Category Archives: General thoughts

Trundling along…

So, I get up at 5am, am at my desk by 5.30 am to answer work emails, then at 6.30 am get big guy up, we all leave at 7.30 am, I aim to be at my desk by 8.30 am after dropping big guy off, then workcoffeeworkcoffeeworkcoffee, then leave to pick him up at 4.00 pm, homework, housework, prep dinner, pick up the other half between 6pm and 8pm, bath and bed for big guy, dinner and coffee for me and other half, then work emails, and bed by 10.30 pm, after makelunchesclothesoutplanthenextdaygotobedoldwoman.

So unsurprisingly the creative urge is flat.

September is always like this though, I’m not worried by it. What will happen is that the emails will slow, the nights will get darker, and I’ll have more time to think. To decide on certain movements in the work; where the drama will peak, where the comedy will flow. I’ll be able to create terrible moments for my characters without a second thought; right now I’m so tired all the time any pain for them is too much to bear.

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I just finished this; nothing bad happens. NOTHING! Not a thing! Perfect!

I wish you all the silence and rest of a bookshop just for you. Night night.


Do you think you can do it?

So, another meeting today, with lots to cover and a question to be asked by my good self. And in the weird way that can happen, it escalated in a positive way, so by the end of the conversation I may be giving a talk about it.

It honestly feels like I’m not ‘leaning in’, a phrase that managed to be annoying and empty at the same time. It feels more accurate to say that I’m ‘falling forward’; as if I’m falling into something with no accurate awareness of what I’m doing.

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And in those moments I find myself waiting for reality to insist that it’s wrong, that I’m wrong, and for the comet labelled Reality to hit me in the face…

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Take that, self-belief!

Lord, please grant me the confidence of a mediocre white man.

Night night…

Sweets to the sweet

So what I would like to do tonight is actually not present a verbal/text based blog at all, but instead create a mood or a gesture, some whimsical brief thing that enchants and delights but causes no burden of nostalgia or regret. That’s because I’m tired and out of ideas and so words are hard.

But it’s a blog. Words, see? (poke poke) That’s the point of a blog.

So instead I will ask you to imagine the most perfect apple crumble dessert ever, currently sitting in your oven. Imagine it as the paradigm of desserts. No dessert has ever come close to this, in its pastry, its sweet fruit, its sugared topping. It’s no more than five minutes away from being out of the oven, and it will be put down on a table with all the cream and custard and ice cream you’ll want, and you’ll eat it with those people who you really want to eat it with, whether that is even possible or not.

But for now, it’s still in the oven, and you are standing in the kitchen, where there’s just you and the heat of the oven, and the smell, and the anticipation of the innocent, but real, joy to come.  And that is the moment I give you tonight, and with which I bid you adieu.

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Night night.

A ten minute post…

So, last week was extremely busy; each moment of the day was mapped out, and I honestly counted myself lucky to even get lunch when I could. I fell asleep over dinner almost every night and was just hitting the targets each day, nothing more.

However, big guy had other ideas. On Thursday he had a bad cold, with a shocking dickensian cough, so as soon as I could I took him home and let him sleep for the rest of the afternoon. Friday he seemed fine, so after a dose of calpol back in he went. But it’s always a big question. I was due to attend an important event on Friday, and I cancelled so I could pick him up as early as I could. And it didn’t work; he was still ill and we’ve had a weekend making him as well as we can.

The guilt, though.  Should I have brought him Friday, and just got on with it? Attended the event like I’d promised people, and done my best? Or should I have stayed home with him, made sure he was as well as possible rather than bringing him at all when he seemed okay?

And tomorrow, should I stay home with him? Should it be the other half’s job? He doesn’t have a front facing role, he can work from home and it’s fine; but no-one gets to work well when they’re parenting well,  and that’s just the reality of it.

So nothing has been done well; parenting, or work. Perfection is the enemy of the good, but if the good could be just a tad more explicit, that would help out nicely.

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Artist’s impression: your emotional compass may differ. 

