Friday, December 11, 2009


I think it was Samuel Johnson who said 'When one is tired of London, one is tired of life'. London has a magic about it which transcends mundane things like rain, wind, fog. People who talk about London in terms of weather are missing the point, sadly. You don't GO to London for the weather. If you want sunshine, go to Cape Town, go to Barbados, go to Sydney. If you want that smorgasboard of opportunities, art, fine dining, music, history, poetry, theatre ... go to London. And if you're not that into that, I'm not that into you. Sorry.

I loved living in London for those 3 years that I was there. I loved working my 2 crappy jobs which enabled me to see loads of theatre and sample foods I'd never even heard of. I was nowhere ready to leave, but I'm sure I never would have been. I absolutely adore going back and I would live there again in a heartbeat. I was so lucky to have 2 days there this week with Sascha.

Sascha GETS me and he knows what I want to do and how I want to do it. Thirty years of friendship kind of does that. He is happy enough to sit on the man couch in dress shops and give me critical feedback on what I try on. He knows I'm happy to idle the hours away in Starbucks and he is too. We're both happy to watch dodgy made-for-TV movies and not speak at all. There are no awkward silences, no apologies, no fragile egos or walking on eggshells. It's peaceful. It's relaxing. Being GOT on that kind of level is so rare and I am so grateful.

I tend to acclimate myself with the tone and mood of where I am quite easily. Dublin is fairly bleak at the moment and the general tone is one of resentment for jobs lost, bonuses cut, mortgages which cannot be paid, holidays which have had to be cancelled... There is a wistfulness for how things were, a bitterness too. The two topics of conversation here are a) the woeful weather b) the recession. It is not a happy place to be. It has steadily begun to do my head in and I craved escape. London restores me to who I am in my most authentic sense. I am invigorated by the pace of life there, I feel so energised by the frenetic activity and the constant stimulation. In London, I smile all the time.

I feel happy to be back now and to see my boys. I hope to return to London in 2010 with them and show my little guy around the great city. The good news is that I'm well rid of Nasty November and December is just Divine so far!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

There's No Place Like Home?

I left home just shy of my 18th birthday. I had spent my entire teenage period plotting escape from Pembroke Place. I couldn't wait to leave. It had little to do with my parents or where I lived, more so that I was eager to live my life and do things 'my way'. I longed for adventure, independence and the opportunity to discover what was out there. I couldn't wait to be financially independent. I longed for the freedom to pay for things with my own money and not have to ask or rely on anyone. I also didn't want anyone telling me to make my bed or what to wear. Those things seemed important at 18. You know how it is.

I didn't get very far, Geographically - just 167 kilometres up the road. Psychologically, it was a different planet. I was in teenage heaven. I had my own room in a hostel filled with like-minded girls. I could say "women" to be politically correct, but we were girls. There were 72 of us, all out on our own - most of us for the first time and beginning our foray into academia. I had ready access to alcohol, cigarettes and everything else I could possibly have wanted. As an only child, becoming a member of a family of 72 should have been rather daunting but I reveled in it. What a joy to have 71 sisters and endless wardrobe options.

Two years later I moved into what we called 'digs' - a shoddy, old, poorly-kept house in the centre of my University town and an 11 minute walk from my beloved Drama department. I loved that house. My parents all but wept when they saw it, but I could not have been happier. I had a huge room, a blue bathroom, a kitchen the size of an aeroplane toilet and hectares of freedom. Joy!

After graduating, I returned 'home' to Pembroke Place for 6 months to work in order to save money for my next adventure - my big move to London. Home was a challenge after 4 years of my own space, but having someone do my washing, ironing and cooking was now very much appreciated! I loved those 6 months teaching Drama at 2 different schools, waitressing by night. I had a great time but got to the point where I was very ready to leave home again.

London unfolded herself to me as only London can. She is a multi-layered, wise old city with many secrets. You have to offer yourself to London almost like a sacrifice and then she invites you in. You can't go there with any preconceived notions of fairytale and spotlights. You have to earn London. I wanted London to be home. I fell deeply in Love with Her. Throughout, there was this pervasive knowledge that I had a home in South Africa, a safety net with bed (usually unmade). I lived in many houses in London, some nicer than others. I would happily have stayed there for all eternity. But I fell in love with a boy who was on his own adventure.

