Late January. 

I think I will write a dirty novel. 

No really. Think about it. 

I could spend my time studying the great novelists and poets, which I have. Dissecting poems, comparing translations, reading thousands upon thousands of pages, all in the quest to write something worth reading. I spent years of my life doing so. What I have learned all boils down to one quotable phrase… (🔆 👀) 

“The secret of popular writing is never to put more on a given page than the common reader can lap off it with no strain whatsoever on his habitually slack attention.” – Ezra Pound 

Like, I get that he was being an elitist twat (this coming from the guy that says if you don’t speak three languages you’re illiterate)  and this quote wasn’t writing advice, but maybe it should be. Why spend a lifetime struggling to write the next masterpiece when you could write some trash that makes money? Legacy? Who gives a fuck about legacy? No really. What does being known and respected and lauded after death do for anyone? 

When I was young, I thought living life in such a way that I could write about it later was everything. I chose boyfriends, flats, and jobs on that approach to life. Why live in a house when I could rent a room above a bluegrass record store in San Francisco? Why date a nice guy when I could date the long-haired musician in cords who drove a biodiesel car and emotionally abused me? I took drugs, and I had sex, I went to gigs and parties and art shows in pursuit of this life to write home about. I thought if I lived enough I could write that great novel. I figured if I read enough… And god have I read. I read everything I was ever supposed to read. The Russians. The French.  The beatniks. The modernists. The Romantics. The Parisian expats. Dante too. I read all the mythologies, the fairy tales, the entire fucking Bible twice. I thought that somewhere I’d find… I don’t know. The voice. The truth. The great enlightenment that would enable me to open myself up to become a vessel of the Muse. 

Maybe writing a dirty novel IS enlightenment. Look at the fifty shades of gray/twilight phenomenon. Apparently getting middle-aged women moist is the key to a comfortable life. Why strive for great art when great art won’t fill the pantry or pay the chiropractor to fix the spine you bent reading. No seriously. I’m nearsighted because I spent my entire youth reading books. I have circulation issues in my legs because of sitting for hours on end just reading reading reading. Great art caused those problems and won’t fix them. But erotica could. 

Anyway, I am just late night rambling because I am an insomniac. My little family is sleeping either side of me, both of them snoring gently. I had too many jumbled thoughts to sleep, so here I am. Hello. 👋 

Speaking of reading and great art and all that, I have a story. A brief bitter tale that I might as well air here, as I have done so many other bitter stories. 

I grew up in a small village in the woods. Guerneville, California population 1700ish. My family life was unhappy at best, but my surroundings were idyllic. Ancient groves of giant redwoods… Wide lazy rivers… Clear mountain streams where I’d wade in the hot hot heat of July. That sort of thing. I can’t bring myself to tell you much about my family other than to say I was continually trying to escape. Books and those idyllic outdoors provided my means. I have a mother who attempted to control every move I made… Sure every goddamn thought I had really. So the former was more frequent than the latter. OK like, I have to mention the religion at least. I grew up in a fundamentalist evangelical household. Like if you have ever heard of the documentary Jesus Camp.That. My mind had outgrown the confines of that bullshit by the time I was 9, and my mother saw it happening. As I grew, her grip tightened. She wanted me to be a good Christian who never questioned God’s word (the Bible), who married a pastor, or at very least a worship leader. I wasn’t meant to think. I was expected to obey. 

Apparently, that didn’t work out. 

Anyway so back to the story, because that was just the backdrop. Oppressive religious household, avid little reader, and Guerneville, California. 

There was a second-hand bookstore in town called twice told books where I spent many happy hours as a teenager. My mother homeschooled me until the fifth grade, which meant my access to literature was limited. My sister provided me with quite a bit when she could, but my mom monitored everything (you should have seen the shit storm when she found out I had read all the Greek mythology). In my public school years, I managed to read loads that she wouldn’t have approved of thanks to libraries and silent reading hour. 😂 Then in high-school, (which oh my god you guys, I can’t even begin to tell you how botched high-school was because of the evangelical regime), I was exposed to like, the real stuff. 

