Monday, August 29, 2011

Understanding & Speaking Teenglish.

They say the best way to learn a language is by having full immersion into the culture of the people who speak it, so given that my life rotates around half a dozen teenagers, it hasn’t been too difficult to start picking up the lingo.  It’s a mixture between English phrases as I once knew them, only now they have a completely different interpretation to what I once understood, along with some new vocabulary. Of course, how you interpret it is also connected to the vitriol, whine, mutter or whisper with which the language is uttered.
So I’ve learnt that "I’m bored" really means "I need your help, I don’t have the confidence to do the things that would inspire me so now I don’t know what to do with myself". Of course, if you answer in English, it will not be understood, so if you have to answer in Teenglish by thinking of what you would like to suggest and then rewording it to make it understood. So let’s take another example such as "I hate you" which in fact means "I need you to tell me you love me”, you would think of the answer (for example: how could you say such a hurtful thing after all I do for you, you ungrateful little so and so?) Then you translate it back into Teenglish which will give you something like: “you might hate me, but come over here and give me a hug because I still love you, you brat.” Things like ‘I hate school" mean ''Something happened at school. Ask me what happened" and “I can do whatever I want" means "I feel helpless and out of control". Teenglish sounds so much like my native tongue, English, that at times if I were to take it as that it would well and truly push my buttons into believing that the correct response would be a clip across the ear. But no, I’ll probably be a native speaker by the time they’ve left home, reverted to English, had babies and start suggesting  I learn Babglish.
Anything described as ‘gay’ has nothing to do with either homosexuality or homophobia, it’s just gay. Expect it, and most sentences to have the word ‘like’ pronounced ‘laak’ at the end of it. So something that’s ‘a bit gay laak’, is probably something old fashioned, respectable, uncool or all three.
“You never give me what I want" means "I need something from you and it is hard for me to convince you". Of course don’t take the word ‘you’ as meaning you, it in fact means that the teenager who is speaking is having a sudden hormone rush go through them so that the word ‘you’ means any thing or person outside themselves that is within pointing or shouting range. "No one loves me in this family" is the cue for "I am looking for some attention" while “I am going to run away" means "I am afraid of ever leaving this place, I’m stuck."
At times your teenager will speak to you in human language too, but listen to them converse with their peers and you may hear things like ‘yo sup homie?’ which means ‘how are you, my friend?’ or ‘you got mad skizzils’, meaning that they find the person in question to be very talented, while I recently discovered that ‘the lights are on’ means there is a parent within earshot.
"You don't care about me" means "I need you to tell me you care about me", but sometimes it just means “I know how to rile you and I have a few other things that will get you going if this one doesn’t work.” "All the other kids get to go and I don't" means "One kid is getting to go and I’m chancing my arm that I’ll be allowed go too".  In this case I advise asking for a list of ‘all’ the kids so that you can confirm with their parents (in English) that this is the case. It may then change to “Well my friend is allowed go, and if I get to go so will so and so.”
 "I don't have to listen to you" means "I wish I didn’t need to listen to you" and "You are cruel" means "Tell me you love me" (Although in my case it can be the exact same meaning as the English version, and not without good reason). "You never let me do anything I want" is Teenglish for "I wish I was already an adult and I’m going to take it out on you that I’m not".
And everything is fly. Not fly as in the pesky little insects; rather, it describes the cool, normally preceded by ‘pretty’. So if you are pretty fly, it’s the new cool. (And I thought cool was a cool word, but apparently not). Wicked has nothing to do with witches, wicked is brilliant. Abbreviations have turned into words, so it’s OMG and LOL laak…
When all the pretty fly friends have exited the house, your teen will revert to full sentences such as  "I don't need you", said in a huffy voice and translated as "I need you so much I feel helpless". "I wish you would die" means "Get out of my way, I can’t see the telly”. I suggest you do get out of the way of the telly in this case.  "Life sucks" means "I need your help in finding meaning in life" and “It is all your fault" means "I feel guilty" But remember that feeling guilty is part of the human condition and demonstrates that your child has almost become an adult. This the part where I find myself speaking Teenglish believing deep down that whatever is wrong really is my fault, and who cares if the damn teen feels guilty for belonging to the planet, because most of the time, so do I.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


