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Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Debilitation of Phobias

The Debilitation of Phobias

Ifestiophobia is an irrational fear of volcanoes, while arsonphobia is an irrational fear of fire. As a child I had an overwhelming fear of both, but my fear of volcanoes was made all the more improbable as a likely phobia by the fact that I live in Ireland, a land not known for possessing volcanoes. To find my nearest volcano would require an airline ticket to Europe. Thalassophobia is the fear of oceans and sea, another of my childhood phobias. I only had three, but they were at times crippling.

My fear of volcanoes is still unexplained, but it was a phobia which haunted me on a nightly basis from the age of nine right up until I was twelve. My heart would pound as I broke out in a cold sweat, waking from yet another brain-freezing nightmare which would paralyse me in my bed. Shaking, I would make my way to the bathroom checking in to see that my older brother was still safely tucked up asleep. As I would return to my own room, I would peek outside just to double check that the path of molten lava wasn't pouring down the mountain towards us.  
We lived in a bungalow, which was always reassuring for me as it meant we could all jump out of our bedroom windows and escape, there was no reason our own home would work against us. My room, which I shared with my oder sister, was to the front, just inside the front door. Growing up along the east coast was nice, we lived near the sea and were bordered to the west by the Wicklow mountains. It was nice, that is, if you weren't nine-year-old me! In late summer, come evening time the mountains would glow red as the heather began to change colour beneath the setting sun. Sunset takes hours in summer, which meant that to the terrified eyes of a child, the mountain would breathlessly heave as the earth's heat attempted to burst forth and destroy everything in it's path. Every night I would dream of the mountain across the way spewing forth a calm, slow moving highway of toxic lava.My nightmares were so vivid that I can still remember the details.One particular one was calm enough in its own sequence, but nonetheless terrifying for me.It was dark in the dream and my older brother was always on the other side of the road. The path of lava was half a foot wide and traveled right up to the front door. I was stood at the door terrified that I wouldn't be able to reach my brother and bring him home where it was safer, at least from here, we could all escape together. I could always clearly see the lava glow in the pitch of the night sky as it flowed down the mountain, sometimes fast, other times slow and somehow more menacing. It was always my older brother who was too far away to reach. I worried so much about him. I have a younger brother too, but it was never him nor my older sister who I saw stranded. Somehow though, I always had the calm feeling that somehow I would breach that gap and get him, if by no other means than sheer determination.

My fear of fire was with me from before my memories of it begin. It was so bad that if a fire took place on the television my parents had to switch over, which wasn't so nice if we were all in the middle of a family film! My fear of the sea, ocean or even a swimming pool was also one which came from an era pre-memory. I can still vividly remember not being able to breath. It was this overwhelming inability to breath which seemed to terrify me more than the actual fire, water or even volcano. But try as I might, I couldn't make myself breath. Finally, when I was twelve, my family shipped up and moved to Cyprus for a year. I lived in the beautiful city of Nicosia with not a mountain range in sight. I remember falling to sleep that first night and finding myself wandering on the plateau of a mountain, bordered by ancient oak trees with a light mist swirling at my ankles, it felt like it was the hour of dawn and all was calm and peaceful. The long grass peeped up through the mist and I was smiling, I clearly remember. It struck me that never in any of my volcanic dreams had I ever set foot on the mountain, and here I was standing at the very top, touching heaven almost. I felt a strange calmness enter me and never since have I suffered from my debilitating nightmares. 
Cyprus was also where my father nearly set the house on fire too. The fireplace was a disaster area, there was no grate and no air flow, so trying to get the flame to catch was a hard act. My father had the genius idea of fecking a drop of petrol onto it as I sat directly across from it, sprawled along the couch, sleepily reading my latest book. I remember looking up and seeing a fireball fly straight at me. I can vaguely remember screaming and then I was standing on the road outside, unable to breath, yet I could hear myself screaming as if from a distance. My sister came after me and dragged me back indoors, a feat which I can assure you I fought. My parents and my sister's boyfriend (husband now) had managed to dampen the flames - with salt I tbelieve. All I remember is I shook, none of my family had tried to leave and could have been burnt to a crisp. It took me a while to relax after that incident, but rest assured, the house was no more damaged than a slightly grey ceiling and three burn marks on the carpet the size of penny which were easily covered with a rug.My fear of fire though, was strangely dispelled. 

I also conquered my thalassophobia in Cyprus too. I learnt to swim. I remember I was dogged in my determination to do so. I strapped on the baby armbands and flung myself into the semi-olympic sized pool. I nearly drowned too - twice. The first time was when I decided to take off down the deep end when I actually couldn't swim and required rescuing by older brother - strange that, as I always tried to save him in my sleep.I also found it very reassuring that he was there silently keeping an eye on me, although previous to this incident, I have never been aware of it. The second time it happened was nearly a year later and by then I was a very strong swimmer. I got caught in an undertow which had been created by a dive-bomb. I was dragged from the pool where I spluttered back to life, disappointed that the dishy Can-con doctor wasn't required to give me CPR. That day I also learned that drowning isn't in fact the worst way to die, it is actually quite peaceful, that is until some do-gooder drags you into the air and you realise you were 'breathing' water!! 

Phobias are a terrible thing. The worst thing about it, is not the object of your fear, but the fact that you cannot control it's effect on you. I don't how a person conquers a phobia, I don't know why I eventually conquered mine even. How can a fireball rushing toward you eradicate your fear of fire? How can dreaming of being on the top of mountain erase your fear of volcanoes? How can drowning annihilate a fear of water? Is it perhaps that they did not kill me when they had the chance? Whatever the reason, I'm just glad mine are gone and I pray that I never have to feel that breathless pounding in my chest again. 

Friday, August 6, 2010

My Dodgy Cervix (- it's nothing to die for!)

After three weeks of waiting I finally received the results of my colposcopy biopsy. In one way this put an end to one lot of fears, while simultaneously opening up a whole new can of worms. I had worked myself into a bit of lather that I had cervical cancer and that this was the reason I hadn't had my LLETZ treatment on the day of the colposcopy itself (as is routine here). I was sitting in wait, dreading the letter which would call for my immediate presence in the hospital to whip out my (very underused!) uterus.

