Urban Zen


When Mr Oh was in college, he spent one summer in America working in a furniture moving company. In his more wistful moments, he often reminisces about these days and has, as a result, developed a deep-seated love of moving furniture. When the professional movers came to Stoneybatter to pack up our stuff, Mr Oh could be found trotting around the house after them like a love-sick puppy handing them tape and unfolding boxes.

With the same passion that he loves moving furniture, he also hates the furniture in our rented apartment. It’s black and square and ugly - even I’ll admit that - but it’s functional so it doesn’t really bother me. Mr Oh is always thinking of ways to get rid of it and has hidden quite a lot of it in the small cave in the basement. Every now and again he will try to convince me that the side-table, or the TV table or the dining room table would be better off out on the balcony. On Sunday, he tried to make the point that the standing lamp in the living room should be taken away.

“But it’s useless” he argues.

“It’s a lamp” I say, I use it to see.”

He’s not convinced so I have to launch an impassioned stand in defense of the lamp. He eventually backs off but not before he’s managed to magic the coffee table out of the apartment without me noticing. Where am I supposed to put my computer now? Or my tea? The ground, apparently.

So last Sunday, the day I had ear-marked for decadent lounging, he tells me that we need to reorganize the apartment. I thought he just meant rearranging the presses or something but he had already done that last weekend (see photo above). He tells me that the Feng Shui in the living/dining room is bad. I’ll Feng Shui him.

His new plan involves moving the sofa 90 degrees, the dining room table 45 degrees, rearranging all the ugly furniture, spiriting away the TV table (which I suspect is the ultimate goal of this endeavor) and lugging the fridge to the other side of the apartment. I point out that the fridge door won’t open if he moves it to the other side of the apartment. He says “I will remove the fridge door and re-hinge it on the other side”. The upshot of this is that I spent much of my afternoon holding a fridge door while he tried to unscrew it from the fridge with his new bendy screwdriver. So much for decadent lounging.

When my holding-fridge-door services were no longer required, I disappeared into the bedroom to put Baby A down for a nap (that’s a whole other story). An hour later I emerged to find everything changed. He told me to be careful of the fridge door and something about needing to buy a drill.

Half an hour later, there was a deafening clatter as the fridge door fell off. Baby A, who had been napping, thought the world was ending and started screaming accordingly. A jar of peanut butter rolled over and tapped me on the foot as if to say “Hello, where do I go now?”. Luckily I have a back-up fridge…formerly known as the dairy fridge (or the kosher fridge as Sabrina calls it).

“Can you fix it?”, I ask Mr Oh.

“Ah yeah”, he says confidently, “shouldn’t be a problem”.

This would have been reassuring were it not for the fact that he was, at that exact moment, holding the door against the fridge and securing it in place with packaging tape while balancing the freezer door on the top of his shoe.

24-hours later the fridge is fixed, the living room has Feng Shui, Mr Oh has a shiny new Black & Decker drill and everyone is happy. The TV table has gone missing in the move and I suspect it is unlikely to turn up again, thus following in the tragic footsteps of many a doomed piece of furniture that had the misfortune to offend Mr Oh’s aesthetic sensibilities. I will think of it fondly (although not so fondly that I would bother going down to the basement to haul it back up).


My Teenage Baby


When Baby A was born I looked forward to his toddler years, his childhood, cuddles and games, cartoons and adventures. But alas, Baby A has decided to skip all that and become a teenager at the tender age of four months. I know this because:

1. He wants to party all night and sleep all day.
Once I made the mistake of gloating, “My baby sleeps through the night at only three weeks”. I should have known that kind of bad karma was just going to come back and bite me on my smug new-mamma ass (which, incidentally, is bigger than it used to be). I really thought that I had the sleeping thing cracked…but Baby A had different plans. Where once he slept for a full 8/9 hours at night plus a few good long naps at either end, he has now taken to waking every three hours and demanding booze…I mean, milk. Then it takes me two hours to get him back to sleep because he wants to play, sing songs and lick my face. This is apparently called the Four Month Sleep Regression but I’m pretty sure I did something similar when I was 16.

2. He has an eating disorder.
Baby A has recently discovered his hands. He likes to jam them into his mouth and stick his fingers down this throat. Inevitably this results in his last meal exorcising itself from his stomach and splattering itself all over the nearest newly-showered human. This is deeply shocking to Baby A who thinks that someone has stolen the food right out of his stomach (he suspects the squeaky donkey). After he has finished expressing a suitable degree of outrage at this unwittingly self-inflicted indignity, he emerges from his cocoon of rage to flash me the ‘feed me’ eyes. And thus the cycle of binging and purging continues.

3. He doesn’t speak to me. Mr Oh when he comes home from work, at which point he lights up like a glow worm. All I get through the day are a series of demands (“Milk…now…I want miiiiiiilk…right now…why don’t I have milk…I hate you”), protests (“I will not sleep…I don’t care if you think I’m tired…I’m not…and I’m going to wail for the next 45 minutes to prove it”) and sulks (“If you won’t feed me I’m just going to close my eyes and silently moan until my daddy comes home”).

4. He thinks he’s a grown-up.
He has started trying to eat things that are unsuitable for a baby i.e. things other than milk. I’ve had to increase the levels of vigilance when holding him on my lap at the dinner table. I look away for one minute and the next thing I know he has a piece of salmon hanging out of his mouth and a smear of chill-miso sauce on his forehead. He looks at me innocently, as if perhaps I hadn’t noticed that his left hand is buried deep in a bowl of basmati.

5. He deliberately tries to thwart me at every turn.
“If I arch my back just so, grab my left foot with my right hand and throw my head over the back of the changing table…let’s see how you get me into the babygrow then.”

6. He likes things that are bad for him.
Knives want to be hugged, glass wants to be head butted and carpets want to be licked. I haven’t caught him drinking jagermeister in a field yet, but it’s only a matter of time.

7. He wants to run away.
If only he knew how to crawl.