Family Life Personal

We’re Just Normal People Living In Abnormal Times

These strange lockdown times no longer feel strange. Maybe that's the strangest thing of all

So, what day of the lockdown is this … the zillionthy-third, is it?

Living in these strange times that don’t feel strange anymore.

Maybe that’s the strangest thing of all.

I’m kind of into the rhythm of it now, though.

Or maybe I’ve just found my own.

Sure, it’s been tough not meeting up with some people, but it’s also been great not having to encounter others!

I’m always first up in our house, to take out the dogs, mostly, but I also like getting weekday breakfast sorted for my showering wife, who is an essential worker.

I wish she could be around during the week, as it all just works better when she’s here. For me anyway, and I know my teenage daughter just breathes easier.

The weekends have been great, though, and our breakfasts then, especially,  have turned into mini-banquets.

Like most people, I check the weather first … knuckling back two shutter lats to scrutinise the sky … and am notably lifted by an unclouded sky, or if the sun is occluded by sulky nimbus rainclouds, I too am overcast as I go to sling the coffee beans into the DeLonghi.

cof
Lily Pondering Life, Or Watching A Fly

How many ways do I love our dogs, the excitable and mood-lifting Lily of the big brown eyes that can lock as soulfully on my own as on a passing fly, and the haughty greying lemon that is Bella, as whimsical and elegant as a cat!

There’s nothing and everything to do, and time uncreases itself and spreads out evenly across each given day, until night-time finally says ‘no more of this’, and it is time for sleep.

Netflix has been brilliant — that Michael Jordan The Last Dance thing is only stunning, and I’m loving Normal People on TV.

Bella The Grey
Bella The Grey Hound

I read Sally Rooney’s book, and while I could get some of the criticisms of its minimalistic approach, I found myself caring so much about Marianne and Connell.

What more can you ask of a writer and their protagonists?

Lenny Abrahamson’s TV adaption has a similar uncluttered, thinly-plotted feel, but oh, so much depth and truth in the emotional detail.

Paul Mescal as Connell, and Daisy Edgar-Jones as Marianne are beyond perfect.

You just want this mesmerisingly ordinary pair to be together. Like forever.

But a special word for Edgar-Jones. Yes, those soulful, brimming brown eyes have it, and more …

ginger-rogers-and-fred-astaire-ginger-rogers-14574694-1200-926 (1)
The First Dance …

But I’m reminded of that old saw about Ginger Rodgers dancing with Fred Astaire, and Fred getting most of the kudos for his hoofing, even as Rodgers did everything he did, only backwards and wearing heels.

Well, Ms Daisy has to do all her acting and luminous projecting with the most credible of Irish accents, and she’s English!

But, most of all, and best of all, I’m really delighted with the amount of reading I’ve been doing.

The last dance
… The Last Dance

I finished that Bill Bryson tome I wrote about recently — it was only lying there for, what, maybe 15 years! —  and have started his autobiographical The Life And Times Of The Thunderbolt Kid, but I have also just read Anne Tyler’s Redhead By The Side Of The Road, her latest peach of a novel.

Talk about normal people, and finding the quiet grandeur in their hidden depths, is there anyone better at capturing those than Tyler?

anne tyler_redhead by the side of the road 005
Anne Tyler and her latest quiet masterpiece

I’ve been a fan since reading The Accidental Tourist — a cinema hit, of course, when adapted, with Gina Davis and William Hurt — and this one didn’t disappoint.

I won’t give anything away, except to say it’s the story of 43-year-old computer repair guy Micah Mortimer, aka Tech Hermit, fastidious, decent, but removed, and the unexpected encounter that unleashes quiet shockwaves of regret and unfulfilled dreams that ripple through his stolid world, to challenge and confound him.

All I know is, I crossed my arms and hugged it to close to my chest when I finished it, a salty something catching in my eye …

Yes, most of us live in a little big world — I do anyway — which challenges and confounds.

Like dealing with two teenagers in the house … we get on by me mostly staying out of their way … ready to interact when they want to. Intervening only when I feel I have to.

Dad the Consultant …

I was thinking about this the other day when a postcard arrived for O from his form teacher … referring to the good schoolwork he has been doing, and telling him to give one last push before the holidays, and good luck!

How nice, I said to him when he came down to the kitchen after getting up.

‘It’s nice and all, like, but a text or something would have been fine …’ he said, in his wonderfully droll (sweetly unknown to himself) way.