On the day of the colposcopy, the lovely nurses allowed me to watch the procedure first hand on the screen (usually they turn the screen away). I had explained to them that I was very interested in medicine and they were only too happy to talk me through the procedure step-by-step. This really worked in my favour for when I later hit the 'OMG I'm going to die - hit google' phase, it meant that I knew exactly what I was looking at and looking for. I scoured through webpage after webpage, closely analysing the difference between CIN3 cells and cancer. Mine are smooth and the cancer cells looks like cauliflour...hmmm, my cervix isn't completely covered although there are two sizeable didn't show any similar to mine at all...most were in one patch only or covering the whole of my patches was thicker than the other, google had no answer again...and I had three months to wait for my next appointment - not fun! 

Finally I resolved myself to the fact that I would accept a hysterectomy without upset if it meant the 'cancer' hadn't spread. I spent many of the nights which followed grieving for my underused uterus, thinking of the siblings for my son which I now knew I would definitely never have. I had got so far in my acceptance of this state of affairs, that I decided that if I went in for surgery I wanted a full hysterectomy taking out my ovaries and the lot...sure what use would two shrivelled ovaries be if they had no womb to improve. 
It was hard to accept at that at thirty I was fit for the scrapheap, but I reckoned it was better than being dead. If I never had another man to love me, at least I would still have my most wonderful son, and with him at my side, I could face anything - as long as I was alive to do so! So out with the old, decrepit, banjaxed bits and onwards and upwards I thought.

And so it happened that after three weeks of waiting, alone in my thoughts (with google egging my fears on!) I received the results in the post. While a lot of women dread to read that they have CIN3, for me it came as a huge relief...I'm not dying (yet!). There is no huge urgency for me to run to the hospital and have my bits removed. Come November I'll go in for a routine LLETZ treatment and hopefully everything will be fine from there. If not, I'll go back again for another LLETZ treatment and that should do it. It'll be more fun this way too, at least I get to watch  them cut and cauterize my cervix as they do it.

It is strange though how those closest to me reacted to the news of my dodgy cervix. While I'm warning all my female friends to go and get their smears done YESTERDAY, I notice their scary lack of urgency in the matter (yes girlies you can die from this if you're stupid enough to!) others can't believe I'll have to wait until November for treatment and already have me dead and!!
This is a condition and a death which affects women in their mid-twenties to mid-thirties...young women don't have time to waste on the matter. It is NOT a condition which affects just older women, it affects young women and it's time for them to start copping on and getting their appointments sorted. As I keep saying to my friends (in an attempt to scare the bejaysus out of them!) if I hadn't gone for my smear I would without doubt be dead by 35...but thanks to modern medicine (and a spoonful of 'cop-on!') this fate can and will be avoided.
So what will the side effects be following the treatment? Google (my dearest ally and closest enemy!) tells me that if ever I am blessed with another pregnancy I may need a running stitch (purse string suture) to stop the cervix from opening. My cervix won't be as sturdy (due to the lack of width which will result) and I wouldn't go full term with the baby. But as I am well aware, going full term isn't the be-all-and-end-all of everything. I had my son at 35 weeks. But all in all, the after effects are a lot less worse than the end result of not having it.

So to all you ladies out there who think that smears are a bit embarrassing and that you have the time to wait until you're older, think again. The time to act is now, while you're young and while you have a chance to do something about it. If you get symptoms of cervical cancer, it's too late - way too late. The only way to cure it, is to get in there before it does.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

At The Time

At The Time
Why is it in poetry, I'm always in a bind?
And why is it that I cannot tell, the thoughts upon my mind?
I see your smile as it does curl, so gentle on your lips,
And I tingle at the wispy thought, of your hands upon my hips.

My thinking's screwed as I sit here and I blame it all on you.
Though innocent of everything, you've sent me all askew.
These sneaky tremors I now endure, make me incomplete,
While all the time my common sense and breathless heart compete.

I drink my tea and watch the screen, and I try to concentrate
But all the while, I sit and smile, it's you I contemplate.
And all that work that should be done, those books I need to read,
They sit and stare, they're well aware; attention now they plead!

But while it lasts and my soul endures, I'll enjoy it while it soars,
And it if ever when it all comes down, and makes my heart bleed more,
I'll sit upon this thought of you, and thank the stars above,
For fleeting though this feeling is, I send it forth with love.

Warrior Princess

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

To Be Named

To Be Named

How old am I ? - Watch as I walk by,
How old am I?
I ask not what my age might be,
It's hidden from what mortal eye might see.
I have lived in many realms,
Returned in many dreams.
I have lived among the gods,
Never fought at any odds.
I have placed the life before the King,
Aeons for Him I did dance and sing. 

I have walked in many lands,
Been caressed by many hands.
I built Great Pyramids of Gold,
Their truth yet to be told.
I have plunged through wave and water high,
Such devastation seems now a lie.
I have watched the land sink beneath the wave,
From its grip, none could I save.
I have walked upon the clouds by night,
My song was heard, my face out of sight.
I have travelled through the portals of time,
Passing so freely the movement sublime.

Who am I of this Great Age?
Who am I this Quoting Sage?

I am She, who walked on soil,
While deep beneath brewed founts of oil.
I am She, who gave birth to Life,
I am She, the Great Earth's Wife.
I am She, the Eternal Lover,
Within my depths, a sphinx to uncover.
I am She,The Mighty Royal Mother,
From my womb came the Great Earth's Brother.

Upon this Earth I have made much toil,
Breathing life to sullen soil.
Look at me as I walk pass,
See my soul, my eyes are glass.
Within this gentle tomb of life,
Accusations of youth are rife.
Some can see my face serene,
Others see the flesh of porcelein.

I am She, of an age so old,
I am Time as my tale has told.
I am the grass beneath my feet,
I am the golden fields of wheat.
I am the moon, the sun, the stars,
I painted Venus, gave birth to Mars.
I am She, who from Legends flow,
I am Legends as Legends show. 

Warrior Princess

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Public Transport - My New Nemesis!!

