Monday 30 May 2011

Not a patch on willpower

I appear to have agreed to try quitting smoking again last night. Rock God was going on about his plan to quit today and according to himself, in a haze of exhaustion and under the influence of one whole glass of wine, I agreed to join him. I also, if he is to be believed, suggested he stick a patch on me before he went to work so that when I woke up I wouldn't be absolutely gagging for a smoke as usual. There is a hazy memory there, but it's hazy and could have been planted in my head by subliminal suggestion while I slept.

So this morning I woke up. Rock God & Smarty pants were long gone off to work & school and Monkey Boy had given me a great lie-in. I could hear him happily crooning Bob The Builder from his cot and I dragged myself wearily from the folds of my lovely duvet. Got up, got dressed, did potties and washes and dressing (For Monkey boy you see, especially the potty bit) Flopped my way downstairs and plied his little self with juice so I could have a moment for my very favourite morning ritual.

A large glass of diet coke poured, kettle on and off I tripped out into the sunshine to have that glorious first smoke of the day. I sat on my little decking, bathed in sunlight, observing that no plants had died in the night and some had even produced some pretty flowers. Happily checking my emails and texts, completely unaware that I was double-dosing myself with nicotine.

I spent my morning cleaning up after our most excellent little dinner party last night. Snappy cooked her legendary Goulash, brought it over and even cooked the spuds for us!! Being shooed from your own kitchen is one of those anxious moments and I actually found myself watching her in the window, having been exiled to the garden. As if she were going to break the cups and smash the plates, it's not only Bilbo Baggins that hates that you know!! But I digress.... a lot!

I whiled away the morning being all wifely and domestic like the goddess I am, and not emailing and texting like a mad wan, I swear. A smoke here, a smoke there..... Rock God rang me on his tea-break.


"Well, what?" says I.

"Have you been good?"

I paused a moment "eh, yes, I've been very well behaved altogether, what the hell are you talking about?"

"I've only had 1" he gloats.

The conversation slowly swirls in my head and begins to form a blurry picture.

"Am I wearing a patch?" "Eh yeah, you didn't forget did you?"

"Ah bugger!!"

He's been laughing at me all morning, but I'm not gumming for a smoke!! There's always tomorrow eh?!!

Wednesday 11 May 2011

Our Story

They meet in a cloud of smoke. Rock music belting out, straining to hear each other's names. Introductions, handshakes and smiles. Then off again. More distraction.

Weeks later, walking, herself and a friend. They see them on the other side of the road, too far to call. The new boys. Her friend unsure, likes neither much. Wild, she likes the dangerous one, broody dark eyes pull her in.

A nod and a smile as they pass. Months later, she's bagged Dark Eyes, they meet again. In his room this time. Small talk, chit chat, slowly comfort sets in. They're in love, her and Dark eyes, so he's told. He watches, not sure what it is he sees.

Comfort develops into friendship. He makes her laugh, they share a beer, poverty stricken. Rationing cigarettes between them. Dancing to the same songs. She can really talk to him, he listens, he doesn't say much, but that's just his way. She becomes protective of him. Advising him about girls, none are good enough. Dark eyes is still hers, or at least she is his. His eyes are not his only dark feature.

She has a baby girl, he doesn't judge her, not even secretly, he is alone in that. She's young, so is Dark eyes. He visits her in hospital, her baby is sick, she's upset, he makes her laugh, the only one who can. Dark eyes begins to object, he pushes them apart. She misses him but stays away to keep the peace.

Friends, only ever friends, but so close. She begins to see him in a new light. Tanned, muscular, rippling abs, glossy hair, leather jeans, soft brown eyes, so kind but shining with mischief. He still makes her laugh, Dark eyes only ever makes her cry.

A break-up, a messy, nasty one. Her heart shattered. Her friend takes her out, buys her a rose on the way. He's in the bar, head hanging, eyes stung, not shining. Dumped by the latest girl. Hot, they had agreed, amazing ass, but vacuous she thought, and shallow, even if she hadn't shared that. Best without her really. He's crestfallen. She gives him the rose and a little kiss, it'll be ok. They dance. Every weekend from then on they dance. He strokes her hair, holds her tight, smiles with his eyes. Still friends. Why, everyone wonders.

