Saturday, December 10, 2016

On the end of Parasta Ennen!

Ever since the first time I saw the A*Teens music video for "Mama Mia" on Nickelodeon, some time in 1999, I have been fascinated by eurodance and pop music in Europe,

I know how ridiculous that might sound, but it's the truth. I spent hundreds of dollars of my parents money importing CDs, singles, and posters of my favorite European artists, since very little of it was available in the US: I would spend hours upon hours on forums and chat rooms, talking to people from Europe about their music and about their lives.  I felt so isolated living in the United States, despite constantly being told at school that we were the "greatest" country and that we had everything.

I did, eventually, find American music that I loved, and ended up devoting a portion of my life to organizing concerts and tours for those bands, but my love for music from the other side of the world never went away. It just wasn't something anyone around me understood, or wanted to understand.  That music gave me hope. It reminded me, through all of the terrible things that happened to me at such a young age, that there was a place where things were better, even if it only existed in my head.

One of the things I was most excited about when I first came to Finland was the idea that I could be at the post office, or a grocery store, and a song that I recognized from that time would come on.  This has happened countless times since I've lived here, yet every time I am just as excited. Last week, for example, at a cafe in Tampere - Westlife's version of "I Have A Dream" came on, and even though the friends I was with were probably embarrassed at how excited I was, I still loved every second of it.

When my boyfriend showed me Parasta Ennen!, a 90s-themed radio show on YleX hosted by Matti Airaksinen, about a year and a half ago, I remember feeling so...understood. Every week, there were songs I remembered, songs I had forgotten about, and songs I'd never heard. I learned so much about Finland and Finnish music, but also about myself. The show gave me a chance to reflect, and in some ways come to terms, with what I'd been through, while still offering some level of escapism.

Parasta Ennen! has also changed my social life. I've met close to 30 people through this show, many of whom I now consider close friends, and who I've had terrific experiences with outside of PE-related events. They have made me feel like I'm wanted and accepted, which is a feeling I so rarely get to feel.

The show also gave me a sense of security during a very uncertain time. In January of 2015, my two-month old daughter had her first eye surgery. The following months would involve more surgeries and sometimes twice-weekly checkups at a hospital three hours away in Helsinki. I began to ask the hospital staff to have Friday afternoon appointments whenever possible, so we'd still be in the car for Parasta Ennen! and the show before it, Disko2000.  I needed the routine. I needed something concrete that I knew would be there. PE became my rock.

Matti Airaksinen also deserves credit, in that not once has he tried to make me feel bad for preferring to participate in the show in English(this does happen sometimes in Finland in other groups), or for my seemingly-nonsensical enthusiasm about certain songs. Matti is an incredible person.

So, while it may be true that I don't love this kind of music the way I did was a child and young teen, and while I'd almost always rather listen to my punk and emo records whenever possible, for two hours a week for the last year and a half, I've been able to feel like I was part of something I'd always dreamed of being a part of.

One day I'll be comfortable writing about the things that happened to me in detail, and maybe then all of this mushy garbage will make sense. Until then, all i can say is thank you, Matti. Thank you so very much.

No comments: