Saturday, 21 July 2018


How time marches on. Had a good day today by way of having a Diet Coke with a hopefully new friend. I feel I am being optimistic using this word for this woman, but maybe I could do with being more optimistic. I felt incredibly tired yesterday and lay for a long time in bed feeling what seemed like a physical, heavy forcefield holding me down and almost immobile. 
Then today as well I felt so drained and had to lie down in the early afternoon. I got up and while I was waiting for the woman to arrive I thought I might be too weak to talk. But it was fine, I forgot myself and sometimes when I am coming up from a low I feel more able to talk. 
I still worried that my conversation was too whiny and negative, especially when the topic of work came up. I find it easy to slide into complaining once I start, although I am careful usually to speak well of my workplace. It is good to be honest and she admitted she finds her own work boring. My work is rarely boring but it has its own challenges. 
So much of the tiredness must be physical in nature and there is a vicious circle that starts when I am too tired to shop for food. It is shopping that is the challenge more than cooking as once the stuff is in then the cooking part in minimal. That said, I sometimes don't even cook the food and let it rot while I have toast and wine for tea. That rarely happens. It is time for another #26habits tomorrow. The plan was to do every second one giving things up/taking things up. That would mean Habit No 3 being a giving-up habit and I was considering YouTube. We all love YouTube but it is a serious time-slayer. it's the snippetisation factor. That's why Instagram was one of the first apps I deleted from my phone...the very smallness of the items is what leads to the difficulty in stopping. What's five minutes? And another five? And three more? And ten more? 
So I am a bit torn between the giving up Youtube and coming up with a food-related habit. I don't have many food-related vices (Diet Coke is not up for discussion at this stage), but equally I lack food virtue. Eating five-a-day would be a good habit, as would taking my supplements. Has the concept of "five-a-day"been debunked though? Not just on charges of insufficiency but also because that's not how we think about food. We don't think in terms of daily allowances. We think in terms of meals. I feel a habit needs to be specific though. I could look through my cookery books and cook something new but is cooking something from a book every day too high of a bar? What if I just bought a whole load of vegetables and ate those? I will be thinking and come up with something tomorrow. 

Friday, 20 July 2018


I am at home again, as in my own house. I am terrible pampered really. I have a lovely home that I don't need to share with anyone and I don't want to share so I don't. I have all the peace and quiet anyone could ever wish for. My income is modest but steady and my outgoings limited. Money isn't something I think a lot about. I could think about it a lot more and that could become one of my #26habits. I know I have my not-shopping challenges but that is more about the virtues of frugality and the mitigation of consumerism. 
Am reading Joan Didion's "Goodbye to all That" and liking it. She writes "That was the year, my twenty-eighth, when I was discovering that not all of the promises would be kept, that some things are in face irrevocable and that it had counted after all, every evasion and every procrastination, every mistake, every word, all of it."
She was fortunate to discover that so young. It is true, everything counts although the time for counting comes much later than the time for casting. 
She writes later about dissipated afternoons ( I once knew a lot of those) and says "I was not then guilt-ridden about spending afternoons that way, because I still had all the afternoons in the world".
"I still had all the afternoons in the world". All the nights and days and afternoons I spent fucking around with my mental health project or phoning in my performance at work or tolerating a messy house, because I had all the afternoons in the world. Except we don't. We have merely a handful of afternoons at best. 

Thursday, 19 July 2018


I'm in pain, if that's not too boring a topic. It's not completely unbearable, yet, but will be soon if I don't dig out some Ponstan and get it into me. Sometimes I feel the purest resentment at all this pain and if I'd known I wouldn't be getting even the one turn out of the ole womb I could have had the thing extracted twenty years ago. Like the car that rusts in the drive it's the ones that are never used that cause the most trouble in the end.
I never had much pain until the first period I have after my first (so many firsts!) psychiatric hospitalisation. I was in the library in UCD when it overcame me. For a while I couldn't walk, then I made it as far as the underground toilets and thought I was going to have to call an ambulance. Eventually I made it as far as the Student Union shop, the right-on politics of whose organisers extended beyond products of the Coca Cola Corporation and New Corporation to include a boycott of any effective painkillers. I remember the only thing they stocked was Anadin. I think it was the first and last packet of Anadin I have ever bought. Anadin, I ask you. 
The timing of this first attack makes me wonder if the drugs weren't responsible. There's no reason to think they wouldn't be and it is a coincidence. One more thing to be pissed about. 
I found some Ponstan in my handbag, had been afraid there a second that it was down in my suitcase in the boot of the car. I am staying here tonight. 

