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Aug 19

An embarrassing post about abscesses that I probably shouldn’t post.

Posted on Monday, August 19, 2013 in Jobs, Little known facts, Strange and Unusual

This is an hiatus.

I realise that blog posts here are thin on the ground, that’s because they’re all on scraps of paper in drawers and in notebooks in random handbags. I write better in hand-writing, but can never seem to find them when I finally get a chance to sit at a laptop. Scraps of paper everywhere… scraps that friends find and can make head nor tail of… scraps that end up in the bin, or in pockets that get washed to be found in shreds, they just end up as silly words that I’m kind of glad were never published.

I was on a roll, of sorts, about a TV documentary I was lucky enough to be involved in, but the next phase was washed and tumble-dried… please be patient with me.

This is different. This is from the soul. I have a spare few minutes here with you and I’ve been meaning to talk to you about this for a long time but obviously it’s a squeamish subject and you might not want to read about it but given the subject line perhaps you have an interest, I’m not sure. Either way, please be sure you don’t read this with a full stomach, for it is quite gruesome.

When I was seventeen I found a lump on the base of my spine, at the tailbone. Of course I thought it was Cancer and it stopped my life, in so far as I found it hard to walk, or sit, or lie down. And of course, because I thought it was the end of my life.

But, it wasn’t. Eventually it burst as the doctor said that it would. After a month or so of extreme pain it erupted into a predictable goo of built-up unreasonableness and then I could live my life again.

I wondered if this meant something for me. Maybe my immune system was to blame, maybe it was something to do with the illnesses my great-great-great-great grandparents had passed on to me, who knows? Either way, of course when nasty things go away, you forget about them.

Until it came back.

And come back it did, time and time again. Sometimes these abscesses appear in the same tailbone area, sometimes they appear in the groin, and disappear. Sometimes dangerously close to the anal zone which means ultimate discomfort for obvious reasons, sometimes it appears in random other groinal areas. Groinal. Did I just coin a new word? How happy am I to be the inventor! Not much, I can tell you. It does make yoga somewhat challenging though, and I’ve told my instructor and she is ever-loving and ever understanding even though the gorey details weren’t shared and I love her for that. I’m sharing them here with you though because maybe you understand, maybe you’re here because of gruesome fascination… that’s good too.

Either way, I wonder why I was chosen for such things.

Obviously abscesses in these sensitive areas are much better than cancer, but I wonder still if the two aren’t related.

Because sometimes when you have a headache you wonder if it’s a tumour.

We all do it.

SO WHAT IS AN ABSCESS?!?

It begins as a solid lump that hurts. That’s what I shall begin with.

Cancer lumps rarely hurt. This is comforting to most.

Abscess hurting solid mass grows. And grows. It will form eventually into a sort of bubble that is unbearable to touch. Then it will grow bigger. Then it will REALLY start to hurt. From zero to ten, you’re talking about an eight.

Nature seems to be a cruel being. These things never seem to appear on one’s midriff, or on one’s arm. They usually appear in vulnerable areas that are either on show to the public, or in places where sitting is involved. The face. The anus. The armpit. PLACES WHERE IT MATTERS MOST.

Abscesses are a cruel invention no matter where they are.

SO HOW DO YOU MAKE THEM GO AWAY???

Obviously you can have an operation. This involves you going under the knife… scary procedures that are the advised way to go, more power to you if you can brave it. I’ve never done this. I think that the underlying problem rarely wants to be cut away.

I went the homoeopathy route, several years ago. If you go by homoeopathy, you’re addressing the problem at its base. This is by all means by personal opinion the BEST way to go, if you can afford it. This is the healing method that figures out why your body is doing this in the first place, and it fixes you at the core. When I went the homoeopathic route, my abscesses stopped evolving into horrible golf-balls, and remained passive.

When I say passive, I mean the abscesses were manageable… they don’t interrupt day-to-day life, but they’re still there. This is because I haven’t followed up on the holistic healing.

Maybe I should have surgery.

