The List of Uns

Maya, my white-pawed, chronically grumpy cat, is not good in a crisis.

She likes to play chase, but every time I chase her she panics, becomes paralysed by indecision, and finally runs into the nearest corner and flips onto her back.

I’ve explained to her plenty of times that in the wild, this would really be seen as less of a survival strategy and more of a suicidal strategy, but no amount of practice has made her any better at evading fake predators. Every. single. time. she is chased, she does the same thing. You can see it happen. The pupils dilate, her eyes flick madly from side to side as she considers her options, and by the time I’ve reached her it’s too late for her to escape and so she just flings herself into a corner, completely at my mercy.

At first, I thought it was hilarious. Thank God there are no large eagles about that might pick her off the balcony as a snowy snack. I’ve seen The Proposal and that’s the only part of it that has stuck in my mind. Eagles are a considerable hazard for small white pets, apparently.

Lately though, I don’t find it as funny because I’ve realised that we have a lot in common, Maya and I.

Guys. GUYS.

It’s been ages. I know. I missed you!

The truth is, I rang in 2019 with good food and great friends.

…And it was all downhill from there.

I got sick. I spent a full seven days of the first month of the year staring at the ceiling and punctuating the silence with a honking cough that made me sound like a forlorn  (but still aggressive) Canadian goose. I curled myself into a comma and lay there, an entirely useless lump of humanity, as things piled up around me. Layers of clothes carelessly tossed on the ground became small hillocks. The work I didn’t feel well enough to do stacked up. The list of chores I had ambitiously made at the beginning of the year grew longer and longer and longer until it covered four or five pages spread across three different notebooks.

By the time I had mostly* recovered, I was faced by an incoming tsunami of Uns. Christmas presents ungiven. Friends uncontacted. Work unprepared. Tasks untaken-care-of. Shows unwatched. Food uneaten. E-mails unsent.

The list of Uns was very long.

Instead of diving under the wave like I should have, I made the mistake of letting it crash over me. Instead of bracing myself for the onslaught, I just… slipped under the surface.

In other words, I pulled a Maya.

I panicked. I found a corner, and I flipped belly up, paws outstretched, waiting to drown in a sea of Uns.

The past week and a half has been a string of all-nighters and wide-eyed, sleep-deprived flurries of frantic activity interspersed with many, many tea breaks. On Friday, I was in bed by 9pm, exhausted by my attempts to claw my way back to normality. My list is still long, I still have a lot to do, but today I feel capable, or at least prepared. I have my inflatable armbands on. I have decided not to run headfirst into any more corners.

Okay 2019, let’s be having you.

*I still have a cough but it now sounds like a small dog’s bark and comes on with hardly any warning at all, surprising both me and my cats.

2018

We are now in 2018. Welcome everybody! Grab a glass of bubbly! I’m glad we both made it. It’s so good to see you again!

I always start the new year with a niggling feeling like I just barely made it through a stargate and am now standing in a random field, swinging my arms, wondering what happens next. I swear I spend the first week of the year with a cloud above my head that says, ‘NOW WHAT?’ in bubble lettering.

Even though the passing of a year is fairly arbitrary.

Even though it makes no real difference.

Even though it should just be a continuation of what came before, and not some odd date on the calendar that feels like a new page, a clean slate, a blank wall of concrete staring you in the face when you have an unused can of spray paint in your hand.

It’s time to start over.

You know….

Again.

So here we are, in the future of the past which is now the present. I rang in the New Year in Spain, choking on grapes and crying with laughter. I spent the first day of 2018 exploring small towns with medieval walls, before chasing down chocolate con churros with a single-minded focus usually found in bloodhounds on a hunt.

Nothing gets between me and my churros.

Today, the world is glitteringly cold. The sky is a clear, pale blue and if you run outside in your socks (as I – very briefly – did), it feels as if your feet might stick to the ground, rooting you to the spot, freezing you to the flagstones. Everything has been delicately brushed with a thin coating of twinkling frost. In patches of sunlight the ice has melted away, retreating to the safety of the shade, revealing the bright, true green of the grass or the vibrant red of the few remaining autumn leaves.

