Wednesday, February 29, 2012

I do! Don't I?

It's February 29th. Apparently I'm supposed to propose to himself today because he hasn't gotten round to it yet. He hasn't gotten round to doing the garden either but I'm fecked if I'm going to do that for him too!

Twitter this morning was swamped with pseudo-feminist tweets about how it's disgraceful in this day and age that we are discussing this whole women proposing to men leap year charade and women should be allowed to propose whenever they like. Now last I checked they were ACTUALLY allowed to propose however, wherever, whenever and to whomever they liked but it appears these grumpy tweeters have their knickers in a knot over the fact that the tradition still exists. I'm still of the opinion that it's "feminists" like that who give the rest of us a bad name. What's wrong with the tradition? It's not doing anyone any harm as far as I can tell and there is a certain sweetness to the whole thing. If you're into that sort of thing.

I'm not.

It's not for me. Not just the whole Feb 29th but proposing in general. Not a snowballs chance in hell I'd propose to himself, ever. I don't buy into the whole fairytale, Prince Charming, big white church wedding milarky but I still want to be swept off my feet. What IS the point in having cake if you can't eat it?

Now don't get me wrong, I do want to marry him and he's under no illusions as to the fact that he had better produce a ring at some stage (our daughter is about to turn 3). Though I can understand any hesitation on that part because if he picks out one that I don't like or worse is just truly shockingly awful then not only will there be no engagement but I might just have to leave him forever for demonstrating how little he actually knows me. That would devastate us both I'm sure. I've also found I have some pretty strong views on how I would like it to go down or more to that point how it SHOULDN'T go down.

They are as follows:
He cannot propose for Valentine's Day, My Birthday, Mother's Day, Our Anniversary or Christmas. There's just something about a proposal at a time when you normally receive gifts that seems to scream "I'd no idea what to get you so..." See, I'm clearly a hopeless romantic. My sickly sweet sentiments don't stop there. Another reason to not link a proposal to a life event is if the relationship goes belly-up I don't want to be reminded of that every year. Like a couple I know who had a Jeremy Kyle-style break-up and divorce who also had made the unfortunate decision to get married on her Birthday. Keep them separate people, neat and tidy. I also think that you shouldn't propose in and around other people's big life events. You don't want to take away from best friend's wedding, baby, new job, or indeed someone elses engagement by having your own newer news. It's from the same set of unwritten rules that says you don't steal baby names. It's just rude.

The ring (which if you're reading this Liam needs to be size: i1/2 - j) can't be yellow gold. I'm exceptionally pale and yellow gold makes me look like I'm terminal. I'd like the diamond itself to be man-made, manufactured, grown in a lab. I don't want to look down at it and every time wonder if someone somewhere in some god-forsaken country suffered or died for my pretty piece of bling. After that I'm pretty easy.
Once you get through all my terms and conditions, remembering of course to ask the bill payers permission first, I reckon I'd be pretty easy to propose to with just a little bit of military precision.

If he ever does get round to it, I'll let you know.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Job Wanted

Job seeking. Job hunting. C.V.s. Cover Letters. Skillsets. LinkedIn. #jobfairy. The "hidden" jobs market.

It's just as well I'm unemployed because honestly it's turned into a full-time job in itself. When I was younger I wanted to be many things; a pilot, a marine biologist, an actress, a teacher. It was the last one that led me to science in UCD. I slogged away for years working towards a joint honours degree in molecular genetics and biochemistry, even managing to take time out for some kidney failure and surgery in my final year. I graduated in 2008 and landed a great lab job with my thesis supervisor.

I didn't know it yet but looking back now it's clear that something was missing.

I enjoyed the people I worked with, the work wasn't difficult and I was quite happily working 8am - 8pm Monday to Friday. I'd a second part-time job too and most weekends found me starting in the lab then heading off to the second gig before coming back to do more lab work. If there hadn't been a dramatic change in my personal circumstances I'd probably have continued on that way.

It was early 2009 whilst pregnant that I became violently ill. We almost lost our daughter who was delivered 14 weeks early. In a split second all priorities had changed. If I was going to leave the house to go to work and be away from her I had to make damn sure that whatever I was leaving the house for was worth it. Only being mother to one I'm not sure if this change in attitude was brought about by the simple act of becoming a mum or if the soap opera-type circumstances under which she arrived were the cause. All I knew was I couldn't go back.

