2015 Grateful 21

Something tells me that my life is going to change pretty radically in the next few months. All the signs are there. Perhaps this is the big life lesson – the one I need to learn – the one that involves the C word – compromise.

I’m away to Bulgaria for a weeks, says I.
Whereabouts, they asked.
Bourgas, I replied.
And they made a funny face. All of them. Every person who showed any interest in where I was off to. None of them had ever been themselves, mind you, but the word was out. Apparently Bourgas ranks down there on the list of places to visit in Bulgaria. But it’s a straight flight from Dublin and  a straight flight from Budapest. It has sand. It has sea. And it has sun. And that was pretty much what life was perscribing.

I arrived first. Welcome to Bourgas where the local time is 8am. I could have sworn there was a time difference. And sure enough, by the time I got to the hotel, I’d lost an hour. Our family room with balcony and sea view has neither. But it’s big and airy and has air con. I asked to see the one with the balcony and the sea view and while it had both, the balcony looked out over a busy road and the sea was actually a lake. So the first of many compromises was chalked up. There was little point in kicking up. She’d already charged my credit card and the fight just wasn’t in me. She did tell me later that the manager is going to change the room description on Booking.com to reflect the omissions.

So, five minutes from the sea, says I, looking forward to an afternoon swim. Yes, says she. By car. Another omission. And another choice. Yes, there’s a fine 20 minute walk to the beach but the walk is through a park. You give, you get. Not quite what I’d envisaged. So much for sipping my preprandial cocktail while contemplating the calm of the Black Sea from the balcony. Or walking through the French doors out on to the golden sand. Or coming in from the sea and popping straight into a cold shower. So much for expectations.

But then, in fairness, I hadn’t done my homework. I’d booked a hotel that had decent ratings and didn’t cost the earth. I believed the descriptions as I’d no reason not to, but I never went to Google Earth. I didn’t check the local neighbourhood. I didn’t figure out times and distances. I left it to chance. And chance is what I’m dealing with. And within that chance, there’s an element of blind discovery.

IMG_0125 (2) (800x600)IMG_0135 (2) (800x600)On my way through the park yesterday afternoon, I came across a show jumping competition. The lads, rigged out in their finery, popping over fences to a decent-sized crowd. Not quite the classy event I’d have expected of the Bourgas everyone but me seemed to be familiar with. And then I stumbled on a sand-sculpture exhibition by artists from Holland, Australia, Bulgaria, Slovenia, and Russia – all of Africa and its animals. Amazing.

The next week should be interesting. About compromise. My cousin, an ardent Kilkenny fan, wants to watch the match today. Me? I wouldn’t lose any sleep if I missed it. But compromise – that’s what I need to learn. And I’m grateful that I’m being broken in gently. And I’m grateful that life, in all its wonder, continues to afford me opportunities to grow.

 

2015 Grateful 22

It’s been years since I last lived in Clontarf. I did my time in Dublin 3 many  lifetimes ago. And I loved it. Being able to smell a low tide. Waking up to seagulls (before we were on the outs). Living in relatively luxury in a mews built by an avant-garde American couple at the back of a house on Castle Avenue before it was popular to use up every available parcel of land for housing. It was great.

Occasionally, I’d venture down to the village itself and have a pint in The Sheds owned by the Connollys. Their name is still on the window but whether that’s just laziness or actual testimony to the fact that they still own the place some 30 years later, is debatable. The pub hasn’t changed. Not a bit. And it’s great to see that it has survived the tide of modernisation that swallowed up neighbouring pubs like the Yacht. It’s only concession to progress is the conversion of an upstairs room into a theatre space that now houses Viking Theatre.

pilgrimMy birthday week had kicked off in style the night before with dinner in Drumcondra and a visit to an old haunt from my NIHE days – the Cat and Cage – another pub that has survived the Celtic Tiger relatively intact. Friday night was earmarked for dinner in Moloughneys, a lovely eatery in Clontarf  village that does good food well. Then a nip around the corner into the Sheds for 75 minutes of excellent entertainment in the guise of Philip Doherty’s The Pilgrim Starring the sublime Rex Ryan (the late Gerry Ryan’s son – apparently he was named Rex because Gerry thought it would look good on a poster ), this one-man man show is the best piece of theatre I’ve seen since Hilda Fay in My Name is Alice Devine.  

