Monthly Archives: September 2012


At about twenty past three yesterday the doorbell went. Mostly the only people who call unannounced are people trying to sell you something. I could see as I approached the door whoever it was was wearing a suit, so that seemed even more likely. I thought about not answering it (they can be a bit pushy), but decided to give whoever it was a break. I opened the door, and said hello.

The person turned around, and it was my Dad! I was delighted to see him. He lives a hundred kilometers away from me and so I don’t see him very often. He was in Dublin for an archeological conference and decided to drop in.

Oh, but it was nice to see him. Having him here made me aware of something, however. I am so anxious so much every day that its not funny. We were sitting on the couch and I was spilling out conversation in a rat-ta-tat, urgent way. Why couldn’t I slow down? Why not just relax? Because, I am able to see, I respond all day and night to my little boy’s demands with just that sense of urgency, that I am utterly wound up and panicky without even realising it. Huh.

I don’t think there is a way one can remove all anxiety straight away. Its served me well so far, in that the little man is doing great. But it doesn’t seem healthy to be fearful and manic all day every day. No wonder my son’s Dad is better at getting him to laugh.

Oh well. At least Dad liked the biscuits.

Being Cool

I’m a woman at home with her nerdiness. I outed myself in that regard years ago. But there is a side to me that wishes at times for her own montage, her own dance track, her own theme music.

I wish I was cool.

I want to be free of the ability I have to catch my sleeve in a door as I walk in, thereby throwing juice back in my face. I want to have a devil may care attitude and a ‘be free to be who you are’ belief.

Being cool crucially isn’t about being excellent or  the best at something. Carl Sagan was wonderfully smart, but he himself wasn’t cool. No, he wasn’t, sorry.

Same goes for Grace Kelly. She’s too poised to be cool. She is perfect, but too aware of it to move to an instinctive beat that would make her cool.

Whereas young Jim here is so cool he makes others cool by association. The Doors made music with a goddamn organ, think anyone cares about that? Hell no, sister.

Cool is that attitude that, coupled with physical beauty means a person has allure beyond charisma. It means a person simultaneously attracts and distances themselves,  as us mere mortals would never be good enough to get close to them. James Spader was astonishingly, blood freezingly cool in the 1990s. Add twenty years, a destroyed marriage and him quitting smoking, and he ain’t cool now.


While these two are so cool, its a miracle they don’t repel each other.

Yes I am conscious that I am the Queen of fuddy duddy and that my idea of coordinated cool is matching woolens at Marks and Sparks. You are reading the words of a baby-food covered woman who is typing with one hand because her baby is in her arm, gently snoring. But every so often, a wistful air comes over me and I sigh, and I think… “I wish I was cool…”

How you like them biscuits?

My nearby deli/market used to do a brilliant chewy biscuit that I found impossible to resist. They were light, with chocolate chips and I found them the perfect treat.


However, a recent change in management meant that they changed. Their chewy texture became an overworked, caster sugar filled boredom. Not good. So I pulled out the recipe books and had a go.

No, really, not good enough

Right. No. Not remotely good enough. Instead, I rooted out the Good Eats episode from Season Three, Three Chips for Sister Marsha*, and stuck to it to the very best of my ability. The result?

Nom nom nom...

Biscuits that are chewy, moist and perfect. Diet starts Monday, honest.

And thanks again for Mr. Brown for his tweet!

Embedded image permalink


*Marsha Marsha Marsha!

Getting his shots

My little boy, who is now six months old, is today getting his immunisation shots. Firstly, all those who think these are to be avoided are dangerously stupid (tip of the head to Sinnott MEP, who’s IQ is in fact a minus figure, in that she makes other people stupid too). Secondly, I’m not as worried and upset about the pain for the little man as some people fear. Both the doctor and my husband expected some kind of tears or emotional reaction from me at the time, which is a little unnecessary. This isn’t a car crash or traumatic event. These are necessary, even to be welcomed. They’ll protect him in ways even I can’t.

Just to note this; Each time I’ve gone home and expressed more milk than ever before. Whatever I’m telling my head, my body is having a different physiological reaction….

My Body

Pizza dough

There was a moment when I was getting out of the bath soon after the little fella was born. Leaning over the edge, I caught my reflection in the water as it seeped down the drain. What did I see? Pizza dough.

Not suitable for younger readers.

Yes, pizza dough. Great big soft round handfuls of pizza dough, all ready for the oven. There wasn’t much to say or do at that moment, just watch the water seep out in silence.