So it's been a few weeks now, since my  poor car aka The Little Blue Bullet, began to suffer chronic mechanical issues. This in turn has caused me many endless sleepless nights and heartache to boot, I love my car and I really, really hate buses with a vengeance, and no, I don't give a sod about my carbon footprint, I'm neither a farting cow nor do I drive a jumbo jet, my car is tiny and it's mine, mine, mine!! And now it's broke and my nerves are shot to pieces.
It's been one week since I put the keys down (I've been looking for a reliable mechanic, who I left her with this morning!) and my God, what a nightmare my 'Travel Week' has been. My son is quite a capable young man. At ten years old he has proven himself as a trustworthy and independent user of public transport - he had no choice. He needed to travel from his school to my university every day for the last year and on occasion he took the bus straight home. But he was unwilling to travel to school alone this week. It was not fear or anxiety which prevented this, merely the last remnants of his childhood clinging to my frayed apron stings (a fact I love since it has become so rare these day!)

I, on the otherhand, have not really used public transport since he was a baby and I most certainly have not 'bused it' since I was a teenager. And I now vividly remember why I hated it all those years ago. Okay I'll concede a little, now I live in a prime location, sitting only a short distance from the centre of one of the most beautiful cities in the world and as such I have the luxury of a dependable bus service arriving every 15 minutes. But nonetheless, I still hate it! Every time I want to go somewhere I have to plan it, like clockwork, if I run five minutes late, I end up being anything from 20 - 30 minutes late and all because the damned bus driver was unaware of my plan to travel - anyone got his mobile number?
Tuesday is swimming day and since I go to university on the far side of the city, last September I had the great idea of enrolling him in lessons in the university's leisure centre. Great idea then equals BAD idea now, especially as uni is out for the summer! And to top it all off, last Tuesday was also 'Soccer Blitz' day for my beloved son at his local club. This meant that not only did I have to bus my son to school (and return home via said bus) I then had to travel (yes, by bus!) back down to his school, take another bus to the university, sit through swimming, quickly feed my son sandwiches as I rushed him back into the city in order to catch another bus out to his soccer club so he could participate in said blitz. And of course this being me, the Powers-That-Be love to take the proverbial and so had the added pleasure of raining seven bells down upon my head - thank God for Josh (my umbrella!) Finally after an hour of sitting in the freezing cold, and by now damp clubhouse, my son informed me that the blitz was only for children born in son was born in 1999 and so his blitz wasn't on until Thursday - could his coach not have pointed this out at training?? Obviously not!
So today I was of course dreading the madcap run that swimming has now become (God I do hope I don't have to get used to this!) But unlike last week, today the sun shined brilliant as could be, but of course I brought my heavy coat - just in case! My beloved son decided today would be a great day to bring as many books home as he could and so my load was light (NOT!) But I shrugged it off and carried on - at least, I thought to myself, I've brought Plato instead of Aristophanes to read and this lightened my load by about half a kilo, so I smiled. The university was nice and quiet and swimming was a pleasure, especially as I sat and read and realised that I did not need to rush anywhere after. 
Memories came flooding back as I ran to catch the bus and realised that there were about 50 teenagers squealing and shouting, eager to get home after a long day in school. My squiggly little son wormed his way to the top of the queue in order to hold a seat for me. I sat on the bus, an oul' wan when compared with the bumptious joyousness of the overeager teenagers who bumped and jostled their way to the back of the bus, all eager to grab the back seat, some sitting on the laps of their friends and all to ensure they were near enough to each other to shout over one another. I was disappointed to see the dirty looks thrown by other 'adults' as they scowled disapprovingly at these symbols of the freedom of youth. Okay, I admit it, my ears ached and for a split second I was envious of the deaf woman in front who had the pleasure of switching off her hearing aid, but nonetheless I can't help but remember that it was not too long ago that I was one of those teenagers.
sunshine.jpg sun flower image by sailorette857
As the bus pulled up to my stop, I stepped off, only too delighted to feel my ears readjust to normal hearing levels, and I realised that CIE did not put on a special 'school' bus for us when we young in order to be nice, they put it on because others do not like sharing buses with those who remind of just how old they have now become!

Come home, Little Blue Bullet...all is forgiven!!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Movie Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo or more aptly, to use its original Swedish name, Män Som Hatar Kvinnor (Men Who Hate Women) is a dark and at times disturbing film, (I use 'film' rather than 'movie' intentionally here) although to say this is not to detract in any way from the magnificent movie that it is. As the opening credits began to roll, myself and my little brother soon realised that this film is subtitled. My stomach plummeted and I began to dread paying to see it - how wrong was I. It took but a very short time to overcome the subtitles and settle into what is a well-scripted and brilliantly acted film. 
I intentionally refer to it as a 'film' as opposed to the Hollywood title 'movie' as this film is deserving of the distinction. It is not in any way related to the soft, mollycoddled movies which drip continuously from the US.

Some of the scenes brought home the vileness of human life, showing how individuals have the capacity to bring others to the brink of self-destruction.The story was played to perfection. The 18's tag is necessary as I personally wouldn't want to see even young teens viewing certain scenes. But the tag also insured that the scenes were not dampened down, or worse, left on the editing room floor. And to be honest, these scenes help to make the film the masterpiece it truly is.
It was also a joy to watch a film which stripped away all the Hollywood nonsense we have all come to expect and loathe. Michael Nyqvist and Noomi Rapace remind the viewer of what real acting is all about. Apart from the refreshing aspect which is offered by both Nyqvist's and Rapace's excellent acting, the lack of OTT make-up and airbrushed effects reminds us that to be a great actor and to make a great film does not require a band of over-hyped Barbie-and-Ken-like 'actors'.  
It is obvious to say that the film was made in Sweden which in itself is a relief to the system. It was nice to sit and see somewhere different - the views were spectacular and I came to realise that Sweden is not always and everywhere covered in snow!!! 

The film is a masterpiece due not only to the great acting, directing and de-Hollywoodisation, but the fact that this film is in Swedish also adds to the effect. It is a great film and a must-see. I would highly recommend it - I look forward to the sequel!!

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Winding River of Life - the Adventure of Campus Life

It's hard to believe that in just a few short days, we shall be finished first year at university. Only a brief, few weeks ago I found I had launched myself into the middle of a stormy river and found myself sitting on a leaky raft, rushing downstream with no idea how of to control anything. At every turn I expected to hit a hidden boulder and prepared myself for the inevitable destruction of my flimsy craft, and my own eventual drowning. 