He's living with friends but unhappy. Spending more time in her flat that his. Watching movies, staying up all night, chatting, laughing. Months pass. A stolen kiss here and there but no more. She realises she's in love again, but really this time. She tries to keep it in check. They talk about it, he's afraid, their friendship is precious he argues.

A few weeks later, sitting in her flat, an ad break, their eyes meet. They kiss. Long and soft. The doorbell an interruption, his lift is here. Moment stolen. As he leaves he turns "Be my girlfriend?" "Sure" she grins, her heart exploding in her chest.

A week locked away together. Getting to know new facets of each other. They need a night out. Another cloud of smoke, straining to hear one another again. "Hey" he says, turning to her. "What?" she replies, distractedly, expecting him to ask for a smoke. "I love you". She reciprocates without skipping a beat.

A decade passes. They sit together in the evenings, husband and wife now. They still watch movies, still chat. He still makes her laugh. They dance, arms wrapped around each other, in the kitchen. Their children pushing in to dance with them.

Sunday 24 April 2011

Happiness is....

A list of some of the little joys in life. In no particular order of wonderfulness.

  • Shaved legs and clean sheets. In my very humble opinion shaved legs on men is rather un-sexy. I feel sorry for them though, missing out on that indescribable feeling of sliding your smooth pins under fresh linen.
  • Silence. Not the awkward type, or that heavy, enforced library silence, or even the type imbued with fear and the faint smell of panic that you only get during an exam. Rather what is left when you turn everything off. When everyone in the house goes out, and you're left, alone, with only the soft hum of your harddrive and the tap of the keys as you write. Heaven.
  • A really proper hard days work, where you've pushed yourself to the very limits of your being. Where you're both mentally and physically exhausted. An ice cold pint, it must be ice cold, and it must be your most favourite beer. The surroundings are of the utmost importance. In winter a cosy bar, with a real fire if possible. In summer a proper beer garden, with benches and flowers. Proper company, people who know your darkest secrets, or with whom you would never hesitate to share them.
  • Finding the absolute perfect something for someone. Something that screams their name when you see it sitting on the shelf. Packaging it lovingly, ribbons and all. Seeing their face as they open it, it's theirs and it's so very them. I have a bit of a thing about getting people the perfect "them" presents. It means more I think, it means you listened, you thought about it, you know them, you didn't just spend.
  • The feeling of sunshine on your skin. It's not the healthiest thing in the world, but it feels lovely. It's rare we get it in Ireland but when we do, out we go, half naked to bask in it. I'm not much of a sunbather, I don't stay still easily and I don't tan. I go red, and then slightly less transparent than I was before, but my tan originates in a bottle, and rarely ends up on my skin, far too much trouble. I still go out and stand in it for a bit, feeling the heat on my skin, before I run for the factor 50.
  • Accidental hilarity. Especially the kind that's almost impossible to recount. The 'you had to be there' variety. Last week Rock god stood in our garden and exclaimed "Me brack!!" (Smarty pants and I had eaten his brack) We laughed 'til tears rolled down our faces. We repeated it at opportune moments when exclamation was required. We got plenty of mileage out of it but I can hardly imagine you're rolling about clutching your sides on reading about it. It's the best kind of hilarity really, even if it means nothing to anyone else.
  • Going shopping alone. I have a love-hate relationship with shopping. I don't fit in a box in general as far as personalities go, I'm a statistician's nightmare. I'm not girly particularly nor am I anywhere near tomboyish. I get bored shopping, or stressed, or just crestfallen. I love to go alone however, with nothing in particular to shop for and a few spare euro in my pocket. Wandering, looking at everything, finding something different, book shopping, dvd shopping. Treating myself to a hot chocolate half way through and having lunch with myself. I remember being spotted one day having lunch with myself in town by some particularly unsavoury fellow pupils. When I came into school on Monday it was seen to be the most embarrassing thing imaginable. I pitied them terribly for never having had the pleasure of their own company for lunch.
  • Tea tea tea, how do I love thee, let me count the ways. Actually no, that would take far too long. There's nothing like a cup of tea, it solves all things. No matter how bad a situation there's nothing so bad as can't be improved by a brew.
  • Jinx!! Or to those too grown up, saying the exact same thing at the exact same time as someone else. I love when it happens, but especially if it's something completely incidental and not just something that naturally follows. Bananas!! That sort of thing.
  • Having nothing to do. Nothing at all. I realise that is some people's idea of hell. I know my mother would probably expire if she had absolutely nothing to do. There's never actually nothing to do, nature abhors a vacuum and all that, there's always dishes or some sort of tidying or something you could be getting on with. I love when there really isn't though, or at least nothing pressing, and you can pour yourself a cold fizzy drink and curl up on the couch, play a game, peruse the internet, read or just watch tv, bliss!!
  • No list about happiness would be complete if it didn't mention chocolate. Scientist type people say that it actually creates happiness, or at least produces chemicals in the brain which help with such things. They even say it's healthy and we should eat it every day. It may prevent cancer and stop you getting wrinkles, but I have a feeling they're referring to the 80% cocoa posh yucky stuff, not a dairy milk or anything. As I write I'm munching a mint aero that was just handed to me, a grown-up sort of easter present, not egg shaped but still glorious!!
  • Many many small, insignificant things, many large important things. Kissing my husband, playing with my kids, chatting with friends, hugging my dad, buying shoes, sparkly anythings, a good book, poetry, music, rambly emails, dancing in the kitchen, beer, nights out, nights in, apples, long soaky baths, cows and their noses, diet coke, deli rolls, candles, love, pride, mum type things, make-and-do, Stephen Fry, cartridge pens, stationary of all kinds, book smell, cheese - not too smelly, words, Ovaltine, palindromes, bad jokes, socks, orgasms, wine, fresh air, growing plants from seed, manatees, sewing boxes, buttons, clever birthday cards, writing, dreaming, ice cubes, cinema popcorn, PVA glue, paint, interior decorating, stand-up comedy, fish fingers and so on and so on. Brown paper packages tied up with string, these are a few of my favourite things.