Back to Square One

So, Friday was a difficult day, and such days do happen. Still, I was left grateful I was me by the end of it. I was waiting in the petrol station, waiting for the woman in front of me to finish putting fuel into her car. When I noticed her face turning to a look of horror, as she stared at the petrol pump in her hand. I gave her a look of ‘are you alright?’, only to have her mouth the words ‘Wrong petrol’ to me: petrol in a diesel car. Oh god the poor thing. I have a diesel car too, and I have a huge fear of doing the exact same thing. And if you do put petrol in a diesel car, and turn on the engine, you will never be able to use the car again. The only thing you can do is call the tow truck, have your fuel tank completely siphoned off, and hope for the best. I gave her some chocolates to keep her company while she waited, and headed on home. There, it was the other half’s birthday, and the wonderful Fiona of Tasty Treats (see here) had done some fantastic biscuits. And we went on to dinner in Dundrum and I ate very well. But I did break my diet.

Saturday saw me still exhausted, and very much eager for my own company. I do think writing or any personal creative endeavour can do that to a person’s mind, they need time by themselves to reflect and recuperate. I went to bed early, avoided all mention of social media, and slept.

Sunday saw me rereading a marvellous anthology I have, The Assassin’s Cloak. It is an anthology of diaries, presented chronologically, so one can look up, say, the 5th of May, and see all manner of entries for that date. It means you can see the concerns of Pepys in London during the reign of Charles the II, or the illness of Souter in 1903, the passage of the war in the 1940s across the world, the rebelliousness of the 1970s, and the newspaper concerns of Derek Jarman in the 1980s. Literature solves almost everything, I find.  To connect with other minds from the comfort of your own home, on a rainy Sunday, seems to be really such a pleasure.

And what I learned rereading that book, was that no one has any certainty about life. Everyone, from generals to princes to teenage girls hiding from Nazis, is unclear about the future, unsure about their own skills, and only able to see the way in hindsight. There is no clear cut way, no shortcut, no certainty to life. That is very much the human condition. And that has never changed.

Right. I have to away to bed. School starts again tomorrow. Wish us all luck.

Days that should last forever.

Another day done. I unexpectedly was at home today, and me and big guy had a fantastic time. We made playdough Titantics, and painted seas underneath them of warm blue. We went shopping for books, and ate in bakeries. Then we bought birthday cards, and congratulation cards, and farewell cards; there’s a lot going on right now.

And I hope he remembers these days, these warm, hug filled, event-filled days, where I try to make sure the day is fun and the season is always Summer, with milk-flow joy and satin-silk smiles, I hope that he sees the best of me in all of this, not just the tired me or the ugly me, or the empty-tank me.

Dinner was laughing over cartoons, then a bath, then bed, with no scary stories to be told. Only kisses, and cuddles, and teddy bears in their pjs, and lights out, now.

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And this morning at dawn, I got a phone call that my wonderful niece is coming to college. In another house, another loved one is going to sleep, with a new world starting up for her too….

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Night night to you.

Day Eleven done. 

Last of the Summer Fruits

Well it’s the weekend, another few days have flown by, and it is time once again, dear reader, to update you in the most delightful events I have enjoyed so far. You do know that my life is always in cursive, don’t you? Cursive, with a warm breeze coming through lace curtains, and a soundtrack by Charles Gounod. Summers in France, children’s laughter, soft grey wraps over my bronzed shoulders, mine is a blessed life. (Hairflick)

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Friday I was on the way to pick up Big Guy, and I noticed that the strawberry van was back. They appear each Summer and I have ignored them over and over. The one in question we passed each day, and I promised myself and Big Guy we would bring it home each day.

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And then last week, they were gone.

The spot they occupied was empty, with all the promise of summer’s end. And somehow, Friday, there they were! I stopped the car like a crazy lady and bought two punnets. They tasted amazing, mainly because Summer is leaving us. It was wonderful to savour them, knowing that they were gone forever, really. Big guy loved them too, not knowing how rare the summer fruits will be for a while. Poor mite.

And when we left to drive home, the sellers had already pulled up and were gone, leaving only an empty space.

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Day Ten done.

A New Day, A New Me…

… must be the most tired sentiment ever.  However, I am old and experienced enough to know that sometimes, inventory must be taken, and when something must be changed you should change it.

