New Year? New Sneer…

"What you mean, many HAPPY returns?? "

“What you mean, many HAPPY returns?? “

Here we go again. Another twelve months down the drain, another twelve months waiting to take their place. Like the old retired cop, jaded from realising you can’t beat The System, 2012 has slunk away into the corner with its gold-plated clock and now defunct police badge stained with cheap whiskey and tears of regret for a thankless job now finally over.

The next morning he is already forgotten; for in his place, fresh from the academy, bounds a young fresh-faced young cop, ready to take on the world and save it from The Bad Guys. His haircut is all business, his uniform pristine, his badge gleaming, his voice just that little too high pitched and excited for the rest of the die-hard desk jockeys. He is 2013, and he is here to kick ass and take names. And God, I hate him already.

I’ve never been a fan of New Year’s hype. I’ve tried. Heaven knows, I’ve tried. I rang in the Millennium up in Belfast with a bunch of amazing people and had mad laughs while the fireworks went off – I even allowed myself a little frisson of dread during the countdown to midnight, and said a quick prayer for forgiveness just in case our world ended in a searing ball of white heat and crunching tectonic plates. I’ve made all the resolutions in the world, and kept none. Apart from writing more. As you can see, it’s done much for me so far. Here I sit, typing away, on an armchair made entirely of foldy money, drinking hot chocolate topped with gold-flake shavings while Frank Sinatra’s hologram croons ‘Seventeen’ and Wes Anderson films my every move for a documentary because my life is so awesome. SWEAR T’GOD.

Being the cynical soul that I am, I watched in amusement last night as my Facebook news feed filled up with New Year greetings fused with all sorts of corny generic ‘go-get-’em tiger!’ type ravings. It was as if my entire friends list turned into Tony Robbins, Dr Phil, Oprah or – in some unfortunate cases – Shane MacGowan. If I had cringed any more, I would have become the first living Inside-Out Human. Imagine the fun I’d have had with that on Instagram.

So why am I spewing venom and hatred at something as light-hearted and whimsical as New Year’s Eve, you ask? The answer is simple: I see it for what it is. It doesn’t fool me for a second. It’s like Ben Stiller’s guest character in the episode of Friends when Ross is the only one who notices he’s a completely psychotic asshole while everyone else loves him because he’s so nice to them.  I AM ROSS GELLER. (In many more ways than this, but that’s a whole other blog post.)

New Year’s Eve has never been nice to me. It’s only ever been a disappointing non-event full of massive expectations, holding a magnifying glass up to all the previous unrealised hopes and dreams you had for the year before. Mind you, back when I was a teenager, I only had myself to blame for that. It’s hard to get the facilities together to resurrect Brandon Lee, keep him in his Crow character AND convince him to live with you in Limerick while living happily ever after, dancing to The Cure in Termights night club of a Saturday. So to be fair, most of the time my disappointment with my New Year’s failures have been my own fault.

However, nowadays my resolutions have become so mundane and depressing that frankly, I’m ashamed. When did it come to this? Once, I dreamed of worldwide fame & fortune; visualising best-selling modern classic literature and marrying the love of my life while at the same time being linked in the press to affairs with assorted Hollywood hunks, all while touring a Grammy-winning indie album and adopting a child from each country I visit.

This year, my wish is simple: To get glasses that stay on my head.

You may well laugh. The consequences for breaking this resolution will be tragic. For as sure as I will never see five foot in height, the following will happen:

Scene: A crowded pub. Me standing next to the potential love of my life. I turn to say the perfect thing to make him fall in love with me. Camera pans out to witness the crowd’s reaction when my glasses fall right into his pint as I trip up when running away, trying to suppress a snart. 

And wouldn’t you know, there’s Wes Anderson filming it.

Happy New Year, folks.






J-Ro Vs Brain, Pt 12

Brain: “How are you Jen?? Been a while since we talked…”

Me: “The grandest. Apart from the nagging feeling that we are all essentially just lumps of carbon and water in varying shapes and sizes, bestowed with a limited number of days on this giant ball of crap. We struggle daily to engage – and compete with – other carbony watery lumps to leave some sort of lasting print on this pissy little planet before we all evaporate into an abyss of nothingness. We are forgotten in a miniscule amount of time relative to the existence of everything ever, only to be replaced by other lumps pretty much the same as us. And so it shall go on, ad infinitum. Hope, love, happiness…these are all man-made constructs designed by those above who seek control to keep us from destroying ourselves within seconds of becoming self-aware. For fear that we would gain even the smallest fraction of understanding that at the heart of it all, in the grand scheme of things, we, and all that we believe to be connected to us, are nothing.”

Brain: “Left the phone at home again did we?”



J-Ro Vs Brain, Pt 11

We’re all in this together… *sniff*


Me: Why? What now?

Brain: Check your Facebook.

Me: I just did, five minutes ago. Leave me alone. I’ve things to do.