Billed as ‘an Irishman’s odyssey through a world set ablaze by 9/11’, it is brilliantly written and was even more brilliantly performed. Ryan plays Christy, a young lad from Dublin who is about to discover that the world doesn’t revolve around him. He also does justice to an old man with a powerful shower, various airport employees, locals, and even a pregnant woman (does anyone know why marigold gloves stuffed with ice cubes might be something a pregnant woman might want?)

His plane home to Ireland after five months in San Diego was diverted to Newfoundland for four days in the aftermath of 9/11. I’d never given much thought to the hundreds if not thousands of planes grounded that day in the USA – and the ‘plane people’ they carried. He gets drunk during their overnight on the plane and wakes up in a church. For a minute he thinks the Virgin Mary is appearing to him. You had to be there – it was the funniest thing I’ve seen in years.

pilgrim2The various calls that go out for the likes of toilet paper and condoms as the locals struggle to cope with the influx of temporary refugees – what Doherty calls a ‘Noah’s Ark of nationalities’ and the various short-term relationships that spring up reflect societal interaction at its best.  Russian musicians entertain the masses with their version of a ‘Communist Céili’. And time passes marked with activity: ‘three beatings, two benders, and one fake apparition since I last had a shower’. The links between Ireland and Newfoundland are subtly woven with fishermen looking like ‘blight-ridden potatoes’ and Padre Pio morphing into Peadair.

Christy’s sex scene with Penny (his long-time friend, a woman, now pregnant with his child and in his mind heart-achingly classified as ‘just Penny’) was both graphic and beautiful and so quickly recounted that sensibilities didn’t have time to be offended. The drowning scene had me gasping for air as I watched enthralled, mesmerized at how one man could so vividly portray something so terrible. Rex Ryan is a man I’d travel to see on stage again. Philip Doherty’s manipulation of the English language has as me green with envy. Directed by Aoife Spillane-Hinks, The Pilgrim was at the 2014 Dublin Fringe and is heading to Edinburgh Fringe this month. If you’re going that way, be sure to put it on your must-see list. I wonder if there’s any way to get it to Budapest or whether it would travel?

I love birthday weeks. This one has started well and is shaping up to be a good one. As it trundles forward, I’m grateful for the many friends who have already shared it, and those who have yet to share it, and for the likes of Ryan and Doherty and Spillane-Hinks whose talent traverses boundaries and provides us lesser mortals with so much entertainment.

 

 

2015 Grateful 23

I was at a birthday party last night. The invitation said no presents, just your presence. But people still brought gifts. Me included. There’s a whole culture around gift-giving that probably says more about ourselves than the person we’re giving to. Friends I’ve known for years, and know well, have yet to get it right with me while more recent friends get it right all the time.

There’s an old Indian thing (I think it’s a Cherokee belief) that when giving a gift, you should give something you value, not something you think the other person needs or wants. And the more you value what you part with, the more they say you value that friendship. I think that has legs.

The older we get, the fewer things we need, the less clutter we want in our lives. Okay – it is nice to wear a piece of jewelry that is a daily reminder of the person who gave it to you. Or to spray some perfume and have the scent evoke nice thoughts. But for me, experiential presents are the way to go. Give me something from which memories are made.

I got an early birthday present last week. A weekend in St Ives in Cornwall. Visiting St Ives has been on my list since I learned the nursery rhyme:

As I was going to St. Ives,
I met a man with seven wives,
Each wife had seven sacks,
Each sack had seven cats,
Each cat had seven kits:
Kits, cats, sacks, and wives,
How many were there going to St. Ives?

