Category Archives: Opinion

All Signs Point to …

I have been talking about relocating to a new city for a while.

Over pints, with a red, flushed face, did I all too often, dramatically announce, “I’m leaving! Remember this face! I am gone! I am sick of Dublin. Sick of it. There are too many ghosts in this city.”

Eyes were often thrown to heaven. “Yeah, yeah, we’ve heard this before”. Sometimes I even received, “what do you expect to get from London that you can’t get in Dublin?”

A month ago, Best Friend proposed he and I spend some time looking for jobs in London using the internet. We did an in-depth, intricate search on Google, using scant terms such as “London VAT jobs”. We received a few matches.

Best Friend  perused one particular job spec. “I think this job would suit you.”

I read the detail on the screen. I shook my head. “Oh, no, this sounds very technical. No, no, this is not for me at all.”

We came across similar jobs. I shooed the notion of them away.

A day or so later, I pondered the job spec. The more I thought on it, the more I realised this job was for me. I could do this. I could be good at this. This is my job! I called the recruitment agent. We chatted about my experience and interest in the role. He forwarded my CV to the recruiters, who instantly expressed interest in my profile.

Faraway, in another land, removed from flights of fancy of living the London Life, Best Friend and I addressed our living situation. The duration of the lease on the apartment, slowly wasted away; to extend the lease or not.

“I could just quit my job – for the first time in my life, throw caution to the wind and leave! Oh wait, no, I have no savings. This won’t work.”

Best Friend disagreed. “You need a job before you move. We’ll look at the matter of the lease, when the need arises.”

Meanwhile, elsewhere, away from employment opportunities and living arrangements, did I happen to meet a handsome, English man – London Bloke – in Dublin for a business trip. We arranged a date. The date went well. In fact, it went very well. I like him very much. I am lazy in romance and for what is a rare occasion, I made the first move on our date.

Roughly one week later, events progressed nicely. Before I knew it, I was required to go to London for a second interview.  London Bloke and I had been in contact prior to the interview. We arranged a second date, deciding to meet in Soho.

I arrived late, having spent fifteen minutes wandering around Soho in search of Compton Street. I walked into the darkness of the bar and looked around for London Bloke. I spotted him within seconds. He looked good. I awkwardly greeted him. I was nervous. Do I shake his hand or kiss him on the mouth?  What is the etiquette for a second date? I opted for a kiss on the cheek.

“It’s really nice to see you again,” he said.

My head spun. Wow, Irish men never say stuff like that. Well, the Irish men I’ve known never would. “It’s nice to see you too,” I replied somewhat coyly, looking to the floor.

“You’re in my city this time. Let me buy you a pint.”

We moved to a nook of the bar. Conversation and laughter radiated from that corner.

London Bloke supped his pint of ale. “So, how did the interview go?”

“It went OK. My head was completely fried afterwards. It was two hours long. I spoke for two hours! I am naturally talkative, but even I found that challenging.”

“When will you know the results?”

I hesitated. “Thing is … I already know the results …”

He raised his eyebrows in expectation. “Oh?”

“I got the job.”

A sexy smile crept across his face. “I am so happy for you. And, I am happy for me too.”

I was stunned. I’m sure my smile beamed. “Thanks.” I felt very strange right then, unaccustomed to the sensation of shyness.

I returned to Dublin the next day, slowly and gradually communicating my news to friends. Events were slowly settling in my own head. Since then, I have handed in my notice at work. I am due to finish my job 15th July; the same day the lease ends on the apartment.

I fancy the arse off London Bloke. As sad – or hopeful – as it sounds, I have not felt like this about anyone in years. I no longer feel dead from the waist down.

I never subscribed to the “whatever is meant for you won’t pass you by” train of thought. In my opinion, our lives are what we make them. Recent events have caused me to wonder if sometimes, now and again, things just go right and fall tidily into place.

It’s really quite nice when this happens.

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Goals for 2011

Fuck resolutions. I don’t believe in them. Get yourself a pen and paper and set yourself some goals for the year. Goals are far more attainable and satisfactory since you can work through them and tick them off a list.

