I’m not quite sure where to start with this post.
The heading, as you would be well aware, is ‘even more music’, but its not the point of the post. I don’t even know why I titled it that way. Well, I do, but…
The point is, I don’t know where to start with this post, hence the ‘not-at-all-relevant’ blog post title.
Well, I guess with the title. Music. On Wednesday I went out (again) to hear the blokes I have been seeing at ‘The Spaniard’ play at another bar in Kinsale. I had been in two minds about the whole situation, which is more the point of this blog post. The reason I had been in two minds about it, was because one of the musicians seemed interested… well, ok, was very obviously interested in me.
You would think that this would be a good thing. Boiled down to its basics, it certainly is. An Irish musician, interested in me. Awesome.
No, not awesome.
The devil is in the detail, as they say.
Said musician was… well, let’s say conservatively, 50 years old?
Now, I have nothing against 50 year olds as a general rule. I quite like them. I quite often have very lovely conversations with people just such an age. There are some really very nice 50 year old people around. I even know some nice people that are even older than that. I don’t even have an issue with a large age gap in a relationship. Older men can be quite sexy (Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Richard Irons, even Sean Connery….), and as long as both partners are happy, I don’t think its a problem.
So, what is my problem here?
Well, firstly, the guy had hardly spoken to me, he knew only that I was Australian, that I was working as an au pair, that I did writing, and that he liked my singing voice (and, presumably, the way I looked). And, after all that, he wanted my number, wanted to call me and was attempting to get me to call it ‘a date’ when I said I would come see his Wednesday gig. As much as I indulge in romantic fantasies of love at first sight and think I’m in love with musicians I’ve never spoken to, any guy that acts this eager and pushy when you haven’t had a conversation longer than 5 minutes is always going to be shut down by me. That’s just the way it goes, I’m afraid. I’m not comfortable thinking of myself as a sex object, so any guy who is ready to go, based on a 30 second glance and some initial inquiries as to what your first name is and your drink of choice, will always make me feel defensive, confused and slightly nervous.
Secondly, when I did turn up at the next gig, and after I had made it clear this was ‘not a date’, he proceeded to act like it was. Being flirtatious, telling me he ‘noticed lots of things about me’, that he had been ‘watching me so intently’, touching my shoulder, putting his finger through a hold in my cardigan sleeve etc. The more I moved away from him, the more he seemed to think he needed to do more to bring me back. When I told him to stop saying I was pretty, he joked, ‘You know, they say that when a woman says to stop, she’s actually telling you to keep going.’ Which, now that I think about it, out of context, is probably the most horrendous thing a man could say to a woman, even jokingly, even in a flirtatious way. Or, maybe, especially then.
Now, I’m not saying that I’m completely innocent here. My natural instinct is not to make waves, not to insult people or upset them. That’s the case, even when they are upsetting me. I take everything on board myself. So, except in very special circumstances, if I’m feeling uncomfortable in a situation, if someone’s behaviour is making me uncomfortable (particularly if the person is someone I don’t know), then I won’t actually tell them to stop it, or stand up for myself, I’ll sit and stew in my own discomfort, and try to convey, say, through telepathy, body language and clipped words that I don’t like what they’re doing. Further to that, some of the things that I did that didn’t help matters, on the Sunday, when he asked for my number, I gave it to him. When he asked if he could call me, I said, yes. He took a photo of me for my phone number in his phone. The problem from my perspective is, that when he asked for my number, I had no inkling that he wanted the phone number in the way that he wanted it. That may sound incredible in hindsight, but its true. I truly thought he was too old to be interested in me! And, I guess, also, I assumed he wouldn’t try anything ‘like that’ because I was so much younger, and therefore would never be interested in him. Anyway, when he said, can I call you, I was thinking it was just because he liked my singing, and thought I was nice. I thought he meant he wanted to call in a friendly way, in a, ‘hey, we’re playing at the pub, come down and sing with us’, kind of way. It wasn’t until I had said yes, and saw his reaction that I realised what he actually meant.
