Monthly Archives: May 2011

First National Young Writers Month post

Ok, I’m cheating a little, its not meant to start until tomorrow, but its already tomorrow in Australia, and I want to get started because I’ve been stressing about a Melbourne Fringe application all evening and now I’m hyped up and anxious and need to do something to keep myself busy and from eating the house.

I’m doing an acrostic poem, as suggested on the Emerging Writers Festival website.

Raw food.
Weighing myself every day
Even though
I know
Gorging on chocolate the night before
Halts the ‘fat burning process’,

That was quite fun. I’m going to try another.

Is it
Really that special?
Everyone else is
Leaving for
Nobody really likes
Dublin. Not really.

HA! I want to write another!

Jolly jumping jelly-cakes,
Ever anxious, finger-biting,
Not her brother,
Not her mother,
I am
Far less talented, successful, attractive or
Exciting than them both.

Like, what am I really doing here anyway? I mean, really?
Nervous now?

Want a life
In-between the ho-hum duldrums of the life I have to live through is 
Maybe-world and a multi-coloured, hyper-active, ever-changing

This photo has absolutely nothing to do with my blog post.

Ooh, got a bit wanky there. But, what fun! Next activity/post comes tomorrow.


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The Holy Communion

Good evening readers. I am blogging live from the midst of a holy communion celebration right in the heart of Catholic Ireland. For me, an, at best, lapsed Church of England girl, and at worst, an irreligious heathen with Buddhist sympathies, this is all very foreign.
You see, the holy communion is only a small part of a much bigger enterprise. The actual holy communion service takes, at most, an hour. But, the celebration, oh, the celebration! The household has been in preparations for the celebration since… well, since I arrived, almost. But, its been in earnest preparation since at least this time last week. We have had to clean and tidy the whole house. On Thursday, we started buying supplies for the party. On Friday, we started making the food. Friday lunchtime, the bouncy castle arrived (that’s right. A bouncy castle). This morning, we got up and went to church, and we have been home since about 1:30pm, eating and drinking and running around and jumping on the bouncy castle. Its now 6:30pm and the party is still going strong. People are coming in, going out, food is being eaten, more food is being brought out. I am wrecked, and I’m not even the one who is the centre of attention today (my eldest girl who has just gone through her holy communion), or the one in charge of the catering and hosting (my host mother).
The bouncy castle really deserves more blogging space. Its huge. Its a proper size bouncy castle. I thought my eldest charge was joking when she told me when I arrived (back in February) that she would be getting a bouncy castle for her holy communion. I didn’t think she could possibly be serious. But they’re quite the institution over here for holy communion celebrations, apparently. So much so that the practice has been mocked in some satirical articles I’ve read in the local newspaper (and you know what I think about local newspapers). There was a tragedy in Waterford last week, actually, where a little girl who had wanted a bouncy castle for her holy communion died whilst using it. Her father had been unable to hire a bouncy castle for her party, as they were all booked out (see, very popular), so he bought one and set it up himself. Of course, he didn’t set it up properly, a gust of wind took the castle off, with her and two of her friends in it, and she was killed, as she fell out of it. The other two were fine. I can’t imagine what that poor family, and, in particular, the father, would be going through. Just awful.
Anyway, no tragedy has happened like that with our bouncy castle (praise be to God…. listen to how Catholic I sound), so far, at least (knock on wood), and the kids adore it. In particular the youngest, who grabs each new visitor and pulls them over to the castle to show them. When it arrived yesterday, I was reluctant to get on it as it reminded me too much of the trampoline (I’ve grown to hate the trampoline, in case you were wondering, regular readers, but I’ll save that for another post), but I ended up being convinced as the littlest girl couldn’t get on the slide without my help (oh, yes, that’s right, there’s a slide as well. A bouncy castle, with bouncy slide attached). Then, I said I wouldn’t go down the slide. Mainly because I couldn’t manage to get up on to it. I wasn’t stretchy enough, and my wrist was killing me, and my pants were falling down and I felt so ungainly. But, then I started thinking about the fact that a few years ago I would have been able to get up there easy, and how, as a kid, I was always the one who wanted to climb over fences and up trees and scramble through woods, and I thought, oh God, I’m getting so old and creaky, and if I don’t get up on to that bouncy castle slide that will just prove how old and creaky I am, and, suddenly, I had a burst of energy and managed to scramble up the side and throw myself down with the enthusiasm and excitement of a girl half my age (I can say that now. I am old).