Maybe I could get more homoeopathic help, seeing as it was so helpful in the first place.

I’m leaning towards the latter.

People don’t give holistic healing the time it deserves. When I mean people, I mean me. Cut it out, or heal it at its source?

Either way, if you have abscesses, you’re not alone, my dear.

 

Yours, undecided

k8

xxx

 

 

Jun 16

How to ride a Quad-Bike

Posted on Sunday, June 16, 2013 in Jobs, Strange and Unusual, The Asylum Experience

I must admit a huge weakness of mine.

I don’t like to tell people that I can’t do something new. I’d rather give something a go, fail miserably, then and ONLY THEN tell people that maybe this isn’t the thing for me. Pride can be a terrible and dangerous thing.

So, when Billy asked me if I’d like to map a Quad-Bike course with him, of course I said yes, immediately.

In my head I wondered a number of things. I wondered if he meant the Royal We, where I would listen to him speak at length about the toils and setbacks of the Costa Rican countryside while we poured over a map at a table with a cup of tea and pencil a route in theory. I wondered if he meant to ride one Quad with me on the back  hugging him for dear life, with me providing a running commentary. Or, maybe he wanted me to have a Quad-Bike of my own to ride with him on a proposed route. Eep! to the latter. I both hoped, and hoped not at the same time… oh, the dangerous responsibility… PLEASE! let it be the latter, I wished.

‘All right,’ says he… ‘grab a key!’

The excited panic slowly roiled in my belly. I hadn’t the heart to tell him that it was shamefully over twenty years since I’d even looked at one of these things. I remembered someone telling me that Bono’s wife had been here just a while ago and scuppered herself slightly in a Quad Bike adventure. I wondered if I’d be of any use to my children dead, and sauntered casually away until Billy couldn’t see me any more.

See, large vehicles are no problem to me. I love driving. I’ve driven large cars, both manual and automatic, I’ve driven vans… hell I’ve even flown an aeroplane once. The bigger the vehicle, the more secure it feels. Give me something small like a moped or a quad-bike however, and I crap myself. They’re too flimsy, too jerky, and their controls are altogether too spurious and unpredictable.

I ran with teenaged animation to the table which displayed an array of keys numbered from 1 to 20. Number 9 was missing. I chose Key 13, just for the craic of it. I don’t like inanimate objects to feel left out.

I found quad-bike number 13. It was RED. They all were, but mine seemed more RED than most.

Billy nodded me a rather masculine nod, then sped away. I asked God to bless his optimism.

-o0o-

HOW TO RIDE A QUAD BIKE (ONE WHICH IS NOT AUTOMATIC BUT HAS NO CLUTCH – COMMENT BELOW IF YOU’RE AN EXPERT AT THIS LARK BECAUSE I SURE AS HELL AM NOT):

Step 1: Insert key into ignition. Congratulate yourself for finding the key-slot.

Step 2: Find your left hand.

Step 3: Congratulate yourself on finding your left hand and remind yourself to calm down, that this could possibly be just a dream.

Step 4: Find the clutch. Realise that there is no clutch. Be bummed out by the fact that there is no clutch, and panic. Find two buttons at your left hand and find that by pressing the lower button, you can shift down to Neutral. Celebrate your cleverness by turning on the engine. Let your thighs enjoy the throb of the engine and be scared, be very scared.

Step 5: Shift upwards with left hand to first gear, and with your right hand’s thumb, press gently on tiny lever.

Step 6: Enjoy whiplash.

Step 7: Realise that it’s probably ok to start these damn things in third gear.

Step 8: Find brakes, but remember that they are for pussies.

-o0o-

I zoomed after Billy after a few minutes of figuring the above out, and began a dirt-path of rocks and stones and dust. I knew where my leader was despite numerous turns and forks by the plumes he’d left behind and caught up with him quickly enough, and my neck was pretty sore by then… Quads are not friends of the cervical spine.

