on weakness

Hello. It has been an age since I last wrote anything. Quite a lot has happened and also nothing. I learned today though that it was the Irish Catholics post 1890 that destroyed the primeval forests of this island rather than the English landlords. I was gutted. Absolutely gutted. I had previously been under the impression that it was the English who had destroyed the forests.

My faith in Ireland has lost any foundation it once had. Y’all needed the English overlords apparently. You were better with them. You cut down your OWN FUCKING FORESTS. Who does that? Well, you are currently carrying on the tradition of utter self-destruction by ripping apart the bogs. Bord Na Mona here’s looking at you.

Anyway. The problem with the Irish is a lack of home pride. Obviously considering everyone leaves. Or cuts down the forests. Or clear strips the bog. Or tries to ‘develop’ the wild natural landscape with shopping centers and shit. Here’s looking at you, Shane Filan.

I moved to Ireland with an immense sense of Irish pride. I was in love with this island, with the culture, the music, the history, the wild Celts, tartan, cable knit, Westlife, all of it. I couldn’t wait to frolic in heather beneath immense windswept cloudscapes to the constant but distant drone of the fairy drum. I thought moving to Ireland would be a spiritual homecoming. Spoiler alert, it wasn’t.

I spent a week or so here back in 2001 when I was a preteen. Hence the romanticized vision of old Eire. Eire, Eriu, sweet verdant goddess, you are still asleep. What I found upon emigration instead was Ireland. Ire. Land. Ire. Land. Angry. Land. Angry. Land. The bitter. The begrudger.

Hey, did you know that back in the Magdalene Laundry days they’d throw women in there if the other women thought they were too pretty? Wild. Now that is one seriously efficient way to keep the patriarchy alive. Ireland is still, however, VERY woman versus woman. It plays out differently now, since, ye know, they can’t lock the ‘competition’ up in slave labor anymore. But there is still the ‘shaming,’ the shunning, the tearing down of anyone exceptional in any way. Unfortunately for me I’m exceptional in many ways, and my above average looks are only the first layer, so I was doomed before I ever emigrated. Above average? I was a golden-headed beach babe with sparkly eyes when I first arrived. With an hourglass figure and a tan. Only in retrospect can I see how gorgeous I was then, and how being gorgeous in Ireland is a curse.

That is actually why I shaved my head the first time. I was attempting to undermine my beauty in an attempt to make the insecure around me feel less so. Alas, I just looked like a young Sinead O’Connor, which is just a different kind of gorgeous to the one I was before.

People reading this are probably getting that angry itch that starts up when a woman says something about her beauty. Well, fuck off. If Eire could see her beauty, we wouldn’t have half the problems we do in this country. Instead of allowing beauty to thrive though, this place feels the seemingly insatiable urge to destroy it. Instead of raising yourselves to meet the exceptional, you kill it, rip it down to your level. I’d hate to have a daughter in this country. She would undoubtedly be exquisite, but in every way, on every level, in every sense, just as I once was, and would so be doomed to the endless barrage of Eire’s envious ire. I wanted to have an Irish daughter once, but now that I know you Eire, I honestly would not want to bring another one into existence. This country hates her women. Herself.

I blame the church. It always comes back to the church. A hierarchy of men idolizing the immaculate Mary who conceived without the defilement of human intercourse. Supposedly. My theory is that she got it on with Joseph before the wedding, they concocted some bollox about immaculate conception, and then went off to Egypt to bury the scandal. Anyway. Back to Eire. And her worship of the VIRGIN. All other women are fallen women compared to Mary the Immaculate. The Magdalene Laundries were the church’s invention. It was, however, the corrupt hearts of the parishioners that kept them in service for so long. The weak envious hearts of those who couldn’t see their beauty when confronted with that of another. There are still ever so many of those on this island.