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

3 Reflections After 45 Days of Continuous Blogging

I have written in this blog every day for the last forty-five days, apart from the few days I was abroad. I do this even though blogging is now a thing of the past, and nowhere is this more true than this antediluvian format of I have had very few views - mostly from Germany - and no indication that any reader is not a bot. Still, it has been a discipline and that in itself teaches us something. 
So, reflections:

Lessons learned
This feels like it should be the last heading. I did make a list of all my LOTDs but, unfortunately, the notebook containing probably the most useful ones has been lost/stolen. Most of the ones on the current list are things I already know but just fail to put into practice, but a few interesting ones surfaced. My favourite is "It is easier to avoid than resist a temptation". If there is something you want to avoid (especially if this involves some sort of commercial outlet) it is better to plan your day so that you do not cross its path, rather than assuming your current level of willpower will prevail. This is also a means of willpower management, Now and then it is okay to seek out temptation with the express intention of practising abstinence but this is a dangerous strategy and one only to be undertaken in the early morning. Then again, this comes down to priorities and resisting a particular temptation might clash with something else. For example, say there is a shop I don't want to shop in but where I seem too always buy something when I go in. Say there is a coffee shop downstairs. If I am arranging a get-together I won't arrange it for that coffee-shop. But say some-one else has arranged one and other people have already committed and said there suits them. Well, I just go, don't I? I rely on my willpower and if that fails me once in a while that is not the end of the world. 

The more I reflect on things (okay, gaze in wonder at my own umbilicus) the more convinced I become that there are rules and there are costs incurred with breaking them. There are also costs involved with following them and I like Gretchen Rubin's observation "You break the rules, you pay. You follow the rules, you pay." Life hurts, and the point of the rules isn't to avoid pain, it's to maximise benefits and the odds of other people wishing to continue your acquaintance. 
That said, you can become bogged down with rules and you read enough self-help books and realise half of the rules out there contradict the other half. Other people's lists of rules can be fine for them, but not ill-adjusted to my circumstances. I am also brought to mind of Jordan Peterson's book and its "12 Rules" title. Like he's Moses with 20% extra. He calls his book an "antidote to chaos", which would be fine except that he defines chaos as feminine. I think there's nothing wrong with chaos,it's everywhere and much more powerful than any puny rules we humans might make to try to control it. On the other hand there is an order underpinning everything and our rules are only vague shadows of its immutable laws. Rules are not laws and we should remember that. 

Routines seem linked to rules somehow, but more concerned with the nitty-gritty. While ambivalent still about rules, I have become unequivocally enthusiastic about routines. There is a rule that routines are good and everyone should have a few. So far the ones I have concentrated on are a morning routine and an evening routine. If I had to pick one, I'd nearly go for the evening one. "Every great day starts the night before" could well be an LOTD and I am very happy with my FLOAT invention. Morning routines get more press and these are good too. I think they come in to their own when the day ahead is fairly unstructured or loosely-structured to begin with. I mean, when I'm at work my competing priorities of sleep v getting out the door to beat the traffic mean I'm unlikely to be following the full Hal Elrod next September, but a comprehensive set of tasks and activities that run on automatic is good for the holidays. It means I'm up and have done stuff without lying in bed waiting for the brain to start. (The brain rarely starts in those conditions). 

There we have it. Three reflections on forty-five days. I still think the one from yesterday about how it's all about adjusting to failure and getting better at that might be the Lesson of the Summer. 