But as one week became two and then three, I found that although the river was fast moving, I still had time to look at all the beautiful vistas which greeted me everywhere I looked. Soon I realised that although the sailing itself was tiring, the river did not contain any hidden boulders, my craft did not disintegrate, I did not drown. When the tiredness overtook me, Christmas arrived and I had time to recoup my strength before venturing out again. Sailing my little boat did have a few minor hiccups - others did wobble the raft and extra water did come on board, but like all trusty sailors I had my bailing bucket and me and my raft carried on regardless. At other times, myself and my fellow sailors - some sailing slightly stormier waters - would stop and take time-out in one or other of the universities many delightful coffee shops.

Gallons of tea was drunk, housework was avoided, uncountable hours of sleep were lost, nails were bitten, naps (in lectures or the library) were had, 24 essays, 11 assignments, 4 in-class tests, 2 presentations and 2 MCQ's were procrastinated upon and eventually submitted, faces became people, people became friends, lecturers became colleagues, colleagues became friends, small circles of wanderers became wider circles filled with the smiling, now named faces of friends and while many many friendships were made others were avoided! 

But at the end of day, at the end of the semester and the end of first year, I can honestly say, watch our world, we're coming your way!!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

To Judge is to be Judged

To Judge is to be Judged
As far back as my memories go, I have always hated injustice, in all its forms. As a teenager, like most teenagers, I did suffer the angst of rash judgments. My mother's best friend was suffering severe domestic abuse at the hands of her Muslim husband, and the conversations which surrounded all these events generally led to the consensus that all Muslim men were abusers who only married western women in order to acquire passports. 

I held this belief for some years, until I had the great honour of meeting one widower living in the midlands. I was astonished that this extremely handsome, and still quite young (early 40's) Muslim man was not only still single, but also childless. I have lived many years in the company of Muslim's and I'm quite aware that children are regarded as an essential part of life, as I agree they should be. I learnt that this man had fallen deeply and passionately in love with his Irish wife many years before. When his family learned that his wife was unable to bear him sons they told him to get his ass back to Lebanon and marry a young woman they had chosen. They did not require that he divorce his Irish wife, simply that he marry and impregnate his Lebanese one. He refused. He loved his wife and would remain faithful to her forever. This act resulted in his family cutting him off. Some years later his wife contracted and died from cancer. Before she succumbed to the illness she told him to go home and get married and have children, still he refused. His family sent over one of his uncles who told him that all would be forgiven if he returned home and got married, a new wife had been found for him. He refused stating that he had found his soulmate and he would remain true to her and her alone, until death.

As Descartes would say, all it takes is one doubt and your belief is unsound. This man led me to that realisation. If there is even one good Muslim, then this means that my belief has been undermined and therefore must be dismissed as untrustworthy. So I dismissed it and now when people talk of abusive Muslims, I talk of him. I also point out that my ex was abusive, but not Muslim - does this make all men abusive? I think not, for I know that not only are not all Muslim men abusive but also that the majority of all other races of men are not abusive in the least, in fact I know of many who are in fact abused at the hands of women. And with one doubt, our belief would be unsound. If men are abused by women, does this make all women abusive? If a woman is abused by her lesbian partner does this make all lesbians abusive? This sort of nonsense could go on and on eternally. The answer is, of course not. 

Likewise if I were to say that I  would never date a druggie, does this mean I hate men? Or if I said I only fancy tall, dark and handsome men, that I now hate everyone who has fair hair? I might never date a druggie for personal reasons, but this does not mean I could not empathise with one, it also does not mean I could not be friends be one. If I say I only fancy older men, am I now looking for a sugar daddy? Or if I go for younger men, do I become a cradle-snatcher? What if I only like guys my own age? Does this rule out my forming friendships with men in other categories? Or does it mean I have issues

Or might it simply mean that I have a type?

I grew up in an extremely religious and yet generously loving, caring and kind family. I had a deep-set ingrained passion against the act of abortion. To me this was the ultimate crime, worse possibly than murder, for this act took the life of the most innocent, for no good reason. This viewpoint suffered a serious overhaul, when one of my closest friends was faced with one of life's most difficult choices. She suffers from severe post-natal depression, a situation which plummets her to the depths of despair and self-loathing and lasts no less than two solid years. I know this, I have been with her as she fought her way through it time and again. When she faced yet another pregnancy she just could not do it. It was both unfair to her, to her unborn baby - who she would neither love nor bond with until the depression would pass, her other children would suffer, as would her partner and her extended family and friends. I felt for her, this was not an easy decision for her, then or now. But I knew as she told me and I accepted her choice, knowing that in this one case it was right, I knew then that Descartes theory had yet again slipped in. All it takes is one doubt...

Does this mean that I now support abortion? Does it mean I have lost my ethical standpoint? Or does it simply mean that I shifted to a higher level of understanding? I know that I now try not to judge, although I don't always succeed, I will come back and reevaluate the situation and if necessary, apologise.

For a belief to be true it must be indisputable, according to Descartes. If I were to say you were a vegetable hater I must prove that you hated all vegetables and not just seed potatoes and rotten carrots. Likewise if I were to say that all flowers were beautiful I would have to prove that they are, which is not possible considering a lot of plants have flowers which are really only attractive to certain bugs or creatures, flowers such as corpse flowers. Most judgments are usually as solid as water, and based on prejudices. If I have only ever seen pretty flowers then it must follow that all flowers are pretty, mustn't it? If I don't agree with abortion because of my strong gut instinct, then I must right, mustn't I? The answer is again, no.

As I grew up I began to study sociology and psychology and I realised that the worst position any of us can take is an ethnocentric point of view. If we approach any person or situation from a socially subjective or ethically relative point of view, our judgment is screwed.  As they say 'never judge a man until you walk a mile in their shoes', if you can't reason from a rational standpoint then you do not have the authority to judge. As we grow from childhood into adult beings, we should realise this and at least attempt to let go of our prejudices. 

People usually judge out of ignorance or fear or both. I have been judged many times over the years. I have been judged wrongly by complete strangers which does not generally faze me, but what does faze me is when people who think they know you jump to rash and ridiculous conclusions based on some subconscious issue of their own. This I think is the most hurtful kind of judgment. To be wrongly, rashly and unreasonably judged by a person you trust and care about is the worst kind of betrayal. But maybe what is worst than this judgment is the fact that said 'friend' doesn't have the gumption to accept that they were wrong and simply apologise. That is worst betrayal of all, it speaks volumes about the persons character. 

