Monthly Archives: August 2011

The Recycling Man

I’ve been meaning to post about this for a while, but its always been a little thin to turn into an entire blog post on its own. I really need to post about it now, though, as I’m about to leave Bandon, and I may never get a chance. Wow. That’s weird. In 2 weeks, I’m leaving Bandon and I won’t ever live here again. I mean, I’ll just be down the road in Kinsale, but… still. Its an ending. And a beginning, of course, but it is an ending. Strange. Sad. All these things.
So, one of the things in Bandon that I’m really going to miss is the recycling man.
Yep. The recycling man.
So, one of my jobs as an au-pair is to ‘do the recycling’. That was a strange concept to me. What was I supposed to do to it? After spending all my life living in cities, it had never occurred to me what happens when you live in the country, and its not financially viable for the local council to send a waste collection to your front door and take away your rubbish for you.
What happens is that you have to pack up all the rubbish and recycling and take it to the recycling centre. You have to pay to go inside (this actually explains to me why there is so much rubbish dumped in the Irish countryside. The temptation to just dump your waste somewhere would be much greater if you not only had to get rid of it yourself, but pay someone for the privilege of removing it. Obviously council rates pay for waste disposal in Australia/Sydney, but because you have to pay your rates, and then the rubbish man comes to your door, its kind of difficult to avoid paying for the waster removal), then you have to pay per bag of rubbish you want to dump. Recycling, however is free. This certainly is an incentive, in that, the more you recycle, the less you pay, so we’re very big on recycling as much as we can. For a household of 4 adults and 2 children, we can get away with only one bag of rubbish every 2 weeks, and recycle the rest. Pretty impressive.
Anyway, so, the job of going to the recycling centre has been mine. The first week I had to do it, I was at a complete loss as to how it worked. There had been no-one to do the recycling for several weeks, and it built up massively. I had many, many bags of unsorted recycling, and had no-idea what to do with it. My host mother told me I needed change to be able to pay to get in, but that was the extent of the information she gave. So, I headed off with 12 bags and went to the recycling centre.
When I got there, I did many laps of the place, uncertain of where to go or what to do. There were many skips and bins of various sizes, colours and shapes, with all sorts of things inside of them. One whole shed for whitegoods. Another for mattresses. One barrel for batteries. Another for used aerosol cans. A skip for plastic containers. A bag for white polysterene, another for coloured. It was either a recycling centre, or a hermit’s prized collection of ‘things-that-may-come-in-handy-one-day’.
I was eventually greeted by a very friendly, very smiley, elderly Asian man. He showed me where the rubbish was supposed to go. When he saw how many bags I had, he asked if it was sorted or not. I had no idea what he meant. He opened the bags and saw that it was all mixed, and then said, ‘Oh, not so good. You separate next time, much cheaper. Much better for you.’ He then showed me all the various containers for the bits and pieces and, despite taking many, many bags of rubbish from me, only charged me for 3 or 4 of them.
So, this was my first encounter with ‘The Recycling Man’. I don’t know his name, but he’s always working, he’s always helpful, and he’s always got the biggest smile around on his face, no matter what the weather, or what the circumstance. I love him. He always brightens my day. He is a shiny example of how a horrible chore can become something far more enjoyable simply because of the people who are involved, or the attitude you have towards it.
In the course of the year, he has done many lovely things for me. He only ever charges me for one bag of rubbish, even if I’ve brought two smaller ones (and I know from the occasional days I’ve had to deal with his colleagues that they charge for every bag, even if its not twice as much rubbish). One windy day, I lost 20 Euro in the centre (the Euro notes, I find, are ridiculously easy to lose, they simply slip out of your pocket or hand and float off. Perhaps that’s contributed to the Eurozone financial troubles… Ooh. Too harsh?) and he helped me look for it. We couldn’t find it, but he said he would check the whole perimeter for me and give it back to me next week if he found it. He was true to his word and gave it back the next Monday. I never could work out if he actually found it, or if he just gave it to me out of his own pocket, because he felt bad that I had lost it. He gave me a ‘Hangman’ computer game, which is just a little game that you can play hangman on. He was playing with it one day and he said to me, ‘Someone just left this! Is perfectly fine! Works perfectly! Here, you can have it. You can give it to your kids. You have kids, yes? You give it to them.’ He was so annoyed that people would be so wasteful as to throw away a perfectly working toy. Then, just yesterday, he asked me if I needed to paint my house. I was confused and said I wasn’t sure. He said if I did, he had a whole pile of tins of paint that someone had given him and he would give them to me for free. I said I’d have to check with my host family, and get back to him. He told me he’d keep it out the back for me, in case I wanted it. Of course, we don’t need to paint the house, and we’d probably buy the paint in the colour we need rather than get freebies, but I kind of want to tell him we do want the paint, just because the gesture was so nice.
I’m planning on writing him a little thank you card, as I notice that in his little hut, where he keeps all the money that he gets for the rubbish, he has a couple of ‘Season’s Greetings’ cards pinned to the wall, and I just kind of want to say thanks for being so friendly and nice all the time. Except for the fact that I don’t know his name. Maybe I’ll just write a message and sign my name and not address it. I should ask his name, but its gotten to the point where its kind of too late and awkward to ask his name. I also like the idea of having such a nice memory of knowing someone, but not knowing their name. I’m such a dreamer sometimes.