‘Really? … I thought it was very sweet; she didn’t have to send those out to you guys …’

‘It’s just too much… and it’s expensive, and all …’

‘Couldn’t you maybe just see it for the sweet thing it is? …’

Armed with a plate of toast and Nutella and a sloppily-poured apple juice he retired to his room for more FIFA.

And I’m there thinking about his propensity for equating money and cash with value, or worth.

Like somehow, I suspect, he does not appreciate his worth, as a person … to us, to the world, to himself …

So later, I kind of bring this up with him … a few short observations, as he’s not one for sharing feelings or endlessly scrutinising interactions, not like myself, his mom and his sister …

‘You know the way when we paid to replace your PlayStation, and you were nearly over-the-top-grateful to us?’ I begin.

He says nothing, but he’s listening.

“And when you get those controllers or chargers   … it feels like when we pay for those things, it feels sometimes like you’re nearly too grateful … like somehow you don’t deserve it …

‘But you do so deserve them … we love giving you things … seeing your delight … anyway, some things you don’t measure in money …’

With O, you often don’t know what he has taken in, or rejected, until later on.

At lunchtime, I offered to put on some pasta and chorizo for lunch.

With ketchup at the ready, which he has with everything bar ice-cream, it nearly seems.

‘What way do you do the tomato ketchup on it?’ he asks

‘What do you mean?’

‘Like, all runny and all …’

‘I dunno, I just put the pasta on the plate, then the ketchup, and just swish it around with the fork, make sure all the pasta is covered …’

‘Ah … could you just put it on the side, so I can dip it in?’

It’s been the way I do it always and he has never said.

‘Absolutely … see that, how you said that to me, that’s the difference between feedback and criticism … other countries have a way of saying what they think about the service they get anywhere, in a restaurant, for example,. The restaurant just takes it as feedback and gives customers what they want …’

‘Like those bloody Americans,’ he says.

K and O get embarrassed whenever we say anything in a restaurant if things aren’t right … even when we are just trying to catch the server’s eye when we want something for the table …  or indeed even if they think we talking too loudly outside the house when people are anyway near us 

They have no bother giving us all the feedback we can handle in the house, though!

‘Americans are used to letting you know if things aren’t not good enough … some are maybe over the top, but it’s their culture, and the restaurant, or business, expects it …

‘If they don’t, the customer will go somewhere else … ‘

O recalls one time, it was 2012, the World Cup was on, and we were in Camping Vilanova, near Barcelona. He was just seven.

‘Remember that place, La Burguette’ — a fabulous burger joint we discovered in Vilanova village —  ‘and mam was giving out about the service being so slow … we were so hungry! I said it louder, and these people were looking at me, wondering who the hell is he …’

La Burguette
Our Favourite Burger Joint

We laugh.

‘But that was their business, those people, and whatever they were or weren’t thinking about you … you can complain without being rude about it … they were very slow! That’s feedback …’

That afternoon, I am sweeping crumbs and stuff from around the pedal bin in the kitchen.

‘Use the Hoover’ says K, just a tad imperiously, I feel, as she arrives in … ‘not the sweeping brush …’

I hear it in as criticism …

‘It’s much easier …’

‘Thanks for the advice,” I snipe … ‘Don’t you think it’s good I am actually sweeping up? …’

‘Just saying,’ she says, before sashaying back upstairs.

I think about it.

Later on, I knock on her bedroom door.

‘Maybe I over-reacted, there … I should take it as feedback, rather than criticism …’

‘Whatever,’ she says, not looking up from her screen.

But I don’t hear it as a dismissal … it’s all in the tone, isn’t it?

Normal stuff.

Normal people.

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54 comments on “We’re Just Normal People Living In Abnormal Times

  1. Daydreamer mum

    Love this !!! Am so with you on lockdown life with the teens. I seem to just keep out the way until one of them comes to find me for a chat (or more likely food !!)No problems with feedback here either “why did you grate the cheese ??? ” etc !!! I’m almost enjoying it though!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ah, thanks, Kelly. I’m almost enjoying it too!

    Like

  3. Danny Kuhn

    This is brilliant. Feedback/criticism/reaction says so much about a culture, and an individual. I was probably an unlikely candidate to read Normal People, but engaged me like nothing I had read in a very long time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Danny. It’s funny, there is quite a lot of negative stuff around Normal People, the book. As well as the praises heaped. Some ego stuff at play, and thwarted geniuses unrecognised venting, etc. I just think, there’s different types of books that can equally engage. Sometimes a stunning tour de force, all-stops-out one will satisfy, sometimes a change of style and pace is called for. Also, I have been left cold at times by works of staggering literary genius, and engaged by others who don’t go that route at all. Who’s to say?

