Love and laughter to you all!

I just want to wish all my wonderful followers a very Merry Christmas. I hope that we can all take some time today to appreciate the important things in life…like turkey. And if for any reason you are not feeling particularly excited about today and are experiencing sadness or loneliness, just know that there is always someone to talk to. Even me…unless you don’t like talking about owls and other random stuff. I do mean it though, I’m always just an email away. Anyway, have a wonderful day everyone!

I’m here!

LADS! I’m sorry I’ve been absent, but I had to do really important work for NASA, which is top secret, classified information and because I don’t want to compromise the safety of any of my lovely followers, I can’t discuss it further.

Any chance anyone actually believed that?

No? Oh fine.

Basically, I was in hospital. Then my cat (aka, my best friend and I don’t care if that’s sad. I’m sad) died. It was horrible. I also had an allergic reaction to some medication that made me look like the Michelin Man with a bad case of acne. So yes, last week SUCKED.
I looked like this for the entire week:

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Basically me, but with slightly more plastic surgery

You guys know it’s not like me to disappear for an entire week. I’m like that younger sibling that just won’t stop poking you. POKE.
So you know I’m being honest when I say, this week was the worst week of my life.

Never one to dwell on negativity *cries into my popcorn*, here are some random things that happened to me this week:

I made friends with an old lady and then she said “we’ll never see each other again”. I thought I’d made a new BFF, but whatever.

My brother invited me to visit him in London so I’m going next week. I’m going to go all Joey Tribbiani and be super-tourist.

I got ma hurrr did (that’s me referencing Missy Elliott to try and gain brownie points with my hundreds of followers who are female, hairstyle loving, Missy Elliott fans).
Translation: I have a new hairstyle.

I had a dream that the New Horizons probe reached Pluto and then woke up disappointed when I realised it was a dream. So yes, even in my dreams, I’m a nerd.

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I had an amazing sandwich and I’m unapologetic about how food-obsessed and pathetic that makes me look. Because…bacon.

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I feel ya, brah.

I high fived a giraffe.

Shock twist: One of these is a lie.

I’m now going to reply to comments and catch up with you guys, and we can plait each other’s hair and stay up aaaaall night together, deal?

Here

I see you suffer
Hiding behind the burnt skin and thinning hair
Smiling a little weakly
A feeble frail finger taps a hollow cheek to where my blood filled lips can touch
I fear a kiss may kill you

I see you moving
Crossing deserts in your kitchen
Glancing through your window at horizons you’ll never reach
The timer on the oven seems to be moving too quickly, too quickly
The dinner won’t be ready
The time will be up too soon

I see you folding children’s jumpers
Holding them close to your chest for seconds before you let them go
You’ll have to show them how to get creases out, so they will know
When the folding is done, and plans are made
You need to sit

I see you now, as you are, and I see you as you were
Vibrant, dancing, living,
Teaching, learning, yearning, dreaming
I see you now, hopeless, lost, frightened, blind…but at least

I see you

-JG

I’m like a bird

Today a bizarre thing happened. My cat was sitting on the window sill of my bedroom window when all of a sudden she reached out and nabbed a bird in mid flight. This is strange because she’s a house cat and doesn’t really display this predatory instinct very often, but of course, she is a cat and it’s just natural.

Anyway, the poor bird was chirping like crazy so I hopped out of bed attempting to save its life. I chased my cat downstairs and she managed to run faster than I’ve ever seen her go, with the unfortunate bird still chirping hysterically in her mouth. She headed straight for the space under my sink where she knew I wouldn’t be able to reach her. Then she did a strange thing: she left the bird there and trotted up back to bed.

I wasn’t sure if the bird was still alive. I hadn’t seen it but I was assuming it must be pretty small because my cat is tiny and she had carried it with ease. I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t even nearly fit into the space and it wasn’t like I could gently coax a terrified bird out of there.

So I waited. Sure enough, I heard the flustered fluttering and chirping from underneath the space after some time. Except now, the bird had moved further away and escape was looking a lot less likely.

I was worried. I love animals and I feel an indescribable empathy for them. I really felt for this little bird. I imagined him to be terrified and lonely and it really didn’t help that there was a pair of small bird constantly chirping outside my window. I imagined they were his little bird family, tirelessly looking for their lost friend. I know this seems silly, but I wanted to make sure I could help him to fly out the door safely.

