Forgetfulness

Sometimes we forget. We forget a lot, like house keys, newspapers we promised to collect, and that sprinkling of emptiness that calls in unexpectedly. An old acquaintance that you wouldn’t quite call your friend, but you know too well regardless. No amount of hot, sweaty afternoons and constant clear skies can change that for me.

I am someone who doesn’t function well without a normal routine. I become restless and agitated, then all at once I am tired, quiet and fed up. Locked in a jail cell with no windows, no light, no fellow inmates to ease the looming silence and regret. I am someone who feels most alive when leaves are changing to a burning, bright auburn, when mornings have a cold bite and dark evenings creep up quicker than before. When fairy lights are all the rage. When the Celts felt spirits looming by their bedsides.

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Autumn is a far less lonely time. There’s new stationary, fresh faces and old friends. Hard work of orientations, new reading lists, new friends. Scarves, boots, random puppies on the street. There are plenty of reasons why I could be sad in September, and a thousand more reasons why I could be happy.

September is returning home, my real home with my ever extending family. Of all the things I could forget, this is not one of them.

It is amazing, the feeling of finally belonging, of fulfilling a purpose, living a life that once seemed like a far away dream. Life can be a lonely, fickle thing. But it can also be colourful, meaningful, shining like polished jewels. Sometimes we forget this too. But September always rolls around again and home will always be waiting.

There are plenty of monsters in the world, frightful creatures in suits who know not what it is to be afraid. But our happiness can show them real fear. Always be fighting the darkness with your own sparks of joy. The smallest of light changes the shadows in a room. Coming home to university, to my other family, that is my candle light in a late night power cut.

I never forget home.

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Love Letters in Sunshine

For hours and miles it is nothing but dry, yellowed fields of grass, occasional farms and distant, yet slowly approaching mountains that almost hug the sky. Despite it being unusually chilly for late June in Spain, it is serene. I was cursing the humid, sticky weather back home, but here I think I like it. We pass a long, distant castle; protector of the skies, guard dogs of the Spanish countryside. It is incredibly unlike Ireland and yet, I am strangely not homesick.

The next few mornings are hectic and I am continuously vibrating, a robotic battle bee, floating around the scenic La Alberca. I settle in well, meet new people and become part of a summer camp family. It is the most unexpected kinds of people that you will bond with the most. I thought I would eventually be slapped in the face with the mental train wreck that is homesickness. But no. I don’t want to go home. I am almost like a new person out here, with a double dose of manic, colourful crazy energy.

The bell tower chiming is a rhythmic prayer, an hourly lull away from the busyness of camp afternoons with over 90 hyperactive teenagers. I do not yet know whether it is them or I who is crazier.

I think I will miss the quiet moments in the mornings, with only the bell tower chiming for company the most. It is distraction from an otherwise never ending day of bouncing, laughing and constant excitement. Butterflies come and go from my balcony, I can almost hear their tiny morning song.

I think at last I have found peaceful escape. But could I ever truly forget the hectic yet small, rainy and usually chilly Cork? I don’t think so.  But for now I will flourish, watching morning sunlight filter through the tree branches, hearing the chirps of new kinds of birds and learning to be a little daring, writing my love letters to Spain.

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Wheatfield with Crows, Vincent Van Gogh

 

Victories and Bumblebees

I am a bee inside of a soggy box that was all shaken up before the rain hit. I could smell that rain coming, electrified buzzing influenced by the bustle of busy, cruel hands as some like to think, or by sorrowful clouds that mimic human emotion as I like to think. I could be tiny and lethal and fuzzy. But then of course, I wake up and I am no longer a bee.

The world today is a little like that cardboard box, falling apart and soon replaced by plastic and Styrofoam, and those of course harm the environment. Despite this, I am still dreaming of bumblebees and boys, so everything must be at least a little bit okay.

I can count down on one hand now, the number of days until I fly out to sunny (and f*cking hot) Spain, for almost but-not-quite three weeks. I think I am going to melt and if not, I’ll turn a beautiful shade of lobster red, rather than my usual milk bottle white. Regardless of my red skinned shoulder patches, I am still smiling a very cherry lip balm coated smile. The summertime sadness Lana Del Rey used to sing about hasn’t hit, so I think I’ll call that a victory. Isn’t life all about those little victories? Poets call life a game, but I call it a war and I’ll paint my face up win another battle, or cover the scars and tragedies that become my sad and shiny soldier medals.