I have no list for this year. No boxes to check. No impossible goals or overly ambitious aims. Instead I have a word that I’m hoping will propel me into the new year with all the fire and energy I felt I was lacking last year:

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Great things happened in 2017! I visited Mexico! I visited Bali! I swam with sea turtles! I got engaged! I got two enormous kittens with over-sized portions of personality! I planned an apartment overhaul that has turned us into nomads with capsule wardrobes that consist of jeans and more jeans (the toilet did eventually arrive by the way, for those of you who have spent the holidays on tenterhooks waiting for an update about our plumbing)!

I’m hoping that by the end of this month, we will be in apartment 2.0. I’m hoping that it will be the first of many great things in 2018. Part of making that happen, however, involves taking action and pulling on a blue boiler suit (size XL; I look like nothing so much as The Michelin Man in a cleanroom) and a respirator so I can continue the work I started yesterday*.

sigh

So far, ‘action’ is turning out to be deeply uncomfortable…

If you have a word or a resolution, let me know – I find they rub off on me sometimes! Whether you do or you don’t, I wish you all the luck in this new year. I wish you personal successes and private accomplishments. I wish you joy, and love, and happiness. I wish you a minimum of tears (unless they’re from laughter – those are allowed), and I wish you pride in yourself, bravery in your actions, good company and great friends.

Now if you could all just wish me a bit of sunshine so that I don’t freeze and spend the first month of 2018 as a glittering but immobile garden gnome….

 

*I am in the middle of spray painting our kitchen cabinets, and it is both messier and slower than is truly ideal in minus degrees.

 

Learning As I Go

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Adulting is hard.

When I was very small and found out that Santa was a huge secret, and that everyone around me was in on it, I accepted it with good grace. I thought, ‘That’s some good secret keeping! Good job, adults.‘ Then I watched my parents sort through taxes and insurance, bank accounts and mortgages and doctor visits, and I decided – I’m still not quite sure how – that this must be part of a different, separate adult conspiracy.

Clearly,‘ I thought, ‘this is We’ll-Tell-You-When-You’re-Older material.‘ Teachers never touched on this Very Important Serious Stuff between classes on soil erosion and the Irish civil war. Over time, I developed this notion that when people turned 18 they were invited to a place where they were given a crash course on Adulting. They would emerge on the other side knowing all these things that adults seem to just mysteriously know.

Imagine my disappointment when I realised that we’re completely on our own.

There is no Adulting Hogwarts. There is no manual.* We learn things by osmosis, mostly. A lot of things seem to happen due to a peculiar domino effect; one friend gets engaged, and then suddenly, before you know it, you have seven weddings to attend in the upcoming year. Or one friend moves abroad, and suddenly you have five far-flung addresses saved in your phone. Or one friend bought a house, and now it is completely normal to discuss where people bought their rugs/couches/lamps/sideboards and you hear the words “I really like that kind of tile” coming out of your mouth and floating in the air like a damning indictment of your age.

It’s frightening, honestly.

So here I am, officially an adult, e-mailing people about insurance and fumbling my way through taxback forms. I get my hair cut about once a year. I have never in my life been to a nail salon. I’m not even entirely sure what they do there or why cuticles are a bad thing. I’ve been meaning to go to the dentist for about two years now. I’ve had friends over for dinner parties (the first of which felt extremely mature until we consumed six bottles of wine between the six of us… and one person wasn’t drinking), but haven’t yet managed to come up with a way to consistently keep my room tidy. I am a Child-Adult collision. I listen to bluesy jazz in the evening to wind down, but dance to pop music when I’m home alone. I own a few very sensible pairs of boots, but my favourite shoes are holographic rainbow glitter high-tops. I have a drinks cabinet, but I also have a sweet drawer.

In the last few years, I’ve noticed an unwelcome amount of pressure to get engaged, and get married, and have a baby. Relatives who went straight from adolescence to adulthood without the twenty-something FIND YOURSELF phase we have today are getting antsy, warning me about my biological clock despite the fact that I hear absolutely no ticking of any kind (maybe it needs batteries?). They’re more bothered about the state of my uterus and what they see as my impending spinsterhood than I have ever been.

Now, friends have started to have children. Quite cute children, really; little chubby-cheeked, sweetly-named children with huge eyes and grabby hands. In order to give appropriate Welcome To The World gifts, I’ve had to knuckle down and learn more adulting stuff. I’ve had to learn about why people swaddle their babies like burritos, and how an Ergobaby is useful, and (shudder) what a Nosefrida** is. It’s been an education.