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The Adventures of Leon the Pirate

I haven’t been blogging much, and I apologise, but I’ve been working hard on my fringe show, ‘No Matter Where You Go, There You Are’ (if you don’t know anything about it, visit my OTHER blog which is all about the process of creating this crazy show. The link is: http://nomatterwhereyougothereyouare.blogspot.com/

We had a little disaster yesterday at the river. Its one of those disasters that all children go through at some point: the loss of a beloved toy. My brother lost his teddy bear (imaginatively named Washington Augustus Gloop – he always was a step ahead of the curve, my brother) on the battlefield of Gettysburg, which at least is very interesting, and gives you the opportunity to make jokes about ‘another brave soldier lost at Gettysburg’ or some such (not that I encourage joking around battlefields, especially not one as glorious and symbolic and American as Gettysburg), but it was distressing nonetheless for my brother at the time (he was 3, I think).

Anyway, I bet you can guess what happened at the river. We were walking over the bridge, and the Little One was clutching two of her favourite plastic figurines, Esay and Leon, one in each hand. Her elder sister had jumped up on the bridge’s railings, and the Little One wanted to follow suit. She put her little hands, still clutching the toys, up on to the railings. I was in the middle of saying, ‘Be careful of Leon,’ when the toy slipped out of the Little One’s hand and fell into the water.

The Little One wasn’t quite aware of what had happened to begin with. She cried out, ‘My Leon! We have to go get him!’ But the enormity of the situation didn’t sink in just yet. I have to say, I wasn’t particularly sensitive to begin with, because the sight of little red-haired Leon bobbing in the river, surrounded by very confused ducks who were attempting to eat his head, was too funny. I was in hysterics, as Leon was caught up by the tide and swept downstream. It was at this point that the Little One started to get worried. No one had leapt to retrieve Leon, and she couldn’t see him anymore. She started to wail, ‘My Leon, my Leon! Have to get a ladder!’ This was a pretty good idea, really, if it weren’t for the fact that Leon was in the middle of a wide river, and was now 50 metres away from us, rather than directly below the bridge. It was then that I realised I would have to confront the situation with the Little One.

