29 June 2009

Daughter needs friends - Mother seeking like minded individuals.

Last week Cupcake's only 'friend' in Ireland moved to the U.S. I am in desperate need of a nice toddler aged 1 -2 years for her to play with. I know I sound like a negligent mother, I mean really how hard is it to make friend's for your child's sake. But really it is slim pickings around these parts. Last Tuesday when rushing to pick her up from the creche I saw another mother putting her daughter into her car seat. I thought, oh great an opportunity to make an overture. "Oh she looks so cute in her little skirt, that's Zara right?" The woman glared at me. "No." Hmm this is awkward, so I will try again, "Oh, is this Calean?" The only other name I could think of. "No." "Oh, um...ah..." I was cut off by her, "It is Sarah (pronounced sar-ah long a)." "I am sorry, I thought from the way the girls [in the creche] pronouced it, her name was Zara. My daughter is in the same room as her. I am so- and so's mother." Abruptly the conversation (ha if you could call it that) died. As I pushed Cupcake home in her stroller I informed her that neither Zara nor Sarah would be coming over anytime soon. I know I am picky and to be honest if I feel that 1) someone is not my intellectual equal or 2) we have absolutely NOTHING in common I am not going to make an effort for Cupcake's sake. 

28 June 2009

The Weekend

We spent the bulk of this weekend outside playing. It was probably the first weekend I didn't feel under pressure to do something on my PhD or other research. The weather was absolutely wonderful yesterday so we headed out early. I needed to pick up a few new bras and I wanted to get remeasured. I haven't had a new bra since before nursing commenced (I know it sounds terrible). It really hit home how bad the old ones were when himself exclaimed, "Oh thank GOD!" Shopping, however, wasn't too much fun because I forgot my wallet in the car. That meant baby and daddy followed me around, all the while questioning how long would I be, how much was I going to spend.

Afterwards we met our friends for lunch and a stroll in the Phoenix Park. We went to the Farmleigh estate and had a really nice lunch at the boathouse cafe. Cupcake was fascinated with the ducks that were toddling around everywhere. Our special treat was soft ice cream, here it is called a '99', explained to me as a vanilla ice cream with a piece of cadburys flake stuck in the top. I don't really get the appeal - I could have done without the flake. Which is just as well because it was so hot that my flake on to the ground before consumption. I decided to give Cupcake just a little taste and she ended up eating nearly half of it. I think we have an ice cream fiend on our hands!

Today we took a long walk out at Ardgillian Castle in Skerries. We strolled the grounds of the castle and it was nice to spend time with my father-in-law who loves being outdoors. He and I have really bonded over our mutual enjoyment of gardens and love of growing vegetables. We had a nice little picnic consisting of juicy nectarines, squash, asparagus, pea and feta frittata, chicken pasta salad, and fresh melon. Being so close to the coast there was some serious fog even though it was warm. We had expected it to burn off and were disappointed that it didn't. That didn't stop Cupcake from playing her little heart out on the super cool playground. Her new word for the day was Grandda which she pronounces like dan-da. Very cute.

23 June 2009

Too Legit to Quit - Or my driving test

It is official, I am now a full licensed driver on the Irish motorways. It was by no stretch of the imagination easy even though I drive only automatic cars (here). We purchased an automatic nearly two years ago after I told my husband that if he wanted me to drive we would have to get a different car because driving on this side of the road + manual transmission was out of the question for me. I had applied for and got my first provisional a year before this point. 5 weeks after buying the car I took my test, and obviously failed. But due to the wonderfully weird Irish system, until last June I was able to drive on my second provision without a licensed driver in the car so there was no rush to re-take the test. After June 2008 with its crackdown on provisionals came and went I continued to drive... illegally, which really made no difference to me because I have had an American license since I was 16 and never been in an accident or in receipt of a speeding ticket. But as my second provisional is due to expire this August I said what the hell. Also I was slightly embarrassed that my youngest brother - in - law (19 yrs old) was taking his test. 

With this in mind I decided the time had come, I had been 'practicing' for two years here. I booked a pretest for yesterday. It was noted that my tail brake light was out, so I rushed off to get it fixed. There was an annoying light on in my dash - for the catalytic convertor, and even though it has passed the NCT last month, I would not be able to take the test until the light was off. So I booked in the car to the Honda dealership to have it looked at. I went off for an hour and came back to find there was nothing they could do. Uh, you are the Honda dealership, authorised to work on Hondas? The service guy was apologetic but didn't really seem to grasp the gravity of the situation (i.e. 80 euro for pretest, 90 euro to have car fixed, 70 euro for driving test - all non-refundable at this late stage). So I did the only thing that I know how to do in these situations. 

