The Set-In-My-Ways Danger Zone

Archer_Danger_Zone_Wide

Something hit me recently, and it wasn’t a joyous revelation. I realised that I may have developed a wee crush on someone.

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Adulthood: How Did I Get Here?

FECK OFF ADULTHOOD, I’M TOO YOUNG FOR THIS SHIT

Same as it ever was…

I dunno about you lot, but even though I’ve been a legal adult since I was 18, I didn’t feel anywhere remotely NEAR the concept of adulthood until about 12 years later. And even then, I had everything completely arseways. Not much has changed in that regard, bless my cotton / lycra blend mismatched socks.

These days, as I stare down the rusty barrel of my late thirties, I can’t help but feel like there’s been some kind of terrible, irreversible mistake. I’m too young to be my age! I still eat cake for dinner sometimes, for feck sake.

I have my own apartment and I’m lucky enough to be able to live on my own, which is fantastic. Not least because I don’t have anyone in my immediate vicinity with whom to compare levels of maturity. I’d probably be a hell of a lot more put-together if I had a housemate, lest they find out how bad I am at Adulting and try to get the authorities involved. As it stands, when I think about how I live in an apartment by myself, it’s less Carrie Bradshaw in Sex And The City and more Kevin McAllister in Home Alone.

I worry that my failure to be good at regular, everyday Adulting will impact on future relationships – particular if, by some sort of cosmic miracle, I end pairing off with a mature responsible male who’s WAY better at being a grown-up than me. Highly unlikely, but if God ever fancied making my life into a sitcom, then this would be the way to do it. The only way I cope with being the actual age I am is to wear my adulthood as a disguise, to be removed once the need for doing grown-up stuff subsides.

So, yeah. To me, Adulting feels like an outer persona I adopt, like some sort of very immature, developmentally arrested not-so-superhero. Instead of rescuing damsels in distress, my adult alter-ego pops up to rescue me from homelessness and starvation by paying my rent and doing my Big Shop online. It also saves me from my fucked-up brain chemistry by obtaining my prescription and filling it faster than a speeding bullet – most of the time. I also have an inner arch-nemesis who attacks me on that front, but that’s another blog post for another day. I’m not gonna lie guys, it’s pretty busy in the Brain of J-Ro.

I’m so bad at doing the essential run-of-the-mill grown-up stuff, that when I have to dip my toes into that dark serious world, it feels like a fucking novelty. Going to the Post Office to post a letter or some sort of important paperwork on time gives me the kind of rush usually reserved for someone on a bag of yokes at a 3-day rave. Paying my rent on time makes me positively ecstatic. Who needs great sex when you can cast your eyes around a spotless kitchen that smells of synthetic lemon-scented antibacterial wipes? NOT ME. Walking into my bedroom at the end of a long day pretending to be responsible and capable in the world, only to find that while getting into character, Adult Jen had made the bed and fluffed my pillows, nearly made me faint with joy.

There is a lot of comfort in knowing that many of my friends are the exact same. There’s certain people in my life who have a WAY better adult outer persona than Yours Truly; some of them even have mortgages, kids and full-time jobs. To be fair, I’m only barely disguising my complete and utter ineptitude at dealing with grown-up stuff; my hobo soul and pie-in-the-sky dreams of being a published author mean there’s a limit as to how much I’m actually fooling anyone. But when I get together with these friends, it’s game over for Real Life. Remember that terrifying scene in the movie of The Witches when they all remove their disguises once the doors are locked to reveal their true horrendous selves? It’s kind of like that, but instead of peeling off faces, the geeky sci-fi t-shirts emerge, the makeup gets theatrical, the in-jokes from years back are recited, the workday alarms are turned off. It’s like we’re The Goonies, but now we have the financial means and the legal age to get away with all the mad shit we really wanted to do when we were younger. My friends are the best.

Just wanted to put this in because THIS MOVIE IS AWESOME

However, this doesn’t stop the sneaky feeling that one day the other shoe will drop, and the Adulting Police will find me. Some fuddy-duddy funsucker will dial the Confidential Anti-Craic Hotline, drop my name, then my days will be numbered. I’ll be in the middle of eating cold pizza for breakfast on a Thursday morning while nursing a bastard gin hangover, and they’ll come crashing through the door, armed with brochures for sensible savings plans and some beige tapered-leg slacks with an elasticated waistband. They will use the best of technology to remove all traces of irony from all the Adulting Things I’ve been doing so I do them pure seriously. Through re-education, they will turn me into someone who is Genuinely Concerned about things like sticking to my weekly unit allowance for alcohol, and if I’m getting enough Folic Acid in my diet.

