Tag Archives: life

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.


 

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Number Withheld

Half way through my journey home to Athlone yesterday by bus, my phone rang. The caller display was unpopulated. Number withheld. I questioned whether I should answer it. I chose to. I pressed a button and held the phone to my ear.

“Hello,” I said sheepishly.

A deep, heavily-accented, male voice responded. “Hello.” The accent was Eastern-European.

“Eh, hi.” I could hear nervousness in my voice.

“Who is this?” asked the male voice gruffly.

“I’m Stephen. Who are you?”

“I am Tony.”

“Hi. Where did you get my number from, Tony? I don’t think I know you.”

“You called my phone late on Tuesday night,” said Tony. “Why did you call my phone?”

I stammered. “Eh, I don’t know why I would call your phone. I can only imagine I dialled a wrong number. I am sorry about that, if it is the case.”

“OK,” said Tony.

“Is that it?” I questioned. I felt brave.

“Yes,” said Tony after a slight hesitation.

“Good bye, Tony” I said firmly. I hung up.

I put down my mobile. A chill ran down my spine. Who the fuck was that? The mysterious, deep, accented voice unnerved me. I stared out the window, admiring the eskers of Westmeath. I allowed my brain process recent events. My thoughts were interrupted. My mobile rang again It was an 085 number this time.

I answered. “Hello?”

“This is Tony again.”

“Hello again, Tony.”

“I feel bad about calling you. I have to be honest. I was checking my wife’s mobile and your number was a missed call on Tuesday night.”

“Are you accusing me of having an affair with your wife, Tony?” I asked him.

Tony laughed. “I am a very jealous guy. I found your number and I stressed.”

“Well Tony, if it is any relief to you, I am not the type of guy that would be into your wife. I am on a bus at the moment. I can’t really elaborate on that.”

He laughed again. “I understand.”

“So you weren’t in Angels on Tuesday night?”

“Angels?” It was my turn to laugh. “As I just said, Angels wouldn’t be my type of place. Does your wife work in Angels, Tony?

“Yes, she did until recently.”

“Wow,” I responded.

“I am very sorry for bringing this on you.” He sounded genuinely apologetic.

“Don’t worry about it. Take care of yourself.”

“You too!”

With his parting words I hung up.

I sat on the bus smiling like an ostracised weirdo. That was hilarious. I had just been accused of having an affair with some guy’s wife. Out of curiosity I checked my dialled numbers. I found an unknown number in the directory. I remembered dialling incorrectly Tuesday night. I dialled 087 instead of 086. It was very Sliding Doors.

I texted Tony: “Hi, Tony. I found your wife’s number in my phone. It genuinely was a wrong number. You are very lucky to have such a beautiful wife!”

Tony replied. “How do you know my wife is beautiful?”

“I figure she dances at Angels and receives a lot of male attention to warrant your jealousy. It figures!”

“:-)”

I felt cheeky. “You’re probably hot too. Enjoy your beautiful wife, Tony.”

“Enjoy your life. You are a good person.”

One incorrect digit in a telephone number put me in contact with a lap dancer from Angels. This lap dancer happened to have an insanely jealous husband. I clutched my mobile in my hand, asking myself if the events of the last  ten minutes were real.

Some Just Can’t Say “Good Bye”

I can be dreadfully intolerant of other people’s differences. However, time has taught me tolerance and lessons. There was a moment in canteen last week, when I was able to impart wisdom to a colleague. Colleague complained that a co-worker left our work place for the last time, without giving a proper good bye. I regaled her with a story:

“I once moved in with a friend. We lived together for almost a year. We weren’t the best of mates, but we were close. Circumstances changed for her and she moved to London, intending to rent her house to me and other tenants.”

“I remember the day she was due to move out. It was a week day and she was up earlier than I. I was about to leave for work and remember noticing how little of her belongings were packed. She complained about how much work she had to do. ‘You’ll be fine,’ I comforted her. She said she would see me later that evening. I did not say good bye.”

