Saturday, October 30, 2010

Change Your Attitude, Change Your Plan

Andrew, on his way out to a hockey match, came back down the stairs to tell me that the detective would be down to talk to me in a minute. He'd already spoken to him yesterday afternoon, but he wanted to talk to me too, and was upstairs talking to the landlord. There'd been an incident in the lane across from our house on Thursday night. I'd seen the crime scene tape on my way to work yesterday morning.

The album Andrew'd been listening to before he left had finished, and the quiet it left in the flat felt like it was expecting something. I dithered over what to fill it with, and then over what to do with myself so that it wouldn't look like I was sitting, waiting for him. I put on Iron&Wine and started drying the dishes. He introduced himself at the door, but all I caught was his station - Kevin Street. That was where they'd called when Andrew made his 911 call, but I didn't tell him that. I invited him in and sat at the table with him, answering his questions about what time I'd come home at, what time Andrew'd come home at, whether anyone else had called, whether I'd heard anything, whether I'd seen anything, whether I'd dropped anything on the street the following morning. 6pm. 12am. No. He wrote it all down, then asked me to sign the sheet. "That's not my name" I said. He'd printed Andrew's surname on the sheet I was to sign. I wrote my own name in brackets, then made my mark at the bottom of the page. This keeping my own name thing has raised more eyebrows than I expected. I feel naive, justifying it to people. I suppose I am. I could just correct them, and leave it at that.

I gave my reasons to the detective though. He listened patiently, with the air of a man who's listening just to see what I'll come out with next. I thought about offering him tea, but it's a small flat, and it feels too intimate for tea for two. I wanted to ask him about his job, but I'm shy. He's my age, at a guess, and I'm impressed that he's made it to detective already. I assume that everyone my age is still playing at being an adult, like I am. I wanted to tell him about how I was going to be a Guard too when I grew up, how I spent a fortnight training in Templemore once upon a time. But I'm shy. When I told Colm about it he said "I can't imagine you as a Guard, except perhaps as a comedy Guard in a Pat Shortt show." Me either, I told him. Trouble is, I can't imagine me as anything, not with enough conviction to convince anyone anyway. When people ask what I do, I launch into long-winded explanations of how I ended up where I am. It's not complicated though, it's just a job. I feel foolish, justifying it to people. I should just tell them I work in admin, and leave it at that.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

So Lie To Me, But Do It With Sincerity

so remember i said i was going to break up with my acupuncturist yesterday? well, i decided the easiest thing to do would be to tell her that my husband had lost his job, so we were cutting back on spending, and that way nobody's feelings would be hurt.
good idea
then Andrew's boss came and told him that he'd lost his job.
oh my god
no way
uh huh. next time i'm going to lie about winning the lotto. "i have won the lotto, so i'm afraid i won't be needing acupuncture anymore!"
there's your blog post right there
that's terrible though
is he gutted?
nah, he's okay. he was very upset yesterday afternoon and then he remembered that he was married to me so it would all be okay. he's an optimistic fella.
that is beautiful
-19 minutes-
i'll blog about it, but i'll maybe let him blog about it first.
very decent
I went to the acupuncturist that evening, wracked with guilt. "Are you stressed?" she asked. "You seem to be bleeding a lot." She drew the needles out slowly, carefully. "I think that one's going to bruise..." she said, gently prodding the pudge above my bellybutton. I told her about Andrew losing his job and she was lovely, understanding and sympathetic. Then she gave me a voucher for a free treatment. I didn't feel like I could say no. And so I'll traipse back again tomorrow, like a lover softly succumbing to one-last-time-no-strings-attached sex, with clean knickers, combed hair and a guilty conscience.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Review: The Town

Not to be confused with the 1990 classic Nuns on the Run.

Everybody's very good in this, even Ben Affleck. Colm says he likes Jeremy Renner. Says he's very "compact". I'm not really sure what that means, but I like that Jon Hamm fella. He looks like he'd do filthy bad things to you. Lovely, filthy, bad things. It's a good job Mad Men is so dull. Otherwise I'd never leave the house.