Artist’s impression of Leon. If found, please return to: Jenny, Co. Cork

‘We can’t get Leon back,’ I said. This did not go down well.
‘Have to!’ She wailed.
‘Leon’s gone an adventure, I can’t get him back.’
‘No! Have to get the man!’ she squealed (this is her explanation for most things when they’ve been broken, as we have told her many times that ‘her bike will be fixed by the man’, or ‘the TV will be fixed by the man’, or ‘the man has come to fix the sink’. Of course, they’re all different men, but we don’t use all their names, so now it seems like she thinks there is one Mr. Fix-It, who you call whenever anything goes wrong in your life. Her other solution to every problem is batteries).
I said, ‘No, the man can’t get Leon back.’
‘Yes he can! Yes he can! Have to get Leon!’ She was getting very distressed now, so I picked her up and started to carry her away. This got her even more upset. So, I decided to try a whimsical approach, something that you might have seen in Hollywood films or daytime soaps.
‘Leon’s gone on an adventure, sweetheart! He’s swimming all the way out to the ocean, and he’s going to be picked up by a big ship and he’s going to sail the seas! He’s going to have lots of fun, so we should be happy for him!’
‘WAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!! Have to get Leon back!!!’
At this point, her elder sister decided to jump in and get involved. ‘Leon’s going to come to Castletownshend on the ship and you can find him there.’
Now the Little One was delighted. She stopped crying and started clapping her hands. But, for me, this wasn’t a solution. What was going to happen when she got to Castletownshend and Leon wasn’t there? I appreciated the eldest girl’s efforts, but I felt I had to clarify.
‘Well, yes, maybe, the ship will drop him off there, but he’s going on a big adventure before that and we don’t know when he’ll find you again…..’
‘WAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!! Have to find Leon, have to find him!’
The eldest girl clearly didn’t think much of my comforting skills, because she chimed in again, ‘Mummy and Daddy get you a BIG Leon for your birthday! A BIG soft teddy bear Leon!’
Again, the Little One was delighted. She started clapping her hands and chanting, ‘Yeah, BIG teddy bear Leon!’ I didn’t even know what a ‘teddy bear Leon’ was, let alone whether or not it could be bought. I felt the need to clarify, again.
‘Well, yes, maybe, we will have to ask them…’
‘WAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!! Jenny, Jenny, want BIG soft Leon teddy!’
But, I was determined to live out my fantasy of being Susan Sarandon in ‘Little Women’ or Karen Grassle in ‘Little House on the Prairie’ or something, determined to comfort without recourse to promising to buy things, or that things would suddenly, magically reappear. I was determined to comfort through whimsical lies, as had been the solution of hundreds of thousands of parents before me (‘Fido’s gone to a lovely farm where he can run around all day in the fields!’ ‘Of course Santa brought you your presents!’ ‘If you’re good and eat your crusts, your hair will go curly!’ ‘The fairies down the bottom of the garden make the flowers grow!’)
‘I think Leon has swum all the way to the sea, and he’s going to be picked up by a pirate ship, and he’s going to become a pirate! He’s going to get an eye-patch and a wooden leg and a talking parrot! He’s going to sail the high seas and look for hidden treasure, and he’s going to become rich! Would you like to be a pirate, Little One?’
She wasn’t sure where this was going, but she nodded hesitantly.
‘Would you like to be a pirate and sail on a big boat?’
‘OK!’  She said more enthusiastically.
‘OK, I’m going to be a pirate too! Would your sister like to be a pirate?’
The elder girl wasn’t going to play ball. She could see her own whimsical lies being hijacked and she didn’t like it.
‘No.’
‘Ok, you can be the talking parrot then.’
‘Parr-ah, Parr-ah,’ chirped the Little One.
I had done it. I was the champion. I was the magical nanny that I had read about in millions of English children’s books. But, then the eldest girl saw a way of ruining my calm seas.
‘Will Leon really never come back, Jenny?’
‘WAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!! Leon!!!’
Her elder sister didn’t skip a beat.
‘Mummy and Daddy buy you a NEW Leon! A BIG Leon!’
‘Yay! Big Leon! Jenny, Mummy and Daddy get a BIG Leon!’
I sighed.
‘Yay. A big Leon.’

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Perfection is the Enemy of Art

This is a phrase that one of my acting tutors used to say to us all the time. I always thought it was a pretty interesting and comforting phrase, but its become even more relevant to me over the past 6 months, in regards to my eldest charge.
The phrase has a lot of good stuff rolled into it. Of course, firstly, its trying to say that art isn’t perfect. More importantly, art is not about being perfect, because perfection isn’t interesting. You don’t look at Vincent van Gogh’s ‘Starry, Starry Night’ and say its a ‘perfect’ representation of the night sky.
But, another way that you can read it is that striving for perfection, that is, perfectionism, is the enemy of art. There are many ways that perfectionism can be the enemy of art. It can kill the final product, when, in a constant effort to polish, to improve, to perfect, you destroy the rawness, excitement and life of the original artwork. Or, it can make something that might have been daring and cutting-edge and pull it back, make it safe, in an effort to please others or for approval.
But perfectionism can prevent you even getting to the final product. If you’re an artist like me, there’ll be innumerable files saved on your hard drive, two or three pages into a script, a story or an idea, that have been abandoned when the reality of what I was creating couldn’t match up with the perfection that was imagined in my brain. Perfectionism can even stop you getting started, in the form of procrastination.
My eldest charge, however, takes the pursuit of perfection in arts to new levels. She’ll come up with a hugely ambitious plan of something she wants to paint, or draw, or create. She’ll begin. It won’t be quite right. She’ll try to fix it. It won’t work according to her pre-determined goals. She will then destroy said thing. She will rub out the lines of her drawing so hard that the paper will rip and she will then proceed to scrunch it up and throw it across the room. She will mix all the paints into brown sludge, put her hands in it and then put it all over the table, herself and the walls. She will give up trying to create a story with her dolls doll house and instead, pull it all down.
Its become quite distressing to me, as I understand her feelings, the desire to make it wonderful and great, but I find her complete refusal to even attempt to make the things she wants to completely impossible to understand. I tell her she needs to practice, I try to show her what to do, but none of it works. She tells me she has practiced, or insists that I make/draw/paint the thing for her instead. Lately, I’ve tried to explain to her the spirit of the title phrase, that art isn’t perfect, that nothing she does is wrong, and that the important thing was for her to have fun. She proceeded to wipe black paint all over her T-shirt and told me that was what she found fun.
But, perhaps I’m looking at it all wrong. Perhaps she is a creative genius, an artistic rebel so cutting-edge so far ahead of myself that I am just completely misunderstanding her. Perhaps she’s the next bad boy/girl of the art world and one day I’ll be lambasted by art critics for washing out her early masterpieces with soap and bleach.
Unfortunately, I think she is just a more extreme example of myself, when our impossible demands and expectations of ourselves can prevent us from achieving anything at all.