I made the wrong choice in deciding to come home rather than stay the middle night. I broke the rules. Am here in my bedroom after a long and unnecessary drive. I get irate when forced to snail along the windy roads behind some gom in a Renault Clio doing 40km/hr. The hotel was nice and I did writing this morning. Tomorrow I am going there again and staying the night again. I have to remind myself that had I realised at the start that this course was five days rather than three then I wouldn't have stayed in the hotel at all. There are other people on the course who are driving down from the city all the days. Probably on the main road too, which is longer. I think I might come home that way on Friday. I am demented from driving the one I am on.
On second thoughts, when I look at the map the other road is insanely long. We will see. I have been thrown out of my routine, although I did write 657 words this morning and was pleased. I write more easily when away. I don't know what else there is to say.

Tuesday, 17 July 2018


It doesn't feel at this point that I am going to win this summer either. Perhaps I am one of life's losers and I need to reconcile myself to that. Perhaps there is no progress possible at all. Perhaps I should read more Beckett and fail again but fail better. He's right, in my case at least. Perhaps failing better this time is the most we can hope for. 
I was reading a lot of Beckett when I had my first nervous breakdown. Other people have fond memories of first cars and first kisses. I have those too (memories anyway) but I also have Nervous Breakdown I and Nervous Breakdown II. Sometimes I feel the last ten years have been the interminable third part in a trilogy.  Like The Godfather Part III, a milder, less dramatic and ultimately boring version of what went before. 
The reason I was reading lots of Beckett was I was writing an essay on him as part of my MPhil in Anglo-Irish Literature. I say "lots" but it was probably the minimal and only seems like lots because I've barely glanced at him since. That was a long time ago, but I see even today the white threads that lie on my arms and that the summer tan only makes more visible. There is regeneration - the skin on those arms, the muscle and bone under it are all less than seven years old - but there is also damage that makes regeneration impossible.That's what scars are: the death of rebirth. 
There are cycles that expand and that replicate. There is waxing and growing. And then there is waning and receding. There is what we thought were neverending spirals revealing themselves to be gyres that fade into oblivion. It is much later than we think. 

Monday, 16 July 2018


I really have fallen off the wagon to some extent. Tomorrow will haul myself back on. I'm currently a bit frazzled, as I drove over an hour this morning to attend a writing workshop and then returned at lunch-time via the same route. I'm going again tomorrow morning but staying there tomorrow night so won't have to drive back until Wednesday. It wasn't a terribly long drive but the road was very twisty and turny with almost no opportunity to pass out other cars. 
I am not sure if I made the right choice in my workshop. It is mostly women and I am the youngest woman there. One of two of the men seem to be a similar age to me. This is ageist of me I know. I had high hopes of this workshop, but it was uncomfortably sunny in the room (you know me and my pre-occupations). We did some writing exercises, which I found easy, but I was writing things I know I could never show to anyone. 
I picked this course as I am growing despondent about my fiction writing. I thought I would try this, that being "a writer" didn't have to mean "a novelist" or even "a short story writer". Now I feel that this is what really interests me and I would much prefer to be in a workshop that was stretching me in creative ways and giving me new ideas for stories. The woman giving the short story workshop has published a lot. But maybe doing the course I'm doing is teaching me one thing: maybe it's teaching me that actually I want to be a fiction writer. That this year I got it wrong, but I will know in future. 
I have to write an essay for Friday and the tutor says that bringing something pre-prepared is cheating. I don't know what to write on though: I think I will try to edit my essay down to 1,000 words. This would be a quarter of its current length. So there is a lot of work to be done there straight away. 
I don't know what else I could work on. The two bits I came up with today were on these themes:
1. Research. How I love research and researched how to care for a kitten and then how to care for a puppy, everything about sex, anorexia, BPD and then the research about pregnancy and birth and breastfeeding, even though I never did those things. I couldn't write and share this essay. Well, I could write it, but not share it. 
2. My feelings about my boss's resignation. I liked the short piece I wrote on this, with references to Sylvia Plath's "Daddy" and "Stranger Things", but I'd be foolish to share this one. Even more foolish than the other one. Besides half the point of this week is to take my mind off work. 
It's a quarter past three now and the evening lies ahead of me. I am going out later and will get the bus so I can have wine. Then I will get up early and leave. I must pack now so as to have my suitcase by the door when I wake up.