But, anyway, I can handle all that sort of stuff. I can, really. I find it a little odd that a 50 year old man is still attempting a hook-up at his age (I mean, I would expect this kind of behaviour from a boy in their 20s, but I would have thought that by the time you reach middle-age, you would have a bit more sense… well, maybe not, maybe that’s why he’s single… harsh…), but, its still not anything that I haven’t experienced before. Sure, it makes me feel uncomfortable, sure it keeps me up at night, wondering if I’ve led someone on, if they now feel bad, hoping they don’t, kicking myself for all the stupid things I said and did that potentially contributed to the situation, and why didn’t I just nip it in the bud when I had the chance, and why did I go listen to the music again, and then turning it on its head and saying, ‘well, I liked the music, so why shouldn’t I have gone’, and then getting angry at them for making me feel bad and then going, ‘oh, but maybe it was all my fault anyway,’ and twisting and turning continuously and blah blah blah blah blah…
The thing that is really the problem here, and really should be the title of this post, is men over the age of 40. Now, again, before you all jump down my throat, I have nothing against men over the age of 40. I very much like men over the age of 40. They are generally confident, kind, established, charming, much better groomed than their younger counterparts etc. The problem is, that all this year, with maybe one notable exception, it is men over the age of 40 that have been interested in me. I find this confusing. Until I moved to Ireland, I don’t think I had ever experienced a serious come-on from a man in that age bracket. Whereas now, every time I go out, inevitably, it is the middle-aged men who are shooting me glances, smiling cheekily, buying me drinks.
I’m sure I sound ridiculous and whingey and ungrateful, but it has seriously begun to confuse me. A logical explanation would be that most of the smart, eligible, younger Irish bachelors have moved away due to the economy. That’s the logical explanation. Of course, my brain is doing its best to convince me that the logical explanation is not the logical explanation at all. My brain is attempting to convince me that I am no longer attractive to my own age group. That all the ‘good men’ in my age bracket are now seriously committed, engaged or married, therefore leaving me only with those older men who are now starting to divorce their wives, going through mid-life crises or never got hitched in the first place (for whatever reason – that they’re mutants or emotionally stunted or something. I mean, that’s the only reason you wouldn’t get married, isn’t it?)
Seriously though, apart from the potential generational gap current in Ireland, where there are only a very few single, late 20s, early 30s men around, what would be the reason that older men are suddenly very attracted to me? See, I would have assumed that it would have been a case of, no men around in my age bracket, therefore, no men showing interest. But, I’ve had just as much interest, but its been from the type of men who showed no interest in me in Australia. Am I giving off some sort of vibe that is attractive to people going through a mid-life crisis? Because I’m off travelling, doing crazy things that they wished they were doing? Are men in Ireland used to bigger age gaps? I hear that up until recently, it was a ‘late marrying country’, that is, people, mainly men, waited a lot longer to get married than in other places, so it wasn’t unusual for a 40 year old man settling down for the first time with a wife 20 years younger. Is it that there is a man shortage here (apparently there is a significant one), so older men assume younger ones are going to be easier, and therefore more amenable to going out with an older guy?
Who knows. Maybe I should just get over it. Most of the time it doesn’t bother me. In fact, sometimes, when I like to pretend I’m a tiny bit like Elizabeth Gilbert, I remember that she married a gorgeous, 50-year old Brazilian man 15 years older than her, and that perhaps, on my own personal ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ tour of the world I will have to do something similar. Perhaps marrying a 50 year old man is a path to enlightenment. And multi-million dollar book deals.
Monthly Archives: September 2011
I’m not quite sure where to start with this post.
On Friday, the women from Creative Connections (or, as many as were free), attempted to re-create our ‘Home is Where the Art is’ pop-up cafe for Culture Night. ‘Culture Night’ is something that I originally thought was only on in Cork, as I’d never heard of it before. Turns out, its a national Irish event, and despite having a kind of naff name (come on, admit it), it is actually really exciting and cool. What happens is that, museums, galleries, theatres, artists’ studios, churches, historic houses and cultural centres all open their buildings up later than normal, and they all put on free events for the public. So, you can go to the museum and have a little theatrical tour of the space. Or you can go to the gallery and hear a talk. Or you can go to the concert hall, and hear an eclectic collection of musos. Or, you can go to the theatre and see a small performance. All for free. People wander in and out of buildings all night, its just a really lovely vibe. We were asked by Cork Midsummer Festival to re-create our cafe for a few hours in Civic House Trust, a beautiful, red-brick Georgian building that houses a variety of cultural groups, including Cork Midsummer and Corcadorca Theatre Company.
We met the week before to discuss what we could do. There were a few problems to begin with. Not everyone was available, and when we looked around the room, it seemed like only Irish people, and furthermore, only WHITE people were going to be able to work at our ‘intercultural’ cafe. Not that there is anything wrong with white people, per se (though we can be a little boring and imperialistic and self-satisfied sometimes) and I think we can agree that there is no racial advantage to any one ethnic group in terms of making tea and instant coffee, however, one of the key points of our cafe was its intercultural nature, making a statement about the ‘new’ Ireland, and advertising our upcoming intercultural workshops that we would be running with our intercultural staff. Our leader assured us that some of the African women would also be attending and helping out, so we moved on.