Brain: Five minutes? FIVE MINUTES? That’s seven years in facebook time. You could have missed so much! Any longer and you’ll be like Rip Van Winkle, wandering around your page, asking what a meme is, not knowing what Guardian articles are trending…not having a notion what music video to put up on your page to seem cool and down with the kids any more… think of all the ‘likes’ you could have gotten in that time…

Me: You know YOU’RE the reason I’m not published right now, right??

Brain: ALL THE ‘LIKES’…..

J-Ro Vs Brain, pt 10

Brain: “Stop yawning.”

Me: “Stop making me yawn.”

Brain: “Dunno what you’re talking about. I’m busy trying to name the Best Supporting Actor Oscar winners for the last fifteen years.”

Me: “That’s what’s making me yawn! I’ll be asleep in minutes as this rate. I’m off to bed.”

Brain. “I just want you to get a good night’s sleep. It’s good for both of us.”

Me:. “Good. I’ve a really long busy week ahead, I need all my rest. Well, goodnight so.”

Brain: “Okay, nighty night. Sleep well.”

Me: “Really? That’s it? No fight?”

Brain: “Nope. Like you said, you need your sleep. I’m good like that sometimes.”

Me: “Great! Well, talk to you in the morning so..”

Brain: “Will do.”

Me: “……………….”

Brain: Just try not to think about that bathroom scene from The Grudge.


You’re welcome. Each and every one of you.

At the heart of it all, we just want to matter.

It’s the little things that keep us warm.

Normally I can be found sitting behind the laptop drumming up one-liners or little anecdotes to put up on my Facebook page for anyone who reads them, and I love that people get a laugh out of them on an otherwise dreary day. Sure, it’s a good ego boost, who doesn’t love that? Yet, what drives me mostly is the desire to be that one thing in someone’s news feed that might give them a chuckle or a laugh-out-loud moment that gets them strange looks on the bus first thing in the morning as they scroll down on their phone.

In among the countless bad weather updates or declarations of how hungover their friends are, I’m happy to share the fact that, depending on what shoes I’m wearing on any given day, there’s a fifty per cent chance I won’t be able to reach up and close down the boot of my car. Hell, it makes even ME laugh sometimes. After the fact, obviously. Laughing in the pouring rain at your own misfortune may look charming in ads and indie movies, but it only gets you odd looks and no help whatsoever.

In essence, I don’t see my personal Facebook profile page as any way personal, I think I look on it sometimes as an extension of my public persona, and I’m  guessing a lot of people do the same. There are others who wear their heart and soul on their Facebook sleeve, using their status updates like a kind of mini-journal, not giving a flying fuck who takes notice and who doesn’t. In among those people, though, are people who care way too much about who takes notice. Some give thinly-veiled observations obviously directed at a particular person without mentioning names, some just put up an emoticon and hope that someone will ask what’s wrong. Inevitably, someone will always ask what’s wrong, out of sheer morbid curiosity if nothing else. However, if people are honest, it’s never the person they WANT who asks the all-important question.

I bring this up because at times, all I want to do is just that. I want to use my Facebook profile to rage and scream against the world, and tell people every day how miserable I am, that life sucks and at times I can’t even stomach getting out of bed because the list of ordinary mundane things that every basic adult in the world knows how to do just seems like a mountain of Herculean tasks to my messy, hectic, addled brain. (sometimes I do it anyway, mostly through the medium of appropriate YouTube song titles.)

Sometimes, life is fucking fantastic. Good things happen, I feel on top of the world, life is cruising along in the right gear, and I love all my friends, and they love me, and the birds in the trees are lining up alongside the squirrels and the mice like a Disney movie to sing about the lovely world we live in. That’s also stuff worth sharing for a few ‘likes’.  People are generally very good-natured on Facebook, mostly because hitting ‘like’ on some bit of good news or other takes about as much effort as exhaling.

I wonder though, how many people would send a message to someone they saw on their news feed who seemed genuinely depressed or down? I include myself in this too. It may not even be welcome on the part of the person receiving it, but it would let them know that they have been seen and heard, and maybe, that’s all they wanted in the first place.

In a sea of mass activity such as that of Facebook, it’s easy for people to be lost and feel like they’re screaming into the wind, so sometimes they test the waters by throwing out a little emotional bait to see who bites. No harm in that. The beauty of social networking means we’re no more than a ‘like’ away from making someone feel good, the downside for people like me is that I’m on-line so much, nobody needs to text me to see how I am, they just log on and see what manner of shite is grinding my gears right at that very moment. Which is fair enough. It’s cheaper than a text…

In essence, I have no real purpose or agenda in writing this, it’s just something I’ve noticed as I look through my news feed. There’s a lot of unhappy people out there, some more vocal about it than others, some who just post a sad song or quotation, some will ask their entire friends list out to see if anyone wants to meet for coffee. For all our closeness with people we spend hours talking to day in and day out on our phones and laptops, there’s no substitute for a bit of face-to-face attention from someone who genuinely wants to meet up and see how you’re getting on in the real world. It’s a lonely, tough world – and everyone has a story. We should mind each other more.

At the heart of it all, we just want to matter.