Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Just Do Me Like Old Yeller: A Tale of an Exploding Appendix

Ah the appendix! Hey little buddy! You're so small and cute. I bet you're so useful to the general running and performance of the human body. What do you get up to, huh?

Oh. Okay. Well that's uh-


Whether you're arguing for intelligent design or evolution, I believe that the appendix can stand as evidence for either. On one hand, what kind of intelligent being would put a useless tube inside of us that occasionally explodes? On the other hand, evolution believes that the appendix is a hold-over from when we ate grass, and when was the last time any of us did that?

Not for weeks now

Roughly last year my appendix decided to do an explosion, but the fine doctors at the hospital were able to slice it out while it was still in the "severely inflamed" stage - though it had decided to stage a little coup de tat by wrapping its way around my intestines.

This meant that I wasn't suffering from the classic Right Side Of The Stomach Your Appendix Is Exploding pain. No, instead I had pains on the left side of my body, and thus for most of the night was under the impression that I was undergoing a bit of extreme indigestion.

I was trying to hold it together until 8a.m. so I could wake my family at a reasonable time, but it got to the point where I was lying on a blanket beside the toilet shoving my fist into my side in because it felt like something was rupturing, dry-retching and vomiting, so you know. Screw those guys.

I'm not 100% certain why I left things go on as long as they did. Could it be because I'm Irish, and we as a nation could find ourselves in a horrific car accident leaving us as nothing but a severed bloody torso and head lying on the side of the road, and if anyone asked us how we were doing our first and immediate response would be "Erah shur, I'm grand"?

An Irish person could have a leg caught in a bear trap in the middle of a forest, their only hope of survival picking up the phone and asking for help, and all they'd have to say for themselves would be "Yerah, I'll give it another hour. I'm fine out, tis only the one leg. Shur fuck it, I don't even like this leg that much."

It's pretty much accepted that we're not good at asking for help, we're not good at talking about feelings, we're not even good at selling ourselves when the situation calls for it. Essentially we're not good at anything which can be summed up with a toss of the eyes to the heavens and the damning description of "American shite".

Aaaanyway, I was in a bed in the ER at around eight or nine in the morning and when they asked how long the pains had been going on the nurse almost brained me with a bedpan for waiting over twelve hours to come to the hospital. Some mention was made about an extremely high pain tolerance, but unfortunately I was too delirious to get someone to write that down and sign it so that I could frame it and gesture to it grandly hanging over my fireplace while sipping cognac.

Yes, I would say casually to my guests, made up of famous novelists, explorers and ambassadors. Extremely high pain tolerance, that's what they said.

Of course I care nought for such things, I would continue, straightening my velvet smoking jacket as the crowd murmured with astonishment and admiration. 'Tis nothing but a reminder of my amazing journey through my appendectomy. 

You can read all about it in my 5,000 page novel, I would finish, leading the crowd past my collection of stuffed tropical birds. My Appendectomy and Me: A Journey Through Touching God. 

I don't hold with eating grass you know, absolutely filthy stuff, you have to drown it in Sriracha sauce just to blot out the taste of green- Ah, here's Jeeves with the Ortolans! Open wide everyone!

High pain tolerance or no, the good folk at the hospital pumped me full of that sweet, sweet morphine - which, even though it only took the edge off the pain in question, is still a whale of a good time. I highly recommend it. Anyone who received text messages from me during my stay in hospital can confirm that the highlight of my stay was the morphine, and indeed it was more or less all they heard about.

At this point I feel that it is necessary to mention that they still didn't know what was wrong with me. The pain had traveled from my left side across my abdomen, and now my entire lower body was Not Having A Fun Time. I say this because it meant that I had to go through a whole barrage of tests, involving one that almost made me set fire everyone in the surrounding vicinity including myself.

They had done an X-ray and found nothing, so the next means of peering into my squishy bits was to be by ultrasound. I was in a lot of pain at the time, and waiting on a hard examination table for a consultant was not particularly fun.  Nevertheless, I suffered through it like some sort of amazing ethereal saint-like individual.

When I say suffered, I mean suffered. I hadn't slept in over 24 hours, and while my new best bud morphine was trying its hardest, it was still only taking the edges off pain that literally had me audibly vocalising with loud groaning when I first landed in the ER - think 'lowing cow'. Ever prone to dramatics, I had done a little bit of a collapse in the waiting room and had to be carried to a bed. So you know. That's where we're at, for reference.

At some point in the long wait for the UltraSound Man (good superhero name or best superhero name?) I realised I badly needed to pee, an action which had become a three man job due to my inability to move anywhere unless hunched over and staggering along like a fortune-telling crone. The nice nurse waiting in the room with me confirmed that I could pee, and indeed helped me perform this action.

What a pity then, that when the UltraSound Man arrived he told me that in order to perform the ultrasound he needed me to have a full bladder, so I was going to have to be hooked up to a drip for another forty to fifty minutes to fill the tank again.

I almost started crying with tiredness and fury. "WHY DID YOU LET ME PEE?" I asked the nurse, the twitch in my arms the only indication that my weary body was attempting to leap from the bed and throttle her.

"I didn't know!" said the ultrasound nurse who worked in the ultrasound department who was apparently unaware of how ultrasounds work, I mean my sweet jesus christ.

Swinging in on 5pm that evening, they let me know that it wasn't a twist in the 'ol Fallopian tubes, but other than that they weren't quite sure what it was. Could be gallstones, could be the appendix, could be something else entirely. The only thing left to do was open me up and take a peer around the place.

At this point - after being kept awake by pain for what was swinging up on over 48 hours and not allowed to eat or drink anything for fear I'd be whipped into surgery at any moment - I was pretty much like "Hey. I have an idea. Maybe just shoot me in the face like a beloved childhood pet. Maybe it's time for that now. Maybe we're there."