Anyway, the littlest just fell in love with the castle, and the only way we managed to get her to put her PJ’s on and go to bed was to tell her that it was broken and that her Dad would fix it in the morning. Which meant she didn’t go running outside, but did mean a bout of hysterical crying at the thought of her precious castle being broken.
Today, I got to see half the ceremony, and to see my eldest girl all dressed up and looking beautiful, but, unfortunately, the youngest wasn’t able to sit through the ceremony quietly (she kept clapping after each hymn and calling out, ‘Again, again!’), so I had to take her home. She was very very unhappy about that, and the only way I managed to calm her down was to show her the thermal camera effect on the camera on my computer and show her how her face could turn blue and green and red. So, now I have 198 thermal camera photos of me and her saved on to my hard drive. Cute.
The ceremony (or what I saw) was very strange. I always get very excited about the prospect of going to a religious ceremony, I think, because I have images from Hollywood, and expect to be lifted up, or inspired, or find the meaning of life whilst I’m there. But, mainly its just boring. The priest is usually very boring, and uninspired. I could hardly hear the guy yesterday, so that was boring, because even if he had the language skills of Obama’s speech-writing team, I couldn’t hear a thing he said. And, apart from that, the ceremony is just confusing for a heathen such as myself, because I don’t know when to sit or stand, I don’t know the hymns or the actions or when to say ‘Amen’ or ‘And also with you.’ Its like trying to make friends with people who are in some sort of clique or exclusive club and who don’t want you to know what they’re talking about. Not amazingly welcoming.
Its funny, when I first arrived in Belfast, there were all these displays in the clothing stores of little child mannequins dressed up in outfits that, to me, looked like wedding clothes. I didn’t know why these little girl mannequins were carrying purses and wearing veils. It wasn’t for a few hours later that I realised they were holy communion clothes, but it was such a foreign image to me, that I didn’t recognise it. I’ve been talking to my host mother about it, and I was explaining that the whole ‘holy communion’ thing was foreign to me, and I assumed that it was not only because so many people in Newcastle were descendant from Welsh or Scottish or Cornish miners, and so, therefore, more likely to be Protestant or Anglican or Church of England or something, but because I went to a public school, I didn’t really meet many Catholic kids until I was at MHS. But, then, I had the relisation that my cousins were actually brought up Catholic because their Dad was Catholic. Anyway, all of this just made me realise how much of a bigger deal holy communions and Catholicism and ‘all that stuff’ is here. That sounds stupid and pedestrian. What I’m trying to say is, my cousins were brought up an entirely different religion to me, and it didn’t even register. I wasn’t invited to holy communion parties or confirmation parties or anything like that. I assume they must have gone through that, and I vaguely remember some pictures, but that’s about it. Whereas, my eldest girl’s holy communion, well, the whole family is here. Friends of the family are here. People have driven from Dublin to be here. We’ve been planning it all week. THERE IS A BOUNCY CASTLE.

‘Thermal’ photo of me, the little one’s hand and her mouse.

Anyway, I’m being very rude. Plus, I’m missing some awesome food (cheese! Cheesecake! cheese!) and a championship rugby match between Leinster (Dublin area) and Munster (Cork area), so I’m going to head back out. Apparently, if you listen to my eldest girl, the party isn’t finishing til midnight. If its true, this is going to be the second-longest celebration I have ever attended (the first being my graduation from Actors Centre, and that was only because I went to the graduation party for 8 hours, and then went to a friend’s birthday party for another 7 hours, so it wasn’t even one party), and its a party for an 8 year old’s holy communion. These Irish Catholics, man, they know how to party.