Fortunately, there are other kinds of hearts on this island too. The immense hearts to be found in the likes of Tiffany and Caroline, Lorna and Jane, Maria, Isabelle and Tabitha and Ros, and heaps and heaps of others that I’ve been so fortunate to have met. But alas I am here in Kildare surrounded by cold bitter hearts.

Cold bitter stalker hearts that are bound to find this post and either sit with it and consider their own weaknesses and maybe, I dunno, get therapy. That or blow it up into another gossipy drama to spread around and further the villainous caricature they’ve crafted for me.

Envy isn’t good for your mental health people, so try to let it go. And please, for your sake and your children’s sake and your children’s children’s sake… go plant a tree.

 

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An Ode to Sonoma

I found this among the photos on a USB stick my mom brought to Ireland for me last summer. It is unfinished but lovely. In retrospect, I think maybe I was the girl. Anyway… Here…

March 12, 2008

Seventy-five miles north of San Francisco lies the head of the Russian River. The murky brown waters wind south from Redwood Valley, through miles of bleak flatland, past the redwoods, and finally, it meets the ocean in Jenner. In the summertime, it is a lazy meanderer, inviting kayaks and inner tubes along with throngs of tourists making their escape from the city. The sun is warm on the waters, and for a time they are almost green. When the season turns, the river does as well. The rains come, swelling the river and turning it brown, saturating the ground, and chasing the tourists back to their busy city streets. The little local towns close up for the winter and brace against the threat of flooding. The river becomes treacherous in those months, swallowing whatever it will. However, summer always comes again, and with it the promise of sunshine, tourists, and quiet waters.

The mouth of the Russian River is just south of the town of Jenner. Where the river meets the ocean lies a particular surf spot known locally for its beautiful barrels, as well as it’s overpopulation of Great Whites. The northern coast is notorious for the lovely buggers, but the river mouth, in particular, attracts them due to a local population of Harbor Seals. In the late summer, the spot becomes too dangerous to surf, and the river too dangerous to swim, as the sharks move cockily into the freshwater lagoon that lets into the ocean. Kayakers often brave the area anyway, but from time to time, they profoundly regret the decision. More often the tourists keep a bit north of the area in any number of the little river towns. The most popular of these towns is Guerneville. There are precisely seven streets in town. First, Main, Second, and Third are crossed by Armstrong Woods Road, Church Street, then Mill Street. Seven streets and the longest are no more than six blocks.

It is to this little town that thousands of city folk flock to in the heat of the season. There are two movie rental shops in town, two bookstores, two hair salons, two gas stations, two grocery stores, two coffee shops, and two Mexican restaurants. It is a town of deuces. The thing of the matter though, is that often only one of each of these is worth a visit. The bookstores are a separate matter altogether, as one can never have a book too many. The first of the two is a little corner shop stocked to the roof with a never changing inventory of used books. The other is a crisp small shop with a perfect selection of bestsellers, classics, journals, and an odd array of quirky umbrellas. The shopkeepers are as contradictory as the shops themselves. Rich, a tall and dreamy man with a thousand untold tales just behind his eyes, owns Twice Told Tales. He has long silvery hair and large warm eyes. He is charmingly unkempt and is never without his border collie Dakota. Rita is his antithesis with her close cut curls, tailored shirts, and large fat tabby. Neither loses business to the other, as they are the yin and yang of bookshops. They are the perfect deuce. None of the other doubles can boast the same.

Amid the tumble of paperbacks, priceless first editions, and general mayhem of Twice-Told Tales there is a boy. He is a fixture of the spot with his dark eyes and guitar. Often his music echoes in the adjoining coffee shop as he dreams away lonesome hours on steel strings. He is in love with a girl. Every pluck and strum is his ode to her. Every lyric so painstakingly masked is her anthem. Rich keeps him employed as his lovesick melodies brings in curious passersby and patrons from the cafe. During the summertime, the hypnotic melody floats out across the breezes and into the ears of the summer throngs with their loose wallets and sentimental hearts. Stuart is good for business.

