Seven Good Reasons to Splash the Cash

As a long-time cheapskate and more recently one of the unemployed masses, I’m no stranger to counting the pennies. Particularly when it comes to the mundane matters like grocery shopping – waste not, want not!

Does this cheese smell funny?

If there’s no green fur, it’s fine.

Actually, there is a little green fur.

Scrape it off and carry on.

There’s more green fur underneath the green fur.

It adds flavour.

I jest (well about the last bit anyway). Seriously though, I would rather spend my precious shillings on gin and chocolate having a good time than boring stuff like vegetables and toilet roll. Naturally, supermarket brands are my absolute favourite. The tackier the packaging, the better – I am a value whore.

There are, however, some exceptions to the no-brands rule. Some products that even I will not accept a garishly-labelled substitute for. There are times in a girl’s life when she just has to set a standard, and these are mine:

(Note: none of the brands mentioned anywhere in this post have offered me any form of remuneration for my endorsement. Yet.)

Milk. Or should I say, SUPERMILK (no, it doesn’t wear a cape, but it’s got extra calcium and Vitamin D). The low-fat variety, to be precise. I am a new convert to this philosophy. Previously, once it was white and I was fairly certain it had come out of a cow, I would settle for the cheapest milk available. However, having since been lectured on the astoundingly high incidence of osteoporosis, osteopenia and generally shite bone health of Irish ladies (damn those clouds…and the menopause…), I am happy to fork out the extra few quid if it means I might make it to fifty without my skeletal system turning to dust.

Tampons/sanitary towels. I don’t think this one needs much explaining. They have an important job to do and this is one instance where you really do get what you pay for.

(Huh. I’m not really sure how I’ve managed to reference both menopause and menstruation already in this post.)

Conditioner. It’s difficult to remain upbeat about life when your hair is continually greasy/dull/frizzy. I make the trip to Lush, brave the painfully cheery banter of the staff and fork out a significant number of my favourite euros just to keep my hair shiny. But in my defence…it’s really shiny.

Chocolate spread. Relevant particularly in times of heartache and wavering discipline – ONLY NUTELLA WILL DO!!

This chick knows her shit. And is well on her way to coronary disease.

Teabags. Oh good God. Perish the day we run out of teabags. Even thinking about it has me in a sweat. The argument is Lyons vs Barrys. Take your pick but there is no question of cheap imposters here. There is a reason it is considered perfectly acceptable to pack your teabags in a Ziploc bag prior to going on holiday (isn’t it…?).

Eggs. Haven’t you seen enough heart-rending images of those poor, poor battery hens? I can’t bring myself to do an image search for fear of what it might return but you know what I’m talking about. Buy the free range ones you heartless bastard! Yes, they’re 50c dearer – suck it up! You’re making a chicken’s life worth living – THINK OF THE CHICKENS.

Baked beans. The specific brand isn’t too important. The cheap ones are just shite and seem to have several spoonfuls of sugar stirred into the sauce in a vain attempt to distract you.

SO…TEMPTED…BY TACKY LABEL…MUST…RESIST…CHEAP…PRODUCT…

Judging by how easy it was to come up with that list (and how many other little luxuries didn’t quite make the cut) I’m beginning to question my self-perception as a bargain hunter. I guess I’m not above a bit of label lust after all…

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The Crazy Boxes

It still hurts. I can spend days, weeks, thinking I’m fine, it’s in the past, it’s just another one of those learning experiences, then…

BAM

…some cheesy line in a movie or something equally stupid triggers a memory – pulling me into the bathroom, kissing me so hard, I can’t really believe it’s happening – or another day, avoiding my eyes, I don’t know why but I think and hope and pray that maybe it could work out – another one again, realising the truth, hating her, sobbing like I’ll never be able to stop…

And the pain winds me, it catches me somewhere between my chest and my stomach and it takes my breath away, and I have to concentrate very hard to pack up all the details of that memory – the smell, the taste, the pressure, the tears – without really thinking about them, I can’t let myself think about the details because I’ll just want to lie down and cry for a while. Before my brain has a chance to make me relive it all again, I have to actually visualise myself packing all this stuff up in a box, closing it securely and putting it away on a secret shelf somewhere dark where I keep all the things that would make me crazy if I let myself think about them any more.

Sometimes I think that if there was a way they could cut out that chunk of my hippocampus or amygdala (or whatever part of my brain is responsible for keeping all that stuff alive), or preferably dissolve it in some non-invasive painless way, then I would be a happier person. But without those boxes of crazy, I’m not sure who I would be. And I’ve kind of gotten used to me so maybe chopping away my mental faculties isn’t the ideal solution.

Besides, there is a weird kind of pleasure to be had in looking through those boxes from time to time – not emptying them out in a heap, that would be a mess – but carefully, cautiously, on days when I feel strong enough to handle it, or nights when I feel too weak to resist it – taking just a little peek. It hurts like hell but it’s sort of an exquisite agony and sometimes you just need to feel that blade running over your heart to remind yourself that you’re alive.

It hurts, and I write nonsense to distract myself.

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Writing: Harder than Reading, Apparently

I’m trying to write a story.

I feel like I’ve been trying to write it all my life.

