Hello 2017

Happy New Year, blog. I’m full of hope, as ever. I really like the feeling on New Year’s Eve especially, and the promise of a bright clean new year full of possibilities. Thank you so much for reading in 2016. It’s been sporadic enough, I know. Perhaps I will try not let fear hold me back in 2017. My desire/ reluctance to write is laced with fear I think. Also, I have said it before but I like that my blog is my one link to writing when there is nothing else going on.

This year I have went to a few warm, funny, gifted meetings with Women Who Write. I have done a bit of freelance feature writing with a local newspaper, got some decent blog posts in, and wrote many a letter (snail mail!) for my friends and family. There was also a lot of writing involved in my Mammy’s recent 50th birthday celebrations, which went sooo well and she loved.

Today I read and was inspired by this article on Why You Should Aim for 100 Rejections a Year.

I got a little sad before I went to party with my two best friends last night. Yes. 3 person party. It was amazing. Just basically this: that I have been stuck in a rut for a few years and EVERY new year I hope that things will start falling into place. They have not so far! But don’t get me wrong I am extremely grateful to have a job, a brilliant family, wonderful friends and a good life. And my hoping is unfazed. I have to adjust my attitude, I know. I often have the feeling that I need to DO SOMETHING but I am still figuring out what.

I have been single for almost a whole year now, which is a first for adult me. I am not sure that I have made the most of it at all, but I definitely needed this time. I’m not pining for someone, although I do talk a good deal, and I think I am comfortable being on my own for now. I joke that my bullshit detector is finally working after all these years. I think I am going to be able to work out quite quickly if someone is just not treating me with enough respect, or I can’t see it going somewhere. The way of the world is not usually the way that I roll! So it’s difficult, it is, but relationships are important to me. And playing the game is not something I’m willing to do, soz.

Well that kind of went off on a tangent, but I am glad I was able to write something, however small, to start off the year. Thanks again for reading. A very, very happy and hopeful 2017 to you.

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From The Gate of the Year by Minnie Louise Haskins. 

 

 

 

P.S Look at these persoanlised blog earrings my beautiful bride to be Ruth got me for Christmas. I love them! So thoughtful. ❤

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Take Offs and Landings. Or Guy Garvey helped me through two break ups

In 2014, an almost 8 year relationship ended for me. I was 24. He dumped my stuff unceremoniously on the doorstep the next weekend, when he knew I was not going to be at home. I think my Mammy cried. He had a subscription to Q Magazine (which I had bought for him). The latest issue had ended up among my things and Elbow featured on the front. I really like Elbow. I read the article by Dorian Lynskey. It was gold dust.

Q is a music magazine, and Elbow (of London Olympics song One Day Like This fame) had just released a new album The Take-off and Landing of Everything. Front man wise, lyrical ‘funny bastard’ Guy Garvey had also recently had an 8 year relationship end. With a novelist, no less. (Emma Jane Unsworth)

His thoughts and attitude towards the break up were so valuable to me, I still have the magazine, and recently photocopied the article to pass on to a friend who is going through a tough split. (I sound a bit crazy, don’t I?)

At the minute I can’t stop listening to this album, the lyrics are so wise and kind and helpful. I have since recently went through another break up. Garvey says, ‘I wear my heart on my sleeve. Always have. I think it’s a form of defence mechanism to tell everybody everything.’ OMG me too, Guy.

In the song ‘Honey Sun’ he sings, ‘I cannot stay where all the broken plans were made’ and Garvey admits ‘My knee-jerk reaction was: get me the fuck out of here, run away as far as possible. But you can’t outrun things like that.’  In my experience that’s the exact male reaction to any break-up!

My favourite part of the interview is Garvey saying, ‘I don’t regret a single second of my relationship and she feels the same way and we’re friends because of that. I grew as a person in her company. She’s the most excellent of people. It’s important to acknowledge that it wasn’t a waste of time because it came to an end. It was the best use of time.’

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The article by Dorian Lynskey appeared in April 2014 issue of Q Magazine and has been rifled through by me numerous times since.

