Life Long Learning

Anatomy of a Male Hipster ©Romadei via instagram.

What seems like aeons ago at this stage, I was once an undergraduate at UCC.  Then I transferred to NIHE which became DCU in 1989 which was my final year there. I enjoyed most of the college experience and the fact that I earned the handle of “Ah shur fuck it Quinn” probable sums up the amount of dedication and diligence I paid to the academic aspect of my third level experience.

I am pleased to report that I did work very hard on developing a wide range of life skills that have always stood me in good stead (I did earn myself a honours degree, just in case any of my children with exams pending, are taking a break from their studies to read this).

There are also those random bits of information that stuck, interests sparked and friendships forged that have enriched my life ever since. When I returned to formal education whilst working in England, I have to confess I was much more focused and applied.  I enjoyed the learning part much more. In fairness the social end was fairly non-existent, what with the majority of us part time post grad students holding down full time jobs etc.

Fast forward the knuckly bones of 20 years or more and I am receiving an education of a different kind on a fairly regular basis. It’s OK, you can exhale, it’s not going to be about my personal development, growth, finding my Why, If, And or But, or my familiarity with the Bristol Stool Chart though those did happen in the intervening decades and at an accelerated rate once I entered my forties (that is definitely another blog topic). No it is the near daily expansion of my mind by my children.

One of my  most recent acquisitions of knowledge came from what can be called ” An Idiots Guide to Identifying Hipsters” delivered to me by my daughter.(Thanks for this weeks artwork) It turns out my instincts on this are quite good. We spent a recent evening in Waterford, Hipster Spotting. Let me hasten to add we didn’t head out just to do this as that would be sad. It transpired as we were heading to the theatre. This proved to be a rich and fertile spotting ground.

The real kernel of knowledge, leaving aside the formal categorisation of hipsters (i.e. that group of people usually late twenties or thirty-somethings who are a subculture of men and women that value independent thinking, counter-culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie-rock, creativity, intelligence, and witty banter) or put more succinctly by aforementioned daughter “a group of people who pride themselves on being different but end up being the same as everyone else trying to be different” was that it really comes down to shoes. They have to be a lighter shade than the combined effect of the rest of the garb…. light beige being the most ideal. It also turns out that male hipsters are much more easily identifiable than their female counterparts and although a beard is not a prerequisite it is desirable for the male hipster (although less so for the female).

My children, since their arrival into my world, have thrown me a few fairly big learning curves.  I never could have envisaged being obsessed with another human’s bowel movements before I became a mother. I never countenanced that I would be so envious of  toddler tantrums when eight times out of ten I was so fraught and frazzled with tiredness myself that I really just wanted to join them on whatever floor they had taken up residence on.   I learned that it is very difficult to catch a runaway toddler, but the sound of  that fast approaching lorry can give you the speed of Usain Bolt for that all- important 100 metre dash.

I learned and am continuing to learn the simplicity and effectiveness  of a direct NO, when a NO is going to be the final destination on the merry go round of answers anyway.  A ‘Hmm,’ or “Maybe” or  “We’ll see” just opens up a whole world of unnecessary pain. I have even practiced using the  NO word on my wider sphere of family, friends and acquaintances and it’s hugely liberating.

With the entry of some of my children into their teenage years, I have also been brought up to speed on some of the more common slang terms and text speak  in use. Being somewhat of a slow learner they have often gone out of fashion before I grasped them . For example, I spent weeks  and many car journeys trying to master the principles of Doge, much effort, such waste or something like that.

There are a whole myriad of expressions used in teenager speak, none of them correctly spelled and a lot of them are utilised in texting. “Get rekt” means get wrecked but evidently if you are immersed in meme culture you will probably say “get shrekt” My mind boggles. Evidently to refer to someone as “a twelve year old” is the worse insult ever. For those into gaming ‘360 no scope’ is used ironically to take the piss out said 12 year olds who play “Call of Duty” and yet there is still no emoticon for despair.

I have  a love of language, an actual affinity & attraction towards certain real words with all their consonants and vowels in the correct place. I enter into verbal love affairs with words,  love the feel of them oozing out of my mouth but  I am like a teenager and can move on  quicker than you can say ‘Bae’.  

Some words stand the test of my fickleness, ‘blaggard’ or ‘guyer/ guier’ not sure of the spelling of the last one. It was used regularly by my Mam to refer to a male of bad character. ‘Nefariousness’ just always conjures up an image of a very naughty pirate doing something he shouldn’t . Ambiance, didactic, robust, verbose & vivacious just delight me and don’t get me started on the joy I experience when I read wonderful phrases full or artistry and eloquence.

During my years in England, I developed a particular regard for the word “TWAT”……which I believed for all of my seven years living there, to be a more gentle and genteel version of eejit or “fucking eejit” depending on my emphasis and the person I was talking to. I told many people including colleagues and bosses etc. to stop being a twat to their face. I referred to countless more as twats, ‘ right twats’ and not once did anyone put me straight. It wasn’t until I was on another visit to England only a couple of years ago and  I made use of the word in front of one of my lovely sisters-in-law that she explained it to me. I felt nearly as embarrassed as when I got the word masticate and masturbate mixed up, as a precocious child trying to impress visitors whilst they had their high tea. The good tablecloth was ruined that day!!

So there you have it it, this weeks offerings which I thought was  going to be about exams and formal education,  square holes and round pegs, dratted points race, stress levels and learning by living. It just meandered off course at some un-signposted junction in my mind and arrived here.  So apologies if I have ever called you a ‘TWAT’ but chances are you were being a bit of an eejit.


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