Hours later, as I sat at my kitchen table drinking coffee, I heard the self-conscious flutter of wings. I looked over to the corner of the room where there was a mop and bucket and there he was, eyeing my with a fear I had never thought a bird would be able to express. I was so happy I jumped up a little too energetically. I had to calm myself.

“Hey little dude. Hey. You did it! Now we just got to get you outside,” I said as gently and soothingly as I could. “Jack! Jack, he’s out! He’s out!” I called up to Jack, who had been just as concerned as I was.

I treaded towards the bird as softly as I could but he was startled and began flying around the room in a frenzy.

“No, no, calm! Calm! But look at you, you’re okay!” I was smiling, surprised that he wasn’t injured.

And then it happened. I suppose I should have seen it coming. He went straight for the sliding door and THUD, he banged into it with such a force that I knew straight away that his bid for freedom was over. His life was over.

“No! No!” I screeched, as I bent down to pick his tiny little body up. He was still alive, or just about. I watched him squirm and try to make a sound. I saw pain in his eyes and I watched the life drain from him. I know to some it was “just a bird” and one I didn’t know, but it really upset me.

When Jack came down, expecting to see me jubilant, he instead saw me in tears.

“Hey, hey. What’s wrong?” I pointed to the bird in my palm, and he shook his head. “Oh dear.”

I was a sobbing mess. I could register the confusion on Jack’s face, possibly thinking my reaction was a little OTT.

Yes, I was crying because there was a tiny dead bird in my hand. But there was more to it than that. This bird had survived an attack by a much larger and stronger predator. It has gotten lost in a veritable maze in complete darkness and had managed to find its way out. And then it got killed by a freakin’ door. As I held the tiny lifeless body in my palm, I felt such a strong connection with it. This might sound completely crazy, but I felt like the bird’s struggle was my struggle.

Think about it. You work really really hard. You overcome all the worst obstacles and you take all the crap life throws at you, and then just as you are about to make it, to fly free, a door closes in your face. That’s how I have been feeling lately. It happened to the bird and it has happened to me on more occasions than I care to remember.

There was a silence for some time. Jack, sensing there was more to my tears than the bird, asked me what was wrong. I looked up at him and sadly shook my head. “Life is cruel. That’s what’s wrong. He nearly made it but he didn’t. He saw outside but he didn’t get there.” There was a silence for some time, as I looked at the bird’s broken body. I handed it to Jack to take outside and composed myself.

I don’t really know why I shared this story with you all. It’s not uplifting or funny. On my part, it was probably a total over reaction to something that happens all the time. I guess it just got me thinking about how sometimes you get through the door, and sometimes you don’t. And it reminded me of the struggles I have gone through, as well as the struggles my loved ones have faced. It’s funny what can get you thinking.

I’m Taking a Little Break

I’m going to take a little break for a while. I’m not actually quitting; I just think that I’m not really coming up with anything quality lately. I’m struggling to come up with ideas and compared to that quality of posts I read on here, mine are just not up to scratch.
I’ve been exhausted lately also. I haven’t been able to keep up with you guys as much as I like so I just said I would let you all know that I’m going to take a break. I love blogging and I’ve met some wonderful people here, but you guys deserve more than some half-assed attempt at a blog post and lately, that’s all I’ve been doing really. I’ve been playing around with drafts for days now…and NOTHING.

I love knowing that you guys like my posts or that I can make someone laugh, but I just haven’t been in a good head space lately. I’ve been in poor health, and work has been extremely stressful. My way to deal with stress has always been through the use of humour; but even that hasn’t been working for me. I just feel a little empty at the moment, and inspiration is just not coming to me.

I hope you guys understand. I don’t want to delete this blog because I’ve put too much work into it and I’ve gotten too much support off all of you. I’m just taking a few days (or maybe more) to find my way again. If I was younger, I’d probably go backpacking in Outer Mongolia or some shit, but I’m probably just going to hibernate and eat pop tarts instead.

Thank you for your continued love and support of my randomness. Think of my like the Terminator: I own it when I wear sunglasses and I’ll be back.

A Poem for Parents

Julie over at Musings from a workaholic wrote a lovely post about her sons and the various activities they got up to as kids.

It reminded me of an Irish poem that my parents had up on our fridge when I was young. I will post it in it’s original Irish form (and it is much nicer in Irish) but I’ll also post an English translation. I think those of you with kids will love it.

Subh Milis

Bhí subh milis
Ar bhaschrann an dorais
Ach mhúch mé an corraí
Ionam d’éirigh,
Mar smaoinigh mé ar an lá
A bheas an baschrann glan,
Agus an láimh bheag
Ar iarraidh.