He led me to a beach with flat sand and petrified wood. We zoomed and dodged and accelerated at stupid rates to 80kmph… the dangerousness of these machines amazed me and I wondered if they weren’t entirely safe for teenagers but then again, that was sort of the point of the documentary. We slowed down all too soon, and climbed out of the beach and into cowboy country.

cow1 (1)

To this day I can’t figure out why their ears need to be so big, then I wondered if these aren’t in fact their eyes… very very sad eyes. (Image courtesy of maxwaugh.com)

Groups of ancient people smiled toothless smiles at us and every stranger waved. The sense of well-being was alive. This is a good country to live in, your odds are good here and the freshness of every living thing shamed our exhaust fumes and cursed their modern-day interruption. We smiled apologetic smiles and down-shifted out of courteousness.

We stopped at a shack with a dusty Pepsi sign outside and asked if it would be okay for a bunch of teenagers to pop by the following day with a film crew. They seemed more than happy, they seemed to hold themselves back with enthusiasm which made me feel sad about the possibility that perhaps our crew wouldn’t make it this far the next day. I feared we’d lost the run of ourselves, that we’d overestimated the journey through which our teenagers could stand in this heat, with those gears, and the danger of it all. I as a mother feared that I was failing them, felt that my enthusiasm could possibly kill them. A toddler spoke English to me and overwhelmed me. Her mother smiled proudly, and I was homesick again.

It was at this point I realised that I had no idea how to reverse and thus embarrassed myself in front of several Spanish strangers while I got my act together.

We turned around and went home over the mountains.

There were seas of green below, billions of leaves and crickets chirping, the humidity had died down by now so the dust was clinging to the drying drips of sweat on my skin and I saw the sea with envy, never wanting to swim so much. The sun set to our right as we climbed and dipped, finally bringing us home.

Billy went for a shower and recommended that I did the same. I should have, but I didn’t.

And then I got into trouble for getting carried-away.

I’ll leave that up to your imagination I think, for the truth is always far stranger and I think some things are better confined to the special room in my brain’s reference library that is my cringing memory whose bolts are far stronger than your curiosity could ever be.

Jun 5

Ad hoc

Posted on Wednesday, June 5, 2013 in Jobs, The Asylum Experience

The lady who worked in the kitchen hadn’t a whole lot of English. We got our messages through to her via elaborate miming and scattered Spanish words which entertained her to no end. She was an amazing cook until it came to mashed potatoes, she could make anything except this… this concept was foreign and vulgar to her when rice is obviously the answer to all of life’s problems.

One of the kids wanted a black coffee one morning. I considered telling him that coffee was no good for minors but I wanted one too, so I let it slide.

“How do you say ‘black’, in Spanish?” he asked me.

“Negro” I said instantly. I had no idea how I knew and wasn’t entirely sure if I was right, but went with it anyway. My conscience told me that I was taking a big risk, if I was wrong, I was racist. If I was right, I was forcing a minor to be racist. Latin can be a cruel thing, sometimes.

“What? I can’t say that!” his eyes grew large as saucers.

“But that’s what ‘black’ translates as! ‘Negro’!” I told him.

“Are you sure?”

“Pretty sure.”

“Pretty sure?!?! Am I about to make the biggest social mistake of my life?”

“I’m about 91% sure”, I replied.

He wandered into the kitchen and disappeared for a few minutes before returning with his head hung low, and a mug of steaming black coffee in his hand.

“Was I right?”

“Yes” he quietly replied.

His hang-dog expression lasted for a while, as did mine. We both felt dirty, but knew it was not our fault, it was society’s. The lady in the kitchen had no idea why we were so sad, but she sliced up some extra pineapple and put on another pot of coffee for us anyway. I liked the kitchen lady a lot. Our husband’s names were the same, even though we lived thousands of miles apart, and her son was the same age as my youngest. The latter bounced around the camp every day and made me homesick.

I washed up for her some nights after her shift had ended.