Andrew says it's like Good Will Hunting with guns. He wanted me to put that in the post, even though I thought it was more like Gone Baby Gone only they robbed banks, not babies. So there.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Le Fáinne An Lae Ghléigil

Everything feels familiar in my parents' kitchen this morning. The rest of the house are sleeping, but I'm up, drinking tea, talking to myself and to the dog. She's not my dog though. My dog died two years ago. This one, Mo, is my brother's, and I'm home for the weekend because he's gone and gotten married. My own husband is still asleep in the guest-room bed upstairs and I am still getting used to the idea that he's my husband, and that my brother now has a wife.

Andrew and I slept in what used to be my brother's room, but my sister now refers to it as "the wedding room", full as it is of the gifts people gave us when we married in July. We haven't found space for them yet. For the first month of our marriage, I scoured DAFT in an effort to find some. All the momentum I'd created around the wedding had me falling face first into everyone's expectations. Gotta get a house gotta get a dog gotta have a baby gotta have another. Andrew humoured me patiently, knowing I'd get over it. I did.

It's a cold morning, but the house is warm. Stiflingly so. Later, much later, when Andrew appears for breakfast, he'll say that he feels like a boiled ham. But for now, everyone else is quiet. Mo's giddy, so I take my book outside to the garden, to keep her company while she tears up the lawn. I'm worried she'll wake the others, and I'm not ready for anyone's day but my own to begin just yet. I'm decked out in tracksuit bottoms, a dress and a pyjama shirt; a mishmash of optimism, modesty and good intentions. It's cold outside, the kind of cold that makes your cheeks bloom and your breasts ache, but Mo's company is warm and insistent so I stay awhile. I'm reading Kazuo Ishiguro's Nocturnes. I find the stories colourless and dull, but the words provide a neutral base from which to start my day after a night fuelled by nightmares of milky seas and other people's loneliness. He's written about music, but there's no melody to it. I haven't found anything there to write down and remember.

After a half hour or so, Mo drops one of her toys on my toe. It stings, and I'm reminded of how cold it really is. So I take her inside and make some tea. The air's done me good - I feel better able for the day now. When my sister appears, I tell her I'll make pancakes, and by the time Andrew and my parents have stirred, I have a stack of them staying warm in the oven. We eat them at the table, with maple syrup. My mam's laid out the marmalade too, and some pots of chocolate mousse in lieu of Nutella. It feels a little like Christmas, but I keep that to myself. It's Christmases and weddings I come home for now, I think, and a little sadness settles in my stomach along with the eggs and flour. It takes me a few hours to digest it. Yesterday, when I was out walking Mo with my parents, my mam asked where I'd be spending Christmas this year. She's feeling vulnerable. I know I should reassure her, but I resent being asked and I don't want to make any promises.

"It must be odd having two of your siblings married now" said Kieron to my dad last night, smoking a cigar outside the GAA club. He meant, of course, my brother and I. I don't know how dad answered him, but when I asked him myself later on, he said no, and he looked like he meant it. My mam, sipping her sex on the beach, said she feels a relief. She knows we'll both be cared for, she says, and she doesn't have to worry about us so much any more.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Review: Buried

Ryan, without all that blood and muck and shit all over him.

Something of a pantomime, I can't help but think that this would have worked better as a Choose Your Own Adventure book. For the total immersion experience, match your breathing to Paul's for the 95 minutes.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Visitor's Guide: Rathmines' New Swimming Pool

When to go?
Sunday afternoon at 3pm when the pool is full of screaming kids and posing teenagers.

