Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Been there done that...

Reading through the entries for The Girl Who's monthly blog competition I noticed one writer listed things she had done - such as surviving 4 hurricanes, living in 5 states etc.

It made me think about all the stuff I've managed to pack into my 36 years - most of them pre-Sproglet:

I've trained as a life coach. I've earned a living as kid's TV presenter, showbiz reporter, film reviewer, associate producer, script editor, barmaid and won Gap's northern employee of the month... Oh yes. I can fold with the best of them. Learned to water-ski (badly). Interviewed DiCaprio (twice), Scorscese, Samuel L Jackson, Vivienne Westwood, Robbie Williams, Frenchie from Grease, Bjork and Helen Mirren amongst others. Told Micheal Stipe drunkenly that 'everybody does indeed hurt...' Married the same man - twice. Fought for and got a C section. Had my teeth fixed. Skinny dipped in Thailand in the middle of a thunderstorm. Got a small tattoo. Had (my only) one night stand with a famous US TV star. Got my heart broken by a director who went on to marry a supermodel. Bitter? Moi? Dyed my hair red and blonde together and separately. Had millionaires pay for my friend and I to stay at the Shangri La hotel in Hong Kong - for a week. White water rafted. Been taught to salsa dance by Will Smith. Bought two properties - both while I was unemployed - go figure. Become a volunteer. Lived in a disused restaurant in Melbourne. Travelled 1st class on Eurostar. Drank cool beers in New Zealand hot tubs. Been inside the Taj Mahal. Nearly got eaten by Jaws at the ancient Florida fun ride. Hosted a weekly live debate show. Asked a boy for a date in an Xmas card and hand delivered the card. He said no. Completed two sponsored silences and was heavily sponsored. Eaten a 22 course meal at El Bulli. Bliss. Stood at the top of the Empire State building at 8am, alone. Blade skated in Vondel Park in Amsterdam. Owned a pair of Manolos. Mastered cartwheeling - in heels - drunk. Fell in love for the first time in Berlin, at 17. Went back a year later, had my heart broken in Berlin, at 18. Lied my way into Paris Fashion week. Attended a human autopsy - the smell of a human heart has never left me. Produced a series of Topless Darts at the Circus, with a dwarf as the ringmaster, in a disused circus in Great Yarmouth - in November. Snorkelled in the Maldives. Windsurfed. Written off my car in the snow. Haggled in a souk. Visited Mozart's house in Vienna. Kissed a girl and liked it. Had a fling at 27 with a cute boy who worked in a cookie store and told me he was 20. At my work's Xmas do his best mate told me and my assembled colleagues and bosses that cookie boy was in fact...17. I don't regret it. Presented a dating show. Taken a film class. Learned pottery. Had a tango lesson. Broken my arm in 3 places. Survived a Brazilian wax. Learned to roll a perfect er... cigarette. Paintballed and seized two of the 3 flags. Danced on top of the Felix bar in Hong Kong. Been asked to leave the Felix bar in Hong Kong. Star bothered John Galliano and Starsky - or was it Hutch? Not in the same evening. Had a Halloween themed wedding. Watched fireworks in the snow on New Years Eve. Been a bridesmaid 5 times. Discovered cooking and the joy of going to the cinema alone. Worked out how to use tit tape. Cycled in London. Slept under the stars. Seen Prince in concert 3 times. Got my bronze Duke of Edinburgh. Captained a debating society. Learned how to put on make-up. Still learning how to save money. Stayed at The Mercer NY. Visited the old leper colony Spinalonga in Crete. Eaten lamb's brains. Caught crabs and cooked them in Perth. Danced in Paris. Survived 3 broken hearts and one pregnancy.


Friday, 25 September 2009

Back to Life... summer of '89

It happened on an innocuous morning. Moseying to work, radio on, flicking through the channels. Madonna's 'Like a Prayer' came on and bam! I was back in April 1989, my 16th birthday. I can't remember who bought me the cassette album, but it stank of patuli oil and featured Madge with all new long dark hair. I remember it was a Friday; after arguing with my Mother (who had bought me a rose gold cross which I wore on a piece of worn leather and thought I was ultra cool) and her booting me out of her car, I strolled into her ex-boyfriend's house (I lived with him at weekends).