Others asked me why I’d bother washing up when I wasn’t paid to do it, so I told them it was to keep the ants away. I really did it because I liked the kitchen lady, and the view she had from her window. Maybe I really did it because I wasn’t sure what else to do or say in the company of so many bright-sparks, sometimes to merge into the back-ground is the wisest thing to do, no matter how misunderstood this action can be.

I took pleasure in the thinking that maybe she’d arrive in the morning to find the previous night’s work done and think it was fairies that did it, or maybe she didn’t notice at all.

Either way, it worked out well for both of us I guess.

cristalia

 This hut reminded me of Animal from the muppets, though I have no idea why.
May 28

The catcher in the surf

Posted on Tuesday, May 28, 2013 in Jobs, Strange and Unusual, The Asylum Experience

5.30am

The Howler Monkeys.

I woke up in the middle of a dream where I was being attacked by Predator. It was outside my window with its glowing lasers and it was threatening to take away my sanitary towels.

Howler Monkeys sound ghostly. They sound like hound dogs from hell.

There is no need for this! I thought, as daylight seeped through my eyelids. Then I saw Curly beside me who turned with the discomfortable noise and peeped at me from under her eye mask. I was glad not to be alone, the sound was too creepy to suffer by myself at such a vulnerable time.

‘What the fuck is making that sound?’ she murmured.

‘Nnnnghh’ I replied.

We stayed there for a few minutes trying to doze through the cacophony, but it was useless. Just as well, we were due to surface by 7am so they were a pretty good alarm, those funky monkeys.

We dressed in our swimsuits, shorts and teeshirts. We wandered out to welcomes of ‘Hello Mammies!’ from the kids, I was glad not to have to shake them out of their sleepy comas, teenagers can be funny items when it comes to morning waking. I thanked the monkeys then and dropped the urge to shoot them, but the monkeys had quieted by then. Turns out they sleep for 15 hours a day, just not when we want to. It didn’t matter anyway, the coffee was that good.

By the time the coffee had kicked in, so had the cicadas. They were surround sound. Everywhere. They were so loud, they seemed to be inside my brain and I threw rocks into the trees but they wouldn’t quiet. Nature’s car-alarm.

‘Welcome to the jungle’, somebody said.

‘Thanks!’ I shouted.

Surfing began at 8am.

filmbeach

Several un-prepared teenagers were loaded into a van with sunscreen, surfboards, chairs, gallons of water, insect repellent, and a wheelchair or two. I expected to be driving for a half-hour or so, but after five minutes the drive was over. I walked back to fetch ice cubes, just for the excuse. It was a nice walk, there were squirrels and lizards, and they didn’t judge me.

My job as a mammy, with Curly and five other souls was to stay in the surf to catch children. We were the catchers in the rye, or the shallows as it were.

Disabled children were brought far out into the sea, placed onto a surfboard, and let. go.

It was amazing to see those faces, happy children who couldn’t have dreamt of such freedom sailing through churning waves on adaptive seaboards wiping through froth and foam and surfacing to hot sun and cheering supporters. I was glad to be there, so glad. As cheesy as it is to high-five people, I embraced it then for its effectiveness on the spirit.

It was done in teams of two. One disabled child with one able-bodied. I got to watch the contrast, it was surprising at times which one out of the two succeeded, but it didn’t really matter at the end. I felt sorry for those who had to remain at the beach in the shade waiting for their turn, five hours was a long wait in that heat. That was until I remembered that they could be still in Connemara so I smiled for them, and counted their shoes and listened to their jokes.

‘That wind would knock a knacker off your sister!’

Wit wasn’t something that was spared among these teenagers. They were sharp, but respectful.

kidssurf

Later after dinner, one took out her guitar that she’d lugged half-way across Earth, and began to sing a song about being down-trodden and seduced by fairy tales. She envied Cinderella and felt sorry for her at the same time, her voice struck silence between the other twenty chatterers… we listened and nodded and loved her voice. Then two more stood up, one kid rapped a rap that would put Jaden Smith to shame, accompanied by another who didn’t really know how to play the guitar but performed perfectly when caught up in the pace with his bud.