What to wear?
Togs in the pool, pants on the way home. Not see-through leggings with no pants because you wore your swimsuit there and forgot to bring dry knickers to wear afterwards.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Hoping And Hoping And Hoping

My colleague Ann presented me with a bag of Revels yesterday. Yeah. Revels. The Russian roulette of chocolate. Bad times in a brown and orange bag. I accepted gracefully, of course. I accept most things gracefully; it's my defeatist nature. "I hope they're okay" she said anxiously, presumably noticing that I hadn't immediately hoovered them into me like I do most other tidbits she presents me with. "They're great!" I lied, and I tucked them into my handbag to give to Andrew later. "I've just been given a packet of Revels" I spat into google chat. "The secret is to keep some of the obviously safe ones in reserve" Colm counseled. The secret is to buy the Friday treats myself, I thought, and not entrust my mid-morning happiness to Ann. I left them in my handbag and sprayed my way through a ricecake instead.

I finished up at lunchtime and in my hurry to be shot of the office, skipped lunch and went to Tesco to do the week's shopping. Have you ever been to Tesco in Finglas? When you're hungry? I bought a month's worth of provisions and stuffed them all into the three bags I'd brought with me, dropping things on the floor and smacking my trolley into toddlers, like a poster child for why one should not shop on an empty stomach. In Finglas. Then I bundled it all into the boot and headed home, furious with the world and everyone in it.

I was stopped at the lights in Phibsboro, quietly fuming at the injustice of it all, when I remembered the Revels in my handbag. The secret is to keep some of the obviously safe ones in reserve! I thought, tearing the bag open with my teeth as I changed up from first and wobbled on through the lights, delighted with myself that I was not going to starve to death on Constitution Hill with a boot full of groceries after all. Two caramel, one malt and three raisin Revels in, the sugar reached my brain and I experienced one of those endorphin rushes that athletes talk about but that I find much easier to achieve with cheap confectionery. I felt wonderful again. So wonderful that I threw caution to the wind and stopped mauling each sweet to try to determine its makeup before popping it in my mouth. I got a chocolate one. And then an orange one (which was a bit mank, but manageable). And then a few more raisins and caramels. There are no coffee ones in here! Delighted with myself, I briefly considered complaining to the makers in the hope they might send me some free sweets, but then I worried that they'd only send coffee ones in an effort to compensate, so I decided against it. And then I tipped the last (two) of the melt-in-my-mouth lovelies into my greedy maw, only to heave a horrified moan and dribble coffee-flavoured chocolate disconsolately down my chin as I crossed Father Matthew bridge and made the rest of my miserable way home.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Review: Back to the Future

Andrew's friend Stuart has a DeLorean. He says he'll let me drive it but not Andrew because I am a very good driver and Andrew is not.
He was drunk at the time, but I remember.

Too much Coke + Sherbet DipDab + Back to the Future back on the big screen = EXPLOSIVE EXCITEMENT!

...and then a sugar crash and a cranky little nap in the cinema.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Oooh Baby, I'm Hot Just Like An Oven

I fell asleep during acupuncture today. It's my third session of it, and I'm obviously learning to relax. We start each session with a Q&A about how I'm feeling, and what I've been eating (she pronounces all of her verbs in italics). She talks about damp heat a lot (and italicises both words. I'm not even sure that's allowed). "I feel great!" I breeze. I came to her a month ago when I was recovering from a month-long battle with cystitis, having gone through three doses of antibiotics and a subsequent bout of candida. Now that I'm cured, I have no need of her witchcraft and am worried about extricating myself from our relationship without hurting her feelings. I tell her I've been eating lots of green things, then I take my tights off, lie back and think happy thoughts while she sticks pins in me.

Once she's got them all in place, she turns on the pan-pipes CD and tells me to relax for twenty to thirty minutes. Then she sits in the corner and reads her book, while I lie there, trying not to move. The first week, I managed it by counting the pan-pipe songs. Four minutes apiece, I reckoned, so five of them and I'm done! I had to count them on my fingers, because they all sounded the same, and the pins in my hands and wrists made the maths uncomfortable. Not very relaxing.

The second week, I was determined to relax. So I drifted off into a smutty reverie. It was very relaxing. I didn't even hear the pan pipes. Afterwards, I pulled my tights and sensible cardigan back on and asked her if she had an appointment at the same time sex week. "Monday?" she said brightly, and my cheeks reddened at my freudian slip.

