Site Meter

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Nothing Matters

Sometimes I skirt around the issue a lot. I struggle with wanting to be completely open and honest about everything but I’m always holding something back. I have been honest about my feelings but I haven’t explained why. It’s nothing special. It happens to everyone. But maybe just not in the same way. So, fuck it, in order to completely process the hurt and do what helps me the most, which is write, I have to just bite the bullet. I was in a relationship. I thought I’d met my soul mate. This wasn’t just a fanciful notion I had. I’d thought very deeply about finding my soul mate. I searched deep within myself so that I’d know when to recognise that person when they came into my life.

It turns out my soul mate was a mirage. I won’t go into details about anything because it’s only important to me. Nobody else cares. But the reason I’m writing about it is because when one of my relationships ends, something symbolically dies at the same time. And that is like some kind of proof that the relationship is well and truly dead. When Jakers and I split up Rocky the rat passed away. This time it is my laptop that has died.

I was actually feeling far too miserable anyway to be truly devastated that my laptop was irreparable. But, all my writing and photos were on it. I never backed anything up. Part of me wanted to feel like this was the worst thing that had ever happened in my life. All the work I had put into writing my book. All the photos and memories I had created. I knew how much it sucked but I couldn’t be bothered feeling annoyed about it. I’d write more. I’d take more photos. It didn’t matter.

Today I have been thinking deeply. As it turns out, Jakers, who is awesome with computers, has managed to save my work, although the laptop is most definitely goosed. Had I lost everything I could have, but probably wouldn’t have, turned it into the biggest possible disaster known to mankind. And it would have been, to me. But I realised that no one else would give an actual flying fuck. Not really. They’d nod their head in some kind of empathy but they’d think no more about it. This makes me realise that everything I care about is only really important to me. For some strange reason, this comforts me. It's like freeing myself from the feeling that anything matters. Nothing matters.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Things That Soothe My Soul

Yesterday,after work, I made myself do the thing that I most hate to do. Grocery shopping. I figured that, if I really was serious about gaining some weight, I would have to have some food in the cupboards. This is basic logic. As I looked down at the contents of my trolley I realised that I wasn't so much concerned about my own diet as making sure there were plenty of nice things for my pet rat to nibble on. As it happens Meka is already as fat as a fool.

I was riding a great big wave of annoyance all through Christmas and I couldn't even muster the will to blog a happy christmas post. Everything was a steaming pile of bullshit. It's now less bullshitty but there's still a little bit of a lingering bullshit smell in the air. It's a good job I have Yankee Candles. I remember a time when scented candles and brasso were all I needed to soothe my soul. I also rememeber a time when a 20p mix up would have done the trick. And the best days of my life were the days when all I had to do was put my thumb in my mouth and everything was ok.

Despite my christmas being not great, even though my dear sweet mum tried her very best to make it nice for me, I did console myself with the fact that Ziggy loved his little holiday in the countryside. Every time the door opened he was out like a shot doing doggy type things. By the time I took him home on Boxing night he was fit for nothing. I love it when my wee puppy is soooo tired. He looks like an angel as opposed to a cheeky, rascally devil dog.

I am even less enthused about the New Year as I was about Christmas. Last year I was feeling very stoical and wished everyone, not a happy new year, just a better one. It's the same again this year. Happiness is a state of being that's highly overrated. Better to aim for being content. And well rested. And without too many niggly pains. I may wish people a relaxing new year, or a carefree new year. Then again, I'll probably just go with the flow and wish everyone a happy new year after all.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Too Tired To Think

Today we got finished up in work. I think I was practically skipping out the door. It's been a tough week both in work and outside of work but I am full of cheer. Not Christmas cheer but cheer all the same. There has been one good thing about it all, and that is that work has been a bit like an obstacle course, in which I have had to climb over things, squeeze into minute gaps and balance myself in precarious positions. I do enjoy all that. What hasn't been fun is climbing and squeezing and balancing, only to realise that the thing you were looking for isn't there. That might actually be a metaphor for life.

So, over the next few days the plan is to eat and eat and eat. I can afford to put a bit of weight on. All that climbing and squeezing and balancing keeps you very fit. I am starting off tonight by going out to dinner with sosme work colleagues. And tomorrow I will be at O'Rawes, where I spend every Christmas Eve night singing Happy Birthday to Jesus with all my friends.

It's been another interesting year. This time last year someone asked me what I was doing with myself and I replied "I'm writing a book". This year I finished it and nearly got it published. I'm glad I didn't because I think it would have been exploitation. I'm gonna keep on writing and never totally give up on having my words read some day. My favourite author, Paulo Coelho, didn't publish his first book until late on in life.

My new licence arrived today. That means, when the Christmas thing is over, I can book my theory test. I aim to be driving by the middle of March, just before my birthday. Ziggy will eventually become like Snowy (Tin Tin's dog) and he will be a brave adventurer. I never really like Tin TIn. But I loved Snowy.

This post is a bit askew because complete exhaustion has kicked in. It's time for a nap to get me back into sync with the rest of the world. That'll be nice.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Meaning Of Christmas

I'm wiped. Two more crazy days at work to go then I get a well deserved break. I'm ready for it. Today I have no energy to take Ziggy out for a proper walk so I'm shipping him off to mum's for the night so he can play with Jess and Judy. He should hopefully arrive back to me tomorrow completly shattered. I did take him for a walk to the shops and on the way back we bumped into a couple of little boys and their dad. The older of the two, who had hair the same colour as Ziggy's, bent down to pet him. The two boys chatted away to me for a minute and their dad told me they were all going to get their hair cut. They told me they had a wee dog too, called Archie. Then we said goodbye and the older boy and his dad walked on up the street while the younger boy hung back and said:

"And, you know what?"


"Sometimes," He said, his eyes twinkling at the opportunity to tell me something amazing, "Sometimes my dog gets wee bits of pooh stuck around his eyes!"

Then he ran off down the street so pleased with himself that he'd told me the most interesting thing in the world. And, you know what, it was, at least, the most interesting thing I'd heard all day. I also had a moment in work today that brightened it up for all the wrong reasons. A woman walked by and, following behind, was her 10 year old son. He was wearing sandy coloured trousers with a light blue shirt tucked in. He had blonde hair that was mid length and styled in a "do". As he walked behind his mother he held his hands up in a mock strangling motion and his face contorted in abhorrance. Clearly he had been brought up to understand the true meaning of Christmas.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Immersed In A Fickle World

She wakes up at 7:00 am. The alarm clock radio's playing 'Let It Be'. She peels herself out of bed and makes her way to the kitchen. After coffee and toast she takes a shower.

She gets out of the shower and dries her hair. She looks into the mirror and applies a thick layer of foundation to her face. She rubs it in evenly, taking great care to blend it in around her jaw line and the creases of her nose and chin. She smoothes it over with pressed powder.

She fishes inside her make-up bag wondering what colour eye shadow to wear. She chooses a dusty pink to compliment her blue eyes.

She takes her eye liner and applies it gently to the top and bottom of her eye lids. She brushes mascara lightly off her lashes, tainting them black. She uses gloss to colour her lips and, to finish, she powders her cheeks with blusher.

She grabs her handbag and house keys from the kitchen table. Taking one last glance in the mirror, she opens the door and walks down the garden path, through the gate...

At 7 O'clock his alarm goes off. He climbs out of bed and wakes himself up with a shower. He spends half an hour soaping, lathering and rinsing. Soaping, lathering and rinsing. Over and over again.

He gets out of the shower and puts his clothes on. He splashes aftershave on his neck and rubs gel through his hair.

He goes out to the front yard before breakfast. He washes his car. He spends half an hour soaping, lathering and rinsing. Soaping, lathering and rinsing. He waxes. He polishes and when he's finished he stands back admiring it.

He goes back into the house. He eats bacon and toast for breakfast. He puts on his jacket and picks up his car keys. He checks himself out in the mirror before walking out the door. He gets in the car and starts the engine...

She closes the garden gate behind her. She pulls out a compact mirror and her lip gloss. She reapplies a coating as she crosses the road...

He's driving at full speed. He glances down and notices a dirty mark on the passenger seat. He licks his thumb and rubs at it...

She doesn't see the car. He looks up and she appears from nowhere.


She looked beautiful at the morgue. His car was still shiny but the massive dent on the bumper was a sickening reminder of the tragedy that took place that morning.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Road Not Taken

When I was 19 a boyfriend and I decided to travel round Europe on the trains. We went to Amsterdam, Nuremberg, Salzburg, Innsbruck, Verona, Zurich, Strasbourg, Vianden and Lieden. We didn't do it in luxury. We did it on a budget that meant living in a tent for 5 weeks. At times it was fantastic but there was a lot to overshadow the experience too. It kept raining and our tent was not built for heavy downpours. The poles kept snapping and the water would flood into our tent. There were days going by when we were constantly cold and drenched. I had also never been in someone's company, 24/7. At certain points I had to throw a tantrum to get some time to myself. I can't blame the guy who I was with as all he wanted to do was keep me safe.

As the 5 weeks came to an end, despite the travelling not being as great as I had thought it would be, I didn't want to go home. My ex boyfriend (we split up in Strasbourg) had to go home as he was starting work experience. I thought about getting a job in Holland and staying a while longer. Somehow, through the use of internet cafes, which weren't all that great at the time, I managed to get in contact with a company to arrange work.