However, my spirits lifted hugely when what looked like a little glass full of lollipops appeared at my bedside.

oh how lovely

mmm delicious I bet it's refresher bar flavour

As many of you have probably guessed, they were not lollipops. They were lies.
Spongey tasteless lies.

That's all I have to say about that misuse of my trusting nature.

In a grand finale they operated on me, which I don't recall much of, except I had to wear a stupid puffy cloth hat and maybe in a drug-addled state explained to the anesthetist that the surgeons were about to see me more naked than anyone would ever see me again. I can't remember her response but I can only imagine it was something along the lines of "You're a genius and I can't wait to read all 5,000 pages of My Appendectomy and Me: A Journey Through Touching God."

And finally, finally, in the end they discovered that the 'ol Appendix was 'severely inflamed' and had wrapped around my intestines, so they whipped out that motherfucker and then refused to give it to me in a jar to take home.

I kind of thought I'd have a bitchin' scar after it was all over but instead I have a neat little treasure map on my stomach. It has two X's and one inverted Crucifix under my bellybutton just like all good treasure maps do.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Everything Happens Too Much

Well, here we are again. Another version of “Méabh Never Updated Her Blog So Now She Has A Weirdly Specific Set Of Events To Talk About In Yet Another Round Up Post.”

Suck it up. Let’s do this.

1. Exams

I did exams. They were unpleasant. I lost about six pounds from sheer stress and went four days on roughly three hours of sleep a night, eating nothing but two scones and fifty seven cans of Monster Energy drink a day.  

Honestly at one point I was running on so little sleep I’m pretty sure my brain went into some kind of delirium, and reasoned to itself that sleep, the thing I had been engaging in pretty successfully every night since I was born, was actually what dying is.

“Aha,” Brain thought to itself, getting the bleary crazy eyes. “You can’t fool me, I know the score now! I’ll be DAMNED if we fall into that trap!” And from that moment on every time I tried to shut my eyes for more than ten minutes a pop, I’d get the weird jerky-limb-syndrome where your body basically tries to shake you awake to check and see if you’re still alive.

I mean, bodies are always doing crap like that though, aren’t they? They just work away by themselves. I mean think about it, imagine if you were suddenly asked to work your own digestive system. You wouldn’t have a clue! You’d be like a golden retriever with a laptop, except less adorable and happy and more confused and starting to get stomach cramps because you just sent the food to the pancreas instead of to the larger intestine or something. I don’t know, I’m not a doctor.

I think my favourite automatic response that bodies do is the ol’ brain freeze. Not because it’s particularly pleasant but because it is essentially your body going “Hey asshole, stop eating snow, for fuck’s sake.”

Anyway. Exams. Awful. Literally nearly died. Next event.

2. Eviction

I got evicted! My landlord decided he wanted to turn my one-room, poky tiny little studio apartment and my neighbour’s one-room, poky tiny little studio apartment into ONE PRETTY SMALL BUT POSSIBLY-MORE-ACCEPTABLE-AS-PERMANENT-HUMAN-HABITATION APARTMENT. Which is great for whoever is going to live there, but less good for us poor schmucks who were kicked out of our single rooms filled with all our worldly belongings.

Because I had no lease in formal writing, the landlord was essentially able to tell me to get on my bike and ride. … What’s that you ask? Am I currently studying law? Should I have been more aware of the legal ramifications of not having a legal document protecting my residence? Did I literally just do an exam on property law which included an entire section on Landlord and Tenant rights?

Yes. You are correct. Let this be a lesson to us all.

Anyway, the building I was living in was no great shakes. The upkeep was pretty god-awful, and there was mould growing everywhere. That said though, I’ll miss it. It had character. It was filled with a really bizarre collection of individuals, on a road that always made me feel I was walking along the edges of a H.P. Lovecraft novel.

Let me give you an example of one of the wonderful people who lived in very close proximity to me for about six months. The guy who also got evicted, for example. Our apartments were right beside one another, which meant that whenever he made his customary mysterious 3a.m. angry phonecalls, I could hear every single word.

Such a damn shame that it was all in Polish.

This guy though. Sit down and let me tell you about this guy. One day I was walking home from work, my usual dour mood lifted slightly by the uncustomary warm weather we were having, and I turned the corner on the road to find The Guy standing in the tiny walkway to our building, shirtless and covered in rippling muscles, slathered with oil, listening to his ipod and just generally soaking up some rays, bro.

The fact that the ray in question he was standing in was the only one he was able to soak up without walking out into the middle of the road, and the fact that he had nowhere else to stand but the (REALLY VERY TINY) pathway from the gate into our building didn’t seem to bother him. He stood there in his wrap-around sunglasses and cut off jean-shorts, totally chill, brah.

I edged past him gingerly, nervously wishing him a good day but also averting my gaze lest I lose an eyeball to a nipple standing on end from one of his giant pectorals.

This guy was built.

I am not built. I think that’s a fairly obvious statement. I’d like to be built. I’d like to be ripped. I’d like to be able to rip shirts open just by flexing one arm, but alas I lack so many of the requisites for the cultivation of such a body, and have so many reasons not to try to develop it. Reasons like “netflix” and “no”.

Apparently The Guy was somewhat aware of this, because one day there was a knock on my door and I opened it to find The Guy standing there, looking like he was just about to head off to the gym to do seventeen million chin presses and forty five thousand butt lifts before a quick jog around cork city.

I spent like thirty seconds drawing this from memory.
I hope every appreciates how anatomically correct it is and also how
I managed to make him look like he's wearing streaky fake tan.
He has Popeye arms.
You're welcome.