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Indoors/Outdoors

Its been ‘the worst summer in living memory’ according to my host father, which is kind of crappy. We hardly get one sunny day, let alone two in a row. Though, after all the complaining I’ve heard over the years about the Irish weather, I have to say that I would have believed that this weather was typical. I am sometimes tempted, when people complain, to say, ‘Is it the worst, really? Or is it just that all summers seem better with the benefit of hindsight and nostalgia? Has your brain just erased all the rainy days, and simultaneously morphed all the sunny days into one glorious summer memory to help you get through the constant bad weather, like a woman’s body secretes a hormone to make you forget all the pain of child birth to ensure you love your baby and get pregnant again?’ But, obviously, I just nod and say, ‘well, that’s a shame.’
Anyway, the constant bad weather, typical or not, has meant many days stuck inside the house for me and the girls. Every time you stick them in front of the TV and do housework, you think, ‘well, next time, when its sunny, I’ll get them to the beach’. But, of course, the next day, its raining again. Its not only the guilt of so many hours of TV watching that gets me down, but just being stuck inside the house all day and night. Everyone gets on everybody else’s nerves, all the washing is hung out on every available indoor surface, and the mess in each room just gets worse and worse and worse. To make things worse, all last week, my eldest charge keeps waking up and saying she wanted a ‘pyjama day’. This is essentially what it sounds like. A day where she sits around all day long in her pj’s and watches TV. The first time she requested it, I thought, well, maybe she’s tired. The second day, I thought, well, maybe she just enjoyed it yesterday, and the next day she would be bored and want to get out of the house. The third day, I thought, I’ll drag your pj’s off by force and dress you in your father’s house-painting clothes before I let you keep me hostage in this house for another 24 hours.

See? PJ’s just make you look stupid.

