Some Recent Life Changing Decision’s

I was lounging in my dressing gown last night, googling pictures of your man that played Nate in The Devil Wear’s Prada, when I started to think about decisions. You see, Nate was feckin’ gorgeous – with a more dangerous kind of look than the striking James Bond type, he was cute and ordinary looking enough to make you believe that maybe even you could find him at the bar in Electric some night. But Nate was also a big baby! Remember he threw that strop in the movie when he thought his birthday was more important than his girlfriend’s writing career?! Ugh. So, as I sat there in my dressing gown, I stopped drooling, and came to a decision.

Image result for nate the devil wears prada
“If I ever happen to have a boyfriend with a mop of curls you’d love to bring home to Mammy, I won’t let him come between me and my writing… even if he does have ice cool blue eyes that would cure the worst of hangovers” I decided.

This got me thinking about all the other decisions that I have made recently, and how they have altered my life. For example, last week I decided to buy myself a stapler, and my life has never felt more together.

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Last month, I decided to replace binge watching Netflix with binge reading books. The month before that, when I was getting nostalgic for strong eight year old Tull-Meister who could take on her brothers in a wrestling match, I decided to exercise with a goal to become strong rather than to “stay in shape”. (Now, I’m not exactly a gym bunny. I’m more of a let’s sit in a café with scones and books kind of bunny, so this decision was never going to be an easy one. The majority of my workout attempts have involved me sweating and screaming in the style of a movie birth-scene, rather than a fun fitness video. But there is a lot of hope that I will be wresting my brothers like back in the 90’s very soon).
Now, before I go off on a tangent about how learning to wrestle your brothers is actually lot healthier than exercising to become a certain size (the daft idea of constantly striving for weight loss is simply female oppression if you ask me!)… There’s one particular decision I made this academic year that changed my life, and I think we need to talk it.

I moved out of my student accommodation, and into a palace.

When I say palace, I mean my aunts beautiful home, with a dishwasher, heating, and lots of other complete novelties that do not exist in the realm of student accommodation.

Image result for palace bedroom (my new bedroom)

Since my aunt (who is beautiful, warm and tidy, just like her house) took me in, I don’t know myself! It was an adjustment at first, because I am essentially a house guest, and house guests are … weird. They are basically friendly spies – going around your home, collecting information about you, like if you shower daily or not, and taking note of that Wine for Dummies book you bought in the airport seven years ago. They are intrusions to a person’s primary territory – and I think that is why our natural instinct is to not allow them to stay any longer than a couple of nights. So, I tried my best to fit into my aunts primary territory, and not appear like a spy at all, by doing the things that she does, like talking about work and general adult life.

“Kev in my work office is really annoying me” I’d begin.
“Caoimhe, you work in a coffee shop, with all girls….”
“Oh yes, ammm sorry, the stock market has got me all frazzled. Would you like to go … lampshade shopping some day?”
When she looked at me like my head had turned into an actual lampshade, I realised I had to come up with a better way of convincing her that I could be an adult, that I could fit in.

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So, I did what all experts would advise in these scenarios, and wrote down a list of my strengths.

1. I make a great lemon sponge.
2. I don’t listen to reggae music (much).
3. I follow Home and Away religiously.
4. I’m a good sturdy build (I can’t borrow/steal slim aunts clothes).
5. I can write.
I have since learnt that lemon sponge loses its novelty quite quickly, and that sometimes a simple “thank you” can do the job. (If not, it might help to write about it).

 

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Is This a Date?

The thing is, I’m the kind of person who tends to run away from the task at hand. When I have a Philosophy essay due, I paint my nails and write for fun. When my nail varnish chips and I actually have an article due, I bake cookies and go on dates.

That’s right, in the midst of all this Christmas exam/Donald Trump angst, in the classic style of Tull-Meister, I have found a distraction, a new focus – the dating scene.

Although, let’s be real, it’s not actually “the dating scene”.  Is it?

It’s just hanging out. Only a coffee. A quick spin to the prom. A quiet drink. It could even be just a work thing… Very casual. And first date things, first: you must not cross these casual lines. You must not try to figure out what it really is. No seriously, take it from Tull-Meister. The 72 hours prior to your meeting must be consumed with wonder.

What is this? What is coffee really code for? What do I wear? What is the meaning of life?