I met a guy at a train station in Lieden for a very informal interview (we didn't even go for coffee, he just gave me the address and contact number of the campsite I would stay at while I was working). It was in a very random place in Holland called Opperdoes and from there, a bus would take us all, each morning, to a tulip bulb factory where we worked sorting out bulbs. This involved standing on a conveyor belt feeling the bulbs as they went past and pulling out any bad ones from the pile. It was brain numbingly monotonous but I chatted with a fellow worker to put the time in. My ex boyfriend left after a couple of days and I walked him to the bus. It was raining as I walked back from waving goodbye to him. The rain had been my nemesis for the past 5 weeks but walking back to the campsite I felt the hugest weight lifting off my shoulders. I felt my adventure was really beginning.

I worked at the factory for 7 weeks. Long, gruelling shifts. There was a group of about nine of us. There were others who came for a while but it wasn't what they were expecting so they left early. It was a bit like Big Brother, all these people meeting up on a campsite to live closely and work closely for a certain period of time. It was brilliant. It was the experience I was looking for. It was the first time I ever saw shooting stars. I thought they were make believe. I got a new tent that kept the rain off. I made some interesting friends. I worked hard. I earned money. I had fun. I went back home with an immense feeling of pride in myself.

That was my first taste of travel. I knew I wanted more but when I went back home I fell into the same trap a lot of people do. Love. When I went travelling the next time it was so unplanned and unexpected that I couldn't have thrown myself any further into the deep end. I was 25 and a friend of mine just got a contract teaching English in Thailand. She suggested I do it too, despite not having a TEFL qualification. I had nothing to lose and it was an immense satisfaction handing in my notice at work. When I arrived in Thailand I was glad of the support and company of my good friend. But not even she could have prepared me for what I was about to embark upon. I was totally out of my depth. With absolutely no training in teaching, I was placed in a room full of 40 students, none of who could speak one word of English. Within a week I was ready for the hills. I had planned to work long enough to get the wages to go travelling without the pressure of working in a job I wasn't good at, or prepared for. But by the time I had my first wages i had found my groove. I stayed there for 6 months and only came back because of visa problems. It was the most profound adventure I've been on because of what I achieved there. My self confidence soared and I finally grew into the fun loving, confident, friendly person I always wanted to be.

Despite not wanting to come home I was happy enough to be there and could see that it had all happened for a reason. I carried the strength I had with me and I set about planning my next adventure. This took another few years. I lived at home to save money but I didn't deprive myself of a social life and good times either. It was a slow process saving money. I wanted enough that I could travel without working. I had experienced that already and while it was amazing I wanted a proper break to appreciate life. I received a kind gift from my step-grandmother. This spurred me on. I worked as many hours as I could. I took two jobs on towards the end. I had my tickets booked. I was going to do things properly this time and be organised and have some kind of loose plan.

I was heading off on my own. Something I was happy to do because it was my adventure. I was approaching 30 and reckoned I was big enough and ugly enough to look after myself. The first month of my travels I spent very little time alone. I met with people I had fallen in with before in life. I met new people. I taught a sweet, gay French-Canadian guy to be brave and learn how to use the metro all by himself. I really had an amazing time. Mostly. At the time it was clouded. I didn't know this but it was clouded because I had so many expectations of what this experience would entail and it didn't always live up to that. And it was clouded because, essentially, I was on my own, and doesn't happiness only exist when shared? I found the days long. I struggled with relaxing all the time. I missed people back home.

I ended up creating this negativity around me that other people could pick up on. People that wanted to prey on someone who wasn't rightly at themselves. I felt uncomfortable at times and I felt vulnerable. The one thing I vowed I wouldn't be scared of, I became scared of. Fear is a terrible thing and it can be born out of lonliness. I had something ro prove to myself and, in a way, it back fired, but I can never take away the fact that I was brave enough to at least try.

All of it happened for a reason and I have duly learnt my lessons from each and every experience in life. And it is a joy to look back and have so many rich and fruitful memories to reflect back on. I have nothing to regret. And I have nothing to run away from.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Blasting Things

I was meant to blast things yesterday. Meaning that I was meant to get my driver's licence form posted. I didn't do it. But I did buy some Christmas presents. So today, this morning, I blasted things. I wrapped all the presents I had bought. I just ran out of sellotape before the very last present but I had some double sided sticky tape which done the job. I then went on facebook and messaged all the people I needed to to get their addresses. As if by magic, everyone replied just in time for me to leave the house and go to the post office. At the post office i got all my parcels sent off and.....I got my form posted off. The lady that served me said "There now, you've got all that sorted in one go". She did not realise that it really was an achievement for me. Every Christmas I leave posting of presents to the last minute and there is always someone who doesn't get their present until June or so. In fact, I still have a present from last year for an Aunt, that I haven't posted as I haven't got the right size envelope for. But I'm not going be plagued by Christmas past. It's all about the Christmas present.

I had my class today and, as always, it was a joy to be there. We did some learning about our internal and external frame of references with the use of some abstract art. I did some colouring in earlier. I was buying my nieces presents and I came across some felt tips that blend with each other to make different colours. They are rubbish. But it was nice to colour in anyway. I then met a friend for coffee before my class started.

Now I'm just going to sit back and wait for the rush to really begin. I start work at four in the morning the week before Christmas. Thankfully, I don't have much more shopping to do. This is the advantage of starting work at six and getting home at two. The shops are still open. I have never really had the spirit of Christmas but this year, I think, is going to be a good one. I have even bought my very first fake Christmas tree. Ziggy hasn't seen it yet but I'm pretty sure he's going to either pee on it or bark at it or try and pull all the tinsel off. And, knowing Ziggy, he'll probably do all three.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Learning From The Best

A few weeks ago I didn't mind sharing that I was feeling a little blue. So I suppose I shouldn't mind sharing the fact that I'm feeling great at the moment. This is all down to the quest for self awareness. The first thing I learnt when I started the counselling course was that, in order to be in a position to help others we must first, know ourselves. This quote sums it up perfectly: "Training for counselling is not just a matter of developiing a few new skills. It requires setting one's pyschological house in order, so that one knows who he is and where he is going".

Every week I am there without fail and learning so much about myself and about everything. I love the simplicity of the theory. Good counselling practice merely involves being with someone in a completely accepting and non-judgemental way. That is second nature to me. If a counsellor practices congruence, which means to be genuine, the client will know that the counsellor is coming from the right place in their heart and they will be more likely to trust and open up to them. This is wee buns. Be yourself, be empathic, be accepting, be open. But keep boundaries.

Of course, we can learn about ourselves from other people. We shouldn't put up resistance because most people are kind teachers if we let them be. Animals can also teach us about ourselves. And children are most definitely the best teachers we could ever have. Because they teach us what we already know but have forgotten.

Monday, December 09, 2013

The Little Shop Of Dog Lovers

I had a rare Sunday off work so I made sure to take full advantage of it. Saturday night I had drinks at my local. Ziggy stayed at home this time and it was a quiet enough night at the bar, but enjoyable all the same. On Sunday I lay in bed 'til 10 O'Clock. This doesn't sound like much of a lie in but it was five hours later than I normally have to get up so I wasn't complaining. We gathered Ziggy up and took him up to Belfast for the Continental Market. They hold it every Christmas and you can buy all kinds of strange and unusual things. The good folk of Norn Iron particularly enjoy eating weird burgers made of Kangaroo and Ostrich. I declined these meaty delights in favour of churros and fudge.

Then we stumbled upon a clothes shop I had been to once before. The shop itself is amazing. It's designed in a retro vintage fashion and has all these amazing quirky touches to it. The dressing rooms are all themed round the rooms of a house. So each cubicle has a load of old fashioned objects and utensils from a kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, etc. I spent ages before looking at all the individual rooms. Ziggy was made to feel most welcome here. All the shop assistants cooed over him and one of them told us that all the members of staff are allowed to bring their dogs to work with them! And it wasn't just dogs they welcomed. Anyone could bring their pet shopping with them. One woman used to go in with a parrot sitting on her shoulder. I have never enjoyed shopping but if all shops were like this I think I could start to like it.

I got some lovely things from this shop but I also got a new bag from the market. It caught my eye because it had the HMV dog logo on it. It's made out of two records stitched together. It was a rastafarian guy who owned the stall and he insisted that I use the bag straight away and if anyone asked about it I was to tell them where I got it. One of the girls in the pet friendly shop had seen them at Camden Market and always regretted not getting one, so I told her where to go. We got chatting about the dog and she told me that the logo was a painting called His Master's Voice and that's where HMV got their name from. I later learned from Uncle Rod that the dog's name was Nipper.

Ziggy's favourite part of the day was when we went round to Nellybert's for dinner and he got to play with Jess. And there's always a spoiling to bbe had when Uncle Rod is there. His brother owns a pet shop so there is no shortage of tasty treats for the dogs. I still haven't sorted out my provisional driver's licence. It's turning into one of those annoying chores that I will put off forever. Tomorrow, I'll do it tomorrow.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Two Down, One To Go

This week has been productive. I made a couple of those phone calls that were on my 'to do' list. One of them was with regards to a noise complaint from Ziggy's barking. Ziggy is now left at 5:30 in the morning with BBC Radio 4 for company. He is probably much more up on his current affairs than I am but he chooses to keep his knowledge to himself. The other phonecall was with regards to my pesky neighbours. And that is all they are, pesky. But I have been worried that my lack of real annoyance will only spur them on more and so I reported the minor incidences in the (hopefully) unlikely event that it should escalate.