Here are some of mine:

  • Pass soddin’ exams!
    • I have been ‘doing’ my crappy tax exams for the last four years. ‘Doing’ entails sitting, failing, resitting, chickening out and passing. Enough! I am going to get them in 2011.
  • Sun holiday
    • Fuck culture! This year I am not doing cultural weekends away. I want to go on a sun holiday. I want to lie on a beach by day and kiss men by night. Sun, sea and sex awaits.
  • Have a passionate fling
    • I need to meet a man. I need to celebrate my youth and move on from the Great Break-Up of 2010. I don’t want a relationship. A fling, however, would be a treat.
  • Make a soufflé
    • The art of soufflé making has fascinated me. Is it really as difficult as people say? I want to master this skill and serve it to some friends.
  • Go on a second sun holiday
    • More sun, sea and sex, please.
  • Make more male friends
    • I love the many women in my life, but man if I have sit through one more conversation on detoxes, diets or weight gain/loss, I shall hit someone.
  • Stop biting my nails
    • It’s a disgusting habit. I want to stop. I shall try.
  • Acquire a hobby
    • Apart from blogging I don’t have a hobby as such. I need one. This one is vague for the moment.
  • Join a team
    • I’ve never been on a team of any kind. I think it would do me good. This again is vague. More research needed.
  • Have a fancy cocktail party
    • I am going to have a cocktail party in the apartment for my birthday. This is an easy one.
  • Do something creative using my hands
    • I want to learn carving or origami to stimulate the seldom used creative side of my brain.
  • Enroll in a Pilates instructor course
    • When I get my tax exams, I am going to become a Pilates instructor. ‘Nuff said.
  • Pay for braces
    • I am going to clear the balance of my braces by March 2011. No (expensive) clothes shopping or needless eating out for me until then.


 

I Must Have #1

I aim to get clear the outstanding balance for my orthodontic treatment by March 2010. Bring it! This goal will have a catastrophic impact on my purchase of clothing for the next few months. Wardrobe budgets have been slashed.

I have not been for a casual mosey around the City Centre for months for fear of seeing something I must have. When money must be saved, I require blinkers.

If next month’s budget can take a hit, there is one item I really, really want. I want a second pair of Acne jeans.  My last pair, my grey slimmy jeans, are probably the best jeans I’ve ever owned.

I want them in blue.

Basket Test Case

Now and again, I pop into the Tesco store in Ringsend. Tesco in general can be pretty crap since they scaled down their ‘fancy’ product offerings two years ago. Tesco in Ringsend is extra crap. I recall a hissy fit when I realised they sold four different types of grated cheddar cheese and there was not a triangle of Parmesan (nor the grated variety) to be had. Parmesan is pretty basic, no? Last month, I again left the store, mumbling furiously to myself, when apples were the only fruit on sale. I have braces; I can’t bite into apples. I wanted a banana. Do you think there was a banana to be had? No! I flipped my imaginary hair furiously, turned on my heels and vowed never to set foot in the nutritionally void store again. The only item guaranteed in stock in Tesco Ringsend is scurvy.

Last week, out of pure necessity, I returned to same Tesco in Ringsend. I set my expectations low. Expect nothing ‘fancy’, fresh or organic, I reminded myself. Jubilations, there were bananas. I threw some into my basket. Since I prepared for an evening of study, I wanted Crunchy Nut Cornflakes to snack on. En route to the cereal aisle, which as you can guess is quite prominent – and barren of porridge and granola, I encountered a sight to behold. There, beside the small offering of vegetables stood a beautiful man. His hair was dark, almost black, was cut shortly and stylishly. His sharp cheek bones angled towards a dimpled chin. From his complexion – and lack of proximity – I guessed his eyes were blue. When dealing with a specimen of this calibre, it is essential to weigh up the whole package; I checked out his clothes. He wore a tweed jacket, most definitely from Zara, dark slim fit jeans and white Adidas Tiger runners. This boy ticked all the right boxes. It was imperative I travel to the cereal aisle via the vegetables and fruit. I slipped by, apologising as I did. He didn’t even notice.