I took my boy to Pembroke Place, my home, to meet my family. He took me to his home in Prestonpans, Scotland to meet his. Soon after we bought our own home in Sydney which we left for another home in Ireland. Still, if you were to ask me where I'm from or where my home is, I'd tell you Pembroke Place.

Except, as of yesterday, Pembroke Place is occupied by another family and my family now lives somewhere else. Somewhere I have not even seen. Somewhere that is not home at all. My soul is anchored so strongly by that notion of 'home' and that is how I've leveraged the uncertainly of our vagabond life. I have spent the last few weeks feeling oddly rootless and unsettled and it has taken me until now to really figure it out. I climbed the trees in that garden. When my grandparents passed, we had Prayers for them in that lounge. I learnt the piano in that Family room. I learnt to swim in that pool. We celebrated my 21st and the rehearsal dinner for my Wedding there. I brought my baby home to Pembroke Place to meet our extended clan. Everything of major significance centres around that house. That house that I was so desperate to leave, but has now left me.

This leaves me with quite an awesome responsibility - a call to order almost. Now it's my turn to make that home for my son. I had thought that leaving home meant I was a grown up.... but 15 years later, it is Home leaving me that has made it happen.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Nasty November

I'm not the kind of girl who generally gives a shit about the weather. I have fair skin, freckles and wear a size 14 (UK) jeans, so it's not like I have some great desire to be lolling about in a string bikini in the sunshine but... I do enjoy the possibility of catching a few glimpses of the sun.

I am a happy person. I like to laugh. I usually see the funny side of things, look on the bright side of life. I do. Honestly. Said "bright side" is obscured by constant rain, wind and near perpetual darkness here though. The bright side might require some kind of miracle laser eye treatment with a side of mood-altering eye drops.

Something happens when it rains constantly and it's dark by 5pm. Something switches gear in my neurons and I get miserable. The good thing is that I am aware of this happening and I have the ability to switch over into something more cheerful. The bad thing is the regularity with which I have to make this concerted effort to shift.

As a Southern Hemisphere native, I have always taken sunshine for granted. I have even complained about it. I hated getting freckles. I bemoaned the pressure to DO THINGS when the sun was shining. There is such a ready excuse to vegetate when the weather is bad. I have spent 25 years of my almost 33 in sunshine though and I tell ya it's something quite intrinsically linked with my psyche.

It isn't Ireland's fault that it rains here all the time. I'm sure Ireland would like to be dry sometimes. Certainly the vast numbers of youths in Ugg boots must pray for the rain to end at some point. I can't imagine soggy sheepskin boots make for pleasant footwear. I'm sure, given the choice, even Irish sheep would have a more durable coat than waterlogged wool.

But here we are in November on the slippery descent into Winter and I need to just process this and commit to the layers, the hat, the gloves, the coat. I made a lifelong commitment to boots many years ago.

Winter with a toddler offers a whole new potential for misery. I can barely persuade my personal toddler to wear a nappy, let alone trousers AND the 47 additional layers required to face life outside the front door. Our usual salvation is the park around the corner which has offered daily (sometimes twice daily) entertainment for the last 6 months. Now the swings are butt cheek high with water and the usual wipe with a muslin cloth ain't going to cut it. The slides are more like something from a water theme park, only without that whole 'enjoyment' factor. I don't have any idea what we'll do indoors for the next 5 months. I do foresee having to put everything back into the kitchen cupboards many, many times over. Macs never seems to tire of his own special brand of stocktaking in the kitchen.

On the upside, we have a month in South Africa booked and that truly is the light at the end of this gloomy tunnel. I can't wait to see my little boy with sand between his barefoot toes and his button-nose slathered with sunblock. He will enjoy that so much.