This week, I was determined not to relax quite as much as the previous week. So I lay back and listened to the fucking pan pipes. Some five minutes in I woke with a start, jumped like I'd been shot and squealed as the needles I was so liberally stuck with skewered me. In my head, hands, feet, thighs, shins, stomach, and pubic bone. It was very relaxing. "Are you okay?" asked the acupuncturist, perhaps thinking she'd given me epilepsy. "I can't feel the front of my calf!" I squeaked, temporarily forgetting what my shin was called. She made some soothing noises, fixed me up, switched on a heat lamp to keep me docile and went back to her book. I lay rigid for a further twenty minutes, terrified to unclench lest I drift off again and jerk awake. It wasn't really very relaxing. But I'm booked in again for next Monday.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Measure Of My Dreams

What did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to be a vet. I don't remember ever wanting to be anything else. Poor Bright Eyes got the brunt of it. She's the sausage dog pictured in my blog header, the sad-eyed and balding doggle that Santa Claus brought to me one Christmas, to my abject disappointment. She wasn't sad-eyed and balding then, of course (much as I occasionally like to make out that I had an impoverished childhood, I really didn't. We had a black and white telly, is all). She had a glossy coat and neither of her eyes drooped. But I wanted one of those little animatronic ones that barked and did backflips, and she just sat there. My mother told me years later that they'd given me the one I wanted for Christmas as a toddler and I'd freaked out, screamed the house down and wet my drawers. I don't remember that. It's convenient not to.

Anyway, Bright Eyes became my first patient. I don't know where I got the idea from, or the surgical implements, but I slit her belly open, pulled out what seemed the appropriate amount of stuffing and then stitched her back together again, pronouncing her "spayed". To my parents' credit, they didn't send me to a psychiatrist. Instead, they indulged me with some James Herriot books and a visit to the school of veterinary medicine in UCD. They're still a source of such trusting encouragement that I owe them a debt of gratitude for what I've become. Though I am not, unfortunately, a vet. Nor did my sister grow up to become a truck driver, nor my brother to become Michael Jackson. That we were equally supported in our dreams says a lot for my parents too.

I decided against a career as a veterinarian when one of the boys in school pointed out to me that vets kill animals. "Not on purpose!" I said (and now I think of that Simpsons episode with the hamster and the basketball net). But he explained to me that sometimes it was on purpose, and that that was what it meant when something had to be "put down". I never fully forgave him for breaking that truth and with it, my dream.

I think of this again today after leaving work at one. I am worn out and uninterested after last week's overtime. In my desk I still have the card my father gave to me on my first day there. He's a bit of a hippie, my da. I take it out sometimes, read it and try to take it to heart. I'd like to be more like he is. Sometimes it works. And sometimes it doesn't, so I take the rest of the day off and pour my heart into a bowl of pasta instead.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Throw Your Keys In The Bowl, Kiss Your Husband Goodnight

My husband went away last weekend for two nights. Two whole nights! I didn't know what to do with myself. I'm not used to spending time apart from him, this husband of mine. Husband. I'm still trying to get used to the word. I'm still trying to get used to the W word too. But I digress.

Normally when he's out I read or bake bread or do the shopping or epilate my legs or watch a film or walk Fat Rosie* or write something on my blog. Wholesome stuff. He's normally out for just a few hours on a Wednesday evening, and it's easy to be wholesome on Wednesdays. Last Friday lunchtime, however, he took off for a weekend with my brother and a dozen other reprobates to celebrate the fact that my brother, too, will soon become a Husband. "Have fun" I said, not meaning a word of it "and don't crash my car!" (I meant that bit). Off he went, and, not knowing quite what else to do, I went to bed.