Tuesday 19 April 2011

Pleased to meet you!!

It's awkward sometimes, meeting someone you've been dying to meet, or seeing someone after a really really long time, which is on par with meeting them for the first time as far as awkwardness goes really isn't it?? I don't do first impressions very well. I tend to be either ridiculously quiet, just let everyone else talk and hope no one notices my existence – or embarrassingly hyper, volume ever rising and saying the most bloody insane things a mile a minute. I know I'm doing these things, whichever it ends up being on the day, but I can't help myself, I really can't!! Drunk is worse, I'm a terrible drunk at the best of times but if you put drunkenness with awkwardness you get guaranteed inappropriateness from me every time.

I was just thinking about something Smarty Pants said the other day. She was commenting on how my dad always chats to people in every shop he goes into. He usually has a nice embarrassing laugh with them too. When I was a teenager I used to wish I had some kind of hole boring device with me so I could get away, now I just find it amusing. She mentioned that I always do it too, although I tend not to mortify people while I do. I do you know, wherever I go, I chat to perfect strangers like I've known them all my life. I love people, they're one of my most favourite things, so chatting to them seems perfectly natural to me. I can't figure out what makes me so fumbly when it's someone belonging to someone I really care about then, a relative I haven't seen in years, a new colleague and so on.

I have a theory. A friend of mine said something a while ago about putting forward the best version of yourself. I think that's it, I'm not entirely enamoured with any versions of me. Now now, don't cry, I don't mean I hate myself or anything. I'm just very self critical, and every version of me that I could put forward would have a flaw or five that I can see. It's this infernal honesty, I can't lie, really!! Well I can but it's blindingly obvious unless you're a bit tick!! I shouldn't be telling you this, now we can never play poker! Not being able to lie means I also can't misrepresent myself, I am what I am, whether I like it or not. I'm just convinced no-one could possibly want to play in my yard!! Maybe Emo would suit me, I think I'll dig out an eyeliner, no-one understands me!!

Thursday 14 April 2011

Let them eat cake!!

Six years ago I had a bit of a funny head moment, I developed a complete determination to do something that at the time seemed very difficult, almost impossible actually. I decided to fit in my debs dress. To our non Irish cousins that basically means I decided to become the size I was when I was 17. It was a strong determination, my head was just in "that place". This mysterious location we need to have our little brains in to successfully shun buns and chocolate of all kinds, chips and all!! That special place that allows you to force yourself to the gym after a mind alteringly stressful day at work.