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I Am…

I have an admission to make.
Its not pleasant.
Its rather embarrassing.
But it has to be said.
No matter the consequences.
No matter how much I hate it. 
No matter how much it hurts. 
Because the truth does hurt, sometimes.
And the truth is hard.
And the truth is uncomfortable.
But you have to tell the truth, don’t you?
Well, because, because….
Because, its the truth, I suppose. 
And the truth is always good, right?
That’s what they taught us in primary school.
I think.
I’m sure I remember that.
Here goes.
The truth.
I am fat.
I said it.
Now you all know.
I’ll understand if you block on me on facebook.
You can stop suppressing your gag reference when you look at me.
Feel free to be openly disgusted. 
Oh, wait…
You say what now? 
You already knew?
But you never said…
Well, yes, I suppose you could see…
But, you never mentioned…
You were being polite.
Well, that’s nice, I suppose.
But we don’t have to pretend anymore.
You can tell me I’m a pig when you see me going for a cheese sandwich. When I slather butter on my bread and mayonaise. Feel free to tell me to go for a run or to get off my fat arse.
You weren’t going to do that?
I don’t think you understand.
I’m FAT.
Fatty fatty fat-fat.
Get it?
Look, its not that hard.
Do you want me to spell it out for you?
I’m fat. And its my fault.
You still don’t understand?
Its my fault! I’m fat, and its my fault!
I eat disgusting things! I sit on my backside and watch TV and eat nutella out of the jar!
Yes, ok, you do that too, but I don’t think you realise…
Look, would you just shut up and listen to me?
I am a disgusting human being.
I am FAT.
Sometimes I eat 4 chocolate biscuits IN A ROW.
I eat the food off other people’s plates when they are finished.
I don’t find Indian food too heavy or fatty.
I never push my plate away at a restaurant and say, ‘I’m full’.
If I go to an ‘All You Can Eat’ Buffet’, I won’t feel happy unless I’ve been back to the buffet at least 4 times.
I eat all the lollies at the parties.
And the chips too.
I probably ate the last slice of vegetarian lasagne you were looking for. And I finished off the loaf of bread and all the feta cheese.
You still don’t care.
I’m ugly.
Aren’t I?
I’m slovely.
And lazy.
And greedy.
I must be.
I’m fat.
I’m selfish. 
I’m probably stupid too.
And maybe I have breathing problems.
And I’m probably really bad in bed.
Don’t you think?
I mean, I’m fat.

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Worst Children’s TV show ever.

This blogging thing is getting addictive. I think it was that movie, ‘Julie and Julia’ that did it. She blogged every day, and then she got a book deal. Maybe part of my brain thinks the same thing will happen to me, and so now I’m writing every evening. Not that I’m complaining. I’d rather blog than sit, zoned out in front of, ‘Don’t Tell the Bride’ (reality TV show where the groom gets 12,000 Euro and has to organise his whole wedding with no input from the bride) or ‘My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding’ (reality TV show about the weddings of travellers – people like that character Brad Pitt plays in “Snatch”, I think… though I’m not sure. Don’t quote me. Its a while since I saw the film. And don’t get insulted if you are a traveller and I’ve just completely trashed your culture). Yes, I would prefer to blog than watching any of those things. Though, I am often blogging in front of the TV anyway. (I’m not tonight. In case you were wondering).
ANYWAY. I have been meaning to write an entry about children’s TV for a while and never got around to it. You get to watch a lot of children’s TV as an au pair. I don’t suppose that surprises anyone. A lot of it is really lovely, charming, intelligent and well put together. Some of it, like the Rugrats, or Max & Ruby, I remember from when I was a kid, and that is strange and creepy but also oddly comforting (it makes me feel not very old). But, then, there are the shows that are just plain weird, and after that are the shows that I think were made by people who weren’t ever successful at making adult entertainment, and so they thought they’d just move sideways into children’s entertainment, because that would be WAY easier as kids will just watch any old shit.
I’ve been tossing up which shows I think are the worst. To begin with, I thought I really disliked Peppa Pig (see video). Peppa’s giggle irritated me. Daddy pig’s incredibly low voice irritated me. The song irritated me. Peppa’s little brother George, who only ever said ‘Dinosaur’, irritated me. But, I’ve been converted. George eventually learns new words, like ‘No’, and that was a strangely satisfying experience, almost like a real baby learning new words. I’ve decided Daddy Pig’s voice is probably supplied by a chain-smoking, alcoholic actor, which amuses me to think of whenever watching the cartoon, because its trying so hard to be so darn wholesome. And Peppa’s voice keeps changing, as does her giggle, and I like to come up with horribly morbid tales about what they did to the last Peppa. They probably were getting sick of her giggle as well…

