Monday, November 30, 2009

Family Life

I love my children dearly. They are my reason for living and are absolutely the best thing that ever happened to me. But some days. Oh Jesus, some days!

The fifteen-year old glowers at me with beady eyes from behind an asymmetrical fringe that is daily ironed into submission. He throws a surly grunt in lieu of response to every question I ask him or a snarled ‘why?’ is the first answer to any request to do something, then a snort and a sneer as he slouches away if I raise my voice or firm the tone to re-enforce the order. His whole being resents me, resents the fact that he is fifteen and I for some peculiar reason think I have any influence over him whatsoever (I don’t by the way, I am merely keeping up the pretence for as long as possible).

Then there is my beloved ‘baby’. Nine going on ninety-nine, definitely on his fourth or fifth pass through of life and at that superior stage. You know, where nobody knows anything but him, nobody understands anything and everyone is against him. My ‘baby’ is long gone and now he will move from irritating pre-pubescence into testosterone fuelled adolescence and hopefully come out reasonably whole on the other side.

I miss my babies. I miss their kisses and cuddles, their sitting on my knee and having me read stories; that helpless childish giggling when we played ‘peep’. The sheer joy in their faces when I woke them from a sleep as they thrashed their legs about in excitement that they were alive, and best of all they were with me. The nine year old still throws the odd hug my way but the fifteen year old rarely touches me. I know he loves me. I hope he loves me. I drive him mad as he does me but the channels of communication are still open and long may that continue. When this teenager meets his father outside of the house, perhaps on the road or down the town they will shoulder each other and grunt - old ram, young ram. It is their expression of affection.

Occasionally, very, very occasionally in excitement or joy the older son will throw his arms about me and hug and I wonder at his strong arms and broad shoulders. Or the younger son will say something still childishly funny and innocent and I will smile. How did I produce these brave and beautiful young men? I only wanted baby boys! I started out to give out about them, my blog today was to be an amusing rant about life as a middle-aged female stranded in a household of males and I’ve gone all soft on them. I can’t help it- my babies!! Always – my babies.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Man's Search For Meaning

Read a great book last week. A powerful, life-changing book.

It's written by a man called Viktor Frankyl and titled ‘Man’s Search for Meaning.’ A slight little book, only about 160 pages. The first half is an account of the time the author spent in Auchwitz during the Second World War. A survivor’s story. I have read many such books, from the poignant, powerful non-surviving Anne Frank, to ‘Sophies Choice’ to Elie Weisel and Fania Fenelon.

But for some reason Viktor Frankyl’s book hit a deeper chord with me than any of these other terrible, wonderful books. I think it is because it is not so much an account of his time in the camps but an account of the philosophy that got him through such terribleness. He survived because he quite simply accepted everything that happened to him. Tried not to baulk and despair. A sort of ‘Que Sera’ attitude, although not quite as trite as that. It’s a wonderful story, a story of the resilience of both the human body and spirit. In it he talks about all the things people thought were not possible before the camps. Things like, under no circumstances could people sleep in the cramped conditions they were forced into, they did. People could not survive on the tiny amounts of food they were given, they did. People couldn’t survive in the bitter cold and under the excessive hard labour they were forced to perform. They did.

Viktor Frankyl is a psychiatrist and after the war he went to America where he practises and teaches. He used his experiences to develop a therapeutic system called logotherapy and the second half of his book is a brief description of this therapy. It is basically the same message all great men have given us since time began. Live in and for the moment. Do not look forward or back. Accept what Life throws at you and try to enjoy where you find yourself in each moment that you live. It is not unlike the ‘Mindfulness’ that Jon Kabaat-Zin advocates, trying to be aware of oneself in each moment that we breathe
Mr Frankyl is an interesting man and his therapy is an interesting premise. A highly recommended read.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Universal Church