I was sick

The birth wasn’t the easiest one, which is a very nice way of saying it was bloody horrible with a lot of aftereffects. It is almost six months afterwards and exercise is only now becoming an option. I say becoming in the vaguest sense, in that I don’t think I’ve ever been this out of shape. I was also fighting an infection for most of those six months, so I was quite weak as well. Exercise wasn’t an option.

Car crash

Arragh shite…

So here I am with my car crash of a body. I’ve never been this out of shape, nor have I ever been this large. I’m large, fat, round, bigger than I’ve ever been before. No clothes I have fit me, and I find that my attitude to clothes is curiously freed; I’m going to look fat no matter what I wear, I may as well look tailored at it.

My plans to improve and why I haven’t started yet.

Mother's diet coke...

I have been sick, but I’ve also been breastfeeding. This has been successful after a tricky start, and now, frankly, the child is a bowser. He is a good weight and height, and showing excellent development (he is nearly standing, and is saying ‘Mama’, at five and a half months). Any attempt at dieting before he is weaned would mean a reduction in the amount of milk I’d produce daily, but as it is almost time to wean him off I can start thinking about diet and exercise.


I have a lot of weight to lose. A lot. If I am honest, it would be about fifty pounds of weight. You wouldn’t carry that amount of weight on holiday, so why should I go ahead and carry it now? I’ll need to eat less, and to eat less sugar and carbs; heck, even portion control would make a difference. I would love to do Keto, with a cheat day once a week, but I don’t think that would be allowed.

In terms of exercise, I plan to treat myself to membership of the brand new Olympic-length swimming pool at UCD when I am back at work. Back in the long, long ago, children, I used to swim three times a week. The pool in that case was a 22 meter pool and I could swim 25 laps (two lengths) in 30 minutes, and still be back at my desk by 2pm. If I could even maintain a three time a week schedule to start with I would be happy with that; I’ve told myself I would look for two laps, three times a week, and look for no more than that fro me (I’m still going to have to be back at my desk by 2pm, and take care of my baby in the evening, so slowly is the rule here).

Help and Support

The best way to do this, I have found, is to make a change of such a gradual nature that no specific ‘help’ is needed. However, keeping going is the big kicker. I may, at times, ask you all for a bit of a push, just to keep going….

And then some.

If I thought I was clumsy Sunday, Monday morning really put that idea away.

I usually wake up with back pain, and on Monday was in the bathroom. I gave myself a stretch, closing my eyes, leaning forward and putting my hand on the mirror. When I opened my eyes I saw that the mirror was coming away from the wall, so it was only attached at two points rather than four (if you get me). Blimey. I’d want to be careful with that. I slowly lowered the mirror back on the wall and got ready for my shower.

Of course, once in the shower there was the most dreadful crash. The mirror, and all it carried, fell to the floor with a lovely crash. Beloved husband’s voice could be heard from the other side of the door.

“You okay?!”

“Fine, just an idiot…”

“Fair enough!”

Humpft. Right. I got through the shower, and then managed to stab a toe while handling nail scissors. That was it for yesterday but who knows what today will bring! I don’t know, dear reader, I just despair! 

Claire’s Big Day Out…

I have a baby to mind, and no car, which means most of the time I don’t get to go further than the usual daily walk. This weekend, however, the urge to get out of the house was upon me, and I really, really wanted to get out and about. I made the husband promise that we would get out of the house on Sunday.

Sunday comes around and unfortunately he’s sick with a nasty sore throat and aches and pains. I was bitterly disappointed, and irrationally angry with him for being sick. Of all the days! He looked at me from the couch.  We came to a compromise; he would mind the baby while I headed out for a few hours.

I nearly turned back at the bus stop. He was sick, and yet still had to mind a baby all day. It seemed cavalier to leave him to it. But I made myself wait, ignoring the voice. The bus arrived, and the first mini adventure happened; the bus driver asked me if I knew the way. I blinked a bit at this, but then said yes, I did. He refused to take any fare from me, which I worried at. Anyways, we were on our way.

Seems the difficulty for him was the route through Sandymount. I ended up standing beside his seat and directing him: “No, take this right,” with other passengers just watching all this in amazement. When we reached Ringsend another colleague of his got on, so I stepped back and away. I don’t think he would have wanted other drivers to know the extent of his need for help. I hopped off outside Trinity.

Right, so, off we go! The first thing to notice is the lack of impediment. I’d been so used to walking with a pram that the free motion you have without it made me feel almost exposed. I made my way to the National Gallery, only to find that they have renovations going on for most of the Gallery. I got to see the Carravagio, so that is something. I also got some nice postcards in the shop (very Lucy Honeychurch but what can you do).