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But I got it wrong. That particular St Ives is in Cambridgeshire. The one in Cornwall is famous for its light. For about 200 years, the area has attracted famous painters like Turner, potters like Bernard Leach, sculptors like Barbara Hepworth and her artist husband, Picasso’s mate Ben Nicholson. Admittedly, I’d had my doubts about the whole light thing. But I’m now convinced. It’s somehow purer, clearer, crisper than usual. And it’s not difficult to imagine why artists would find it appealing.

We took the train from Bath- it’s about a five-hour trip with stops along the way, changing to a local coastline hopper in St Erth. We ate Cornish pasties. We had cream tea (scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream) while sitting on the beach. We discovered the delights of Cornish gin. We cooked local lamb for dinner one night. And we ate out at the fabulous Portgwidden Beach Café another night, a dinner which is now on my top ten list of most memorable meals I’ve had so far in my life. We wandered through the art galleries, hunted through the charity shops, dodged the tourists as they navigated the cobblestone streets. It was lovely. Really lovely.

I was there with one of my besties, the lovely MC. We hadn’t spent any time of note together in a while so it was a much overdue catch-up. Between us, we clocked up a fair few hours talking through the whys and wherefores of relationships, politics, religion, kids, careers, life in general. We parsed and analysed our independent lives, our sense of self, the challenges we face in compromise. And we concluded, that having had no kids ourselves, our friends have become our extended family.

20150719_165359_resizedThis time last week, I was being attacked by a seagull who stole the chocolate out of my 99 and then had the nerve to stand in front of me and wolf it down.  I should have believed the signs. Today, I’m in a blessedly cooler flat (a massive storm last night with another on the way by the sounds of it), with  a long to-do list in front of me, hoping to make inroads into the work that has accumulated while I was gone. But before I get to it, I’m reliving my weekend in St Ives and giving thanks for the joys of lasting friendship – the gift that keeps on giving. And for experiential presents that can be relived over and over and over again.

2015 Grateful 24

I’ve spent the last week or so on trains. Or so it seems. I’m quite partial to train travel and enjoy staring vacantly through a window as the world passes me by. I need to be more efficient in my booking though and be sure that I get the quiet carriage because the one-sided phone calls I’ve had the dubious privilege of overhearing have bordered on inanity. Honestly, people, ye need to up the ante a little and talk about something a tad more interesting than your colleague’s BO, last night’s drink count, or whether Penny really does look good in fuchsia.

It’s been a while since I’ve had so much face time with any public, let alone the great British public. And while I’m ready to get back to my burrow, it’s been quite the experience. And most all of it good.

In Cornwall, I came across a young girl busking. She couldn’t have been more than 10. And she was well on her way to raising £50k for the local children’s hospital. An amazing way to spend your Saturday afternoons.  In Durham, I had the privilege of sitting around a dinner table with four South African friends with a combined age of 270+ years. Talk was not of pains and aches and pills and potions. There were no complaints, no regrets. Instead the conversation was futured with new opportunities, new travels, and new friends. No one was even close to being ready to sit back and retire to suburbia. Aging gracefully is truly a case of mind over matter.

I’m lucky in that my friends run the gamut from late teens to early 90s. They come from all over the world, bringing with them their different perspectives, viewpoints, and upbringings. In their own way, they add immeasurable richness to my life and are not shy about pulling me up when I approach the abyss of self-pity, when I waste time measuring my life against the successes of others. They’re a constant reminder that life is there to be lived. And that if you can make a difference, you’ve little if no excuse not to.

At the end of a week that has been restorative and much-needed, I’ve reconnected with old friends and have been reminded of the agelessness of age. I’ve come across my fair share of romance, too. I’m a sucker for a good story and while in one of the many charity shops I visited this week, I saw this framed note:

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I wonder if Cedric-in-the-camel-coat ever did get his phone call. I’d have liked him. I’m partial to that venturing forward, that casting of the die, that empty-handed leap into the void. Life is way too short to carry the weight of regret.