I think the reason I like this article so much is that I would want someone who has been in a relationship with me to think of me/the relationship in these terms. I possibly want Guy Garvey to break up with me. The next paragraph addresses the title track of the album:

‘There’s such a relief when something’s run its course and you put it to bed. Not, “Thank God I’m not doing that any more” but “Thank God I haven’t done too much damage to someone I care about deeply.” I wanted the song to be a celebration, not just of the throes of a great relationship but of the timely end of things. The landings are as important as the take-offs.”

I LOVE that. Some actual lyrics from the title song are

A prayer to the take-off and landing of everything

Leaving your lips as we took to the sky

And a prayer to the take-off and landing of everything

I’ll say for you and I will for all time.

Nothing is ever wasted. I really believe that, and as my mammy says, at the moment you are looking at the back of the tapestry. All rough and muddled and untied threads. Someday you will see it from the other side and everything will fall into place, and you will see the beauty in it. Everything you went through, or shared with someone has meaning and purpose in your life and theirs.

So thanks Dorian Lynskey and thank you Guy Garvey! Friends, let me know if anyone else wants me to copy this article for them. Ha.

 

Jonathan Unleashed – Meg Rosoff

I almost met Meg Rosoff once. I was volunteering for the first time at the Humdinger Children’s Book Festival and she was actually taking the only adult event of the festival about novel-writing I think. I had to creep into the room to retrieve my purse so that I could buy lunch. I wish I could have taken part in that class! I think I was going through a big break up then, and I kind of am again and I loved this book, because poor Johnathan reminds me so much of me.

Jonathan is a twenty something who has just moved to New York, got himself a decent apartment with somewhat dodgy conditions, is a creative soul stuck in an advertising job that he hates (he isn’t allowed to write tag lines more interesting than ‘Gel Pens! 20% off!’ He has a pretty, efficient go-getter girlfriend Julie who he is somewhat amazed that he blagged, but we can gradually see is completely wrong for him.

So, the best thing about the book are Dante and Sissy, Jonathan’s brother’s Collie and Spaniel that he has entrusted to Jonathan for six months or so while he finishes a contract in Dubai. He feels they are wise, they are watching and judging him, and he worries that they are unhappy, and not reaching their potential. He takes him to Dr Clare the vet, who asks are they whining or tail-chasing or acting aggressive?

I know they’re dogs,’ he said, struggling to explain. ‘But I get the feeling they’re dissatisfied. Dante should be herding sheep, at the very least. He’s so intelligent. And Sissy…she doesn’t complain, but I often get a sense that she’s missing something. Grouse? I don’t know. They both just seem a bit-off.’

‘I have other concerns. What if Dante’s boredom reaches a peak and then one day, suddenly and for no reason, he takes a dislike to some small child and lunges, ripping its face off? And someone films it on their phone and it goes viral and there’s a massive lawsuit and it makes the cover of New York Magazine. I’d probably end up in jail and they’d make an example of Dante. You couldn’t really blame him and he’d probably have to be put down.’

This particular exchange and many others made me laugh out loud. Jonathan is highly strung, anxious, not where he thinks he should be and I just recognise this worrying SO much.

Julie, the girlfriend who is driven and pretty, gets promoted at her job with Brides 360 blog. She is asked to take part as a real bride for a photograph series for their next issue. Jonathan doesn’t realise what she’s suggesting for an uncomfortably long time.

‘But just at that instant and impulse took him. A crazy impulse to do whatever crazy thing arose because maybe if you said yes to things that terrified you, your life would change direction, open up, get exciting….Wouldn’t it be nice to come home to a person you knew (and maybe even loved) every night for the rest of your life? no more worrying about meeting the right person, no more doubts about the future. He liked the idea of embracing adulthood at a concept and not worrying too much about the fine print.’

No, no, no I want to scream! Only recently have I realised just how common and dangerous this kind of compromise can be and I wrote a little about my experience.