“Hello,” he told me. “I have an excellent opportunity for you. I am willing to be your personal trainer for three months. I will watch everything you eat, tell you exactly what to do, tell you what you need to change.”

He had quite a strong accent and his English wasn’t the best, so it took me a minute to try and process this.

“You’re a personal trainer?” I asked, bemused.

“No, no,” he said hurriedly. “Not professionally. But I am always looking at women and thinking ‘I know how to give her the perfect body’, and this is my opportunity to prove that I can. I will do all this completely for free.”

And that was the exact point at which I did this:

Except of course it wasn’t, because I’m a woman and women have been socialised from birth to be pleasant and patient to any dumbass who happens to approach us because we are constantly aware that this might be the dumbass who kills us. So instead I put a fixed smile on my face and tried to make him sound less like a serial killer in my head.

Give her the perfect body? Like, in actual sections or all at once?

“… So you want to train someone up as proof for when you do an interview to become a professional trainer, is that it?” I said, trying to grasp to some sort of narrative of normalcy.

“No! Here, let me show you.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out his wallet, taking out a small passport photograph. It was him, about ten stone heavier. “Look at how unhappy I look! And look at me now!” He flexed alarmingly. “I can do this for you! I will examine everything you eat, and tell you exactly what to do. But,” he said, looking serious. “I need one hundred percent obedience. I can only help you if you’re all in.”

He looked at me as though I was begging to have a strange man monitor me for three months, and was only fairly warning me of the consequences should he give in and acquiesce to my requests.

 “Oh that’s- that’s great,” I told him. “But I don’t really think I need a personal trainer at the moment.”

I looked him right in the damn eye and dared him to mention the time he had to come down and open the front door to let me in at four o’clock in the morning because I had left my keys in my apartment in my haste to go outside and collect my pizza delivery.

I mean it wasn’t just what he was offering to do (that was a large chunk of it), it was the fact that he was insisting he would do it for free. He was basically saying that he would enjoy controlling everything I ate and making me train to his strict schedule so much that he would do it for absolutely no remuneration.

Listen. I know about relationships like those. They made a movie about them. It rhymes with Blifty Blades of Bley and I want absolutely nothing to do with any of that thank you very much.

 “You’ll feel so much better,” he insisted. “You’ll be healthier and happier, and I’ll do all the work!”

“No… no I really don’t think so,” I repeated.

This back and forth went on for a stupidly long amount of time, much longer than it would have if The Guy had been attempting to rope in a dude to be his work-out guinea pig and said dude had told him to back off. It didn’t come to an end until I essentially told him that “I enjoy eating my own body weight in saturated fats, thanks. Every Dorito I shove down my gullet is a day off my life, and I’m thankful for it.”

He looked incredibly disappointed, and promised me that I’d tell all my (female) friends what he was offering.

I fulfilled that promise, but probably not in the way he was expecting. And every time I opened a family sized pack of Doritos in my apartment, I ate it while leaning against the wall, just to make sure that he could hear every single individual artificially flavoured triangle of goodness as it entered my goddamn bloodstream.

My body is a temple, and everyone knows that all the best temples are full of snakes.

3. A Black Eye

Yeah I have a black eye now. No big deal. A mugger tried to take my friend’s handbag and I busted out some sweet karate-like moves on him, and he got ONE punch in but I got in like forty million with the force of seven thousand suns. Unfortunately he then went on to sue me for assault, citing unreasonable proportionality of force used in the course of self-defence and now I’m in a lot of debt. 

This is the fancy staged photo where the black eye actually looks mildly exciting and attractive.
It actually looks so much worse now.
It's gone into the "blotchy red, purple and swollen" phase, and it's started leaking.

That is, as some people might call it, all lies. I prefer to refer to it as ‘tailoring a version of events to perfection’, but the public will have their labels.

In reality, my sister was saying something to me, and I am selectively deaf so I leaned over to hear what she was babbling on about. My elbow missed the table and I went SMACK face first onto the corner of it. I think what’s even MORE impressive is that I then went on to just fall horribly right onto the stool beside me, knocking it over and falling on the floor, giving myself magnificent carpet burn on one of my knees.

What’s really irksome about all this is that we had just arrived at our cousin’s 21st birthday party and I wasn’t even drunk when this happened. I mean, everyone’s got those hilarious drunken stories, the ones you whip out when you’re exchange inebriated battle scars. This story would probably be a lot more hilarious if I could at least finish it by slamming my hand on the table and shouting “AND I WAS COMPLETELY WANKERED” before throwing back my head and cackling with mirth, but all I can do is sort of shuffle awkwardly and add “yeah I uh, apparently have really poor balance haha… well I guess we sort of knew that already…”

And this is why the solution to all life’s problems is to just be a little bit drunk, at all times. Just a smidgeon. Just to say that you were at a later date.

I can’t possibly see that ever going wrong.

So there you have it. That’s pretty much all the eventful moments in my life thus far. Aren’t you glad that I went into them in needless and excruciating amounts of detail?

Oh yeah, I’m also unemployed and living with my parents again.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Brain Clench

If you too have a brain, you’ll be very familiar with the process of The Brain Clench, something I use up to fifteen times a day in an ongoing act of self-preservation.

Let’s cut to the chase – Our brains are assholes. They just are. There’s no point in denying it, it’s a simple fact of life. “Look at me, I control everything about you!” they shout gleefully. “If I turn off this bit right there, you’ll misjudge the distance to your mouth and pour orange juice all down yourself. OOPS you did!”

Our brains are assholes, and they are assholes with very short attention spans.

You know the score. You’re wandering along, enjoying a bit of peace and quiet, feeling generally good and at one with the world, when this happens.

There is no way to predict this. It can happen at any time. There’s an argument to be made that it is even more likely to happen when you’re doing pretty well and arguably being a functional adult who contributes to general society.