… And while I’m clicking ‘add to cart’ on all these things, and happily playing with the stuffed toys that I get to purchase for future babies, in a separate tab I am researching cat toys, or dog beds. I am not ready for a baby. Babies are HARD WORK. They don’t fool me with their gummy smiles and tiny adorable shoes. They cry! And they wear nappies! And they don’t let you sleep past 6.30am!

No thank you. Not yet.

So for the moment, I am happy to continue in the Slow Learner group, moving one adult-sized baby step at a time, to the tune of Gold Dust by DJ Fresh.***

*In some ways I guess you could say Google is our manual? I have no idea how people learned things in the age before Google. Imagine having to rely on your friends, family, and the encyclopedia Britannica for all of your life lessons. Just the thought alone is alarming!

**If you’ve never heard of it, don’t Google it.

***At the same time if anybody has suggestions on how to deal with concerned relatives please leave a comment below.

cocktail bar, cocktail making, how to make cocktails

Life Skill Unlocked: Cocktail-Making

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When I was about seven years old, I used to sneak into my grandfather’s study. I would tiptoe past the piano, crawl behind the burgundy leather Chesterfield, feel along the bookshelf for the small metal key, and slip it into the lock on the cabinet below.

I would turn the key feeling like Alice down the rabbit hole, and I would slowly open the small mahogany door to reveal a glittering array of crystalware.

The “bar” was really quite small, with one glass shelf dividing the space, but the back and sides were lined with mirrors, which multiplied the decanters and glasses and bottles of alcohol until it looked, to my young eyes, like a sparkling wonderland. I never touched anything, not even the apothecary jars at the back filled with sugared almonds.

I just liked looking at them.

I fully expected that by the time I turned 21 I would know everything there was to know about this magical cabinet, like what that funny silver thing was, or why anyone would need that many different kinds of glasses…

Sadly, at the age of 21 I was still drinking WKD Blue straight from the bottle, so apparently my expectations were both too high and too premature.

I no longer drink WKD (‘Thank God,’ say both you and my liver), and I now have a space in my apartment that functions as a drinks cabinet. I have alcohol. I have glasses. I have what I think might be whisky tumblers. I even have my grandfather’s apothecary jars, which I keep stocked with sweets in his memory. And then, over Christmas, I received a cocktail shaker set.

I pulled out a familiar-looking funny silver thing and read the description: ‘cocktail strainer.’ I ran my finger over the spring and then waved it back and forth. Mystery solved! I placed it over the empty cocktail shaker and pretended to pour out an imaginary drink. Then, as I sat cross-legged on the floor of my sitting room, I cast an eye over the rest of the unfamiliar instruments and realised I still didn’t know how to use most of them. And this, my friends, is the long and winding explanation as to how I ended up in The Blind Pig on Saturday for a cocktail-making class.

If you enjoy vintage cocktails and you ever find yourself in Dublin, Ireland, The Blind Pig is the place to go. It’s a prohibition-era styled speakeasy with live music, delicious cocktails, and a secret entrance. I’d been once before so at the appointed time, I made my way in (I won’t tell you how!) and sat at one of the two tables in front of the bar.

Paul Lambert, the award-winning mixologist who would be our cocktail teacher for the afternoon, stood confidently behind the bar. As my classmates filtered in, he mixed up ten Dark n’ Stormy cocktails for us and told us a bit about himself and The Blind Pig. We listened. We drank. I briefly regretted my decision to skip lunch.

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Paul made this.

He explained to us that he would be teaching us how to make three cocktails. First he would demonstrate, and then we would all get a chance to try our hand at replicating the drink. He pulled a few bottles from the bar and launched into the history of the Cosmopolitan. At this point I had swallowed down half my drink, and was starting to feel very content. I forgot about lunch. I watched him pour things into the shaker. I opened up the Keep app on my phone and typed:

Clear triple sec

Lemon

Gin

Raspberry syrup

Then I took another sip of my Dark n’ Stormy and watched as Paul showed us how and when to use a cocktail strainer (!), and why some drinks should be shaken and not stirred, (and vice versa). When it was my turn I made a decent, although definitely pinker, version of his Cosmo, and carried it back to my table with pride.