“I purposely came home straight after work to catch her before she left. Approaching the house from the driveway, it was obvious there was no one home. I turned on the lights and realised how stark the house was with my housemate’s belongings. All her personal effects were gone.”

“It was a little upsetting. I couldn’t believe she wouldn’t make the time to give a proper good bye. Everywhere I looked, I noticed absent items; photos, paintings, books and ornaments. I did my best not to get upset.”

“Weeks later, I told my friend  Angela of the events. ‘Why could she not even make the time to say goodbye?’ I asked her. ‘We lived together for a year. I find it upsetting’.”

“’Sweetie,’ said Angela. ‘Some people just can’t say good bye’”

“My friend left Ireland a few years ago. Since then, I’ve been in situations when this experience has proven valuable.”

“Some people just can’t say ‘good bye’.”

My New Outlet via a Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian

College was probably one of the favourite periods of my life. I loved it because it was very social. I knew so many people. There was always someone with whom I could laugh. Most students were from “down the country” as Dubliners referred to it. We country mice used college as a hang out as opposed to a place of learning. Monday to Friday entailed twenty hours of lectures. The rest of our time was spent messing. My college pals and I passed our time in the students union; binging on piles of junk food; talking about sex (and getting none); and sharing information on the guys we fancied (and borderline stalked). The craic was plentiful.

The students from Dublin treated college like a part-time job. They never arrived early and left as soon as lectures ended. Some were uninterested in making friends. They reserved themselves to chit chat before a lecture. Evening outings were out of question for them unless it was one of the seldom functions scattered on the academic horizon. The Dublin students had no dependency on college as a social outlet; they had long-established friends from home. I never understood why anyone might not want more friends. You can never have too many in my opinion.

A year after college I had plenty of friends. Progressing time and increasing complexity of life caused the expanses of my college group to deplete. Time constraints limited the frequency we met. My fledging relationship (and newly discovered joys of sex) actively distracted me. As the years passed, I met with college friends less and less. I gradually realised we had little in common. Slowly the boundaries of my social world receded. Last year, my handful of close friends took a further hit when one went travelling, a second moved to London and another left Dublin.

It’s understandable why I miss the college days, but I sometimes wonder if the friendships back then were bonded out of naivety, pure necessity and circumstance. There we were at the age of eighteen, fresh faced, open minded and away from home for the first time of our lives. We intended having a good time and pretty much did. Today, when I meet my former, college classmates the conversation does not flow. The awkwardness usually subsides after a drink or two. Perhaps, those nonchalant students who lived in Dublin already knew this.

I am certainly not lonely at the moment. I have plenty of good friends. An interesting observation I made a few months ago is that my group of friends and Bestfriend’s friends are slowly merging. His close friend from college, Miss Polly, is now a good friend of mine. I know Miss Polly’s and her husband’s family. I view these expanding networks to be roots. My settling down has been slow and gradual. Overall, it’s a nice feeling. It’s solid. My current existence is probably the most permanent I’ve ever known. I realise I have a place in the world, but I still need to meet new people.

I can continually long for the college days when “a stranger’s just a friend you haven’t met”. Alternatively, I can do something. With the help of a friend, I located a Book Club based in Dublin. They are meeting 20th October and I intend joining them. It will be healthy for me to meet some strangers – or potential friends – or even just learn something new. Life is about exposure and I am missing certain outlets. I’ll read the book, A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, attend the meeting and talk about the book with some strangers. It can’t be that hard, can it?

Life is a Hill

If you’ve read this blog a few times, I am sure you realise I am what friends might call “a little highly strung”. I tend to get wound up easily. I often vent my anger through (funny) rants, which involve complaining about everything and anything. Sometimes, when friends’ ‘daft’ actions affect me, I get frustrated. Initially, I give out, but I eventually calm down and mellow out. Once you get past the over-confident, aggressive façade, I am a nice person.