You can be going about your day, minding your own business, when that pink wrinkly bastard in your head thinks. “You know what would be great? Let’s remind them of that time that they spilled orange juice all down themselves in front of the three most powerful people in their place of work. Oh! No! I know! Let’s think about that time that they got over-emotional and over-reacted in an argument when they were completely in the wrong! No, wait, let’s think about what an embarrassing idiot they were around that person they had a crush on who didn’t even like them as a friend!”

The fun! The joy! The possibilities are endless! Here comes a dark and terrible memory from the giant ‘My Past Fuckups’ box!

There is only one way to deal with this.

You have to Brain Clench.

This is my personal method of dealing with all those thoughts and memories that make me shrivel up and die inside. In the great tradition of Irish people everywhere, I don’t work through these things. I don’t analyse or think about them. I do the only sensible thing and I clench my brain, forcing them back into that dark and bulging box of horrible personal failures.

The facial expression is mandatory, and I’ll sometimes do it even as the embarrassing thing is happening - all the better to smoosh it down into the dark recesses of my brain.

For example, last week when I came onto a roundabout too soon and a car had to brake to let me pass as I drove at an inexplicable two miles per hour in order to minimise my panic but maximise my soul destroying shame and embarrassment, I’m pretty certain that as I slowly rolled past all the driver of the other car could see was
Another Great Brain Clench of our time is based around something that happened when I was studying in America for a year.

Fun fact, in America they have actual seasons, which means your Irish wardrobe of “sometimes it’s sunny and raining, sometimes it’s cold and raining” will not cut it when the year goes from being “why is the sun so close” to “when will this icy tundra claim my immortal soul and I can finally be at rest”.

As a result, I can say with confidence that I wouldn’t have survived that year without the wonderful help and kindness from a woman myself and my friends took to referring to as American Mom. American Mom fed us, comforted us, sheltered us, lent us blankets, plates, cutlery and brought us on day trips and fun excursions that were as varied as they were delightful. One day she and I went on a Segway tour all around the (huge) grounds of the St. Louis natural history museum.

Have you ever been on a Segway? It is the greatest thing ever. You will look like a dork and you won’t even care a little bit.

We whizzed around the park on our segways (occasionally defying death in the form of wet leaves and once almost crashing a wedding photograph) with the help of our tour guide, a woman who found my story about what my friend John did when faced with Americans who can’t understand that Ireland is not a small village with five people in it absolutely hilarious.

Basically, whenever an American said something like “Oh my second cousin Patrick lives in Spiddal, do you know him!?!” John would reply in the absolute affirmative.
“Oh shur Paddy,” John would say enthusiastically. “Isn’t be doing great for himself! Wasn’t I talking to him just before we left! Ah Paddy is grand out, he’s fierce sound.”

Because I am A Bit Slow I didn’t understand what he was at in the beginning.

But as soon as I understood, it was a huge source of entertainment, especially given John’s talent for keeping a perfectly straight face. I was entertaining our guide with this story, and feeling very all-knowing and sophisticated (conveniently forgetting that I too was taken in by John’s acting in the beginning) when she asked if many people had relations in Ireland.

“Some do,” I allowed. “But most of them just like to claim that they’re Irish because their great-great-great whatever was. And it’s like, ah, no you’re not love.”

Of course what I meant was that some people like to tag on their Irishness like a cute accessory, while having no actual idea of Irish culture or history. I meant that the people who claim to be Irish when reminded to do so need to pick up the slack and maybe find out a thing or two about the country itself.

I meant that, but I was in the grips of playing the cynical worldly traveller for the entertainment of this tour guide that I had known for five seconds and in doing so I was a complete asshole to my American Mom, who not only had Irish heritage, but was passionately interested in the history and culture of Ireland to the point of volunteering at Irish cultural events and organisations.

As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I regretted them, but it was too late to expand upon what I meant, the tour guide was already zooming on. I couldn’t even bring myself to look at the woman who had cared for me like one of her own for an entire year.

In one single second, I had insulted the woman who fed me, clothed me and ensured my survival in the Amerikays, and created the greatest brain clench inducing memory in my personal history.
I have many, many other brain clenches that I could delve into, but that would take days upon days and no one has time for that. Suffice to say, that if you’re thinking to yourself “what about that time she--” Oh believe me friend. That is in there, and I have to clench that like a motherfucker.

To sum up, brains are assholes, and they do a lot of terrible things.

But the very worst thing they do is make you question who’s really the asshole in this situation.
Hint: It's me
Basically, all I have left to say is that if we are together at some sort of social gathering and you see me making a pained or strained face, I just want to assure you that I have neither had a stroke nor an accident in my pants. I am just remembering one of the many upon many times that I was a less than exemplary human being, and I am attempting to compartmentalise and forget all that trauma.

Long lasting psychological affects!? PSH as if THOSE exist!!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Things I Should Be Competent In By Now

In your late teens and your carefree college years, being crappy at this stuff is cute and expected. Now I’m hitting my mid-twenties, and it’s becoming clear that I am slowly changing from a fun lovin’ youth who’s just figuring out life, to the token hot mess of my peer group, a cautionary tale for children. The quirky indie music backtrack to my slovenly ways has disappeared, replaced by a discordant remix of Oh Fortuna, as I sit in my pyjamas and eat two day old Chinese take-out while blearily watching my fiftieth consecutive hour of Netflix.

With that in mind, here’s a list of some of the things that I really, really feel I should be better at by now.

Sleeping at normal people time

If I have nothing controlling my sleep-schedule (school, work… that’s pretty much it) I become almost totally nocturnal. My bed-time naturally sets itself to 3a.m. at the earliest, and around noon-ish is a natural waking point. I’ve read reports and academic studies that claim that this is the natural sleep-cycle of a teenager. Please tell me where I can send money so they will extend that definition to “immature 24 year olds who have issues with reality”.