Until then, Starbucks will be our daycare ... not a lot can get me down after a double tall non-fat capuccino... or 6.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Why You Should Procreate

It took me a while to decide that I was ready to have a baby. I knew that I wanted one, but I also knew that having a child would change everything. I knew that on a purely cerebral level - the only way one can before a baby arrives. I thought I would stay the same, but I'd be me PLUS baby. I thought we would stay the same, but we'd be us PLUS baby.
Of course once a baby arrives, absolutely everything changes and neither you nor your partner nor the relationship nor anyone you are related to or anyone you meet is ever the same again. If you're reading this and are pregnant or considering being pregnant, don't be alarmed. You see, this is what is the difficult part to explain. I can tell you in graphic detail about the cons of parenting. I can tell you that I've been vomited on from every angle and in every hue and shade of every colour. I can tell you I've not slept a full night in 16 months, 3 weeks and 2 days. I can tell you I've recovered my mascara from inside the toilet and that I sometimes go 2 days without showering and that I can consume up to 5 or 6 double strength coffees a day to remain energetic....
Those are the tangible negatives which are very easy to explain. It's the positives that I can't even begin put into words. You see, the moment I saw that howling scarlet little face, every cell in my body woke up and fell head over heels in love. I am so intensely proud of every sound he makes, every morsel he consumes, every minute that he does sleep, every step that he takes - I'm proud even when he's doing nothing at all. I am so filled with overwhelming, giddy love for this tiny person that everything with any negative connotations pales into such nebulous insignificance that it disappears almost entirely. The other people who also love him are elevated in my estimation. I love my husband more, my family more, my friends more. Truly, there is no feeling in the world that compares with the love and joy that children bring with them. They bring it as part of the package. It's a huge and diverse package that arrives after that 40 week wait. More than anyone can prepare you for, more than you can ever be ready for, more than you had any idea would be possible.
But, if you can and you think you might want to...
You should.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Baby Bonanza

Just so you know, if you plan on moving to Dublin at any point, you have to have a child. Even if you have a child or 4 already, you have to have another one. It's the rule here. Seriously. Ask anyone. If you live in Dublin it is a requirement that you have at least one baby while living here and invest in at least one Bugaboo. If you don't spawn, they make you leave. This happened to some of my friends, they had to leave. It was sad.
Not so much a blog, as a public service annoucement. I thought you needed to know. Remember. Dublin = babies. Many, many babies.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Not for Ninnies

Ok, so when exactly does the angst stop? The worrying, I mean. It doesn't, does it? Just tell me... I can take it... it's not going to end is it?
The funny thing is, I'd guess that most people who know me - be it very well or not much at all - would use 'relaxed' or 'care-free' as one of the adjectives to describe me... Or they WOULD have prior to arrival of my son. That's what's changed, you see, I became a mom. And now I worry.
I worry all the time - about absolutely everything. I worried through the first trimester of the pregnancy, prayed and hoped that I'd get through those 13 or 14 weeks that would then make the pregnancy 'safe'. I got through those weeks (thank God) and then became obsessed with my doppler. That poor little guy. I swear I was listening for his galloping little heart beat 2 or 3 times a day... then a few weeks later he started moving a lot and I could feel him and ... I relaxed ... for about 5 minutes... because then he wasn't moving ENOUGH... so out came the doppler again ... gallop gallop gallop... fine ... phew relax... Then I got really, really pregnant and he was moving non-stop, growing ... phew ... relax. Then he was too big and I had to be induced... terrified.... induction didn't work... worry worry worry... C-section...
BABY. A healthy, kicking, screaming, purple-faced little person who was not shy about expressing his annoyance at being disturbed and unceremoniously removed from warm, comfy home... Phew... relax... Happy mommy.
Ok, I thought, now I can stop worrying. He's fine. He's healthy.
WRONG. Then I worried MORE!
A baby? Who knows what the hell to do with a new baby? I mean how do they work? Man did I worry. I didn't think I would manage. In fact, after about 3 nights at home I insisted on being rushed back to hospital because I thought he couldn't breathe. Wrong. He was fine. "Is this your first baby?" asked the somewhat bemused Doctor. Yes. First baby. Worried. He had a slightly blocked nose. Whoops.
Now he's 14 months old and, um, thriving. Ok he's enormous. He's an 83cm, 13 kg, walking, babbling marvel. Still I worry. He sleeps too much. Worried. He isn't sleeping. So worried. He won't eat. Worried. He's hoovering down vats of food. So worried.
So this is it now, I guess? I just spend the rest of my life being terrified and worrying. I tell ya, being a mommy is not for ninnies. But, man, is it great.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Kosher Eggs