This post is getting long, and I’m still on backstory. This rambling is why I’ll never actually write a book, dirty or otherwise. I’d spend three hundred pages explaining the backstory behind why the protagonist decided to have a sandwich on that particular Tuesday.  😂 

Anyway. Twice told books. Literature. Oh right. So I used to browse the shop looking for authors that had been recommended by other authors in other books. One summer day after finishing Islands in the Stream, I went looking for Tolstoy. I’m sure there had been a reference in the novel, and several books I had read previously also referenced him, so I went hunting. I found and bought a paperback Anna Karenina, but the shopkeeper gave me side eye for doing so. Weird. After I paid, I walked out to the seating area of the cafe attached to the bookstore. Oh, well, I suppose the bookstore is inside the cafe. Whatever. Anyway. I met two boys from school out there, and they both also gave me the side eye when they saw the book I was holding. WTF?? Apparently, they didn’t have me pegged as the type who could sustain attention through a Tolstoy translation (look it isn’t Tolstoy proper unless it is in Russian, I think we can all agree.) I read the goddamn Bible twice, Tolstoy is cake. 😂  

I never forgot that moment though. Three males in a row were looking at me as if I were a poser with my worn paperback. That side eye said so much about how they perceived me, and it wasn’t flattering. I devoured the book anyway. One of those boys pranced around town with a copy of Pride and Prejudice that summer as if he was the most important and sophisticated mind of our generation for approaching such heights of literature. 😂

Writing about reading is strange. It also feels moderately pretentious but sure look. It is what is on my mind at 2:40 am, and I have to expel it some way or other. Anyway, I think I will try to sleep now. I’ll write that dirty novel tomorrow.

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Still January. 

I find it hard to write lately mainly because I have a toddler and mustering energy and brain power to get through the day to day can be challenging enough. I also often find myself in the position of offering emotional support and advice to friends to the point where Simon has suggested I just get my qualification to be a therapist so I can get paid for it. 😂 Finding time and energy for creative or even purge writing is difficult. I want to persist though. In all of this nothingness surely something will emerge, even if it is merely discipline.

I’ve never been particularly well disciplined in anything or particularly patient. I am trying to change that bit by bit. I mean to be fair to myself I occasionally exhibit enough of both of those virtues to have gotten quite good at a few things. I can paint beautifully, for example, when I actually practice. But the practice of staying in practice is what trips me up. 😂

Anyway the point is, all these rambling pointless blogs that I have been posting lately serve that purpose – practice. If I am going to write the next great American novel by my eightieth birthday I’ll have to be much more disciplined than I currently am. Hah. That was a joke. Obviously I’ll do it by seventy.

I wouldn’t know what to write about to be honest. What even is the point of the novel? No really, I don’t know. Is it meant to be escapism? I couldn’t do that, I’m too dark. Ah sure, obviously novels can be dark, and the best ones usually are. But what do people actually want to read? Why do people read anymore? What distinguishes important work from self important work? Does the novel even exist anymore, or is everything modern just a screenplay in disguise?

Not that I have to write a novel, but what else is there? For me I mean. Journalism? Mommy blogging? 😂 I’ve heard from loads of people over my lifetime that I should only write for myself, in a journal or whatever. But dudes.. From the moment that I could write I always wrote for an audience. I can’t help but write TO someone. Language serves the sole purpose of communicating, so why would I want to limit that to the void of a moleskine? To be fair, I do enjoy occasionally looking back into old notebooks, but imagine I only ever read my stuff. Like what a wank fest. I want to communicate thoughts and ideas and whatever to other people.

I always look to make connections with other beings, be they humans or trees or whatever. Connecting is like, I don’t know, all there is.

Anyway. Um. Bye. 

January ❄ 

Hello readers. I apologise for not posting in a while, there just hasn’t been much free time these past few weeks. That and I am not sure what direction to even go here. Blogging used to come so easily to me, but I am still so self conscious about opening up after what I went through before. I get nervous sometimes thinking that the people who stalked and abused me online in my early emigrant days might still be lurking. Every time I see a view from Ireland on the stats page I worry, although it is more than likely just one of my friends checking in. 

I felt paranoid for a long time with the old blog, and eventually installed a hidden tracker that showed me precisely where users were coming from, and sometimes the very address. That tracker proved I wasn’t paranoid at all and was in fact being stalked by certain individuals. I’ve resisted doing it to this blog as I kind of don’t want to know. It did nothing for me then,  only make me more reclusive. I’m trying to break out of that still. 