But somewhere in the world, a child holds his mother’s hand, a cat stretches in the warm pools of sunshine strewn across unevenly planted flowerbeds. Sometimes it rains in the middle of June, but the bees still go living on until September. I once saw a wasp in late October. They say the future’s out to get you. (The Hoosiers, Worried About Ray) But bees don’t have much to worry about except flowers, even though they’re dying out.

I am going to live like a bee and never worry about anything except the flowers I meet along the way.

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How To Be Human

In general, humans are social beings. We crave the hum of chatter in the background like white noise, clanking of fragile, stained mugs in the sink, or the dishwasher if you’re ‘fancy’. But we also enjoy the soft enveloping of bed sheets on skin, a breeze billowing softly on a Sunday morning. We fear being alone, but we also adore it, seek it out. I would say I am different to the crowed, insist I dislike company and people overall, but I also know that is a lie.

I like company when invited, dream about pearly white smiles and bright eyes spotting me on busy streets. But I enjoy the silence of an empty house, the hush as the door shuts. Click click click goes the pen against cheap paper in small notebooks, as does the buzzing of a million thoughts flowing in one direction, a change of heart from the bee-hive bedlam strained madness.

We are afraid of getting hurt, but also know how to create the sting of both fresh pain and renewed lust. A full pot simmering, ready to boil, bubble and be spoiled.

I am a coil of rusted wires, watched by the cat on an old, stone wall. But I am also the glint in his eyes when catching a bird, the shimmer of gold medals in the sunshine. Humans are social beings. But humans are afraid to be human. We are overgrown, balder monkeys, with a fear of ourselves and things that go bump in the night. I sprint upstairs when turning out the last light.

I think humans have forgotten how to be human, or what it even is to be human. Evening chatter has turned to the change present in the wind, like the colours of leaves changing and then falling every September. I think if all the years the earth has existed translated into seasons, we would be in autumn, when flowers and shrubs and the leaves off of trees begin to wilt and melt away into cold emptiness. The world is going into a winter of sorts, right here in the middle of June.

Humans are also beginning their winter, forgetting how to be human.

But winter always ends and then spring comes again, fresh and new, a long awaited smiling baby. Some of us can even thrive in the dark, frozen morning, holding gloved hands and skidding across invisibly iced roads, underneath a flickering of neon light and the electric hum and buzz. In through the doors of the heaven with books, paper cup full of hot, life-starting, inspirational juice, to rejuvenate weary bones and brains. We are ritualistic; predictable and adaptable.

Humans have forgotten how to be human and we are creating the role anew. Life is a long, theatrical scene. We can be villainous and mean, we can be frightened, or we can be a hero. Sometimes we are all of this at once.

I think we all need reminders of how utterly human we all are.

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Head of a Skeleton With a Burning Cigarette – Vincent Van Gogh

 

Imagination Is Wild

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Inside my head is a constant drilling, a drive for stories, rushed poetry written in pencil and a new life found at the bottom of a smiley-face engraved mug. I always hold my coffee cups with two hands and Autumn is my favourite season. Can you pick a favourite month? Mine is late September, or maybe early October. Creativity is the constant click-clack of another world or life, inky fingers and slightly chewed on pencils. I am a professional daydreamer, and my heaven has bookshelves, not clouds.

Today I could be reading about a wizard; a school of wizards, because Harry Potter could make a fantastic goldfish you know. Tomorrow it could be a rich, 1920s jazz party. I travel without leaving the house, although a thank you from anxiety is missing. Forever in my own bubble, that I have since begun to share in this blog. Imagination makes dreams comes true. I think without this, I would be nothing at all, only an empty shell of a human, lonely and longing.

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Have a bad day? Write about it. Having a good day? Use your positive energy to write. Watch the news? Write a dystopian story. Writing is the answer to all of life’s callings. Every dream becomes a reality. I am terrified of spiders and regularly dream of my teeth falling out, usually ending with my tip toeing down to the cats for midnight cuddle. I live in my imagination, spend long enough here and you can make dreams real, even those bad ones that have you hiding behind pillows from the shadows that definitely look like a face.

The world is lying across the middle of a desolate road to Hell, but pens and paper belong in heaven. Imagination is as wild as the world I live in, but I know which I prefer. How do I cope with its madness? Embrace the madness, mould it. Imagination is coping.

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit at a typewriter and bleed” – Ernest Hemingway

 

Early Mornings

Do you ever wake up and immediately pinch your inner wrist, just to feel the pain of being alive, feeling damn thankful despite the exhaustion? I do. Or at least, that’s how I’ve been this week, in light of the Manchester bombing and daily reminders of the far away war in Syria. Had I been religious, I might have even prayed. I might still do and thank every deity past and present for my privilege. There is a roof over my head, a view of twinkling stars above my bed and I never miss dinner. Ever.

