I recently read that lifetime happiness tends to follow a U-shaped curve – it starts off high in childhood, then takes a downward turn from the age of 25, and picks up again when we retire. It basically implies that once you start working, you lose your sense of happiness until you finish work. Many people (i.e. everyone I talk to) have plans – plans to do something in a few months, or in a year, or a few years from now, or when they retire, but during the past year, all that’s slapped me in the face is death. I went home for ONE MONTH last summer and had to go to TWO funerals. I never even thought I’d be having to go to one funeral, let alone two. And it seems like during the past few years, I’ve been hearing about a lot more death than I’ve heard during my entire life. I lost an aunt AND an uncle last year, both my mom’s siblings. And it scares the crap out of me. It scares me that anything can happen to yourself or to a loved one at any time, that cancer seems to be its own “living” organism – evolving faster than any of us can fight it, that one day you could be making your big plans for next month, or for next year, or for when you’re retired, and the next day it can all be taken away from you. But there’s nothing much we can do about it, except live. I refuse to be part of the statistic in the U-shaped happiness curve, where according to the data, I should now be starting my downward spiral into unhappiness for the next 30 years. I refuse to start making plans for my retirement – plans that I may or may not be able to pursue. Since I’ve returned to London, I’ve reached an ultimate high of happiness. I’ve hardly let my job take over my mood, I’ve been going out and seeing all that I can, and I’ve just been enjoying every day as a new day. I’ve really started becoming more perceptive when it comes to relationships of all kinds – I’ve started looking at how I feel when I’m around different people – where I get positive energy from, who I feel good vibes with, when I get that natural high… With me, I find that it’s very difficult to find people that I just click with and when I finally have that feeling, I hold onto it and I don’t let it go. Good friends are hard to come by, and I’ve become more and more impatient with negative energy and lack of commitment. London has taught me so many life lessons and changed me in a lot of ways, and that’s what I love about the power of travel and living abroad. I’ve often doubted the way I’ve lived – just working to live. I’m not really doing much to improve my resume (except now accepting this new position), I have no 5-year or 10-year plan, I’m not interested in finding anyone to spend my life with at the moment, not interested in starting a family (ugh, children…😉), I’m really just focused on me and my own happiness. I often wonder.. Is there something wrong with me? Am I doing everything wrong? But then I realize that it only feels wrong because society has ingrained the “right” way to do things and the right order to do them in – go to school, get a degree, get a job, find a husband, buy a house, have a family, work for 30+ years, retire – otherwise known as living to work. My conscience literally tells me (and constantly continues to remind me) that I’m doing it wrong, that there’s a deadline to these things, that I’m going to regret missing out. But why? Maybe I’m doing everything right and the rest of the world is doing it wrong… I do know that I won’t look back on my life 20 years from now and think, “Wow, I’m really glad I stayed in that Wednesday night to make that lesson plan and do all of that marking…” I’ll be thinking, “Remember that time I lived in London and spent every week doing something new – going to musicals and rugby games, checking out Christmas markets, and exploring different countries every six weeks?” I’ve done everything right my entire life, I think it’s time to go against the grain and rebel for once…
|Inside one of the Bukovina houses|
cool, with the exception of one house that almost gave me a heart attack when I turned a corner and saw dummies taking part in a funeral, with recordings of crying at a real funeral in the background. The museum was an outdoor museum that was laid out like a Bukovina village, with about 30 different houses and buildings that you could explore. I learned that the groom/bride gown was saved during a person’s life because that’s what they’d be buried in (I guess it would be good incentive to not gain weight after the honeymoon phase of a relationship). I also learned that funerals often took place in the spare room of a house and would take about three days, where people could come pay their respects when they please. I learned that a baby would not be recognized by the community until it was baptized, which my parents recently explained was why I got baptized at such a young age. I saw everything I wanted to see after that first day. Unfortunately for me, I booked three nights there. My original plan was to rent a car and drive into Ukraine to where my uncle thought the town that we originated from may have been. However, it turns out you need an international drivers license to drive in Ukraine, which I didn’t have. Then, I thought I may as well rent a car anyway and then I could explore the famous painted monasteries throughout the area. I booked my car that evening and spent the entire evening mapping out where I should go, only to get an email a few hours later stating they didn’t have automatic cars in Suceava. Lovely.
hours instead of have to try to explain where I’m trying to go, figure out how much it’ll cost, when I need to get off, etc. I got to Vama okay, had a quick breakfast, and went to the Egg Museum, which must have the biggest collection of eggs in the world. The collection comes from countries all over the world, and has different kinds of paintings, carvings, and themes. It was really cool! It was so weird walking through the small town, where pretty much everyone had some type of animal in their backyard. Many had chickens, some had a cow, some had a pig, and most had dogs to watch over everything. Since I didn’t have any wifi or a bus schedule, I went and sat at the bus stop to wait for the next bus, which took about an hour and a half. While I was sitting there, an old man came and kept trying to have a conversation with me in Romanian. He would talk and talk and talk, and then in English he would say, “You understand?” I’d shake my head no, and he’d try again and again. I got off at another small town, where I decided
I’d walk from to get to one of the painted monasteries, so I could at least see one. The Voronet monastery was an hour walk there and back, so it kept me busy for the afternoon. Everything in Romania has a photo tax, so if you want to take pictures at any of the museums, you need to pay the tax. I decided to pay the tax for the monastery and then felt cheated as I stepped inside and saw huge pictures that said “No photography inside the monastery.” It was really gorgeous inside though! I walked the hour back, got to the bus station and found out I had to wait another hour to catch the last bus back to Suceava. I had an early night because I decided I’d take the 6:50 bus the next morning to Brasov (pronounced Bra-shov).