The other official call I have to make is about my provisional driver's licence. I've lost the paper document. In fact, I don't ever remember having the paper document and it would have been like me to have thrown it in the bin thinking I would never need it. I struggle with these mundane tasks. Most people would do everything in their power to speed up the process of them getting their full licence. I just bumble along at a snail's pace. I'd much rather be daydreaming, laughing and writing blog posts about not doing the things I should be doing.

Oh, and there's that dreaded looming presence of Christmas round the corner. Having worked in retail for the past far too many years I have found it impossible to do my own Christmas shopping. The last place I want to be is at the shops with people shoving and pushing and grunting and farting. Fact, when people are in crowds they are more likely to fart because there are more suspects. People really lose their manners at Christmas. So when it should be the season to be be jolly, most people are walking around with a face like thunder. And it just keeps happening every year.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Zig's Big Night Out

Despite my last entry having a slight air of doom and gloom about it, writing about meant I was able to get it out of my system and move on a lot quicker. Those periods in my blog when I haven't been wwriting have been times when I tried to hold my feelings in. It never did me any good.

Since then I have been really busy, which is how I like to be. I met with a friend on Tuesday. He is a relatively new friend who I met at work and who is also training to be a counsellor. I met with a friend on Wednesday as well. An old friend who knows me inside out. On Thursday morning I spent some quality time with myself and then I had a driving lesson and my course to attend. On Friday I met with my mum for lunch and then did some shopping. I shopped like a proper girl shops and it didn't annoy me too much. Though it was rather expensive.

Later I took Ziggy round to a friend's house and I drank a few ciders and Ziggy spilt a few ciders on their carpet (these friends are my kind of people who care not much for carpets and love dogs). We all went up to the pub, Ziggy included. I couldn't leave him at home as he'd already spent a few hours by himself when I was out shopping. It's a good job he's a sociable boy because he had plenty of people fussing over him.

On Saturday I had a relaxing morning and then went out again. I knew it was going to be a late one so Ziggy stayed at mum's house. He didn't pine for me once. Too busy playing with Jess and fighting with the cat, who is much bigger than he is. Now it's Monday and I'm back to work but I have a new, better contract and a spring in my step again. I am also vaguely aware that Christmas is around the corner and I have a flat that's been badly neglected of chores so as much as I'd love to just sit here, not moving, I think I better just keep on at it. I also have forms to fill in, phone calls to make, homework to do and, even though these things make me busy, they are exactly the things that I hate doing, and so I will probably procrastinate. Hence writing this blog.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Shake It Out

I have learnt that to spew some words down on a page helps me release my emotions. It stops them whirring around my brain and when I can view those thoughts and feelings in black and white I can finally let them go. I suffer from depression. It has taken me a long time to figure this disease out. And it is a disease. And there is no permanent cure. Just ways of coping. When I am happy I am positively the most wonderful person I can be. I relish in spreading joy, peace, happiness and laughter. When I am feeling depressed I am incapable of this and this leads to further feelings of hopelessness. How am I meant to feel good if I am unable to make anyone else feel good?

I find the reasons for my bouts of depression rather annoying. Lonliness, low self esteem, feelings of worthlessness and the fact that life is such a challenge at times. We work, work, work and for what? I find it hard to see why I should bother living in this sham of a world. I am totally disillusioned. Some people breeze through life. Others don't. Some of those that don't are stoical and just get on with it. I become depressed. I see no joy in the world. I am uninspired. I feel like everything's a struggle. I force myself to do as much as possible and it is exhausting. I feel guilty for the things I didn't do. The shark and the ram draw blood and bruise me. I am fragile. My eyes well up with tears when I think of the sadness inside of me. The sadness is bursting and trying to seep through every pore. People don't get it. People really don't understand a disease they can't see.

This is especially a problem for loved ones who can feel like nothing they do is good enough because they can't take away the hurt for you. Everyone involved is, in a way, powerless. Until you remember that you have the strength and the ability to regain the power of your feelings. Sometimes, though, even this is too hard.

So, I muddle on. And, recently, I've learnt ways to help myself. These are only small things but even the small things can make a bit of a difference. I have learnt better how to release some of my sadness without it being etched all over my face. I smile at everyone because when they smile back it takes a little bit of the edge off. I have also learnt to not let these periods of sadness completely envelope me. The sadness is there but it's not the only thing that's there. A tiny shred of hope forever remains. A tiny shred of hope that I fought hard to get and am not going to give up so easily. This is what really gets me through the sad times. I know they'll pass because everything does.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Cooking Red Thai Curry With The Howling Wolf

Yesterday in class we were talking about our 'inner critic'. This is the voice in our head that tells us we are not good enough or we should be doing this and not doing that. The tutor then produced four small boxes of animal figures and asked us to pick animals that signified our inner critic. I was in my element. It is exactly these kind of creative exercises that gets me excited. She then asked us to pick an animal that signified the 'victim' part of ourselves. So, for my inner critic I picked out a ram and a shark. I chose the ram as I see it headbutting a wall incessantly and not giving up, which is what my inner critic is like. I also picked a shark because the attacks from my inner critic are so vicious and nasty. I chose a meercat to represent my victim. At first I thought I was choosing the meercat because I like them so much but when I thought about how the meercat acts I realised that is how my victim feels when it's being attacked. Meercats are always on the lookout. They are anxious and skittish. After we discussed the animals we'd chosen and why we'd chosen them we took a tea break. When we came back our tutor asked us to then choose an animal to represent our 'adult' voice. An animal that could challenge our critic and protect our victim. I had already spied the wolf in the box earlier and I knew it was my 'adult' side. There were two wolves though and I chose the howling wolf.

I explained to the class that I chose the wolf because the noise of it's howling would drown out the noise of the inner critics voice. The tutor then asked me what howling meant to me. I said that although it's traditionally linked to insanity I view howling as a sign of freedom. Or, as a release of something painful. There will always be an intrinsic link between the moon and insanity. But if you read Paulo Coelho's book Veronica Decides To Die you are faced with the question, is it really the people locked up in asylums who are the mental ones, or is it the rest of society who live by a rigid set of codes and practices that are crazy? People fear the unknown. Lunatics leap into the unknown. Nobody's right or wrong we're all just different but we all deserve the same respect. I think I should probably end this topic now before I go full force into a sociological discussion about the stigma of mental illness. Keep that one for another day!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Wind Wars

There's a storm brewing outside. The North, South, East and West winds are battling it out. There's a storm brewing inside too. Ziggy and Jess spent all night wrestling with each other. They had a good sleep and dutifully resumed their war this morning. This is great. It means Ziggy will be totally exhausted all day today and most of tomorrow. I would love for him to have company all the time but I think I'm better getting used to having one dog before I rush out and get another.

I've been coming out to stay at mum's on a Wednesday night for a few weeks now. Ziggy gets to play with Jess and learn some manners off Judy. I get a home cooked meal. Everyone's a winner! Tonight I'm going to attempt to cook a Thai red curry. I used to cook yellow curries for mum and Bert when I lived here. No two ever tasted the same because I never followed the same recipe. I remember asking Gift, the Thai lady who owned the bar we used to drink at, what ingredients I needed to make a yellow curry. Her English wasn't great and she was so keen and eager to help me she asked a friend to go on their bicycle to buy one of the ingredients she didn't know the name of so she could show me what it was.

I have a very busy day ahead of me. My youngest niece will be here soon demanding stories and burlies. Then I've to go back home to get ready for my driving lesson and class. It's a good ob I'm off work tomorrow as well.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

This Time Last Year

Sometimes I struggle to think of a topic to write about. I could blog for hours about work but I'd have to censor out the really interesting stuff. I'm even running out of stuff to say about Ziggy. He's just lying here waiting patiently for a walk. This is progress as, normally, when I'm trying to write on the laptop Ziggy is trying to bite my fingers off. It's a fine day for a walk. Cool, crisp and sunny. I could write about my counselling course but, again, I'd be censoring a lot out. So it's times like these I need little a inspiration.

I keep my blog for several reasons. At first my mum nagged me to start one just like she nagged me to get on facebook and just like she told me she was buying me a mobile phone for Christmas when I went to uni. She's always nagging me to keep up with modern life. Should it not be the other way around? Now I've been blogging for 6 years I find it useful referring back to the archives to remind me of when things happened.

So, for inspiration for this particular post I wondered what I was up to this day last year. I can't say for sure because I'd stopped writing my blog on the 27th October but, at a guess, I'd say I was sitting in this very flat, freezing my balls off, and writing furiously while Polly lay under the sofa and Meka had an evergrowing tumour on her chest. I can't remember the exact date that Rocky died but it was probably in and around this time last year. I didn't blog about it because I was doing my own personal writing at the time.

So then I checked two years ago and I was living with Jakers and very proud that I had a second niece to love and adore. Three years ago I was content living in the town rather than the country. I was also obsessing about scented candles. Nothing much has changed there really. Four years ago I had a rather perturbing experience with a can of soup that I wish I hadn't reminded myself about. This post also shows a tiny picture of Freddy sitting on a set of scales, for why I don't know. Five years ago I had a day out at the Zoo that made me decide I was going to study a degree in Social Work. Well that clerly didn't materialise. Probably for the best. Six years ago today I was due to fly back home from Thailand. Not through choice but because I had to. I met with my friends for dinner in Bangkok a few hours before my flight and was told something that made me stay. It was one of the strangest feelings in the world driving back that night to Lop Buri in a taxi with Brad and Tara. I had no job, no apartment and very little money. But I had friends. Seven years ago I obviously hadn't much going on as I dedicated a whole blog post to Harry ze Cat. He was adorable though. Eight years ago mum and Bert had just moved into the house. I had just started working in Next and McSquirter was the very annoying hero of the day.