I saw an ad in the local newspaper there last week for a bootcamp. Now I know that I should be wary of anything that promises to make you thinner, healthier and fitter, is currently in fashion and costs money, because I normally end up just spending the money and not getting thinner, healthier, fitter or one bit happier. But I rang the guy anyways and told him about how I was an ageing unfit fat lady who still dreams of being young and beautiful, so he told me to come along, that it would be great and that I really wouldn't be the laughing stock. In fact, he told me, people of all fitness levels will be there and the strong would be supportive of the weak.
So I decided to go, I geared myself up, told myself that I would turn out to be one of the strong people on the course. I was going to get that kind of energy that mothers get when their child is trapped under a car that enables them to lift the car up with one hand.
Of course I didn't go. But I did go to the supermarket, and that was a struggle in itself. You use up a lot of energy going over to one isle and then all they way back to the far isle because you need garlic. Then you have to take everything out of the trolley and put it onto the counter to have it checked out. Then you have to pack it and get it back in the trolley. The guy from bootcamp said there'd be exercises using all muscles, but I bet he doesn't have one that simulates the muscles you use at the supermarket.
So I got to the checkout and realised that my laser card was still in the little purse that I put it into in Barcelona because everybody told me I was going to be robbed over there if I had a bag. And the purse with the laser card was in my anorak pocket which was hanging in hallway of my house. I sweated a bit but remembered I had my credit card. Then I remembered that I can't remember the pin number of said credit card, so I sweated a big bit, mumbling things such as 'I have money, really, I just don't have my card.' A manager was called and I then suggested that I pop home and get the card, it would only take five minutes, but the manager said that even though that was fine, I'd still have to check it all out over again, and at this stage supermarketcamp was getting a bit strenuous.
Artists Impression of me at Bootcamp
I then realised that I had eighty-something euro on me - my child's savings that I had agreed to put into the credit union, so I put back the unnecessary items such as bread and milk and got home with the wine, candles and pizza.
And don't forget this - bringing back the trolley is also work if the coin you have in it wont yank out of the slot.
Yesterday I took some visitors up diamond hill in Connemara, I was out of breath after about 100 metres, so I kept stopping and turning around saying 'wow, look at that view' just to pretend that I was struck with awe and not completely exhausted upon setting out on a piddly little tourist Sunday afternoon walk.
I'm not sure if the visitors were convinced. But I still believe in bootcamp, so next week, here I come...

Monday, August 15, 2011

Planning a Pet, or a Baby?

If you ever find yourself under pressure to buy a pet for a child who you know won’t look after it, here are some good tips preparing for same:
A Budgie: Buy a smoke alarm and let the battery in it run down. It will make an unbearable chirping/beeping sound every two or three minutes. Put it into a cage and hang it far away enough that you won’t be able to get to it. Then buy some sandpaper and a pair of fake nails. Stand outside your child’s bedroom all night and scratch the nails up and down on the paper to imitate the nice sound of the budgie being playful.  If this does not put your child off, remind him or her that on top of this there will also be a lot of gooey poo to clean and that eventually there will be an extremely traumatic day when they will find the dead budgie on the bottom of the cage. If they still want the budgie, buy one.
For a dog: Buy a bowl and pour some dog food into it. Then shake it so that bits of the food are all over the floor. Demand that your child clean it up, because ‘after all, it’s your dog!’ Eat their shoes. Then get balls of dog hair and randomly put them around the house. Put a big ball of dog hair in your child’s lunchbox and add two or three balls of dog hair to the wash so that it spreads out evenly among the clothes. Jump onto the child and paw them when they are feeling their most sensitive and tired. Leave big lumps of poo around the house and tell your child to clean it, because ‘after all, it’s your dog!’ If they still want the dog, buy one, but leave home yourself.
Preparing for a cat is easier. You just have to insist that every window in the house be left open in the middle of winter, in case the cat needs to get in. In the middle of the night you will wake up to find about three or four stray cats wandering around the house. Get your child out of bed and ask them to help you shoo the cats out of the house. You then realize that your own cat is not home yet.  Get the kids back up again and start crying hysterically ‘the cat is missing’. Drive around and look for a dead cat.
If you do not plan a pet, but are planning a child, do all of the above except keep every window shut instead of open, walk around with a piece of vomit on your shoulder and then give away all of your money and get into debt. You are now ready for parenthood.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Catholic Miracle

 I was born into the world of Catholics. My parents weren't religious, but we were bred on guilt and the devil. Jesus was someone who was crucified because of me and after that some Irish Rebels died for my country, or more specificallly - for me personally. So it was a good start really. I learnt that if I ever did anything that felt good or right, it was probably wrong. And Jesus wasn't all that far away, he had managers on earth (a bit like school and work really), and they were the nuns and priests who you had to genuflect to because after all, they had given up all their wealth to go and live in palatial homes where they never got to experience fun things like paying bills or cooking or waiting for drunks to come home.
For a short while I liked the idea of it, but by the age of 7 I reckoned I was probably going to hell anyway because I got a chocolate stain ( it was a curly wurly) on my communion dress and I peed myself a few months later when walking in a May procession wearing that same communion dress.

