Monday, July 26, 2010


I come from a family of people who assume that anybody can be a hairdresser, all they need is a scissors. And that of course includes ourselves. Now deep down we know how wrong we are. We realise that we are not the michaelangelos of haircutting and yet, nothing delights us more than taking up the scissors and thinking to ourselves, ah sure, how hard can it be, before making the worst hair mistake of our lives...for the twelfth time. 

As a young lass even, I fell foul to the desire of my brother to explore his possible future salon-worthy talents, and his decision that he'd give it a trim so he could get some of it to use in a game. In our game my hair was 'golden thread' and he was the maker of it. So of course I let him go ahead with it, where else were we gonna get our golden thread from, and sure, all a hairdresser does is cut bits of your hair off so whats the difference. The difference as I later found out after a lopsided jagged trim that had to be corrected with an emergency hair appointment to 'please god just fix the girl's hair' was that our family just wasn't born to cut hair.

Years later, my older sister would trim her own fringe (a feature of her hair that she put there in the first place against the advice of the hairdresser), my eldest sister would trim her own hair badly coz she's a hippy and doesn't go to the hairdresser (I made that part up, I think she's just scroungey and didn't want to pay for a cut) and if that pair of idiots could get away with it, why couldn't I?? And so I gave myself 'a bit of an auld trim'. Now, I have what one would call curly hair. In fact, my hair is so curly it could be referred to as almost afro like. So what I didn't take into account, although it probably wouldn't have made much difference to how I cut it, was the spring factor- where my hair bounces up after a bit is cut off it so it looks shorter than it is. The result was a slanted, diagonal, truly terrible trim, but sure it saved a bit of money! And a little while later, when I straightened my hair and saw the true extent of the disaster, you'd think that would have deterred me from cutting a fringe, but oh no, not only did I cut the fringe, I forgot how much shorter it would be when curly again.... I'll let your imagination do the work here... I went for a trim not long after that.. the hairdresser paused before asking, 'where did you get your hair cut last?' 'Ah, sure I gave it a bit of a trim myself' I replied, proud as punch. 'And did you do the fringe as well?' (bear in mind it had grown out a bit by this stage, to a respectable length at least) 'I did!' She looked at me for a minute before carefully saying, 'You realise your hair is very lopsided and I'll have to take a few inches off it to even it out?' 'Ah right, that's fine' 'Don't cut your own hair again'. 'No bother'. And I haven't....really....although I do still cut my fringe..carefully...and badly...

Anyway, given our family's (mostly mine) lack of talent when it comes to hairdressing, when I arrived home from college one weekend to be greeted by a horrified sister with the words, 'Da gave the dog a haircut', I should have been more worried. In fact, I should have been worried full stop!!! Instead I said, 'did he? That's good, we've been saying for ages it needed one!' and wandered away without another thought. Two days later when I finally spotted the dog I almost died. 'DA!!!! What the fuck did you do to the dog????!!!! A sheepish looking father entered the room...'well, your mother wanted me to get the dog groomed coz it's coat was getting a bit long', 'so you butchered the poor thing instead????' 'wellllll, i decided to brush it first to get rid of the tangles, y'know, and sure, I couldn't even get the brush through for the knots, so I decided to trim it a bit to make it easier, and once I'd cut out the tangles, I decided to even it out a bit, and once I'd started, I spose I got a bit carried away.....' 'A BIT???? THE OTHER DOGS'LL LAUGH AT IT!!! It looks diseeeeeased!!' my Da, about to head back out the door to the living room and his paper, paused in the doorway and gave a proud little chuckle, 'sure, at least this way we won't need to pay to get it groomed will we?'

As the bald-spotted, patchy, scruffy looking dog slinked back by the door to wherever it was hiding from the laughter of the dogs next door, I closed the curtain and pretended it was dead....

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Can I get a side-order of 'oh the friggin shame' with that?

Danger!!! This one's not for the easily-offended...

I have the stereo-typical Irish mother. Catholic, conservative, bakes an awful lot of brown bread and apple tarts, threatened us with the wooden spoon when we were bold kids and thinks the sun shines out of her sons's arses..and her daughters's...allegedly... sometimes I wonder... This is a woman who up until recently (when I swear she musta started the menopause or something coz shes chilled so much..) considered  'sugar!' to be her strongest expletive and 'merciful hour!' and 'heavens above!' were her ways of expressing surprise, shock, disgust, etc. So the following story shocked all us of the offspring variety to an extreme degree.....

(Story concerns younger brother, 15)

So the mother instructs the young lad to tidy his room coz it was a kip, and off he goes on his merry way ..scratch that, he probably stormed.. to tidy the bedroom. He comes back after a few minutes and says to the auld wan, "I'm not aaaable to tidy my room!! Will you do it for me??" And much to the surprise of all, coz this wouldn't have happened when I was a young lass, ma agrees, and off she goes.

After a while, the brother is called down to the room and ma has a question for him... With an auld rag in her hand, she turns to him and says, "whats this, son?" My brother looks at it, winces and says " don't wanna know ma..." In surprise she drops it like a hot potato and says, with trepidation mind you, " it....for wanking in??"

Pause. This is a woman who didn't know the modern slang for kissing a boy a while back and clicks her fingers while she dances! Not a word you expect to hear from her..and I in retrospect I believe I taught her that one by accident...

Play. Ignoring the look of absolute horror on his face, she continues,almost proudly "I learned that word last year". The brother, caught off guard and in utter shock, goes with the 'honesty is the best policy approach' and replies, "yeh ma, it is", to which she says, and I shit you not, "Well, do you want me to wash it for you?" WTF Like?? Boy stares for a minute, "..what?" Oblivious, she elaborates, "Well, will you need it tonight or will I wash it for you??" Needless to say, "no, go on, wash it.." and a hasty exit are the reply.