Not one to do things by halves, I changed my lifestyle entirely. I don't believe in diets, except maybe as a springboard to start you off losing weight. I think in order to do it successfully you have to change everything. Cut out bad stuff, but allow yourself a treat now and then, dinners out, party food etc. Eat a proper balanced diet, lots of yummy healthy stuff, and move, a lot!! There's no secret to it really, we all know how to do it. It took time, but that was ok, I wanted to do it slowly, carefully, and properly.

Two years into it Rock God proposed and I got seriously serious, determined that my wedding dress would be the size of my debs dress, if not the colour (black - total goth!!) I think this was where it all started to go wrong however. Now I had a focus, a goal, a date by which I had to be skinny Minnie. And I did it!! Two weeks before the wedding I took down my debs dress, blew off the dust and slipped one leg, then the other into its satin folds. It may have been black but it was truly magnificent, I wish I could wear it every day. Rock God zipped me up and there it was, 17 year old me in all her glory. I walked down the aisle a fortnight later in the antithesis of that dress, ivory with gold threading, still with a corset, but without the many folds of satin, just a simple ivory skirt. I felt a million dollars, and I looked it if I do say so myself, which I do!! I had done it, I had beaten myself into a dress, to borrow a phrase from this brilliant blog of the same name.

That was it though, I had done it. It was done. Of course it wasn't really, yes I fit in the debs dress, yes I had a teeny wedding dress but I wouldn't forever.

The light had gone out, the switch in my brain just flipped itself off. Over the next 3 years between honeymoon, pregnancy, being stay at home mummy extrordinaire, not having time nor inclination to get the the gym, I put all or most of it back on.

In February Smarty Pants made her confirmation. I bought a lovely pair of trousers in the size I thought I was, in a mad rush I never tried them on. I brought them home and, no reader, not a bit of it. Tantalisingly close but no cigar. They point blank refused to close. The switch flipped back on. I had 3 weeks til the confirmation, I employed every tactic I knew, every trick in the book. I wore those trousers on the day, they looked great, albeit hidden at the waist by a nicely forgiving top. I was bet into them as we say in Dublin, but I was in them. Two months on and they're a bit loose to tell the truth.

No more deadlines, no more goals, no more doing things for the wrong reasons. My deadline now is the end of the road, the time for kicking buckets. I don't plan to ever let myself get back into this state again, my body is a temple, be it one with the odd offering of beer and cake!!

Wednesday 30 March 2011

I solemnly swear that I am up to no good (or at least I was)!!

Smarty pants brought home a lovely laminated certificate from school yesterday. At first I assumed it was an award of some sort. It turned out to be a promise, there laminated in black and white, that she would never use drugs and would not drink alcohol until she is 18. I asked was she given a choice about this, she said no, they were told to sign them and hand them back up.

As a parent I'm torn about how I should feel about this. On one hand I should be delighted that my daughter is promising things like this and that the school are pressing such issues. On the other hand it's complete bulls*#t, it means nothing, it's not a real promise. To the kids it's just writing your name on a piece of paper because you were told to.

I know this and the kids know it too. The problem with how we deal with these things is that the education system so often fails to see kids as human beings who deserve respect, honesty and not to be patronised. If they just got someone in to talk to them to say look, I know you'll be presented with drugs and alcohol before you're 18. I know a lot of you will probably drink before then and some of you may experiment with drugs. So just don't be an idiot. Don't get yourself an addiction that will take over your life and destroy it and those of everyone around you. Don't get yourself into situations where you're drunk in an unsafe environment where someone could take advantage of you etc. If they got people who have fallen foul of these things to come and talk to them it would probably help too. At the very least they should be honest with them and not just get them to sign pieces of paper against their will that they know mean nothing.

They had a talk on smoking yesterday as well. The guy appears to have been a bit of an idiot. He went way way over the top with the effects of smoking. Exaggerating them so far beyond the truth that my daughter who despises smoking found him ridiculous. The thing is the kids see through this crap. They all know someone who smokes, they see people smoking every day so to tell them that a 40 year old person who's smoked all their adult life will definitely look 60 or 70 is just insulting their intelligence and breeding a mistrust of the type of people who give these talks.