I didn't care that she wasn't speaking to me, because tomorrow was my celebration! A bunch of us hitting Harveys pizza place in town and then the smokey dingy Empire pub with our fake IDs. At the restaurant my best friend presented me with a god awful cake she had cremated in the microwave - but she had filled the middle with party poppers and balloons that I doled out to all there and proceeded to stand on a chair to make a speech. I remember it being the year I bucked the trend and invited those I liked - even the geeks - rather than the 'in' gang to my do - I had had enough of having to like ignorant rugby boys because it was the done thing. I was making my own rules. The thought still makes me smile.

Later at the dive pub, I met a cute boy called Mark (crucially aged 21) and I pretended it was my 18th; he gave me the birthday kiss to end all birthday kisses. I think I swooned. Our 'romance' continued when I went to his house a few weeks later to help him babysit his kid sister. I crept around trying not to wake his sleeping Granny while he spent the night trying to get in my innocent virginal pants and even made me stand on the opposite side of the road from his house when my cab came to pick me up. I found out via a phonecall with his brother (Mark no longer returned my calls and it was long before mobile phones) a few weeks later, that his kid sister and Granny had been at an ice skating competition in Dublin and I had been there as a lamb to the slaughter...

The DJ (irritating twang, nasal voice) announced next up was 'Back to Life' by Soul 2 Soul. Tune! All of a sudden I was lying on my back on an itchy woollen rug, celebrating the end of my GCSEs, hoicking up my top for the merciless sun to tan my oh so flat stomach. There had been a helluva party at Blair's house the night before - we'd had to break in as his parents had locked it up tightly before they disappeared for the weekend. But we had celebrating to do. The exams were over, the world was our oyster and I already knew I had bagged a much coveted A in art. I hitched a ride with some older boys to grab beers at skanky Laverys off license to take back to the party - I think hoping I would bump into asshole Mark - and that night we camped out in my Dad's back garden (he lived near Blair and was also away for the weekend - but having been caught for having an illicit party there the year before, I wasn't going to offer it as a place to hold the party).

I woke the day after the party in the sweaty smelly tent, desperate to breathe in fresh air. I threw open the tent entrance, took a deep breath and gagged as my friend Emma had vomited right there. My other tent buddy was nowhere to be seen. Our other friend (god knows how we hoped for of us would sleep in this tiny tent) Caroline had already christened the abode with her own puke and had scuttled home - or maybe had crept into her boyfriend Colin's house... Good times. Breakfast was a Burger King thick shake and then home to sleep off the hangover in the sun... Listening to Soul 2 Soul and Prince's Batdance.

Then it hit me - like a fucking bullet - that was 20 years ago!!! 20! Oh my god. Where did all those years go? Because I know every word to Like a Prayer and if I close my eyes I am 16 again, I'm so full of hope and determination. How can I now be thirty fucking 6?? And what would my 16 year old self make of me now?

I reeled as I went up the stairs to the office. I was mulling over the fact I was a devout viewer of the show I now work on, in those days - never missing an episode even though my Mother regularly told me I should be revising instead of watching a soap. I mulled over how unbelievably fast those years sped by. I missed my life then: the tight bubble of friendship, the incestuous school affairs, the feeling that everything happening to me was so BIG in my little world. My desperation to escape Ireland and have adventure. I wish I'd known I was having great adventures even then. I still see my school mates all the time. My same best friend lives 5 mins away. Us gang of girls (the tent pukers) got together only 2 months ago. Yet I miss those carefree days. When we ran to the store that would sell us single cigarettes, gossip and smoke in little booths in Delaneys coffee house after school on a Friday and neck half pints of cider and black while listening to tuneless bands in the Empire every Saturday, hoping to kiss wrong boys and life, well it was for the taking.

There was something so new about it all. Lt reminds me of the film 'The Outsiders' when Ralph Macchio says that everything is 'gold.' I wish I'd appreciated it more. Like in 20 years I wish I'd appreciated now more....

The upshot of all this is... well... I'm not gonna worry so much. It never gets me anywhere anyway. I'm not gonna worry about losing my job in April - things'll work themselves out - they always do. I'm counting blessings and enjoying the here and now. I'm determined not to let a single second pass me by - and unless he/she/it is worth it - I'm just not investing in it any more.