As luck would have it whilst on maternity leave the funding for my research group wasn't renewed and I found myself not having to personally make the decision to look elsewhere. My luck then continued and I landed a wonderful theatre gig; working evenings which slotted perfectly in with my partners job where he works mornings. The lab seemed so very far away. I met some incredible people and realised that, much as I enjoyed my time in the lab, it wasn't really for me. I'd found myself surrounded by creative, vibrant and interesting people. No two days were ever the same, even though the work was. I'd had a taste of life without the lab coat and I liked it.

Possibly one of the hardest decisions I've ever made though was to turn my back on science. After all I'd devoted 7 years to it and it had come to define me. When your entire life revolves around one thing it can be very hard to take that step back and try and picture your life any differently. It was like a very messy relationship break-up. Then there's the justification that everyone else seemed to need. Why would I spend all that time if I wasn't really that into it? Why did I waste my parents' hard earned cash to pay for college to study something I didn't like? The concept that I had managed to fall-out of love with science seemed alien to those who'd all ended up with careers in industries they'd studied for. There's also the fact that having devoted so much time to a specific area you can end up feeling like there's nothing else you can do, not only just in terms of experience but there were times when I felt like I literally wasn't good enough to do anything else. Dark times which generally led to sofa dates with Ben & Jerry.

In September 2011 I met a wonderful woman by the name of Edel, a career guidance counsellor. Without wanting to sound too dramatic I can honestly say meeting her changed my life. For the first time I began to look at myself in terms of employment through someone elses eyes. Through her eyes. She helped me put the final nail in the coffin of my science career and inspired me to look to more creative areas where I was much more suited.

It's not been easy. Since November I've been constantly searching for the position that's just for me. A place where I'll be both valuable and valued. I'm looking for an organisation that is efficient, useful and engaging. Where, even at entry level, I'll have the opportunity to sound out new ideas and get involved in exciting projects. I'm busy building up my own personal brand and every day I'm on the hunt.

It's ironic that this year, 2012, the year when Dublin is the City of Science, I'm hoping to lay the lab to rest once and for all and embrace the new creative working-me!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Ni thuigim an ceist.

Why we are striving to be a bilingual family.

Today we received the wonderful news that madam has a place in the local Naionra come September. For anyone not familiar with the Naionra it's a playgroup for children run entirely through the medium of Irish. Here's a link to their website:

I've always lamented my lack of Irish and I feel sorry for us as a nation that our national language is not actually our national language. I've even gone so far at times to suggest that all primary schools be Gaelscoils but that's a debate for another day.

As well as not having a fantastic grasp of Irish I also regret my lack of any other language. My French (which I studied for 6 years) is basic at best yet is infinitely better than my Irish (which I studied for 14 years). This got me thinking about how Irish is taught and learned in schools. The only Irish learning image I can conjure up from my school days is of my burly 6th class teacher screaming "Bhí, ni raibh" over and over whilst banging her fist on the blackboard. Attitudes to Irish in the classroom can be rather negative and kids aren't inspired to learn the language.

I come from an English speaking family. Primary school and Irish lessons were my first introduction to "foreign" languages. My experience of Irish wasn't great and lead me to mistakenly believe I wasn't good at languages in general. This thought followed me throughout my entire school career and left me feeling defeated before I even started.

What if my experience of learning Irish had been better? Would that have made a difference when I later tried my hand at French, German and Spanish?

What if I could make sure my daughter's experience of learning Irish was better than mine? If I could giver her a head start perhaps, unlike me, she wouldn't struggle to learn the language. Surely a positive experience learning her first new language would put her in a better position for learning other modern languages and, in turn, further her prospects.

So we made the decision to incorporate Irish into our lives. Neither of us is fluent so most full sentences elude us. We have found however that even simple word swaps have had a huge impact. Sofa is now tolg, up is suas and so on. The purchase of "Gaschaint" and the gift of a Babog Bear ( have been a massive help.
Our daughter, who is not yet three, can count to 20 in English, Irish and Spanish; sometimes switching fluidly between the 3. She also knows her colours in all 3, shapes in the first 2 and lots of other random words and phrases.

We've already seen the benefits of teaching her from an early age that there are many ways to say the same thing and I'd recommend it to any parent. I'm sure the day will come when her Irish will be better than mine and I won't know she's giving out about me to her friends but I guess it will still be a proud moment. She'll still be grounded though.