So. There are 144 days until the New Year, and this is what is going to happen.*

  • No sugar
  • No carbs
  • Daily exercise; either five minutes or thirty or an hour, but no zero days.
  • Writing every day. This blog, finish that novella, short stories, whatever. Ideally start the sequel to the novel I just finished. But no zero days. And, no, TWITTER DOES NOT COUNT.
  • Keep the son’s learning going.
  • Stay very much away from social media. It’s as pervasive as sugar and just as toxic.
  • Save money like a mad thing. You need it to get away from rental fun and neighbours and terraced houses and all of it.

It is entirely possible I will be bringing you, my dear reader, on this delightful ride with me. I know that you must only wonder what delights we will see together. Rest assured, you will find me very, very, hangry.

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*Yes it WILL don’t you JUDGE me it’s NOT a PHASE!!

I need a GPS for my life.

So we’ve been off all week because of the midterms, and tomorrow we return to the delight that is our normal lives. I had colleagues roll they eyes when I said that I was off, wishing me luck trying to keep him busy and entertained for the week. I did get a few events lined up, mainly so that we could get out of the house for a bit. But I was looking forward to us being under the same roof for a second.

And how did it go? It was wonderful. Really, just wonderful. I took him to see the model railway exhibition in Blackrock College. He loved the exhibition, and there was a huge range to see; from Lego fun exhibits to really delicate, accurate portrayals of train junctions and cities (The one from Bangor must have taken thousands of hours of work). Then we went to the library to stock up on books, always a happy occasion. Then Monday was an exciting day of playing with the neighbourhood kids, Connect 4 and jigsaws. Tuesday, saw the creation of Batman, and the calling round to all the neighbour’s houses, along with them calling into us.

Tuesday evening saw my sister ring. We were all set to meet up in Westport for a stay in the hotel. She was ringing because she was worried; did I know that there was a train strike on tomorrow? She was right; no trains. So I was suddenly going to have to drive all the hours tomorrow to Westport.

I didn’t get a wink of sleep. But I got everything ready, headed out at about 10am to miss the morning traffic with the slightly monotone voice of the GPS guiding me. It was actually quite okay; it’s very specific, saying which lane you need to be in and giving plenty of notice. However, the trip itself is very very long; nearly four hours, and for a newby like my self very hard to keep going. I spent the last hour wondering if I could do it. Turns out I could; we got there at about 4pm, all good, but my hip hurt terribly. My sister arrived soon afterwards and from there it was all facials, massage and dinner. I was just exhausted once I put big guy to bed; I had a quick shower and slept.

Do you know how quiet some parts of the world are? No noise, no traffic, nothing? We spent Thursday doing things like crazy golf and long walks and reading and swimming. Big guy got to hang around with his older cousins, who he really likes as it turns out. They ended up teaching him how to swim, to everyone’s cheers.  Another dinner out for Thursday, and Friday another swim before driving back up.

Momma’s nemesis (Pic Frank McGrath)

The M50! Oh my gosh, what sheer hell have we managed to create there? Even the cold monotone of the GPS lady seemed slightly panicked as we made our way across town. People had no respect for lanes, just swerved madly about like unsure jumping fleas. It made the last half hour of my four hours home the worst part of it, but we got home safely, the GPS Lady sounding slightly triumphant as we did.  Then it was in the door, with the smell of a beef stew greeting us, and a restful evening ahead.

Saturday saw me up at the UCD Open day, where I was on my feet all day. So today, I did nothing except laundry and make earnest lists about all I would accomplish next week. (“Diet! Exercise! Writing!”) And now I have to prepare for dropping him off tomorrow, and not seeing him all day, while I have to pretend to care about other stuff.

So I don’t feel any real joy about the midterms ending, rather I’m already counting the days to Christmas break and the chance to have unpanicked mornings again.

One other thing; I looked at my phone on Friday night and could feel my stomach start to churn again with the unpleasantness and madness it wanted to share with me. I had violent and unpleasant dreams afterwards, so have made a decision to stay off social media (Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, the works) and think that it may the saving of me. If you miss me, shure, drop me an email, I’d love to hear from you.

Don’t be a stranger!

Game of Tonnes


I get up and do my lovely extended physio, which now takes 20 minutes. It is getting easier, and I have a voice in my head that says it is because there was never anything wrong with me in the first place. Traffic is ridiculous, pointless; by the time I get to work I’m so near tears at the effort it takes me a while to get started, and then before you know it it’s time to pick up Big Guy again. How the hell can I improve on this?



