Thursday 12 December 2019

How about a career as a drifter?

Out There: How to cope with life in the emotional jungle

Katy Harrington

Of all the disappointments my life has spewed up (not having good hair, being lousy at relationships and maths) my career is surely up there in the top five.

It's utterly my own fault. I was good in school, especially at English (which for someone born in an English-speaking country is no great shakes, really. It's like patting yourself on the back for
being a great walker).

I did well enough
in college, despite devoting more time
to following around boys in cord jackets than studying, but from then on I've regarded my career as some sort of pleasure craft to
which I give a half-hearted push across the pond every now and again, but mainly I just float along next to it.

I like to think that my lack of ambition (and consequent lack of success) is because I am a 
free-loving hippy who, at heart, cares not for money. I hate all the consumerist nonsense that has people queuing outside Apple stores for three days to get the same overpriced phone they already own in pink, or the lunatics who descend upon the less-than-inspiring high street shops at 5am on St. Stephen's Day to grab whatever khakis they can get their mitts on - it baffles me. Or maybe I'm just too lazy to care.

Don't get me wrong, I like what I do. The problem is the life of a freelancer with little knowledge of the digital world (except that it's evil and not to be trusted) is sometimes a little precarious. Hence, I've been thinking about trying new things, other than writing, to support myself and my drinking habits.

I would like to do some work in radio (although my helium Cork accent might be an issue) or TV, if I can get over acting like a lobotomised chimp every time anyone points a camera at me. Either that, or I'll just have to settle for a career as a professional drifter.

Teen Benevolence to sappy parents

When she was a baby, the Girlchild never wanted to be put down. I had been very anxious during the pregnancy, and felt sure I’d contaminated her with fear because she just wanted to be held all the time. Her brother had been a lovely cuddler too. but from early on was very keen on his own sleeping space. She, however, wanted to be cuddled asleep, every night.

It was head-wrecking on occasion, but she was genuinely upset to be left alone, and we simply couldn’t bear to leave her upset.  We tried reasoning and explaining but she said “You get to sleep with someone every night, why can’t I?”

The Cuddle Queen was never happier than in the bed between us, and if either of us was away she was in the empty spot, in your armpit, for the night and like a shot.

When you’re in the middle of something as emotionally complex as child-rearing it’s hard to know what is right, what doesn’t matter and what is a hideous mistake.

We’re not finished yet by a long run, but that Girlchild is now 13, and for what it’s worth I reckon that if little children get all the cuddles and contact they need when they need it they are more comfortable about leaving when that’s what they want.

She and I were glued together for so long. We went on little trips and watched movies and climbed mountains and went for Groupon pedicures.

We were always together so I didn’t notice how comfortable she was getting with being apart. She still tells me gossip and, if she has no better offer, makes loom bands on the table while I work. But mostly she does have a better offer.

Cuddles are hugs now, teenage benevolence to sappy parents, an interesting illustration of the cycles of need.

It’s healthy progress, proper order, how it should be.

And a little wistful.

Aine O'Connor

Yet another hairy experience

I suppose I’ve never had an easy journey through life with my hair. There have been some major disasters. Like my sister’s wedding when I was, at the very self-conscious age of 14, dispatched to my mother’s hairdresser and came out with a style that was only suitable for someone in their 80s.

My mother went grey fairly young, and instead of embracing blonde or brunette developed a penchant for ‘steel grey’ — essentially a blue rinse. Not a strong cobalt blue, but definitely a tinge. So I suppose I’m lucky I didn’t emerge with a blue rinse at 14. I still can’t bear to look at the wedding photos. I have a face of thunder in them. My sister used to say I destroyed every wedding photo. Nice.

There are photos of me when I was a young kid and I look like a majorette from the wrong side of town. My mother did not put any of those Irish dancer ringlets in. They just formed naturally. Oh, for a GHD back then. Anyway, I started to go grey fairly early as well and opted for a change to blonde. The grey won’t show through so easily, they said. They omitted to warn me that when the sun got at it I would look like the majorette from the wrong side of town’s mother.

I decided to go darker, and to my chagrin when the grey started to show through at the roots, I looked like a skunk or a badger. At one stage, I thought about leaving it go grey and embracing the age thing, but for that to work you have to be elegant and that’s not me either. So I now keep it somewhere between dark and blonde. Mousey really, I suppose.

I was sitting in a far-flung country recently, sitting outside having a fag and the seemingly very sweet girl who was serving me my glass of wine, asked me where I was from. “I’m Irish” I told her. “ Ah yes Ireesh” she said. “I should have known, your hair it ees orange”. “Orange did you say” I said in my ‘I’ll break your face’ voice and she valiantly conceded that maybe it was golden. Sweet, my ass.    

Eleanor Goggin

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