Anyway. 

That is my hesitation with keeping up this blog as much as I like, but also the very reason my therapist told me to start it. I was allowing these people too much control. By giving up blogging I gave up control, so to start up again was an act of defiance to those who would stalk and screenshot and analyze me. Those last details came out long after I realised I was being cyber stalked by the way. I had a strange coffee date with the instigator that I may or may not get into someday. 

All that said, I’d also like to move on and talk about other things. It is difficult though as I am genuinely so spooked by everything that happened before. I worry that anything I type will somehow be misinterpreted and used against me, but at the same time, I also know that none of that matters now. I couldn’t possibly be put through any of that again as I’ll never be in similar circumstances, and the power those people had over me was completely circumstantial. Still. 

Ack. 

Bullying can really fuck with your head, that is for sure. Anyway, I have to go help feed some sheep now, so I guess this is me checking in and back out. I hope 2018 is a good year for me and a good year for the planet. OK bye. 

Wednesday’s Child

I’m just throwing up bullshit titles now. Although I guess I was born on a Wednesday, and I am generally full of woe. Anyway.

Hi friends. It is a mild Wednesday in December, and the sun is shining for the first time in days. I am in the upstairs sitting room of my in-law’s house, and my son is in the kitchen below. I snuck up here while he wasn’t looking so that I could get a bit of time to write. I’m nearly out of time though, so I’d better get around to saying something.

Funny how much I can type without saying a damn thing.

It is easier to write when I am telling some story or other about my life, or ranting about some issue or other. I’ve been sick for a week, so I haven’t the energy to rant about privilege or the environment, and telling stories of my life feels weirdly narcissistic. But who am I kidding, how is personal blogging at all anything but narcissistic? I reckon it is more about venting than narcissism actually, so sure look it is grand. Venting into the internet void.

Only I haven’t got anything to vent just now. Hah. Over two hundred words written, and still, nothing said. I’m going downstairs to eat smoked salmon and brown bread, then I’ll get back to this via my phone.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Five hours later here I am. There is a baby asleep on my chest, and a cat asleep on my feet. Battery powered fairy lights are slowly flickering out overhead, and the once raging fire in the wood stove is long dead. There isn’t much I can do regarding keeping it lit with all these dreamers on me. Anyway.

Another December in Ireland. Three years ago today we were in Guerneville, California, and according to Google photos we took a drive out to the Sonoma coast. I wasn’t aware at the time that we wouldn’t be back for so long, and I feel like I didn’t properly savour it. Ah well.. At least I have photos.   

Old Guerneville Bridge
Little church in Guerneville

Those aren’t great photos if I’m being honest, but sure look. Here is one more of the Sonoma coast. The water is brown because there had been a bit of flooding that week, and loads of silt had washed down the river.

Sonoma coast

Ahh photos have a strange magic in that they bring me wholly back to the moment they were taken. I can nearly feel the temperature of the air and smell the salt breeze. Great I’m making myself homesick. 😂 Expat life is strange and sad, even in the happiest of times. There is always that undercurrent of missing a whole life filled with people and places. And avocados. Sometimes I get quite sad thinking that my son might never have a proper avocado. It is strange how different his childhood will be to mine. I worry sometimes that he’ll end up as much a stranger as the rest of this country is. What will we have in common?

 Then again, I was raised in California where both my parents were born and  raised,  and I haven’t got much in common with them. That said, I am definitely more a product of being raised in Sonoma county than of having been their kid. I should open the whole childhood ‘being raised by evangelical Christians’ can’o’worms on here someday, but I’m not quite ready for that. 😂

Anyway.

I tend to wander aimlessly as I type when I don’t have a particular story in mind. Next time I’ll get back to the Sligo story as there is plenty left to say. 

A Thursday in December.

And so it goes, another attempt at writing something, anything, to keep the purge going. The emotional, mental cleansing that is supposed to help me cope and function as an expat in Ireland. It has kind of helped, but I also still suffer crippling social anxiety to the point where I struggle to call my doctor’s office for an appointment. I find that mildly funny as in California, although I was definitely shy, I also worked several jobs where one of my primary duties was answering phones. How did I get from there to full-on anxiety attacks when I see a call flash on my phone. Today my mother-in-law called my husband while he was driving, so he asked me to pick it up, and I panicked. This is a woman I speak to just about every day, and I love her, but the idea of talking via the phone cripples me. WHY?!

