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 8

Wait… Week 8, already?

I suppose time flies when you are wearing rust coloured cardigans and moss green quilted jackets. That’s right friends, our good old Aunt Autumn has arrived. She swept in the door, and made herself at home.

Ye should all go to New Look and purchase a good pair of over the knee boots” She breezily advised, over a cup of tea and slice of barm brack.
“You know something Autumn? You’re dead right” I smiled, brushing the leaves off her shoulders.
Now, usually I’m not so hospitable. It’s not always tea parties and buttered barm brack for Aunt Autumn in the Tull-Meisters house. Usually, I have to take a few days to adjust to her arrival.
Adjustment process: constant whinging about the absence of Aunt Summer, plus retail therapy. (rust coloured cardigans, moss green quilted jackets, nice boots…)
But something has changed. I’ve changed. And I think we need to talk about it.
Summer used to be my favourite. My birthday is in July, so naturally I have always associated Summer with being spoilt and eating cake. But cake and presents and sunshine and all that craic … It just doesn’t do it for me anymore.
Before you decide that the Tull-Meister is a big rotten spoilt yoke, let me explain!
If you know me, or if you have even met me briefly – in a bathroom on campus or the smoking area of the Front Door – you will know that I just spent a few months in the States. How will you know? Well, I’ll mention it, of course.
Example:
Nice girl with perfect eyeliner in bathroom: “That toilet doesn’t flush”
Me *thinking if I could do eyeliner like that, I would just drop out of college, become a YouTube sensation and buy a dog and….*: “Oh dear, so annoying, wish we were like the yanks with their automatic flushing toilets… they have everything in America you know, I was there for a while…”
Bearded hipster in the Front Door: “What time does this place close?”
Me: *wondering if he paid fifty cent or fifty euro for his scruffy jacket*: “Around 2:30… But you, we aren’t so badly off… in Massachusetts everywhere stops serving at 1am…”
But, all bragging about my broadened horizons and discovery of toilet technology aside – I think I’ve had enough Summer for one year. I never thought I’d say such a thing. But I am a brave free spirit of the world now, and I’m just going to put it out there: three months of beautiful bright sun beating down on a girl, isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
It’s too much. Too much worrying about prickly leg hair, fake tan/sun cream application, and whether either of them are water proof. Too much men in sandals with hairy toes. Too much for my Celtic complexion. Sometimes I think that whenever God created red-heads, he must have had great fun. I can just imagine him…
“No, no, more freckles… paler, paler!”
Finally! Now is the time to seize these Celtic complexions. An Autumnal colour palette is a pale person’s most complimentary friend. And if you happen to be blessed with a more Goddess like olive glow … well, you can feck off.
No, no. I joke. There’s good news for you, too. Good news for all! Autumn is the new January, just like over the knee boots are the new … look. It’s like a mini New Year, except instead of the air being below zero degrees, its fresh and charged with possibilities, resolutions and renewal. If you were once a Summer lover like myself, you could even go as far as to say Autumn is the new Summer. Now, time for those resolutions.

Did I Tell You I Went to America?

That’s right, I jetted off for the Summer. (I don’t just “take a flight” like the common folk, I “jet” … cos I’m fancy).
Well, it wasn’t as simple as just hopping on my jet. There was an application process for the visa, of course. (Which I would describe as “tedious”, at best … but WORTH IT). Emails, forms and fees to beat the band! I went through the company SAYIT, who were always at the other end of the phone/email when I had any questions. You can get in touch with them here.

Then there was the American embassy interview, which consisted of me waiting in a queue for six hours, to be asked what my intentions in the United States of America were.

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(Just a warning: honesty is not always the best policy. The scary man behind the glass partition does not want to hear that your intentions are to “have a blast!”).
I suppose I panicked a little. It was all very high security and there were men with guns who took my food off me on the way in, so I was gone a bit delirious. They also took all my electronic devices, so I ended up trying to pass the time by making a mental list of everyone I have ever gone out on a date with, ever.
Anyway, the trauma was all forgotten once I set foot on the land of opportunity, peanut butter, cheese, blueberry muffins and sugary everything.
“Welcome to the United States, Mam” Everyone seemed to be saying, and I felt like a modern day version of your one from the movie Brooklyn.

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(We are the spit of her really to be fair…)

In order to be welcomed in like this for the Summer, you must have secured a job first.