And as for 10 years ago? I don't know. I was a young buck then drinking and smoking all my brain cells away. I couldn't possibly remember. Which is maybe a good thing for this post is long enough as it is and Ziggy is ready for his walk.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Waiting For Take Off

I noticed whenever Ziggy and I went for a walk along the river path today that he has started to cock his leg and mark his territory. This means my wee puppy is making the transition into doghood. He no longer pees like a girl. People ask me how old he is and I keep saying 6 months though I've been saying that for a few months now. I've just checked his records and he was born on the 1st June so he's actually only 5 months now. He's still a baby!

I found myself daydreaming in work about setting off on an adventure again. I had just imagined myself in some warm country with a backpack on my bag, thinking to myself it would be easy because I'm used to it, and then I remembered I had a dog. All of a sudden I am tied down to the one place. This realisation is strange for me. Part of me wishes I could up sticks and leave but I could never leave Ziggy behind. So I might just have to run the rat race a while longer or find some way of travelling the world with Ziggy in tow. Which I think he'd love.

I'm starting to realise how short life is. There's so much I want to do and yet days just roll by. But I'm getting there. I am doing the course that I thought about doing for 5 years and I'm learning to drive even though it's taking forever. I'm just waiting for the rocket to take off. Ziggy's waiting for his call from Major Tom.

Friday, November 01, 2013

They Need Never Know

I started to write my blog again because I was getting to a stage where I wanted to take my writing seriously. Not my blog writing. It is basically a glorified diary. Though I don't mean to sell it short. I truly believe that I will become the best writer I can be by exploring all the different types of writing. I need this wee blog just to keep me in the way of things.

It's amazing how easily the creativity can be sucked from you. Sometimes in my life a bout of depression will help me tap into some of my creative resources but I believe that it's happiness that sustains it. I thought I was happy this past wee while but I realise my heart has not been singing quite as sweetly as it could.

I won't go into details of my feelings. Sometimes it's right and sometimes it's not. Life is never what I expect it to be. I am getting used to that now. But I am getting stronger and better equipped to deal with these events that turn my whole world upside down. Nothing will break me because I've already been broken before and I was fixed by the only person who could fix me. Myself.

Right now I'm looking for someone to illustrate my book "Freddy and the Fox". I want to bring this story alive so that I can, one day, read it to my children. And when they say to me "wow, Freddy is the most amazing cat ever" I will smile and say "yes, yes he is" even though I know that Freddy is actually a big fat, useless, bullying ginger bastard. The kids need never know.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

My Clock's Useless 3rd Hand

Ziggy continues to be a complete skitter. I joke that I'm going to get him into acting as I think he has the right temperament for a dog star. Cocky and self assured. He has also proved himself to be a technological whizz kid. He walks over my laptop keybaord like it is a stepping stone and one morning I realised he had done something which had reversed the Caps Lock. It also meant I couldn't type a full stop so I couldn't log into anything as all email addresses have a full stop. I knew I'd never be able to figure out how to change it back so I resigned myself to no facebook for the day. Five minutes later Ziggy had stood on some buttons again and undid what he had done the night before. He also climbed up onto the coffee table when I was out at the shops and managed to put The Doors on itunes by standing on the laptop. You would nearly think he knew what he was doing.

On Wednesday evening I took him for a walk by the river path. This is the walk he's most familiar with and he gets super excited when he knows we're going there. He has his wee routine. I let him off the lead and he races ahead of me but also stops to check I'm following. He loves to run through the grass by the side of the path and he loves to dip into the little nooks and crannies that lead down to the river. He knows when we do the circuit and get back to the top of the path he has to put his lead back on.

I bumped into my sister on the way back from the walk and she reminded me that it wasn't Thursday, it was only Wednesday. This didn't stop me from going home, dropping Ziggy off, and heading up town to do some late night shopping. When I realised all the shops were closed I was reminded, for the second time, that it was only Wednesday. Tonight I'm worried that I'll either go into work tomorrow an hour early or an hour late. The clocks change tonight and I remember being confused in the spring time. I shall go by the clock in the kitchen because I know it doesn't automatically update itself. Though it's hard to read at the best of times due to a useless third hand that lurks between the six and seven.

Monday, October 21, 2013


Quitting sugar did not go quite as well as expected. I got infected with some kind of Donkey flu and my body was to weak to fight the cravings. In all seriousness though, I have been sick all week and it has sucked. My dad had been here the weekend that I was coming down with it. I hope I didn't infect him too. So when my body wanted sugar I gave in to it. Oh well, tomorrow is the start of a new week.

Yesterday was the first day I felt back to my normal self and then I dropped a heavy tray on my big toe at work. I am not a pussy but this did bring a tear to my eye. I survived the rest of my shift and my toe was ok until I took a bath. The heat must have upset it and I spent the rest of the night holding an icepack on it. Fortunately, a good night's rest done the trick and I didn't have to hobble around all day.

So now I'm fighting fit and have energy aplenty. It's probably just the normal level of energy but in comparison to how I felt all last week I feel amazing. I recall the bout of swine flu I had a few years ago (I call it swine flu because I immediately felt sick after eating a Pear Pickin' Porky). There's nothing like being sick to make you appreciate your good health.

When my immune system's down everything goes down. I have noticed, over the years, that I can very easily slip into a depressed state of mind when I'm sick. I find it hard to accept that sickness leaves you exhausted and I feel guilty about not being able to do the things I normally can. I also feel guilty for smoking and feel that I am not justified in feeling sorry for myself as I have, in some way, brought it on myself. Poor Ziggy had a quiet week as well. I felt bad for having no energy to play with him but he humoured me by snoozing when I did. Which was a lot. We did take him for a walk round Portglenone Forest on Thursday evening. It was one of those crisp, cool Autumn evenings. We sat by the pier watching the stillness of the water meet the stillness of the sky. Ziggy decided to counteract the stillness of the evening by barking at and chasing the joggers who went by. On the drive home the moon was so full it looked like you could just pluck it from the sky. Friday it rained all day.

Today is a pisser of a day too but I have the task of defrosting the freezer which should keep me amused for an hour or two. One of these days I'll do something really exciting. I'm getting to the stage where I know I can drive and I wish all the formalities were behind me so I could take Ziggy on an adventure. That's what I'll daydream about when I'm deforsting the freezer.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Man, I Feel Like A Woman

Having studied my degree in Sociology I am aware of social constructs. If you strip it right down almost everything is socially constructed. But I have to say, one of my biggests bugbears, and the hardest of all to avoid, is the social construction of gender. Before you give up reading now, this is not a feminist rant.

We live in a world now where there is meant to be equality. There are laws in place to protect those people who are "different" to the norm. It doesn't matter what your race, culture, religion, sexual orientation, or, if you have a disability, you are protected by human rights. It's a bloody shame it took so long to achieve that but humans were always more concerned with furthering scientific knowledge than working on themselves being less savage-like (scientists were able to fool people that knowledge would eradicate barbarity).

Years after the overtly physical oppression was challenged it becamse evident that we were able to continue being oppressive in much more subtle ways. Language was a huge factor in this ongoing domination. So, for example, setting the slaves free did not release them from stigma or oppression. They were still bound by the shackles of language. I have been shocked in my adult life to know people who have used words like "paki" to describe someone of a different ethnic origin than themselves. It's funny how people can't realise their own values themselves and, instead, have to wait until the media tells them what is politically correct or incorrect.

But anyway, back to my point, which is about gender. This is the hardest one for us all to escape. I still witness, everyday of my life, how woman are meant to stick together and how men are meant to stick together. I have to say, I don't think woman give it too much thought. They just accept and deal with the knock on effect of men believing that men are meant to stick together to do 'manly' things. I walk into a room of both men and women. Then, all of a sudden the men decide that they have something very important to do outside (like find a tree stump to piss on). The men go, leaving the woman to their gossiping. I fit in with neither of these groups. I don't want to go with the men because their conversation is flat. They don't read in between the lines because there are no lines. I don't want to stay in with the women because they can create an abundance of energy with their conversation. This energy could be negative or positive depending on who and what they are talking about.

When it comes to entertainment; music, storytelling, dancing and acting the line of gender division is blurred. These are things the two sexes, and indeed anyone, can enjoy together. Why must we continously pursue activities that serve to divide us rather than unite us. I can't fathom the idea of boy's having separate activities to the girls. It serves no purpose. This was not how things were done when humans first roamed the earth. Yes, there were practicalities that meant the men, being physically bigger and stronger, were the ones to hunt for food. But language had not advanced enough to put a label on this as being a predominantly male pursuit. It was basic survival.

I really hope one day that people will just be people and when they realise this, rather than seeing themsleves as the best, or the most important, they will see that they are actually very insignificant in the grand scheme of things. A bit of mass humbling is what's needed. And balance. The world is made up of masculine and feminine but that doesn't mean it has to be one or the other. Some of the most amazing, beautiful people I have ever met are neither manly, nor womanly, they just are.