Maybe the turtle in Sproglet's 'Kung Fu Panda' movie has the answer: Yesterday is history, tomorrow a mystery - that is why today is 'the present.' I intend to grab it with both hands.

Now where the hell is my best of Soul 2 Soul CD?

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Greetings from Sardinia

Hello! Wish you were here and all that. No really, I do. 10 days in the resort from hell has got me bouncing off the walls. The weather has been mixed, the room shabby and don't get me started on the service - but I don't want to dwell on all that stuff. Husband was grumpy by day 2. Thank god the cocktails were good and he had a gripping novel to get stuck into or there could have been bloodshed. No more last minute travel for us! It will be a military planned affair - ticking all the needed boxes... Husband aint good without a city to meander through and a temple/fancy restaurant/old building or two to visit. Me - stick me on a beach with a cosmo and I'm as happy as a jaybird.

But when I get back to Blighty tomorrow, rather than bitch about the dreadful resort (Chia Laguna if you want to know) I'll remember the little wonderful things: Sproglets's face as the sea whooshed over his tanned little feet - how he danced away with squeals of delight as if a monster were chasing him; him struggling into his yellow rubber wings and frolicking in the pool insisting he was 'swimming'. How every evening he asked where was the lizard that seemed to live in the air conditioning unit in his room. How handsome Husband looks with a tan - one that he gets by merely glancing at sun. Me - I have a wonderful Irish tan after hours out there - blotchy and freckled on pure white skin. Nice.

I'll think about how we played games soaking each other and laughed like drains. How Sproglet slept in his Father's arms while a massive thunderstorm raged and rain poured in buckets into the one great restaurant we found two nights ago. How I shoved a lamp out of the path of the torrent of rain and the next day a breakfast a man called me 'heroic' - when actually I was just plain stupid.

I'll think about Sproglet making chums and then asking for them long after they departed. How his feet are stripey from the sun only hitting the spaces between his sandals. How I mulled over my book with a corona on our balcony and watched the sun set as a million birds tweeted nearby. I'll hear Sproglet singing 'chichy wah wah wah' in his sweet tone deaf voice captivated by the kids' entertainment dancers. The mountain of watermelon I chomped through at every meal and my amazing lobster pasta. The cute train that ferried us to the golden beach and the size of the waves on our last day, that caused the lifeguards to go surfing.

When I think about all these little things on a dreary night in October, I'm sure I'll find myself missing here and wishing I was back. Must go - I have a case to pack with salty clothes...

Saturday, 5 September 2009

500 days of summer....

Last week I watched '500 Days of Summer' a sweet but underwhelming movie that has been over hyped to it's detriment. A joy to watch but sadly not memorable - perhaps because the leading lady was so cold and unlikeable that we never really got why wonderful boy fell for her Arctic charms in the first place.

The reason I enjoyed it so much was it took me back, waaay back to all those tentative fumblings and messy pronouncements: the stomach churning baby steps towards the holy grail that is love. How far I fell and how badly I was burned. Would I change it? Not a bit of it.

It made me yearn for the moments where a silent phone is the most devastating of all objects; where you change three times before you venture out on a date and then ruin everything by getting plastered before the mains arrive - elbows slipping off the table, yes waiter we'll have another bottle...; where you wax weekly; paint your toes to match your nails in vivid happy colours; pour over your stars for the week convinced that Mystic Meg will predict that your courtship is destined last and when first kisses were better than than the sex to follow.

Drunk with lust, how your rose tinted glasses disguised the unfunny jokes or the dirty nails because they were so fucking hot you didn't care - you would simply die if you didn't lick the sweat off their neck or hold their bare flesh next to yours for a whole blissful elicit night. Waiting for that oh-so-casual call to invite you for the next date; debating when to shag them, deciding 5 dates minimum and only making it to date no.2... Fifth date how their white sports socks would be the deal breaker that had you deleting their number from your mobile and failing to return their calls.

Oh the merry-go-round that is love or lust or just getting out there. I miss the unwrapping of another's body, discovering hidden secrets in their smiles and raised eyebrows, touching for the first time, letting them discover you as if you were virginal again. Heart flutterings, unable to concentrate, talking all night, morning sex, feeling alive, high, unlike you have ever felt before. The tumble into the darkness when they fail to call, or give the old 'it's not you, it's me' or simply continue the dance with you until you are so broken you can't see what is right in front of you anymore and it takes all of your supreme strength to shout 'enough!' and start again once more.