One day last week, we went to an indoor play area in Cork called ‘Supernova’, which was a true saving grace, a huge indoor climbing area with slides, bouncy castles, ball rooms, ladders, roundabouts etc. Not only could the kids go wild, but because it was only for kids, there was no expectation (or demands) that I get in and play with them as well. I could sit down and read my book, glancing up occasionally to make sure that there were no bloody noses or screaming/crying kids that belonged to me. I have to say, that was more what I had expected when I agreed to be a child-minder. I think one of the reasons a lot of au pairs tend to be younger is that they are meant to be (or usually are) more of a playmate for the kids than a minder. Playmate can be more fun, but it is also much, much more exhausting.
The day afterwards, despite the horrible weather, we took a trip to an open farm, because I couldn’t bear to be in the house for another day. My eldest charge complained and complained and complained, but she ended up having a great day. The farm was fantastic because it had so many bizarre and different attractions all in the same place, some indoors and some outdoors. There was an adventure playground, rope climbing area, a very sad looking camel (whose hump was drooping – not the most happy looking sight), llamas, a maze, a fairy fort, ducks, goats and marmosets to feed, animals to pet, pedal go-carts etc. I even had a snake put around my neck, which was the most terrifying thing I have ever done. I swore I would never do such a thing. It was awful, awful, awful. I could feel it contracting its body like it wanted to strangle me (Dad says that’s just how it moves. I don’t believe him. It couldn’t move anywhere, it was being held still by the farm worker. It wanted to strangle and eat me, I know).
Today, however, was a beautiful, beautiful day. Blue skies and lovely, warm sun. I took the girls to do some shopping, which was necessary, but I told them after lunch we could go to the beach. Both girls were very excited and the eldest asked if we could go to Inchydoney, which is the closest, nicest beach. I said, of course we could, delighted that she had agreed to come, as I had expected arguments. I was not out of the woods, however, as 5 minutes later she told me she didn’t want to leave the house. I told her that was tough and we were going to the beach. She said she didn’t want to. I said it was crazy to want to stay indoors on the first truly lovely day we’ve had in ages. She said she didn’t care. I said, well, your sister and I want to go, so we outnumber you, and we’re going. That kept her quiet for a bit. Then she said, ‘Why can’t we just get out the paddling pool?’ Of course, as soon as her younger sister heard the eldest suggest something, that was what she wanted to do. ‘Paddling pool! Paddling pool!’
I was now outnumbered, and decided sitting out in the garden in the sun was almost as good as being at the beach.
But, when we got home, the eldest girl disappeared inside the house. So, I did various chores, figuring she would come and find me when she got bored. I decided that if she desperately wanted to be in the house all day, then that was her problem and I wasn’t going to beg her to come out. But, as I went about my chores, I noticed that not only did she not want to be outside in the sun, she had gone round and closed all the curtains, so that she couldn’t even see the sun on the inside. This seemed to be making the whole ‘not going outside’ thing into more a ‘sun-hating’ thing, which, in my current mood, I couldn’t really understand. Once I had gotten her sister set up with the paddling pool, I went upstairs to find her. She was sitting on her window sill, hidden behind her curtains, with a book on her lap, talking to herself. This seemed more than a little odd, and a bit sad, so I went to talk to her to make sure she was ok and offered her a pancake, which she accepted. I said if she was tired, she could sit and watch a video, “Matilda”, if she wanted. She was very enthusiastic about this, until I said that I wouldn’t be sitting down and watching it with her again (I have now seen this video upwards of 20 times. These days I don’t even get to watch the blasted thing, we draw all the curtains, so its like a cinema, get some snack food, put on the video, and then the eldest girl proceeds to talk over the top of the entire film). She wanted to know why, to which I was tempted to reply that I couldn’t bear to see the hideous thing again, but instead, I reiterated my previous point that it was insane to be indoors. I said I would be outside, reading a book in the sun. “Matilda” was no longer that interesting for her, and she decided to come out and cut various plants with her mother’s gardening tools. The Little One saw this and decided she needed to do something similar, so I gave her the scissors and she cut the grass.
So, in the end, I got my afternoon in the sun. We decorated the grave of the old cat (it died yesterday, which was very sad, but there are so many other cats in the house, that it doesn’t feel that strange), tried to catch butterflies, played on the swings, the slide, looked at the apples, swung on the gates. It was a wonderful afternoon (as it always is when I manage to convince the eldest girl to get out of the house), so I’m hoping for sun tomorrow and the strength to be able to convince the eldest to go to the beach. There’s only two weeks left of the summer holidays, so I can’t believe that she wants to waste all of that inside watching TV, but I’m not putting it past her. The one thing I can assure you is that I am not spending that amount of time inside watching TV, so if worst comes to worst, I’ll be setting up my own picnic blanket in the backyard for sun-bathing and reading.

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Timoleage, Kinsale and others