Even when forced to adhere to the rigours of a capitalistic society, dragging myself out of bed at the soul destroying hour of 7.30a.m., I never get used to it. My body clock never sets itself naturally to feel sleepy around ten at night. I don’t think I’ve ever gone to sleep before ten in my adult life – in fact there’s an argument here that everything I do, I do because I am suffering from severe sleep deprivation. I’m not an irrational idiot, I just haven’t gotten my assigned eight hours. Or, you know, twelve. Whatever works.

That said, though I would love to blame my body’s inability to change my sleeping pattern for my constant tiredness, the fact that as soon as I go to bed I spend a solid three hours watching funny videos on my phone may be a contributing factor.

Having self-control

This is a big one. I feel like this can help me pinpoint the exact moment where everything went to shit.

I used to be good at lining the sequences of my actions up. I used to be good at making sure that there was a correlating cause and result to everything I did.

“Do boring thing,” I told myself, “and you may have nice thing.”

This was a sensible series of events. Do an hour of running, eat chicken wings. Do a day’s good study, watch three episodes of your favourite show. It all made sense. It was so perfect.
Until the day I realised that there are no immediate consequences for not doing the boring thing.

Goodbye exercise. Goodbye eating healthily. Goodbye performing any sort of unsupervised work unless it’s 2a.m. the night before the deadline and I’m in the grip of a panic attack. The voice in my head which regulated my behaviour was smothered to death a long time ago, it’s weak  cries petering out for the final time, desperately begging me to heed the Netflix ‘do you want to continue watching’ warnings and to stop considering red meat a staple for every meal.

Even though I know it wanted the best for me, and even though I suspect that without it I will die unhealthy, homeless and addicted to something under a bridge somewhere, I don’t miss it.

I know I need it, but I don’t miss it.

What was it, my mother? Jesus.

Dealing with adult correspondence

Joy of joys, I’ve become fake-competent enough in this area to fool the average bystander. See, lately I came upon a brainstorm of an idea which left me in an afterglow of smugness for weeks.

An adult folder.

That’s right, I grabbed a folder, wrote ‘ADULT SHIT’ on it, and now anything that comes through my letterbox that looks any way official gets stuffed into a nice clean plastic pocket , to be flicked through and admired every once and awhile.

I mean, is there the possibility that an unknowing individual will assume that they’ve stumbled across my stash of pornography and then assume that I have some sort of bizarre fetish for bank statements and electricity bills? Absolutely. But this is a small price to pay for the warmth that envelopes my heart was I flick through it.

“Oh sure,” I think to myself. “There’s a pizza box filled with used tissues on my cooker, the bins haven’t been taken out in weeks and somethings growing in the milk carton but look at this. Look at all these electricity bills filed by date. Look at this PRSI form. There’s my PPS number, ready to be checked at a moment’s notice. On this day, I am an adult, by god.”

All well and good, but for some reason I have not made the mental connection between the existence of the adult folder and the fact that it needs to be periodically checked. Some part of me just cannot process that the pages I stuff in there in a self-satisfied manner are actually real-life notifications of things which need to be acted upon.

Thus, despite my careful filing of all relevant correspondence, I was unaware that my car’s insurance is up soon and that I was driving around in an expensive death trap. I was unaware until I received notification via text that the electricity in my apartment was due to be cut off. Despite the sleek, shiny pockets storing all this valuable information, I continued to be the irresponsible shit-show that you all know and-… know.

Oh well. Baby steps.


Cooking? Every day?? Every day, this? ??

No, you know what, I don’t even have to defend this.

Cooking is bullshit and everyone knows it.

Generally socialising/communicating like a normal person

I am an introvert, something a lot of people know about me due to my tendency to sulk viciously when forced to attend any gathering in public with more than five people present.

However, I am not going to use that characteristic quirk to defend my other characteristic quirk which is my utter self-absorption to the point that I can go without talking to another human being for weeks and then be completely shocked and surprised when for some reason I feel somewhat lonely and there is no one immediately on hand to make me feel better.

What is this, I think to myself, conveniently forgetting the basic and firmly established give and take elements of human interaction. Why does no one want to talk to me? Do they hate me? How can they hate me, I am a delight. How DARE they. I’ll SHOW THEM. I’ll SHOW THEM ALL.

I then proceed to ‘show them all’ by watching even more Netflix and making absolutely no attempt to change my behaviour or become more involved in people’s lives in any way whatsoever.

Wait, ‘being an asshole’ is a characteristic quirk, right?

Recognising strategic procrastination

Here is something I’m sure that quite a few people will empathise with – the ‘ol strategic procrastination. You know what I’m talking about. When you have something very important and looming to do, so you do something of slightly lesser importance instead.

But! That something of lesser importance must be just important enough that you feel as though you have been Productive and that you have Gotten Things Done Today. It is only later on in the middle of the night that it properly sinks in that the original looming important thing is still looming, and is still very important but now you have slightly less time than you used to to deal with it.

This is a very dark spiralling hole to fall down, because the ladder which you can descend to find items of slightly lesser importance is never ending.

Say you might be… I don’t know. Studying for exams

After a while your brain starts to actively complain and cite the Geneva Convention, so instead you might decide to get to work formatting the script you wrote for a special theatrical event at the upcoming IDWCon.

While you’re formatting the script, you might think ‘hey I haven’t done a blog post in a while’.

As you’re writing the blog post you might think ‘oh man now is a perfect time to start bringing in those comics I always wanted to include’.