Ten minutes later, my shopping basket brimmed with junk food. It was time to queue for a cashier. There were only four people in the queue. I noted the absence of Beautiful Man. The store is quite small. I hadn’t bumped into him on any other of the aisles. Where could he be? I asked. Did he leave? This required an investigation … or a stalk. He wasn’t on the alcohol aisle. Neither was he in the convenience food section. He was nowhere near the baked goods. He must have managed to sneak by me, I realised. Perhaps, he is still in the fruit and veg section? I pondered. Carrying my heavy basket, I wobbled in that direction. There he stood tall, looking as beautiful as ever, examining the label of some pre-packed corn-on-the cob. This man clearly makes an effort to eat healthily. I would never buy corn-on-the-cob, never mind examine the label. My presence had still not come on his radar. I took an opportunity to check out the contents of his shopping basket. In his basket was:

  • Strawberries
  • Glenisk yoghurt
  • Celery
  • Grapes
  • Onions

While his shopping list was clearly not representational of his final purchase, it gave an accurate assessment of how important his diet was, given his lean, healthy appearance and the considerable amount of time he spent choosing his fruit and veg. I was disappointed with his purchases. I too like to eat healthily, but there was no fun in his diet. It’s clear I am placing waaaaaaay too much emphasis on Beautiful Man’s purchases to soften the insult of his failure to acknowledge me as I purposely collided into him with my shopping basket. I dismissed him and his dull basket. The man I want will be as good looking as Beautiful Man, cook with fresh ingredients just as I am sure Beautiful man does, but my man will have a streak of fun in him. He’ll have a Box of Frosties, Oreos or a pack of Wagon Wheels in his shopping basket.

Goolie-Gate

Two Fridays ago, at around 07.15, my cab rolled up outside a clinic near Baggot Street. I exited the taxi, slightly disorientated by the darkness. I searched for a suggestion of where I should go. A large sign post directed me to “Ultrasound & X-Ray Building”, conveniently located near the gateway. The small, white building stood isolated from the hospital campus. To my surprise the building was open. I had anticipated waiting. I stepped into the dimly lit waiting area to find two receptions who tapped away on the keyboards of their PCs.

I handed my letter of referral to the nearest receptionist through a small hatch. She instructed me to take a seat in a well-to-do accent. I examined her as I removed my gloves and heavy coat. Her hair was tied in a bun. She pursed her lips as she assessed the envelope. Before opening it, she turned from me in what I thought might be some unspoken discretion towards patients. I fidgeted nervously, ignoring the neatly fanned collection of newspapers. The suspense was dented by the considerable force of a heavy door that swung forward to reveal the doctor, a greying man in his fifties, who entered the room. He was dressed neatly in a chequered shirt and plainly coloured tie. He stared over a pair of low-riding spectacles into a clip-board. His eyes rapidly motioned left to right. He looked towards me and cleared his throat.

“Stephen, if you would please follow me.”

I jumped out of the seat. I desperately wanted to leave the confines of the eerily silent waiting room.

The building was clearly bigger than it seemed; the doctor led me down a long, white corridor, before turning right and entering an irregularly shaped, white room. A bed sat nestled on the far side among a collection of medical gadgetry. The doctor gestured towards the bed, took one last look at the clipboard and prepared the ultrasound machine.

“Pull down your jeans and underwear. Lie on the bed.” His manner alternated between friendly and firm.

I did as he asked.

He picked up a white bottle, held it above my delicates and squeezed the bottle firmly. It spat noisily.

“Ahhhh,” I gasped.

“Oh,” he said rather insincerely, “I do apologise for the coldness. Now, if you wouldn’t mind pulling your penis up your middle.”

What did he just ask? I questioned. Clarification needed. “Excuse me?”

“Pull your penis up your middle. It stops your testicles from wobbling. It makes the ultrasound much easier.”

“Ah, OK”. I self-consciously did as (I hoped) he meant, expecting him to correct me at any moment.