I cried hysterically. Now when I am upset, I mean really upset, it is not a pretty sight. My face gets blotchy and red and very puffy. I sobbed until my shoulder shook. Of course, these tears made him extremely uncomfortable but he was unrelenting, there was nothing they could do in the time before the test. Plus it as just a driving test. "Just a driving test? What the fuck do you know? It has taken me two years to re-take this stupid thing." I don't think that won me any friends.  

Frantically I called the driving school. Yes they had a car I could take the test in, yes it was free tomorrow. It would cost me 140 euro. In desperation I paid it. I mean what was it going to cost to fix a car with nothing wrong with it? The car arrived 1 hour before the test, it was a techtronic automatic - totally different from my Honda CRV - a Japanese import. Well to make a long story short, I passed. In fact I only received one mark on the entire sheet, that is nearly unheard of!

All day I have been singing in my brain the MC Hammer song we all danced to in 6th grade "Too Legit, too legit to quit... hey hey" We gotta represent for O-town.

21 June 2009

Father's Day

Cupcake allowed us to gently wake up at 8.45 am and then we went downstairs to make Dada french toast with fresh blueberries and bananas. After reading through the papers, I popped a shoulder of lamb (my favourite Sunday roast if you couldn't guess from previous posts) into the oven. Off we went to the Kinsealy Garden Centre to pick up some gifts for Dada and Granda. Dada is now the proud owner of a blueberry bush, a fig (tree?), a delphinium and a pinwheel. I am sure you can guess who picked that out. For Granda we got a vibrant lavender bush, a hosta and a whistling statue of a red robin. At the Bloom garden show Granda dropped some major hints about his love of hostas so I couldn't resist picking out a lovely golden green one with blue flowers  for him. We then had everyone over for a Sunday dinner. On the menu today was roast lamb, honey roasted carrots, steamed asparagus and cherry tomatoes with parmesan, baked potatoes and a salad of broad beans, peas, feta and crispy parma ham with a lemon, oil, mint dressing. For dessert we enjoyed a simple fruit crisp made from peaches, plums, nectarines and blueberries (yes I love blueberries).

Father's Day turned out to be a success. Happy Father's Day to all!

20 June 2009

Filipino Day - St Annes Park

We are recovering well from my sister's visit. Her first night here the girls and I went a bit crazy on our night out on the town. And I mean crazy for a 30 year-old, not crazy for a 21 year-old college student. My sister's friend put it aptly when she said, "After college it is just considered alcoholism." 

We decided cupcake needed a day out at the park and attended the 6th Filipino Day in Ireland which coincided with the 111th Philippine Independence Day commemoration. The sun wasn't exactly shining but members of the Filipino community were out in full force. There were all sorts of different community groups there, lots of singing, dancing, some martial arts and general merriment. One of my best friends, a Filipina/Thai American, who shall hence forth be known as Disa, was trying to get people to sign up for the Filipino community network. It was really cool to have Disa explain a bit more to us about her heritage, and of course, point out all the great food to eat. The food booth that we practically raided was run by a woman who travelled down from Belfast with her goodies. First we tried the pork siomai, which are chinese-influenced steamed dumplings. DELICIOUS. They were served with soy sauce and a homemade chili sauce. I happen to be obsessed with chili sauce, so I was in heaven. We also tried the lumpia which is a flaky pastry-like spring roll. They can be filled with vegetables, pork or banana. The banana ones were the lumpia on offer and I thought they were great. I love fried bananas and this was a similar sticky-sweet flavour. Himself wasn't too keen but I think it is because he complains if things are too sweet. On our second trip back we tried the siopao which is a steamed hot bun filled with some kind of meat. The bun is actually made from rice dough. I found it a bit too much like white bread for my liking. The filling however, was gorgeous and made from bola-bola which was some kind of pork. We had another large plate of siomai and had a bite of Disa's rich leche flan. Disa explained that Filipino food is a cross between chinese and hispanic influences. I have noticed that pork appears to be the favourite meat and if these tasty morsels were anything to go by they sure know how to cook it. 