The second problem we encountered was that in our fundraising for the next Midsummer Festival, we had to sell most of the things that we had used in the cafe. We also weren’t allowed to hang things on the walls of the lovely, red-brick Georgian house. Our original cafe had purple and yellow carpet, various lampshades hanging from the ceiling, spray-painted cups and saucers, washing machines and cleaning aides all over the walls. So, we were understandably worried that our new cafe would look a little bare and boring. But, we listed the things we could bring in and hoped it would all come together on the night.
|Ooh… pretty… I approve of the logo, if not the name.|
Turns out, there was nothing to worry about. We were able to hang some twine from window frames in the room, where we pinned our embroidered clothes and a gigantic ladder was brought in to hang any left over clothes on. We had enough pillows to scatter about, and those people in the group who had artistic work that they created at home brought it in too. The main thing that was missing was our wise and wonderful group leader, Priscilla Robinson, who had guided us through the original event and helped us run the days. We were also missing our fabulous tutors, Aine and Caroline, who had been integral to the set-up and design of the event. I had a few misgivings about how it would all run on Culture Night, but figured that someone would take charge and it would ‘all be ok’.
I was the first person to arrive at Civic Trust House, having run out of things to look at and do in Cork during the afternoon. I had been dreading this possibility, because I thought the people at the house might then assume I was in charge and ask me difficult questions, like, ‘Where do you want the projector?’ and ‘Do you need all this furniture?’ Or just, ‘So, what do you have planned for this evening?’ I escaped to the loo quickly, hoping someone might arrive in the meantime. No one did, and I sat awkwardly in the middle of the room, clasping my hands, as people not from Creative Connections did useful, busy things around me.
Eventually some of the other women arrived, but everyone was just as uncertain as each other, and the person we had kind of all hoped would be there to take charge hadn’t arrived. There was some more awkward sitting, until someone realised the time and we all, collectively thought, well, maybe we should do something.
I’m relating all of this, because I find the group dynamics fascinating. Its a generalisation, but I think that if it had been a group of men, or, if we had a man or two in the group, they would have taken charge straightaway, or, at least, attempted to. But, for some reason, I think its because women are so conscious of being polite to others, of not wanting to step on toes, or of not wanting to make mistakes, or not wanting to look stupid, or something, nobody wanted to take charge. In our case, we all sort of waited around someone to take charge, and when it didn’t happen, we did it collectively. No-one still was really ‘in charge’, little work groups formed, advice was taken from around the room, and collective decisions were made. I suppose because we’ve been working together since March, its easy for this to occur. A box and a few bags of things that we were going to use to decorate the room appeared, and people started looking for ways and places to hang everything. Rubbish was moved out of the way, furniture shifted, until we had something that looked as warm and welcoming as we could make it.
A similar thing happened when our first ‘audience’ arrived at the house. Whilst the woman we had kind of designated our leader had arrived, we hadn’t discussed how we were going to behave in the space, what we should do with those people who arrived etc. We had a couple of work stations set up (Face-painting, bag making and embroidery), as well as examples of our work, and pictures from the festival event, but we hadn’t discussed how they would all work together. Of course, our evening’s designated leader hadn’t even be able to attend the event at the Midsummer Festival, so, really, we were relying on the only person in the room who hadn’t already been a part of the event on the day. But, again, we were all kind of reluctant to put ourselves forward, to go out on a limb, to potentially make fools of ourselves.
Of course, it all worked fine as soon as people arrived. When 3 people walk into a room and look at everything that’s going on awkwardly, you can’t help but try and go over, make them welcome and explain what’s going on. Well, I can’t help it anyway. I’m becoming such a bubbly, chatterbox, I’ll throw a ‘How’s it going?’ and ‘Where are you from?’ to anyone that vaguely looks in my direction. This is amusing for me, remembering that as a 12 year old I hated even giving a waiter my order because I was too embarrassed (of what, I’m not entirely sure. That he wouldn’t agree with my food choice? That I would trip over the words? That he would ‘be mean’? I was a crazy-confused 12 year old). So, when the first few people arrived, I stepped up and explained what was going on, a little jumbled, probably a bit long, but I got the most important stuff out, they asked a few questions, looked at some photos, and then sat down to make a bag.