To judge is to be judged.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Thirteen Gone Past Thirty

Thirteen Gone Past Thirty

Oh my heart in pieces falls about by ears unheard,

It's silenced screams of years long passed; my soul within they scarred.
I think I feel but feel I think, too much of what is lost,
Left within the realms of youth, which in turn became the cost.
Oh lament of the wailing one, who upon the wall does sit,
Your sorrow with my own I swear, it ever well does fit.

As time grows old and youth more young,
My heart did seal my tongue.
And time it now has passed us by, never more is ours,
The tears that flowed are now no more than dew drops on the flowers.
Old time it waits for none of us, not young or ever old,
An incubus upon our dreams by night, our stories never told.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

The First Cut is the Deepest..!

Well they say the first cut is the deepest, and in the case of my poor garden, 'tis true. After three torturous months of staring out the window, agonising over the state of my beloved garden, I finally plucked up the gumption to go out there and scut the living daylights out of that darned grass.
Okay, so technically it was procrastination - as is this post, I might add - I have two essays for uni to be cracking on with, not to mention the three assignments for bloody Economics (don't get me started!)
But sure, the grass has been torturing me since before Christmas. I knew back in October that I should have just pulled myself up off my tush and cut it then, but hey - I procrastinate! That's what I do, and looky here, don't I do a great job of it too. I am one of the few people who can actually use what appears to be real work as an excuse not to do real work - 'tis an art form I tell you!

So this morning the sun twinkled through the rising fog, calling to my chakras, begging for me to come out and play. So being the sensible Mom that I am, I decided to get all the momsy stuff out of the way first.
I hit B&Q (my all-time favourite place in the world, next to Cyprus of course) bought some more birdy feeders (now I have 9 - did I mention my garden is only fractionally bigger than a postage stamp?) and headed to Tesco for the real momsy job of picking up a week's supply of food (don't laugh Mona!) A trip to Woodies came next, sure who can visit only one garden centre without checking out the competition?? Picked up some more strawberries (have three down the garden - and nope, like the birdy feeders I really don't need anymore!) and then I headed home.

By this stage the spring was running through me like heroin through the veins of a junkie when they mainline!! I had to get out, my chest was constricted with the utter craving from the soul for the touch, the scent, the sheer living of the garden. And so I gleefully, almost manically so, dragged the strimmer out of the shed and merrily I danced to the tune of "Die grass, die!".
Okay, I love my garden, but I detest grass with a vengence - the shagging stuff just keeps growing. It's almost manic in its obsession!

And so I scut it to within an inch of its life. I say scut, because this was no cut!! If it wasn't for grass, my garden would always look pretty and flowerful and clean - my God, but long grass really makes for a shaggy looking 'mare of a garden!

But trust me, I felt so alive after it. I came in and drank a very refreshing cup of tea (thank you Brita kettle!). One hot shower later, I cooked up a weeks supply of pasta for my darling son - then had spaghetti on toast for lunch (heehee!), before finally pulling out my books to start on my history essay.

Thank God Mom rang me about five minutes later!!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

An Update on Climategate

I am a true non-believer when fed tales of the disasters pressed upon the poor earth by those damned human beings. Yes I do concede that our species are directly to blame for destroying many of the earths most beautiful and in some cases, most needed places. We wanted beef burgers from old McD's so we chopped down the rainforests, then we decided we wanted bio-fuels so we lopped out some more of them there darned trees. We are also known for destroying the habitats of so many wonderful creatures, pushing so many to the brink of extinction.

But as a student of Classics I am also well aware of how the Roman's need for an effective contraceptive saw them push silphium to the point of extinction and then those darned farmers decided to go and rear livestock on the Libyan coast around Cyrene - the only habitat of this particular herb. It was this cultivation of the land which pushed the silphium over the edge causing it to disappear forever by the first century AD.
Those darned Romans also had a bit of a love for putting on many events in their amphitheatres which required the presence of African and Asian exotic animals, many of which were viciously killed either by humans or other animals within the arena. They pushed many species to the limits and even managed to drive some of them to extinction.

So what's the problem you ask? Well, while I agree that humans are not seen as being nature's best friend on a global scale, I seriously disagree with how reviled we have become of ourselves in modern times. We seem to think the whole of everything revolves around us, in the here and now.
Sure go back any further than a couple of hundred years and most people would regard these ancestors of ours as being little more than barbarians. They were uncultured, uneducated, uncivilised in the ways to which we have become accustomed, so they were incapable of being anything when compared to our modern selves, the creators and destroyers of all that is good. It is all ego. And taxable ego too.

The start of the industrial revolution was one of the dirtiest times for mankind. The cities were foul, between the smog and the soot blackened buildings, and then there were the rats and the starvation which were rampant almost everywhere. The coal mines were dug out and emptied almost directly into the factory furnaces and everywhere people dropped dead, haggard and cancer-ridden at very young ages.
So we decided to clean up our act a little, if not for the 'environment' (a non-existent term at the time) then for ourselves. We figured out newer, more efficient, less disease-inducing ways of doing things. And as we brought down natural fuel consumption the powers-that-be put up the natural fuel prices.

Time passed and soon we were being told that we, the great creators of so many wonderful new inventions, that we the great bestowers of many genius ideas, we were nothing more than the destroyers of the great earths atmosphere. We became the devil incarnate. We day we lived, we breathed, we by our mere existence, were destroying this here wonderful planet of ours. I remember being sombrely warned when I was ten that my children would never see a real live elephant and that all the snow leopards would disappear within fifteen years. It's been twenty and there appear to be more out there now, than there were when I was a child. But the guilt complex has been bred in there by the powers-that-be and so everytime I sit in a car, travel on an aeroplane, drink from a plastic bottle or warm my tush at the hearth, I feel the guilt of being directly responsible for murdering dear mother earth.