By 11 or 12 I'd started to understand that the world was not actually flat and that it was probably unlikely that there was another layer of the world above the clouds. By 15 I'd confirmed that thought when I first went in an airplane. It was great being a rebel and not going to mass, even if it was difficult to explain to my parents how I got bitten by a horse when I should have been in church.
Years later it turned out that the whole thing was a farce - abuse, corruption, crime, the works. It turned out that the Catholic church was way up there with the mafia and the devils own tempation. But the miracle is this:
The badness of it all has made people even more supportive. As I always say, you can't underestimate the power of denial. The thing is though, that I didn't leave the church because of all the hypocrisy, evil and the works, I left it because I just don't believe that when you die you don't really die at all, you just get filtered into a good pile or a bad pile. Good - you go Butlins, bad you go to the Electric Picnic.
All the same though, the fact that they're still going strong is a miracle really, isn't it?

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Best Advice I've Never Had

They were talking on the radio today about bad advice that people have been given. It was a bit too early for me to concentrate on listening to a grown up, but I do think that someone had been told to rub onions on their breasts in order to make them grow, and somebody else had been told that if they have hair on their legs they should wear the tightest skinny jeans possible and that the chafing of jeans on skin would remove hair.
But there's worse when you think about it. I was told to do things like: marry a nice man and don't give up your little jobeen, and make sure you get a mortgage, because there's nothing surer than this: house prices will never come down.
Luckily for me, I'm way too stubborn to take advice, so most of it was lost on me. I was wishing though, that I'd been told a few things that I had to learn on my own. It might have saved me years.
First of all, nobody told me that work is the very same as school - the managers are the teachers and the M.D. is the principal. The rest of the workforce are the students, and where there is a divide of operators and staff, well you could say the staff are the borders and the operators the day students.
You still sneak off for a  cigarette, and not having your projects in on time is what used to be homework.
There will be random teachers/managers pets, rebels, people always out sick who might be at risk of getting expelled/fired and there will always be the know it all bright sparks, the tell tales and those who will cover for you so that you don't get caught at the back of the bikeshed.
Today is my first day back at the day job after a few weeks holiday and it feels a bit like that old feeling of going back to school. On the one hand you're dreading it, and on the other you have the nice new books and the clean desk and the feeling of a new start. And just like school, I was dying to get my teeth back into it but once I did I got back that age old feeling of worrying that maybe this year everything will be way too hard.

I never knew that no matter how bad you look in a photo, if you see it a few years later you'll think that you actually didn't look all that bad at all, and wish you were that skinny now, even though back then you thought you were fat.
Of course I do get advice too, mostly from my teenage kids without whom I never would have known that I am too grotesquely fat and ugly to be seen with them in public, that I know nothing, have terrible tastes in music, clothes, furniture and shoes (which is a good thing to know, seeing as I have no money left to buy anything for myself once feeding their needs at the Abercrombie & Fitch Store).
I wish someone had told me this, though: if you reach middle age and discover you have not fulfilled all of your dreams, hopes and aspirations, don't worry, because it also won't matter. If I'd known that I wouldn't even have tried.
Well on a totally different note, I'm thinking of starting up a Charasmatic Religion. It's supposed to be the most lucrative business to be in these days. Any good advice?