It was a bit slow in the first half an hour, but, just as I was sitting down to have my face-painted, a group of 4 kids walked in with their dad. They spied the free cookies on the table, and I spied them. ‘Hey!’ I called over, ‘Why don’t you guys have your face-painted? Its free!’ The two girls were very enthusiastic and came over straight away (after getting enough cookie supplies) to see the pictures that were on offer. From then on, we barely had a chance to stop. The place was full, mainly of kids and their parents, coming in, making bags, having a tea or biscuit, getting their faces painted etc. We had a great little group of 8 – 9 year old girls at the sewing and bag-making table who were so adorably enthusiastic. Not only about getting involved in making the bags, but in talking to us, hearing the stories behind the work we had created etc. Their parents had to come in and literally drag them away, their half-finished bags clutched in their hands, and us desperately packing ribbons, buttons and material into them so they could ‘finish them at home’ – like some sort of cool party-favour bag (hey, that is an AWESOME children’s party idea…). I sang again, as did the woman from Somalia, just for something a bit different, which was lovely, and I had two of the little girls pass me a note telling me they liked my voice (it was 1000 times good), so that was sweet.
And, before we knew it, we had to pack up again. The whole evening was fantastic, despite a small child vomiting in the corner early on. It was a real confidence boost for the women that were there (the running of the event. Not the small child’s vomit). We have to run 6 workshops for 60 women and children over October and November, and I think a lot of us were really worried about what we would do and how we would go. Culture Night proved that we’ve already got the skills to do it, which was fantastic.
As I’m now in Kinsale, I don’t have access to a car anymore, and my last bus leaves Cork at 10pm. However, one of the women invited us over to hers for a drink or two, and I got an offer of a bed in Cork, so I decided to stay the night and head back to Kinsale the next morning. That evening was wonderful. Many glasses of red wine consumed, a glass of cognac, many pistachio nuts and a couple of prawn crackers, but, more importantly, wonderful conversation with wonderful people. I’m always re-invigorated by a night like that, sitting around with close or new friends, talking, laughing and drinking, whereas I pretty much always come home from a night out dancing and drinking feeling lonely, unhappy and dissatisfied. We finished up around 2am, so not too late, but I went to bed so happy and so content.
Who needs men? I mean, honestly?
I just shouldn’t go anywhere I can see them, because then I’m like a kid in a candy store whose Mum has just informed her she’s on a sugar-free diet.
I’ve been so slack with the blog recently, but I’ve been so busy with the Melbourne Fringe show, and of course, its taking quite a bit of adjusting at the new house, so I’m only just working out a schedule for myself. I’ve got to stop jumping on the computer and losing myself in the never-ending links that come up on to Facebook or Twitter, when there are actually things I want to do.
Music has suddenly become a huge part of my life since moving to Kinsale. I’m not complaining, I adore it, but its so strange that its happened so suddenly.
There’s a bar here, ‘The Spainard’, which is a 20 minute walk down the road from my house, and they have music most nights. I think I may have mentioned it already. The last two Sundays I’ve gone to ‘The Spainard’ to hear these two blokes play. They’re very friendly, and were teasing me because I brought my notebook into the bar and was writing out notes to myself. Actually, all the blokes in the bar have been doing that. Actually, most of the people I’ve met in the bar have been blokes. How strange, I didn’t even notice, when I’ve been complaining and complaining that I’m only meeting women in Ireland. To be fair, all the men in the bar are 40 or 50 and over, so its not like I feel like I’m ‘meeting’ men in the way that people mean ‘have you met anyone’? (this question is coming up more and more often – is it me? Do I look old? Desperate? Or am I just so painfully aware of the question because I haven’t ‘met’ anyone?)
Anyway. Last Sunday, the two musicians invited me to come and sit with them as they were playing. Then they asked for a song. Ah, my favourite request. Sing us a song! Who me? *Blushing* Oh, well, if you insist…
So, I dragged out ‘The Band Plays…’ AGAIN. Everyone loved it, and the old man at the bar told me I had a ‘mighty’ voice. Someone else told me it was ‘deadly’ (which is Irish slang and it means its a good thing). They all wanted to know if I was in a band. I was asked for another. So, I brought out ‘Tippin’ it Up To Nancy’… AGAIN. They loved it as well, and the musicians have told me that any song I want to sing from now until Christmas, I should come down to the pub with them and sing it on a Sunday. Which is so cool. This is the closest I have ever gotten to being in a band. Which is a huge, secret fantasy of mine. And, when I say, ‘band’, I mean, ‘folk band’ complete with swishy skirts, akubra hats, fiddles, banjos and mandolins. My dream stage would be the National Folk Festival in Canberra. True Story. I’m such a loser.