I know everyone has written about it and I have nothing different to say but I have to say it anyway. I am sickened to the depths of my being as report after report comes out; uncovering the horror that was (and still is) the Catholic Church in Ireland. Catholic = universal= all-embracing. Run by a narrow-minded group of misogynistic bigots. My poor mother, my poor grandmother. They were not (I hope) abused by any of the pedophiles hiding under the skirts of Mother Church. But these women and their husbands and their generations gave their lives to this institution.They didn't use contraception because of this institution, stayed in bad marriages because of this institution, tried to teach their children this institutions rules while the institution raped their children. How many lives must this institution destroy before it comes tumbling down itself.
Poor Christ.
How did his message, a message of love and peace and brotherhood, a ggod message , a simple way to live life, get distorted into the gray steel knife of depravity that cut through the lives of so many Irish children. And why is it almost exclusively in Ireland, with some emigrants to America that the Church covered up these vile doings.

Forgive them Father, they know not what they do.

But they did know.

They knew, they were educated men, the only educated men in the country, the ones with money, the ones with influence. And our parents, our grandparents, all knelt in supplication before these men and accepted THEIR benediction, their forgiveness.The Roman Catholic Church can never atone for this . Never. I am too angry. I can write no more.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Abuse and mince pies


I’m distraught –somebody reported me for ‘abuse’ and I can’t post my blog link on my facebook wall or into my e-mails. Me! Abuse!

I went into my blog and looked at my posts (all two of them) and I genuinely cannot see what it is I wrote that someone found abusive.

Maybe it was because I used the ‘s’ word – the three-lettered one that ends in ‘x’. I thought we were beyond that. I thought that, like the use of Lord Voldemort ‘he who shall not be named’, it was acknowledged that use of a word could not harm or offend one or draw down the wrath of God on one.

Then I looked at the blogs again. Is it because I suggested that males were fundamental creatures? Was it a man who reported me- or a Mammy who is protecting her sons from any inference that they may not be as deep as they think they are?

Help me folks.

If you don’t tell me what it is I wrote that was offensive I’m likely to continue doing it and offending someone. I’m a nice person. Really.

Made a lorryload of home-made mincemeat last night for the home-made mince pies I’m taking to the milk n’cookies event in Temple Bar next week. Milk ‘N Cookies is a gathering of like-minded individuals who have formed a voluntary story-telling group that gather together to tell stories drink tea, coffee, milk and lots of lovely goodies. Everyone snuggles down on beanbags or duvets (there are chairs for those of us with effed up backs and knees) and in ambient lighting the story tellers weave their spells.

If I bring loads of mincers I’m hoping they’ll let me read one of my yarns possibly ‘The 5.50 19A’ which I have adapted for this particular session. One is supposed to tell rather than read a story, but I’m old and I’ve killed to many brain cells to memorise things any more. And to think I once played ‘Hamlet’ and never once fluffed a line. Hamlet at 17. Life was bound to go downhill after that.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Theory Of Evolution

Theory of Evolution

I’ve worked it out. Women are the missing link, female homo sapiens that is or possibly female vegan homo sapiens to be specific, but we’ll get to that later. It’s perfectly obvious when you know what to look for. I’ll bullet point it for you

1. First there was prehistoric man, whom for the purposes of this ramble we will call ‘homo’ or ‘the beast’. The beast was more intelligent than other life forms on the planet and gradually over millennia came to dominate these life forces, for the most part through violence. After a while the beast got fed up with this life, it was either eat or be eaten, and he had gradually eliminated all other consumable life forms. So he evolved into the beast who could survive on inanimate objects if he so desired, so we got a crew that evolved into agrarian beasts. But some of the beasts decided they preferred a diet which consisted of only animate objects so they stayed as Beasts and most of them became reasonably docile because they were well fed and looked after. The agrarian lot went on to be called Homo Sapiens. Thinking Man. Do ye follow?


On we go.