Now, yes, okay, these are all important things. They all need to be done, but are they of equal importance, and did they need to be done right now is the real question here. But you didn’t ask those question, did you? You just did what you always do, and followed strategic procrastination into its dark seductive layer of Feeling Productive Without Actually Doing Anything.

Long story short, instead of studying for your upcoming exams you just spent a whole day drawing comics. If you hadn’t smothered that small voice in your head I bet it’d be pretty pissed off right around now.  

Good luck living under a bridge, loser.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Story Time!

One upon a time, there were three young sisters who lived in a sturdy, strong-walled house in the middle of the forest.
That is how the story starts, but how it progresses is a far different tale.
The elder sister left home early, restless and unsure. She walked from place to place, trying to find a means to make her wage, before she found a town that would pay her for  listening to the various complaints of those in the surrounding towns. They would come to her with their grievances, and the elder sister would assure them that she understood their frustration, and that she would do all she could to help them.
"How dare you inflict upon me the various hardships I must go through in life!" one man would scream.
"I stubbed my toe the other day, what are you going to do about it?!" another woman said.
"Thieves made off with the money we were going to use to pay the citizens food rations this week," the mayor would sob, "What are you, as a lone individual, going to do to fix this entire situation?"
"I understand, it’s very frustrating," the eldest sister would say, shifting nervously behind her desk.
"No, you have no idea," a black slithering mass hissed, bringing his hot, sticky maw up to her mouth and wheezing, for she had willingly exposed herself to this in the hopes that no others would have to. "What can you know of the breaking of bones in the night, the subtle creak and snap of the marrow. What can you know of the low guttural moan of those close to death, who fear it, yet who want it still? What can you do, you who are nothing but mortal, and capable of noth-"
"Unfortunately, I’m afraid there isn’t anything I can do for you at the moment. If you have any further enquiries, please feel free to call back at a different time," the eldest sister said. Then she slammed her palm down in the centre of Solomon’s Seal, which was carved in the centre of her desk. The symbol  sent the black mass of death and hatred back to the land from which it came, and the forest filled with the screams and the blasphemies of those who held her accountable.
The second sister had been sent to a far away land, that she might learn their tongue, and the manner in which they carried out their justice.
"Leave me be," the sister had snapped irritably, jerking her arm and shaking the hand which held a fine paintbrush dipped in gold. "I am making the countenances of my dream on paper, and I would not be disturbed."
The villagers had nodded sympathetically, but then had explained that, though her talent be rare and admirable, there simply was no one that would pay the coins needed for her to eat and live. 
"You understand," the weak and pathetic mayor said, turning his hat awkwardly in his hands, "that you neither plough nor farm. And so, we have no use for you."
The middle sister rolled her eyes. “There are many places where it takes neither ploughing nor farming to make a wage. There are many places where a person may make coin on the benefit of their word alone. I present solid canvass, not fickle word, and yet I cannot eat?”
"No," said the mayor, sure of very little, but sure of that fact alone. "No you cannot."
The middle sister had sighed, long and lengthily. Then, grabbing her cloak, she had walked out the front door, and had set of to find another means to feed herself.
She ended up in a far off land, learning to argue for life in another tongue, learning to bring the law to heel and have it move in her will at the snap of her whip.
Still living in the house that was the home of the three sisters, the youngest sister was mired in examinations, and did not have a disposition favourable to them.
"Why did he say that?" she would ask, leaning back in her desk and lounging, letting her patent shoes tap on the hard wooden floors.
"The teacher?" another student would inquire. "Uh- well, he said that because he’s talking about the battle of the four towers, when the Slithering Others came forth and-"
"What are they?" the youngest sister would demand, leaning in on the desk and resting her pretty chin on her upturned fists.
"Slithering Others?But- haven’t you been listening? All semester? Well, they’re the ones with the power to manipulate mind matter, they can catch it in their claws you see, and-"
"What was that?"
"Wha- That was a crow that just flew into the window. You’re not really listening to me at all, are you?" 
And the youngest sister would smile and shrug, and perhaps she was listening, and perhaps she was not. It all depended on your point of view.
One day, the middle sister took a plum and placed it on a silver platter. She took the stem of the plum and spun it, and when the fruit had reached a desirable rate of rotation, she said the four ancient words, and in the spinning flesh of the plum appeared her  sisters faces.
"Sisters!" she cried. "Come forth to this land, where food is plentiful and the drink flows free!"
"But what food is this," the elder sister inquired, "for you are a vegan, and quite frankly everything you put in your mouth tastes like cardboard to me."
"Yes," the youngest sister said, "I’d rather have actual cardboard than eat something you have cooked, middle sister."
"Okay, come on, when did this turn into an attack on my cooking?" the middle sister asked. "I’m trying to do a nice thing here, can you, you know, shut up and just let me do it?"
The eldest and youngest sister both muttered that perhaps they would be able to do this.
"Right, fine, because I had this whole thing- jesus, never mind let me just-" the middle sister said, as she fetched a mysterious object from the ground beside her. 
And the eldest sister and the youngest sister were Rightly Chastised, and there was much screaming and rejoicing upon the news that the middle sister would transport such a treasure back to their village, and the moral of the story is, don’t sass people with access to high quality chocolate. Quite frankly, the reason should be obvious.

(I work in a call centre at the moment, Ide is still in school, and Annie is abroad in Germany, land of the glorious chocolate)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

If It Sounds Too Good To Be True Then It Probably Is - Part Two in a Tale of Woe

Let's set the scene.

There I was, sitting in the car of a strange man, having more or less signed over my soul for the day to an enigmatic company called Endless Talking which repeatedly dodged my attempts to investigate the nature of the job they wanted me to do. I had been told I was going to be 'shadowing' an employee for the day, and so I had anticipated lengthy Important Meetings with Giants of Industry - however, things had taken a drastic turn towards the opposite.

