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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.