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I made this.

I drank it quite quickly.

He showed us how to make an Old Fashioned, and then moved on to how to make a Corn and Oil. This revolting-sounding concoction is actually their bestselling cocktail, which just goes to show you can’t judge a drink by its moniker. I’m not sure where the name comes from, but I can promise you that the drink itself is delicious. I am the ultimate lightweight, so by the time we got to the Corn and Oil I was smiling happily at the rest of my table, floating on a cloud of citrus spray, rum, whisky, and gin. Paul pulled out the ingredients and announced the name of each one as he placed it on the bar.

“Velvet Valernum,” he said.

Velvet Valernm, I typed.

“Lime juice.”

Lime.

“Sugar syrup.”

Sugary srup.

“Bitters.”

Bitters.

“Rum.”

Run.

I closed the app confidently, feeling like an excellent student, and watched as he made magic happen. Then I got up and managed to make the same cocktail, only I ended up with twice as much of it. I’m not sure how that happened. I side-eyed my classmate’s cocktail, which filled half her glass, then looked down at my own which was close to spilling over. Paul’s eyebrows shot up in surprise. My classmate’s husband leaned over and grinned, “That’s the way to do it!”

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I med dis.

Glassy-eyed, I carefully carried my double cocktail back to the table and sipped on it as we swapped restaurant recommendations and alcohol-related anecdotes. The class ended, and we all decided to stay for another. And then another. By the time we stumbled out onto the street I was ready to hunt down the nearest, largest Margherita pizza and inhale it cheese-first.

The next morning I checked my “notes” and discovered a few spelling mistakes and a curious lack of instructions.

But at least now I know how to use a cocktail strainer!

Clothe Me, Olga! (Part 2)

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I arrived for my meeting with Olga, my personal shopper, about twenty minutes early.

Before you tell me how impressed you are by my incredible time-keeping skills, I should admit that this really had more to do with my spiking levels of anxiety than my sterling punctuality. If you’re wondering how I even got to the point where I was meeting a personal shopper, click here. Regardless, I actually ended up having to take a walk around the block to try to burn off my nervous energy and kill some time before coming back around to the meeting point.

So that was a promising start.

Olga is a tall, stunning woman with cheekbones that would cut you if you got too close. She had long Nelle Porter-style* blonde hair pulled back into a ponytail. She was dressed head to toe in black and carried a very professional-looking clipboard. She looked at me over the top of her black-framed glasses and, in a clipped accent, ushered me briskly in the direction of a door marked ‘Personal Shopping.’ I’m not sure what I was expecting really. I walked towards it with an enormous sense of trepidation. What lay behind the door? A laboratory? A scene from A Clockwork Orange? Graham Norton’s Big Red Chair?

None of the above.

I walked through the door and stepped into a very private, very plush-looking room with two armchairs and a full length mirror. At the back, a changing room beckoned. I sat stiffly in one of the chairs and tried to tuck my Adidas trainers out of sight.

Olga perched herself on the windowsill and gracefully crossed her long legs. She started by explaining that she hadn’t been able to access my online profile – which, let’s be honest, is really for the best – and then asked me what sort of clothing I was looking for and what kind of budget we were working with. She asked for my measurements, asked my age, tapped her pen against the clipboard and said, ‘I will be back in fifteen minutes’ before whisking a large black clothing rail out the door.

While she was gone I tried every single one of the eleven perfume bottles that lined the windowsill.

In what felt like no time at all, she was back. A professional through and through, she didn’t comment on the expression of horror I must have had on my face as she flew through the door with her battering ram of clothes. The rail was jammed with tops, trousers, dresses and sweaters. She skimmed through a brief introduction to what she had chosen, and then wheeled the rail into position in the changing room and motioned for me to join her.

The changing room was almost as big as the room next to it. It had a long, full-length black velvet couch along one wall and a frankly enormous mirror at the far end.

“We will do tops first, yes?”

It was phrased as a question, but really it was rhetorical.  Nevertheless, I nodded dumbly.