I had thought we were driving to the offices of Fancy Doohickies, a company that Endless Talking had been hired to market, but instead we seemed to be driving further and further into the countryside.

I'm not going to lie, the doubt was creeping in.

It occurred to me briefly that Brian could horribly murder me, and the company wouldn't even be sued because I signed a contract saying I understood I was not an employee and that they owed me nothing. I managed to dispel the fear though -  my shoes were heels, but they were sensible heels, as I had anticipated a lot of standing around while Brian talked business and made contacts. I was fairly certain I could outstrip him if it came to it.

I leaned against the door, peering out the window and trying to guess where we were going. Brian was very firmly not saying, and it would probably sound stupid to ask at this stage.

"Are you one of those nervous  passengers?" Brian scoffed suddenly, and I blinked.

"Nnnnno?" I said, wondering where he had gotten that idea from. I've never considered myself a nervous passenger - in fact many's a time when I would be accused of making things far more dangerous for the driver, by kneeling between the front seats and shouting about how great it would be to drag-race up the M50.

"Good," Brian said forcefully. "I can't stand nervous passengers."

I turned to say something in response, but that was the moment I discovered exactly why Brian hated nervous passengers. Brian hated nervous passengers because every passenger of Brian's was probably a nervous wreck.

We were no longer on the nice, safe stretch of main road. We were now in the back ends of rural Cork. Brian put the pedal to the metal, screeching and skidding around every corner we came across, unmindful of potholes, puddles or any small animals/children in his path. I clung to the door, a rictus grin of fear on my face as I tried desperately not to look like I was drafting my will in my head. I realised that when he asked if I was a "nervous passenger" Brian actually meant "someone who is not ready to die as a bloody smear across the tarmac."

Suddenly, we slammed to a halt outside an incongruous looking dwelling beside a farm. I peered at it, wondering if Brian wanted to show off his new protégé/CEO of the company to his Mammy.

"Okay, let me do the talking," he told me, unbuckling his belt and clambering out of the car. Well, okay Brian, but if your Mammy wants to hear all about how I'm doing on my first day it would be rude of me not to say anything.

He went around to the boot of the car, and pulled out a shopping bag filled to the brim with glossy paper. "Have a pamphlet and give it to them if they ask for it." A pamphlet? Give to them? Brian, your Mammy will not want a pamphlet. I'm calling that now.

Brian marched up to the house and boldly rang the doorbell. I slunk along behind him, a growing unease in my stomach. A lady answered the door, looking in askance at the two be-suited people standing on her front patio.

"Hello there," Brian beamed. "I'd like to ask, are you happy with your current provider of flibbertigibbets?"

Guardedly, the woman indicated that yes, she was satisfied with how her flibbertigibbets were being supplied.

Brian remained unbowed. "Well, let me take this opportunity to inform you that Fancy Doohickies has a special off this year, 20% off flibbertigibbets for all new customers!" He looked meaningfully at me, and then at the pamphlet in my hand, which I numbly handed over.

Okay, I desperately rationalised, as Brian continued to convince this woman that she needed to get her flibbertigibbets from Fancy Doohickies, and that all other purveyors of flibbertigibbets were just heinous liars out for cash. Okay, there probably is some of this involved in the beginning. It's marketing and sales. I'm entering in on the bottom rung. Yeah that's it, they're testing me to see if I really want it. All right, that's fine. Two can play at this game.

I put on my best smile and nodded along, as though internally agreeing with Brian as he continued to extol the various virtues of Fancy Doohickies, the Greatest Company On Earth. Alas, the lady of the house remain unconvinced, and we returned to our car customerless.

It was 12.30pm

"Okay," Brian said. "You keep track of all the houses we visit, and note down whether they refuse, sign up, or whether they're an existing customer."

All the houses we visit? I began to mildly panic. How many was Brian planning on doing? Let's see, we were expected back at the office at the end of the day, and we'd have to stop for lunch... But surely there was no way that Brian was expecting to spend the next five hours going door to door trying to sell flibbertigibbets?

I was right. He wasn't. Oh god, how I should have wished he was.

We sat into the car, pulled out of that driveway with a jerk, and drove on-

Right into the next driveway. Where we repeated everything again, with Brian selling Fancy Doohickies for all he was worth, and me standing there and smiling blankly like an idiot in the background. These people didn't want to change their flibbertigibbet provider either, and in fact stared at us stonily until we turned away and climbed back into our car.

Then we went on to the next house. And then the next. And the next

I googled flibbertigibbet and this came up.
Please feel absolutely free to imagine that this is what we were trying to sell.

I thanked Christ I was wearing comfortable shoes. No one had mentioned this. What if I had a medical condition? What if I had asthma, or a bad knee, or I was pathologically lazy? Wait a minute. I was pathologically lazy.

"So Brian," I asked casually, when we were finally in the car for more than twenty seconds at a time. "Would you do this sort of thing often?"

I was trying to gauge how much door-to-door selling I was expected to do. If it was for three or four hours once or twice a week, I reckoned I could do that.

Pennies, remember. Licking pennies.

"Uh, well, I mean, I'm an account manager so I do this occasionally to keep my hand in."

Okay. Another patented Endless Talking vague response. Not really an answer at all, but that's fine. That's fine.

I tried to think of a diplomatic way to grab him by the lapels and say "how often will I be expected to do this bullshit, Brian?" but before I managed to verbalise the sentiment we pulled in to another driveway.

And so it continued. 1pm, 2pm, 3pm. House after house after house. My legs were killing me, and I was getting a pain in my face from the amount of bland smiling I was doing. It was clear that my job was to add another level of respectability to Brian's sales pitch. I stood just behind him with a clipboard nodding sagely, as though the information he was imparting was awe-inspiring advice from a flibbertigibbet guru.

