So I took a break to have a sandwich and suddenly it’s two and a half years later...*ahem*...sorry folks. But in my defence, I have been busy. Ok, that’s a crap excuse. I’ll flog myself later but first let me catch y’all up (I’m in one of those moods where I speak only in my “southern belle” accent, I would therefore appreciate it if you could, in your head, read this entry as if you were born and bred slightly west of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Damn, I’m starting to sound Welsh again, this always happens eventually).
So, quick update on what I have been doing between 10 December 2015 and today.
1. I did make a lot of sandwiches, that was no word of a lie.
2. I bought a house. Irish people are very into home ownership. I think it may surpass both the weather, and sliced pan as far as national fixations go. I may have gotten married and had children (yes, I know the order is wrong) but home ownership is like hardcore adulting. I am definitely a grown-up now...maybe I have to stop wearing the green crocs first, but I am very close to full-scale maturity.
I should say that ‘we’ bought a house. I could never buy a house on my own. Firstly, I couldn’t afford to buy anything more than a well-appointed garden shed on my single salary. Secondly, and equally important, I needed Mr Oh to do the actual house buying which appeared to be inordinately complicated and time-consuming (and mostly dull). Mr Oh had a long list of criteria that he was looking for in a home so it seemed logical that he would take the lead. He wanted four bedrooms, a moderately proportioned garden, an easy commute to work, local amenities etc. I just wanted a roof, walls, enough garden space to grow a small fairy village, and to sleep no more than 300 paces from the sea.
The only problem we had with the house buying plan other than budget, Mr Oh’s unreasonable and lengthy list of criteria, and the severe lack of housing stock in Ireland is the small issue of the fact that we were not actually in Ireland. We were in China, where the internet has to creep through a gazillion firewalls to eventually flop lazily into your computer and then wants to take a nap before you try to do anything else with it. Thankfully, houses are not bought over the internet on the basis of fastest fingers. Mr Oh spent months scouring the property sites looking for suitable homes. There wasn’t much out there. Occasionally, we found something we liked - sent out some obliging parental scouts to assess the properties - and, once, we got caught up in a bidding war by email which was great fun. It mostly consisted of me sitting in my pyjamas in Shanghai drinking wine and shouting “ten more grand” at Mr Oh, who thankfully had more sense than to treat the bidding process like a souped up episode of The Antiques Roadshow. It was a relief when, after a protracted process of submitting increasingly unjustifiable offers on this particular house, we were finally outbid (I must have run out of wine and gone to bed). Sometimes we drive by the house that we lost and I am hit by a (small) wave of guilt that the current owners and winners of the bidding battle, paid a lot more for their house than they would have if we had just gone out for dumplings that night.
Eventually, and just when I was starting to think we would never find the right house - we did. It has four bedrooms and a moderately sized garden. It is accessible by public transport. There is a fairy garden. And it is no more than 300 paces from the sea.
Yesterday Snugglepunk, who is now almost four and really living up to the ‘punk’ part of his name, used the horn of his toy rhino to gouge out several pieces of plaster from the landing wall. Where once I would have been consumed by fear for ‘the deposit’ and the almost certain loss of the deposit that seems to follow when one has small, destructive, selectively deaf children...on this occasion, because it’s our own house, I just shrugged, smiled benignly and threw the rhino out the window.
3. We left Shanghai and moved back to Ireland. A lot of things went into boxes. They then went on a ship and about six months later they came out of boxes. Mr Oh still thinks I own too much stuff but I have whittled down my possessions to such an extent that the only two items of frivolity that I insist on hauling around the world with me are a pair of small clay elephants and a ceramic pot filled with tiny flag-shaped badges from different countries. He will someday admit that, while we do seem to have a lot of stuff, most of it, while not exactly his, is used to house, clothe and maintain humans that he created. Minimalism is for people who don’t have children.
4. I went back to work. After four years of not working outside the home (and not really working that much inside it either because the ayi did that), this was a bit daunting. On my return I discovered that, in my absence, the entire office had been updated to a new version of Windows so I spent most of the first month trying to figure out how to attach files to emails and wistfully wondering if my children were thinking of me as they toddled around their creche. They weren’t.
5. I made a new person. It would be pretty uncool if I just announced his arrival into the world with fewer characters than I dedicated to describing the attempted suicide of our pet goldfish so I will postpone his formal introduction until the next entry.
So, there you have it. House - country - job - human - sandwiches. That stuff takes 2.5 years.