That was a little stressful, but SAYIT are great assistance as they provide an InterExchange job data base, and lots of information about job fairs. My friends and I managed to source our own employment, through word of mouth/by emphasizing our Irish accents (the aul Irish accent, ’tis like gold dusht abroad in the states)… So we ended up living the dream at a Four Star resort on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Some of us worked in activities, some as receptionists, and some in food and beverage.

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(Ocean Edge Resort, Cape Cod..  You can contact the lovely people there by clicking here )

My title was “cocktail waitress”. Which basically meant I got paid to swan around a sunny roof top terrace over-looking Cape Cod Bay, with lots of other friendly j1 students from all over the world. At the time, the resort was striving for an award, so we were trained in excellence – wine tasting, cocktail preparation, the like! During the Summer Season, the weather on Cape Cod is what a red headed Irish girl would consider to be ROASTIN’ (25-30C), so we were kitted out with cute mini skirts and shirts – I was happy I packed my coco brown tan and, of course, factor 50 sun cream!

From the outset, the whole experience at Ocean Edge was an absolute delight – we were simply so enchanted by the scenery and weather that we didn’t even feel jet lagged. Cape Cod is known for its beaches, and pretty freshwater ponds, which are all a “stones throw” from the resort. When I wasn’t busy slathering myself in sun cream on the shore, my days were spent holding a tray of drinks on the palm of my hand, smiling at lots of Americans who thought I was “adorable” with my four million freckles. It was great.

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(Watching the sunset and sunrise before and after a party was as normal as a hot dinner here at home)

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Like most waitress jobs in the States, I was getting paid just over 3 dollars an hour, and living off my tips. I happen to be an absolutely lovely person and brilliant at everything, so my tips were fairly high. But living costs on the beautiful Cape were fairly high too – so I got second job in the cute “Al Fresco” Café.

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Al Fresco quickly became my happy place – working there gave me a chance to meet the locals, as opposed to holiday makers at the resort. It is run by the most wacky, warm family I have ever met – who are not just brilliant in the business of food and coffee, but beaming with kindness too. I spent a lot of my time there, chatting to the interesting people from the area, and feeding my iced latte addiction.

Image may contain: 1 person, drink       (Honestly, the hardest part about returning to Ireland was the lack of iced lattes).

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Most days I worked in the café from 8am to 2pm, and then on the Terrace from 3pm to midnight. I cycled to and from both jobs, on a bike provided to me by a man called “Papa Deny” who claimed to be doing the work of Jesus. In fairness, the bike was an actual God send – while the Cape is very beautiful, it’s extremely rural and public transport is almost non-existent, so I cycled everywhere – including to and from house/beach parties and the pub!

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It sounds like a lot of going, but something nobody tells you about the j1 experience is that it gives you the super human ability to never feel tired.

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Working two jobs also allowed me save up enough money to travel for just over two weeks at the end of the Summer, which was one of the best experiences of my life. Now, I know that there are few things as irritating as listening to someone droll on about their “amazing time travelling”, but it really was amazing! We visited Boston, Washington DC, New York, Las Vegas, drove through the Grand Canyon for two days, and finished off on the west coast in San Diego.

If I had to choose, I would say San Diego was my favourite. Super laid back, with loads of bendy fit looking people doing yoga on the beach, or rollerblading around like there was no tomorrow. The streets were multicolored, full of really trendy bars, and it was never too hot. (It would be an amazing spot to go on a j1, but I’ve heard that jobs/accommodation is scarce there so now would be the time to start looking!)

Along our travels, my girlies and I found ourselves speaking more Irish than we have in our entire lives – in American accents, if you can imagine – and eating more than a person should in their entire life. That thing you hear about American food – it’s not a myth. There’s enough salt and sugar in it to make you feel like the spuds here at home are bland and over boiled. And, there is loads of it (Another reason I was glad I had to cycle daily!).

When we finally had our fill, we jetted home, and even though we had an air of superior well traveled beings, we were never so happy to see a good ole cup of tea.

Find out about my rocky adjustment back to reality/final year of college, by reading my posts below…

Thanks!

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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You’re So Vain, You Probably Think This Post is About You..

There is a myriad of ways to make yourself absolutely miserable. Here is a handful that I have tried out recently:
1) Reading “Web MD” and other health websites,in search of excellent information on better well-being. This usually promptsa self-diagnosis of several different illnesses, and leaves me wondering who will love my dogs when I am gone.