Brother comes into the kitchen with a horror stricken look on his face..."most.. awkward.. moment..ever...."

A few days later, the brother receives the rag back from the wash, washed, ironed and folded neatly.

Sometimes I worry about that woman and her schizo behaviour... In my older brother's day she woulda freaked... It's got to be the menopause.....

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Town Mouse vs Country Mouse

For the last three years of my life I've been splitting my time between the University town where I just completed my Undergraduate degree, and the countryside where I grew up. And when I say countryside, I don't mean a village or a community, I mean a get-yourself-as-lost-as-you-possibly-can-and-there's-my-house type of countryside. I live down a lane in the proverbial back-arse of nowhere. So obviously the jump to a town was a shock to the auld system. 
Now that I have completed my undergrad and have only one foreseeable year left in the University town- for the History Masters I've been accepted into- I've been thinking more and more about where I'm meant to live when I enter the real world. Do I return to my roots, or do I continue on in an urban area? As it is, I return home on weekends and for the holidays, so should I make the return home permanent or urbanise myself? And it's not as easy a decision as I'd like, both having their advantages and disadvantages...
So there's only one thing for it.......

                                   Twinkie's Pros and Cons List!!! (the most important issues)

             Town                                                                 Countryside
 ->Amenities                                                       -> Security
 ->People                                                           -> Family
 ->Nobody knows me, my family,                         -> Everybody knows me, my family and
     who wiped my arse when I was a baby                 who wiped my arse as a baby..
 ->Things to do!!!                                                -> Sense of Community
 ->Civilisation                                                    -> Peace and quiet
 -> Fresh start                                                    ->Background, memories, roots, etc
             Town                                                                   Countryside
-> Dangerous/ lack of security                               -> No amenities
-> Loneliness among strangers                                -> Loneliness among the cows
-> No sense of close-knit community                      -> No transport- isolation
->Starting from scratch                                         -> A church choir that sounds like                                    .                                                                                   a bag of crows  
-> Fear of change                                                 -> Fear of always remaining the   .                                                                                          same.

Care to help me out here??? :)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Obsessed? Me? What are the chances....

So I have obsessive compulsive disorder. Or as my family likes to call it, the crazies. And I suppose, some of the things I've been known to do in the past could be considered crazy by outsiders. I had an awful lot of habits. Getting off stairs on my right foot, eating in patterns, counting steps, blinks, everything really, and it all had to be in groups of 4. I had excessive handwashing (particularly when I was stressed- the backs of my hands were often cracked or red raw from washing). I had thumb pressing in a pattern, I had a 'fear of affection' as people say - from hugs, to kisses, to even ruffling my hair, it all just unnerved me. If I stepped on a crack in the pavement, not only did I have to step on a crack with my other foot, it had to be in the same place as it had been on the first foot. It was all about balance.. To add to all that, I was a compulsive worrier- everything from exams, to phone calls, you name it, I had a problem with it. I literally worried my sick on many occasions. And so, during the summer of 2008, when I had a continuous fear that lasted for 3 months losing me sleep and appetite and reducing me to tears and panic attacks almost every night, my mother finally had enough and brought me to the doctor out of fear that I might snap and kill myself..which I wouldn't have. Fast forward 2 years, 2 psychiatrists, 1 occupational behavioural therapist and a prescription for medication to cope with it and for the most part I'm a changed girl.

Although it has its humorous aspects, there are some serious drawbacks to my condition. I fucked up an awful lot of things because of a problem trusting people, because of my 'fear of affection', because I had so many self confidence problems and because I had basically got a chronic shyness coz of a fear of getting to know new people, of getting hurt, of letting people know me. Not only that, but being diagnosed with something like O.C.D. makes it very easy for every single thing in your life to be a result of the said condition. For example, everytime I now have a bad day, I get depressed, I worry about anything, it becomes an automatic reaction of my parents to blame it on my O.C.D. and while, granted, some of those things are related to it, it is also possible that there is something else the matter. A prime example of this would be the end of the summer I was diagnosed, when I came back from a messy holiday with extremely bad pains in my side and back, when I began to get sick and the pains became worse, it was blamed on the O.C.D. and my parents told me I was worrying myself sick again and that was it. It was only after a trip to the doctor where he sent me to hospital, that it turned out I had gastritis, having burnt the lining of my stomach, a problem which, in turn became I.B.S. and an intolerence to cider.

Being actually diagnosed with O.C.D. has changed my life, theres no denying it. The chances are I will be on medication for the foreseeable future, the risk of relapsing if I go off it is not one that I think I could cope with the consequences of at the moment. It's slightly shameful for me to feel that I can't live my life without depending on medication, but at the moment, that's the way it is. It's hard knowing that this is not something I can control without making a conscious effort all of the time. It's hard knowing that this is a condition which will probably affect me for the rest of my life. Knowing that if I plan on having children I will have to come off the medication and deal with the consequences of that is scary. Thinking about a life drugged up is as scary as the thought of a life coping without tablets. The thought that my child would be as screwed up as me is disconcerting and while it's not genetic, theres no doubt that a child would have to pick up some habits from it's mother. And so I've been realising that life won't be as easy as I had hoped it would be. When I take a knock I have a relapse, I get knocked right back and have to sometimes start almost from scratch. And when things are good I worry that I will ruin them because of my O.C.D. And I'm realising that I may never be sane. And most of all, for the first time, I'm realising that I have a mental illness...and that's hard to come to terms with.

Maybe it'll fade as time goes by...but for now, I'm off to press my thumbs and ponder...