He picked up the ultrasound imaging device. He set about his investigation, spreading the viscosity gel as he did. I lay back on the bed. I traced patterns of paint in the white ceiling, occasionally looking at the monitor.

He paused. “Ah, I see.”

I raised my head. “You found something?” My voice trembled slightly.

“I can tell you straight away what you have is harmless. You have a cyst. More than fifty per cent of men that visit with testicular lumps are happy to discover they have cysts. You actually have two of them; one is less tense. They are harmless.  Now, while you are here, you may as well let me check your kidneys, bladder and colon. Lie back for a few minutes.”

I lay back on the bed and assessed the situation. There was no massive sense of relief. Since discovering the lump and dealing with the initial shock five days ago, I guessed it was nothing. The most stressful part of the experience was the discovery: finding it and repeatedly checking to see if it was still there; the realisation you are one of the many who discover a lump. Fortunately, many lumps are cysts or are benign. Sadly, for others it commences a battle with cancer.

“You are good to go,” the doctor announced. He handed me reams of tissue to clean myself of the gel. “You are in good health. You obviously need to continue examining yourself. You can’t be too careful.”

“So in future, when I am checking for lumps, I should look for extra lumps, considering I have two?” I laughed. The doctor did not.

He shook my hand. “Enjoy them,” he said.

Before leaving, I hesitated, but thought best not to clarify what I should enjoy.

Never Meet your Heroes

Over Christmas, Fiona invited me to her home for a gathering of friends and family. The evening was relaxed. Red wine flowed. By around eight o’clock, the attendants formed small pockets in the various rooms on the ground floor. A group of us intimately huddled on sofas in a quiet corner next to the Christmas tree, discussing subjects that varied from water shortages to previous relationships. During the course of the evening, I attentively received a story. I will attempt the tale as confidently told by Naidi. Please forgive inaccuracies, lack of detail and embellishments in certain areas.

“My friend completed a masters in some college in the UK, maybe about twenty years ago. One of her professors, an eccentric lady in her fifties, had a PhD in women’s’ rights or something like that. Despite the professor’s age, she remained unmarried, spending most of her life campaigning for women’s rights in the workplace. The female students of the college loved her.” Naidi lifted her goblet-like glass and sipped her red wine.

“Following a lecture with this professor, my friend remained behind in the lecture hall. She loitered, while other students vacated the room. She nervously approached the revered professor, who sat at a large, oak desk, packing papers and books into a satchel. For a number of weeks, she had wanted to speak with the professor. She drew breath and put the question to her. ‘Looking back on your life, if you could give a young woman one piece of advice what would it be?’ The professor remained seated, consumed in thought, while my friend stood. ‘My advice to a young woman of today is to always moisturise your neck and chest.’”

Naidi shook her head. “My friend was furious. This professor, who was held in high esteem for her research and efforts on women’s rights, could only offer advice on skin care régime. My friend expected so much more from that answer. Needless to say, she was disappointed and lost all respect for the professor.”

The story was momentarily interrupted by a discussion between Naidi and Fiona on the benefits of moisturising one’s neck and chest. Naidi finished the story.

“My friend, who is now in her late forties, told me this story last year, twenty years on from the completion of her masters. I decided to ask the same question of her. ‘Considering the advice of the professor that enraged you, and hindsight on your life, if you were asked the same question, what wisdom you would impart for a young woman today?’”

“‘If I could give advice to a girl today’, my friend said, ‘it would be to always moisturise your neck and chest.’”

Accentuate the Positives

I go through life with gusto. I say what I want and rarely walk away from an argument. I could be considered an “angry person” and there are moments when I realise how draining this is. I don’t consider myself a negative person, yet I could certainly do with focussing on the many positives in my life. I feel a resolution coming on.

I am not big on New Years Resolutions, believing if you want to change something in your life, do it now, rather than wait for the toll of midnight come December 31st. So besides promising to blog more and brush my teeth more than twice a day, I’ve set myself a good New Year’s Resolution as inspired by Angela.