That day may come, readers. But I’m not going down without a fight. There’s too much gin, too much future regret over sent messages, and too much tattoo ink left in the world for me to surrender just yet. So onward we march, all us adult-looking fuckers who can now afford time-wise and money-wise to really appreciate what it’s like to be still full of the joys of the world and everything good in it.

Youth is wasted on the young? Fuckaway out of it. You haven’t met MY people….

 

 

 

Discomfort Eating

You know how I know how there’s no God? Comfort Eating. What a bullshit concept. There’s very little comfort in it, if you ask me.

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The Music or the Misery?

(Or: Why life seems so much better with sad songs in it)

sad music wallow

Are you one of those people who listens to upbeat, happy tunes whenever they feel down in the dumps? Or do you dive headfirst into a heart-rending ballad, wallowing in the sadness, letting the melancholy melody wash over you in a wave of blissful catharsis?

Well in case you haven’t guessed from the description above, I’m a fully paid-up, card-carrying member of the latter. I live for this shit. I need it – to quote Bon Jovi (yup, you read that right) – like a poet needs the pain. At the ripe oldage of 37, I’m still a moody, grungy overemotional teenager at heart. In some sick, twisted way, it makes me feel light years better to hear all those churning, dark, magnetic, gut-wrenching feelings from a position of ‘once removed’; like if Eddie Vedder can perfectly describe how I felt about a particular breakup or a jaunt down the one-way street of unrequited love, then it saves me the work.

Many an hour would be passed in secondary school by me simply writing out lyrics pertinent to my emotional situation. From a wide assortment of artists, I would fill page after page with the works of the great masters such as Hetfield, Di Franco, Morrison, Dylan, Amos et al. I was, and still am, a bit of a Rain Man when it comes to retaining song lyrics, so I could go on unchecked for tens of pages at a time, depending on how boring I found the lesson. Pity the auld Leaving Cert was never presented in song form; I’d have been a 600-pointer for sure.

I’m quoting Nick Hornby a lot while discussing this topic, but he’s got the best take on it in his book High Fidelity:


No contest for me, I was of the former. I was a clinically depressed, miserable, tormented, stereotypical teenage child of an ugly divorce, so much so that while my parents were in the middle of taking a verbal sledgehammer to the crumbling walls of their marriage, I stuck Pearl Jam’s Ten album on at full blast to drown out the anger outside my bedroom walls and give me a dose of the anger I felt within. To this day, I can’t listen to the song ‘Once’ without being transported back to the blood-red walls of my teenage bedroom and feeling the sky fall down around me.

My music gave me a lovely soft place to fall. I didn’t have to make sense of or verbalise what I felt, or try to ignore it – I just needed to (apologies to all the young folk out there) stick on the right cassette. It was like having your favourite musician as your own personal well-being advocate. Imagine Axl Rose sitting your feuding parental units down and roaring at them, telling them to get their shit together and stop fucking with your head or else he’ll fuck their telly out the window. How fun.

Some folk find it worrying that someone could be so immersed in sad melancholy music – to them, I say ‘CHILL’. Better that it’s out there rather than being buried deep down, only to resurface when you least expect it. Your brain is a dickhead for that sort of thing. Trust me.

I suppose it depends on how each of us uses music. Some use it to help transform their mood; others like me use it to express & enhance the mood I’m already in. To each his own.

You can buy this - click on the pic!

You can buy this apparently – click on the pic!

I wonder why it’s so much easier to become attracted to dark, depressing music and poetry? Along with those aforementioned musicians, all of the great classical poets that have etched their initials on the tough, bark-like exterior of my heart were all a bunch of miserable, Emo, navel-gazing bastards. And oh, how I loved them for it. Dickinson, Plath, Woolf, Shelley, Poe – I’d sit them all at my fantasy Dead or Alive Dinner Party any day. Hopkins and Wordsworth with their daffodils and fawning over nature’s glory can fuck off back to Disneyland. There’s no room at my dinner table for Shiny Happy bastards.