So, then I thought it was Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom that was the worst. It was so sugary sweet, and had stupid gender stereoptypes (or so I thought), with all the girls being fairies and all the boys being elves. Plus, all the spells were stupid. And Nanny Plum sounded like she should be on EastEnders and not in a friggin’ magic kingdom. But, then, I realised some girls were elves and some boys were fairies (ha!), but, mostly because my eldest girl showed me the following excerpt of the show in Spanish, and I was totally won over. This video puts me in hysterics. I don’t know why. Rinki-dinki-dee…

Team Umi Zoomi were the front runners for worst show for a while, because they were so bloody full on and loud and chirpy and JUST DAMN IRRITATING. But they’re educational and interactive, so I forgave them eventually. I also went through a short period of hating Dora the Explorer, as my eldest charge likes to yell out, ‘Adios Amigos’ in a horrible mocking tone before slamming the door in her sister’s face, which inevitably leads to tears and screaming and arguments. I still prefer ‘Ni Hao Kai Lan’, though, which is a Chinese cartoon doing a similar thing to Dora. But, for a while, its been a close call between the cartoon version of ‘Sylvanian Families’ and a Nick Jr. cartoon called ‘Bubble Guppies’. Sylvanian Families is truly horrendous. There are no words to describe it. It tries to come across wholesome and quaint and old-worldly, but it just so slightly misses the mark by cranking up the gloss and the sugar in the wrong places. It leaves such a bad taste in your mouth, like those cheap lollies you buy at the service station that have the wrong mix of sweeteners and artificial flavourings But, its also like watching disaster footage – extremely hideous, but at the same time, utterly fascinating, so you can’t tear yourself away. I’ve attached a video, which is, unfortunately in Japanese with subtitles, and that makes it sound kind of cute. In English its just a completely flabbergasting and horrifying experience, made all the more horrifying by how much my eldest charge likes it. It gives me the heebie-jeebies.

But, I decided in the end to chalk up the weirdness of Sylvanian Families to cultural misunderstandings, and mistranslations, and instead, the Jenny Award for the Worst, Most Grating and Blatantly Money-Grubbing Children’s TV show goes to Bubble Guppies. So. This is a show about mermaids. Or, mer-people. And their fish friends. The cartoon drawings look clumsy and the colour scheme is ugly. The songs sound like they were written in 5 minutes by someone who is only half-concentrating on the project at hand, and are about the most inane topics, even as far as children’s TV go (please see video of the ‘Build Me a Building song as an example).

