One joy scatters a hundred griefs. – Chinese proverb
Living in a family of ten to twelve (sometimes fifteen) people, you learn quickly to adjust to chaos, welcoming the unexpected as a coal miner embraces sunlight. Dad of course exhausted from plugging unexpected leaks and implosions among his contractors and clients attempts to impose some order on both home and family: clean this mess, fold these clothes, file those papers, make those beds. Indeed he’d have an easier time driving off a thundercloud with a leaf blower. For on those rare occasions when the day’s events unfold according to some loose plan or schedule, you feel almost isolated, unnerved by the sudden immersion of order, the lone working gear among the scattered piles of monkeys and wrenches. What is this sensation, you say to yourself, this . . . calm? The absence of fear and anxiety, of noise and confusion only proves to make you anxious and confused until you knock over Mom’s prized Belleek vase to regain your sanity. The cycle begins anew. Continue reading
Mom, Brigid, and Katie are visiting my cousin’s graduation and award presentation while I pick up Kevin from his morning exams. Between you and me, I despise award ceremonies: too much pomp and circumstance for my taste. Beyond elementary school and kindergarten celebrations (most of my siblings and their friends loved showing off for their parents), what use do they serve? For although the awards themselves laud the achievements and successes of the individual, the ceremony itself too often mires in extravagant spectacle, ambiguous speeches, and donation requests.
“The teachers and staff at St. Anastasia’s would like to congratulate the graduating class for this awesome achievement, and hope that you will remember us as the turning point for your academic and financial careers” Translation: give us money when you succeed in getting some yourself. Continue reading
“So which one are you again?” the young girl asked cutting a piece of ice cream cake with her fork. The rest of Bree’s friends sitting on the asphalt looked up from their desserts and smiled. Over the years most of the family has grown accustomed to questions of this sort. All big families must suffer similar interviews: What’s your number in line?; Were you born before or after Sean?; How many years apart are you guys? Luckily I developed my own patented response for situations like these.
“Murph, I’m Brigid’s oldest brother. Eldest and best looking of the bunch.”
“Yeah right . . .” Bree mumbles her mouth full of cake. “More like a hairy sasquatch.”
Bree has developed her own counter-response apparently. Brilliant. Continue reading