“I will stay here with you if you don’t mind,” she said, flicking through the hangers at frightening speed. “There is nothing I have not seen before, believe me!” I blinked in surprise. So much for my plan to send pictures of each outfit to friends with an actual sense of style! There wasn’t a hope of me trying to surreptitiously snap a selfie with Olga in the changing room; I had a sneaking suspicion she’d have no time for that sort of nonsense.

She pulled a hanger off the rail and thrust it at me with the sort of brisk efficiency you would expect from an army medic. “This one.”

So began a whirlwind of outfit changes. If you can picture a typical changing room movie montage but fast forwarded to about five times the speed and with absolutely no goofing around. That sounds like I’m saying it was no fun, but that’s absolutely not the case. It was by far the easiest shopping outing I had ever been on. I would pull something over my head and no sooner had it hit my shoulders that Olga would elegantly bark, “No! No, no no! Off. Off!” and I’d be on to the next one.

Every so often I would pull something on and Olga would exclaim, “Yes. YES. I adore it. Yes.” If I tried on something that she had no strong opinion about, she would look at my face in the mirror and say gently, “If you do not LOVE it, do not buy it. If you do not LOVE it, there is no point.” I would make a non-committal face, or shrug my shoulders, and she would shake her beautiful head and make the decision for me. “No. NO. Off, off off!”

In this way we got through the entire rail of clothes in an astonishingly short space of time. A truly embarrassing amount of clothes just didn’t fit me, which led her to repeatedly proclaim, “You are just so TINY!” I actually hear this quite often, but Olga wasn’t saying it in the usual, look-at-you-aren’t-you-adorable-you-human-armrest kind of way people usually say it. It would instead erupt out of her in a verbalisation of frustration after I had made the fifth sweater in a row look like an expensive snuggie.

“Yes” I would nod, guiltily. “I’m really short.”

She would whip around, her golden hair flicking back. “Not SHORT!” she would snap. “PETITE!”

At the end of it all she had gone on three more rail runs, and I had divided the black velvet couch into two halves. On the left was a veritable mountain of inside-out discarded clothing; dozens of the aforementioned snuggie jumpers, trousers with baggy folds that had enough space to smuggle small exotic animals into the country, dresses with sleeves that were almost wider than my waist, and tops that made me look like an aspiring snapchat pornstar.

On the right was a humble stack consisting of two pairs of trousers, one skirt (!), one pair of jeans, three knitted jumpers with inbuilt collars (they’re detachable!), and two tops that defy categorisation. This is the pile I ended up buying and bringing home.

… And so here we get to the point of this exercise. On a normal day, had I been left to my own devices, I possibly might have picked up the olive green pair of jeans. Possibly. Maybe. Never in a million years of Sundays would I even have looked at the rest of the clothes, never mind tried them on. This is why I would recommend the personal shopping thing, even if you think it sounds scary. Even if you think you would hate it.

Somebody who doesn’t know you from Adam is looking at you without bias, and that same somebody is finding items they think would look great on you. It offers you the chance to fall in love with things you might never have known about otherwise. I mean, who knew I could look kind of sweet wearing shirt collars (not sweet like a cabbagepatch doll, but sweet like Wednesday Addams with a tan)? Or who knew I could find a skirt I genuinely liked? Olga pulled, and tucked, and showed me how best to dress myself. She explained why certain garments looked good on me and told me which styles to avoid, and I never felt like she was pressuring me or being anything less than honest.

When it was all over and I left with my two bags of carefully wrapped clothes, I realised I’d actually enjoyed myself. Usually after a day of shopping I feel like I’ve been drained of the will to live, but it turns out that when all you have to do is try on whatever is handed to you… it’s not so bad! I tried new things and I learned a lot.

One thing is for certain though…

I still hate ruffles.

*For any of you young ones that don’t know who that is, Nelle Porter was a character played by Portia De Rossi on the show Ally McBeal and her hair was objectively fetish-worthy. I tried to find a gif of her letting her hair down but it was not to be. You’ll just have to trust me when I say she was #hairgoals before the guy who invented hashtags was even finished school.

 

If you’re based in Dublin, the personal shopper service takes two hours and is free (so what have you got to lose?) in House of Fraser. The service is available for both men and women and it definitely gets two enthusiastic thumbs up from me. Dundrum Town Centre also have their own personal shopping service; they charge €65 for two hours but throw in a make-up consultation and free parking.