But, the thing that really really gets me about this show are the inconsistencies. Ok, I know, its children’s TV, and there’s a certain element of fantasy and a licence for stretching the truth. But, in ‘Bubble Guppies’, it doesn’t seem like this stretching of the truth has been done for amusement or entertainment value, but just out of laziness (I really don’t like this show. And I’ve had to sit through it a lot. Hence why I’ve begun to view the producers of said show as evil, malicious bald-headed men, sitting on piles of money made from their crap children’s TV show empire, putting their fingers together and laughing evilly at the thought of making more crap, cheap, children’s TV to fry children’s brains and irritate parents. Now that I think about it, I don’t know that you can actually become a millionaire from a crap children’s TV empire….). So, anyway, the bubble guppies go camping. The all have rucksacks. They have a stupid song about what you could find in your rucksack. And then they all float over logs around a campfire, toasting marshmallows. They’re merpeople and FISHES. AND THEY ARE SITTING AROUND A CAMPFIRE. Now, how, how, how does this work? Either, they’re on land, which is why they have a fire, and the merpeople are all about to suffocate, or they’re under water, and the fire is some kind of magic, waterproof fire. This made me grumpy enough. But, then, the next day, the Bubble Guppies visited the moon. And they wore space suits. But swam around the moon as if they were under water. So, is the moon under water? In which case, why the space suits? Surely, as mer-people, they can breathe under water? And, if it is the normal moon, ie, the one in the sky, how come they are swimming? Oh, and another question, what about the space suits? Are they full of seawater instead of air? These details were not included in the cartoon. And then, yesterday’s cartoon. Yesterday’s cartoon made me want to punch the TV. So, the bubble guppies were learning about transport or cities or some such crap. So, all of the bubble guppies were sitting around in the city, dressed up like policemen and firemen and eating their lunches. But, then, two of the bubble guppies became archaeologists and were exploring ancient ruins or graves or something. And then a pretzel dragon came to eat them (???? if its a pretzel dragon surely it eats pretzels????) and they had to go underground to the ANCIENT UNDERGROUND TUBE SYSTEM. Why? Why? If you wanted to teach the children about underground trains, why not set it in a modern day city??? That’s where you started the bloody episode! Why confuse matters so that when these children grow up and go and visit Pompeii or Macchu Picchu or some such, they won’t be getting out their Oyster cards and asking passing locals which is the best way to get back to Piccadilly Circus? Stupid show. STUPID STUPID SHOW.
Last video is of the hated Bubble Guppies in the moon episode. Notice they have taken off their space helmets but kept on their space suits, and there are bubbles surrounding them still. WHERE EXACTLY ARE THEY MEANT TO BE????

PS There are some lovely children’s shows out there too. One is Humf (see video). I don’t know what he’s meant to be, but he’s cute. The other, probably my favourite, is ‘Charlie and Lola.’ Because of this show, I want a little girl called Lola, even if it means she sounds like a 1930’s stripper.

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The Cat family

I can’t stop looking at the kittens. They are amazing. They’re still blind, and are barely the size of my hand. They don’t do much but eat and sleep and yet I could stare at them all day. Our house has gone kitten crazy. We look at the kittens in the morning. We look at the kittens after school. We look at the kittens after a snack, before homework, after homework, during homework, before bed etc. etc. etc. Looking after little kittens that you saw being born, keeping them in a cardboard box, helping little girls pat them and care for them… it seems like such a stereotypical, wholesome, ‘country’ experience. Its the sort of thing I would come up with in my rosy day-dreams of what it might be like to live on a little farm somewhere near Berry and have 4 kids (yes, yes, there’s more to a farm than feeding chickens and collecting eggs and making jams and preserves, and milking cows and making my own bread and cheeses and looking after kittens and having ruddy-faced kids that ride horses and wear gumboots and go on adventures together through the open fields and I’m sure I’d get sick of it all in the end, and its all harder than it looks anyway, but still… its always been a secret fantasy, ever since I was a little one myself).  I feel very lucky to have seen it all and been a part of it. That might seem over the top, but the whole event has been mind-boggling for me and I’m not entirely sure why.
The eldest girl is coming up with names – a very slow and considered process. A cat’s name is not something to be stumbled upon or come up with lightly (especially if you listen to T. S. Eliot). We have two names locked in – Liebchen (which I thought a fantastic name for a little kitten – she got it from the movie of ‘The Witches’, I think the grandmother calls the main kid that a lot) and Tommy (again, I thought this was a very cute name for a kitten. She decided on it because of ‘Tom and Jerry’). Other names we are currently tossing around are Garfield (for obvious reasons), Jackie/Jack and Jerry (This is the only name I don’t approve of. I feel it misses the point of the original cartoon. But, that may be thinking too hard about things…). The little one spent all morning crying pathetically to hold one of the kittens, but her elder sister wouldn’t let her, due to the fact that the little one might suddenly decide she didn’t like them and drop them from tall heights on to hard floors. But, the little one was so desperate to hold one, that I said I would help her as soon as the elder girl was at school. We went in to find the kittens having their brekkie, and every time we put our hands anywhere near the box, the mother cat would stretch her paw right out over them. Such an instinctive, protective and motherly gesture (she did spend 5 minutes sitting on one of them, though, until I scooped it out from under her backside, so just because she’s got good instincts doesn’t mean she’s a perfect mother).