Postcards bought, now what to do? It was approaching five on a Sunday, there wouldn’t be a lot of options. Himself wanted Lemsip tablets, so off to Boots, then into M&S for dinner for tonight. Then what?

I took a fancy for a bite to eat, so headed off to Carluccio’s in Dawson Street. There was no problem getting a table for one, and I ordered a plate of calamari. It was so nice!

And the staff were so nice! I took out my phone and made a phone call; one other thing that doesn’t happen is long phone calls. I rang a friend and had a natter that by my phone lasted eleven minutes! Eleven! Imagine the luxury! The staff were especially nice, they saw I was on the phone and gently put my coke down with so much respect that you’d think I was on the phone to the PM. After my call, they asked did I want dessert. Turned out I did, so I had some lemon tart and a hot chocolate. I pulled out my notebook and wrote out notes for fifteen minutes, and manged to figure out the underlying structure of the novella. (It was obvious, but I needed time to let the neurons speak a bit louder.)

Right! Time to go. There was a bus at 6.30pm I could catch, and it was now quarter to. I pulled out money for the bill and stood up, putting my coat on. I felt my elbow catch on something and then… there was the most almighty crash. I looked back to see a plate had fallen on the ground and broken into a hundred pieces. The entire restaurant went silent, with forks frozen on the way to open mouths.

Curiously multi-ethic crowd in tonight…

I sank out of there, my face as red as a nuclear bomb. Then I bought two brownies for himself and myself, and dropped the change. Then bumped into someone coming in. What the hell?

Right. Made my way to the bus stop, and waited next to a woman who complained about the rough crowds and buses, until finally my own bus arrived. The same driver, who still wouldn’t take any fare. I headed home, glad to be going to see my own family again, and promising myself I would get out again before Christmas….

Pure Mornings

Show image

Sad to say the show hosted by Richie McCormack and Michelle Doherty, and produced by Charlotte Flood, is no more. The two presenters are moving on to better things! I”ve spent a little time on the tops of buses wondering what made their show better than others.

Firstly, the tunes. They had some really, really, really good music on the show, and weren”t afraid to say if they found something wasn”t good (mention Adele to Richie and you had no one to blame but yourself). Secondly, the humour of McCormack was usually spot on the ball, but was never boorish or at the expense of someone else: it was never sarcastic or bitter. Hence, theirs was the one show not headwrecking in the morning.

I started listening to them during my early morning jogs at 6am, back when I was able to jog five days a week. They were the perfect start to the day, especially when things were so tough taking care of Mum at the time

The last show was Friday, 14th September 2012, and below are links to some of the songs they played; lads, you will be missed…

dEUS – Instant Street

Violent Femmes – Blister in the Sun

Led Zeppelin – Kashmir

Mumford and Sons – I Will Wait

Bellx1- The Great Defector

LCD Soundsystem – All My Friends

Of A Memory to Come…

Play this, please, and read.

Sunday afternoon we had occasion to go to Dundrum for the weekly supplies. On the way back this song was playing on the stereo.

It’s the song that plays in Blade Runner, when Rachel discovers/confirms that she in fact is not human, but a replicant. Despite having memories of a mother, and a childhood, she in fact has been alive for less than a decade. She has no mother, and in fact is not connected to any person in the human race at all.

I know what its like to see my mother’s body die, and to have that daily grief in my life, but obviously for different reasons. Rachel looses her mother and her sense of identity as a human in one swoop while mine passed away last year after a gruesome battle with dementia and Alzheimer’s. Her passing has taught me a truth of the Universe: it doesn’t matter how much you love something, or how tightly you hug it to yourself in a desperate effort to keep it, or how much your soul is built upon it. Time will take it away from you and  the world. You might be there to see it, you might not. But its time on the earth is finite.

Now we have a child; a little connection to the future. He carries my soul with him everywhere, and so I fear terribly for him, fear terribly the loss of him. He’s a magnificent invader on all the barriers and fortresses I’ve built up over the years. Nothing I say or do will stop me caring enormously about this person, about his care, his safety, his experiences and his opinion of me. I can’t help that. I’m connected to him, tied to him and to his father in a vulnerability I’ve never had before. But you can’t fear a loss if you have nothing. You can’t have that fear of a loss of a connection if you are out in the rain with nothing in your pockets. When you’re within by the fire is when you’re at risk, and that is the scary part.

So I’m left with this. All that I adore will one day be gone from this earth. I only get this time allotted to me. I simply must make the most of it. It seems that, these days, each experience has the potential to hold to the highest purpose in a way it never did before. I wish all of you the sense to never take your place by the fireside for granted.