I mean I picked up the phone anyway, and as you might expect it was fine. It always is.

I have a friend up in Roscommon, a Swiss woman called Doris, and I adore her. I could spend hours in her kitchen learning about her various approaches to farming, and hearing tales of her youth, but somehow I cannot dial her number. I could skype her, but somehow talking to someone via disembodied voices has become an immense source of anxiety.

Anyway.

Anxiety. Fun.

It is a frustrating cycle. I know that if I do the thing that is making me anxious that all will be fine. What is the worst that can happen? A few awkward miscommunications due to different accents and an inability to see the other person’s mouth forming the intended word?

Actually, I have a mildly funny story about that from my California days.

Once upon a time on Market Street in downtown San Francisco, I met an Irish boy. He was tall and handsome and hawking some charity or other. I stopped to chat due to the former while feigning deep interest in the latter. He was charming and witty, and after nearly half an hour we exchanged numbers. It was shaping up to be your typical rom-com, until later that night when I dialed him. Alas alas, his sexy Irish accent that had me swooning in person had me utterly confused on the phone. It was like a string of gibberish in various pitches, and to my great shame, eventually, I just hung up. I texted him saying it was a bad connection, and I meant it in more ways than one.

After five years in Ireland, I can safely venture a guess that he was from Cork. Deep Cork. Anyway, I still managed to end up married to an Irishman, but with a lovely almost monotone (in a charming sort of way) Kildare accent.

I reckon that experience is partly to do with my deep phone anxiety here in Ireland. It isn’t really an excuse though as I’ve talked to the receptionist at my doctor’s office countless times as I had to make appointments every other week throughout my pregnancy.

Anyway. Someone just arrived in the farmyard with a golden lab puppy, so I have to go get a cuddle. Ok bye.

Sligo part … nah.

I started writing this post two weeks ago but had to delete everything and start again. I’d made the mistake of comparing Sligo to Kildare, and that just isn’t fair or particularly kind. It had pretty quickly turned into tearing apart Kildare, and we all learned in middle school that we don’t have to tear someone down to build someone else up.

Anyway. I have to go a different direction for a while as writing about Sligo just makes me blue. I loved it so goddamn much. Looking through my photos is like metaphorically picking at the scab, and I’ve got to stop reopening this wound. Eventually, it will heal, and then I can talk about it without turning into a weepy mess, or talking about how shit Kildare is in comparison.

Ugggh.

I am going to force myself to complete a little exercise where I tell you ten great things about Kildare, and none of them can include Kildare’s proximity to somewhere else (although it is pretty convenient to the Dublin airport).

Um.

  1. Kildare is one of the greenest places I have ever been, and I don’t mean like metaphorically ‘green’ — I mean literally VERDANT AS FUCK.
  2. Christy Moore is from Newbridge, and being near the birthplace of such epic greatness has to be good for the soul on some level.
  3. Our local farmer’s market that we’ve yet to find the equal of anywhere in this country.
  4. The proximity of my son’s grandparents and auntie has been great for him. He loves spending time with them, and he wouldn’t get that time if we still lived three hours away.
  5. Pickering Forest and all the good folk therein.
  6. The Naas Musical Society.
  7. I reckon the Johnstown Inn counts for something with its epic beer list and goodly staff. If I were listing things I love about Sligo, I’d definitely say Shells, so it suits.
  8. I guess the dozens of trees we planted in our field count too, although we could have always planted more in Sligo. Then again, several of the apple trees were started from seeds that I found sprouted in an apple I had eaten, so they’re that bit extra special. And the pear tree that a friend gave to our son when he was born is planted here.
  9.  …Um. Oh! Soft, clean water. The water in our apartment up in Sligo was hard and left green slime in my hair. It got so unbearable that I buzzed my head. Kildare’s beautiful water is definitely a massive plus.
  10. I could be wrong, but it seems like Kildare County Council is a lot more progressive than its Sligo counterpart. They’re keen on eco-building, and moving away from traditional houses toward a sleeker modern aesthetic. Doing something different with our house is more feasible here than it would have been if we’d tried to build in Sligo (which we weren’t ever intending to do but sure).