Listen, just embrace this anguish, don’t give in to it. Don’t request that the other person signs a contract stating they are someway romantically interested in you, and that they can offer a money back guarantee… (trust me).

If you happen to do this, and your date falls through, don’t panic, Tull-Meister is here to offer you tips on how to bag another.

It’s pretty simple, all you need to do is find somebody you have something in common with. For example, my most recent date had ears… just like me! I broke the ice by asking him could he wiggle them. (He could, so I should have known from the outset that he was much too intricate for me).

Just like the time I went for “just a drink” with the guy who knew all about wine. His knowledge seemed attractive at first, but trying to keep up with him was too complicated. At one stage he handed me a glass of red, I sniffed long and hard and feeling like a pro I told him I could smell “blackberries and spices” … “That’s just the candle”, he pointed at the candle between us. I nodded, gulping the blackberry and spice until I felt warm and fuzzy and everything was hilarious and I thought I’d better ask if Mr. Wine could wiggle his ears.

 

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Which brings me to my next tip about the dating scene. Now, it might sound like mammy-ish advice, but let’s face it, mammy’s are usually right… Don’t get drunk! It’s not cool, and it puts you in a vulnerable position. I mean, what is the best way to tell if your date is a crazy person? That’s right, there is none. So stay safe out there, and make sure to let a friend know where you are.

If ear wiggling and wine tasting isn’t up your street, suggest to your date that you do something else that seems slightly bearable to you. Do not, under any circumstance, suggest that you partake in an activity you enjoy. For instance, I enjoy wearing a onesie and covering my face with sudocreme while I read women’s fiction. Apparently, the date I had last Thursday night, does not. A key tip is to keep it boring.

If your first date is sufficiently boing, and a second date is agreed upon, you must be prepared. That is why, for the first date, I would suggest investing in a notebook. That way, you can take note of the other persons likes, dislikes, qualities and mannerisms, and memorize them. I mean, dates are basically interviews, so it only makes sense to do this.

If a second date doesn’t seem to be in the pipeline, don’t panic. Take a seat. Laugh at the wiggling ears. Drink the wine. Enjoy the interview process.

Diary of a Final Year: Week Four.

Last night I decided that was it. I stubbed out my fine Columbian cigar, put down my glass of scotch, and rose from my leather throne. “That’s it, Tull-Miester” I proclaimed “No more beating yourself up. Year four, week four … four pounds worth of beans on toast… It doesn’t matter anymore, you’ve come further than you realise. Time to start concentrating on that”.

Okay, so it was a chocolate digestive, a cup of tea and the ripped leather couch in my student accommodation … but whatever, one thing was true – I have come a long way since first year… So what if I’m a final year Philosophy student who still hasn’t figured out the meaning of life? So what if I’ve studied Creative Writing and English and still haven’t attempted to read Ulysses? So what if I still don’t have a boyfriend, or an answer for that Aunt at family occasions who always asks what I’m going to be when I grow up? So what?

College is about learning and growing, and I’ve done just that.     tea
Right, so I’m still not sure where some of my English seminars are, but at least I’ve learnt to deal with that kind of thing a little better. In the past, my tactic for finding a room was … original, at best. I would stand like an animal in search of prey, until I could spot somebody strolling along the concourse who looked like they were going to a lecture on Renaissance English… and casually stroll behind/beside them with my fingers crossed.

Pray tell, what does somebody going to an English lecture look like? I hear you ask.
Well. I don’t know. It never really worked for me. But that’s mostly because I would get too distracted admiring peoples quirky outfits, and either end up in a complete state of panic, or (occasionally) end up congratulating myself for finding the room by not bothering to go into the lecture at all.

Okay … so I still (occasionally) do that. But at least it’s more of a dull panic now, and not “Ahh! All I wanted was a bit of garlic bread, and now here I am on the phone to Galway fire brigade!” level of panic. (Story for another day).

And, at least my tactic for searching for a boyfriend has changed little too. Actually, it used to be similar to the way I would find lectures. I’d basically just stand very close to a boy, or walk beside him until he said something to his friend and I could fake laugh, and flick my hair over my shoulders.

I don’t bother with that craic anymore. I’m moving up in the world – I’ve joined Tinder!  

