Thursday 13 September 2012

Emer's Poem; Sit Here

Some 30 years ago, this month, I met my best friend. This is her poem; I would like to assure her it's not written solely to embarrass her, although I will get a laugh out of that I admit. It's written because it's been thirty years in the writing, in pubs and clubs, over coffee and in hospital rooms, and once upon a time, in a school room in a convent on the Crumlin Road.This is one of those poems, that had to be written and that were in a sense always written.
After thirty years our lives have coincided again; we have always been there but at times our experiences have been out of sync. One married while the other was single, one away or at home, happy or sad; now the stars align once more and we share a certain common ground, marriage and motherhood. I don't know what has been sweeter in 30 years, the times when we were apart but still holding on or now that we are older, wiser, calmer, and more on the same path. Both times have their joys.
This is for you Emer, from the heart. From all us oddballs.

Sit here

I heard on the news, those dreaded words of childhood
“Back to school,” the death knell of summer, the last nail
in the coffin for the halcyon freedoms of our youth;
I heard it and thought, it’s September – remember! remember
when that meant schoolbags and books and copies and pencils
and suddenly thought, how long have I known her?
 How many years? How many seasons, since that first Autumn,
how many days, since that first day of a new school year?

I walked in, my usual self; constrained by my lumpiness and
dumpiness. I walked in and paused. My usual tactic was to
see where there might be a seat – unobtrusive, unwanted, unlikely
to offend anyone else. Perhaps on the edge of a group, that way I could
occasionally, if the omens were good, turn and talk or share a joke –
as long I didn’t push my luck. I couldn’t see a seat.
I saw her. She smiled and pointed to the seat in front. She had already
found a niche, made a friend, settled in. She pointed to a seat and then to me.

I don’t remember sitting down. I don’t remember the first halting chat.
I remember laughing. If I had to sum up the next thirty years, my friend,
her spirit, I would say…I remember laughing. There’s no end to her laughter,
her good nature. She is kind. Everyone who meets her, says that. She is kind.
She has a knack with us oddballs, she is Mamma to us all. She has a way of
making you feel as if you belong. She has made me feel that for thirty years,
while I did my best to cast myself adrift, while I spun aimlessly out of orbit.
I never knew until I returned, she held a thread and refused to let it go.

I know as she reads this she will – blush, shake her head, laugh at me (gently)
I know she will be pleased, and she will be perplexed. I imagine her shrugging
off compliments, with a certain giggle and a wave of her hand – ah go on!
But we, we who know her value, we must drag her back up to her pedestal
and bribe her up there with yellow rice and wine. We need her, her calm hand upon
the helm; her eyebrow raised. She is our fixed compass, our northern star.
She is my memory and my youth. She is one of the moments on which my life turned.
She is still that girl, the one who points and says, “Sit here.”


Tuesday 4 September 2012

The Average House

I wrote this today inspired by a thread on a website celebrating the normal. average, chaotic household.

My abdomen is flabby but my clothes have got the rips
my garden is just perfect, compared to Dublin's tips
my house is like a museam, well it's got a lot of dust
And in any tour of horror sites, our bathroom is a must
Visitors must take their chance, and sit where e'er they can
We're not sure what we'll feed you, if it's easy I'm a fan
There's laundry in the kitchen, the remote is in the sink
the dog was febreezed last night to take away the stink
I hope you'll sit and stay a while, for our philosophy
is put people before housework, and make us all happy.
Geraldine Moorkens Byrne


Saturday 1 September 2012

Get angry about Facebook Bullying; before it's too late

If you read nothing else today, read this excellent blog Her Crazy World:Facebook bullying, the new normal?

It's about a repulsive page that is filled with hateful graphics, many of an overt sexual nature, featuring a 5 year old child called Adalia Rose who suffers from Progeria. The teens responsible for this piece of obscenity claim they did it because Adalia Rose was being "exploited" - although to date they can't explain how comments exhorting her to "just die already" and pictures showing her mouth with the caption "place your penis here" address exploitation of a five year old or are in any way justifiable. Interestingly when some wags created pages aimed at lampooning the main offender, a teen called Bree, she posted in high dudgeon that she was "appalled" and that she should be left alone as she was only 15. It seems being 15 confers some immunity to criticism denied to those who are say, 5 years of age and afflicted with a horrible disease.

By the time of writing, it's possible the page in question has been taken down. Hopefully. However the issue is still hugely important. These teens, filled with hate and a warped sense of entitlement , and no sense of perspective, caused immense hurt to a child and her family. They did so for weeks and months thanks to Facebook's inertia and apathy. I personally know that hundreds of women reported the page. I reported the page. Despite links to photos and graphics and comments that undeniably flouted Facebook's own rules, we all received the same "We can't see anything wrong with it" email. One person was banned from FB for 24 hours for reporting the page too often; FB deemed her a spammer. The pages that lampooned the troll pack of teens responsible were taken down in a day. The Adalia Rose Memes page stayed put.

Facebook has a case to answer here. Please help make sure they do answer it. These teens periodically take down the page when the going gets too hot for them, then put it back up, thinking they will thwart any inquiry. Check regularly to make sure it's not there and if it is, report it. Then report it again. Then ask everyone you ever met in your life to report it.
And when you get the PFO email from FB, take their survey and tell them how they're doing.