17 June 2009


I gave little darling a tiny haircut today. I just really wanted to clip her bangs because she absolutely refuses to leave her hair pulled back and I wanted to get it out of her eyes. I think I cut it too short, and she moved, so it is a bit uneven. The little lock of hair is so precious I have to save it. When I snipped it off I was reminded of this woman I taught in my women's studies art history class three years ago. We discussed a piece by Kathy Prendergast, Love Object, a brush with a woman's long brown hair attached and at the end of the hair was a comb. Some people were uncertain how to react to a sculpture with real hair and struggled to connect with the work. So in order to try to generate some ideas we discussed the different meanings culturally attached to hair. A woman who was normally quite quiet in class shared what hair symbolised to her. She told us that she had saved a lock of hair from her daughter who died at age six. She absolutely cherished this precious, soft curl that she kept in a special little box. When I glanced around at the other women, there wasn't a dry eye in the room. Even as I write this, I still tear up thinking about that poignant story. I suppose one really can't put a value on memories.

16 June 2009

Allergies and Cleaning: Fun and Games

I am supposed to be 'working' today. By that I mean I am supposed to be undertaking research on 1) my PhD 2) my summer research project for a big international artist.

Of course we all know that no one ever really does what they are supposed to right?  Instead I am trying to prepare myself for my little sister's arrival (+ 3 friends). The problem is we only have one spare bedroom at the moment because my darling husband who I occasionally call 'Mr. Good Idea' recently decided to rip out all of the insulation out of our 4th bedroom/attic conversion. To do so he moved everything, absolutely everything into the spare room. So on top of general tidying I now have to try to find a home for everything in the spare bedroom whilst avoiding shoving it back in the attic. It probably does not make matters any better that I suffer from extreme hay fever - i.e despite nasal spray, 24 hour hayfever relief I still want to rip my itchy eyes out. A strange side-effect of my unbearable hay fever is that I become easily incredibly frustrated with people - i.e. cupcake, my sister, my husband and my mother. Not that these people are currently aware of this frustration. In fact the first they may hear of it is from this blog. 

Cupcake- just annoyed with you in general. Specific instances include you not listening to me when I tell you to stay away from dog poop while I am cleaning it out of garden, throwing the ever annoying food on the ground, not going to sleep like a normal child, accidentally, although painfully falling on me while I lay in bed this morning and shoving your little fingers up my allergy-ridden nose. 

Husband- I know broke more than the items you previously told me about when you fell down the stairs, i.e. half of our wedding gifts. I am also annoyed that your 'good idea' involves more cleaning than should be necessary and you are in Scotland for work while I try to get everything ready.

Sister-  Generally annoyed with you because things aren't ready. Although this is not necessarily your fault but I keep replaying in my mind some comment you made to mom about us living like slobs (even though you contributed to the messiness of this house while I let you live here for 2 months). Two years later that still bothers me. So in an effort to prove you wrong I am trying to clean but feeling frustrated that I have to prove you wrong because inevitably I will lose interest, stop cleaning and you will be right.

Mother - again generally annoyed with your sparkling house and the fact that Sister will probably in her mind compare everything to your house keeping skills even though she is also a slob. Also I can hear your voice telling me to be nice and I don't feel nice right now.

I do not feel too bad about sending this off into the universe because 1. cupcake can't read yet, 2. sister doesn't know this blog exists, 3. mother never has time to read this, 4. husband I want you to know.

14 June 2009

What a weekend

I have spent the past three days at a seminar devoted to the oeuvre of Leo Bersani. I am literally running on metal empty. It was an amazing three days filled with psychoanalysis galore. Bersani writes on all sorts of things, relationality, art, queer politics, literature, philosophy and of course Freud. Somehow I keep falling into these psychoanalysis seminars 'for fun'. I honestly do find the stuff fascinating but it can be so mentally draining to have to focus on theory for sustained periods of time. I did have a very cool moment I must confess. I got to meet James Coleman. Seriously. He was so cool. We just talked about everyday normal stuff. You know. Art. AWESOME. I can't even write coherently. 

It never fails to amaze me how I can be thinking about these obscure things and then I need I hold a baby, correction MY baby and all the theory flies right out of my head and I remember, 'oh yeah I am a mommy'. On Friday I arrived home spend some quality time with cupcake. It was much needed on my behalf. Perhaps the most loving, tender moment we have shared (this week) was when she sat on my lap in her pyjamas facing me. She patted me on the chest and said Mama. I nodded, 'Yes I am Mama.' Then she pressed her face into my neck and whispered 'Mama, Mama' as if to assure herself that I was real.