2. Thinking Man, that what set me thinking - Rodin’s ‘The Thinker’. The statue looks so noble, gentle yet strong and completely unself-conscious, deep in thought. That’s when the whole evolutionary thing clicked with me. I have never, ever seen that deep look on a man’s face. Any man. The eyes just don’t have it lads. Women’s eyes do. That’s why I’d imagine a man’s internal monologue is entirely fundamental and to do with satisfying desire - food, drink, sex. Sport and politics and work take care of the rest of male needs; their need to be competitive, top dog, go to war. I am wildly generalizing of course but as I look around me a huge number of male Homo Sapiens fit this mould. Have another look at ’The Thinker’ It has blank sockets for eyes. That’s why it enthrals and disturbs me. Maybe auld Rodin had this evolutionary theory copped too. Males as physical form only. No eyes, no soul.


That’s enough for ye to be thinking on today.

I will extrapolate further later in the week. My brain hurts with all this thinking. I think I’ll get the remote control and hit the ‘six o’clock snooze Evelyn’ button or maybe drink a bottle of red - that’ll slow the bugger down.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Cyber skating

My day has been surreal, and now I'm making it surrealer by doing something I swore I wouldn't.


I'll give in and buy a big telly one of these days as well. Anyway - back to my surreal day. Work was fairly normal and horribly real, then home to retired beloved sitting around making the place look untidy, waiting for rain to stop so he can go to Corballis Golf Course.
'Tis far from golf courses he was reared.

So I made dinner and cleaned up - as you do when you're the only female in a house of smelly males. Then I toddled off to Temple Bar, the sophisticated urbanite that I am, and attended the launch of Nuala Ni Conchuir's book of short stories 'Nude'. Lots of lovely short stories to read.

My pal and Listowel partner in crime - Karen O'Neill - was there, and she bullied me (yes, you did Karen) into starting a blog. Karen can be very forceful, a can-do type gal; I think Barack is headhunting her to sort out the American economy .She must be bored in work and needs something to read so it looks like she's working ( I am a clerk - I know all the dodges.) At the moment Karen is busy bringing the Luas to Swords and she's wrecked from laying all that track, but she still found time to be head chef and bottlewasher at Nuala's Dublin launch. I think I'll hire her for the book launch I may never have. So Karen, here I am - you better follow me now!

I couldn't stay to hear Nuala read because I had to lollop across town to the Irish Writer's Centre for the Davy Byrnes/Stinging Fly book launch of the six shortlisted stories in this year's fabulous competition - I can say fabulous because I wasn't on the short-list. If I ever get on a short list that merits a book launch I will of course be my usual modest self and just call it an almost good book launch.

The Irish Writers Centre was swarming with people, writerly people doing writerly things, someone said Richard Ford was there but the only famous people I saw were Bairbre Smith, Kate Dempsey (Poetry Divas) and Declan Meade (ah c'mon Declan, you're near to famous). There was a very nice small child there too. Perhaps he will grow up and write. Get 'em young. But the speeches weren't started by half seven and I had to come home to see my men and write a little before I settle into the leaba with both lovely books of short stories.

I cannot understand why publishers don't like short stories. If their marketing departmentsput even half the resources that they appear to put into some of the more garish forms of pink/misery fiction/fact I am convinced these two books would walk off the shelves. All the writers involved are so talented. After dashing about introducing myself to cyber pals I then I got into the car and switched on the radio and whowasis waffling away with great good sense but Colm Keegan! Uiscebot himself! Another famous person, there was no one in cyber space tonight. Check out Colm's blog - lots of his lovely writing there.

Colm is never off the bleedin' radio these days, he'll be after Tubridy's job next. Oh! There's a thought - a 'Late Late' devoted to a night of poetry and story-telling, hmmmmmmmm anyone got RTE's phone no?

There ye go. That's me first blog (are ye happy Karen?). Next one will be about my theory of Evolution. I think I may have discovered the Missing Link.