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Back in Cornwall, while scoffing a couple of Cornish pasties, I sat on a bench overlooking the sea. The memorial plaque spoke volumes. I can’t imagine going to the same place each year on holiday. That would do my head in. I even have trouble dealing with the concept of one two-week holiday a year.  I had difficulty imagining myself occupying any one of the myriad lives of the other people I came across this week. If I had a friend Penny, would I really care if she looked good in fuchsia? Yet I’m sure that many of my friends look at my life with nothing approaching envy either. But it is mine. For all its ups and downs, its uncertainties and its possibilities, it’s mine. And it works. For me. Comparing it to the lives that others lead is a waste of time. Amazing what comes to you when you spend hours looking vacantly out of a window. For this and similar revelations this week, I’m truly grateful.

 

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2015 Grateful 25

I was at mass yesterday in Oxford. In the oldest Catholic Church in the city – the Oxford Oratory. Mass-goers in Oxford are spoiled for choice as there are plenty of churches to choose from. This one is particularly noted for the quality of its sermonising priests and I was looking forward to hearing them in action at the Solemn Mass, sung in Latin.

I wasn’t disappointed. For the first time in a long time I heard a sermon that actual said something. Had I to evaluate the priest as a speaker, he’d have gotten top marks for vocal variety, humour, content, use of body language, and engagement. He ticked all the boxes. He had a strong opening, a strong close, and all that was in between was perfectly pitched with grace and humour. Impressive stuff. I’d go back for more.

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I knew that a publisher friend of mine was in town from Poland but I hadn’t been in touch with him. He’s a mass-goer too, and I figured that being Polish, he might go to the Polish mass at Blackfriars. But then, I had a feeling that I’d see him at mine. I said as much to the friends I’m staying with. I was sure I’d run into him.

I went up to take communion and caught a glimpse of the chap kneeling beside me at the altar. My mate. Small world. Afterwards, when we caught up, he didn’t recognise me. It’s been a while since we’ve met in person and I’ve changed. And if you add the fact that both of us being in Oxford was so out of context, his lack of recognition can be excused.

But when it finally dawned on him, the warmth of his greeting was staggering. He was genuinely delighted. And it was infectious.

We’re working on a book project together and are in pretty regular email contact with the occasional phone call. It’s been a couple of years since we’ve been in the same city at the same time but we keep in touch. And yet nothing can really compare to meeting in person.

Yes, Skype and Facebook and letters and phone calls are all well and good, but seeing someone in the flesh, hugging them, holding their hand, that’s something that the virtual world can never offer.

I am blessed with the friends I have around the world. These past few days have seen a series of reconnections  with friends from previous lives and despite the years, nothing much has changed. We’ve moved on. We’ve done things. We’ve had some catching up to do, but the friendships that were there years ago are still alive, kept alive perhaps by the vitual tendrils that are Facebook updates and Viber messages.

This week (I’m still having trouble sitting, by the way) I’ve a lot to be grateful for: Old friendships. New friendships. A life that allows me to live it anywhere I can find an Internet connection. It’s been ten years since I’ve been in Oxford and rediscovering it has been a pleasure.

 

2015 Grateful 26

There’s nothing like falling flat on your ass to remind you of the importance of the little things in life. More than a week after the event, my world is still a series of little steps, intermingled with winces, grimaces, and more than the odd curse or three. It will take time, I know. And as patience ain’t one of my many virtues, it’s probably just as well that I live alone. There are times when my self-pitying bellyaching  annoys even me.

But despite the inconvenience and the pain, I’ve had a series of lovely days this week where everything seemed to come together. It ran the gamut from developing and delivering a successful pilot workshop on technical writing to spending a delightful ten minutes laughing out loud while reading a new line of greeting cards in Avoca.