10 June 2009

Please oh please

I am anxious. I can't concentrate on what I am supposed to be doing. Yesterday I emailed a contact regarding funding for my research. The response back was that a call had been sent around and I had missed the deadline. I promptly burst into tears. But the injustice of it is that the email was never sent to me. On any of my millions of mailing lists!

Funding is a loaded word 'round these parts. Undergrad was expensive but was managed through loans. Postgrad - well surely I must be crazy to be undertaking 5 years worth of study without any funding. This of course is not through want of trying. I have applied for 3 scholarships now. The first I didn't know what to expect and was cocky. The second I was humbled and anxious, and then found out that my friend got it. That was a blow to the ego, only because she was someone I like, not that I begrudged her the achievement but a tiny part of me asked 'why not me?' The third call was written for me. When I read the specs I was blown away, everything about the details fit EXACTLY my research. I was quietly confident that good things happen to good people. This was the good thing that was bound to happen to me. And of course you know I didn't get it. That had me depressed for days. I couldn't understand it. Until I realised who got it - someone who is an expert in my field. What competition was I? 

But then at a meeting on Monday it was suggested that I contact the scheme again as more funding was due to become available. I was puzzled as I had not mentioned to this person that I had applied. I wondered what connect they had with the project. After reading an email 20 minutes ago that read 'after you came so close last time' I nearly had a seizure. What? So I was in the running last time? I really came close? Like actually almost had it? That was like rock salt in a old wound. 

My mantra that I am repeating in my head goes something like this: 'Please let me apply, I am so worthy, if I get it so many monetary issues would be solved.'

Fingers crossed.

09 June 2009

Spencer Tunick Dublin Installation

In June of last year the two of us participated in the Spencer Tunick installation at the Dublin Docklands. Spencer Tunick is an American photographer who is known for his use of the naked body. He often places the human form in urban and occasionally rural landscapes. The photographs function as documentation of the installations and as works of art in their own right. When I learned that Spencer Tunick was looking for approximately 750 people to get naked in the name of art I said hell yes! I managed to convince himself, plying him with several shots of tequila before we boarded the bus to the secret location. It ended up being a wise idea because it was absolutely freezing and I think the alcohol helped to take the edge off. 

On Monday I opened a A4 brown envelope marked "do not bend" to reveal my 'payment' for taking part in the exhibition. It was a high quality 8 x 10 limited edition photograph. Very cool. Unfortunately the Docklands Authority have failed to secure a physical location for the resulting exhibition. Instead there is a website exhibition. What a cop out. The spin is that it is supposed to be more accessible, blah blah blah. The website is getting so much traffic it took 30 minutes to load yesterday. Call me a traditionalist but art on my computer screen stinks compared to a live exhibition. 

07 June 2009

Not all old ladies are sweet ones...

This morning we went over to my in-laws house for coffee and to see great Aunt Nora. Ah Nora, where do I begin? 

Two weeks ago she kindly gave my mother-in-law a book to be passed along to ourselves and the other married sibling in the family entitled, Who is at the Centre of Your Marriage? The Pill or Jesus Christ? Of course I found the notion hysterical because 1. I am a non-theist and 2. What does she know about the pill anyways? The book is written by a pharmacist from Northern Ireland, and I stress pharmacist, not medical doctor or scientific researcher with a PhD. The central argument of the book is that the birth control pill can cause unknown abortions. Now call me crazy but I did actually read the entire book, if only to laugh at the sheer insanity of the arguments it was putting forward. I am admittedly pro-choice and also think that I and my husband, not God (whom I don't believe in so even saying this is irrelevant) determine the number of children we will produce. The research in the book is poor, and I can say this because I am a researcher - he relies on mainly religious doctrines and not scientific evidence to underpin his claims. What scientific evidence he does use is cited from other sources and is dated. In order for claims such as these to be taken seriously something like this needs to be published in a peer-reviewed academic journal with recent and rigorous research. Ok getting back on track here - so you can imagine that I was oh so looking forward to the exchange to be had with her. I had even looked through my bookshelf and was planning on letting her borrow my Paul Kurtz Forbidden Fruit just for some light secular humanist reading.