I get to work in the usual panic, and then have to go on a walkabout meeting with someone from Estates. I want to set up a room in our building where students who are still nursing are able to nurse their babies and store their milk in privacy. We find a lovely room, attached to student officers’ rooms, and it might just work. We examine two other prospects, but they are either in use or in filthy condition, they won’t work. Estates aim to confirm my chosen room is vacant for use, but it looks good. I spend the rest of the day in hopeful planning, then pick up big guy and then home.



A voicemail tells me that the chosen room isn’t looking good; they were incorrect in the room number, leading them to give me incorrect information. The guy in question in charge of the room is polite when I ring him, but wants to know who told me it was free? I seem to have stumbled into a political issue, and I finish the conversation with the sense of going back to the drawing board, damn it.

Phsyio is today as well, and I arrive at 12 noon ready for the punishment. There’s a moment when I am lying face down, feeling the same resistance in mah old glutes, when I ask the nice young man, “So, Karl, was it the glamour that led you to become a Physiotherapist?” I’m joking, but the pain is leading me to sweat and close my eyes. Wow, but this is hard. I get another extended session to do at home, and I can do cycling sessions in the gym now. I’m actually a bit giddy at the idea.



Super-duper important meeting at 10.30 am. I go, so far the other side of nervous I’m not nervous. I’m so blatantly unqualified for this I can only get through on bravado.

Don’t look down ya silly!

How did the meeting go? It moved in the right direction. But no firm result. I need to write up things and move things, and be political and talk to folk, but I can’t because the door keeps opening and students and colleagues have the nerve to expect things, and what do you know it is home time already. I leave campus with the sense of just shutting the door on a hurricane.

Come on ta fuck.

We got back home and had dinner with Big Guys Nana. She wants to go on a diet, and I want to go on a diet. My success at losing nearly 60lbs has led me to be complacent about my eating habits, and with no exercise means I’m gaining fast. I promised to do up a diet plan and get back to people. Then the other half and I headed off to a Parent Teachers Meeting. It was just a briefing on the children’s schedule, no individual chats at all. It did remind me how rarely I talk to the other half by ourselves with room to breathe, to be honest.  We go home afterwards just exhausted.




I got there at lunchtime. I did twenty minutes on the bikes, and everyone was nervous and pouting and afraid to look human, whereas Mrs Doyle here was just having a blast. I will tell you though, that I was silly enough to not wash my make up off first, and that was a bad idea; I have an outbreak of spots and no one to blame but myself. But hurrah, exercise! And it didn’t hurt and everything was fine!

Work, emails, the usual. I was so happy!



Took Big Guy to the library. He seemed unaware of just how bloody magical such a place is. Nevertheless, we got out Where the Wild Things are and that seemed to break through his disinterest.

I had a slice of bread mid-morning, to the derision of the other half. “Thought you were going on a diet?” Oh, it is on, best beloved. Watch me go.

We get through the day, then bath and bed, and as I am reading a story for Big Guy I switch off. I don’t mean I get fatigued, or sleepy. I mean the tank is empty in a way I can’t explain, and I need to lie down. I go down stairs and finish the coffee waiting for me, then back upstairs. I just put on my pjs and lie down, thinking that the coffee will surely keep me aw-



Morning. It’s 6am, my brain convinced this is the time to wake up. I lie there, shockingly tired. I’m reminded of the time I gave blood but didn’t rest up afterwards like they all insist you should to, and as a result was dizzy and tired to the point of tears. I get up when Big Guy comes in at 7am, but I am short tempered to the point of abusive all day. There’s no other word for it. I just have nothing left in me. When the next door neighbour’s kid calls round I’m so relieved, the effort to entertain him is almost too much today. I put him to bed after dinner, and then write up this blog. I still have to look at my emails, plan the week and get myself cleaned up for tomorrow. I will use next week to do up the diet plan as well, but I will need to go easy on the exercise if I do. It’s almost zero carb and exercising on that is nearly impossible at the start.

Right. I’ve lots to do and miles to go before sleep. Away with ya now.