Ok, after the shameless self-promotion, I’m going to write some more about my weekend. Well, I’m going to try. Is anyone else getting bored of me banging on about these places? I kind of am. *Sigh*. Here goes, I suppose.
So, as I mentioned, I went to a local fashion show in Timoleague on Friday night. This was quite amusing. I’ve never been to a proper fashion show. I’ve seen two (one at my high school, and the other at my Norwegian high school), and was involved in one ‘multicultural’ one back in Minnesota, where I got to pretend I was a German child and wore liederhosen. So, with that disclaimer, that fashion shows are not exactly my cup of tea, nor am I an expert in them, I thought this one was pretty darn cool. It was a fundraiser for the local GAA (the athletic association), and all the local women had turned up. Not only had they turned up, but they had ALL gone ALL out. Every single women looked stunning. Hair, dress, make-up, jewellery, it was incredible. I had dressed up a little, as much as I feel I can these days, with my limited au pair wardrobe (I had thought it might be an opportunity to meet an interesting man, as well, seeing how I’m absolutely no good in bars/pubs/nightclubs/every-other-place-that-people-meet-people. This statement alone should indicate to you that I have been to very few fashion shows before. Of course there were only women in attendance. The only men there were 6 elderly gentlemen providing security and checking tickets), but the local Irish women put me to shame.
The great thing about these women was also that they were out for a good time, and a good time was had. I was told by several women that they must think they were crazy, that Irish women partied harder than Irish men if they got the chance, and they were certainly getting the chance that night.
Unfortunately, I was driving home, however, so I couldn’t actually partake in the festivities. I spent most of my time with my eldest charge, as her mother was working at the fashion parade. This gave me the distinct feeling of being a kid again, running around backstage, peering over fences at people below, looking at the market stalls, staring at all the pretty ladies, going and buying chips and going to the fun fair, whilst waiting for my host mother to come back. 
Being an au pair in general has made me feel like I’m in some sort of generational limbo-land. I’m not quite an adult/parent, but I’m certainly no longer a kid. The kids will let me play along with them, but they don’t let me discipline them (or they react badly to it when I do). The adults let me sit and chat with them, but I still feel a bit like the 12 year-old who has been allowed to sit up late for a special occasion.
Anyway, back to the fashion show. I had a fantastic time. It was kind of interesting to go out and do something very different from what I normally do. I get so caught up in theatre and acting and writing sometimes, that I very often get stuck in a rut and don’t try new things. And new things are good. New things are always good.
Speaking of new things, I spent Saturday with my new host family, who I will be moving to in September. They live in Kinsale, and have two little boys, one who is 3 and the other who is a baby. It was a little awkward to begin with, but once I played with the little man and his trucks for a while, I was suddenly very popular. It was very funny and interesting seeing the immediate differences there will be in looking after boys rather than girls. For example, I sat down and watched an episode of ‘Tractor Ted’ with him, which told us about all the different things that are harvested in the Autumn time. I was also given an in-depth description of each one of his tractors, their jobs and names. I learnt more about farming in that one morning than I have ever known. For the past 6 months its been Barbie DVD’s and instructional videos on how to braid hair or make cornrows, and for the next 6 months its going to be harvesting and bailing. Oh the things you learn.
The day was lovely, however, the Little Man is gorgeous and Baby Brother is also very cute. Despite being spat up on (he is a baby), I was disturbed by the instinctive, hormonal reaction I had to him. I picked him up and it was all, ‘Oh, he’s so soft! Oh, he smells so good! Oh he’s so little and precious! Oh, I must protect him from all harm and danger forever and ever and ever!’ I also met Darling Cousin from next door, who is the same age as Little Man, and they are great friends. They spent the afternoon playing around the garden, ‘going’ to various places in their vehicles (She had a car. He had a tractor), like the swimming pool, or to a wedding. To me, he seems bright as a button, very imaginative and well-behaved. Of course it was one day and you never know what it’s going to be like when Mum isn’t around, but I’m looking forward to it.
It’ll be interesting looking after a baby as well. I found it so odd that he didn’t talk back. Of course I know you have to talk to them so that they learn, but after a while you do feel like the conversation is going in circles somewhat. I’m sitting there having a whole conversation with him, ‘Oh, aren’t you cute? Oh, shall we play with this? Oh, will we give you a bounce?’ and not so much as a nod of the head. Honestly. How does he expect me to know what’s going on? I’m not a mind reader.
Some of the girls from Bandon were meeting me later that night in Kinsale, but I had some time to kill, and it was a lovely sunny afternoon, so I decided to sit by myself in the park after dinner, write and listen to some music. There were all sorts of people about, hippies drinking and smoking, families, teenage sweethearts. After about 45 minutes, I was approached by one of the hippies, which was more than a little odd. He’d walked across the park to come and talk to me. He had clearly been drinking, also had been smoking, and he sat down to ask what I was doing. Normally I run a mile from this sort of encounter, but I decided to embrace it. He asked me to come over and chat to him and his friends, and I thought, ‘Hell, why not, its a sunny day, I’m in a public place, what’s the worst that could happen?’
I know you’re waiting for the twist, or the bad news, but there is none. His friends were all very lovely, though perhaps a little tipsy, and we didn’t have a lot in common. But we bumbled along trying to make conversation, finding out about each other’s backgrounds. There was one very drunk Frenchman who couldn’t remember my name (he called me Tiffany, as well as thinking I was American), who advised me to ‘go with my heart for the next 10 years’. That I would want to go with my head, but I should ignore it, because if I didn’t go with my heart, I would always regret it. Interesting. Eventually they got up to go to one of their houses, as the Frenchman was very drunk and needed to lie down, but I decided that was a little too adventurous, even in my current mood, so I went to the pub and waited for my friends.
We had a great night, dancing to a fabulous cover band and then heading next door to the nightclub. After much drama, screaming into mobile phones and meeting up in various dark streets, we eventually found our way to our taxi and I got home around 3:30am. Not too shabby.
So, with all the excitement, I’m really looking forward to the move to Kinsale. I think its a beautiful town, and it’ll be nice to be on the water again, much as I thought I wasn’t a water person.