                                                           tinder

Although, you probably already knew that. If you haven’t matched with me, (Come on, we all know how small Galway is. One time I accidentally matched with my cousin…) my Mammy has probably told you. She was absolutely over the moon to hear that I was “on the Tinder”. In fact, last Saturday night, we spent an hour swiping through my phone and giggling at messages from strangers. It was great! Great, until I was at Sunday Mass the next morning, and I found myself virtually swiping through the congregation of men.
“Come on Tull-Miester” I told myself “Don’t be so superficial”

When I got home, I was ready to delete the evil app. But then I had a message from a nice young fellow offering to bring me out for dinner this week. (“My treat” he says…) That quickly changed my tune. God knows I could do with the free meal. College can be so expensive! Isn’t it mad, the way we are conditioned to believe that college will be the light years of our lives? How come nobody ever warns you that by year four, if somebody even utters the word “pasta”, you will feel nauseous.

There’s another thing I have improved on. God, I’m really starting to feel like I have my life in order. I only eat pasta twice a week now. Back in the day, the bane of my existence was coming up with inventive ways to serve pasta. Pasta with pesto, pasta with Dolmio sauce, pasta with that gone off dip for the Pringles in the back of the fridge, pasta with butter … and then, by Friday: Pasta with Pasta. Sometimes I would even come home from a night of frolicking around the town and gobble down more pasta. (The amount of pasta would be in direct proportion to how much alcohol I had consumed. Disgusting)…
Anyway, I must go before my pasta boils over.
Will write soon x Continue reading

How to Become a Writer, in 8 Simple Steps

You Will Need:
An idea for a novel that has been swimming around your head for some time. (Months or years optional)
1 cup of back-up novel ideas.
800 cups of coffee
A slightly thick skin
3 x large bags of determination
2 x large bags of discipline
1 x large bag of encouragement

Step One: September
First, take a day off work to prepare yourself to take on a familiar literary tradition – writing that novel. Spend the day buying lots of thrilling stationary – pens with perfect nibs, paper, and a board to stick positive affirmations all over. Consider yourself to be at a fairly good starting point – you are intelligent, fairly well-read, have studied creative writing at university level for two years, and you have some kick ass stationary.
At your first workshop, with your stationary, take note that on top of everything, you have one up on most others who have embarked on a similar journey. You have an extremely valuable resource that others didn’t have – a mentor.
She, Kate Kerrigan, is hugely enthusiastic and well spoken. She is smart, and a little bit hilarious. Your kind of woman! With the majority of her twelve published novels coffee stained and slotted into your bookshelf at home, she is the perfect ingredient for this mix. As she speaks about writing every day, and the importance of social media, you can’t help but get distracted by your own inner voice, which is screaming “OMG! A real life writer!” 

Pitch her a plot that you have left to marinate in your temple for years. She assists you to pull it apart, leaving you to realise it isn’t fully seasoned. She also makes you become acutely aware of how much work is ahead, and of your flat Galway accent. (Bu’anyway).

At that, you have learnt your first and most valuable lesson. Don’t have tunnel vision when it comes to your writing. Be open.
Spend some time sitting by the beach with one of your fancy notebooks. Scribble out a handful of alternative plots to work with. When you finally come to something that sparks excitement, reward yourself with a change of scenery: a café.
Sip slowly and scribble. Notebooks, seaside, and coffee shops. You are a total cliché.
But,sometimes a cliché can work. Sometimes, it just means that you have pandered to a shared understanding, to something that is familiar and was pleasing to others before you.

