I have some things I love doing when I’m all by myself and I know no one is watching or listening. These include but are not limited to:
- Listening to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir on YouTube while writing this blog.
- Planning what I’d have said in various tricky situations with the benefit of hindsight and increased levels of not caring what other people think.
- Adding expensive things to shopping carts and marvelling at how much money I could spend if I was so inclined.
- Reading the blogs I know will make me roll my eyes for various reasons.
- Thinking about which fictional characters I could be best buddies with in real life.
I came across this article yesterday and suddenly I was 14 years old again. I remember reading Just 17 so well. For a girl from a sheltered Irish background reading letters from 16 year olds in exotic places like Nottingham about how they wanted to go on the pill or asking about blow jobs was racy, heady stuff.
The top tips on how to apply mascara, the celebrity gossip, the fashion spreads (Topshop was barely even a thing in Ireland in 1995), the letters page, the posters-it was worth the cover price and more. Teenage dreams can be hard to beat.
I outgrew Just 17 before I turned 17, and its clear the magazine wasn’t really ever aimed at anyone except 14 year olds like me, stuttering through adolescence with a vague sense of unhappiness about everything that was going on around us but in need of some escapism and a glimpse into a slightly more sophisticated world, where some cargo pants and a top with a heart on it from Miss Selfridge, teamed with glittery lip gloss from Boots and White Musk from the Body Shop, was the height of glamour.
I have no rose tinted glasses about insecure 14 year old me, but I wish I’d kept a copy or two of the magazine for nostalgia’s sake. Reading one now, with a whiff of an Impulse body spray wafting from its pages, doesn’t sound like a half bad way to while away half an hour.
Breakfast solo with a good book.
Using phrases from long deceased relatives, like ‘The right side of the house is out” on a rainy day.
Planning, organising and controlling, just like I learned about in my leaving certificate business course.
Discovering a writer for the first time and knowing there’s a lot more of her books to enjoy even though I’m very late to the party.
Knowing I have a week off work next month and pondering what to do about it.
Not everyone is a fan of the Irish leaving cert system. We have to study a range of subjects, not all of which we’d choose if we had the option, and there’s a lot of pressure during the two and a half weeks of frenzied exams where 17 and 18 year olds cram two years of learning into slots of intense writing.
One of the things I appreciate as an adult, however, was having to study poetry as part of the English curriculum. I’m not a great lover of poetry and never have been, but snatches of poems I studied in school come back to me at odd times. One in particular is a line from “Advent”, a poem by Patrick Kavanagh, which is is the title of this post. I don’t ‘do’ advent and it only struck me that this poem is apposite for the time of year when I looked it up.
It resonates with me whenever I feel the pressure of consumption weighing a little too heavily on me, in particular when I try to organise all the stuff in our house which feels like an ongoing process I’ll be doing forever. No matter how we limit what comes in and get rid of what’s here that shouldn’t be, it never ends.
Limiting our consumption has been really helpful though. Closing the chink of excess has helped me to enjoy a call from our local library telling me a book I requested weeks ago is finally available. I used to just click and buy without thinking whenever a book seemed interesting. Now I’m learning to wait and wonder what it will be like, and I find that process works so much better than getting it immediately.
[A quote from one of my favourite books, Anne of the Island, by LM Montgomery.]
Today is International Women’s Day.
Today we finally have a Bill which proposes to repeal the eighth amendment.
Today I really started to hope this will happen.
Today felt like progress.
Today has been a long time coming.
Tomorrow the debate in Parliament will begin.
I am looking forward to a tomorrow when these kinds of posts will be obsolete.
There’s very few ways in which Dolly Parton isn’t 100% amazing, including her book distribution programme. As a lover of books for my entire life, this is something I think is possibly even better than Jolene.
The story is right here and like many other things she’s done it is inspirational. Thinking about all the books she’s sent and all the lives she’s changed while I’ve whiled away another snow day reading childhood favourites and napping makes me feel particularly lazy.
Anyway, as one of the books I’ve reread says tomorrow is another day and another chance for some Dolly type self improvement.
The beast from the east is en route. Work is cancelled. Going outside the house is cancelled as of now. Thankfully we braved the cold for a bracing work this morning. I’m currently feeling very grateful for electricity, internet access, a working heating system and a list of jobs. We’ve decluttered one room and have more jobs for tomorrow, as there’s not a whole lot else we can do.
Fighting the clutter is a constant battle. Another box of stuff which once seemed important is destined for people who might appreciate it more than we do. It’s kind of nice to have a day where you have to stay inside and you’ve time to think about and do things you’ve had on the long finger.
Tomorrow, my books will get a going over, prompted by the discovery of a library book I renewed because I couldn’t find it the last time I went to the local library. I’ve books to finish and old favourites to revisit. I just hope the heating holds out.