Pigs

In between I rediscovered parts of Dublin that I hadn’t seen in twenty-five years met up with an  old friend I hadn’t seen in five, and spent time connecting dots over designer beers and baked eggs. The week ended pretty much as it began – in style – at the Hungarian Derby, a great day out that has become a firm fixture on my social calendar. I think my luck has turned. Two scratch cards I bought during the week were winners both. And finally, after three years of trying, I managed to call an exacta that paid 4400 ft for my 400 bet. I won’t be going mad on the money, but the significance of this turn of fortune isn’t lost on me.

The lovely Jess Leen, in her blog, Budaful, captured it all very nicely in a post earlier this week:

A river has its course and that’s what it will run, or so we are told. But if we think way back to the beginning, is a river not just free flowing, running wherever it may well please? We have that in common, us and the river. We are born untied to direction and destined to hit a rocky route every once and a while. But despite the unknown corners we round and the constant chance of a change in course, we are, like the river, guaranteed one thing in life. That is that the load we carry will guide us to see…

Life has a way of just happening. The best laid plans of mice and men and all that… My plan has always been to have no plan, but even that, in and of itself, is a plan. What’s important is being open to opportunties. Being ready to go with the flow. Being steady enough in my faith to know that if it’s for me, it won’t pass me. Recognising those moments when life calls for an empty-handed leap into the void is a skill honed by years of error-ridden experience. Experience for which I’m truly grateful.

Yes, I’m still bitching and moaning and finding it hard to decide between sitting or standing. And yes, it’s hotter than Hades here right now and there’s a heat-induced bad mood waving at me from the horizon, but when two pigs can make me laugh out loud and winning €5 on a scratch card can make my day, what’s not to love about the world?

2015 Grateful 27

It’s been an interesting week. I feel like I’ve been in a mad fight with a couple of heavies who dropped me from a height and let me bounce down 87 concrete steps, after they had beaten me with a hurley. No bruises, just a lot of pain – which says a lot as my pain tolerance is quite Catholic, something my coccyx obviously doesn’t know. Self-diagnosing, I’ve resigned myself to a couple of weeks of tentative sitting, wincing, and lots of short intakes of breath as I curse myself for even attempting to play football with a plastic bottle after a night at Paddy and the Rats. The last time I went to see them, my mate M ended up in plaster. This time, the pain is all mine. No serious damage, I hope;  Xrays tomorrow will prove me right or wrong.

n1It was a good week. One full of realisations, revelations, and recognitions. And like all stories – it had a happy ending.

Yesterday, I was at a wedding. My mates A&N got married in Nagymaros with a reception afterwards in Visegrád, on the banks of the Danube Bend.

Theirs is a lovely story, one that sent me to the dictionary to check the meaning of the word, serendipity.

Word History: We are indebted to the English author Horace Walpole for the wordserendipity,which he coined in one of the 3,000 or more letters on which (along with his novelThe Castle of Otranto,considered the first Gothic novel) his literary reputation rests. In a letter of January 28, 1754, in which he discusses a certain painting, Walpole mentions a discovery about the significance of a Venetian coat of arms that he has made while looking at random into an old book—a method by which he had apparently made other worthwhile discoveries before:“This discovery I made by a talisman [a procedure achieving results like a charm] by which I find everything I want wherever I dip for it. This discovery, indeed, is almost of that kind which I call Serendipity, a very expressive word.”Walpole formed the word on an old name for Sri Lanka, Serendip. He explained that this name was part of the title of “a silly fairy tale, called The Three Princes of Serendip:as their highnesses travelled, they were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things which they were not in quest of….

Back in 2008, A’s mam and dad wrote to tell him that they were going on the Camino. He made the mad decision to fly home and join them. N had also decided to go and as she couldn’t get a direct flight to Spain from Hungary, she flew through Dublin.  They were all on the same flight. And then at the same train station. And then at the same hostel. And then they finally met.  And they ended up walking the Camino together. And now they’re married. And if he hadn’t made that call all those years ago, how different their lives would be today.