Step Two: October
Toss novel idea 2.0 into the mixing bowl. Stir gently as the reckless wobble of plot points and characters bring it to life. Spend a couple of weeks kneading out your protagonist, figuring out her motivations.
When your mentor dips her spoon into your new mixture, it drizzles thinly, and dribbles off quickly. It lacks flavour, too. This isn’t what you envisioned happening that day you bought all the stationary, but you decided to take on the novel, so it is not a time to start whinging.
Your mentor advises you to fluff out your mixture with a younger, more fun character. Think about this when tidying the cramped single room by the river that you are renting. Think about it while you try to make latte art at work. Think about it at 3am, when cats are having kittens and all your peers are stumbling out of nightclubs and into house parties. Think about it until the mixture gets sticky, then ridged. Until you are filled with an anxiety that kills any creative thoughts.
Give yourself a few days. Go back to the beach, and the café. Bring some books, and read hungrily. Don’t be afraid to be inspired by others.
Eventually, a girl will emerge from the mess. She will start to whisper from the back of your mind. Call her Harriet. She is young, fun, and relatable.
Listen to her as you tidy your room. Take notes at work, in between making latte art. Write a first chapter by her at 3am, when cats are having kittens and your peers are stumbling out of nightclubs and into house parties.
Find yourself wishing that you could spend your days making literature, instead of coffees. It is a thought that you cannot un-think.
For your first trip to your mentor’s home in Mayo, print out the first chapter of your new plot. Sink into the sofa at beautiful 20th Century style house, sip coffee and take in the sea views. Let yourself be seduced by the artistic interior, brilliant company and your mentors’ animated voice. Surreal.
Hold your chapter until it becomes damp with your anticipation. It feels like literature. It even smells like it. Read it out for your mentor.
Saturate in her praise for two hours. Perhaps it is literature. Perhaps you too, could become a “real life writer”. Surreal!

 

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Step Three: November
Suggest less work hours to your boss. Your boss suggests a new job.
Whip six chapters into existence. Leave to partially set for a couple of days.
Go back and re-read when you are in different moods. They are okay, but not the wonderful opening chapters that floated around your head and onto the board in your tiny bedroom. It is November now, and the temperature has dropped. The mixture takes on a cooler, more concave shape. Harriet, who is vital to the idea of being a “Celtic Tiger Baby”, but warm and likable, is not warm or likable. Your mentor, and the group of writers who you have grown close to, help you come to this realisation.
Take a while to come to terms with the daunting experience of scrapping six chapters. Your mentor has done it before, so she pokes you and Harriet out the other end.
In your tiny bedroom, read a positive affirmation that hangs from the board. Take a blank A3 page from your stack of stationary, toss the mixture gently, and start again.
The bitter taste of a restart can be forgotten in those sweet 3am moments of exhilaration. The moments when you begin to peel back layers of your protagonist, and feel you are writing something real.

Step Four: December
Drink people, instead of coffee or mulled wine. Watch their expressions. Tell them you are writing contemporary women’s fiction, and observe their reactions. Some are lovely, encouraging. But some, you notice, are ignorant. Continue (unfortunately) to view people in these terms for some time.
Are these people your possible generalized audience? It is too scary to think about. Pick one person whose opinion you trust, and write for them instead.
Allow the process of writing to caramelise. It will become a distinct sweet flavour, once you stop worrying about silly things – like people, or fanciful syntax.
Work for a company that sells the most coffee, and most renowned mince pies in the city. The unnecessary stress will encourage you to quit your job and move home after Christmas.

Step Five: January
At home in the countryside, spend weeks adjusting to this new form of freedom. Then, spend more weeks cleaning out your bedroom and making the perfect writing space. Put a nice desk by the window that faces out on the forest and the pond in your lawn. Watch the birds hop through frosty grass, until it’s four in the afternoon and you need a snack … and just another cup of coffee.
Return to the desk with the anxious excitement that comes with the blank possibility of a computer screen.Maybe you need some more new stationary. Or a year’s supply of candles, or an ergonomic chair.
Move your desk from the window to the wall.
Sit down, and realise that you need to put your energy into writing, not creating “the perfect writing space”.
Let your pyjamas become your new work uniform. In your spare time, read, go for long walks in the forest, and bake treats to eat with your coffee. Bliss!

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Perfect Writing Space?

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“Go for long walks in the forest”

 

Step Six: February
Allow your mixture to soften. Stop worrying about chapter plans and edits. They disrupt the natural flow of your writing.
In an attempt to respect your writing process, decline invitations from your friends to participate in “rag week”. Scribble the word “discipline” on a blue sticky note, and stick it on the wall in front of your desk.
Finish chapter seventeen. Print it out for your second visit to your mentors’ home. Over coffee and candles, allow her to read it. Let go and watch her grate your mixture, guiding you through the following chapters that seem riddled with unknowns.
The girls in your group, your mentor, and you bring different ingredients to the table. Combine gently.
Spend the night talking to those girls about books, boys, and the human condition. Bliss!
Buy a dress and go to the ball. It’s all about balance. 