Jam

There was jam
On the door handle
But I quenched the anger
That rose in me
Because I thought of the day
That the door handle would be clean
And the little hand
Would be gone

Seamus O’ Neill

Also, a big thank you to Lydia for the Sunshine Award. I know I’ve taken forever to get to it so apologies! To spread a little sunshine to your day, here’s a picture of me on my graduation day:

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Note: That is not actually me. I’m much less adorable.

My Happy Place

“Just, I don’t know…kick it in.”
“I can’t just kick it in. What if I break it?”

My boyfriend and I are standing at the door of an abandoned cottage. I know the walls are whitewashed, but they now appear a sinister mossy green colour after years of neglect. The thatched roof is on the verge of collapse and as I look up, I spy a small tree sprouting up from behind the chimney.

Jack shoulder-charges into the door again. It doesn’t budge. Shoulder and ego bruised, he turns to me. “You know technically, we’re breaking and entering here.”

“Calm down Sipowicz,” I snap, “this is my grandparent’s house. I have every right to be here.”

As a child, this was my favourite home to visit. I use the word ‘home’ because it was a home in every sense of the word.

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Located miles away from a main road, down a tiny boreen (boreen is the anglicised version of the Irish word ‘bóithrín’, meaning ‘little road’), it could have been an illustration in a Grimm’s fairytale. Surrounded by lush greenery and colourful flowers, it was a simple whitewashed cottage with a beautiful straw thatched roof.
Down the garden, a swing hung from a large oak tree. A stream separated the pretty garden from my grandparent’s vegetable patch, where they grew all their own produce. Hens roamed freely out in the yard and the din of my grandfather’s beehive could be heard faintly from the front door.

Inside the house, there was three rooms. Three rooms in the entire house; the main room, which functioned as a kitchen and living room in one, and two bedrooms. That was it. When I was a very young child, my grandparents didn’t have electricity, so they heated their water in a large pot above the fire. The fire was the centre of their home; a beautiful open fire that seemed to be eternally lighting. There was a wheel beside it that you had to spin in order to stoke the flames and as kids, that was our favourite novelty activity in the house.

My grandmother was always baking. Her favourites were apple and rhubarb pies and different types of breads. Everyone’s absolute favourite was her soda bread and I can still smell the bread baking in the oven and wafting all around the cottage as we waiting impatiently at the table. She would always let me ‘help’ her, though I wasn’t tall enough to reach the counter top and I always ended up with flour all over my face. She would construct a miniature version of whatever she was baking for me and then tell everyone proudly that I made it.

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When I cast my mind back to my childhood, this is the place that I felt happiest. Whether I was acting as my grandmother’s sous chef or evading cantankerous hens in the yard, I was carefree in this idyllic haven.

Then, suddenly, my father and my grandparents stopped speaking. I’m not going to explore the reasons behind their rift here, but it was a serious falling out. When you are a child, you are completely unaware of the complexities of adult relationships and I was no different. I had no idea why we had stopped visiting my grandparents; all I knew was that we had.

My grandmother died first. When we heard she was sick, we went to see her in hospital. Although she didn’t have the strength to speak, I will never forget how she squeezed my hand. I will also never forget the single tear that slid down her wrinkled face as she smiled weakly at me.

When she passed away, my father and his father still did not mend their rift. I never got to return to the cottage while anyone was living there. My grandfather died a few years later, and the house was abandoned. As the years passed, it seemed to exist solely in my memory. I could not bring myself to visit it.

One day, I visited my own father in the house I had grown up in. As I prepared coffee for us both, I spied something hanging on the wall. It was a commemorative plate, with a prayer and a picture of Pope John Paul II. One identical to this had hung above my grandparent’s fireplace.

“Dad, where did you get that?” I pointed to the wall. His eyes followed my finger and a sad smile settled on his face.

“I got it from your grandparent’s house,” he answered. There was a silence while I attempted to figure out how he could have done this. He must have registered the look of bewilderment on my face. “I went to the house a few weeks ago.”

I can’t describe how I felt on hearing this. You know that feeling you get when you’re not sure whether you’re ecstatically happy or heartbroken? I just shook my head when words evaded me. Dad looked sympathetically at me.

“The door is unlocked. It is abandoned and no one has been there for a long time. You should go and see it but…be careful.”

Be careful. I still remember him saying that, because it seemed an odd choice of words.