Angela told me of a good exercise where at the close of each day, you write down three good things about that day. The aim of the exercise is to train your brain to be more positive. Yes, it’s sad some of us need a written exercise, but I for one could certainly do with it. I had a think about my Tuesday, my first day back at work since the Christmas. All I could recall was how tired and long the day was. Where were the positives? I asked myself. Within a few minutes I thought of my three and here they are:

  1. I wrote a blog I was proud of
  2. I received a loving hug from my Bestie Joanne
  3. Mum texted me and told me she loved me

My list might be soppy but it makes me feel good. Is writing out three things about your day something you should consider doing?

De-Galvinising

Paul Galvin first came on my radar last year when there was speculation he would take Sean Munsanje’s position on Xposé. Until then, I had never heard of him. I ran his name through Google to see what I could find. Certain sites discussed the controversy of his behaviour on the GAA pitch; his unfavourable tendencies towards aggressive antics. I Google Imaged the Bejaysus out of him and learned he was not only handsome, but also a sharp dresser. This compounded his allure.

The rumour that Galvin would replace Munsanje on Xposé grew legs when the GAA star took a sabbatical from his teaching job. Media pundits reckoned Munsanje was dropped when TV3’s research revealed he held little appeal towards the show’s dominantly female audience. Xposé fans lustfully looked towards a tall, dark (and supposedly straight) fashionisto to replace him. Hardly surprising. Since Galvin’s step into the media limelight last year, he has featured on the Late Late Show and been the subject of a documentary on RTE, cleverly entitled “Galvinised”. His appearance on the Late Late can only to have been to promote himself and upcoming documentary. I unintentionally tuned into Galvin’s interview on the Late Late to witness his enigmatic façade slowly rinse away.

During the interview, Late Late host Ryan Tubridy went on the offensive, ticking off a list of items he wanted to address – Galvin’s personal mantras, bad boy image on the pitch and his interest/obsession with fashion. Galvin’s slouched manner irked me. His answers to questions initially rambled and were monotone. The Late Late aired VT of Galvin’s upcoming documentary, portraying him strutting around New York, his supposed bolt hold, in a pair of too tight skinny jeans and low-cut grey hoodie. The final blow to his attraction came when Galvin revealed he owned seventy pairs of shoes and had spent weeks planning his outfit for his television appearance.

Galvin’s interview on the Late Late completely eradicated any attraction I once had towards him. Needless to say, I didn’t bother watching his documentary for eye candy. For me the biggest turn off was the sheer effort he puts into his clothing. The snippet of “Galvinised” featured a man who clearly holds himself in high regard. I like a well-dressed man as much as the next lady or gay, but I would never for a moment want a potential suitor’s appreciation for clothing to outrank me. As a gay, I am qualified in saying this, but Galvin’s interview did nothing but make him look like a woofter. Any woman in his bed would hope he were thinking of her and not about his ensemble for the next day, as he admits he regularly does.

Perhaps, Galvin’s side step from relative nowhere into fashion has been successful insofar that he is now on my radar. It probably does not bode well that my focus is on whether he has gone beyond the clearly marked boundaries of Metrosexuality to Poncedom, as I very much think he has done. Admittedly, he is a good looking guy with decent taste in threads, but I take comfort in knowing he has a day job to return to.

Gullibility is …

My inability to lie developed in my late teens. It came around the time I just got sick of the bullshit popularity in school, longed for college and promised to always say what I thought. To me, honesty is one of the best qualities in a person. A liar is someone who cannot account for their truths.

In appreciating honesty, I often expect truth and in doing so, I am incredibly gullible. Now and again, friends feed me false information, which I rarely question. Later, when I think it through clearly, I realise it is horse shit.

About three years ago, in one of my many jobs, I decided to take a basic ECDL course to demonstrate my proficiency in Microsoft. Each week, I attended a class or two with view to completing an exam. Needless to say, the exams were simple and I passed all modules. One day after work, over tea and scones in Bewley’s, I told Brian that I was doing basic ECDL.

“Is it not boring?” Brian enquired, lifting the tea cup to his mouth.