Another Tuesday

I am breastfeeding a half-awake toddler. What else is new. I think, for fun, I’ll let my phone choose the words for the next paragraph.

Wool is not the best in the world 🗺 but I have to say it is a realistic way of doing things and I have to say it was good for the whole world.

OK, what. No, that sentence was constructed entirely by the auto-complete function of my phone, just choosing each word in order from the first to the third. Oh my god what other wisdom does my phone possess? I will try again.

No, I tried, and it just kept coming up with gibberish. 😂 But really, wool is part of my plan to save the world through local economy and permaculture, so hey. I have this plan I call my ‘three sheep scheme’ that involves raising three sheep at a time on an acre. I’d use their wool to make a bit of money, and feed the soil with their shit, thus growing abundant food for all, and then neither eat them nor kill them. Total win-win for everyone involved. I feel like vegans would even support it. Well maybe.

I’ve been thinking about my future quite a bit lately, now that I’m mostly out the other end of babyhood. I want to work toward something that matters in the grander scheme, like plant trees for a living, or help other people plant trees, or maybe raise them for planting elsewhere? Dream big.😂

I’m looking into doing a Teagasc horticulture course up in Dublin, as well as an online permaculture design certificate. We also finally have a herd number meaning that we can keep livestock now. I am admittedly feeling despondent at the thought of raising fellow mammals for the slaughterhouse. I would much rather have a sanctuary for them, and that is my end goal. Herbivores are vital to the soil, so we have to have them here to rebuild biodiversity. I love them though and see their souls. My dream is to run a crowdfunding campaign to pay for their food and care so that I could justify keeping them to the conventional farmer on the hill. He once told me that I’m too soft to be a farmer, and he is right to an extent. I want to, however, find a way to redefine the concept of ‘a farmer’ for myself.

I think what I am is a gardener. I like to tend to plants and people and sheep and soil.

I’ve spent so much of my life trying to figure out what it is that I am, and I’ve wandered so many paths looking for it. I thought I wanted to teach, and after that, I thought perhaps it wasn’t teaching but healing I should pursue. I looked into medicine and felt like that road only led to the pharmaceutical industry. So I followed my heart to the sea and started to pursue oceanography, which, to be fair, probably would have suited. But I abruptly left that path when I met my Irish farmer, and I’ll tell you why.

Even after discovering the wonders of marine science I still felt, deep down, like it wasn’t exactly the right path. After years of reflection, I found that the only human activity that resonated with me was farming, specifically permaculture. Everything else seemed to take from our planet without giving back. In my core, I felt that the only right path for me was one in which I dedicated myself to our earth, and the only obvious route to accomplishing that was farming. Hence perusing farming blogs while low-key stalking some permaculture surfer dude. 😂

Anyway, when Simon and I connected through agriculture and then bonded over permaculture it felt like I had finally found my calling. That and a babelicious Irish musician with sea blue eyes and hair the color of ripe barley. 🌾 Oh, who gave me a book of Irish poetry when we met in person. And he wrote me a song about rabbits. Like melt.

As any reader of this blog knows, all my little permaculture dreams didn’t exactly take off when I emigrated. I found myself utterly lost in Ireland with all my once clear visions muddled. I went into shock for a while, experienced a nervous breakdown, got therapy, had a child, and now here we are.

I finally feel ready to start pursuing my permaculture vision again, and also I see it so much clearer than I did before. I see now that I can be a teacher and a healer all at once with permaculture design. I still have so much self-healing to do, but I have realized that doing a course in Dublin will likely help push me further in that direction.

Anyway, I’m just rambling on. I guess I am feeling hopeful? Optimistic? Feeling somewhat less confused about who what where why I am?

