Saturday, 27 June 2015

Training for the Hoodie

When I wrote about my reasons for wanting to lose weight, I mentioned that I needed to sit down and set out a few short term goals. I failed to do that.

Instead, I signed up with a personal trainer at my gym. I instantly regretted this decision. But, like, in the best way possible?

One week into my two week trial, I had already committed to a year of thrice weekly asskicking. And to make it even better? Our sessions are at 6:30am because I’m an idiot. When asked what time I’d like my sessions to be, it may have been implied that I hate dealing with the crowds after work. From that it was inferred that I wanted a morning session and I agreed. I’m still not sure why.

Other than getting up at ass o’clock in the morning three times a week, I’ve been enjoying my sessions. I was a little reluctant when I was first matched up with my trainer because she seemed like she was going to be a cheerful, upbeat bundle of energy and I didn’t think I could handle that at 6:30 am. While she is cheerful and upbeat, she is also sarcastic and geeky. More importantly, she laughs at my jokes but doesn’t put up with my shit. I think I’m in love.

As part of the training package, we sat down to talk about my long-term goals, review where I was physically and then set a few shorter goals. My first indication that I was going to like my trainer was when we discussed what is feasible in the 15 months before I leave for Tanzania. "Our guarantee is that you will lose 50lbs in a year, but I know we can beat that. It's even possible that you could meet your final goal, I've seen people who've done it. But you know what? Those people have a single focus, and their entire lives are 100% about that goal and they don't enjoy the occasional beer on a sunny patio. Ugh. Who wants to be one of those people?"

Like I said, I think I'm in love.

One of the short-term goals that we set was to fit comfortably into a Monaghan hoodie I bought.

I had been toying with the idea of getting a Monaghan jersey for a while but made a game time decision to go with a hoodie instead for the simple reason that I have more options to wear it. It’s all about sharing the Monaghan pride as often as possible! I purposely got a few sizes smaller than I currently wear (a.k.a it was the largest size available for order) and then patiently waited for my package to arrive.

Okay, not so patiently.

When it arrived I was a little disappointed it wasn't smaller. I know. Tough life that I was actually sad about that. I can zip it up but it’s not comfortable. It’s tight and constantly rides up around the waist. So while it’s not as ‘too small’ as I had hoped, it is still too small and that’s what I wanted.

The full-body before pictures of the jacket are currently with my trainer but I’ll be sure to share the before and “hey, I can wear it fit” current pictures when the time comes. (I refuse to call them afters because they won’t be an after at that point. They’ll be durings.) In the meantime, here's a quick pictures I took myself.

Here's to it being a little less snug in three months!

Thursday, 4 June 2015

A PSA on the Irish Language

I have told the story before about my dad reading "The Tiger Who to Tea" to me when I was a young child. Except the only version we had of it was in Irish, so my dad would read it out loud and then translate it for me. Over the years, the book went missing. I tried to find a copy last time I was back in Ireland but it was out of print. 

That was pretty much the extent of any Irish my dad spoke to us as children. I knew how to say 'Merry Christmas' on the phone to my granny, and could name all 32 counties as Gaeilge (in Irish) after my cousins taught me during a trip back when I was 16. As it stands today, I know just enough Irish to sound impressive to someone who doesn't speak any Irish.

I understand why my dad didn't speak more Irish with us - it's not needed to get around Ireland and it serves pretty much zero purpose outside of Ireland - but sometimes I lament that there hadn't been more of a reason for us to learn it. (Say, for example, the English hadn't ruled Ireland and pushed the speakers to outlaying areas, making English the main language of business and trade and relegating Irish to something the uneducated country people spoke, thereby allowing Irish to continue to be the first language of the people of Ireland so then my brothers and I would have had to learn it to converse with my cousins. I'm just spit-balling ideas here.)

I lament because Irish is an endangered language. It's classified as 'definitely endangered' which is to simply state that it's not spoken by children in the home. While Irish is a compulsory course in Irish education and is a requirement to get into university, there are very few children who are actual native speakers of Irish. That is, they speak Irish before they speak English in their day-to-day life. Out of the 1.7 people classified as 'speaking Irish', less than 100,000 use it on a daily basis outside of school.

The push to revive the Irish language isn't any thing new. The Gaelic League (Conradh na Gaeilge) was founded in 1893 with the mandate to promote the Irish language both in Ireland and abroad. Over a hundred years of trying to save the language and it's still definitely endangered. Ain't that a kick in the teeth?

But it's not all doom and gloom. In November 2009, the Irish government published its 20 year plan for increasing the number of fluent and/or native Irish speakers. One of those points was to increase the number of Irish immersion schools (called Irish-medium schools in Ireland). There are now 177 Irish-medium primary schools in Ireland and parents line up to get on the waiting list. As for the number of speakers using Irish outside of school on a daily basis? It has been steadily climbing since the turn of the 21st century. Search the 'as Gaeilge' tag on any social media and you'll find a thriving community.

Why did I feel the need to post this? Because the road to hell, good intentions, all that jazz. You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink, if you need another analogy. You have to engage the kids and make them want to learn. What better way to do that than to make it fun? I came across the following video on YouTube recently and laughed until I cried when I realised what they were doing. If you learned a second language in school, I'm sure the pictures will feel familiar.

Kudos to the teacher (it seems to be one teacher from the looks of it) who came up with Gaelgory as a project with his class. The are all manner of videos and even though my Irish is limited to greetings, basic information and insults, I spent a good chunk of time going down that rabbit hole. There's even a video about cooking pancakes in Irish led by a dinosaur. (I think he's Gaelgory but I'm not totally sure.)

It always makes me happy to see Irish being used outside of textbooks (although this is kind of textbook-ish) and formal situations. It gives me hope that perhaps Irish will move out of the endangered language category. Because as Pádraig Pearse once said: 

“Tír gan teanga, tír gan anam."
(A country without a language is a country without a soul.)