Monday, October 07, 2013

Quitting Time Again

Ok, maybe if I write this in my blog I'll stick to it. I'm giving up sugar again. I did it a few years ago for a few months and it was a piece of piss once I got the first week over me. I think I started to eat sweets again when I quit smoking. I fooled myself into thinking that I needed some kind of luxury in my life. I hope to get to a stage where I realise that water and fresh air are a luxury. The only sugar I will have will be in my coffee, which I cut back on ages ago so I only have about 2 cups a day. Other than that I won't be having any refined sugar at all. Sugar is horribly addicitive.

Next Sunday should be the final day of construction of the tree house. Young Master Banjo shall have to be there as he has been a massive help over the months. He couldn't make it every weekend but he was there for most of them. He still did a lot more work than I did. K was, without a doubt, the foreman of the whole gig. If it wasn't for him the project would never have happened. Whereas most girls dream of hearing the words "Will you marry me?" I longed to hear "Do you want to build a tree house?".

Did I mention I've been watching a bit of the X Factor? Well, there's a wee Scottish lad on it and I'm rooting for him. He probably will win it as he's got a heart of gold and every woman between the ages of 25-85 will want to mother him. Which pretty much makes up the whole percentage of people who watch the X Factor. I, for one, would have him so wrapped up in cotton blankets that only his wee cheeks could be seen. Also, I love it when you don't understand a word someone says but when they sing you can make out everything. I also couldn't help but notice that Matt Lucas has entered it in the guise of his "yer but, no but" character Vicky Pollard. hHe's posing as someone in the over 25's group but I know it's him.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Ziggy's 1st Medal

It has been a running joke in our family that a dog licence is actually a medal of awesomeness. This started with our first family dog Danny (The Champion Of The World). We put him up on a pedestal really but, sure, he was a mighty fine beast of a dog. Now Ziggy has his first medal. He got this one for barking.

I have to say, dog licences are not of the same quality they used to be. Ziggy's medal looks cheap and plastic, probably because it is. He hates it. He's not used to wearing a collar never mind having something dangling from his neck. He was also a little annoyed with me for putting his collar on and not taking him for a walk. He just doesn't realise that his mummy's awfully busy doing homework for class, facebooking his photo, and blogging. He will especially not like it when I leave him on his own for a few hours to go to class but he will get his chance later to show me his displeasure by demanding lots of play fighting. Well, off I go now to get ready for class.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Bad Taste

Ok, here's a thought, if someone was buying two bottles of vodka, bleach, a toothbrush and mouthwash, what exactly are they planning to do? Today a work colleague, and someone I knew aside from work, asked me how I felt about the fact that I could be sitting in a nice cosy office, tapping away at a keyboard instead of running around going senile because I can't find a twelve pack of coca cola. She was speaking about the other job I declined so I could do more hours at this job. I told her I hadn't thought about it until she mentioned it. Then I told her that it was worth it so that someone who really needed the job could be sitting in that office.

I have not watched any films in so long. Before K moved in I had no T.V. and no internet. I used to go up to Jakers just to download stuff so I could watch it at home. The kind soul never minded that I was only up to use the width of his band. I have to admit that I have a strange taste in films. For a while I became obsessed with watching epidemic movies. The realistic ones were the best, the ones where disease spreads like wildflower and people start beeding from their eyes and suchlike. I am always slightly disturbed by the scenes where they shun someone who is infected. Perhaps this is a deep seeded fear of mine. I am not so keen on the zombie epedemic movies but REC, a Spanish film, is up there with the best. It is a truly scary film.

I also have a penchant for cannibal movies. I don't know why I enjoy these. Maybe it was because when I was 6 years old I bounced into the living room at my mum's house at the very tail end of a film called The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover right at the scene where the lover's body is served up to man who is forced to eat him all up. But, I just can't get enough of the cannibal movies. The most disturbing film I have ever watched (and there's been a few) was a film called Long Pigs. This was a documentary style film with a couple of amateur film makers documenting the life of a cannibal. I do not reccommend anyone to watch this even though it is compelling viewing.

I also enjoy those quirky, feel good movies like Little Miss Sunshine and 500 Days of Summer. I'm not all doom and gloom. The last time my dad was over we watched Seven Pyschopaths which, despite having Colin Farrell's eyebrows playing the lead role, was actually very entertaining. So, watch the last three movies with gusto and watch all the other ones at your peril.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Two Peas In A Pod

So they say that dogs look like their owners. Well, the picture speaks for itself. Ziggy and I are both scrawny, and we're both ginger with blonde highlights. We are both highly independent and hate to be told what to do though I am a little more eager to please than he is and he is a little more obsessessed with biting ankles than I am.

Today was a productive day. Bert and K got most of the spiral staircase finished and I armed myself with soapy water, sponges and window cleaner and blew away a few cobwebs. I have been documenting the progress of the tree house with photos. When we've finished I will continue to take photos of people enjoying it. It's been an almighty project. It's also been a lovely way to spend time at my family home and enjoy my mum's home cooking.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Take A Load Off Me

As I walked home from the shops today I was thinking about foreign lands. My thoughts are never too far away from travel. I was carrying two big heavy bags and it made me think of the heavy rucksacks I have carried on my back as I traipsed from place to place. For some reason it was the third time I went travelling that my rucksack was it's heaviest. This was when I travelled Mexico and S.America. I took a pit stop for a few days in New York and then flew to Mexico City. It was a total seige when I got there as my rucksack was mislaid between JFK airport and Mexico. Now, when I think about it, it was probably so heavy they needed to fly it across on a plane of its own. I was distraught for a couple of days until I got my rucksack back. I then spent 3 weeks in Mexico City before travelling to Oaxaca with Danny Boy. It was then that I realised my rucksack was actually heavier than I could manage. It was so heavy it crushed my lungs so I couldn't breathe properly. I then decided that there was a lot of stuff in there that I didn't really need.

Right now I'm exhausted. Working 6 days a week, going to class the other day and looking after a pup the rest of the time is tiring me out. I think it's Ziggy that is the most hard work. He has entered into a terrible teenage phase. He used to be so good at going out for walks but lately he has taken to growling and attacking my feet. At home he wants constant fun and attention. I started to write this blog at 15:30 today. It's now 19:55. Aw well. This is the way it is for a while. For the next 3 years until Ziggy stops being a puppy.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Master Of My Destiny

I have my first proper class today for the Counselling course. Last night I was finishing off my homework. Each week we must write a report using reflective writing. This is something that should be easy for me as I have done so much reflective writing for my own personal reasons. I have learnt though that even if writing is a hobby it is always difficult writing something that you know will be read. This is why I struggle to upkeep my blog at times. The book that I accidentally wrote was the best writing I could ever do because when I started to write I was not writing for an audience. Or, at least, I was not holding back because of the fear of what other people would think of me.

I found it very therapeutic to write from my heart without the apprehension of being judged. Through my writing I found answers to questions I didn't even know I was asking. In writing I had found a release. By putting it down in black and white I could see all the shades of grey (and there are way more than 50). I finished the book without actually having achieved anythinhg other than a feeling of peace. I had made peace with myself. I had stopped hiding from myself. How could I deny my soul when it was laid bare before me?

For the homework we were asked to think about our reasons for doing this course. I believe that in order to live a happy life we must have healthy relationships with the people in it. One of the most important tools we have to achieve this is communication. We don't realise it but how we communicate with everyone has a direct effect on our well being. For example, if someone is having a bad day and they work in a shop they may give poor customer service. The person they served feels that they have been snubbed. It is nothing personal but all the same the interaction has made them feel bad. The next shop they go into they don't give the clerk a chance to make them feel bad the way the previous clerk did. So they put up a barrier. The second clerk tries their very best to be as helpful as possible but they feel that their efforts are futile. Why bother being courteous to someone who is clearly rude and ignorant? So this clerk goes home, feeling drained from smiling at people who don't appreciate them. They go home to their family and, just as someone has made them feel inadequate, they need to make someone else feel inadequate. They take it out on their family. These negative cycles go on and on.

I genuinely believe that not many people think too much about these 'little' things. Most people would regard them as insignificant. But how can we be expected to treat our nearest and dearest with respect and compassion if we can't do it for people we have a 3 minute interaction with? It may be naive for me to believe that a few positive shifts in our lives could make any real significant changes to our overall outlook but I am learning to celebrate my naiveity rather than quash it. I am starting to realise though that people will only change if they themselves want to. All I can do is focus on becoming as healthy a human being as I possibly can so that I do not contribute too much to the negativity.

So, the writing should be easy for me but then it wouldn't be much of a challenge and surely the whole point of learning a new skill is to challenge yourself intellectually. I have been working in the retail industry for too long now and it has made me lazy. Now it's time to get back into a world of opportunity and possibilites. And to realise that I am the master of my own destiny.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Chocolate Drop Time

The treehouse is very nearly finished. K and Bert are working on the spiral staircase and with a few handrails in place the tree house will be easily accessible to all. Bert and my uncle B have already spent a night up there with the wood burner blazing and mum and Mrs Banjo have enjoyed a bottle of wine while they watched the sun go down. While the boys were busy making things I took advantage of the sun to take some photographs.

