Monday, February 21, 2011

When is middle aged?

I wrote a letter today to a supermarket’s Customer Service department complaining that they had no weighing scales in their Fruit & Veg section, leaving me having to guess what 1kg of tomatoes looked like. Granted it was more the attitude of the staff member at the so-called Customer Service desk that pushed me into writing, but still it made me think. I’m old enough (and grumpy enough) to feel the need to write a letter to complain, yet young enough not to know what 1kg of tomatoes looks like. 

I’m somewhere between going out wearing uncomfortable, but gorgeous, high heels on nights out that involve drinking, dancing, shouting over the music till my throat hurts and coming home to the dawn chorus and whatever the future holds for me. Flatter shoes, earlier nights, less drinking, still dancing.

I still have to ring my Mum to ask if 25g of caster sugar is the same as 25g of sugar. It is. I still have to ask a friend if eggshells go in the brown bin. They do. 

I forget to leave the bins out. I don’t iron my sheets.

I manage a house, a home. I pay my bills on time. I cook. I clean. I go to work. 
 
I have meetings with other adults, say things that sound grown up and make sense. 
 
I come home, put on my purple fluffy dressing gown and watch Gilmore Girls. 
 
I try to eat well, cook real food, read labels and get my five-a-day.
 
I love crème eggs and crisp sandwiches.
 
Each turning point in our lives, which seem to come at intervals of about ten years, makes us feel we are in the middle. On the brink of one stage of life and another, ticking off the things on one list and forming a new one. 

0-10: True childhood. The only decisions you might hope to make are what to wear, what game to play, what book to read or what vegetables to fight over. Your whole life ahead, but someone else is still the boss of you.

10-20: Treated like a child, feeling like an adult. Pre-teen, post-primary, pre-post puberty. Leaving school, starting school. English, Irish, Maths, History, Geography, French, German, Business Studies, Science. Leaving school, starting college. Hormones, clothes, music, boys, girls, friends. Everything changing, it’s a wonder you don’t explode!

20-30: Starting off. Ready, steady, go. Leaving college, starting work. Paying rent, paying taxes. Hook ups and break ups. Travelling, changing jobs, changing hair, losing hair, spending money, saving money.

30-40: Who knows? I'm only starting. I feel in the middle again, still dipping into the past but looking forward to the future. I know what to expect, and know that what you expect isn't necessarily what you get. 

Maybe we're always middle aged? Or at least once every ten years.  

Oh and I was making soup, if you hadn't guessed.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Take my eyes..

I’ve always carried an organ donor card. I’ve always told my parents my wishes, worried that I’d go to waste.

My father would wince, thinking of what would have to happen for me to give life. My mother would wince, thinking of her daughter’s eyes. 

When I was little I would go with my father to Pelican House and watch proudly, and fascinated, as he gave blood. He couldn’t watch as they put in the needle, nor as it drew blood, but he did it regularly for as long as he could. 

I remember getting ‘the owner is a donor’ pencils and ‘drive carefully, you might need me, I’m a blood donor’ car stickers. Back when I still used pencils every day and couldn’t wait to get a car just to stick up those words.

I remember working out how long it would take me to get to 20, 50, 100 donations if I started on my 18th birthday and gave every 90 days. I was much better at mental arithmetic then.

I've since started to give blood, moved on to platelets, took a break, went back to full blood, took another break and went back again. 

The first break was because I was tired. The second break was because I was stupid. I'm not on target, but I'm nearing 30 donations now, aged 31. 

I was horrified to read this Irish Times article on This Limbo  to learn that there had been a 35% decrease in organ donations last year for no good reason at all. 

Good kidneys, strong hearts, powerful lungs, lost. 

The opportunity to live a better life, a longer life, a life, gone.

A tragedy to bring hope. Two phone calls, one the worst news, the other the best. 

I struggled for years over whether or not to tick the box to donate my eyes, but not now. To give someone sight, I can't find words.

I had the conversation with my parents again this week and said if the worst happens make sure they take everything. My Dad said he'd have my wallet.

His attitude has changed over the years, I hope that the HSE and incoming government follow suit.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Spring, forward.

At precisely two o’clock today I realised it was Spring. Ok so it did make my brain wobble a little and think it was March for a second, but still.

I love Spring. I think it might be my favourite season, but then I change my mind every three months or so. What I love about it is that it’s kind of like summer, without the expectation and possible disappointment. 

We have an amazing capacity to completely forget what the weather is like from one year to the next in this country. We are often shocked and horrified at all forms of weather, even rain and especially snow. 

I love how in spring the sun starts to shine, just a little bit, and makes me think that it will be a lovely summer this year. My mind turns to holidays, long evenings, lunch in the park, beer gardens, ice cream and sun cream.

To me it doesn't really matter how the summer turns out, the promise of it is more exciting than the reality. I try to remember the good days and forget the bad, cramming the sunny memories in tight.

Most of all, I can’t wait for that first venture out of the house without a jacket or coat. The freedom, grey wool cast aside for a few months (or even weeks). Leaving a fiver in the pocket to be found in late September.

What sunshine and adventures does this summer hold? No idea, but as I spend my working hours looking out at the sunshine I drift off into the possibility of it.