It's not easy being a mixed-breed. I'm Jewish - since it's passed from the mother - but I'm also partly Christian because 2 of the 3 most important men in my life (my father and my husband) are Christian. I've always celebrated Christmas and Easter as well as all the Jewish Holidays and I feel like that works for me. What doesn't work is that I don't fully belong anywhere because I'm never quite Jewish enough and I'm certainly not remotely Christian enough and, as a result, I kind of linger in a blurry space in between. I like that I'm a link between the 2 and I love that my son will have the option of pursuing my blurry religion or focusing fully on one of the two.
As a Jew in Dublin I'm even more confused. The ROI (that's Republic of Ireland and not Return On Investment in this case) is 99% Catholic and 100% ignorant of what being Jewish means. I feel like I might as well say I'm purple for the degree of understanding I get here when I say I'm Jewish. Oy. This is the same place where, when I asked for a copy of Barbara Walters' autobiography, I was met with the response 'I'll check if we have it - who wrote it?'... Again, oy.
As with pretty much everything in my life, I do it my way - this Jewish thing, parenting, my marriage, my work, life in general - I do it how it suits me and it mostly works. Sometimes I kind of envy the people who have something more prescriptive, more routine to guide them and then I also really don't. The strangest part of the year is now with Pesach and Easter and then the Fast ... A religious binge and purge, if you will.
Anyway, Happy Easter to you all and Chag Sameach to the rest and both to me and MacKenzie.
Enjoy the chocolate eggs (can anyone explain their relevance?) and the matzo (hope you've stocked up on Senakot). That's all.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Snow Business

Oh goodness me people! Can I start with the cheese? Forget the snow. Cheese. It's all about the cheese. They don't mess around in France! Wow. The food has been sublime - Dr Atkins would be fairly happy... I guess one would have to avoid the baked potatoes and french fries though... Damn that would be rough.

Ski holidays are hard work - even without skiing - all the gear you have to wear, the layers - the multiple layers... It's not easy. Especially after 10 days at home in South Africa where all you really need is a pair of flip flops and some sunglasses and off you go. Trying to make it outdoors with a baby in many many feet of snow with a continual downpouring of snow... Man it's exhausting. But once you get where you're going, it's pure bliss. Gorgeous shops, amazing food (did I mention the cheese???), superb atmosphere. Not to mention we're here with fantastic people and our chalet is perfect.
The little guys - our Mac and Annie and Carter's Jack - have been troupers. We are so intensely lucky.
I highly recommend France. Vive La France. Ski on down!

Thursday, February 5, 2009


Oh man I'm not good at this. Whoops. I enjoy writing but I'm not sure that I always have much to tell and being tedius is not something I aspire to.
So, the big tree is gone (ok I'm lying - it's decaying in our garage) ... but it is gone from our lounge. Since I last wrote, my small and I went to South Africa for 10 days and had a blast. Gorgeous weather and quality grandparent time. Lots of rest for me and I came back revitalised and happy. We've decided to spend another year in Dublin to combat the effects of the global recession and are very content with our decision. As much as I am loathe to admit it, I am happy here. I wasn't, but I am now. People help and we have great people. We have great people on 3 continents. Man are we lucky.
So now it's snowing in Dublin and it is just gorgeous to see. As a Norther Hemisphere novice, this is truly an experience and such a joy. I love watching the flakes fall and coat everything in ambience.
This weather does mean that I'm indoors a lot with Mackie. His newfound mobility combined with his amazing fearlessness meas that this can be challenging for us both. I wish we had a giant empty room with soft floors and padded walls for him to explore.
Anyway, this Saturday we're off to enjoy a week in the French Alps with some of our loveliest newfound Dublin friends (3 Americans and 2 Aussies - but Dublin based). I'm looking forward to some quality time with my boys and our friends and I'm excited to experience a European ski holiday. Another first for me.
At the risk of sounding a little giddy and annoying, I'm a happy, lucky, joyful girl and I'm so in love with my boys - is it Thanksgiving yet? No? Bugger it. I am thankful anyway.