Anyway, I finally managed to pick one of the babies up and held it out for the little one to cradle, but as soon as it was actually being offered to her, she wouldn’t have a bar of it. She kept shaking her head, and putting her hands on her sides, and backing away. I’m not sure if it was because they looked strange (though she had seen them before), or because she was worried she might drop them (everyone kept telling her she would) or what, but she refused to hold them. She was still very happy to pat their fur, and chatter away to them, but after a full hour of crying about wanting to hold them, she just refused point blank to take them. 
My eldest charge is very distressed whenever she finds the cat away from the kittens, you know, when the poor cat needs to go to the toilet, or get herself some food. She picks the poor thing up and takes it straight back, chastising her loudly for leaving her babies behind, and that they need her and to stop being so lazy. Its rather amusing. I feel more than a little sorry for the cat. I feel like I can relate to her on some level and her desire for a bit of time to herself…. projecting, much?
I don’t know what we’re all going to do when the cats are sold or given away, which they will have to be, because no home could possibly look after 8 full-grown cats, especially when one of the people in that house is allergic to cats. It would be madness. But, oh, how I don’t want them to go away… 

Liebchen… ok, I’m lying. I can’t actually tell them apart.

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Cats and Uni and Theatres, oh my!

Today I was involved in a British farce. Well, an Irish farce, anyway. I was the Irish Basil Fawlty. The fault is all my own, of course. I put myself under such pressure, decide to do far too many things, and then they all become due at the worst possible moment.
Some background.
For those of you who don’t know, I am still enrolled at the University of New England, doing a Master of Teaching by distance education. I’m studying to be a secondary school teacher, in history and English. At the start of the year, I optimistically enrolled in a full study load of 4 subjects, which I have since cut down to 1 subject. I absolutely despise the course. I don’t feel like I’m learning anything, I hardly do any work (should I be admitting this online?), and yet I still get good marks. At first that made me feel good, but now it makes me furious, especially when I think how much effort I put into my BA and I only got marginally better marks. I feel like I am paying however many thousands of dollars just to get a piece of paper. I suddenly understand all those people at uni who hated their study – they felt like they had to do it, but they didn’t see the point of it and they didn’t enjoy it. That’s how I feel now.
The subject I’m doing is ICT in Education. For my last project, I got to do a stop-motion animation, which, despite my whingeing, was actually ridiculously fun (so fun, in fact, that I am now conceiving of a stop-motion animation project in my head). I don’t know that anyone would think my animation was all that great, it just uses paper and a hungry caterpillar finger puppet, but I love it and am ridiculously proud of it. In fact, I sometimes watch it when I’m bored or before I go to bed or when I’m waiting for something to load on the internet (which is a lot these days). True story. 
Today, my second assignment of the term was due. Having received, by accident, another student’s results for the last assignment in the mail with my own, I was given an idea of what you can get away with for a passing mark, which meant I was even less diligent with my work this time around. I finished it last night, but instead of saving all the files as .pdf and merging them (look at all my tech talk, I am learning stuff), I decided to leave it for today, giving me one more chance to read through the assignment before handing it in (an old uni superstition/habit of mine). With the difference in time zones, I had until 3pm today to get my assignment submitted.