“Nah, there is good craic in the class. And I get a certificate at the end of it.”

“Do you know that ECDL was invented by the same people who created the Special Olympics?”

“No, it wasn’t.” I scrunched my face, digesting this odd, titbit of information.

Brian nodded energetically. “Think about it. It makes sense.”

The conversation quickly moved on. I thought no more on his claim.

One week later, I sat in the training room behind an antiquated PC. The ECDL tutor and ten other students awaited the tea trolley. We usually chatted for ten minutes or so before starting a class. A knock on the door, followed by the comforting clink of tea cups, signified the arrival of refreshments. We jumped to our feet and gathered around the customary offering of fancy biscuits. Only when biscuits were placed next to full, steaming cups, did we return to our seats. The subject matter of our conversations was always inoffensive. We chatted about current affairs, weather or television, injecting a good dose of humour when possible. As per usual, I was the chattiest.

I piped up once my dunked biscuit was swallowed. “Is it true the ECDL was invented by the Special Olympics?” I directed my question at the tutor.

“Excuse me?” said the tutor. I noted an element of surprise in her voice.

I repeated my question.

She stuttered momentarily. “I don’t think so,” she said. She looked around the room at the other faces in the class.

“A mate of mine told me ECDL was invented by Special Olympics. If you think about it, it makes sense. I mean it was probably created to encourage disabled persons into the workplace by promoting their IT literacy.”

“I never heard that before.” The tutor’s eyes were wide. “Are you sure your friend isn’t feeding you misinformation?”

“No, he’s not like that. I’ll try a Google search and see what I get.”

I ran “Special Olympics ECDL” through Google and received irrelevant matches. “I got no matches,” I announced to the class.

Another student Deirdre joined the chat. “Stephen, I think your friend might be taking the piss.”

“He’s not like that,” I assured. “Why would he do that?”

The tutor picked up the ECDL manual. Tea break was over. “I’ll ask in the office, but I honestly don’t think your friend’s claim is right.” She commenced the class.

While she gave us instructions on how to set up our computers for the upcoming class, I picked up my phone and texted Brian.

“Brian, I am in my ECDL course at the moment. Where did you hear about it being invented by the Special Olympics?”

Brian replied within minutes. “It was a joke.”

“OMG I just told my entire ECDL course it was invented by the Special Olympics people.”

“You muppet! I cannot stop laughing.”

I sat back in my chair taken aback by the fact I had absorbed Brian’s misinformation on the creation of ECDL. It was clearly ridiculous. Not only had I not questioned whether it was truthful, I obviously thought on it enough to embellish it for my “encourage disabled persons into the workplace” spiel. An all too rare embarrassment came down over me. I blushed. I kept my realisation to myself and prayed the tutor would not follow up on my query with her colleagues later that day.

Awkwardness is …

I have previously written the “Awkwardness is …” series in third person narration, which is  tiresome. I’m changing the format.

So back to the entry.

I live on the eighth floor of an apartment block. Walking down the stairs takes an age, especially when half asleep. Needless to say, I use the lift. The only thing is the lift is small. A journey shared with a perfect stranger is to get to know that person  intimately.

Yesterday morning, my oh so nice neighbour – with whom I have nothing in common – joined me in the lift for the third morning in a row. Sunday’s topic of conversation was the cold weather. Monday’s words were on the uselessness of storage heating. This morning’s exchange was different.

I was already in the lift when I heard his apartment door bang. His keys rattled. He hastened once he saw I held the door open.

“Morning,” he said in his usual cheerful manner. He flashed his good smile.

“Hi, again,” I said. It was 08.15 and I was not in the mood to talk.

He made some general chat. I looked up and cut across him.

“You’ve toothpaste on your face,” I said, pointing to my left cheek in an attempt to guide him.

“Really?” He rubbed his cheek vigorously. “Is it gone?”

“Yes, it is.”

It was only when spoke, I realised my observation may have been out of place. I was grateful when the elevator reached ground floor. I bolted from the confined space. I wished him good day and assessed the weirdness of commenting on a practical stranger having toothpaste on his cheek.