With these tendencies in mind, something on television caught my attention last night. At around 22.30, I came across a children’s cartoon on BBC 2. The story involved an old lady reminiscing on her youth in the company of a grandchild. She wanted to share something powerful with the child. She imparted some wise words an old man had once told her that encouraged her to practice tolerance towards other people. The gist of it goes something like:

‘Life is a hill. There are many routes one can take to get to the top of the hill. We all take different routes, but eventually will end up at the same destination.’

All Choked Up

I went to school in a dreary, grey and green national school on the south side of Dublin. Everything in the building was worn and faded. The school seemed as if it had once been great, but had become dilapidated since its glory days. Our uniform consisted of a green jumper, green tie and grey trousers. The teachers, for the most part, were from the country and encouraged you to speak Irish in every thing you did. If you wished to fart, it was necessary to raise your hand and ask for permission as Gaeilge. There were no canteen facilities of any kind. The only way to luncheon was through packed lunch. Ten minutes before break time, classrooms bustled with the clatter of lunch boxes on desks. The smell of bread and crisps wafted through the room.

I have a particular memory of one such lunch time when I was ten and in fifth class. That particular day, I had jam sandwiches, a carton of juice and a non-descript chocolate bar. I tucked into the sandwich with ferocious hunger. The guy I shared a desk with was okay compared to the rest of the gobshites in my class. His name was Conn. He was good natured and a little abstract in his thinking. He and I were friends.  We often got in trouble for messing and talking. It was fair to say he took the blame for most of our antics. One such lunch time he put a challenge to me.

“I bet you can’t fit that entire sandwich in your mouth,” he challenged me. “I don’t mean half a sandwich. I mean two slices of bread.”

“I bet I can,” I answered confidently.

I rolled the sandwich into a tight, white ball and bunged it into my gob. The large glob of bread was hard to manoeuvre in my mouth. I did my best to bite it as much as I could. I aimed to reduce the size of the bread-y sphere; chomp, chomp, chomp. Conn watched as I wrestled with the bread. It was proving more challenging than anticipated. I tried to chew the bread. All was not well. The bread had become lodged at the back of my throat. I picked up my carton of juice and squirted some into my mouth. I thought this would lubricate the glob of bread from my throat. Instead, the juice mixed with the starch and seemed to form a paste. The dough ball was well and truly lodged. I attempted to speak. No words came out. A gurgling noise was all I could hear. What the hell is happening? I thought. Oh my God I am choking. I stood to my feet and attempted another gurgle. This failed to grab the teacher’s attention. Conn watched with horror. I slammed one hand down on the table. The teacher, Mr Stack, looked up from his newspaper and assessed the situation.

“You’re choking,” he announced loudly to the glass.

I confirmed this with a gurgle. He jumped up from his desk and made his way to me. He spun me around into the Heimlich manoeuvre. I remember the faces of my fellow class pupils. All of them looked on open mouthed. The silence was tangible. From my rear Mr Stack delivered a blow to my stomach. A large piece of bread flew from my mouth a travelled across the room. I remember the embarrassment that swept over me. I even remember thinking how it must have looked. My strange thoughts were interrupted by a final application of pressure to my stomach. The remaining piece of bread dislodged, flew threw the air and bounced along the grotty, worn green carpet. I gasped for air. I was absolutely mortified. I dismissed suggestions to get a glass of water. I foraged for the pieces of bread, while wheezing and coughing; one lay about six feet from me next to the sink; the second nestled under someone’s desk. I deposited them in the bin to remove any evidence of the event.  

In the play ground after lunch everyone informed me that the teacher had saved my life. This added to my embarrassment. After school, I stayed behind and thanked Mr. Stack for his quick thinking. It was very awkward. Eighteen years on, I doubt he’s forgotten the sight of bread flying from my mouth. I know I never will.