I got up at around teatime, washed, dressed and went to a party. I'd almost forgotten what it's like to go to one on my own. It felt a bit like my first day at school. I'd tried to bring backup, of course, but backup couldn't get a babysitter and so I was forced to cowboy up and ride out alone. "You'll have fun, Pussycat" said Andrew in Bundoran. "But what if nobody talks to me?" I said. Sometimes I'm so pathetic that I wonder why anyone does bother talking to me. "Then leave" he said. Galvanised, I set out with a bottle of wine, 20 fags and a bottle of foamy orange liqueur that was shaped like a fire extinguisher and said something about goats and Christmas on the label.

I had a great night. There were daiquiris and pornography and someone said that they liked my blog. I got wonderfully, expansively drunk and sat on the floor with the dog for a bit. Then I hugged people and wandered off towards Rialto before hailing a taxi. "Did you have a good night, love?" the driver asked, eyeing me up in the rearview mirror. "I did" said I. "You should head out in town now tomorrow night" he said, "there'll be loads of rugger buggers out for you." "But I'm newly married!" I spluttered. "Well love" he said "you don't have to go home with them". We spent the rest of the journey not talking to one another. Or at least, I wasn't talking to him.

On Saturday I went shopping. I needed to get something to wear to my brother's wedding. Of all the bad ideas I've ever had, I think the decision to head to Dundrum shopping centre on a Saturday afternoon with a hangover may have been my worst. I came home with a leopard-print maxi-dress, a crippling headache and a bag full of M&S readymeals.

And then I went out again. To a quiet pub, this time, with two quiet friends. I got wonderfully, expansively drunk. Again. It seems I can't help but repeat myself.

On Sunday I stayed in bed. I got up at lunchtime to excuse myself from a dinner to which I had not been invited but to which I had invited myself, then I went back to bed. I got up again at 3.30pm to shower and put ribbons in my hair. Andrew came home at 4. "Oh Pussycat!" he said when he saw what was left of me, and he wrapped me up in a bear hug.

*The landlords' doggle. I am not making derogatory references to myself in the third person. For once.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Read Me Like A Book That's Fallen Down Between Your Knees, Please

Do you remember doing the MS Readathon as a kid? I do. I loved it, because I always won. Even though it wasn't really a competition, it was for charity and a good cause and all that. I didn't care, I just liked reading. And I was good at it. So good that I was given extra books in class to keep me quiet, though I was quiet anyway, so much so that teachers thought I was socially maladjusted. I wasn't. I was just bored. I sat there, mute and mannerly, wishing the other kids would hurry the fuck up and finish their sentences so that we'd be allowed to turn to the next page and I could race to the end of the story. The idea of a reading competition was like a dream come true! (again, I know that it's not really a competition, but whatever). For me, it was never about raising money. It was about keeping score.

It was the competitive rather than the charitable aspect of the exercise that stayed with me. So far, my plan to goad Andrew into reading more (for his betterment!) so that I can push myself to read even more than him (and win!) has been somewhat hampered by him reading to me in bed (I fall asleep instantly) and by my boss' husband supplying me with crime fiction by the bagload (we discovered a shared affection for John Connolly at a dinner party; I realise with some regret that this makes me sound middle-class and old). The crime fiction's a double edged-sword: I rip through it like I would a tray of teacakes, but I can't read it at night because I scare easy. It means I have to have a daytime book and a nighttime book, and that's before we even get as far as my toilet book, which is the one I keep in the bathroom because I've started it, so I'll finish, but I don't really like it much.

I read constantly, and my one regret is that I stopped keeping a list. I should have indexed them, like Gimme did his videotapes. As a teenager, I used to carefully transcribe the paragraphs that sang to me into a little notebook. But I grew to hate my handwriting as much as I did the rest of me, so I threw it in the bin. I think that's why I love computers so much. Setting my words (even the borrowed ones) in type lends them an authority that my weak-chinned scrawl never could.

And so I've started a Tumblr. I read so much that means so much that it seems a shame not to scrapbook it somewhere. Some day I'll be articulate enough to put all that I've read to use but until then, I'll share the parts I underline in pencil. If you like, you can fill in the blanks.