I asked Jack to come with me. I felt apprehensive and I didn’t quite know why. This was the place where all my happiest childhood memories lived.

The pathway to the house was completely overgrown, so we had to negotiate through briars and brambles. Several cuts and swear words later, we were standing in front of the cottage.

It was different. Of course it was, it was years later. Still, I felt a profound sadness looking at it. The clean whitewashed walls were now covered with years of fungal growth. The roof was beginning to cave in. I imagined the house like a soldier returning from war; damaged, ravaged, broken and changed forever.

Tears streamed down my face as I took in the nettles, the briars and the green moss that seemed to have infested every beautiful inch of the house. Jack squeezed my hand and planted a soft kiss on my head.

“Are you okay?” he asked tentatively, as I dried my eyes.

“Yes. I’m okay. There’s just such a profound sadness in knowing that this is what that beautiful, magical place has become. This house was the most beautiful part of my life and now it barely even exists.”

We stood looking at it, until I felt ready to go inside. When Jack finally got the door to open, the smell of dampness and neglect welcomed us. I stepped in gingerly to the main room. Dampness crept up the walls. The whole place was shrouded in darkness.

As dreary as the place looked, it wasn’t what affected me the most. The mouldy surrounding moved out of focus. Everything was exactly as I had remembered it; perfectly preserved like it had just jumped from straight from my memory. My grandmother’s Blue Willow China adorned the large oak cabinet, my grandfather’s patchwork blanket still rested on the back of his rocking chair, cutlery lay in the drawer by the sink just as it always had. The beds were still made. Pictures of relatives hung on the walls. I could almost hear the squabbling of all of us children over the wheel by the fire. I could almost feel my grandmothers gnarled and warm hand on mine as we baked together. The stories that a neighbour used to tell of the púca and the banshee when he visited echoed around the room.

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I stood still, taking it all in with a find smile. Jack slid his arm around me.

“It’s beautiful,” he whispered. I nodded. It was no longer confined to the deepest recesses of my memory, but instead was here in front of me; a house filled with stories.

“I’m ready to go. At least this time, I can say goodbye.” I felt a strong sense of comfort leaving and I feel it now. Knowing that the house is preserved like that, with all the utensils that my grandmother lovingly used still hanging up over the cooker, gives me a warm feeling that I will hold onto for a long time.

As we drove back to our own home that summer’s evening, I considered my dad’s words- “be careful”. I now knew what he meant. Revisiting old memories can be a painful business. It can leave you weary and unfulfilled. This wasn’t like that for me though. I left that house that day knowing that it was just as perfect as I had always remembered. I realised that it belonged in my past, and it was a part of my life that I would never forget. It’s time for me to make some new memories.

Do you have a cherished childhood memory? A place you go to (even in your mind) when you need comfort?

My First Poem

I have never written a poem on my own before and I don’t know how this happened. I wrote this, on my phone (which is very unpoetic of me) and in less than ten minutes. It just poured out (probably because it’s not very good, but I suppose you should never ignore what your mind sends you). It is dark and personal but I felt like posting it. I teach poetry comprehension on a daily basis, but I have always struggled with writing it. So here you go guys, my first poem:

Mother

I couldn’t have known when in your arms
That you were longing for something else, somewhere else
Away from my cries and outstretched arms

I couldn’t have known why the tears in my blue eyes
Mirrored the tears in your blue eyes
I couldn’t have known how my screams echoed around an empty room
Bare
The pictures of faraway places ripped from the walls
You would never go there

When I laughed it broke your heart
I didn’t understand, you thought
I didn’t yet know pain, yet I saw it everyday
In your white knuckles and your strained smile
Assuring visitors of my placidity

Now, a woman, I see you smile
Sometimes you laugh
But she knows the pain you harbour
She remembers the tears
She remembers studying your face, searching for comfort and hope

The baby
The girl
The child

Don’t worry guys, I’ll be back to my weirdly humourous self soon.

What do you do when you feel crap?

Today, everyone at work had to stay back for three (unpaid) hours after we’d already had quite the hectic day. I’m exhausted, sick (Jack cooked and maintains that the minced beef was probably cooked through) and we’ve no heating in the house so it feels like we’re suffering through a mini ice age. (We have had fun reenacting scenes from the end of Titanic though.)
When I feel sorry for myself like this, I grab my laptop, put on a feel good film (or one of my favourites), climb into bed and try to forget the day’s troubles.
What do you do?