Anyway, the point is, I’m now casting around for new songs to learn before next Sunday. Yesterday morning, after Little Brother woke up from his morning nap, I started practicing ‘Long Hot Summer Days’, which is a brilliant song, and here is my favourite version:
I got totally inspired and got my fiddle out to see if I could figure out what she was playing (I can’t really. Only bits). There had been two Kiwis at the pub on Sunday, and one of them had her fiddle, whipped it out and started playing with the other musicians, which was do fantastic, and I was reminded again that I really need to get out the violin and practice it more often so I can do the same sort of thing when I feel like it.
Anyway, Baby Brother adored the fiddle and the singing. He was twisting around to watch me play, and by the end of it, he was giggling and squealing along with me. Seriously, he is the coolest baby. Imagine liking old timey bluesgrass at 7 months. I hope that I, in some small part, end up influencing his musical taste, and that when he’s 17 he still has a strange fondness for banjos and fiddles and songs about long hot summer days that he can’t quite place.
Meanwhile, Little Man showed me another song yesterday on You Tube, which is hysterical. Its an Irish song about farming and the words are so appropriate to Little Man, who is obsessed with farming and tractors.
You really need to listen to it. Really.
I’ve mentioned before how my days have changed from looking after girls to looking after boys. Suddenly its all tractors and construction workers, whereas it used to be doing hair and Sylvanian families. Its not the only thing that’s changed though. I’m watching new TV shows (now its all ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’ and no ‘Peppa Pig’, we’re watching a lot of ‘Hi-5’ as well, which is so hysterical). But, the thing that I’ve really noticed is the songs. I’ve got a whole heap of new songs to learn and/or perform. My last Little One was a bit funny about songs. She liked singing when I first got there, but after about a month, she wouldn’t let anyone sing anymore. Then, she would let us sing, but only certain songs. So, I was allowed to sing ‘I want a home amongst the gum trees’, and occasionally, ‘Please don’t call me a koala bear,’ but most other songs were banned on the rationale that, ‘That’s bad singing, Jenny’. Ironically, she would let me sing ABBA (which her sister was always playing on the iPod), when I was intentionally singing it appallingly badly. Apart from these songs, we were allowed to sing one of the songs from her older sister’s holy communion, ‘Happy in the Presence of the Lord’, a couple of songs about rainbows (usually ‘Red and Yellow and Pink and Blue,’ but I was occasionally allowed to spice it up with ‘Rainbow Connection’ or ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’) and a song about the days of the week. Her elder sister liked me to sing, ‘Blue Moon’, because she liked the ‘quavery voice’ I did (vibrato) on the long notes, but the Little One hated it and would cover her ears and yell, ‘No, Jenny, no!’
My new boys love music. There was one morning when I first got there, and I was left with Baby Brother, who was crying up a storm, and I didn’t know what to do with him. On a whim, I started singing, ‘Fields of Gold’ for him, and he immediately stopped crying, looked up at me with big eyes and grinned. You think, ‘Wow, if only all audiences would react to me like that…’ He loves a good sing along, and he’s particularly fond of ‘Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes…’ because of the bit where I have to go from touching my knees to touching my toes. Whenever I stand up again, he’s always got a big grin on his face. I think he likes the way my hair bounces about. Either that, or he just thinks I look like a fool.
His older brother, Little Man, also loves a good song. He’s got some songs that he sings with his mum, ‘Shake, shake my sillies out…’ which I don’t know yet. We’ve been talking a lot about crocodiles recently, so I started singing, ‘Never Smile at a Crocodile,’ for him. He thought it was fantastic. Pity I could only remember the first line. But then I remembered that amazing thing called the internet, and that fabulous invention, YouTube. So, I told Little Man I’d find the song for him on my laptop. He was enthralled:
He adores it. He makes me play it over and over and over again, and adds in commentary. ‘There they go in their boat.’ ‘There goes the crocodile.’ ‘He’s not happy’. ‘He’s very scared, isn’t he?’ etc. etc. etc. Today he asked me for a dinosaur song. I was in the middle of saying I didn’t know a dinosaur song, when I thought, ‘I’ll just type dinosaur song into google and see what comes up.’ I just clicked on the first thing I saw, praying it wasn’t some sort of parody or filled with bad language or naked women or some such. Thankfully, it was all G-rated, and again, he was delighted:
Again, we watched it over and over and over, doing roars when the dinosaurs did them, singing along to the words, pretending to play the guitar etc. Then, his mum asked if he wanted to show my the ‘funny duck song’. So, we looked it up again, and came up with this gem:
Which is truly bizarre, but also kind of hilarious at the same time.
