I know very few words in Irish (not for lack of trying, I’m just really bad at foreign languages), but being a Dubliner for seven years I have picked up a few: An Lár, bruscar, tacsaí, siopa, uisce and now my favourite word tá.
This week, I have the great privilege of voting in my first referendum as an Irish citizen. I look forward to taking my two young boys with me to the local school to vote with their mom to say yes or tá to love, civility and equality. They will get to witness history being made, even though they don’t yet understand why it needs to happen or how ugly this world can be. I want my boys to grow up in a society that allows everyone the hope and promise of love, to know that when they find their soulmate their coupling will be celebrated by their community regardless of who that person is. I want them to live in a world that doesn’t abide by institutional bullying on a grand scale, that forces people to hide who they truly are and that allows distorted religious prejudices colour social policy. I want them to know that even though the world is full of wonderful variety, we are all equal.
I fought hard to become a wife to a man I inexplicably fell in love with and faced an uphill bureaucratic battle as we were citizens of different countries, but we were able to prove our love (and health and financial stability) in order to marry. At times it felt frustrating, invasive and unfair that we couldn’t carelessly elope in Vegas like popstars of a certain age. I’m not at all comparing our situation to the gross discrimination that same-sex couples face everyday, not just in their ability to legally marry. But what I am saying is that when given an easy option or true love, there is no choice. We can’t choose who we love any more than we can choose if the sun will shine in the morning. The best thing in the world is two people finding each other and declaring their unconditional support and love for eachother. As a society with should celebrate that wholeheartedly and never reduce or belittle what an astonishing moment it is. With so much terrible things in the world, how can we even question whether marriage equality is a bad thing?
I’m only just getting to know my children. I don’t know who they will be when they grow up or who they will love. But I hope that we will all start to shape an equal future of all of Ireland’s children to love freely without fear or exclusion. I hope that the shameful rhetoric of the no campaign only represents a small, vocal (and completely misguided) minority and I hope that my fellow countrymen and countrywomen will make me proud to be be Irish. There’s no fence to sit on in this election, there is only tá.
I intended to update this regularly as I read each book, but realised it’s hard to write reviews (at least for me). And it’s even harder to write reviews about books you didn’t really enjoy but lots of people are raving about (again, maybe that’s just me). But after looking up reviews/explanations for one such book and seeing that a few other people had the same reaction, I felt a little better for not enjoying the important award winning novel. So I decided I should share the highs and lows of my year in books. Here are the stories so far:
The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin – I flew through this book and really enjoyed it. I never would have noticed it had it not been on the recommended shelf at The Gutter Bookshop. It’s a sweet story without being too sappy and has a neat device for reminding you about great stories you once read (or heard about but never got to).
We are all Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler – While I did enjoy reading this book, there were certain passages that really captivated me and some that I found a bit long winded. The back and forth distracted me from the story and made me think more about what the book was trying to make me think about. I was turned off by knowing how deeply the novel affected people because I just never got there. Despite bursting into tears at commercials and kids’ TV, I hardly ever cry over books. Wonder why?
Slim with Tina by Tina Murphy – I already wrote a longer review of this book, but wanted to include it again because 1) I read it, so it counts and 2) it was a really enjoyable read, especially about how our bodies use food. It’s always good to throw a nonfiction in the mix to keep it real.
Us by David Nicholls – Loved this book, just like every other David Nicholls book. I know it’s not high art, but his books are full of interesting Brits straight out of a Richard Curtis film. Being the anglophile I am, I dig this. Much like Zevin’s book sets up your future reading lists, this is a fantastic travelogue of great European cities and art that I hope to follow one day (but maybe I’ll avoid Dutch sex hotel).
J by Howard Jacobson – I approached this book in fits and starts and just never got my rhythm in it. The premise is good, the characters start out intriguing but it felt a bit laboured through out. I kind of got the message early on and didn’t feel like the rest of the novel did anything to deepen my understanding of what the author was trying to say. I always felt grumpy reading it and pretty much hated everyone in it.
Yes Please by Amy Poehler – I already wrote about how awesome this book is, but basically it’s a high five from your awesome friend, followed by a fist bump and a shot of tequilla.
I am a terrible blogger of late, too busy being a real-life human being and house hunter to update regularly. It’s not the first or last time I’ll appoligise for that. I completely neglected to share my interview on the Blogtacular blog a few weeks ago. If you don’t know about Blogtacular, it’s an amazing conference for creative bloggers in London. I went last year and am going again in June. I learned so much about writing, blogging and myself at Blogtacular and keep drawing from the deep well of awesome that the organisers, Kat Molesworth and Kat Goldin, have cultivated. As part of their countdown to the 2015 conference, they’re interviewing attendees each week. If you want to learn more about me, why I blog and my plans for the future, you can read it all here
If you’ve noticed my absence from the online world the past few weeks, it’s for good reason. We have suddenly decided to jump in the deep-end of adulthood and buy a house! After a few months of watching the rental market sky-rocket in price (and plummet in quality, especially for families), we decided it was time to pool all our resources and make this happen. Yesterday we made an offer on an odd duck of a fixer upper, so now begins the long wait to see if it materialises. As the house is 30 years old, has been extended and has a flat roof, there are a few concerns about how much work will be required and how far we can push our finances. We’ll get the inspection report back next week and then we’ll know if the deal is set or not. In the meantime, I’ve started collecting ideas for how to make a bunch of random rectangle rooms into our colourful, quirky dream home. If you want to follow along, you know where to find me (on Pinterest of course!) This is going to be one big adventure in thrifty, crafty DIY and we plan on sharing what we’ve learned along the way. Keep those fingers crossed for us (and our potential new roof)
Follow Lauren’s board New house ideas on Pinterest.
Oh, and if anyone in Dublin or Wicklow wants to recommend a solicitor, tradesman, surveyor, non standard construction insurer, moving company, bathroom designer, or anything else we haven’t thought of get in touch!
Update: We got the inspection report back, and it was worse than we thought. Although structurally sound, the house needed all new windows, new boiler and at least 10mm internal wall insulation. But that’s not the worst part, sometime in the past 20 years, it was remodelled inside and the stairs were moved into the kitchen making it a fire hazard according to current building regulations. This could make it difficult to insure, as well as dangerous. We could solve the problem by building a fire door or remodeling it once again and putting the stairs somewhere else. It’s not the first property we’ve seen with stairs into the kitchen, so keep an eye out home buyers! Needless to say, all of these repairs are just too much for us to afford on top of the house price. The search continues!
Ah, World Book Day, the best day of the year! We love stories and dressing up and themed events and celebrating for no particular reason, so of course it goes down well here! We have so many favourite books but this year, my little bookworms were the Gruffalo and Henry Hugglemonster (conveniently the warmest, cosiest costumes in the house). We read lots and lots of books, talked about books, made our own books (I’m saving Nate’s fascinating tale for another post) and even had book themed food. Well kind of, Chris made a cake and called it Hugglewug Cake although it’s not as awesome as Niamh Sharkey’s illustration, it was chocolate and we got to eat it for breakfast. Yum!
The thing is, I’m not sure the kids really noticed that World Book Day was any different than any other day because we pretty much devour books all the time. Sometimes I read them, sometimes the boys “read” their own version of books. Alex pretty much knows the Hugglewug song word for word. And don’t get me started on how many times we’ve “played” Gruffalo, acting out the entire story throughout the house. There’s nothing better than having my two little ones snuggle up next to me to share an exciting story. What are your favourite books to read with your kids?