The escasty of newness can turn to dust in a heartbeat. Which is why I am happier where I am these days. Oh I know that Husband and I can't go back and have that first kiss which set him on fire - literally - he was leaning over a table in a dirty underground smoky bar and didn't see his sleeve was hanging into the romantic table candle. I can't return home from a great movie (for the record a little Swedish gem called 'Together') to find him waiting on my doorstep, smoking a cigarette on a hot humid night, where I sucked in my breath as I'd forgotten how jaw droppingly handsome he was and thanked my lucky stars that he was staying the night... I can't go to Venice with him on our first break away, where we ran through the narrow spooky streets, took a speed boat along the winding canals and drank prosecco until dawn.

I can't go back. Some days I wish I could. It was all so intoxicating.

We go to Sardinia for 10 days on Monday, as a family. Italy again. Different place, with our addition of Sproglet. And as the sun sets and we drink our sundowner beers and listen to crickets sing their cheerful chorus, he is still that boy on the stoop and I'll still get excited.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

One or two with that?

There is an internal debate that has raged within me for the past year. One day I am on one side of the fence, the next day the other. Some days I just sit on this metaphorical fence and procrastinate my ass off, worrying about all the scary magazine articles that tell me my ovaries are shrivelling up as I read.

I am 36. That upsets me on many levels, but this post isn't about the loss of youth... I will be 37 in April. Oh yes, the month that I lose my job. Sproglet turned 3 two months ago. Friends tell me constantly that he is an 'easy child.' Having spent time with around other kids now that Sproglet is getting a busier social diary than Posh, I know this to be true. He wolfs down his grub, does as he is told, gets two stories post bath and is asleep in five minutes. He is sweet, shares his toys, entertains himself, loves movies and two Mothers told me last week that he is the 'least aggressive' child their kids had ever played with.

Yet I still have meltdowns. So the maths is: take one stressed out full time working Mother, add a Husband who wants to change job, (meaning big salary cut) and currently works nights, divide by me losing my job next year and very few script editor jobs flying around, multiply by the fact I find many aspects of parenting hard and tedious and we have no grandparents nearby to help us, add in the fact I don't get enough time to do anything for myself any more and child care costs an arm and a leg and an ear and what do you get?

You get a woman who has no idea whether or not to have another baby.

Heart says yes. Head says no. Body says get me up the duff tonight as I need to procreate NOW! Hormones spinning and whizzing across the place like a pinball machine on acid.

I was an only child. Explains a lot yes? My parents split up while my Mum was pregnant with me. I yearned for a sibling as I grew - someone I could say 'aren't our folk freakin' nuts?' to on manys an occasion. I yearned not to play alone knocking a tennis ball against the wall daydreaming I was winning Wimbledon. Making up problems and answering them like an Agony Aunt (what was all that about?). Yes, I was talking (quietly) to myself. I swore I would never have an only child. I always planned on 2.

And here I am. We go for dinner and it feels wrong with that empty fourth chair. I watch Sproglet tenderly kiss little babies and I want to give him some family of his own. Then I look at him and can't imagine loving something as much as him.

What to do? Because if it wasn't hard enough - I've got that ole biological clock tick tocking it's fucking head off in my ear. Researching for my book, I've been speaking to IVF clinics and they scare the bejesus out of you with all their graphs of 'stiff decline in the potential to conceive' and '13% chance of conceiving in the first month at optimum age and with no fertility issues' statistics. I know there is never a good time. Am I ready to give my life over to Motherhood completely? What do I still want? I worked fucking hard for my degree, my career, my life. I still want to be me.

Can I go through all those sleepless nights and weaning and rotten nappies again? What if I decide no - then leave it - too late? My son has made me happier than anything, but am I thankful when the sandman arrives and I get to slump with a glass of red on my (most expensive regret) of a sofa? You betcha.

Part of me thinks it is just this pressure to conform - to have your 2.4 - and that alone makes me want to have only one. I do and I don't. I feel sad at the thought of only having had the one and am not quite sure I am done. Sproglet just needs to have a meltdown in Waitrose when I won't buy him a second cookie and I will swear off ever sprogging again.

Then we go for pizza and I stare at the empty fourth chair....and the biological alarm goes off. I press the snooze button - again.