The guy up front is Rex, a dog my mum is looking after and who she's totally fallen in love with. Ziggy, of course, is in the background. There is also a flash of Jess' tail. It is only after taking a million crap shots that I end up with an accidental gem like this but, sure, isn't that the beauty of digital photography? I have learnt the hard way that when it comes to taking photos of dogs they tend to run off at the crucial moment when the shutter goes off. Poor old Meka hardly gets a look in these days there are so many dogs about. She's lying in her hammock now giving herself a good clean. She doesn't know it yet but it's chocolate drop time and she's going to be so happy.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Back To School

I nearly hate to say it, because if I say it I might end up scudding myself, but things are starting to pick up for me. I am one of these people who takes a step forward and then takes two steps back. I don't mean to but that's what always happens.

So the good news is that I'm starting the counselling course next week. I am super excited to finally get the ball rolling after so many years. There is no point in wishing that I had started years ago because the time just wasn't right for me. And whether or not this is the start of a career for me is hard to say right now but, work aside, I know that I will gain a lot form this course. It's nice to be able to say that I'm doing something with my life.

Other progress is being made. I have mentioned about accidentally writing a book. Before I started to write it I had half written a children's story called Freddy and the Fox based on the unusual sighting of my mum's cat and a fox down the back lane. I blogged about this a while back. After doing a lot of 'therapeutic' writing I was able to go back to the story and finish it. I has been lying gathering dust on my laptop's hard drive for quite some time now because I was channelling all my energy into my book. Of course Freddy and the Fox is not a story complete without illustrations. So K has been in cahoots with an illustrator from Romania and we have been given a sample drawing. It's very strange and exciting to see how someone visualises your words.

Today I have a lot to do. I have to enrol at the college and pay the first instalment of my course fee. I then have to go for a driving lesson. I don't dread my lessons the way I used to. When I come home I have to get stuck into some studying, both driving theory and the handouts I've been given for the counselling course. It's a good job I had all that spare time to myself last year because I think I'm going to be very busy for the next wee while.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Dirty Dog Sprollie McAuley

Progress on the treehouse has been slow but yesterday K was champing at the bit to get out working on it. It was a foul day. The sun was shining but there was a gale force wind blowing. I went up to the treehouse to take a few photos but it was actually pretty scary so I spent the rest of the day lying on my mum's sofa wrapped up in blankets and listening to her singing Sprollie McAuley to the tune of some silly song. This was strangely comforting.

This is a photo of the Sprollie McAuley that mum was singing about. You will notice she is on a leash. You will notice that she is none too pleased. If you look very closely you will also see the cow dung caked in her fur. She went out for five minutes and came back covered in shite. She was banished from the house and it was cold and windy outside. She jumped into the open boot of K's car. Bert yelled at her and she jumped out but only because she thought she was being let back into the house. When the door was promptly closed in her face she went into the boot of k's car again, stole a chew bone, and ran away to munch on her prize. Her smugness was short lived though, as you can see from the picture below.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Ziggy's First Post

I was going to write about mum's fantastic birthday on Saturday but I realised that Ziggy has done very little to contribute to the world so far other than being cute. Since I know that he is much more than just a pretty face I thought it would be a good idea to let him tell you all about the day's activities.

What can I say? Saturday was awesome! First of all I arrived at the party and all my favourite people were there and all the dog friends that I know. It was raining at first so we all hung about the house having a bit of a play. When the rain stopped it was time for the Treasure Hunt. I had heard Hannah talking about this treasure hunt but I had no idea what it involved. All I know is that she wasn't a bit pleased with me for trying to eat the treasure. It was great fun though. The kids had envelopes with wee cards in them. When they opened them they would open their mouths and make a noise. It went something like this..."Blah blah blah blah blah".

There was lots of running around to be done and after the treasure hunt we found a nice little spot by the tunnels where there was an amazing feast taking place. They seemed to call it a BBQ. Well, when I smelt the smells round here I didn't want to leave and neither did anyone else. After all the big humans and small humans had stuffed their big fat greedy mouths there were a few things left over. I was given something called a 'rib'. This kept me busy for a long time, that is, until Judy came along and stole it off me. I hear them all chatting about Judy being some kind of 'Top Dog' but I don't think that's any excuse for her stealing my nice rib. She growled at me when she took it and I growled right back at her. She just laughed in my face though and carried on eating my rib.

So, I think the party was a success. From what I understand there were a few mishaps. The kids nearly didn't get the bouncy castle due to the incompetence of a man named Fred. Also, one of Z's dogs went missing. She must have had enough with all the noise and commotion of people enjoying themselves so she took a wee dander. She ended up walking all the way down to the village where a kind couple found her. Everyone was really worried about her. I don't know why though, it sounds like she had a fantastic adventure.

Well, I think that was a pretty accurate account from Ziggy there. Well done! He's not a bad little fella when he isn't terrorising me and hanging off the bottoms of my jeans by his teeth. I am in the process of teaching him tricks. I think it must be built into all dogs to understand the command 'sit' from an early age. It has taken him a little longer to learn how to give his paw. But yesterday he mastered how to lie down and I'm so proud of him as this particular command had caused some confusion for him before and when Ziggy gets confused he gets annoyed. Everyday he gets a little better. I did a bit of reading about his breed (Lhasa Apso) and they are well known for being a breed that is more concerned with pleasing themselves than pleasing their owners. They are also slow to mature meaning that Ziggy will remain puppy like until he is 3 years old! Well, looks like I have my work cut out for the unforseeable future!

Thursday, September 05, 2013

A Day In The Life Of Ziggy

This morning K an I had a conversation about who Ziggy would spend the day with. I proposed that Ziggy would have a better day with me going to Cullybackey to see the Judy and Jess and my nieces. K said there would be plenty of dogs and children to play with if he went with him. I won, of course, and Ziggy did indeed have a splendid day. He would have had a great day if he had gone with K too but he wouldn't have had these great photos to remember it by.

As you can see by the photos he spent very little time standing on his own four little paws. He provided the bulk of the entertainment for my nieces. He was sailed about on the ninky nonk, pushed in the pram, had snuggles with Aunty Katkins and was generally treated like a baby all day. Jess is still but a pup herself, albeit a great big lanky pup, who can put Ziggy down with one paw. Judy is super tolerant of him as long as he doesn't touch her food. Ziggy knows that Judy is top dog and Jess is making sure he knows she is second in line. Ziggy also met Young Loveheart's big Alaskan Huskie, Phoenix, who was as gentle as a giant. After a busy day sporting and having fun it was time to go home. He is now sleeping beside me on the sofa having only stirred briefly when he farted and wondered what it was.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Big Dogs And Tiny Hoops

Right now I'm having to jump through a lot of hoops to get to where I want to be. I remember my younger cousin being the only one brave enough in his family to watch the birth of his little sister. When asked what he thought of it he likened it to a dog jumping through a hoop, only the dog was much bigger and the hoop was a lot smaller. I love the way kids have such a simple approach to life.

Anyway, one of my good qualities is that I find it impossible to tell a lie and one of my bad qualities is that I find it impossible to tell a lie. Upon purchasing a packet of cigarettes, many years ago when I was underage, I was asked if I had any ID. I did not have any ID. The shopkeeper then asked me if I was over 16. I said no. He laughed and sold me the cigarettes anyway for being such a good honest young lass. It is my inability to lie that has led to me having to jump through so many hoops. I struggle with getting a balance here on this blog. I want to be completely open and honest but I am learning that I can't be. It frustrates me because, ultimately, it is through being completely honest, not just with other people but with ourselves, that leads us to a contented life.

All I want to do is go to work and know that I have made someone's life a little better. The reason I go out to a job that gives me no real satisfaction is so that I can work towards leading a life that is going to fulfill me. I have many passions in life, music, photography, writing but my main passion is feeling connected with the world, including the people, animals and nature within it. I guess the other passions are just a way of channelling how I feel. I guess what I'm talking about really is the fact that I'm sick of sitting here feeling disconnected from the world (despite a good healthy internet connection).

Today was a productive day. I went to the doctor's first thing to jump through yet another hoop. I changed my doctor about 2 years ago. She is the most amazing warm and sunny person. She positively glows. She is always more than happy to help me, which is something you don't seem to get a lot of from doctors these days, which is ironic considering that's kind of a big part of their job description. I suppose doctor's, like the rest of society, have ran out of patience having to deal with morons and imbeciles on a daily basis.

Then I went up town to buy a new docking station for my ipod. I'd been without one for several weeks and it occurred to me that my quality of life was not as good without loud music and dancing in it. I also went looting for some treats for the treasure hunt. Then I came back home briefly to write out the clues and decorate them with stickers and then it was time for my first driving lesson in over a year. I picked a bad time for it just as all the kids were coming out of school and the traffic was dense. The main thing is I made a start again. I've got the ball rolling and though driving most definitely does not come naturally to me I just have to keep on ploughing on.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Rushing References

Yesterday I had my interview for the counselling course. It went well, other than the fact that I hadn't brought the references I needed. I assumed that I just had to provide the contact details of my chosen referees the same as if I was applying for a job but I was supposed to have them with me for the interview. So, it was of the utmost importance that I got the references to the course leader as soon as possible. It was too late to get the people I'd originally thought of and so I called upon a few favours. So by last night I had two glowing references, one of which was emailed to me and so wasn't signed by the person who wrote it. I'm not sure that constitutes as good organisational skills but I tied my best at short notice.

