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Sunday, December 6, 2009

A huge thanks

I'd just like to say the most massive thanks ever to all the nice people who have complimented me on the columns (all in the past week - very odd). I really appreciate everyone's feedback. It's nice to know that there are people out there reading it. I've disabled comments for obvious spamming reasons but if anyone want to get in contact or give Graduate feedback you can get in touch via the Cork Independent website here or email my own sweet self at sarah.a.waldron(at)gmail.com.

No (wo)man is an island

If no man is an island then I am most definitely a peninsula. I like to think that I am a law unto myself, but then the flood tides rise and I whine about a lack of resources while the waters swirl insidiously above my neck. Nothing has taught me this in such a hard hitting fashion as a trip back to the hometown. Due to the lack of drinking water I followed the example of the ultimate recessionistas (college students) and found myself on a bus headed straight for the land of milk and honey. It had been a few months since I had returned home. Surely I would get off the bus and be welcomed back in the manner of the prodigal son, with concubines and a banquet and gold galore?
I alighted the bus on a freezing Friday evening, whith the sun setting in a huge red blaze behind me and nary a parent to be seen. I'm used to my mother waiting for me by the family sedan with a friendly smile and an intricately planned menu for the days ahead. Instead I faced an icy trudge home solo.
I navigated my way across a busy main road, an essential shortcut to the homestead, and hoped that someone would be at home since I had foolishly left my keys at a house party the previous day. No such luck. The house looked intimidatingly empty.
I was stranded in my own hometown. I was an island - and I hated it. My parents had forgotten about me. I have never felt so utterly isolated in my entire life.
Stuck on the frozen granite step outside my house, I couldn't help but think that this was all my fault. Only I could lose my keys in a regrettable blackjack game. Only I could come home at the drop of a hat and still expect a degree of fanfare akin to a biblical parable and only I could sit on the ground, cold seeping into my behind, and think about what a sorry sight I made while waiting for my mother to get home from work.
My mother came home after a half hour. With frostbite setting into my posterior, I toddled inside and waited for her to light the fire. She told me to sit down and passed me a cup of piping hot, sugary tea. I was no longer an island. My mother had made the connection to dry land, and I was all the better for it.

Little girl in a big city

For many people teetering back and forth over the poverty line like a tightrope artist attempting to cross the Hoover Dam, all it takes is a little push to land face first in some very deep water. In the case of many of my fellow Corkonian recessionistas, our Hoover Dam is a similarly large body of water seeping into our houses and cars, but unfortunately not out of our taps.
Never before has the phrase 'water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink' had quite as much personal resonance as it has over the past week.

One friend has seen his car swept away by a deluge on Western Road. Many more are facing tough decisions on what to do with the little remaining water they have. A pattern emerges. Men pour little reserves into toilet cisterns for admirably practical reasons. Women use their kettle dregs to wash their hair - a no less practical use.

One of the toughest things about being the proverbial little girl in the big city is the sense of helplessness that can attack like an unfriendly doberman pinscher at the most inconvenient of moments. I was reminded of this unfortunate fact of life this week. My house has no water and it is structured as such that I also cannot put on the the heating. I'm freezing, I'm thirsty and I'm very, very dirty. I can avail of the free water at various points dotted around the city, but the only available transport I can think of has yet to recover from it's brisk dip in the Lee. Coming home from a heavily subsidised session at the local pub, I was beset with a particularly distressing dilemma. Should I drink my last pint of water to avoid the fast approaching hangover, or should I use it to prevent five days of continuous make up application from setting on my face like a crumbling Renaissance fresco? I awoke the next day wish a sparkling clean visage and a tongue that had apparently been replaced with a damp sheepskin rug in the middle of the night. Milk can be such a poor substitute. In retrospect I should have done a Cleopatra instead and hydrated myself properly while bathing in the milk. I always thought that I had a problem with money running through my fingers. Now it's just an effort to get water to run through them.