Jennifer Hawkins. Not one of the models in the Timoleague Fashion Parade

Alright, I’m really phoning this in now, so I’d best leave it. I’ll write again when I’m more enthusiastic, less tired and have more jokes. Promise.

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Shameless Self-Promotion

After all the excitement of my holidays, its been difficult to keep up with the blogging. It all seems a bit same-same here at the moment, like I’ve squeezed all the possible laughs from my situation and there’s nothing left to write about.
But, I think I’m just being lazy. After all, last Friday I went to a local fashion show in Timoleague, and Saturday I spent all day in Kinsale. And Sunday all day in Cork. There are many things to write about these events, but I’m just not really in the mood.
Probably the reason is that I am currently working on a show that will be playing at the Melbourne Fringe (that’s right, the one in Australia), and the Wexford Fringe (in Ireland). The conceit is that we have myself, an Australian performer living in Ireland, and an Irish performer living in Australia. We’re writing and performing about our experiences moving to another country, migration, travel, that sort of thing. I perform in Ireland, interacting with a film of the Irish performer, and she performs in Australia, interacting with a film of myself. Anyway, its pretty exciting, as well as terrifying, and we have big plans, including introducing another performer from Alabama for next year. If you want to read more about it, you can read more of the following website:
http://nomatterwhereyougothereyouare.blogspot.com/
Its been keeping me pretty busy since getting back from holidays, and all my writing efforts are directed towards the script at the moment, not leaving much time for blogging. Additionally, we haven’t got a lot of support in Australia, so I’m doing a lot of the producing stuff via email. More than a little stressful, but I’m also pleased that we’ve gone through with it. I genuinely think its going to be an interesting show, even if it might be less than organised and hectic. Eh. You can’t have it all, I suppose.

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Overheard Children’s Conversation

Kids’ conversation is hysterical. Some of its sweet, for example:

Eldest Girl: What’s it like being you? 


Cousin: Oh, you know. You’re bored by everything. You live opposite your school, and you love your video games. You’re thinking about playing your X-Box all the time, like, right now, like, I can’t wait to get home and play my X-Box, oh, boy, oh, boy, oh, boy, I can’t wait.

But most of it is just a bizarre attempt at one-up-manship.  Exhibit A:

Eldest Girl: (in reference to a slushie) Look how water-y mine is. 
Cousin: Yeah, but, look how water-y mine is. 
Eldest Girl: Yeah, but look what I can do. 
Cousin: So? So? I can do that, I can do that. Look how water-y mine is, see? See? Its just dripping off the straw. 
Eldest Girl: Mine’s dripping off more. 
Cousin: No it isn’t. 
Eldest Girl: Yes it is. 
Cousin: Yeah, but look how water-y mine is now. 
Eldest Girl: Yeah, well look how water-y mine is. 
(uneasy silence) 
Eldest Girl: You’ve got more than me. 
Cousin: No I don’t. 
Eldest Girl: Yes you do. 
Cousin: Yeah, and mine’s more water-y. 
Eldest Girl: No, its not. 
Cousin: Yes it is. 
(uneasy silence) 
Eldest Girl: (blowing bubble in slushie) Look what I can do! 
Cousin: That proves you have more than me. 
Eldest Girl: (anxious pause) No it doesn’t. 
*********
Eldest Girl: (in reference to lollies) Are you going to get those ones next time? 
Cousin: No, I’m going to get the same ones as you. 
Eldest Girl: Why? 
Cousin: Because those ones are better than mine.
Eldest Girl: Did you wish you got these ones today? 
Cousin: No. 
Eldest Girl: Why not?
Cousin: ‘Cause. 
Eldest Girl: ‘Cause why? 
Cousin: ‘Cause I wanted the fake tattoo that came with these ones. 
Eldest Girl: But you didn’t even put it on. 
Cousin: Yeah, but I wanted it anyway. 
Eldest Girl: If there’s been cola flavoured ones, would you have wished that you got the same ones as me today? 
Cousin: No. 
Eldest Girl: Yes you would. 
Cousin: No I wouldn’t. 
Eldest Girl: Yes you would. 
Cousin: No I wouldn’t.
Eldest Girl: (pause) Mine are better than yours.
*************
Eldest Girl: (in front of the eldest girl’s school) Is my school bigger than your school?