Jonathan is always falling in love with people, like the beautiful French lady in the bakery that welcomes dogs, and he confides in the wonderful Greeley, no one knows what gender, the boss’ PA. He/she gives wonderful spiritual advice.

Jonathan’s relationship with the dogs is wonderful and hilarious, his work escapades increasingly crazy and hyper, I loved his relationship with Max, the best friend who told him Julie wasn’t right for him from the start despite being a complete lad. His thoughts about the wedding, burying of real feelings, referring to it accidentally as a funeral, no one speaking about it, although funny, is very stressful and Jonathan gets actual physiological symptoms which affect his whole life.

You’ll have to read it to find out what happens, but this wonderful witty and intelligent story about growing up in your twenties is a real triumph for Meg Rosoff, who has mostly written YA titles before this.

James Walton in a review for The Telegraph wrote ‘In Meg Rosoff’s last book, Picture Me Gone, the main character was a 12-year-old girl peering nervously towards adulthood, not at all sure that she liked the idea of it. Now, the hugely entertaining Jonathan Unleashed features a man in his twenties doing the same.’

As you can tell, I adored this book, my 14th of the year, and looking forward to reading more by the wonderful Meg Rosoff. I’m going to miss Dante and Sissy, I think I might be becoming a dog person.

 

Trust Your Gut

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Perfect illustration from Bryony Attenburrow

A few short weeks ago, I would have avoided reading this piece, or anything similar. I wouldn’t have clicked the link or wanted to face the truth.

It seems one’s body knows when things aren’t right, it tries to tell you time and time again, and it is possible to quash the feelings, to get on with it, to ignore the niggle. I’m the biggest worrier in the world. I’m constantly teased about it by the people who know me. But a gut feeling is different to the twisty tummy worries that come and go.

Relationships are the thing that get me in the gut. And when you have a good connection with someone it becomes very difficult to face the flickering warnings in your heart. I’d go as far as to say that it takes a certain amount of bravery. Especially when the future is unknown.

I had to hurt someone I care a great deal about. I had to go into my retail job trying not to cry, and hoping people would know without me having to tell them. I’m a bit lonely, at a bit of a loose end. I’m 26. I’m not a teenager. Something spookily similar has happened to me already. But my gut is calm again, for the first time in a long time.

I have a desire to marry, and to have children. This is so important to me that I want to be as happy as possible and absolutely ‘love in a bucket’. Marriage is difficult enough without serious doubts.

I fear most people, most women? Settle. I always thought of settling as ‘I’m unhappy, this isn’t what I want but I’m going to go ahead with it for whatever reason. Baby/security/money etc.’

But it’s more ‘I’m quite happy, I really like/fancy this person. He’s really good to me. We have a good time. We’re similar. Maybe I wouldn’t find anyone else.’ While feeling that something isn’t quite adding up inside.

There’s a dull dread when people get engaged. It’s hard to feel happy for people you love who are happily putting rings on fingers. This is terrible. I was so grumpy when my brother got engaged and I even cried, and it wasn’t jealousy. I wanted everyone to freeze until I was happy, I was ready, until I was at their level.

Maybe you’re thinking, how dare she expect anything more than a decent man who loves her? But if my body was quietly warning no, no, no- how could I ignore it? I have faith enough to believe that there’s someone out there just for me. My mammy’s been praying for him since I was a little girl. I want to love as deeply as I’m loved. I want a sureness, a yes-ness, an excitement to move forward that flows into everything else.  Yes, it is a lot to ask for. But I deserve it. You deserve it.

Listen to your gut.

 

p.s I wrote this to try to make sense of things. I thought my experience might help someone. I really, really don’t wish to hurt anyone. Please let me know if you have any issues.

2012: My year

It was the year…

I completed a year of blogging in January.

M and I broke up… and it was the saddest and strangest time. Nothing seemed right. I had thought we were the problem. We weren’t. After about 2 months apart, we found our way back. We went on a date on Good Friday, in April. Our own Good Friday Agreement, my Mum called it. The relief and gratefulness was overwhelming. I woke up on Easter Saturday with a smile. That hadn’t happened in a long time.