I am vexed. The flies fly into the house. They congregate in the centre of rooms and fly in small circles for hours on end. There are dozens of them. They give the living room the air of slaughter-house - it’s not a good vibe. I can’t figure out why they fly in circles under the lights…the lights are not on. They don’t really fly anywhere else. Sometimes perhaps in small circles around the pineapple, but mostly it’s in the centre of the room under the light.
I have spent hours trawling the internet looking for an answer to this question. If Yahoo Answers is anything to go by, it seems that I am not the first person to wonder why flies fly in circles in the centre of rooms. I wonder what was wrong with those other people? At least I have an excuse - I’m pregnant, housebound and my world is about to be irrevocably altered. It is therefore natural (and acceptable) for me to flail in a puddle of inane and pointless thought. The other people who think about the flight path of flies are, however, I suspect, insane.
Despite my level of research, I have not come across a conclusive answer to my question. Suggested explanations vary:
I’m finding it harder to write my blog. Not because I’ve lost interest in it or because I don’t have the time - it’s just that I don’t have very much to write about. I’ve written about back pain, bloating, hormones, cereal, milk and Percy Pigs. Really, what more is there? I can no longer tie my own shoelaces. Is this newsworthy?
New things don’t really happen to me from one day to the next at the moment. I am essentially immobile. Mr Oh drives me in and out of work. Going across the road at lunchtime to get a sandwich makes me so tired I have to nap under my desk afterwards. My colleagues have taken to waddling down the corridors after me in mock baby penguin formation and I am told ‘You’re enormous’ at least once a day (Really? Am I? Compared to what - a baby elephant?....a sumo wrestler?... or just a woman who is not 33 weeks pregnant??).
This week I was sitting in a meeting beside a middle-aged man I had never met before whose first words to me were ‘You must be overdue. When were you due?’. I assured him that if I were overdue I would be at home munching on raw chillies and pineapple and not sitting beside him contemplating the outline of a strategy paper that would be written, discussed, commended and then promptly forgotten about until it was decided in five years time that we need a strategy paper at which point the entire process would begin again like an incredibly boring re-run of Groundhog Day. Such is the perpetual cycle of public sector strategising. I actually didn’t say any of those things to him. I just gave him a weak smile and said “I’m not due for another seven weeks”. Had he known me better, I’m sure he would have told me that I was enormous. Had I known him better, I would then have growled at him.
Despite the tone of the paragraph above (and maybe the one above that as well), I’m not actually grumpy. Although I am in a state of deep discomfort on account of the kung-fu water balloon compressing my internal organs, I’m pretty zen and relaxed. Mr Oh pointed out that I’m the first person he’s known who is literally engaged in naval-gazing for much of the day. I like to sit on the sofa and watch my bump move around. Little limbs push out here and there and slide under the skin like the sandworms from Dune. I play the baby music and talk to it about important things like sandwiches and celebrities. I’m also watching my bellybutton slowly disappear - I reckon it’s just about ready to pop out (too much information?)
I wonder if the baby knows that there’s a world out here. The only world it knows is inside me. It probably thinks I’m its god. Or maybe it thinks I’m its captor - it feels like it’s trying to get out sometimes. I think it likes me in general, I feed it custard on demand.
People say nice things to you when you’re pregnant too. The man in Cafe Sol told me - after he’d seen me leave the back of the queue one day because the wait was too long - that I didn’t have to queue for my maple pecan pastry in the morning - that I could just walk right up to the till because I have priority. The man giving out the free Metro paper on the corner presses the pedestrian button when he sees me coming so that the lights change on time for me (at least, I think that’s why he does it but it never works). A junkie shooting up outside my local Tesco asked me if I was having a boy or a girl. Taxi drivers give me blow by blow accounts of their wives 6-day labours. My favourite comment (although not pregnancy related) came from an elderly British gentleman I was speaking to at a lunchtime business reception last week. I was standing with a glass of sparkling water and when a photographer came over to take our picture, the man said ‘Lower your glass, dear, or people will think you’re a lush’. I thought this was hilarious, particularly as he was completely serious (I did lower my glass though).
So besides work and home, the only places I go at the moment are Tesco, yoga and Eurobaby on the Long Mile Road (had never been to the Long Mile Road before - very disappointed - expected it to be like the Vegas Strip but turns out just to be an industrial estate with a roller disco). Babies, it turns out, need a lot of stuff. We’ve put the bed against the wall in the spare room to make way for all the stuff. Baby now officially has more possessions than Mr Oh. Baby’s possessions though are generally smaller than Mr Oh’s, but not that much smaller because, as you will recall, I’m enormous.