They asked me to play that night, and I could have, I was dying to… but I said no. I was to help with wheelchairs and scorpion-eviction so I promised to play tomorrow. I didn’t. I wasn’t nearly enough prepared to  play in their company.

Cicadas died away. Lizards croaked sporadically.

We mammies retired, and tried desperately to gain connection to Facebook but when we finally gained an inch of signal we became distracted again by the condoms on the ceiling and weird dates we’d been on. We’d just begun a game of twenty questions when sleep overcame us. That was shortly before the monkeys howled again, but we were ready for them this time.

 

 

May 21

Enter Paradise

Posted on Tuesday, May 21, 2013 in The Asylum Experience

So there we were, all twenty-two of us. We were eight children (four with disabilities), two mammies (being Yours Truly and Curly), two mentors and a film crew. We all landed with Irish flourish in a rare town named San José.

The country’s prettiness on landing teased us with its odd sporadic forest fires and patches of lights… I pointed out a fireworks display at 1,000 feet but as the ‘plane turned it went out of sight and nobody believed me. Then we all went deaf with the sudden drop in air pressure and concentrated very hard on our brains and our bladders to stop them exploding. Nobody vomited, so that was nice.

Costa Rica was interesting from the start. The night-time airport air is warm. It smells of salt and perfume, and something like the after-notes of sewage. They never tell you about that in travel guides. It’s not an unpleasant smell as such (like horse manure and the way you grow to like the stable odour), but it tells you that you’re somewhere warm.  My skin felt different, the night-time fug blocked my pores and soothed them, all at the same time. Big green leaves, croaking squeaking bugs, muted silence behind.

We met four people at departures outside on the musty road. They had white vans and catch-phrases like

“Who has the duct tape… ‘cos this guy’s RIPPED!”

They asked me if I was psyched. Nghh. Enthusiasm is unnerving to us Irish as a stereotype, we’re not used to that sort of energy at all at all and had no idea what to do with it.

They high-fived the kids and gave free smiles and helped us out. They marvelled at mine and Curly’s speedy wheelchair folding technique and asked us what our qualifications were. We felt fairly awkward at having to describe the experience and efficiency of an Irish Mammy and how there is no such qualification, as such. I have my First Responder qualification but I’m all theory and no practice which isn’t much use. Curly’s business is caring for many children at one time which requires dedication and patience beyond means… not to mention a sense of humour. We had nothing to prove, but everything to learn and I think they sensed that in us.

These dudes were strong and mindful, all members of Ocean’s Healing Group. Two were astro-physicists, two were fire-men. One was a woman of flippant strength and beautiful form who smoked cigars. One was a bloke who I’ll dub Billy, he and his wife had battled through his kid’s disabilities just like our family did and had a look and a voice about him not unlike Harvey Keitel’s, or Tommy Lee Jones’. He was also one of the astro-physicists so I wondered if he had satellite input on my picking my nose in my back-garden, or if he ever will do, in the future. You can never be too sure. Another was a Hawaiian fella, let’s call him Mowgli. He had a Ukelele.

We slept.

The next day there was a van journey, then a boat journey…

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

…the boat journey was fun. The teens danced on the top deck or looked on in amazement, some stayed inside out of the harsh sunshine and bought coca cola while nobody was looking. We mammies pushed sun-cream like it was illegal. Mowgli let me play with the Ukelele and belted off a tune or two before I had to float off to offer assistance somewhere else. It was a nice moment.

On the other side, we piled into the vans again, and drove to Shaka.

This is Shaka, the base from which we did our first week’s adventures, and a look into the ethos of the people that run it.

It was heaven. In fact, if it weren’t for the wee beasties and the fact that we couldn’t flush toilet paper we would all probably have been wondered if we were on Planet Earth at all, its beauty was that unreal. There were monkeys above us, there was a banquet on the table.

PICT0112

Mowgli showed me how to take a persons blood-pressure around a large wooden table under ceiling fans and eavesdropping lizards and warned me on the hazards of dehydration.