Cousin: Yeah, I think your school is bigger than my school.

Eldest Girl: Is that house bigger than your school?

Cousin: No.

Eldest Girl: It is, but.

Cousin: No, its not.

Eldest Girl: Yes it is, its got three storeys and two kitchens and its really huge, I know ’cause I’ve been inside it and you never have and its definately bigger than your school.

Cousin: No, its not.

Eldest Girl: My friend’s house is bigger than your school.

Cousin: Which is your friend’s house?

Eldest Girl: That one.

Cousin: Its not bigger than my school.

Eldest Girl: It is, but. It doesn’t look so big on the outside, but then its SO big when you go inside, you don’t know.

Cousin: No, its not.

Eldest Girl: It is, it is, its got three storeys and two kitchens too.

Cousin: No it doesn’t, I couldn’t even see it behind the trees.

Eldest Girl: Well, I could.

Cousin: I couldn’t.

Eldest Girl: I could.

********
Cousin: You see that shop? That used to be a toy shop
Eldest Girl: I know. 
Cousin: I used to go in there all the time. I went in there, like, 10 times.
Eldest Girl: So did I, so did I, I loved that shop. 
Cousin: Me too, me too. 
Eldest Girl: You know our neighbours? They used to own that shop. And the toy shop at Castletownshend and the toy shop down the road. 
Cousin: Wow, they must be rich. 
Eldest Girl: Yeah, they are. 
Cousin: (pause) Then why don’t they make their house look better?
**********
Eldest Girl: That’s my friend’s house, that’s my friend’s house. Its the nicest house in the whole world. 
Cousin: Its ok. 
Eldest Girl: No, its not, its the nicest house in the whole world, I know, I’ve been inside it, its HUGE and its got so many bedrooms and its got three storeys and a big play area. 
Cousin: Are they rich? 
Eldest Girl: Yeah, they’re really rich, they’re so rich. 
Cousin: Does her Dad have a really good job? 
Eldest Girl: Yeah, her Dad has a really good job, its a really, really good job. He’s an electrician. 
Cousin: That’s not such a good job. 
Eldest Girl: No, but it is, its a really good job. Well, maybe its not such a good job, but they’re really, really rich. Because they’re house is so nice.

***********
This last one wasn’t overheard, but it was definately my favourite conversation of the day. 
(we see a teenager driving really fast)
Eldest Girl: Why do teenagers always drive so fast?
Jenny: I don’t know, I think they think they’re being rebellious. 
Eldest Girl: What’s that mean? 
Jenny: It means they think they’re breaking the rules. Well, they are breaking the rules. 
Cousin: Why do they like that? 
Jenny: Because they’re bored and its exciting to break the rules. They just really like to break the rules. They like to drive fast, and they like to go out late and they like to ignore their parents… 
Eldest Girl: But, what they really like to do is loiter. 
Jenny: Yes, I guess they do. 
Eldest Girl: They loiter all the time. Why do they do that? I don’t like how they do that. Why don’t they just go home?
Jenny: Because they think home is boring. 
Cousin: That’s stupid. They’re so stupid. 
Jenny: You should feel sorry for them. How horrible would it be to find life boring all the time? Can you think how awful that would be if you didn’t like anything? 
Cousin: I think everything’s boring. 
Jenny: But you had a good time today at Supernova, didn’t you? 
Cousin: Yeah. 
Jenny: So, you didn’t find that boring, did you? 
Cousin: No. 
(pause)
Eldest Girl: But why do they have to loiter????

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