That’s not to say I don’t appreciate a rollicking good peppy-as-fuck tune on occasion. Show me ‘Footloose’ in the club, and I’ll show you dance moves that would make Kevin Bacon vomit with jealousy. Happy tunes have their place in the world, obviously. However, there’s something far more visceral, dark and delicious about a deep sad song that pulls you in for a slow, languid embrace, telling you it’ll all be okay. It tells you they’ve been there where you are, they feel it too, and they’re going to save you the trouble of having to put words on something, the description of which evades you. They have it worked out already through the medium of song – and it’s utterly perfect.

Go on, press play again. Let it wash over you once more.

Someone pass me a tissue…..

sad

SIX SONGS SO SAD THEY’LL GIVE YOU AN EMO-BONER

(click on the song title to give your ears a tearful hug)

1:  Bon Iver – re: Stacks 

2: Leonard Cohen – Famous Blue Raincoat

3: Pearl Jam – Black

4: Ben Howard – I Forget Where We Were

5: Tori Amos – Silent All These Years

6: Ani Di Franco – Both Hands

The Importance of Bed-Making

About a year ago, I bumped into a very dear friend one Saturday in the Milk Market (Hi Una). Now, for us and many other friends of mine, if you’re in the Milk Market in Limerick City of a Saturday morn, you’re winning at Life. It means that no matter what state you were in the night before, you had the foresight to set your alarm for a weekend morning to get down there to sample all of the lovely food & hot bevvies to soothe your weary soul. AND YOU MADE IT DOWN THERE. High fives all round.

Pic courtesy of Stormy Knight greeting cards - click pic for their site!

Pic courtesy of Stormy Knight greeting cards – click pic for their site!

 

But, all that aside, after we’d shouted, embraced and congratulated with each other, we got to chatting about how it’s the little things like going to a gorgeous market like this that make life a little more bearable. Gods love us, we’re a bunch of deep-thinking bastards.

It was during this conversation when Una said “You know what else is brilliant? Making your bed.” I stopped, blinded by the lightbulb moment that flashed in my brain. Una is right. And a genius. She was bang on the money. When it comes to taking stock of the little things that help keep you sane and give your mental health a wee boost, getting up and out of the bed on a morning when you don’t feel like you have any reason to is a pretty big fucking step.

It’s the first proactive thing you’ll do all day, and even if it’s the only proactive thing, then so be it. But – if you have the clarity of thought to baby-step the day ahead, you could do a lot worse than turn around and simply make your bed.

OR you could just do this. Like. A. Boss.

 

It’s like putting a full stop at the end of a nighttime sentence. It signifies so much, when you really think about it (and I do a lot, this is the joy of my brain). Making your bed tells your brain to wake up for the day, so don’t even THINK of rustling up that duvet or flattening that pillow. On the flipside, it lets you know that you love yourself enough to feel that you deserve a nice, warm, inviting, freshly-made bed yo dive into at the end of a long day of dealing with – well, simply just living. It’s your little reward to yourself for surviving another 24 hours.

I’d been thinking about that a lot lately, which brought me back to one of my favourite blogs from back in the day, called 1000 Awesome Things (click on title to check it out), which I’d found after watching this TED talk:

Both the blog and the talk are almost magical in the feelings they can conjure up from deep within. The blog is all about seeking out the little regular ordinary things in life that can bring you even the teeniest glimmer of light in an otherwise dull day. Nothing grandiose or out-of-reach; just incidental stuff that would normally slip by unnoticed while we’re too busy getting on with the business of living & dealing with our daily worries and problems. Taking stock of small things that go well helps keep us in the moment, and out of the dark cavern of self-doubt and anxiety into which some of us can tend to get sucked in. Who wouldn’t want a respite, however brief, from their daily inner beat-down?

Nowadays, the blog has waaaay more than its original 1000 awesome things for you to take a look at, but I’m going to give my own list a go this week. If you want a nice cheerful exercise, try it out with friends next time you’re sitting around having a coffee. You’d be surprised at how contagious those little bursts of joy can be. By stopping to take note of something nice that has happened or something I’ve noticed in my day, I find it easier to be grateful for where I am and how far I’ve come. Look, I’m no Pollyanna when it comes to seeing the bright side of things – my default mode is cynicism and crippling self-hatred the vast majority of the time. I tend to tell the world to go and fuck itself on a regular basis so I’m no self-help guru, that’s for damn sure. But I just thought I’d share some bits and bobs I’ve come across online that give me pause for thought, in the hope that someone else might find it useful. Must have a think tonight and jot some of my own ‘awesome things’ down.

But first – I’ve got to go make my flippin’ bed. Any minute now…

 

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