This permaculture epiphany comes, by the way, after heaps of research into every available career path in Ireland. I was writing content for a blog to keep busy and make some money, but that ended abruptly a few weeks ago. I looked into proper journalism, but I am too old to break into that industry, and I couldn’t see the point anyway (for myself – I’m not saying journalism isn’t essential – it is). Then I considered continuing my psychology education with aims to be a therapist, but like, I can’t see myself coping well with being inundated with people’s problems. I can barely deal with my own.

I looked into springboard courses, but they’re all pharmaceutical or marketing or computer science related, and none of that is for me. The answer, of course, isn’t on the internet, it is under my feet.

Anyway, I just realized how late it is, and my child is still napping. Alas alas, DISASTER! Thanks for reading my endless rambling. 🌿

A Tuesday in February

Hello beautiful February.

I woke to a world of glorious snow this morning, already melting under magnificent golden sunlight. Surely starshine is a valid synonym for sunshine, considering the sun is a star, right? Glorious morning starshine! Snow is melting in gleams of starlight!

I am in a good mood today if you can’t tell.

I spent my childhood on the sunny western edge of the North American continent where winters consisted of sunshine, occasional rainfall, and only slightly cooler temperatures than springtime (summers were hot hot hot). Ok, to be fair, at the time it SEEMED cold. “OMFG overnight temperatures PLUMMETED to 44 ºF!” type of thing.

I just looked up the temperature in my hometown Guerneville – there is an expected high of 78ºF (That’s 26 Celsius for my Irish pals) on this beautiful February day. Ha!

Anyway, THE POINT IS, I never experienced a snowy February, nor any snowy month at all, unless we made the several hours journey to see my grandparents in Nevada. So when I do get to experience snow, it is like THE MOST EXCITING THING EVER! I am aware, however, that it will all melt within the day turning our already muddy field into a full-on mucktopia. Grammarly is annoyed at me for that word, but guess what Grammarly, YOU CAN’T STOP THIS. MUCKTOPIA!

Right. Anyway.

I tried to build a snowman earlier, but my delicate Californian hands couldn’t bear the cold. I made the bottom but had to go inside to warm my frostbitten fingers (I’m not dramatic, you’re dramatic), and when I came back,  the snow had collapsed. I made the featured image on this post a photo of that one time I did manage to build a snowman, back when I was younger and hardier. That was my first winter in Ireland, and this one is my fifth. Well, my third to be fair. We did spend two winters in California basking in those ‘freezing’ high 20 temperatures.

That said, we planned a two week holiday with my in-laws in California a few years ago, and it rained on them almost the whole time. Seriously as soon as they left the sun came out and didn’t abandon us again for the rest of our two months stay stateside. I told them that they were our lucky charm though, and they were because as you all likely know, California seems to be in a perpetual state of drought. Two weeks of rain was like WHAT! HALLE-fuckin-LUJAH!

Right now I am listening to the Beach Boys, and I suddenly realized that I am putting myself at high risk for homesickness if I don’t quit.

My son was DELIGHTED with the snow. He was at the window bopping up and down this morning exclaiming “S’NO!” in his funny nasally voice. I think he takes after me though because after a few minutes outside he came back in shrieking that his hands were cold. I had to blow on them gently for a few minutes until he felt they had reached an acceptable temperature. Poor lad inherited my delicate Californian hands apparently. Meanwhile, Simon has hands that turn into red blocks of ice in this weather, and he doesn’t seem to notice at all. Maybe if we ever have a second child that one will inherit his Irish hardiness. I hope.

Our current only child looks exactly like Simon but somehow has all of my traits. He is chatty and affectionate with a hot temper and a ridiculously goofy sense of humor. It would be funny to have a daughter who looks like me but is quiet and stoic and infinitely patient like Simon. That said I doubt we will be having any second children as ethically it felt pretty questionable having the first. The planet has no shortage of humans. That and my mother had eight children who are all reproducing now. I feel like our bloodline has a big enough footprint as it is, and my maternal haplogroup is one of the most common on 23andMe, making my contributions seem that much less significant to the gene pool.

Watch me end up pregnant six months from now.