Well no more I tell you, no more. Why? Because yet again those toe-rags out there, the powers-that-be, they have lied to us, they have blatantly lied to us. Global warming is a farce. I have had my suspicions that this was the case for quite some time, but one always tends to doubt oneself when the powers-that-be insist upon an issue. I have always been aware that once upon a time, the world consisted of thousands upon thousands of volcanoes and the temperature around here was a hell of a lot higher (no pun intended) than we could ever push it.
Okay so we mightn't like it to get that hot again, it's understandable, humans would not survive it. But we can't actually prevent it. One of the greatest influences even now, on the earths temperature is a volcano, one eruption can knock the socks off the statistics.
Anywho, back to the point. I will never buy into the whole climate change nonsense - although I will be still made pay for the myth with all these new carbon taxes. And this is why...

Read the link, I've ranted enough for one day.

But guys, I think it's time we stopped feeling so guilty. Unlike the Romans we haven't willfully killed off any creature, in fact we're probably more likely to have helped preserve many that would otherwise have died off naturally. So maybe we should be giving ourselves a pat on the back. Well that is until the 'scientists' tell us we screwed up by not killing off a couple species.

Until the next rant..

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Turning Thirty - The Christ Complex -v- The Best Birthday Ever!!

I spent weeks dreading it. That niggling doubt that comes with age; crept in and poked the side of my every conscious moment, whether I was awake or asleep. In my deepest dreams it haunted me - the days are running short, the wrinkle count will increase while the time count will decrease. I was officially old, my twenties but a thing of the past, now becoming the future's ancient history, hidden now in the depths of the shadows of time.

I was officially suffering from the Christ Complex.

I tried to forget it. I tried to ignore it. I tried to shake it off and pretend it didn't really matter. But still it niggled, still it poked and prodded, harassing me where ever I went. Aging was inescapable, it followed me to lectures and tutorials, tapped on my shoulder when I cooked, tripped me as I went to the toilet, constantly reminding me that I am not as young as I used to be, and never will be again.

I was turning the big 3-0.

My parents, good souls that they are, arrived down the day before the Great Event. They took my eager son and assisted him in his purchase of my birthday gift. All was well in the world of the 'not-turning-thirty' year olds.

I was woken at an ungodly hour of the wee morning of the Great Event, my son hopped into bed beside me and loudly wished me a happy birthday. I grunted something along the lines of 'thanks, now shut up and go back to sleep please'. Later the clock called me as per usual on the morning of the Great Event. I looked at my snoring son, clogged up with head-cold and decided I would not wake him at this ridiculous hour - he was staying home with his grandparents to re-coop.

I was no sooner out from beneath the warm covers when he sat up mid-snore and demanded that I turn on the light. Thinking I could lull him back to sleep, I hushed him and told him to rest on, but eyes still closed he said 'Do it for me Mom!' What could a mother do but concede. Two arms wrapped themselves around my neck, a kiss landed on my lips and a 'Happy Birthday Mom' made my heart flip with love for this little man, my little man, my very own son.

He jumped out of bed and presented me with his gift - a beautiful sterling silver chain with a glinting 'K'. I loved it. I loved him. My day started perfectly. And it only managed to get better as it passed.
He decided that if I wished to open my parents gift I had to go into them and wake them.

I received my first diamonds too, and I didn't need a man to get them. Well okay, I concede that my Dad is a man, and since he was one half of the pair who bought them, technically I did need a man to get them, but he is my Dad, so he doesn't count! They may be tiny, but they're mine. They sit one each side of a garnet, all gathered now upon my middle finger, proudly presented to the world, my gift from my loving parents.

My son tried to lay claim to my brand new Snuggie; a gift from my sister - a much needed gift too I might add. I now no longer need to steal my son's favoured blanket on a chilly (or not so chilly) evening. It's so soft that even my Dad gave it a go in the nippy morning air.

Content within myself I set off to uni. My friends knew of my anxiety and thought it such fun (both being members of the 'Been there, done that' t-shirt brigade!) And who could ask for better friends? Not I, for sure. Karen presented me with a box of eggs - telling me she knew I needed to learn to cook (which I seriously do!). Imagine my utter delight when I discovered six Creme Eggs nestled happily inside. I just love Creme Eggs!! Six is a real indulgence, and I could even justify it - it's my birthday and someone's got to eat them!

Mona gifted me with a pedometer. Now I long for a measured stretch where I can pace out my step! We walk over 35 km a week together, so a pedometer was also on the 'much needed' list. I sat in The Bialann with the cosiest glow simmering inside. This day, I thought, might not be so bad after all.

Tired after a long day in class, I returned home at 6:30pm. As I pulled up to the front door, I spied my son espying out through the frosted glass at me. I ventured through the door to be greeted with the best rendition of 'Happy Birthday' ever played upon a whistle.
My heart melted as I looked around and perceived all the princess balloons which now graced the hall. A sign had been attached to the banister, constructed by the hand of my most beloved son. I spent the next twenty minutes talking to both my brothers, one in New York, the other back home in Wicklow.
This was followed by a steaming homecooked dinner prepared by my dear Mama. A phone call to Granny was followed by cake and candles accompanied by another rendition of 'Happy Birthday' on the whistle.Satiated and content we all set out to the cinema. 'The Princess and Frog' was a great way to end the Great Event.

I went home happy. I was content inside in every way. No wrinkles had popped up, no grey hairs had appeared, no clock had stopped ticking. I was still me. I climbed into bed with a smile on my face.
I have great friends whom I love dearly. I have a wonderful family who have been my lifeline so many times, I love them all profoundly. I have the best son ever created by God, he is my life blood, the marrow in my bones.