Curly and I shared a room… we began our bedtime routine of medicine giving, comfort giving and bug evicting that evening before sharing a smoke and settling for the night. I say settle… the rare coolness of the air conditioning soothed our sweaty foreheads and gave us a second wind. We giggled at how the rolled-up mosquito nets looked like condoms and laughed when we discovered we’d both brought EXACTLY the same swimming costume.  We missed our kids together, and fell asleep at an ungodly hour.

 

Apr 28

Going back in time

Posted on Sunday, April 28, 2013 in The Asylum Experience

Long-haul flights are not something I’m used to. I don’t get to travel at all, but the thought of doing absolutely nothing after years of worrying and working and toiling and fussing seemed pretty sweet to me… even if it was only for seventeen hours.

I got to sit beside the assistant camera-man for the trip to New York. Turns out he has a blog too, but I never found out his address. I will though, soon. He loaned me a book for the trip, ‘A visit from the Goon Squad‘… I read half of it on the journey over to Costa Rica, the other half I read on the way back. There was no time to read in between. Maybe there could have been, but I spent it unwinding with beer and conversation and skinny-dipping, such stories are to be told later on maybe. It was a really good book though… to be given a chance.

I love take-off. I love turbulence. I love holding people’s hands and telling them that aeroplanes are the most least-likely things to kill you given their safety checks and drivability. I’d love to be a pilot, but I’m not sure that’s the course for me. I have utter faith in the things, so I nearly HOPE for horrible turbulence, just for the adventure of it.

We had a five-hour layover in New York. I spent it buying chewing gum and books, and wandering around trying to find a phone signal.

I also tried to go for a cigarette.

Going OUT for a cigarette was easy. Coming back, I had to wait for an hour in a queue to be searched and scanned and x-rayed and swabbed for bomb residue. For fuck sake! I felt violated and abused by the end of it all, it nearly wasn’t worth the nicotine fix. I know that New York should be fairly security conscious but seriously… I’d checked with a guard beforehand to see if it would be okay for me to nip out for a puff and he was fine, but do you think he’d still be at his post when I returned after five minutes?!

No.

I have rights as a smoker, I don’t care what anyone says. I have rights to breathe fresh air, too. Everyone has rights to fresh air, even if the air in New York isn’t all that fresh. It’s the wide-open space people crave after being trapped for hours, they deserve it. Yet, it’s denied.

No you cannot go outside, not without two hours of torture upon your return.

Fucking communists!!!

The flight from New York to San Jose would have been a lot nicer if I hadn’t been so frustrated and tired. I don’t like to sleep in public. I fear that people will shave my eyebrows, or take pictures of me drooling to post on facebook… I should be that lucky. I just don’t like letting my guard down in public that way.

When we touched down in Costa Rica I was knackered, but the heat upon leaving the airport was beautiful. Large palm trees, big leaves, croaking bugs and dusty roads.

I knew I’d love it, straight from the start.

 

Apr 24

A thorough grounding

Posted on Wednesday, April 24, 2013 in Family, The Asylum Experience

Having floated from Connemara with a newborn curiosity about my eight new children and some very damp laundry, I had two weeks to prepare for the rest of the documentary shooting in Costa Rica.

So, I filled it as best I could.

The first thing to organise was the Eggstravaganza. There is a beautiful farm shop a few clicks away which has spectacular views, fwuffy wabbits, oodles of lambs and a few chickens on the side. It sells things like coffee, and fresh bread, and funky crisps and cheeses. A big wooden cot melded into the scenery behind the till and a rosy cheeked baby propped up its walls when we visited to set the party up.

It was a great event to take part in, the first time all of the schools in the town decided to band together. I was on car park duty, my cousin flipped pancakes. I don’t think I could’ve gotten through all of this if it weren’t for my cousin Diddles. A rake of cash was made for the schools that day, and it was the sunniest day after the storm, too… everything twinkled, not just the shiny chocolate wrappers.

eggstravaganza

Then we moved house.

MOVED HOUSE?