Right, so I have to go do other things with my day now. Alas. I have things I want to talk about on here, but I never seem to be in the right mindset when I have the time or have time when I’m in the right mindset. You know how it is.

Bye now.

Oh, February at Last.

Hello.

Today is a strange heavy sort of day. There has been a barrage of news recently regarding violence against women, and I am struggling to process any of it. My tiny ape brain isn’t capable of dealing with this emotional overload. It comes thick and fast and never seems to end. I think that I need to pursue positivity for a while and seek out women who are thriving.

One such woman is the Irish/Sierra Leonean ArtSoul singer-songwriter LoahLoah is Sallay Matu Garnett, and her music is helping to heal the world bit by bit. This song, in particular, lifts me up on days when I feel like crawling into a cave. This one is like audible cashmere. Every note she sings is medicine for the collective human soul, and I feel so privileged to experience it. I haven’t yet seen her play live, but my kid is finally babysit-able, so hopefully soon. I already linked it, but here is her EP.

Cortège is playing as I type, and for the first time in 24 hours I feel some relief from the cares of the world.

I’ve forgotten what it feels like to get lost in the music.

….

To those who might read this and feel concern for my wellbeing, I typed the above two days ago. My mood has shifted utterly, so I thought that I ought to just publish this one and move on, but I am okay. I had intended to write more, but I was interrupted by my toddler and didn’t get a chance to pick it up again.

 

 

 

How is it still January 

My family is not sleeping in the same room as myself tonight. We’re trying this whole trial separation thing (not like that) to hopefully kick off weaning. I haven’t had a proper sleep in a week because the child has been demanding constant boob. So here I am and there they are. 

I miss them. We haven’t even officially spent the night apart yet and I’m about to cry over here. 😂 
Anyway, I can’t sleep. I’m too nervous over this whole sleeping away from cuddles  thing, and more than likely they’re happily passed out in there. Maybe. Or maybe they miss me too. 😂 How am I going to deal with my baby ever growing up?!? 
I reckon I just get old and die, that’s how. 

OK on that happy thought…. Bye. 

Late January. 

I think I will write a dirty novel. 

No really. Think about it. 

I could spend my time studying the great novelists and poets, which I have. Dissecting poems, comparing translations, reading thousands upon thousands of pages, all in the quest to write something worth reading. I spent years of my life doing so. What I have learned all boils down to one quotable phrase… (🔆 👀) 

“The secret of popular writing is never to put more on a given page than the common reader can lap off it with no strain whatsoever on his habitually slack attention.” – Ezra Pound 

Like, I get that he was being an elitist twat (this coming from the guy that says if you don’t speak three languages you’re illiterate)  and this quote wasn’t writing advice, but maybe it should be. Why spend a lifetime struggling to write the next masterpiece when you could write some trash that makes money? Legacy? Who gives a fuck about legacy? No really. What does being known and respected and lauded after death do for anyone? 

When I was young, I thought living life in such a way that I could write about it later was everything. I chose boyfriends, flats, and jobs on that approach to life. Why live in a house when I could rent a room above a bluegrass record store in San Francisco? Why date a nice guy when I could date the long-haired musician in cords who drove a biodiesel car and emotionally abused me? I took drugs, and I had sex, I went to gigs and parties and art shows in pursuit of this life to write home about. I thought if I lived enough I could write that great novel. I figured if I read enough… And god have I read. I read everything I was ever supposed to read. The Russians. The French.  The beatniks. The modernists. The Romantics. The Parisian expats. Dante too. I read all the mythologies, the fairy tales, the entire fucking Bible twice. I thought that somewhere I’d find… I don’t know. The voice. The truth. The great enlightenment that would enable me to open myself up to become a vessel of the Muse. 