Instead and perhaps even more enjoyably, we discussed the place of married women in the home. i.e. she told me I shouldn't have to work, I should have a full time job keeping house and minding my children of which there should be more... I am sorry but if there is one thing I am prepared for it is feminist discussions like these. She said that a woman should be prepared to give up other things for her marriage. I pointed out that she held a very traditional (and classist) view that didn't represent the realities of people's lives - as in how is one supposed to raise a family on one salary - especially in Ireland with a mortgage. She responded that perhaps my spouse should leave his job and find a better one. Er, Nora - have you heard of the Recession? We went back and forth for sometime. I even mentioned that I enjoy working and why shouldn't I be the bread winner and my husband the stay at home dad with which he emphatically agreed. She also stated that she didn't think I needed college - oh right because education and empowerment that comes from it is a bad thing right? It soon became clear that there was no reasoning with someone who was unreasonable! What am I saying, I knew this going into the discussion but I still love arguing.

Perhaps why this might seem even more ridiculous is that she was a director of a very profitable company. She never married until she was in her 70s. 

06 June 2009

Another saturday morning


That is the sound of my unresolved dream.
No wait how could that possibly be 
the sound of a dream?


Confused, I stare blinkingly
at the green LED numbers over the pillow.
Momentarily they focus then blur then focus.


It is the doorbell not a child. 
I drag myself out of bed
clearing the unresolved dream from my head.

Standing at the door
arriving home moments before
the heavens open up to pour.

Keys were misplaced.

05 June 2009

They say the funniest things...

Today we went to a play group in a nearby community centre. Cupcake was hesitant at first but soon lost her shyness and was trying to run the other kids over with a giant car. A couple moms were discussing baby talk. I mentioned that I wasn't really certain if cupcake said any words other than hello, no and ta-ta. One mom mentioned that her daughter was watching Maury the other day and repeated at random the word 'slut'. Two of us turned to one another and wondered if Maury was the most appropriate choice for a 2 year old.

You'll all be glad to know that I have done my civic duty as a permanent Irish resident and voted in the local elections. As I am not yet eligible to vote in the European elections himself and I agreed which candidates he would vote for. I did try to talk them into giving me the European ballot but alas I was not successful. Oh well  C'mon Joe Higgins! The good news is I have finally send off my application for citizenship. I am hoping to have it by the time the next general elections roll around. I really don't want to miss those!

02 June 2009


On Monday we went to the Bloom Garden Show on in Phoenix Park. As we are trying to stay on top of our garden it was well worth the heat and the crowds. I was particularly taken with the Recession Garden which featured sustainable ideas like a chicken coop and large paving stones that doubled as a small water feature complete with water plants and moss. Keeping hens for fresh eggs has been a particular fantasy of mine for the past few years. I also love that Dublin doesn't have any particular ordinances that would curtail this activity. Just for the sake of it I visited the bee keeping tent. On my way I happened to stumble over a very large pot hole in the grass. At the time I was holding cupcakes shoes in my hand and apparently as I fell one of them flew up in the air and hit some lady in the head. It wasn't funny at the time because I was hot, burned and tired but now it strikes me as hysterical! A nice ice cream lifted my spirits.

01 June 2009

BBQ Madness

Three letters sum up this bank holiday weekend: BBQ. In my family grilling and being the grill-master is a time honoured tradition. My grandfather Ed was the son of two Polish immigrants and everyone knows the Poles are crazy about the meat. So when Ed moved from the windy city out west to sunny California the first thing he purchased was a barbeque. No I am lying but I imagine it was top of the list. He instilled in my father a love of the open flame that has burned bright for years. My father has had various barbeques over the years - of course never a gas one- but it was the Texas half oil-drum with side smoker box that could hold an entire salmon that seals my father's place in the grill master hall of fame. My father makes a tri-tip that could make a grown man cry. My brother is slowly carving out his place alongside my dad. 

Now it is not often that we have sunny days like the ones we've had this past weekend. It is imperative that full advantage be taken of the opportunity to grill ourselves silly. On Friday I made a spatchcock chicken, marinated in chili, soy, spring onions, garlic and coriander seeds. Saturday we had some juicy burgers for lunch. Yesterday we invited the family over to enjoy the weather with us as it would be selfish to keep all this charcoal-y goodness to ourselves. I made three spatchcock  chickens and a pack of drumsticks. I also assembled various kebabs - one with bratwurst, olives, tomatoes and halloumi cheese. The other was a vegetable kebab with onion, mushroom, zucchini and peppers. I also made a large salad of spinach, mint, nectarines, feta and pumpkin seeds. And who could resist a lovely grilled corn on the cob? For desert I stole my mother's yummy and amazingly simply ice cream sandwich idea. 

My father insists of being informed of any undertaking of the sacred art. Upon hearing the menu he said to me, "Your talents are being wasted there, come home." I sense that he is ready to take my grilling education to the next level. Watch this space.