché one, with cheekbones out to there, slantish eyes, snubbish nose, dark hair with an un-Finnish strength, almost like horsehair. She came from Eastern Finland, but had traced her father's family to the 1600s, where the tracks disappear into Norwegian Lapland. I am not just an incurable romantic when I call her my Sami gran.

I have her high forehead and strong jaw - a source of much self-loathing when younger - and something similar about the eyes and cheekbones. But alas, not the hair. Mine is the soft fine stuff Finns have. Mostly; as here and there, I have the odd black horsehair strand. Except that now, with the big four-o looming in the Autumn, the black ones have started to go silver (not to say grey), with increasing rapidity. The first ones appeared some five years ago. Initially, I'd pluck them out, or give the job to my long-suffering younger son. Now, I'm not convinced what to do with them. Plucking them out is futile, they grow back silver, there's nothing for it. I could dye my hair of course. But somehow, I almost like them. I am this age, I am this shape, I am who I am. And also, although round about the big four-o, it will be twenty-four years since my gran died, these grey (silver!) hairs are still from her.

A haircut is nevertheless in order. I am too old to have caveman hair for much longer, and besides, I am sick of it. Pageboy cut, here I come. As an added bonus, it'll be easier to backcomb for mad Solange.


The Periodic Englishman said...

Hyvää iltaa, Anna MR, mitä kuuluu? Anteeksi for not being to visit for a while.

Why would a high forehead and strong jaw be a source of self-loathing for you when you were younger?

Anyway, I was really just wanting to know whether turning 40 held ANY fears for you. A couple of my sisters have passed this "landmark" and were most upset to do so. Personally, I can't really see what the fuss is about. What does it matter?

I like this: "I am this age, I am this shape, I am who I am."

Just make sure that you mean it. Too many people get stressed out by pointless stuff, so I hope you can maintain this fine outlook. Still, there seems to be some significance to turning 40 - you called it the big four-o, yourself - and I just cannot for the life of me work out why this should be. It's just another number, surely? A cause for celebration as opposed to regret.

Please post many many many pictures of your new Pageboy haircut (when it happens). Just saying.

My maternal granny was absolutely tiny, too, by the way. Grannies rule, I say. I really miss mine.

Nähdään myöhemmin, esteemed friend.

Oh - and this post? Minä pidän siitä kovasti. (is the minä superfluous in that sentence?)

Anna MR said...

Ah, hooray, Ponipoika rides back. Tervetuloa takaisin matalaan igluuni, hyvä herra.

Minä is superfluous, technically, as the verb always carries the person (a bit like horseback riding, really, speaking Finnish, no wonder it seems to come to you so naturally) but the personal pronoun is often used all the same, it would make your Finnish a bit overly-literary or something if you never used them.

Soooo - now that that's sorted - it wasn't really the forehead, it was the strong jaw (amongst many, many , many other things) that kept me awake at night in my teens. It wasn't pretty-girly, it was way too strong.

Fourty, 40, no, do you know, I was just wondering tonight whether I'd write another one focusing on that very issue, but mayhap I'll just put it here in my reply. My post was going to say something on the lines that it seems to me a bit of an anti-climax, actually - I liked turning 30, I knew I was happier then than at turning 20, and I have a distinct feeling I am happier still, now, when I'm turning 40 (than when I was turning 30, this is getting characteristically convoluted). Although I am absolutely certain I was happier when I was turning 10 than when I was turning 20. So it's not as if this is one of those sickly-wonderful "it's just all getting better and better" things, really.

I do mean what I said about age, shape. And grey hairs inherited from vanishingly-small, long-since-dead grandmothers. Mine was a most unusual, intellectually very gifted lady, sadly Alzheimer's took her mind before I could really know her as a person.

Pageboy cut will be amply displayed once it happens. It is way-long overdue.

Vielä kerran, olipa hauska taas nähdä.

Ai niin, tämä "post" (don't know what that is in Finnish, what sort of a Finn am I?), kiitos, on tosi kiva että pidät siitä.

The Periodic Englishman said...