Maybe writing a dirty novel IS enlightenment. Look at the fifty shades of gray/twilight phenomenon. Apparently getting middle-aged women moist is the key to a comfortable life. Why strive for great art when great art won’t fill the pantry or pay the chiropractor to fix the spine you bent reading. No seriously. I’m nearsighted because I spent my entire youth reading books. I have circulation issues in my legs because of sitting for hours on end just reading reading reading. Great art caused those problems and won’t fix them. But erotica could. 

Anyway, I am just late night rambling because I am an insomniac. My little family is sleeping either side of me, both of them snoring gently. I had too many jumbled thoughts to sleep, so here I am. Hello. 👋 

Speaking of reading and great art and all that, I have a story. A brief bitter tale that I might as well air here, as I have done so many other bitter stories. 

I grew up in a small village in the woods. Guerneville, California population 1700ish. My family life was unhappy at best, but my surroundings were idyllic. Ancient groves of giant redwoods… Wide lazy rivers… Clear mountain streams where I’d wade in the hot hot heat of July. That sort of thing. I can’t bring myself to tell you much about my family other than to say I was continually trying to escape. Books and those idyllic outdoors provided my means. I have a mother who attempted to control every move I made… Sure every goddamn thought I had really. So the former was more frequent than the latter. OK like, I have to mention the religion at least. I grew up in a fundamentalist evangelical household. Like if you have ever heard of the documentary Jesus Camp.That. My mind had outgrown the confines of that bullshit by the time I was 9, and my mother saw it happening. As I grew, her grip tightened. She wanted me to be a good Christian who never questioned God’s word (the Bible), who married a pastor, or at very least a worship leader. I wasn’t meant to think. I was expected to obey. 

Apparently, that didn’t work out. 

Anyway so back to the story, because that was just the backdrop. Oppressive religious household, avid little reader, and Guerneville, California. 

There was a second-hand bookstore in town called twice told books where I spent many happy hours as a teenager. My mother homeschooled me until the fifth grade, which meant my access to literature was limited. My sister provided me with quite a bit when she could, but my mom monitored everything (you should have seen the shit storm when she found out I had read all the Greek mythology). In my public school years, I managed to read loads that she wouldn’t have approved of thanks to libraries and silent reading hour. 😂 Then in high-school, (which oh my god you guys, I can’t even begin to tell you how botched high-school was because of the evangelical regime), I was exposed to like, the real stuff. 

This post is getting long, and I’m still on backstory. This rambling is why I’ll never actually write a book, dirty or otherwise. I’d spend three hundred pages explaining the backstory behind why the protagonist decided to have a sandwich on that particular Tuesday.  😂 

Anyway. Twice told books. Literature. Oh right. So I used to browse the shop looking for authors that had been recommended by other authors in other books. One summer day after finishing Islands in the Stream, I went looking for Tolstoy. I’m sure there had been a reference in the novel, and several books I had read previously also referenced him, so I went hunting. I found and bought a paperback Anna Karenina, but the shopkeeper gave me side eye for doing so. Weird. After I paid, I walked out to the seating area of the cafe attached to the bookstore. Oh, well, I suppose the bookstore is inside the cafe. Whatever. Anyway. I met two boys from school out there, and they both also gave me the side eye when they saw the book I was holding. WTF?? Apparently, they didn’t have me pegged as the type who could sustain attention through a Tolstoy translation (look it isn’t Tolstoy proper unless it is in Russian, I think we can all agree.) I read the goddamn Bible twice, Tolstoy is cake. 😂  

I never forgot that moment though. Three males in a row were looking at me as if I were a poser with my worn paperback. That side eye said so much about how they perceived me, and it wasn’t flattering. I devoured the book anyway. One of those boys pranced around town with a copy of Pride and Prejudice that summer as if he was the most important and sophisticated mind of our generation for approaching such heights of literature. 😂

Writing about reading is strange. It also feels moderately pretentious but sure look. It is what is on my mind at 2:40 am, and I have to expel it some way or other. Anyway, I think I will try to sleep now. I’ll write that dirty novel tomorrow.