So, this is the beginnings of my new soundtrack for this household. I’m sure it will be added to in the next little while. I’m also becoming very adept at Hi-5’s ‘Backyard Adventurers’. So Australian, they even have a hills hoist in the background.
I’ve mentioned this part of Kinsale before. I walk along it to get home from the town. It really is a stunning place, looking right out over the harbour. You can see the ruins of the two forts, all the pretty sailing boats (which, will, unfortunately, start to disappear in a month or two as the seasons change), and the lovely houses.
Now, I don’t know what it is about Millionaire’s Mile, but, the things you find dropped by the side of the road there are exceedingly cool. I don’t know if that’s because Millionaires have so many cool things, that they don’t mind dropping some by the side of the road, or they forget, or they don’t care about rubbish because they’re certain other people will pick it up for them, or if the place is just full of faeries, but every time I walk there, I find something really cool. Of course, it could also just be that I’m on the look out for cool things that I can make stories about because I need them for my next theatre piece (yes, I’m making another one. I can’t help it. Its a disease. This one is much smaller though, I promise. No big budget, cross-country extravaganzas. Just me, in a room with a whole heap of junk I’ve found by the side of the road. Seriously).
So, anyway. The first day I was walking into Kinsale, I found this:
Which isn’t amazingly cool or gorgeous. Actually, now that I’m looking at it, the back is a much prettier design. In fact, I wish I had photographed that. But, my camera is low on battery and I can’t be arsed right now, at 10pm to change it. So, trust me. The back is really cool. Its this intricate pattern of oak leaves and acorns. You should see it.
Anyway, there is something delightfully whimsical about finding a single playing card in the bushes by the side of the road. It reminds me of Jostein Gaarder’s ‘The Solitaire Mystery,’ which was a favourite book of mine as a kid. It also reminds me of Carrie’s irritating boyfriend Berger (or however you spell it) in ‘Sex in the City’. I try not to focus on that so much.
Anyway, I happened to be walking the same road a day or two ago, and I was thinking about how cool it was to find a playing card in the bushes, and how awesome it would be if I found another and was starting to create a story about a person who walks one road for many weeks until they find all the cards in the pack, when suddenly, I saw this poking out from some leaves:
Which, apart from the fact that its cool simply because I found it several meters from where I found the first one, happens to be the COOLEST playing card I have ever seen. What is it? What does it mean? Is it some sort of visual representation of climate change? Is it a representation of the changing seasons? Of the different hemispheres? Of growing older? Its so cool. I love it. I have no idea what game its from (does anyone know??), but I feel like its trying to send me some kind of mystical message. Is it about 20/20 hindsight? Is it about being 40 years old? Oh, the endless possibilities.
So, today, I was walking the same mile, and I thought, how cool would it be if I found something else. Probably not a playing card this time, as I’ve obviously already found the coolest playing card in the whole wide world, but something else that might be cool. It was about this time that I saw a small square of folded white paper amongst some rocks. I thought, hmm… this is probably some sort of terrible flyer for window cleaning or some such, but I’m going to pick it up, just in case its a personal note that will be whimsical and interesting. I unfolded it and:
There are many things I like about this. I like that there is a sassy Minnie Mouse in the left hand bottom corner of the writing paper. I like that the second ‘Gina’ looks more like ‘Gold’. I like that little girls still insist on writing their names with hearts in them, and looping round things as many times as possible, so that their name and signature isn’t just about the letters, the words, but the feeling, the gesture, its a work of art. This little girl loves her name so much, she’s practiced it 4 times over, added a heart, circled it all and then traced over it again and again ’til its bold and dark. This is my name, she seems to say, this is my name, and I love it so very very much.
I like to think Gina also owned the last thing I found on my walk (and the only thing I feel slightly bad about having kept):
Its a pink, bejewelled, butterfly hairclip! Just the sort of thing a heart-drawing, name-circling, Minnie Mouse-loving girl like Gina would love. I do believe this might be a treasured possession of somebody, some little tot named Gina, to be precise, and so I feel slightly guilty that it is now sitting on the top of my desk as whimsical inspiration. But, in my defense, its actually broken (look at the top right hand corner of the butterfly and you’ll see the flimsy pink gauze is pulling away from the wire). I’m convinced that Gina wouldn’t want it anymore. Or, that she even threw it away in a fit of ‘Imperfect Butterfly Hairclip Passion’. Either way, I’m keeping it and that’s the end of it.