Saturday, August 6, 2011

A Packet of Solpadeine and a Lecture Please

Years ago I was a respectable lady married to a nice German doctor, and it was he who brought to my attention that in Germany you can only buy pain killers in a chemist and not in a petrol station, pub or supermarket and that there was not a chance in hell that you could ever buy a pain killer with codeine in it directly from a pharmacy, which in Ireland, you can - Solpadeine.
 Then a friend of mine who is a pharmacist told me that Solpadeine was her best seller. So lucrative were the sales that she did not have enough room to store the stuff in her pharmacy. But that was also back in the time when I was respectable, and in the meantime the Solpadeine police seem to be out on patrol.
Now if you ask me, I think it's pure madness to sell substances with codeine in them over the counter at a pharmacy, and I'm also a bit iffy about buying paracetemol in the supermarket, given that any 13 year old can go in and stock up on a drug that is lethal in relatively small doses. But there are rules, I know that. Even back then my pharmacist friend did say that apparently you are only allowed to sell them one box at a time, which I've never seen enforced.
The Solpadeine issue is a bit different as you can only buy it at chemists, and for the past year or so, there is a new law - a very Oirish law - and it seems to be this: you can buy Solpadeine over the counter no problem, but only if you get a lecture first.
You get asked what you want it for, which is all a bit communist to me, and then they ask you if you've tried this that and the other non-solpadeine/codeine solutions. But more than that, they make you feel guilty, they make you feel like a druggy, they make you feel like you don't have a clue what you want but have randomly chosen this brand of pain killer, and they also make you feel like you're back at school and in trouble for something that you are not quite sure you have done.
It's true that Solpadeine is a dangerous thing and many people are addicted to it. It is true that many people are just as well off using paracetemol instead but are in the habit of asking for solpadeine, and it is also true that sometimes you just go for the solpadeine because hey, there's codeine in it, and it'll give you a bit of a lift.
But what the hell is this lecture lark all about? Either ban it as an over the counter drug or sell it over the counter, but this in between school teacher lecture is a joke. I bet that the pharmacists who give you the lecture are the very people who don't want it banned, because after all, if they did ban it, think about how  their business would suffer. And they do not like to be reminded of that while giving you the lecture, as I was to find out recently.
I buy Solpadeines about once every two or three months, but I've started pharmacy hopping just to look good and I always lie about why I want it. Nothing to hide, but I feel it's an invasion to your privacy to tell some stranger why you are buying the stuff that pays their mortgage. If I have a toothache, I'll say leg injury and the time I had an abscess on my foot I said they were for bad period pains. I wonder what you'd have to say for them to refuse you. And would they refuse you? I'd love to say it's for a hangover, or that I don't have any pains but am just buying them specifically for the codeine hit. After all, the questions they ask are only to ensure that you know exactly what it is you are buying, not to stop you buying them.
So yesterday, when I walked into the pharmacy with a cold sore that has spread across my face making me look like the love child of Elephant man and a leper, with the Herpes virus sending little electric shocks to anyone who came within three feet of me, and hardly able to speak through my scabby lips, the pharmacist still rattled off her little lecture and asked me what it was exactly that I wanted the Solpadeine for. It would be nearly worth severing off a limb and carrying it into the chemist asking for Solpadeine just to see would she still ask? So I told her that I had bad stomach cramps and I thought I'd be smart, so I pulled out a pack of Solpadol which I'd been given as a prescription a few weeks back and said 'look, I know the lecture and all that, but I'm on these stronger pills and would prefer something less drowsy.' I then realised that this was a bad idea, because if these drugs are that dangerous, wouldn't it be lethal to top up someone's solpadol with solpadeine? But she only wanted to know one thing - did I want a pack of 12 or 24.
That's the best of all, once they 'allow' you to buy the things, they want you to buy two dozen. A bit disingenuous if you ask me. Surely if they are so goddamn concerned about your welfare taking these tablets would they not offer to sell you two, or four and to come back tomorrow?
You'll be glad to know I just bought the pack of 12. Then I went next door to the supermarket and bought a bottle of gin, a bottle of butane gas and a large pizza. No questions asked.

Friday, August 5, 2011

He Without Sin and All That Crap...

The news about David Norris reached Barcelona. I sure don't read the news when on hols, in fact, I don't read it much at all, but being a cryptic crossword addict I did need to log into the Irish Times every day to feed my habit, and so it was that the whole thing caught my eye.
My first reaction to his standing down was that welling up of tears that you have to swallow because you're in a public place, and about a minute later I thought to myself 'wow, this must be how gutting it is for Catholics when they hear that their whole organization has let them down.' So I decided not to go easy on David. After all, I'd just read that he tried to get clemency for someone who raped a boy. I was gutted. My role model crumbled. The gay community looked seedy and it reinforced some peoples opinions that being gay is nothing but sex and immoral carry on.
But then I came home, and found out the facts. Here they are: Years ago, a gay guy slept with another gay guy who was a few months below the legal age but he wasn't going to let on that he was that young. Later, the fling goes sour and the older guy is up for rape. The guy involved was 15 remember, not 5. And if you scroll back to last year I did put up a link on my blog that goes through the legal age for sex in different countries after visiting Berlin where the 15 year old daughter had the boyfriend over for the night.  If I remember rightly, Spain was the youngest, where you can do it at 14. And of course you do have to ask yourself how would people treat this case if it were a heterosexual one?
Ok, I don't know the circumstances - none of us do - we only know what the newspaper tells us, and that goes from the tabloid sensation to the highbrow analysis. And ultimately, it is not David Norris who was involved in any crime, he wrote a letter to support someone, and he had only heard one side of the story himself. Sounds very human really.
For me, the bottom line is this:
David Norris is gay and not a member of a political party, Ireland is a very homophobic country still twisted with cronyism and corruption.  David Norris was leading the race, so can you imagine how many people must have been working around the clock to beat him down?
A gay man with the courage of his convictions and a track record in enforcing human rights may be a noble thing, but it may not be the thing that represents Ireland. And that's why I'm gutted now.
I don't agree with David Norris that writing that letter years ago was an error of judgement. I believe it was brave, because it was controversial, but let's face it, he was being honest, and that's something that 'the victim' possibly was not. But of course, the law is an ass, and we don't know the full story.
We lost Clinton because of an affair and got Bush instead. I sometimes wonder if Bush had been caught having a bit of extramarital sex would there be less soldiers dead? But that's it, an affair will bring you down but sending people off to war is fine. isn't it?
One thing I'm wondering about now though is this - if you can't campaign for the presidency because you once did something that was slightly controversial to some people, how the hell will we find any candidate at all? Then again, sometimes, some things are more controversial than others. I believe that if you investigate any of the potential candidates you will find buckets of dodgy carry on, but at the end of the day they are not Gay, and I have a feeling that it is not about 'doing right' that worries people, but more about 'what looks right'. After all, a Gay man in the Arus, what would the neighbours say?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Barcelona Beach: the Rat, the Nudists and the Megaphone