object, which will exit through their neck or head. A GOOD impaling will cause a person to survive like that for two or three days. How pleasant.. Anyway, apparently during this time, people didn’t have to worry about other people stealing their stuff and the crime level was very low, because everyone was scared of the punishment (obviously). Apparently during his lifetime, Vlad the Impaler impaled over 20,000 people! Rumours started that Vlad would drink his victims blood and blablabla, and that’s how the storyline for Dracula was created. However, in real life, Vlad the Impaler had only actually been in “Dracula’s Castle” once, and it was when he was imprisoned there for two days. So it’s more of a tourist trap, but I felt like I had to go, given the Halloween season. After the castle, I went on a walking tour back in Brasov, and then a few of us (two Americans and one German) went out for dinner to a restaurant called La ceaun, where I got to have Romanian
|Yummy cabbage rolls with polenta!!|
cabbage rolls, which were absolutely delicious!
That afternoon, I went on a walking tour, where I got to find out a lot about the history of Romania. It absolutely blew my mind! They’ve really only had independence since 1990, so they’re as old as I am. Before that, they were part of a Communist period. I learned that the people would only get two hours of hot water each week, only four hours of heat each day – 2 in the morning and 2 in the afternoon, and the food was rationed because the president (Ceausescu) decided to use most of it for exports, so there wasn’t enough to go around for the actual country. Obviously, many people had also been killed during this period. In December 1989, Bucharest had a Revolution, which also brought more than 1000 deaths. The president and his wife ended up in custody after trying to escape by helicopter and on Christmas day, the two were put on trial and were convicted for many crimes, and both were executed that day. The trial and the executions were shown live on television throughout Christmas Day, with the message “Merry Christmas Romania, you now have independence!” So insane!
Old Town (from Germany). We decided to go for lunch to a place where we were sat right in front of the grill, so we could watch everything take place. That afternoon, I went to a homemade and antique market and made a few purchases, and then did some last exploring. On Sunday, I made the long trip back to London. On my flight, I was trying to find somewhere to put my luggage and I noticed a spot with just a jacket sitting there. I struggled as I tried moving the jacket to the side so I’d have room for my bag, and the man sitting there let out the biggest sigh ever, as if I was the biggest inconvenience in his life and he stood up. I thought he was going to move the jacket aside so I could put my suitcase up, he instead grabbed it from where I moved it, moved it back in the empty space, and sat back down. I was somewhat stunned, and the man beside me smiled sympathetically as he and the flight attendant once again moved the jacket so I could put my bag there. I had forgotten I was on a plane back to LONDON.. Of course I shouldn’t be expecting kindness. I
ended up getting home quite late, after taking the bus back into London from the airport.
the head of science found out that I had an interview at THAT school, she had nothing bad to say about the school, “But I WILL say this… I’m not trying to convince you not to take the job there and instead take the one here, BUT being at that great of a school might cause you to UNLEARN your behaviour management skills…” Yeah… that’s a big concern… Anyway, my weeknights were also quite busy. On Tuesday, I went to the Close Talker concert for the second time this year! Once again, it was awesome seeing them perform and being able to have conversations with some familiar faces. On Wednesday, Becky, Charlotte and I went to the Bastille concert, which was absolutely amazing! It was probably the best energy I’ve ever felt at a concert, and it was so uplifting. My mood was great for the rest of the week! Thursday, I went to bed quite early since I was exhausted from going out two nights in a row and getting minimal sleep. On Friday, I went out for drinks with another one of the supply teachers from the school and then I went to a BBC radio concert. I expected it to be a classical music concert, but it ended up being some type of weird abstract genre, with random sounds and notes that (to my ear) sounded horrible. I ended up leaving during the intermission, partly because I didn’t want to stay for the rest and partly
because I had an early morning the next day. On Saturday, I went on a bus tour with my former flatmate who was visiting from Italy. We went to Stonehenge, as well as a couple of small towns called Henley-upon-Thames and Avebury. It was SO cold, and I was wearing two sweaters and a winter jacket over my clothes. It was really neat to see Stonehenge though! The trip was from 8am to 7pm so by the time we got back, I was completely worn out. Today, I just did some shopping and cleaning, and I’ve started preparing for the possibility of moving if I end up getting the job at the school this week. I hope everyone’s been doing well, miss you all! Love always