2) Living in Galway without some decent form of raingear. The result: walking around with hair plastered to my head like a bald bird, and constantly smelling like a wet dog. Then going home to read up on “Web MD” about how the cold I’ve caught could potentially kill me.

3) Putting the “pro” in procrastinating. The usual outcome: sitting at a desk with three weeks’worth of work to complete in three hours.

4) Completing said work, and deciding I deserve to put my feet up with a glossy magazine and “just one more” cup of coffee. How this typically pans out for me: Flicking pages to see all the things I can’t afford, and how skinny, beautiful and shiny I will probably never be.

5) Deciding I’ve had enough. That I need to end my dysfunctional relationship… with coffee. (You don’t want to know how this one pans out).
I’m not sure if you have tried any of these. However, I can assure you that each one is, in itself, afool proof way to go about making yourself absolutely feckin’ miserable. No really. I guarantee it!
But, not to worry! If you haven’t tried your hand at any of the above yet, or if you don’t think they are to your taste, don’t panic. There is another, extremely effective way that you can make yourself undeniably feckin’ miserable. And even better than that – you’ve probably already tried your hand at it. In fact, you’ve probably done it today. And yesterday. And the day before that. And the day….
That’s right. I’m talking about this vanity thing that has become oh so fashionable.
You might not believe me, and that’s okay.Often it happens that when something is in fashion, you part take in it without even realising. Like that time I wore a luminous pink skirt to a teenage disco. It looks and sounds horrendous now, but it was barely a conscious decision at the time. Pink luminous skirts were all in, they were what made us want to live forever… I’d even go as far as to say they were the norm!

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They were what made us want to live forever…

And I’m telling you, the same may be applied to vanity. It is all in this season – I even saw it in my horrible glossy magazine.
On the third page of the magazine, lay this genetically fortunate woman – slender, incredibly shiny, with legs for days. I looked at her, and thought “Wow, beautiful … how happy and easy her life must be!” Of course, I didn’t stop to consider the professional photographers, make-up artists and hair stylists that constructed the image. I didn’t even spare a thought about how superficial the image was. I just moved swiftly on to comparing it to my own image, to myself.
And what did I get from this moment of self-importance? Yes, you’ve guessed it. Nothing but pure feckin’ misery.
Oh, you don’t read magazines? You don’t think that way? You aren’t vain, like me?
Don’t lie. I saw your Facebook page.

I saw it, and I thought “Wow, beautiful. How happy and easy their life must be!” I didn’t stop to think about how much time that was put into constructing this perfect image of yourself. The numerous angles and poses that you tried in order to get a profile picture as similar as possible to wonderfully symmetrical woman in the magazine. I didn’t even think about how low you felt when you didn’t reach 100 likes on that photo.
I didn’t think about how vain you were being. I was probably too busy being vain myself.
Don’t get me wrong. I acknowledge the power of image. I understand that it is important to create an online appearance that presents you as clean, confident and happy. I’m often mesmerized by how an Instagram filter or two can make my own life seem “happy and easy”… And I know oh too well the empowering sensation of a re-tweet. Throw in a snapchat filter for dramatic effect, and I’m even partial to the odd selfie! Our image is not the problem.

 

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Acknowledging the importance of a good online image…

The problem is when we get too caught up in the vanity that goes hand in hand with image importance. When we find ourselves constantly sharing our lives online, with a craving to feel watched and admired, like washed down versions of celebrities. When we find ourselves persistently checking our online notifications for “like counts”, longing for somebody else to tell us we are beautiful, cool, smart … when we start to resemble children who seek encouragement and continual external validation.
That is when our vanity starts to grow, like bacteria. And so we find ourselves, or others, desperately trying to keep all the right conditions for growth. Comparing our images to the ones that flash before us everyday in magazines, and on our screens. That is when we find ourselves nursing brittle egos, when we find ourselves to be miserable.

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Trying not to get caught up in vanity…

But don’t worry! I am determined that this post will not just be another thing to add to the list of things that make us feel miserable. So, here is some good news:
1) If you have read this much of my slightly conflicted ramblings, and kind-of, sort-of understood it … you do not need a “retweet”, “follow”, “favourite”, or “like” to assure you that you are beautiful, cool, smart. I can tell you: you already are.
2) I had a little sneak peek at next week’s glossy magazine. Apparently, a lot of vanity is going to the dark hole that we all threw our pink luminous skirts into. This season it’s all about double denim, and humility.

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?