But what struck me above all else is: I am loved.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Clanrickard and Claregalway Castle

I love my family and I was thrilled many years ago on a visit to Westport House to discover that this dear old family of mine has got quite a lengthy history, dating back thousands of years.
We are of course, the Clanrickards, the Earls of Connaught and Ulster, honours bestowed upon us by none other than the infamous Henry VIII himself.
There are many, many references to the oul' Clan in the ancient Annals, but this is one of the easier to read references of them. And no, it's not in the Annals, it refers to one of our little oul' castles.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

'Trivial' Surgery

They are the words that every parent, at some point in their parenting career, dread to hear. For one reason or another a surgeon has decided that your beautiful child is going under general anaesthetic.
My first reason for hearing those dreaded words came from the fact that my extremely stubborn (then) eight year old son refused to allow a dentist within ten feet of him - and he needed a bloody filling. One filling and he had to be knocked out cold - that was the end of the Mi-Wadi!!
But it makes that experience no easier to know your baby isn't going in for a major life-saving operation. Maybe if it was major and potentially life-saving it might be easier. We are told, every day on TV that a general anaesthetic is not to be taken lightly and yet here is my child going under for something almost trivial.
I remember standing with him in the theatre, dressed up in my hospital scrubs and funny clogs, waiting for the 'magic' to happen. As I stood, listening to him drunkenly giggle and talk nonsense, I was amazed at how small an operating theatre actually is. This is the room where lives are lost and saved daily - surely for such major happenings, a larger spectrum is required? And then he was under and the scrub nurse was leading me out again.
My heart sank. What if?
For the next half hour as I strangled through a cup of tea, that 'what if?' haunted me. Finally the call came from Recovery that my baby was out of theatre and would soon be out of Recovery. I belted it as fast as I could muster, taking the stairs two at a time until I was finally with him as he exited Recovery.
A what a cranky little so-and-so he was too! All my worrying and here he was ready to take strips off me. But all was forgiven, the after-effects of the anaesthetic are not nice, I remember my own experience of coming around afterward - my poor little brother bore the brunt too and it took me some time to apologise after (the joy of being a teenager!)

By the time my son was brought into surgery for the second time (this time it was a necessity) I was better able to deal with it. I was aware that this time the surgery was a necessity, more was at stake than a mere filling. I was also aware that my son was not allergic to the anaesthetic, which had worried me most the first time. I didn't dress up in scrubs and accompany him through, I left him in the OT corridor, giggling with the scrub nurses.
I waited outside for an hour. I even managed to read a magazine. I knew he was safe. I knew he was coming back out and that while I would suffer the demonic after-effects, it would be worth it.

Why, you might ask, do I reminisce so? Well, because last Friday a good friend of mine went through her first surgery. My heart went out to her, this is no trivial matter for a mother. Her five year old son had chopped off the top of his finger, as many children do. My own sister had experienced this many times with both her own children and her friend's children. Children tend to chop off their finger-tops in doors - and that's a simple fact.
It's not nice, it causes a lot of blood to spit out all over the place. And of course, the poor child screams blue murder and terrifies all around. Everyone is convinced that death is imminent or at best, the poor child will be maimed for life. Generally, neither of things happen. And no, the child does not learn a valuable lesson either. Doors will still be slammed on fingers.

Knowing that the child was waiting to be stitched, I ventured over to her before my morning lecture. I finally located her in the Paediatric ER, a feat made easier by the loud laughter of her injured son and his uninjured older sister.
I don't think she'd expected that her beautiful son would be given a general anaesthetic - surely he only needed stitches? It's not until one thinks of how difficult a task this would be that one realises that knocking him out is the only option. Try getting a boisterous five year old to sit still, then try to get him to sit still while you sew the top of his very sore finger back on.
But for a mother, this fact does not make the experience any easier. The eternal 'what if?' crops up. In an effort to reassure her, I talked her through my own previous experiences and told her I would come back later to see how they were all getting along.
While I was of course interested to see how the Little Man came through, I think I was more worried about her. In her, I saw myself. I could still feel that churning.

The more one visit's a hospital the more one learns how to lie their way around. Once upon a time, when asked the question 'And you are?' I would have been honest. Now, I lie. I wanted to know where the Little Man was and so when asked who I was, I lied. I was now his aunt, his very worried aunt too. The poor nurse took it upon himself to escort me through to the OT reception so that I might find out if my 'nephew' was still in Recovery, or had he been moved down to the ward yet? He was in Recovery. I quickly texted my friend that I was now in situ outside the OT and that I had blagged my way around.
Little Man was fine. His finger had been reinstated and he was very cross - he hadn't wanted to go for a nap!! More importantly, his mother could finally relax. Emotional exhaustion had set in.
Before I left, just one short hour later, Little Man and his big sister were playing happily in the Ward's play-room, his mother now anxious to simply be set free so she could take her tired children home.

So a word for all you parents out there. Remember - children will chop their finger tops off. This is a fact. Why? Because the bone does not go all the way to the tip. Be prepared. If you are not going to remove all the doors in the world, at least psyche yourself up, accept it will happen and buy a good first aid kit.
Also remember that at some point your child too may need surgery - don't panic. Ok, panic. But try to remember - this is not your fault, no matter what the reason, chances are you could not have prevented it from happening. The surgery may seem trivial but it is likely still necessary. And always remember, the amount of anaesthetic they will be given would not be likely to even numb your foot. The people who accompany your child into theatre are the highest quality of doctors and nurses. They treat all surgeries, no matter how trivial to you and me, equally. Your child will come home repaired, usually that very same day.
Oh and one final piece of advice - your beautiful child will wake up as cantankerous as sin - ignore it, smile and reassure them, even if they reject your sentiments, they don't mean to.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Following a visit to Newgrange and the surrounding mounds in Fourknocks, I wrote the following poem. Having visited a 'burial tomb' in its natural state and having just previously visiting Newgrange, I realised how wrong the archeologist had got it.
Newgrange was destroyed rather than rebuilt. My guide, a very close family friend, has lived in the area since childhood. He remembered the untouched mound and he also told a very sad tale of arrogance and ignorance. Newgrange is a testament to how an oversized ego can truly destroy a very precious monument. He had worked on the site and spoke from experience in regard to those 'professionals' who knew better.
The poem refers more to Fourknocks and less to Newgrange, except for the final verse, which truly does refer to the desecrated site, once held so sacred.


Cobwebs grow up on the wall,
In a corner, way up tall.
The roof half gone, the rain comes in,
Beside the puddles, the faeries sing.

The grass grows tall between the stones,
Beneath the ground lie ancient bones.
The moonlight glitters across the floor,
Softly wafting through the door.

The sun, the moon and a thousand stars,
Pluto, Venus and tiny Mars.
The bones below with a thousand tales,
For every star, a soul for sale.

Making magic the wee folk dance,
Across the dead they sing and prance.
Beneath the moon and stars by night,
Appearing heedless, for fear no fright.