But, when I got up this morning, I had already organised to speak to my brother on Skype about another project. Then, I had about 5 or 6 emails from Melbourne venues to read and reply to, because my director and I have come up with a new, insane plan, to create a show that takes place in two countries at the same time, and we want the Australian half to be part of the Melbourne Fringe, and applications are due in 12 days. Fantastic.
I then attended to my paid duties. I played with the little one for an hour, reciting with great enthusiasm, ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’, 5 times in a row, and then just the end of the piece, ‘Its a bear!’ about 100 times. I don’t know if my brain has atrophied because of the lack of stimulation, but I still feel that I could perform this theatrical piece professionally. All I would need is to get my kit off and cover myself in shaving cream or something and then put a wanky artist statement in the program about this piece being an exploration of the trapped mother,  and her increasing insanity due to her contracting social, intellectual and cultural life and people would be thronging to come and see it. Reviewers would heap praise on me in an effort to seem relevant and cutting-edge. Cruel? Oh well.
Anyway, back to the point.
It was, by the time I dropped the little one off at preschool, 12:15pm, my assignment due at 2:59pm. The little one needs to be picked up at 3pm, so I need to leave the house at 2:50pm. I still hadn’t read through the assignment, fixed the presentation, turned the files into .pdf or merged them. So, I decided to fold some clothes and put away the washing.
At 12:45pm (or thereabouts), I went to fix my assignment. By 1pm, I was happy with the presentation but instead of converting the files and submitting them, I decided to look at Facebook. I checked some venue photos that had been sent and replied to more emails. At 1:45pm, I decided I should probably convert the files and merge them. This took a very long time, which I blamed on the slow Irish internet connection. The file wasn’t ready until 2pm. By this stage, I was starting to get a little anxious, but I still thought I had time.
It was about this time, I went outside to get some more washing off the line. Now, the family has 3 cats, and one of them has been walking around with a big, big belly the last few weeks, until we were fairly convinced she was pregnant. When I walked outside, the pregnant cat was sitting, mewing on the porch, with one of the other cat’s sitting next to it, with its paw around her neck. It was such an unusual position to find the cats in, it genuinely looked like the other cat was trying to comfort her. When I went over to check what was happening, I notice there was fluid all over her tail. Assuming she was giving birth, I directed her to her basket on the porch, and went and got the clothes. By the time I brought the clothes in, she had removed herself from her basket and was mewing in the middle of the porch again. Thinking there might be something else wrong, I decided to check whether or not she was giving birth. Looking under her tail, I could see another little tail sticking out, which was both amazing and seriously, seriously creepy. It looked like some alien life form was trying to escape.
I directed her back to her basket, and, contributing to the Sigourney Weaver-esque feel, her belly started quivering, and little feet or paws started kicking against it, giving the impression that at any moment, the belly would burst open and I’d find myself in a science fiction film.
By this time, it was 2:10pm. I ran back inside to submit my newly merged files to UNE. This didn’t happen immediately, and again, I cursed the Irish internet connection. But, changing thoughts entirely and full of excitement, I grabbed my camera and ran outside to take photos of the cat giving birth. Right there, on the porch, was a wet, tiny kitten, being licked by its mummy. I took a couple of shots, before my camera ran out of battery. Cursing again, I ran inside to try and charge it. I couldn’t find my charger. Checking my computer, I could see that the files still hadn’t been submitted. It was now 2:15pm. I had done no housework all afternoon, the cat was in the process of giving birth outside the front door, my camera was out of battery and my uni assignment was due. NOW.

This was my day.