Early mornings remind me of my privilege. Those few moments in the silence, before everyone else is awake. Humans always do their overthinking at night, in the sanctity of our beds. But mornings are a splash of cool water on a dirty face, aloe Vera gel on a ridiculously bad sunburn. Mornings are a relief; a fresh slate, ready for another day of storms. Or perhaps today the sun will shine? Think positive.

I’ve become one of those people who drinks lemon water and reads the happiest newspaper articles I can find to my cats, when nobody is awake or at home. I am taking my complaints and shoving them in an old jam jar. Eventually you may forget the jar was ever there, waiting at the back of the cupboard. Or maybe you might open it from time to time, shift through old pain. Maybe a ghostly hand will open it without your permission. I think that’s okay too.

I maintain that I am cranky in the mornings, and believe me I am. But right now there is nobody to be cranky with, only William, the in-your-face-orange canary demanding the radio to be turned on, or possibly looking for dandelions. I do not speak bird. But I am taking solace in the mostly silence, tiny background chirps providing a comforting white noise. It is a reflection on nights gone past and mornings yet to come, before an invasion of political news lights my nerves on fire.

It is a reflection that becomes nothing at all; pleasure in simply sitting and existing, before contemporary urban madness breaks out like a feverish sweat.

Early mornings are the pleasure of being alive.

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Truths and Half-Truths

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Focus on nothing but the absolute truths. I know there’s sunshine heating my milk-bottle white legs and a breeze fluttering over my partially revealed shoulders. Like a queen being fanned by her loyal subjects, only without the colonial oppression of millions. Coffee brings out the wildest metaphors, you’re in for a fun train wreck of collateral damage prose today.

Sunshine brings out my most peaceful forms, or so I like to tell myself. Wait until mid-July when I’m hanging for the auburn and red beauty that is autumn, when I can safely wear sweaters and jeans without melting into a tiny puddle. But for now I still enjoy summer, it isn’t time to change my mind just yet. So I may come across as the personification of embodied mindfulness, with a colourful splash of caffeine induced strange thoughts. I would say that sums up my personality, but that is only a half truth and today we’re focusing only on the absolute truths.

An absolute truth is my adoration of writing. Why do I write at all? There is something about this ballpoint pen ink-stains on your hands- kind of life that feels more exhilarating to me than peering at the earth from space, or possibly from a mountain top. It is as important to me as brushing my teeth, or having another day to wake up. But why?

My fingertips pirouette across pages, sentence after sentence, I becoming more alive and maybe even happy. Okay, definitely happy, despite what my angry, politically inspired poetry might tell you. Writing allows me to not only see the world, it lets me mould it and live in it. There are some people who carry nothing but crude anger towards the universe. Maybe they’ll try to hurt you. We have all felt pain before and no doubt will feel it again. That is what makes us human.

But for me, being a writer means opening a door and walking away from the pain. Perhaps for others it is splashing a blank canvas with paint, or its kicking a ball down a field. It could be the cup of tea in your hands, the Xbox you just switched on or the smile from that cute baby you saw on the bus. Pain is not forever.

Focus on nothing but the absolute truth that pain is not forever.

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Hiding From The World

You can always smell the rain before it comes, almost like the earth is nervous about the impending wet doom. Afterwards the damp smell clings like perfume- the earth is rejuvenated, refreshed, alive, flowers no longer dying of thirst. Petrichor, they call it. That pleasant smell accompanying the first rain in a dry season.  Humans don’t quite appreciate the necessity of the rain. Maybe farmers do. But the Irish don’t appreciate the the sunshine either, on her rare visits. We complain a lot. Nobody can talk about the weather like we do. It’s invigorating, almost exciting.

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Rain is the perfect excuse to snuggle under blankets with a cup of your preferred hot beverage. (I like coffee, particularly mochas.) I am in fact writing this from bed and can definitely envision a nap in the next hour or two. Perhaps I’ll even fall asleep mid sentence… No, i’m joking. There is too much caffeine in my bloodstream right now, allowing me to explore whole new worlds hidden behind a singular word. A writer will forever live in their imagination.

I am busy hiding from the world today. Sometimes hiding from the world is a necessity. I am a bit of a social recluse at times. It’s not that I dislike company. in fact I quite adore it. But from time to time, I need to recharge. Taking a day to myself. Maybe I have a dodgy battery. Today is one of those days, but without the sprinkle of sadness like icing sugar on cake that you tried so hard to make appealing. I am not eating cake today. (Okay, I lied. I MIGHT eat cake today.)