 

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“Buy a dress and go to the ball”

Step Seven: March
Chop that pesky self-doubt into small pieces, and throw it away. It doesn’t belong in the mixture, even if it keeps turning up.
Sit at your desk from midnight to dawn. People will tell you this is wrong, but it works for you – so do it. Don’t bother trying to explain to them that those peaceful hours allow you to hack into a murky part of your mind, where dreams are created. They might not understand, until those dreams come true.
Go to a book festival and approach one of your favourite writers, Marian Keyes. It is important to learn from those before you.
Spend a week attempting to fold your mixture into a writing software program on your laptop. You find it to be a tedious process.
Attend a talk about the writing industry, given by Vincent Woods. Transfer one piece of his advice to the board hanging in your room – “if this is something you want to do, you will do it”.  IMG_4514

Step Eight: April
Beat your mixture rapidly, and as much as possible, as you feel the panic of final deadline setting in. Send a batch of nine chapters off to be line edited by your mentor.
Your mentor skypes you and tells you that your plot is running a bit thin, and to “go back to your early chapters again”. Put aside three days to have a break down, and cry to your mother. Use your strong love of baking as therapy.
You may have over seventy thousand words, but have you got a grip on reality? Remember: you must be prepared to do lots of work, replotting and different drafts. Your mentor has pointed this problem out because she wants you to avoid any pitfalls that she experienced.
Take a sharp knife – one that is detached from your ego and emotions – and score your mixture. Pick out the bits that are not working. Take a character named Liam, and stick the knife through him. When he draws his final breath, put him in a folder to be brought to life in a different project. Feel a surprising lightness in his absence. Replace him with a new character, call him Sean.
Fall in love with Sean, and the possibilities he holds for your plot.
Spend weeks re-plotting your early chapters on A3 sheets of paper with different coloured sticky notes. Pitch this new plot to your mother, who talks you through a myriad of plot points and problems. Decide that when this book finally transcends from dream to reality, she will get a dedication line. Transfer the plan from paper to PowerPoint, and pitch it to your mentor. Decide that not everything she says is the gospel truth. It is important to go with your gut.
Attend a talk by Kevin Barry. After he frightens you with his story of true determination, ask him to sign your copies of his books.
Attend a talk by Louise O’Neill. After she awes you with her attitude, ask her to sign your copies of her books.
Notice that you are no longer screaming “OMG! A real life writer!”
Perhaps, you have become one yourself.

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Lovely Hurling !

A complete & comprehensive guide to the lingo of GAA

“Shtick Tight!”hurl

This has to be said with the “h” pronounced very distinctly. Preferably, it is shouted at random intervals throughout the match to remind players to stay as close as possible to the person they are marking – making them feel as uncomfortable as possible. (the use of threatening and rude comments optional). Also known as “mark up!”, or “let him know your there!”

“Watch Your House” 

You see,  when there is a big game on, everybody packs their ‘hang sangwiges and flasks of tae, and heads for the match. This leaves many peoples homes open to experiencing robbery, so naturally, this phrase is shouted from every chimney top in the parish on the morning of the big match.

ham

“Hang Sangwige”

Ah no, don’t be silly… it obviously means that while playing a hurling match you should get rid of the sliothar (ball) as soon as possible because a stampede of players is about to attack you.

“On Your Bike”

Similar to the above, this means take the ball and run as fast as possible and do something impressive with it.

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“Made a hames of it!”

Generally, this is shouted when the person who was supposed to shtick tight, mind their house and go on their bike doesn’t do any of those things, and basically messed up their chance for the “next one!” (“one”meaning “score”)

“Run it off”

An invaluable, timeless piece of advice given to all players who become injured. They are then treated with magic spray (deep heat) or water on the wound, which is a miracle cure for any possible GAA injury.

sliy“Give him timber”

Usually roared from the side lines by a huge man with a wooly hat when the score board is tight. A threatening phrase used to spur on a player to hit the ball, the player beside them, or anything, as hard as possible.

Along the same lines as “burry him/it”, the meaning of which can often depend on if the team is playing by the rules or not.

“Who’s on the break?!”

I could be wrong here, but from my observations, this means that the ball is flying through the air and the audience is concerned about who is going to get it.

“Ah feck ya ref”

Next time you go to a match, try and keep count of how many times you hear this phrase used. Sur if we can’t blame the referee, who can we blame?