      Like

  4. Needless to say, have been watching a lot of Netflix. It has a fairly good collection compared to other services.

    Never got down to reading Anne Tayler, though I have read about her books. Thanks for mentioning her books. Will get down to reading them.

    Mask shaming

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I think you’re doing great to be in lockdown with two teenagers (and not having your wife around all the time as a buffer). I think being home so much is a bit wearing for all of us, but doing teenage communication (or lack thereof) on top of it says a lot for your patience and stamina!
    Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Leanne … I (we) don’t have any choice. But they’re good kids, really, and doing fine. Thanks for commening

      Like

  6. I enjoyed Normal People too, and this is a great read too.The acting was beyond anything I’ve seen for a long time, and the music just made it.My daughter thought it about 6 episodes too long!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi. You’re filling the hours productively.

    I can’t wait for a good vaccine to reach the market. I really miss the things I did for decades: socializing, restaurants, concerts, movies, traveling . . .

    Take care. Bye till next time.

    Neil Scheinin

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, I think we’d all like some of that action, Neil! Whatever about the vaccine, I just hope they can speed up the testing and results! You take care too

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Sounds like you’re doing just fine, Enda. Teenagers have a way with feedback, don’t they!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I enjoyed reading about your life during COVID-19 and how you are finding the positives. I love the idea of the weekend breakfast banquet when the family is all together. For my husband and I, life hasn’t really changed too much and today I’m going to see my grandsons which is exciting as I’ve missed them. Our restrictions have been lifted a little. I’ve enjoyed being at home, I’ve maintained contact with my family and friends plus living by the ocean is always uplifting and brings joy to my soul. Thank you for linking up and sharing with us at #MLSTL. As a lover of British Crime books, I’ve enjoyed many pleasant hours of reading. I also completed my Fitness Certification so I’m pretty happy about that. Have a great week and take care.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Sue. So good for you finally getting to see your grandsons. That has to have been so hard. You have obviously n
      made the best of the situation, and it has definitely been an opportunity to read and watch good stuff! You take care too

      Like

  10. Great post! As always . . . will def. check out that Ann Tyler book (I LOVED the book “the accidental tourist) and the Michael Jordan Netflix series as well . . . I’ve heard lots of good things — thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I think I must be the only person not to have watched Normal People. I’m good with that. Living with teens, on a full time basis, certainly has been enlightening. Nothing is normal, but they seem to be coping with it in their own way. Must take a look at Anne Tyler’s books. They sound interesting. (Also, why have I never thought to stir ketchup into pasta?) #wotw

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh well your loss, I reckon! Yes, our pair are doing okay, in their very different ways. He only let me know he does not like his pasta rolled in his beloved tomato sauce. Even though he loves tomato sauce . The more you do for them, the more they take the proverbial, lol. Anne Tyler is great. If you want big, sexy, over the top stuff, that’s not her. A master of character and observation

      Like

  12. Amy Johnson

    I love your creative writing style. I will have the check out that Netflix show “Normal People”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Very kind of you, Amy. Not on Netflix, it was on BBC 3, I think. We had it on our own RTE in Ireland. It’s terrific

      Like

  13. I wouldn’t have read Normal People if it had not been for you Enda, I did wonder how they’d make it stretch into a tv series but it turned out well. I get what you are saying with criticism and feedback, it’s something we constantly have an issue with in our house. I am sure I commented already so if you get two from me, looking very similar, then feel free to delete one.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. You are spot on about Americans giving their opinions. All it takes is one bad meal or mistake and I move on, but not before letting everyone know why. LOL. As always, I enjoyed reading your post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Cynthia. I like the fact Americans complain abut bad service. So do other countries, like the French and Latin countries. We’re just a bit reticent about it publicly, here but we will moan away behind peoples’ backs! I know which way I prefer!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Ha! Guilty! Your son is spot on. We “bloody Americans” are so good at criticism AND feedback. We think everyone wants to know what we think.

    Thanks for the Anne Tyler book review. I am a big fan and I didn’t know she had another novel out. One of my biggest fears is of running out of things to read! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha. We all have our cliches, Kaurie, despite what I say about the richness of American culture, literature, science and the rest. I’m afraid Trump makes cliche easier!

      Like

  16. I have three teens (well one is 21) in the house and it’s so hard for them, losing all their freedoms and friends. I said to my husband, we love having this extra time with them, but being with us is the last thing on their list. We’re easing out of restrictions and it’s so hard to know what to do. Restuarants opened on Friday but I’ve yet to talk to anyone who went. Being locked in became a little TOO normal and going out seems like a BIG deal. It’s so weird!! #Dreamteam

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is all so weird, Lydia! I am sure oiur teens would love to see a lot less of us, especially me, since I am there all day every day! We’re easing a little today, in Ireland, and our daughter is lookng forward to meeting up in a group of four with friends in one of their back gardens. Quite a big deal!