Just to get one thing straight: we (meself and hersel´) are having a (metaphorical) ball in Barcelona. Note: I`m beginning to navigate the Spanish keyboard and have found the bracket symbols, along with things like the ñ,¿, and ç. Don´t know what they´re all meant to mean, but I do know that all those people who have bets on with Paddy Powers that we (see brackets above) would not last a day in Barcelona ( two queen bees and all that) were absolutely wrong. The absence of our 7 children for a whole week and the fact that two divas are sharing one room in a hotel has not yet led to catastrophe. Not even close. So as usual, Paddy wins.
Well we planned out our day today -  we were to go up the viewing tower in the Christopher Columbus monument, followed by a bus tour to the Park Guell. So it panned out the usual way that planned days pan out: we went clothes shopping and ended up on the beach. I´d read somewhere that there was a nudist beach in Barcelona, and that it was beside a gay beach. Well being a fan of both nudists and gays I decided that seeing as we had gone the wrong way anyways - in relation to the park and monument, that we may as well keep walking along the beach until we saw a white ass and then settle there for the afternoon.
Hersel´shrugged, but bought some sandwiches and drinks and tagged along. It turned out that the gay beach and the nudist beach were one.  And hang on, it wasn´t a gay beach at all, it was a homo nudist beach, all dangling dongle and no rubenesque ladies aesthetically rubbing oil along neck and nipple. And here´s what I hate: it was seedy. I don´t hate seedy, I just hate the fact that seedy and gay and nudist tend to get flung together into the same box, because come on, they are all so damn disconnected and yet...
I didn´t let it put me off even if I remembered the gorgeous nudist colonies I´ve frequented in France, all family friendly and that kinda thing, where couples were couples and it didn´t really matter if you were gay or straight or whatever. (Some of my best friends are heterosexuals by the way).
So we´re just about to sit down on this seedy beach and there it is. One big MASSIVE dead rat. I mean hello, I live with teenagers who exaggerate everything, but this was like (or as my teens would say: laak) huge laak, laak as big as a little dog laak. And I thought it was asleep beside the bins but hersel´ being a scientist and all that was able to confirm that the monster was dead, so I said that she could have my sandwich if she liked and suggested that it might be an idea to visit the next beach up; the one that the locals go to.
So that´s where the megaphone comes into it. We´re there after paying 17 euro (I still can´t find the euro symbol on the Spanish computer) for an umbrella and two deck chairs, and we have no bathing costumes because we had wandered here by mistake anyway and even if we were to go swimming we were thinking nudist ( as in nice French family friendly nudist and not all seedy nudist)  but then the megaphone began. It was all about where not to swim and what not to do and to mind your belongings, but I couldn´t help thinking that this must be what it´s like in communist countries - and Spain, God forbid, is not one, but the shock of this megaphone blaring away made me feel so much like I was in Cuba - laak - that we had to have a few Mojitos on the beach, because that´s one thing you can get there, apart from seedy and rats.
Well that was about it for today. The top of my right leg is a bit red and sore but the rest of me is as Oirish white as ever.
Tomorrow we´re going to the Guell Park and up the Christopher Columbus yoke. I´ll keep you posted...