I can’t really put the enormity of that mayhem into words. I was embarrassed when after three hours they called in extra man-power, and after six hours, all seven of us were still going. The truck (a very large truck, I might add) was almost filled to capacity with all of our stuff. Boxes everywhere.

Sigh.

Two nights later saw me fumbling blindly for light-switches in an alien kitchen at 2a.m. Coffee brewed, I dressed in my tucked-away gear, applied my tucked-away eyeliner, and mounted my tucked-away rucksack on my back. I said goodbye to Wouldye, but I didn’t know at the time that it would be the last goodbye. I would’ve buried my nose in his neck fur for a deep inhale into my memory banks if I’d known then what I know now.

Apr 21

The Wild West – the endurance test.

Posted on Sunday, April 21, 2013 in Jobs, Philosophy, Strange and Unusual, Taboo, The Asylum Experience

I didn’t know a whole lot when I entered into this. I knew that a documentary was being filmed about eight transition-year kids (all aged 16/17); four of whom were disabled, the other four able-bodied. One needed regular medication doses, and one needed a wheelchair.

None of the children knew where they were going, but they knew they were going somewhere.

I was employed as a chaperone, along with another lady, let’s call her Curly.

As an introduction weekend, we all were to spend a day or two in Connemara, Co Galway. Curly phoned me the night before, nervous as I was… when I met her on the platform I knew everything would be okay. She has a way about her that I probably don’t need to describe, I don’t think I could anyway, she fell into that category of people that you seem to have known for years.

We yakked together on the train all the way in, and met everybody else at a hotel in Dublin. Worried mothers grasping arms and whispering secrets into out ears. I felt so overwhelmed all of a sudden, at the vastness of my responsibilities.

I went from having three children, to eight. Thank God for Curly.

We rode into the West and had the craic and some sangwiches and a bit of an auld sing-song, as you do. I couldn’t believe how quickly the kids bonded together. They were a well chosen bunch.

At a pit-stop, the kid in the wheelchair, let’s call him Joel… he hinted that he needed to pee. I brought him to the jacks and we did our best with the narrow walls of the petrol-station bog. I hadn’t realised that he needed help with everything, so when he asked for my help I was honoured that he could be so comfortable with me so quickly. There’s something about exposing yourself to others, trust is a huge thing, and to be trusted so quickly is a wonderful compliment. We made distracting conversation and I found out that he was an avid reader with a love of Xbox.

The other kids were quiet with us at the start, but we made ourselves as accessible as possible with smiles and funny faces like eejits on crack. They hadn’t realised that we’d be there for the whole adventure, I realise in hind-sight. When they figured this out, they accepted us wholeheartedly as mammies. They even named us ‘Charlie’s Angels’.

Connemara was HARSH.

There was a storm, shortly after we arrived. Our comfortable hotel was completely isolated from phone or wifi for our entire trip. Joel commented that a re-make of ‘The Shining’ could be filmed here and I agreed. It was a sort of side-ways rain that pelts your skin like pins and needles. Bleak slamming and howling noises were to be heard at night, early starts for water activities came all too soon.

landscapeboom

I was impressed by the participant kids and their commitment to effort, I mean really impressed.

There were two ‘mentors’ employed on the trip… one I’ll name Fawn, because her eyes reminded me of one. When she was sixteen, she got meningitis and had to be put in to a coma. While she was under, she contracted the MRSA bug and was given her last rites. She now survives as an amazing woman, presenting and researching for TV. She wears prosthetics, but you can’t really tell. The other mentor was Mr Out of This World (so dubbed by the teenagers). A handsome chappie, I couldn’t get a grasp on him at the start (that’s what she said).

I got to have a drink with the crew at the end of the day, I’m glad they accepted me so quickly… their histories and biographies extremely impressive. They were lovely people with dry wit and funny stories and I couldn’t wait for the next chapter.

The kids found out about our destination at the end of the Galway trip, on camera. They were going to Costa Rica… their woops and screams tingled the hairs on my arms. Of course we had to try to re-shoot that moment several times which you’d think might dilute their enthusiasm, but it didn’t.