Ok, now I can add that Kildare is also within convenient proximity to seemingly everywhere else in the country. Wicklow is just up the road, our friends in Cork are just over an hour away, the airport is half an hour away, etc. Beaches are harder to get to, but sure look. Can’t win em all. So there you go, I managed to find ten positives about Kildare, and I am sure there are more if only I open myself up to them. I’ll get back to writing out my Sligo love story eventually, but until then… 🙂

DSC_0132
Myself and a Kildarean tree.

 

 

Sligo part 2 🌅

Ooh, how to tell this story. There is so much to say, so many fleeting moments, charged with meaning and significance, but already fading into the abyss of memory. Aahhh.

I’d mentioned some plot holes in the last post, so I’ll start there. 

I am, metaphorically at very least, a selkie. I belong to the sea, and my dearest dream is to sprout gills and walk out to whatever depth of pressure I could handle. When I lived in California, I went to the beach never less frequently than every third day. When I lived in San Francisco out on 48th avenue that increased to at least three times a day. I cannot ever express in words or any other medium my love of the sea. If I even tried to, I’d sound crazy within a sentence or two. Like running into the tsunami not away kind of crazy. I’m not suicidal, so it is hard to explain.
The point is.

I moved to Ireland, an island,  a tiny as fuck island, and found myself landlocked. The nearest beach is in Dublin, or beyond the Wicklow mountains. It didn’t bother me at first, but then I began losing count of the days between visits to the ocean. It is hard to explain why this matters if it doesn’t matter to you, but it is life and death for me, and a significant contributor to my depression. Like today… It has been 61 days since last I saw the ocean. That hurts to even type.

Side rant. I once saw an interactive global warming map, and if all the ice caps melt then the farm will be seaside property. Hmm. 🌊

Anyway.

I never imagined moving to an island and finding myself separated from the source of my life force. Being landlocked meant I was also isolated from my tribe. My crusty salty tribe of beach bums and surfers and selkies. I also never ever imagined that I’d raise a human child anywhere other than beside the ocean. That hurts the most.

So Sligo. I read Shell’s cookbook and felt the faintest stoke begin to stir. All the stuff in the last blog post happened. And now I think that the plot holes have been filled. 🌊🌊🌊🌊🌊🌊

We moved to Collooney on March 19, the day after our son’s first birthday. We weren’t about to make his grandparents miss his first birthday or commute to it. We aren’t cruel. 😂

75 Mill Falls.

We had a three-month open-ended lease. It felt like a palace after three years in our tiny yurt. Doors! Separate rooms! An indoor toilet! Hot water on demand! All those incredible modern luxuries that I had previously always taken for granted. You might be wondering why we ever decided to live in a yurt, and that is a fair question, but one I’ll answer in another post some other time. 😊

Collooney is a tiny village,  but it is full to the brim with life. Our apartment complex was filled with young parents,  and while all of us were too busy with our children to make proper friendships, there was an air of camaraderie and understanding about the place. It was like that throughout the whole village, and whenever I passed someone in the street, they would nod or smile or say hello. The shopkeepers would chat with us, and they all made friends with our son. I guess what I am getting at here is that Collooney has a thriving community and welcoming atmosphere. It was LOVELY.

We settled in quickly and happily fell into the rhythm of Collooney. I was sad about Shells but happy to be where we were.  I loved the nearness of the woods and the rush of the falls beside us. I loved the winding narrow main street and walking past all the little storefronts to get to the grocer. It was like I finally actually lived in Ireland and almost kinda nearly belonged to a community.

I knew it was only for the summer, at least initially (things got more complicated),  but I felt at home.

And the best part?? We were minutes from the coast. I could, for the first time in Ireland, get my fill of salty air and sandy toes. My dream of playing on the beach with my baby boy was suddenly my reality. Within a week of moving up there I felt all the metaphorical ice inside of myself melt and dissipate, and for the first time in years, I felt a sense of wonder and hope. I could almost remember what it had felt like to be that girl I was when I first emigrated. Almost.

Ok. This is getting long and sappy. More later.