Coincidentally, writing days are usually on recharge days. Writing soothes the soul, tucks it into bed and tells it to dream. But this is not always the case. Sometimes inspiration will hit in the middle of Penney’s knickers section, or while sitting next to a lady on a busy bus, who smells mildly like mints. Today, inspiration comes under the protection of a fuzzy blanket I probably don’t need. After all, it is the middle of May.

Sometimes hiding from the world really is necessary ‘devils work’, or a complete bliss depending on your tolerance of pants wearing. (By the way, pants suck so today is 100% bliss!)

Who knows, maybe tomorrow I will go outside. Or maybe not.

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Do You Fear For The Future?

It’s early morning when she greets me, a wet furry nose poking my own, much drier one. One eye open to peer at my wake-up call, I spot the milk stain on her chin. Cats do not believe in sleeping in.

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A novel I fully intend on reading sits on the kitchen counter, a mug engraved with a sleepy, smiling face begging for coffee. Of course I comply. Behind me, the radio buzzes. They’re talking about the upcoming French election, that I’ve read about in newspaper snippets. It’s a heavy set question for so early in the day. Do I actually fear for the future? I shuffle towards the fridge, ready to raid for my raspberry flavoured prize, armed with a spoon. With my newly acquired yogurt, I listen out again.

“Well, the great thing about war is..”

That’s when I shut it off again, an instinctive protection against all talks of violence. But the world is in a fragile state and I cannot run away forever.

I think a lot about the world ending, our humdrum lives being washed away and forgotten. A lonely universe is a saddening thought. But I also think a lot about living, truly living. Our history is tainted with blood and tears, but there is always one precious gem in our lives; hope. Hope is the thing with feathers. (Emily Dickinson)

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I think hope is worth more than all the money in the world could ever hope to be. Cling onto hope, hold its hand tightly and never let it go. If we live in fear, are we really living? It feels more like surviving at times. We don’t always feel happy or truly alive and sometimes we will have that gut-wrenching feeling of impending doom and existential dread. We’re a species whose entire existence has always depended on merely surviving and adapting. Sometimes I am afraid. But today is not that day.

I look down at my furry companion, whose bells are jingling as she rubs up against my legs. She wants some of my yogurt, of course, but a reassuring sentiment all the same. How can I be afraid when I have her? She is the proof that the world still has some goodness in it. Sootie the furry little cat is an embodiment of hope. We still have art, music and hedgehogs in the world, so life must not be that bad.

Life has its ups and more downs than can be classified as fair. But you better hold onto that brightness and never let it go. Spread some positive vibes, if you can. Smile at your neighbours, plant blindingly yellow sunflowers in your garden. Eat some cake because you god damn deserve it. Hold your hands up and repeat after me; “I am the future”.

Today, the future is not bleak, I will not let it be.

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The Coping With Life Book

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I am a terrible impulse buyer. But when I saw you sitting there, with thick pages and a hardback cover, I knew I had to have you. I am of course speaking of my sketchbook that means more to me than diamonds. (If I had any diamonds of course) It may not have cost much and I’ll definitely run out of pages at the rate I’m flying through them, but this little thing makes a difference. I’ve dubbed it the “Coping With Life” book.

Rather than bake cookies at 2am and maybe, probably, definitely burn fingers in the process, I’ve delved into the therapeutic realm of art as a method of de-stressing. Too many deadlines? Consult the book. Don’t get paid for another week? Consult the book. Feel betrayed by your cat who walked right past you to his food when your arms were clearly open wide for a hug? Consult the book.

I find myself consulting a sketchbook more than I consult the advice of human beings. Sometimes talking is hard, but sometimes it’s okay to shut the world out for a few hours and spend time with your new best friend Faeber Castell. The “Coping With Life” book used to be the “Wall of Emotion”, but I’ve been running out of wall space for my pictures.

Summer is coming and you may not see your friends for a few months. Maybe you’ll visit each other and of course there’s Skype, Facebook, goofy filters on Snapchat you’ll almost certainly spam them with. But sometimes we get lonely. That’s okay too.

Consulting the sketchbook might be lying on the floor with your dog, or holding wool while your granny knits you a scarf because it won’t be long before that grand old stretch in the evening is gone again. It could be football and bruised ankles with your brother, a drive with your girlfriend who will always remind you to fasten your seatbelt as you pull out of the driveway. It could be anything. But always do something and remember you’re still alive.

I’m betting on you to remember that.

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