I couldn’t believe it either.

I went home, helped to host an Easter Bonanza, and then moved house two days before the air-plane for Costa Rica took off.

 

Apr 19

Introduction to the Asylum experience, and thoughts on how life happens when you least expect it to.

Posted on Friday, April 19, 2013 in The Asylum Experience

I’m not a great person for sticking to routines, but routines are exactly what are needed when you need to run a family effectively. For this reason, life began to seem monochrome, sounds were just a distant hairdryer hum and feelings needed shelving like books you keep meaning to read but never get around to opening.

This doesn’t make for effective blogging, the inspiration is distant, just out of sight. The motivation to comment becomes thwarted by lack of lust for life and the impression that there really isn’t anything interesting to say.

Now, I have something interesting to say.

I was invited on an enormous adventure recently which finished today. My head is full of thoughts and feelings and words and emotions, far too many to spill on to one page so instead I’ll begin a series of posts, beginning with this one.

-o-

A while back, I became lucky enough to become friends with a wonderful family through Puppychild’s school. They introduced me to many things outside my comfort zone… music performance, yoga, how to properly cook healthy food and share it socially to name but a few. They also invited me to participate on a television program which is to be aired on an Irish channel later this year.

I was invited on the basis of my experience with Laughingboy and his special needs, and was considered a good potential candidate to look after eight children on an adventure which involved love, friendship and overcoming pre-conceptions and gut-wrenching fears. I can’t begin to describe how lucky I am to have experienced this. I’m going to try to bring every memory back for you, and for myself before it fades into distant memory and I don’t believe that it was in fact, real at all.

My story involves befriending Mr World, becoming a stooge, plunging from a 250ft cliff, and the death of Wouldye, my bestest friend, among others. To say it’s been a challenge is a massive understatement.

To start, here is a photo taken in Montezuma, Costa Rica:

montezuma

And now… to begin at the beginning…

 

Feb 27

The lonely mystic

Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 in Family

They say that every story should have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Mine is not so much like that. Mine is very much an in-between sort of story.

Everything hurts today, it’s that season. Everyone else spins around me, like leaves do when it’s windy and they catch a moment with themselves and decide to whirl around each other… there is no explanation for this behaviour, it just is. They pat me on the head sometimes as they whir by, or brush my fur. That’s nice, but I wish they’d choose a moment when I’m off duty to do so.

I had to do my protection duties from the couch today, blast this stupid knee. I did leave it twice for rasher rinds and once for a pee, but they’re worth the effort. I deserved them. Little do they know that it’s thanks to me that my animals are alive at all today.

Men with complicated noises came and did things too close to us this morning. I had to yell at them a lot to make sure that they kept their distance but one or two were brave enough to knock… to ACTUALLY KNOCK on our house. Smells erratic. Suspicions rife. I hackled-up and gave my last warnings  to scare them away. It hurt to stand up and it ached my running parts but that is my job. I barked my loudest bark and showed the teeth that aren’t broken and I snarled. Boss told me to shut up. What does he know. Best Friend thanked me by giving me biscuits. I think she understands me, even if I don’t understand her, and her need to plait my tail.

The smallest one hugged me.

I like him. He’s the same height as me so when I speak to him, he really pays attention. He shouted with me, at the men with complicated noises… he stood my ground, but then he fell over and cried. What a part-timer.

So now I’m back on my couch, the couch that smells of me and me alone. The fire roars, and I am too hot, but I am happy. I pant. Boss pets me. There’s a tick behind my ear but I won’t tell him that yet, it can wait, I’ll let it have its fun.

One thing confuses me. When she puts her nose in my fur and huffs and makes a warm spot, she says a word that I’ve heard before. I can’t remember what the word is, but it’s a soft word. And it smells nice. She says it sometimes and makes her eyes big and squeezes me and ruffles my ears. I don’t know why she bothers, when ‘good-dog’ will suffice. So many words these animals use, but so little need.