So, how do these things join into a theatre piece? Well, you’ll just have to wait and see. I haven’t quite figured it out myself yet. But, it does involve a little red suitcase, and many more trips down Millionaire’s Mile.
Here’s another post I’ve been meaning to write for a while, but haven’t had a chance.
Before you get too excited, I didn’t pop off to Moldova for a quick weekend visit. There will be no stories of missed airline connections, and attractive Dutchmen and too much limoncello in this post (for those of you dedicated blog readers).
No, this is all about a woman from Moldova. She’s in my Creative Connections course. Now, we’ve been in the course together since March, but I’ve never really taken the time to talk to her. I’m going to be honest with you, I’ve been pretty bad about talking to everyone in my intercultural Creative Connections course. Over the first 6 months of the course, I gravitated almost exclusively towards the Irish folk and the other Irish/Australian woman, which is, of course, not the point of an intercultural group. Its also not very helpful for me in completing the course, as the whole idea of the diploma is to be able to teach and interact with other intercultural groups, and give us the experience and knowledge to do so.
There are probably a few reasons why I’ve done this. Firstly, it is easier to talk to the Irish and Australian folk. I don’t mean in terms of English or speaking skills, though that is sometimes the case, but just because there is a common understanding of culture, behaviour, experience. Enough of our experiences overlap to be able to converse easily, with there being enough variance to create interest. Of course, again, that is the point of having an intercultural group – to have you interact with people you wouldn’t normally interact with, and learn how to communicate with people who don’t share your experience. So, I’ve been pretty bad at learning how to do that over the past 6 months.
There are other reasons though. Due to groupings, I ended up spending a lot of time with a wonderful Irish woman leading up to the Midsummer Festival, who I really got along with and loved talking to, so I often found myself looking for her at meetings. Many of the younger folk, so again, the people that I would naturally gravitate to, are Irish, so that’s also meant the I often am chatting to them.
Anyway, for whatever reason, I haven’t spoken much to this woman from Moldova. She spoke out at a meeting last Thursday and shocked us all, revealing she had been pregnant for the whole course, and was due this week. No-one could believe it. She had always worn the same jacket, and it just happened that it hid her belly very well. But, I also feel like this is very much her, not making a fuss, not getting all romantic about things. Her quilt piece was called, ‘Flowers are a waste of money’, because she used to work in a flower shop and she could never understand why people would bother spending so much money on something that was going to die in a few days. Such a different perspective and way of looking at the world to… say… me. A hopeless romantic who can’t help but share every thought and feeling with the people around her, via a blog or otherwise…
Anyway, now that I’m in Kinsale, I no longer have access to a car, so when our meeting finished last Thursday, I had to take the bus back to Kinsale. The bus wasn’t until 10pm, and it was only 7:30pm so I had a bit of waiting to do. I had originally planned for some quiet time in a cafe with a notebook or some such, but when the women in my course realised I had 2 and a half hours to kill in the cold, autumn air, I immediately had two invitations, one to join a group of people I didn’t know for dinner, and the other to walk around Cork with the woman from Moldova. My first instinct was to go to dinner, as the girl inviting me was a good Irish friend of mine, who I had hung out with a few times outside of the course. But, I had a sudden change of heart. I had already eaten dinner. It was nice night. I like to walk. And I knew nothing about this woman from Moldova, who seemed endlessly fascinating.
So, in the end, we went for a few laps of the city, talking about all sorts of things. University, jobs, Ireland, Moldova, Australia, the changing seasons, airplane tickets, racism, homesickness, architecture, and (appropriately) how taking the time to do something different, walk on the other side of the road etc. always shows you new things and perspectives.
No huge revelations, really, but a truly lovely hour and a half. A reminder that you don’t need a lot to have an enjoyable evening, to learn something or have an experience. A reminder that everyone has a story, if you just take the time to listen.
And, now, it appears that I’ve slid into cliche, so I’ll end the post before I further ruin something that was truly lovely.
Well, its been ages since I wrote anything, but ‘luckily’, this afternoon I got food poisoning, so I’m holed up in bed, with a massive headache, the curtains closed, too weak and sick to get up or eat anything. I’m currently trying to get through a glass of water, but my stomach is not happy about it.
I’ve spent the afternoon in bed with the computer, watched Shrek 4 for the first time (which was much better than I expected), slept, and ran to the bathroom. The only benefit is that food poisoning is, of course, *the* quickest way to lose a few pounds. But its hard to focus on that upside when you’re too nauseous to sit up (or look at yourself in the mirror).