I suppose the issue itself and the dealing with it scares me too. We're heading, swift as a bullet for teenage-dom. I was not a good little girl, in fact I was very very very naughty indeed!! If it was taboo or forbidden I did it, if it made you high, low, laugh, cry, hallucinate penguins growing out of postboxes I sniffed it, drank it, smoked it, ate it. Loathe as I am to admit it, most of it never did me any harm what-so-ever!! I became addicted to almost nothing because I never did many of them more than once or twice. Yes, I smoked, became addicted and still am addicted to nicotine, but of all the other things I did, to have that be the only lasting consequence is a bit of a feat I think. Especially since some of the most well behaved people I know are as hooked on the fags as I am!!

So where the school and the education system fails I am supposed to pick up the slack. I am supposed to talk to my daughter frankly and openly about smoking, drink and drugs and their effects. Fecked if I'm going to be honest with her about drink and drugs. The smoking she knows all about, she knows I smoke like a bleedin chimney. She hates it, but it wouldn't surprise me if she did it at some point. I just hope she never ends up as completely hopelessly hooked as I am.

As for drink, I can see it now. Well Smarty Pants, I once drank so much vodka that I blacked out while still upright and walking, screaming my loaf off wandering some of the dodgyest streets in Dublin (and that was the least embarrassing, most blog-worthy example I could find) So eh, never drink that much vodka, ok!! And drugs. Well, my little girl, I remember doing mushies in Rembrant Square in Amsterdam once and losing about 3/4 of a day, in which I'm sure we wandered about and did things but to this day none of us can remember what they were (most definitely the tamest example I could think of and least likely to get me in any large amount of trouble, I didn't inhale and all that) So eh yeah, don't do drugs, drugs are bad m'kay!!

Obviously I can hardly tell her these things and the stance, if not the approach of the education system is one I agree with. Life is precious and interesting and exciting, it is not worth risking it all for one cheap high. The real highs in life are much more valuable and sustained than anything you can get from the grimy jacket of a dodgy looking bloke on O'Connell St. Drugs are bad, but in fairness, you can't beat an ice cold pint on a hot day!! Oh my!!

Friday 25 March 2011

Melancholy And The Infinite Blog Post

It's odd when you haven't done something for a long time it feels like doing it for the first time. It should be fresh and new then shouldn't it. Or stagnant and old with a new mask on. 

There's no excuse, so I won't try to make one. I haven't written anything in ages. No, that's a lie! I've written a lot of things, too long, too short, too boring, too personal,! Me is quiet, reflective, drab and dreary. Me is silently, slowly drifting off somewhere. Domestic bliss remains, cleaning, dusting, cooking, slowly disappearing. There have been breaks in the monotony, but few, and disappointing, not living up to what a break from the banal should be. 
I discovered this post yesterday Winner of the 2011 Irish Blog Awards best post accolade, gong, or whatever you'd like to call it. The post and it's author deserve it a million fold. It is the single most perfect description of what it feels like to suffer severe depression that I have ever read. I have been almost exactly where she describes, months worth of laundry and old pasta included. That was many many moons ago and I have since escaped the clutches of my bed. I should feel good about sharing this, about being open and honest and talking about the disease that has shaped my life. I should feel proud to have come through the worst of it, ready to show others the path through, to display the light at the end of the tunnel. I don't. I feel awkward, long legged, plaster on glasses bumping into furniture awkward. 

This post has sat unfinished for the last week. I've popped in and had a look at it, you know, to make sure it was doing alright, but I just couldn't finish it, until now. Yesterday evening I was telling Rock God about the above post. How the author so terrifyingly accurately describes my life in my early 20's. "Remember I used to call over" he said, "and there you'd be sitting in the bed, surrounded by, stuff, a half finished sliced pan, a jar of miracle whip, bottles of coke, books, all sorts of everything". "Yeah", I replied, "I remember, mad really to think where we've come from." "I suppose", says he, "you were much happier then though" and he walked away casually, not a bother on him, leaving me holding my sense of self in my hands. 

Surely that couldn't be true. Surely I'm much happier now. I get up every morning, I wear proper clothes, I shower, I use my bed for sleeping and folding laundry, occasionally for bouncing Monkey boy on but never for living in. I clean, I cook, I chat to friends, I do "normal" things. So I must be happier than I was then, I'm a lot better than I was then. Aren't I? Or is it that even at my most depressed, even at the lowest depths of my misery, I had a grasp on who I really am, I knew who I was and I was who I was. Now I seem to have lost that, I'm beige, I'm transparent, I'm not really me, therefore I'm not really here. Maybe that's why I seemed happier then, I hadn't lost whatever it was I had.