Clothe Me, Olga!

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Today, I have a date with destiny.

Okay, that’s not strictly true. I just said that for dramatic effect. Today I have a date with a personal shopper, which is much more terrifying. I am not good with clothes. I’m actually terrible with clothes. I dress half my age because it’s easy to pull on a baggy jumper and jeans and be done with it. I don’t know how to wear skirts or scarves. Anything that requires actual thinking (“Where does this arm go? How does this belt close?”) doesn’t belong in my wardrobe. Neither does anything that requires ironing, anything that has to be dry cleaned, or anything with prints. I don’t wear prints. Unless I one day find myself in a scenario in which I have to camouflage myself against brightly-patterned wallpaper in order to secure state secrets, I highly doubt that will ever change.

So I am meeting a personal shopper. She sounds elegant. Her name is Olga. She calls me ‘My darling’ on the phone, and the last time we spoke she ended the call with a “See you on Friday, my darling. I love you!” which was a nice touch.

Although I’m pretty sure that was accidental.

In so far as going in prepared, I don’t have a plan in place for this meeting. The aim is to get some clothes that look more I-am-successfully-adulting, and less teenage-boy-with-moobs. Since I clearly cannot be trusted to pick out these sort of outfits for myself, I will be deferring all authority to Olga. The only thing I have asked of her is that she bring me no ruffles. NO CAPES! And no ruffles.

After making the initial appointment, I had to answer a few questions online. The e-mail link called them ‘a few simple questions.’ I should have suspected something, but instead I blithely clicked the link and started to scroll down the page. The questions started off fairly straightforward – they asked for my height and my weight, my favourite colours, my favourite brands and my size in different items of clothing. I answered them all with ease, feeling pretty accomplished. YES! I thought. I KNOW THIS! LOOK AT ME GO!

Of course, no sooner had I clicked onto the next page than I realised the form wouldn’t be the cakewalk that the first page of questions had led me to believe.

“Who is your style icon?”

Grumpy Cat.

“What body shape are you? Oval? Round? Rectangle? Square? Hourglass?”

Fearing the trapdoor to hell that I imagine instantly opens beneath the chair of the egotist that clicks ‘hourglass,’ I went with ‘rectangle.’ I am not rectangular in any sense of the word but neither am I square, oval or round. I am an hourglass that has been slowly compressed from above until it bulges out the sides. I am a stumpy hourglass. I am the hourglass that they sell with 70% marked off because it’s misshapen and inelegant.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t an option.

“What is your colour direction?”

Here they offered a long list of options, none of which made any sense. I mean, what does that even mean? When you google it, the search results are all clustered around some sort of hair dye, which wasn’t of any use. There were no ‘I don’t know’ or ‘Help!’ options so I closed my eyes and clicked at random. Very helpful I’m sure. Sorry Olga.

I clicked the ‘Finish’ button with no small measure of relief.

So today is the day. Today Olga and I come face to face. Mano a mano. I’ll be wearing my trusty Adidas superstars with faded black jeans that have seen better days, and an oversized grey knitted jumper. I want her to get a real, honest look at what she’s working with here. I don’t want to dress up and have her lulled into a false sense of security. If we’re to give this thing the chance it deserves, she’s going to need to truly grasp that I know absolutely nothing about clothes. Our working baseline needs to be down around ‘colourblind clothes-bank raider’. Just about half a step above ‘toddler with velcro light-up trainers’ but a step below ‘child who knows how to wear a skirt.’ I’m actually feeling quite nervous about it.

Olga, bless her heart, has her work cut out for her.*

Please wish me sartorial success, I suspect I might need it!

 

 

*UPDATE: You can find the full report here for anybody curious about how the process works and whether or not I bought velcro light-up shoes.

New Year, New Resolutions

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It’s a new year, with new hopes, new resolutions… and a new blog!

It’s been a while since I flexed my tiny writing muscles for anything other than assignments or work. I’ve missed typing away for my own amusement, recording my thoughts for Future Me to look back on a decade from now (most likely with no small amount of shame, who are we kidding). I just turned thirty, so this seems like as good a time to get back to it as ever.