I worked until 2 O'clock today and then rushed home to get changed. Ziggy came with me to the library. I tied him up outside while I went in to print the emailed reference and he howled and whimpered incessantly. This is mortifying for me as he draws attention to himself and everyone thinks he's a poor hard done by mutt when he's only been left alone for 30 seconds. I got what I needed at the library and bumped into an old customer from my last job. She said she was shocked to hear I'd left but as long as I was happy that was the main thing. I had built up quite a relationship with this lady and I became a part of her weekly routine. A routine that she enjoyed because of her passion for old photographs. She also enjoyed the attention I gave her and the fact that I had scanned so many of her photos I knew who everyone was. It was nice to see her and I told her I had to rush on as Ziggy was getting impatient and I still hadn't got my references up to the tech.

As I walked up the street I had to remind myself that there was nothing more I could do to ensure a place on this course. I'd got my two references and it would either be too late or be ok. I tied Ziggy up outside the doors and he did his usual wailing like a banshee dog, this of course made everyone look at him and this lady turned round and said "Oh no that wee dog's going to get hit by the doors!". To be honest, I thought she was over reacting slightly but she told me I could bring him in with me so I didn't argue with her.

So, I leave it up to the hands of fate. I didn't provide the references that I intended to but I did provide references from two people who want nothing more than for me to find happiness and contentment in my life. It's the weekend now so I'll have to sit tight and wait.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Granny and Granda Bow

This is a photo of my granny and granda on my father's side. I think it's a lovely photo. It's exactly how I remember them. They lived in Staffordshire and we'd visit them for two weeks every summer. As soon as we got off the boat, or plane, and landed on English turf I could smell the difference in the air. Young noses are sensitive to subtle changes. The scent in the air brought with it the memories of previous years and the excitement of what lay ahead. My grandparents home, in particlar, had a distinct smell that I loved. The house had a pantry, a proper pantry with a beaded curtain. I used to love following my dad in there in the evenings when he went to fetch a can of beer.

Our holidays in Staffordshire were wonderful. Wednesday was market day. The walk up to the town centre was up hill but totally worth it for it's quaint wee cobbled streets and market square. There was a small new age hippy shop that sold incense and cladagh rings and wooden figurines of Indian elephants. I'm pretty sure it was where I always bought my mum her holiday gift. There was a stationary shop called Partners (maybe now it's called Staples?) and every year we'd use our holiday money to buy all our new stationary for school. We could spend hours in there looking at all the funky rubbers and sharpeners.

We'd visit relatives, and people who weren't really relatives but we called 'Aunty' anyway. We would visit our uncle who had the coolest house with a massive organ and a bar in his living room. Sometimes, I would go with dad while he had a pint at the pub and play in the beer garden. Northern Ireland didn't have play areas for kids at bars. This might be because we take drinking very seriously, or the weather just doesn't permit. We went to a reservoir called Tittesworth that had the best park in the whole world. I remember certain years there was drought and the reservoir was all dried up. And then, of course, the highlight of the holiday was going to Alton Towers. Granny and Granda didn't go on any rides except the Swan Boat which just drifted peacefully along the lake. Now that I am an adult I can see that they took immense pleasure in watching all their grandchildren so happy and excited and that was enough for them. It's nice to remember the simpler times.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Mall Rats

The Tower Centre was Ballymena's first shopping complex. It used to be a hub of activity. With all the best shops, a supermarket and two cafe/restaurants, the Tower Centre was the place to be. I remember the old entrance when I was a little girl. There were steps down to it, or a ramp for prams and wheel chairs and two rotating posts that held adverts behind the pyrex. You could spin them round 'til you got dizzy. The supermarket was called Crazy Prices. This was before globalisation and all shops were independent companies. It's only rival was Stewarts, which later became Tesco.
Ballymena, for as long as I can remember, had always had a name for being a good shopping town. Especially when it opened up it's secong shopping centre on the site of the old Fairhill Market.

People didn't really warm to the Fairhill Centre though. It's open plan design gave it a very light, open feel, which people did not seem to desire. They quite liked the dark, brooding atmosphere of the Tower Centre. It was warmer. But somewhere along the line, probably with the shift in generations, the Tower Centre lost it's appeal and the Fairhill Centre began to get all the top names of the high street on their premises. Refurbishments were carried out. More space was created and filled with even more popular high street stores. All the money went to that end of the town. The Tower Centre had one feeble makeover but it was too late. The more popular the Fairhill Centre became, the less people shopped in the Tower Centre.

I worked in a shop in the Fairhill Centre for 2 and a half years. I then worked in the Tower Centre for 5 years. I didn't realise at the time, although I knew it was bad for buisness, all the buisnesses, but working in such an environment was very demotivating. The whole place just has a real slow, boring, dreary thing about it. Now I don't work there I'm seeing it through the eyes of a consumer and I am shocked by how zombie like the members off staff from various shops can be, with the exception of a few. I am glad to be away from the place. Of course, in a few years time I'll be cursing the job I have now. I have fresh eyes though and I want to keep them fresh for as long as possible.

This Thursday I have an interview for a part time counselling course at college. I really hope I get a place as this will be the first step towards me working in a profession I actually enjoy. I have been working 8 days in a row, getting up at 5 every morning and so I have a day off tomorrow to prepare for my interview. Not that I plan to do too much. This is very much a case of me just being myself. Oh, and I used to be a mallrat in the Fairhill Centre. There was a bunch of older guys who populated the Tower Centre but we didn't hang with them because they sometimes glared at us.

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Demon Pup's Busy Day

Today has been one of those mental days, made all the more mental by being in the company of a dog who is, without a doubt, a mentalist. Ziggy has the right idea. He just thinks every minute of the day is play time, unless he's snoozing. I worked from 6 O'clock this morning to quarter past twelve. I raced home to get changed, grab Ziggy and make my way to the job centre to tell them about my current employment status. I took Ziggy on the lead, a lead which is far too heavy for his delicate frame. Once we got there I went inside to get my ticket and sat down. A lady chatted to me about Ziggy. He started to get restless so I waited outside for a bit. One of the security guards took an interest in him and I let him off the lead. He ran into the job centre where another security guard grabbed hold of him. I let him down and he ran in again as fast as his wee legs would carry him. The same security guard got hold of him and brought him out to me. After a while I went to check where I was in the queue. The queue hadn't moved a single place. I sat down and a few other people made friends with Ziggy. A nice lady gave him a dentastix to chew on and he sat in the middle of the floor munching away.

When my ticket number came up the lady at the desk told me I'd have to take the dog out. I said I would only be a minute because I had started back at work so I just needed to sign off. She asked if I had my book and I told her I'd forgotten it in my rush out of the house. She told me again, that I needed to take the dog out, and come back with my signing book and without the dog. She was, literally, the only person all day who didn't like Ziggy. I thanked her and left. I stopped outside the doors to put Ziggy on his lead and one of the security guards came over and offered to look after Ziggy while I spoke to the nice lady at reception who would be happy to help me.

Then Ziggy and I made slow progress through the town. Ziggy had no idea there were so many people in the world and he thought he should be making friends with all of them. We came home for a short while, rested and played some more, and then we took ourselves off to the pet shop to get Ziggy a more suitable lead. On our way there we came across a couple with a Husky who were also going to the pet shop. Both Ziggy and Zeus (the Husky) were keen to get frolicking but this would have probably ended in disaster so we didn't allow them. Zeus wasn't vicious but he would have easily squished Ziggy with one paw.

On the way home we made friends with an English busker. I suggested he put Ziggy in his guitar case to get a few more pounds. Shortly after this Ziggy had to go to the vet for his second injection. I took a taxi there and booked another one twenty minutes later to take me home. Twenty minutes went by and the vet was still with someone. The taxi arrived and I had to tell him I wasn't ready. I apologised. He left. I went back in. The vet's receptionist apologised. I said it was fine. I thought briefly about phoning a different taxi company to get home but I decided that would be even more ignorant. The vet was ready to see Ziggy and she cooed and aahed over him. I never got that kind of reaction when I took the rats to the vet. But I'd never had this particular vet before. She may well have been the same with rats. She was very sweet. She asked him if he was going to be a brave boy. He let out a yelp before the needle had even touched his skin. I rang my taxi home. The same driver picked me up and he made a fuss of Ziggy. Everyone loves a cute dog.

So now we are home and Ziggy has ate, shat and fallen asleep. Before I took him to the vet's he was in one of his hyper, mental, bouncing off the walls, attacking my feet kind of moods. The receptionist weighed him at he vet's and as she gave him a cuddle he just looked like butter wouldn't melt. Behind closed doors he is a demon dog. But he's my demon dog.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

All That Remains

This was the sunset by the lighthouse in Fanad. It's a very beautiful, peaceful place. You can make out a small figure of a man. He was wearing robes so he was possibly a monk. He sat on the edge of the cliffs and looked out over the sea for ages. And as he walked back to wherever he was going the sun sat beautifully in the sky.

One of the things K and I have in common is a desire for rooting around old abandoned houses. It's just curious to see the things people left behind. In Fanad there were plenty of old houses to explore. I went up stairs in one and nearly fell through the rafters. I sometimes think of the stuff I'd be leaving behind if I suddenly died. Some people are hoarders. I have accumulated very little in my life. I have no assets. Not that I care. I have no desire for materialistic things. All that I would leave behind would be a small cupboard full of writing, photos, letters and memories.