Being sick is usually an opportunity for me to be totally self-indulgent and whinge-y, call my Dad on the phone asking for free medical advice (when really just wanting sympathy and attention), have a boyfriend and/or friends fetch various things for me, whilst I wrap up in the bed clothes and have a little cry about how awful it is to be sick. Being overseas changes all that. Being sick isn’t nearly so fun when you don’t have people to feel sorry for you. I could, of course, let out my woes in a Facebook status update or tweet about them (oh, yes, I have Twitter now too), but I feel like the update and resultant good wishes would seem, respectively, self-absorbed and cringe-worthy when restored to full health in a day or two. So, instead, I’m blogging about the experience, which at least allows me to be self-deprecating and make all sorts of broad sweeping statements, grand parallels and sophisticated comparisons as justification for my self-absorption.
So. Being sick this time around is a bit of a different experience. I’ve been sick overseas before. That’s not the difference. When I was 13, I went on a homestay to Japan and got massively unwell. There were many theories put forward for why I was so unwell – there was a bug going round, I got food poisoning, I was a weak Western girl who couldn’t handle the unbelievably long days of the average Japanese schoolchild. Whatever the reason, I work up in the middle of the night, feverish, panic-ed, only half conscious and releasing liquids in a manner reminiscent of ‘The Exorcist’ or Monty Python’s ‘The Meaning of Life’.
I was rushed, whimpering and crying and mumbling apologies, around the house by my poor Japanese host family, my head bathed with cool towels, my hair pulled back, back stroked, and when it didn’t help, I was bundled up into warm clothes, put into the car, and then they all (mother, father, 2 host sisters) jumped in beside me and rushed me off to the doctor. I’ve never forgotten that experience. I had my two host sisters of either side of me, holding my hands and telling me that everything would be ok, they were going to look after me, they loved me and they wouldn’t let anything bad happen to me, whilst my host father in the front seat acted like a racing car driver in a Hollywood movie, speeding through the empty dark streets of Ube, running red lights, taking turns through petrol stations to avoid cars, doing U-turns, all in an attempt to get me to the doctor quicker. When I had to return the next day and get a drip put into my arm, my host mother and host sister sat next to me, whilst I slept in the bed, and watched me quietly. I felt so loved, so protected by these wonderful people, who had only known me less than 2 weeks.
Of course, at the time, I was a relative baby, and they were meant to be looking after me, so if I were to get desperately unwell, or die, whilst under their care, it wouldn’t have looked good for them. I was certainly their responsibility, but what was so touching was that they behaved as if it weren’t a responsibility at all. In fact, so caring, loving and concerned they were about me, that it never even occurred to me until I wrote this all down that they might feel that they had to be ‘responsible’ for me.
The point is though, being sick as an adult, there isn’t much room for the same scale of dramatics. I’m feeling pretty wretched, it has to be said, and, admittedly, I’m probably not as sick as I was back in 1997, but there’s still no room for crying and whimpering. There’s no rushing to the hospital or the doctor, there’s only a check that I have the medicine I need, a glass of water to make sure I stay hydrated, and then I’m left to my own devices in my room. My little man was calling out to check I’m ok every so often, until his mum told him he should leave me alone to rest.
I’m not complaining, its understandable, and reasonable. I’m perfectly capable of looking after myself. I’m sick, but I’m not hallucinating or in a coma or anything, so there isn’t much to be done but just ride it out. But, there is part of me that wishes I could be a whiny kid again, run to my Dad, tell him I feel awful and have him get me flat, warm lemonade (how Dad always got us hydrated and sugared through stomach bugs), get me a hot water bottle and sit me on the sofa in front of some Disney films. I can remember one night, Mum rubbing my sore tummy until I fell asleep. As awful as being sick was, it was also kind of fascinating, there were all sorts of accoutrements that went along with being unwell – pills, and drinks, soups bought especially for you because they didn’t have ‘bits’ in them, salty crackers and dry toast.
But, now I’m an adult, so its up to me to do the parenting and comforting myself. I’m a bit of a harsh parent it turns out. I’ve used the afternoon in bed to have a snooze, but then, feeling guilty about not being up and working, I’ve been checking out toddler websites to see if there’s anything I can do to help Little Man get over being left with me in the afternoons after school. I then read up on various craft activities we may be able to do together, games to play, refreshing my memory of nursery rhymes I’d forgotten… Only one movie, and then back to work! Cries my inner parent. And no flat lemonade, only water! *Sigh* I want to be 13 again.