I think you are probably a very bad sort of a Finn, Ice Maiden. Just a hunch.

Ennen vanhaan, when I used to be Scottish, I could forgive these Finnish lapses of yours. Ei pitkään aikaan my Scottishness passed most emphatically into Finnishness, however, and I now feel well able to instruct and correct you in Igloo-Speak.

The word for "post", in Finnish, is "hevonen". Although many seem to prefer the more slangy version of the word “kiivas”. Oho. Herranen aika - how do you not know this? Ha and ha! I have beaten you most satisfactorily in Finnish. You just need to go to the correct sites on the internet to find this stuff out. Language changes, Helsinki, and you seem to be behind the times in your understanding of your own tongue. Our own tongue, even. God, being Finnish totally rules.

You are right, though, speaking Finnish is a bit like horseback riding, yes. I’ve rarely felt so in control. It all just comes very naturally to me.

Siiiiiis – now that that’s sorted…..

My (maternal) grandmother had Alzheimer’s, too. Absolute and complete, for eight or so very long years. I’m not comfortable talking about that here, though, but we can maybe do so elsewhere.

I like the thought of your granny living on through you – or anyone, I suppose. And never mind the grey hairs, you’ve also inherited from her, it would seem, the happy distinction of being “most unusual” and “intellectually gifted”. Result, Helsinki.

I am writing this way too late. This is your fault, as you know, and I’m very happy to lay the blame at your door this fine evening/(OMFG it’s 3am in the) morning. There is something else, though, before I bugger off to bed.

Don’t let turning 40 feel like an anti-climax, Anna MR. It is an achievement. You’re still here. You’ve negotiated 40 years of life. Take a bow, sweetheart. I’ll hopefully be lucky (and sensible) enough to join you in a couple of years. I fully understand your reluctance to see this as an escalating and sickly sweet exercise in convincing yourself and others that “it’s all just getting better and better”. No-one with an ounce of sense or understanding of life’s sweet pains would buy such a bullshit line.

But you’ve survived forty years of being assailed by all that this ridiculous life thing has to throw at you – good and bad. So how utterly fantastic does that make you? Pretty utterly fantastic – so just you shut your mouth if you’re about to say something, Snow Muncher.

I’m jealous of you. About a year and a bit jealous, in fact. People who are thirty should be ten years jealous, and people who are twenty, twenty. Have you ever noticed how some people seem to be thirty-nine for a suspiciously long time? Years, even. What’s that all about? If I get there, I’ll embrace 40 with relish and wear it as a badge of utmost pride and gratitude. Anyone younger than me, too dumb to feel jealous or too triumphantly youthful altogether, will be viewed with a cool disdain. Could they actually be any more stupid if they tried?

You rule, Anna, for so many reasons that it is hard to know where to start – but 40 of them are staring you straight in the face.

Kind regards etc....

Anna MR said...

Oh, hra Kiivas ja Kiihkeä Poni Ori-Hevonen. You have a remarkable way with words, sir. It becomes blatantly apparent in numerous ways, including how tosi iloinen a Snow Muncher you make this particular Snow Muncher, e.g. with your most esteemed comment above.

I naturally whole-heartedly agree with what you say about utmost pride and gratitude, koko sydämestäni, believe me. The attitude I have always had about my wrinkles (which are not that many, Celtic Horse Finn, not that many, but that high forehead in particular has been creased very early on) I am now applying to my gran's silver strands too: olen ansainnut ne - not in the sense of having deserved them, but in the sense of having earned them. Earned, Clonakilty. It takes some living to get where I am.

Grandmothers - we have the luxury of discussing them at the forum of our choosing. Aren't we the lucky bastards, now, vai mitä mieltä olet?

As always, it has been a delight to have you grace my igloo with your presence. Ensi kertaan, kunnioitettu ystävä.

(PS Instead of "ei pitkään aikaan", in this context use "kauan sitten". Am not correcting your Finnish in public, ymmärräthän, this is most private since nobody else is going to ymmärtää what the poni f**k we are on about anyway.)

The Ice Maiden