We watched a film one night called Dreams Of A Life, it was a documentary based around the shocking story of a young woman who lay dead in her flat for 3 years with the TV still on. She wasn't discovered until bailiffs broke into her house for not paying her TV licence. The people who were interviewed in the making of this film were people who knew her, people she worked with, her ex boyfriend and, so called friends, who were all completely shocked and upset but not a single one of them had thought to phone her up in 3 years to see how she was doing.

This started off being a lovely blog post and then it just got grimmer and grimmer. Aw well, Ziggy and Meka are playing a game and that makes everything ok again!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Ziggy's First Holiday

This was Ziggy on his first holiday, just four days after we got him. He's getting so big so quickly. His favourite game is chasing shoes and chewing socks. In fact, he's obsessed with feet. The minger.

In a mere few weeks we shall be celebrating my mum's 60th birthday. During the day there will be fun and games for the children (and me too). Young Rooney will man the BBQ and the bouncy castle's been hired. With the trampoline, swing and livestock it is the perfect place to host a party. It would be a mortal sin for me not to come up with some form of treasure hunt. With the treehouse, chickens, pigs and polytunnels we will have a proper Anneka Rice style adventure. I may even slip into some tight shiny lycra. Actually, no, no I won't. Then, after the kids have filled up on junk food and burnt a kazillion calories in the process, and all the dozens of dog guests that have filled up on left overs and chased and barked and wrestled themselves to exhaustion, then all us adults will go out and party. The band's been hired, Bert's practicing his wee 'piece' on the clarinet and who knows who else will get up on stage and belt one out?

Right, off I go to plan a treasure hunt.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Surprises and Treasure

I have genuinely forgotten that I'm meant to be blogging again. I have also been busy. Busy working, seeing Mels, going to Donegal, trying to toilet train Ziggy. I have also been liasing with various people as part of researching getting my book published. It's a crazy world out there. In my head people like me don't get published. I am ordinary. I forget that we live in an age where anything is possible. I am excited about the prospects. Considering this was a book I wrote by accident it really does not matter whether it gets published or not. It's still an achievement. I do want to share my story but I have to remember that that's all it is, my story. There's nothing special about it, we all have a story. But that's not to say I'm not gonna do my best to try and get it published.

My good buddy Mel was home last week and she met the handsome Ziggy boy. Needless to say she was in love. We took Ziggy to Cullybackey to meet his new dog friends. Judy was a little bit cut that I had a new rat (Judy is used to me with small critters), but Jess, still being a pup herself, was over the moon to have such an exciting new play thing. It was Ziggy's first experience of the countryside and he could smell the excitement in the air. The dogs ran around like loons while Mel and I took lots of photos. Mel had a little bounce on the trampoline and then I showed her the treehouse.

Mel and I have been friends since we were 16. It has been a fun friendship filled with many an adventure. Often, a ghost hunt we would go on. Never did we see one. We used to sit in her greenhouse on a couple of deck chairs. I had bought a lifesize glow-in-the-dark skull shaped candle, which we called old boney after the skull in the Trapdoor. There were other candles. We used to sit and chat and watch the bugs sizzle on the flames of the candles. Many a bug lost their lives in that greenhouse. No vegetables grew in it. Nothing thrived other than mine and Mel's friendship. I remember hiding in the greenhouse one year as a surprise for Mel's birthday. I was at university at the time and she didn't think I could come home. Mel was also, along with Mikey, the treasure at the end of the treasure hunt I set up for Bert. Life should be full of surprises and treasure. Oh wait, it already is :)

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Ziggy Starpup

Quitting smoking's a funny thing. Actually, no, it's not funny at all. It's, um, let's say,it's horrendous. But only for a day or two and then you sweat that nicotine out of you and start to feel like an actual human being again. I have been thinking about the last time I quit, which was a year and a half ago. So much was going on in my life at that time that I found a familiarity in my old friend tobacco. And it was a friend. But I have learnt over the years that, sometimes, even our friends cans hold us back.

Friendship is very important to me though. The world is a beautiful place but "happiness only exists when shared" (quote from Alexander Supertramp). Maybe that's not entirely true, at least not for everyone, but when I travelled around South America I certainly longed for someone to share the experience with. The people that I met were cool enough but I guess I was looking for someone who would stir my soul. Little did I know that I would not have to travel to find that person.

Anyway, this leads me on to the best kind of friendship a human can have, and that is the friendship between man and dog.
Yesterday I became the proud owner of a pup. He's a male Lhaso Apso crossed with Poodle (Lhasa Poo), his name is Ziggy, and when I looked into his eyes I felt a tingle in my heart. I have fantasised, for many years, about having a dog. I have stopped in the street to pet random dogs in every country I have visited. I didn't care if I might get rabies. But nothing could have prepared me for this feeling of overwhelming love and joy. Ziggy might as well be my first born child.
So here I am, about to embark on another adventure, one that doesn't involve going half way round the world.

Meka is also going to have a good time with Ziggy. She is already used to dogs and Ziggy is so young he just thinks Meka is a another puppy. Oh, and though I am writing this post like Ziggy is my dog, well, she's K's dog too because if it wasn't for him I wouldn't be in the fortunate position to own a dog. Anyway, I don't agree with the term "owning" because nothing in life is really ours, least of all people or animals, but you know what I mean. I had never heard of a Lhasa Apso before so I checked them out on the wikipedia. They were bred in Tibet as sentinel's for the Buddhist Monastries. When I read this I knew it was meant to be that this would be my first dog.

Ziggy still needs some injections before he can go out cavorting with other dogs but I can't wait to take him out to meet Judy and Jess. Judy may be slightly miffed that I have a new baby but there will always be enough space in my heart for them both. Besides, Judy is a complete an utter harlot who's in love with pretty much everyone she meets. She'll get over it. Right now Ziggy is lying by my side as I write this after a busy morning of chasing my feet. I will try to get photos soon but for now I'm just content to look at him.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Run With The Buns

So the lovely Danny and Liz came and went and that was that. Good times were had but hosting can be exhausting so I have done very little since. Yesterday I quit smoking (again). In a further attempt to get healthy, K and I went for a jog along the Galgorm river path. I was a baby. I scrunched my face up and made pathetic whimpering noises. My attempts at showing my displeasure at having to exert myself did not go unnoticed, but they were, largely, ignored. Probably just as well.

I did enjoy the stampede of bunnies and the mad cat that appeared out of nowhere though. When we came home I could tell that Meka was a little out of sorts so I got her out of the cage for some play time. She enjoyed nibbling K's legs and sniffing inside his ears. I lay in bed last night and felt the sadness of losing Polly, for both my sake and Meka's sake. This sadness had obviosuly emerged as a symptom of giving up smoking but I just let myself shed a wee tear for her to get it out of my system. Then I thought about getting a kitten. Then I thought about getting a puppy. And then I had to force myself to go to sleep because it was 3 O'Clock in the morning.

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Pipes The Pipes are Calling

Oh how things change! Gone are the days when I would climb through people's windows, whether it be to leave someone my bank card or to put out a fire. You are much more likely to find me cleaning the windows now. Gone our the days when a bottle of John Jameson was my date for the weekend. I still like him, I just find him a bit sickening in large doses. I really don't mind though. I might have less to write about the weekends but I sure am happier.

On Saturday night K-Dog (that special someone I've been gallivanting 'round the country with) and I stayed in. We had Judy dog (an actual dog), on loan, from Nellybert's and we were drinking a couple of ciders. This is how rock and roll I am. I fell asleep on the sofa. Woke up with Judy lying on top of me, all flustered and sweltered with the heat of the night and the warmth of a sensitive dog. I lay on the livingroom floor with my clothes half on and half off, writhing around like a bug getting burnt alive with a magnifying glass. I was laughed at. By K-Dog, Judy and I'm pretty sure Meka was smirking from her hammock as well.

On Sunday we headed out to do some work on the tree house. Though I always dreamed of being a carpenter I don't think the skills required come naturally to me. That aside, I spent a happy afternoon drilling screws in to secure the floor. By the time we were finished for the day the floor was down, the sofa was in and a massive thunder storm had started. I sat on the sofa and listened to the sound of the rain falling onto the tarpaulin roof.

The tree house has stirred great excitement. Just the kind of excitement I love. There was chat, a million moons ago, that Bert would, one day, build a tree house, but he was too busy telling tales of squishy faced tomato men and pretending the car had broke down on level crossings. Now though, Bert is most definitely enjoying the tree house project. We all are. K-Dog, Bert, Young Banjo and I are the most dedicated, Nelly too, for her important role of "feeding the workers" but, the visitors who call round on a Sunday like to muck in as well. I'm a great believer in energy and I believe that a lot of positive energy is going into building this tree house. It will be a sanctuary. With a sofa, a table and a stove. I think I might buy a typewriter.

Today I have a bit of cleaning around the boring old normal house to do. I would have to do it anyway but I have guests coming from England tomorrow so it is especially important. My guests come in the form of a young, amazing, sweet Danny Boy, who has joined me on many an adventure and high jinx in random countries, and his girlfriend, who I haven't yet met but know that I will find as equally young, amazing and sweet. The last time Danny came to visit we took him to Glenariff Forest Park where we boycotted all the usual trails in favour of the lesser known pixie trail. But the pixie trail was nothing compared to El Arbol Del Tule in Oaxaca. We also spent many nights in Mexico city sampling all the different flavours of mezcale, each one being decidedly more disgusting than the last. Oh, and there was also that time in Bangkok....