A ghostly white, soft shimmering,
Above, around, this ancient ring.
Resting centuries undisturbed,
Meddled by man, the spirits perturbed.

All it now but a memory,
Stored up long in Them and Me.
Looks so strange to the opened eye,
The hooded past; the modern lie.

Warrior Princess

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Crap Poetry

A few years back I was invited to participate in a poetry reading at the Newman Institute in Mayo. I was extremely nervous at the prospect of standing up and reading aloud to an unknown group. This poem was one which formed in my mind on the morning of the reading.
There were a few of us reading before the 'main act', some poet who I never heard of before (nor since) and who's name I fail to recall.
Alas, I read just previous to her. I was mortified to the max when I realised that she fell into the category of 'crap poetry'. Had this fact been ignored by those around me, this would not have been such a painful experience, however, it was not. I was congratulated for it many times, while over shoulders I received many glaring looks from our 'Honoured Guest'.

Crap Poetry

When I was in the library, I found a book,
And loving poetry, I took a look.
I found some good ones, and some bad
And some really crappy ones, that made me mad.

I sat and I read for about an hour,
Then went home for my tea, and a shower.
I painted my face and brushed my hair,
In front of the mirror, I practised with care. [pause]

My knees tremble, my hands shake,
And deep in my tummy, there's a nervous quake.
Finally it's time, my turn has come,
I stumble and fall and land on my bum.

So sat on my arse, I think of that book,
And printed within it, the crap that it took.
Now taking a stand, I take a deep breath,
Suddenly reading my poetry's no longer a threat.

In front of the room, I hide a small smile,
My tummy's stopped churning, at least for a while.
I'm still just a novice, so cut me come slack,
And always remember, the pro's who print crap!

Warrior Princess

Friday, January 22, 2010

Are Our Children Truly Safe?

Reading of the horrendous torture bestowed on those two young boys in Edlington in England just chills me to the bone. The idea that they were so viciously attacked, so near home and left for dead by two boys in and around their own age only serves to add to the horror.
As the mother of a boy within this same age category, my gut wrenched as I read the gruesome details of these most evil of acts. As a mother I empathise very strongly with the mothers of the victims; I also must admit I greatly admire them too. I would not have been so merciful as they, I would have shot both brothers on sight and felt no remorse for doing so either.

This incident, like that of baby Jamie Bulger's death, tends to bring out the most basic animal instinct present deep within every mother (and father too, I'm sure) the world over. What rights should these sociopath's have? They are obviously not normal, not human, they are not even feral, they are simply malefic beings.
Like Venables and Thompson, they too shall be given all the best of everything, from now until they die in anonymity whenever the good Lord (or more likely Satan) calls them. All the while, the victims of this crime and their families shall have to continue to live with the constant reminders of that faithless day. They shall also have to pay the taxes that will eventually fund the happy existence that those two monsters will eventually live upon their release.
Is that justice?

Looking at the case further, evidence has now been published of how the system neglected these perpetrators, ignoring what was obviously abusive parenting. This mother was drug-dependent, the partner matched her well. And yet she was allowed by this society of ours to produce not just two of these monsters but SEVEN. That means there are another five of them waiting in the wings and God only knows what they are getting up too.
Should people like this have the right to procreate at random?

Should people who are so obviously abusive be allowed to rear them? Should a parent have the right to destroy a child and in doing so, destroy their potential and their future, just because they 'got up the pole' as many of them so elegantly put it?
This woman is a drug addict. The chances are that she took drugs while pregnant too, she most certainly would have had 'the odd drink'. Were her children born with drugs in their system too? It is obvious that many pregnancies ago, it would have been obvious to healthcare workers that this woman was a menace to her children and in turn to society. Why were her children not taken off her at birth? Why was she not sterilised? And yes, I am promoting eugenics here, some people should NOT be allowed to procreate, and this woman is one of them - just look at the great job she's done so far.

Kerry Robertson from Dunfermline in Fife was not allowed to marry her finance because she was deemed 'not intelligent enough'. She had her baby snatched from her breast only days ago. This woman is NOT a drug addict, she is not an abusive parent, she loves her son, she planned to marry his father and give him a good home. Yet her baby was removed from her care while 'monster-mom' over in Edlington was allowed, time and again, to keep all of hers.
Is this justice?

Surely society needs to start getting a grip of itself. We claim we live in a 'civilised' society. Tell me how we can call our society 'civilised' when we cannot even trust the children who live within it's confines? Our children are no longer safe even in the company of their own peers. Parents must now explain to children that while they must be vigilant for strangers bearing sweets, they must be more wary of the children down the road and the children in school, because society will not protect them from other children. As we all know, while the stranger with sweets rarely appears, there is no hiding from those children, everywhere.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Writing on the Bookies Wall

One sunny afternoon as I sat in the car waiting for my younger brother to emerge from his then job in the bookies, I noticed two hand prints on the wall, as I sat there, this poem seeped into my mind and formed itself onto a nearby napkin.

The truth of their existence was not as morbid as my mind had projected. In fact I discovered they were put there by my brother's work colleague in a much less dramatic manner.

The Writing on the Bookies Wall

Two prints on the wall tell a tale,
Sweated and once slid they shine,
As he fell in despair grasping for the past,
But alas, it was not there
And to the ground he fell
Once again wishing; wishing for two hours lost
And the fortune within them.

Warrior Princess

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Well Hello Blog-World!!

So here we are, finally I've started blogging!! Sure it takes time, but we all get there in the end!

First off I'm going to start with a "I told you so" and take it further by gloating "yes I did!" Lol!

Just this very morning passed, I had a debate/discussion in regards to those shagging glaciers. It was a "will they, won't they/are they, aren't they" - receding rapidly that is. Well I was right, they've (they who??? The 'Scientists') finally admitted (although only marginally) that the Himalayan Glaciers WILL NOT have disappeared by 2035 as stated by the IPCC (UN Climate Science Body) in 2007. They will not have disappeared by 2035 or anytime soon by the looks of things. But sure after the whole 'Climate-change leaked Emails' scandal, can anyone truly believe anything any of these people say? I don't think so!

Methinks climate change is about as scientifically 'proven' as the origin of language!! (in-house joke, people)

Ok, rant over :) time to get back to Facebook - oh I mean studying of course!