Scrubs and I rang in the New Year drinking Amarone with a collection of charming people in a large house in The Middle of Nowhere, County Kerry. The fact that we were positioned in the middle of a Dark-Sky Preserve was entirely wasted on us thanks to the clouds and the copious amount of alcohol, but the view was beautiful, and the pier at the bottom of the garden was just enough of a brisk walk away to clear the head.

The first morning of 2017 was clear and cold. The sun was shining for the first time in days, and honestly that seems like a good omen to me! We drove back to Cork through Kerry, via Glengarriff, Ballydehob, Skibbereen and Bandon. We stopped at Jim’s Coffee House along the way for provisions in the form of a Baileys hot chocolate and a portion of hand-cut fries, but apart from that we just enjoyed the feeling of meandering through picturesque villages without hurry, passing by craggy shorelines and choppy water.

Ireland really is quite spectacularly beautiful when the sun deigns to come out and sparkle a bit. It’s a pity it doesn’t happen more often.

Now that we’re settled into another year it’s probably time to get some resolutions down on paper… or on blog as it may be. If I can wrestle my intentions into the shape of actual words, then I may be more likely to stick to them. So here we go.

1. If I Water Me, Will I Grow?

Whew. Let’s start with an easy one. I need to drink more water. I don’t want to turn into a raisin and I don’t want to keep drinking a litre of milk a day; it’s not really ethical and it’s also probably not the best way to hydrate. I plan on getting myself a little water bottle this week and aiming to drink at least one litre of water a day (let’s be realistic).

2. Best Laid Plans…

Ignore the adage and actually plan things. I don’t really have a choice because living in Cork has really clamped down on my spontaneity. There’s only so many weekends in a month and when you have to divide them up in order to see your favourite people it turns out planning has to be done in advance. Like, way in advance. Like, I-should-have-been-making-plans-two-months-ago kind of advance. Unfortunately, two months ago I hadn’t made this resolution, so here we are, starting from scratch.

3. Proactivate! 

Yes! That’s not a word. It should be, though! I’m trying to be more proactive. My natural inclination is to go along with adventures that other people suggest, so as not to feel like I’m intruding on people’s time. The problem is sometimes that comes across as casual indifference, like I just don’t care enough to bother my ass making plans, and that is not the case So… my wish to not cause offense potentially causes more offense than the alternative. I’m going to try and turn that around this year and make plans with all the lovely people I know. I guess this one is really just a sub-resolution that could be filed under Resolution Two but this one is specifically about friends and family, so I’m choosing to separate them.

This also makes me feel more productive.

4. Back up

I really need to strengthen my back. My lack of back muscles is a serious problem – I carry all my tension in my back and shoulders so any time I get stressed, I get knots and migraines. Not ideal. I either need to get a personal full-time masseuse on staff or else I need to finally bite the bullet and get fit. Since I have not yet become a multi-millionaire despite my best efforts at whispering, “Pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease” to shooting stars and fallen eyelashes, it will have to be the latter. I mean, if I could just outrun an axe murderer, or lift myself out of the reach of laser sharks, then that would probably be enough for me. I’d be satisfied with that level of fitness. I’m not aiming for American Ninja Warrior here. Think more… Betty Spaghetti.

5. Thanksgiving

I want to train myself to spend more time focusing on things I’m grateful for, rather than wallowing in the Swamp of Sadness (AAARTAAAAAX!) every time something goes wrong. I can wind myself into such a ball of misery sometimes by fixating on things I’ve done, or haven’t done, or could have done, or should have done… It’s exhausting. In the meantime great things may have happened in my life, but it will take me a few days to catch up and recognise it. I want to speed up that process. I want to be capable of holding those two thoughts in my head at once. Yes, this thing was shit and could have gone better, but also this other thing happened and it was good. I feel like that’s not such a difficult concept to grasp. I think I can manage that basic level of multitasking.

So. I don’t think any of these are unattainable. I feel I’ve done a good job of keeping them all in the low-hanging fruit range, and I’m hoping that will motivate me to actually check them off the To Do list this year. I guess we’ll see. If you’ve stumbled on this page and you have any resolutions, what are they? Do you have a good track record with resolutions? Do you have any tips for how to stick to them? Let me know.

In the meantime, I think I need sustenance. I’m off to go look in the fridge again, see if I can find anything the fifth time round.

Wish me luck!