      Like

  17. I get you! Lock down was strange to start with but we’re getting used to it here. I am not a people person so it’s good not having to be all social but I am missing my dad and his partner.
    Good on you preparing breakfast for your wife. It sounds like you have been keeping yourself busy. All of the reading is fantastic.
    That was sweet of the teacher to send out a postcard. x

    Liked by 1 person

    • it was sweet, wasn’t it? I think he thought that, but didn’t want to think too hard about it. Busy would be opyshing it! But we are getting by okay, all coinsidering. Hope you are too, Kim

      Like

  18. good point, isn’t it strange that we somehow smugly arrange ourselves with our limited horizon and our lockdown and kinda get used to it, maybe even enjoy certain elements of it? #dreamteamlinky

    Liked by 1 person

    • I guess that’s true … sometimes too much choice is confuising … not that we wouldn’t ultimately prefer to be in that position. But there are positive aspects, at times, to this situation

      Like

  19. Sometimes the obvious is the most elusive you talk of normal but as much as you love reading, would you be going through books at this pace normally??? This is not normal. it is a time to rejoice in al the things more time can bring. Including taking a nap.
    Stay well and Laugh a lot

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I think I’ve been trying too hard to get my teen to interact. It’s been a humbling effort. Keep the faith! laurensparks.net

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yep, it sure can be humbling dealing with teens. Glad it’s not just me. Still, we’ll keep on keeping on. Thanks Lauren

      Like

  21. Shelley Whittaker

    I absolutely loved watching Normal People and The Last Dance is next on our list! You have summed up many of my thoughts about lock-down perfectly #DreamTeamLinky

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Last Dance is fascinating! Not the Michael Jordan you expect, but all the more interesting for that, Shelley

      Like

  22. I enjoyed this. Communicating with teenagers is never easy but at least you do. It’s just me, hubby and dog during the lockdown. Communicating with the dog is easy! #SeniSal

    Liked by 1 person

  23. You always tell these tales in such a relateable way Enda. Really love your writing. Must be tough with the teens on your own but tough for them also. Very sensitive age not to be going out and see friends.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah you’re always so kind, John. It is tough for them, at times, although we have had a bit of easing, as in meeting with friends in groups of four max, and that has been great for our daughter, especially. But you are so right, it is a sensitive age, and dinosaur dad every day is not always their idea of the best of company. Even though I am so with it and up to the minute … haha. Keep well John, I imagine it’s been hectic at home for you guys.

      Like

  24. It sounds like you have settled into lock down life well. It’s funny how niggles and worries of the pre lock down life melt into the background as the new normal takes hold. Enjoy the simpler things… and spending extra time with the teens. Thanks for joining us for the #DreamTeamLinky 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, it can be trying, but definitely some advantages, Annette! Would be saving money too, except the washing machine has packed in, and we put down a new floor in our daughter’s room the same week!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  25. Tracey Carr

    Oh mine are only 6 and 3 but I try to keep out of their way too! Well to a degree anyway. If they are playing together and they are within earshot then I am happy to leave them to it! It’s not easy these days spending every single moment together so it’s all about finding whatever way works to cope. We just do what we have to do…I totally understand what you mean too Enda about things not feeling so strange anymore. It’s amazing how quickly we begin to adapt to our new living conditions. It’s actually not that bad at all…! #globalblogging

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Tracey … the other side of it is I can leave ours for long stretches. I’ll bet you are kept busy, though!! And definitely, there are advantages: we know where they are!!!

      Like

  26. Pingback: Global Blogging Linkup #164 -

  27. Enda some wonderful insights here into a life in lockdown with teens. Like you I have found the whole experience more enjoyable than I anticipated. The clear skies and access to a garden have helped. I started out with a long list of things I wanted to achieve during lockdown but found early on that just going with the flow has been more the right rhythm and that has helped with the teens too. Reading and Netflix have been a welcome respite from the never ending chores as well as those family gatherings around the dinner table. I hope your wife is keeping safe and that your happy new normal continues. Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Jo, Hope you and your family are keeping well in these trying times. Yes, so far so good for my wife. Agree about eh flow thing. Our daughter found it hard to do academic stuff, but has hit a creative vein recently, and that has been so good. The good weather has helped too, of course!

      Like

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