At the wedding yesterday, grown men were crying as A’s dad told us the story. We get so much crappy news these days, our media is so focused on what is going wrong with the world, that it comes as quite a relief to hear a story with a happy ending. I love a good wedding. And even if I couldn’t dance to the brilliant music and didn’t dare drink in case I tripped and fell, again, and shed more than my fair share of tears in public, it was a great day.

Sometimes we never know where our spur-of-the-moment decisions will take us. We can have no way of knowing where spontaneous choices may lead us. And often it’s not until much later that we realise the significance of something we have said or done. That’s what makes life the mad journey it is. A tangled network of roads more or less travelled. A junction box of interconnectedness. A mass of interactions where just one hello might change the face of our world forever.

And while I could happily live without the pain, this week, I’ve lots to be grateful for.

seuss

 

2015 Grateful 28

Yesterday we breakfasted on liver and kidney, bacon and sausages, mushrooms and tomatoes, with a Cashel blue stepping in for the gorgonzola. A replica of the breakfast Leopold Bloom ate back on 16 June 1904.

Mr Leopold Bloom ate with relish the inner organs of beasts and fowls. He liked thick giblet soup, nutty gizzards, a stuffed roast heart, liverslices fried with crustcrumbs, fried hencods’ roes. Most of all he liked grilled mutton kidneys which gave to his palate a fine tang of faintly scented urine.

bloom4It was back in 1929, on the 25th  anniversary of the day Joyce immortalised, that his publisher Sylvia Beach, organised a Déjeuner Ulysse at the Hotel Leopold near Versailles. This has been marked as the first Bloomsday celebration and the guest list included one Samuel Beckett, who, the story has it, had a tad too much to drink and didn’t make the official photograph.

Anyway, yesterday morning, we breakfasted like Bloom, peppered with speeches by the Ambassador and professors of literature, all of whom added to my rather sparse knowledge of a man I’m becoming quite taken with.

But to be understood, I think Joyce has to be heard, read aloud, not quietly. The female actor who had been lined up to read a part of The Dead  was a no-show and I was asked to step in. Not to act mind you, just to read.

I didn’t know either the story or the context but gathered enough of it to realise that I was to needle my interlocutor.

More dancing follows, which finds Gabriel paired up with Miss Ivors, a fellow university instructor. A fervent supporter of Irish culture, Miss Ivors embarrasses Gabriel by labeling him a “West Briton” for writing literary reviews for a conservative newspaper.

We had a couple of read-throughs before the main event and I was a little surprised at how much I enjoyed it.

Later that evening, at the Belated Bloomsday celebrations on Raday utca, I was asked to step in again. If it’s something I want to do, I don’t need to be asked twice. Various conversations ensued and I may well get to read next semester for some students of Irish literature. I’m already looking forward to it. So much so, in fact, that next year, I think I’ll make it my business to be in Dublin for Bloomsday and overdose on all things Joycean. Or else make my way to Szombathely for the Hungarian version.

icecBut it was the boy who surprised me. He’d enjoyed the breakfast – anywhere he can eat unlimited sausages rates. We took his new friend H to see Miniversum (again). [I’m getting braver – I left them there with strict instructions not to leave until I got back. Instructions they ignored, mind you, but I was waiting outside so panic averted.] We went for proper ice-cream at Fragola on Nagymező utca 7 (they have gorgonzola and camembert flavoured ice-cream) before heading over to Orczy-Kert to another birthday party. He got into the thick of it all with L and A, leaving me to marvel at how easy it is for kids to get along. What goes wrong? When does it go wrong? When do we stop living and letting live and instead judge our way to ostracism? When do the walls go up?