My 23rd birthday passed without much ado. I’m still not really used to being 23! Must be grown up if I didn’t want a party or too much attention.

Lots of lovely Josh Ritter things. He continues to follow me on twitter, with 87 other people. In June, M and I went to Dublin to Josh’s book signing and hung around to meet him. Josh was lovely as usual and recognised me from twitter and before. Just so happy. Best day 🙂 I’m just honoured to be his fan. What a wonderful guy.

I graduated from Queen’s University Belfast with a 2:1 in English (Major) and Philosophy (Minor). The final year was hard for me, with lots of personal stuff going on. Am proud of my achievement and still hoping that my degree will help me in my quest to work with words. Three years in Belfast seemed to pass in a flash. I was happiest with my living arrangements in the final year, lovely flat on University Avenue. Bitter sweet: Proud and happy to graduate but am still missing the small things about being in Belfast. Friends, lectures (I didn’t have many in final year, just awful seminars. I LOVED listening to someone intelligently speak of books for an hour at a time.) and oddly, Common Grounds on University Avenue. It seemed that just as IO got into the swing of Belfast life it was taken away.

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M moved into Fort Will.I.Am, giving us some space and peace. I don’t live with him but I have somewhere to escape to whenever I want.

I saw Foo Fighters at T Vital in Belfast. It had a festival feel and it was a brilliant show, despite comical drowned-rats episode as we queued in a thunder-storm.

I continued work with the job I have been in throughout university. I appreciate the work. I like my colleagues. I yearn for more.

I took up Zumba and Yoga within a week of each other  They lasted longer that I expected them to… but yet not that long. I did enjoy them… but weird nervousness did rear its head, and exercise is not a strong point for me. I know it’s importance though, and am unhappy with my body as it is so will have to rethink my strategy.

Had a very lovely visit and a lemon cake from my best Belfast friends in October. Hope to have many more visits and meet ups, and to stay in touch via my favourite form of communication: snail mail in between times.

We sadly lost Maria, M’s grandmother in November. Christmas was a hard time for everyone in her absence. We will keep her light shining.

Two little bundles of kitten came to live in Fort Will.I.Am. They are Buttons and Brave and we have been making gradual headway with them. Very shy little things. I like them a lot.

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Christmas was special, I always love Christmas. I felt a bit like George Bailey and really appreciated what I have. On Christmas Day I’m always at a loss at what to do. M and I ended up watching the traditional screening of It’s a Wonderful Life in my overcrowded living room, with my parents and sisters. I could tell there was many other things he would rather be doing and he wasn’t too impressed with the old black and white film, but it meant a lot that he would sit with us. And it did me good to see the old feel good movie.  I loved this blog post entitled ‘Clarence’ by Lou Morgan.

I will hush now to muster my hopes for 2013 and savour the last hours of 2012. Thank you for reading and commenting in 2012, I’m going to try to be more efficient and organised and present next year for you all.

Are you driven by your head or your heart?

Inspired by The Daily Post Topic #217

I know that I am firmly someone who wants to be driven by my heart one hundred per cent of the time, but my heart will reluctantly go along with my sensible head a large portion of the time.

I am proud to say that when it comes to love and relationships I will always trust my heart. I would never let money or what other people thought or anything materialistic guide my relationship. Sometimes my head has made stupid decisions and my heart has always climbed to the top again to tell me to wise up. And people that I love are good at helping my heart fight back.

Sometimes things like work and university and responsibilities crush my soul a little bit and my head has to tell me to keep going even though my heart wants away away away away. Sometimes pleasing people that I don’t really love takes a ‘head’ approach. My heart has to be reined in my my head just to keep life on an even plane. I think my head is responsible for all my worrying. I don’t like the thought of having a worried heart.

Hmm, to conclude, I think my head drives me a teeny bit more than I’m comfortable with…but for the REALLY important stuff in life I can’t push my heart down.(And I’m glad.)

What better opportunity to get you to listen to The Head and the Heart again?: