You’ve gotten snippets here and there about where I am and what I do; but ask yourself, what do you really know? I’ve given you a nut here and there but has any of it really stuck together? Too stretch the analogy to it’s absolute limit I’ve bolted from my bolts! Oh dear! However, on this happy day, I shall be working on a kaleidoscope of Belfast.
The first color I notice here in West Belfast is red. Not necessarily a happy red, but a repetitive red of countless winding rows of brick townhouses. In a loyalist area you’d see Union Jacks all over and a different sort of mural. In a Catholic area there are these little house numbers that just look Gaelic. Some little number making shop has quite a monopoly because they all look the same. Next I see loads and loads of children. Kids from about age 8ish (as far as I can tell!) basically roam about. During the evenings if we go down a certain side of our mountain we see fleets of kids just roaming about. Sometimes they’ve got rocks in their hands –pelting the police is all the rage here, other times they’ve got cell phones and sweeties (N. Irish for candy!)). Also, I notice haggard mummies. They push their prams around with a sort of careworn resolve. In Tesco, the grocery store, I can sometimes sense their exhaustion and their munchkins’ nervous energy. Shoot, I’d be tired too if I had 4-5 kids by my age—which wouldn’t be uncommon here!
I’ve asked several of my co-workers what is the deal here with women…why in Europe where all we hear about is extinction Belfast seems to be teeming with wee ones? I did a bit of research, and from 2002-2009 N. Ireland’s birthrate was booming. 2010 so far is about 3% under past recorded live births (for more info: http://www.northernireland.gov.uk/news/news-dfp/news-dfp-march-2010/news-dfp-18032010-statistical-news-release.htm). What I have learned so far is that women, particularly in the poorer areas, simply get disillusioned and lonely. They feel like if they have a baby they’ll not only gain something to love, but that they’ll also get all the attention that comes with pregnancy. Once they have the baby they may not finish school, so they begin receiving government support. Maybe it works out with the guy, or maybe it doesn’t, so they move on and maybe have another kid and so on and on and on. Fast forward, and they are under thirty and pretty much cemented in the social stratosphere. Working would give them less money than receiving government support, plus they wouldn’t have as much time to spend with their children. Sadly, all to often this cycle just continues.
On another note, third time was the charm! Reid and I successfully made baked sweet potato fries! I was nervous that they might be over salty (attempt 1), or scorched (attempt 2), but they were PERFECT! Seriously, make these (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/baked-sweet-potato-fries-recipe/index.html) –it’s Paula with no butter?!?! Genius.
Oh, Reid and I also signed up for an Irish Theatre and Culture class at Queen’s! I guess I just can’t get enough school? I was really hoping to take a creative writing or oil painting class but they were full or at bad times. I’m excited though! Reid is thrilled because we all know how much he likes his Irish playwrights.
Ok, that’s all folks. I’m off to watch the Garfield and Friends Monday episode to remind myself why this bland day of the week exists!