I ran back outside to check on the cat, and, of course, she took this opportunity to run inside the house with her new baby and hide under the stairs, behind all the things that the family thinks they should keep, but doesn’t use on a regular basis, and doesn’t have another place to keep it, like christmas decorations and methlayted spirits. The cats are not allowed in the house. SO. I pull out everything. EVERYTHING. And throw it all over the hallway floor. I have now done NO cleaning all day, and I have made the house FAR MESSIER than it was when the family left this morning. I grab a cardboard box and fill it with towels (Cate Blanchett does this in ‘Thank God He Met Lizzie’ when she meets Richard Roxburgh with a cat giving birth. That’s where I got the idea. In case you’re interested) and attempt to get the cat in the box. I do! I carry her and her baby to the laundry and put her inside. I run back to my computer to see that it is 2:25pm and the UNE website has rejected my file because it is too large (over 10MB). I re-open all my files and remove some excess pictures. I convert them to pdf and start the merge again. Of course, it takes forever, so, I try to find something else to do. Realise that I have left a bloody cat with its two bloody kittens in the laundry, where there are clothes all over the floor. Decide I should go move the clothes so they don’t get cat blood all over them. Return to laundry. Open the door, and the car comes flying out, kitten in mouth, and heads straight back into the house and under the stairs. Shit. Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit. I run back into the house and clear out more stuff from under the stairs. I put the ineffective and completely inadequate box with the towels next to the cat, hoping she might forget what happened last time and go in of her own accord, then run to the computer, and see that the file has been merged. Its 10.8 MB. Its 2:35pm. SHIT.
I go back to the files, remove more photos, convert to pdf and start the merge again.
I run back to the stairs. The cat is gone. THE CAT IS GONE. Is it in the box? I grab the box. Nope, too light. I look under the stairs. I remove more stuff. Suddenly I hear mewing. The cat has squashed itself and its TWO kittens into the furthest, darkest corner. I inch closer to it, and I can see its pupils getting larger. Fear, or is it just because I’m blocking the light? I put out my hand hesitantly to try and pull the cat out, with its kittens, but she’s not having a bar of it.
I run back to the computer. Files merged. Its 2:45pm. The file is 10.3 MB.
This is when I let out my anguished scream. I go back to the documents, I remove another two pictures, I convert them to pdf, I start the merge. At 2:53pm, the file is done. It comes in at 9.3 MB. I submit the file and watch the little swirly circle that says its uploading, or thinking, or just wasting bloody time, anxiously. I have 6 minutes. The file is not uploading fast enough. The cat(s) are mewing under the stairs. 3 boxes of christmas decorations, 4 sleeping bags, 10 sleeping mats and a giant Santa Claus are strewn across the hallway. Oh, and I’m meant to be picking up the little one from pre-school. I realise that even if the file doesn’t upload in time, there’s nothing I can do about it at this point in time, once it passes the submission deadline. I’ll simply have to email my lecturer the next morning and beg forgiveness. So, instead of letting the little one sit on the kerbside for 15 minutes, whilst I stare at my computer screen and will it to upload faster, I go and pick her up.
When I get back to the house, I check the computer. The file has been submitted at 11:58pm. I go back to the stairs, and using a towel, I pull the cat and kitten(s) into the box. I take them out to the laundry. This time they stay. I sneak a peak at the little alien lifeforms, and despite looking slightly like rats, I’m totally smitten and completely fascinated. I heave a great sigh of relief. I’ve got it all done. Everything is under control, despite the mania. I can relax.
And then I head back inside and the little one is pulling at the giant Santa and demanding I put up a christmas tree and a tent and why can’t she sleep in a sleeping bag right here in the hallway and…


Filed under Ireland

Alice has the answers.

One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree.
‘Which road do I take?’ she asked
‘Where do you want to go?’ was his response.
‘I don’t know’, Alice answered.
‘Then,’ said the cat, ‘It doesn’t matter.’

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Filed under Introspection, Random