Lunchtime came and went, with no more comment from Brian than "You have food for lunch, yeah?" As a matter of fact, I did. I had packed a wrap just to be on the safe side. I ate it sitting in the car on the way to try and sell flibbertigibbets to yet another home. I was never told I would need a packed lunch, just like I was never told I would be spending the entire day as a door-to-door salesperson. Once again, I thanked the high heavens, this time for my food-related paranoia (I am terrified I will never have enough). It was clear that without the wrap I had shoved in my bag on the off-chance it was needed, I would have been going hungry.

As we rounded in on 4pm, the last vestiges of hope that we were going to be visiting company clients disappeared. This was obviously the plan for the day until 5pm. A day walking from door to door, plastering my face with frozen smiles, and desperately trying to stop myself from launching at Brian, and throttling him to death while screaming "This is the kind of information you tell someone, Brian!!"

But frankly, I'm pretty sure this was Endless Talking's plan all along. There was a reason the description of the job had been so vague, and there was a reason everyone conveniently failed to mention what 'shadowing' entailed. Most of all, there was a reason they had me sign a statement agreeing that I understood I was absolutely not getting a single penny of pay for this.

"Do you think you can work on commission?" Brian asked.

"Pardon?" I asked in alarm, sure I had misheard.

"This job. You work on commission."

There and then, all my doubts, all the nagging voices that pointed out how much I needed a job, how maybe this one wouldn't be so bad, fell silent. I absolutely could not work on commission, especially not on the tiny amounts that Brian outlined.

Did they deliberately send us all out to the countryside? I wondered grimly. Did they want to make sure we couldn't suddenly walk away in the middle of town having realised exactly what this gig was?

Never mind, it had been five long hours, but it was almost over. My legs were killing me, and I was starving. I waited eagerly in the car for Brian, having made a run for it as soon as the last lovely 'customer' had shut the door. It was 5pm, and we had visited 22 houses. I was ready to call it a day, and to put this whole horrible nightmare behind me.

"Do you think you have what it takes to do the job?" Brian asked, getting into the car.

"Absolutely," I trilled, aware that it wouldn't do to make the driver unhappy.

"So," Brian continued, and clearly this was a part of the whole 'second-round-interview' thing. "Tell me why you want to do this job? I mean, no one wants to sell things door to door."


"... I think I'm good with people, and I have a real drive to succeed," I said instead, which lacked the same punch.

"Yeah, I think you're definitely able for it," Brian mused, as though conferring a great honour upon me. If I was someone who actually wanted this job it would have been. But I didn't. And frankly, I felt as though I had been tricked into working for Endless Talking for five hours for free. It was like a tiny, shitty internship that I didn't want and which taught me nothing.

"Great," I said vaguely, wondering where he was going to drop me in town.

Oh wait, that's right. There was a final stage to the interview, where I would meet with the Big Boss and he would give me feedback and talk about whether or not I was right for the role. Honestly, I suspected that if I went, I would get it. The nice receptionist had told me that I was one of the best candidates for the job.

The only catch was that Brian was wrong. I wasn't able for this at all. I was hungry, exhausted and crabby, and anyone who knows me knows that I have the back of an old lady with a penchant for parkour - I was currently harbouring a low, grinding ache in my lower spine that sent bolts of pain up and down my legs. Added to that, the idea of working on commission terrified me. That sort of thing needed the type of whirlwind personality that I just didn't have. I'm a light breeze at best. On some days I might manage a gust.

It was 5pm, and I was totally and utterly ready to go home.

It was such a shame then, that we promptly turned into another driveway.

I'm not quite sure you can comprehend the delicate cocktail of rage, despair and exhaustion that filled my body at that point, but maybe you can imagine how that cocktail intensified as we proceeded to visit houses for another five hours.

Yes, that's right. You didn't misread. I said five hours. Five hours. Five HOURS. FIVE MORE HOURS ON TOP OF THE FIVE HOURS WE JUST DID.


The poor little fool that I was had been slightly optimistic about our finishing time, and it wasn't until well after 10pm at night that Brian finally deigned to return to Cork city.

All in all, we had visited 35 houses over ten hours.

Out of all of those houses, four people signed up to Fancy Doohickies.

Brian seemed pleased.

Starving, soul broken and now too tired to muster the energy for anger, I nodded mutely when he told me that we were running too late to meet the Boss, but that he'd tell him how well I had done throughout the day. Brian told me to expect a call tomorrow morning informing me whether or not I got the job.

Good. Great. Thanks.

I staggered away through the dark streets and practically fell into my aunt's car.

"Just drive," I said hoarsely. "Just drive."

The end of my horrible tale? Not quite.

Two days later, I was at the point where I was able to laugh about the experience. I'm not going to lie, it was still a little raw, but I could muster up a chuckle about the whole thing. It was character building, I told myself, sitting on the bus back home. It makes a good story. It was an experience. Above all, it let me know that I was definitely not able for the world of marketing, especially if the world of marketing was anything like what Endless Talking demanded.

Overall, I was walking away a stronger person. This had the feel of a life lesson about it. I felt noble and pure, like I had been through some sort of impossible task, like those put upon Grecian Heroes. I had conquered the mountain, I had slain the dragon.

In the midst of all this romanticism, something was niggling in the back of my mind. Something was itching me, something wasn't quite right.

Then I realised what it was, and sat bolt upright, letting out an indignant shriek that set a small baby crying. I hadn't noticed at the time because I had been too relieved to be free of the horrendous Sisyphus-esque nightmare, but it suddenly hit home, the last final indignity, the insult to injury.

After getting ten hours of work out of me, and the promise of a job offer in the morning, the fuckers never even called me back.