I’d expected him to want to stay and play rather than come with me to the Bloomsday thing but he takes being Irish quite seriously and saw it as a duty, of sorts, to celebrate Joyce and Ulysses on his birthday. And in fairness, it wasn’t until 9pm that he announced, with all the solemnity a just-turned-14-year-old can muster: Mary, my patience has finally run out. It’s time to go home.

This week has been exhausting. I’m wiped out. Yet I’ve learned a lot, for which I’m grateful. I have a newfound appreciation for Joyce. I stand in awe of mothers and parents in general. And I am glorying in how simple life looks through the eyes of a child.

 

The visit (1)

I’ve never been responsible for another living being for any length of time, apart from a week of dogsitting many years ago in Alaska. And both those dogs were too old to get up to much, too slow to get lost, and too spoiled to wander far from home. It was a doddle.

My nephew arrived this morning – all 13 years of him – unaccompanied – on a plane. Despite my fears and trepidations he made it through passport control and baggage claim without incident. He’s taller. And looks different. I had to double check that it was him. Perhaps it’s just me seeing him out of context.

The ride in from the airport via bus and metro was a history lesson – for me, from him – on Hungary, Korea, and the benefits of learning Chinese. The next ten days or so will be interesting, no doubt spent tracking down WWII sights and delving deeper into the history of this part of the world. No worries. I’m always up for an education.

To get myself prepared, I’ve been asking people with kids here in Budapest what a 13-year-old would be interested in. My ideas of the circus and the zoo were rebutted with ‘girls’. 13-year-old boys are interested in girls. That’s too much for me to deal with. So I’ll try the zoo – for starters. And the cat café. And Memento Park. And hope that the porkolt is to his liking and that he doesn’t suddenly get a manic craving for Irish sausages.

I can’t remember ever going to visit an aunt when I was 13 – at least never to visit an aunt who didn’t have children. There were always cousins around to get me into trouble. So I am coming to this with sod all experience. And admittedly, the thoughts of being ‘on’ 24/7 are a little daunting. But his mother assures me that he’s just like me. I’m taking that to mean that he’ll be happy curled up on the couch with a book, go too bed early, sleep late, and won’t know the meaning of being bored.

chocWhen I told De Wimmen that he was coming over, they laughed. All of them. When I told my Hungarian friends, they laughed, too. Apparently the thoughts me of being responsible are hilarious. I just need concentrate on not losing him. Or forgetting that he’s here. And making sure that he’s fed. He brought crisps and chocolate so we had those for breakfast. Oops. Perhaps I need to get a grip and remember that I’m the adult. The pressure …

 

2015 Grateful 29

I’ve long since accepted the fact that I’m musically illiterate. I rarely listen to the radio, don’t have a TV, and spend too long on my computer already to even think of it as mode of entertainment. I still play CDs and the occasional cassette and have a body of music that was mostly bought during my Alaska days, so it’s quite dated.

But occasionally,  I stumble across something new. Someone new. And lately, that stumbling has turned into more of a semi-structured education, thanks to my mate Audrey J Fox and her blog My Life in T-Shirts.

She’s the queen of tees. And she’s a hoarder. And her shirts are woven with memories and stories of concerts, gigs, and records by musicians that I have never even heard of. When she blogs, I read, and then I spend a half an hour or so on YouTube checking them out. Every so often, she introduces me to someone I like, someone I’d like to see live.

Her latest post – The Patti Smith 10-year anniversary shirt – ran up my online class time to nearly an hour as I listened to songs, watched interviews, read stories and got to know a pretty amazing woman. Dubbed the Grandmother of Punk, her life to date is quite the story. She was raised a Jehovah Witness, which makes her track Gloria – with its opening line Jesus died for somebody’s sins but not mine even more interesting.

I’m still musically illiterate. But I’m enjoying the education. This week, I’m grateful that I met Patti Smith. And I’m grateful that people like Ms Fox choose to share and in sharing, teach me something new.