When I was a child, reading was my absolute favourite thing. I could zone out of everything

I enjoyed reading almost as much as this kid.

going on around me if I had a book in my hands. Now that I’m a little older, reading isn’t such a significant part of my life. There are other things that always seem to get in the way, like making money. Looking acceptable. Maintaining relationships. Consuming stuff. Facebook. None of these things seemed important when I was a little person. Life was pretty simple – you have to go to school, eat vegetables and do what your parents tell you, but otherwise do the things you like. And I liked nothing better than curling up in a quiet corner with a good book.

People kept telling me that some day I’d grow up and when that happened I’d have to think about something called work. Apparently work was what you did every day when you were too old to go to school.

Hmm, what would I like to do all day

Since I didn’t know of anyone who managed to read books for a living and get away with it, writing books seemed like the obvious choice. My mother laughed at me and told me that writing books wasn’t exactly the same thing as reading them. Since she had chosen to become a teacher and voluntarily return to school, I naturally dismissed her opinions on all things career-related as ludicrous.

Quite a few years later, life is significantly more cluttered and complicated and I’m beginning to think that she may have had a point. It’s hard to find time, space and concentration to read, let alone write. I wonder do I find it so difficult because I simply don’t have any aptitude? Carrie Bradshaw sits down at her laptop, smokes a cigarette, looks pensively over the New York skyline and the words just appear. Granted, the content may not be to everyone’s taste or standard, but she never seems to struggle with

Making it look so easy!

it. The sentences and paragraphs spill out on to her screen, like fully-formed well-adjusted beings that don’t require any care or development. You never see any re-reading, editing, deleting, cutting and pasting…

(I feel I should point out here that I am aware that both Carrie Bradshaw and her methods are entirely fictional and that realistic portrayal of the writing and editing process was probably not a particularly high priority for the producers of Sex and the City. God knows, I would have a large pink-box-set-shaped gap on my shelf if the every episode had subjected us to long scenes of Sarah Jessica Parker staring blankly at a flashing cursor.) 

In contrast, I sit down at my laptop and spend long hours hammering out a few paragraphs that I know for a fact will make me physically cringe when I re-read it. My raw work looks like the text equivalent of a group of mentally ill people having an argument – massive sprawling blocks of text, often without a full-stop in sight, sentences beginning in the middle of nowhere, italicised notes to myself dotted throughout (change this, too cheesey, this needs more work), switching to block capitals when I get really mad (WHAT THE F#!K ARE YOU SAYING HERE?? SORT IT OUT, THIS IS SO AWFUL) – stuff like that.

For me, writing is messy. And it’s slow. And difficult. And incredibly frustrating. I have not won any competitions or had any of my creative work published. I cannot even call to mind a single piece of completed original work that I feel truly proud of. And yet I keep trying. Why? Am I still naively clinging to my childhood dream of making a living out of my love of books, despite all indications that this will never happen? Does my little hobby satisfy a shameful wannabe-hipster desire to become a more artsy, interesting person than I actually am?

I have a feeling I might be pretty close to some kind of personal epiphany here, but I really have to go get some lunch, see my family and sort out my laundry. Not to mention all the Facebook updates that need attending to…

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Easy Like Sunday Morning

Seriously. It's a problem.

 

Its almost 1pm when I drag my head up off the pillow and look around me. Feeling groggy, but not too bad, all things considered. I eye up the pile of clothes and books and God-knows-what-else in the corner. It has grown as tall as my bed and I’m worried it’s going to consume me some night while I sleep.

 

Stumble into the bathroom and check out the damage in the mirror. I have black marks around my eyes from last night’s make-up (thought I took it off) and a sore spot on my bottom lip from drinking from beer bottles (something my mother always told me not to do). The less said about my hair, the better. I smile at myself and head downstairs to see how my comrade is feeling.

I'm pretty sure these aren't cool any more...also this is barely relevant...but I still enjoy it.

Poor friend is sleeping on the floor downstairs in last night’s clothes. He doesn’t look too comfortable. The sofa bed wouldn’t pull out for us in the early hours of this morning – not quite sure what happened there but have a feeling our many regular house guests will not be pleased with this news. Despite his less than ideal bedding situation, friend isn’t quite ready to give up on sleeping yet so I make some tea and leave him to it.

 

There is a funny smell that grows stronger as you walk towards the kitchen, but I can’t figure out what exactly it’s coming from…

The collection of bottles outside the back door grows exponentially larger with each passing weekend and I’m not sure how to get rid of it since my car packed it in a couple of weeks ago and I haven’t decided yet whether I value it highly enough to get it repaired…

The 3-in-1. YES.

 

There are bags of lovely new make-up and cosmetics from our shopping trip yesterday strewn about the place, but nothing for breakfast in the kitchen. That’s okay, the chips and rice and curry sauce at 3:30am this morning really filled me up.


This is my life. It isn’t very noble. But it’s mine and I love it.

It won’t be like this forever. I intend to enjoy it while it lasts.

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Pathetic.

Somewhere

In this tiny world

You are smiling

And making other people smile

I am sitting on the floor

Wishing your girlfriend would die

And weeping.

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Waiting For My Real Life to Begin…

I haven’t written anything in quite a while. I started a few times. I had a few half-formed ideas for Christmas-themed posts, even got as far as jotting down a couple of key words a few times (shopping…drink…parties…poor baby Jesus wouldn’t be too impressed). But I never quite managed to string a whole sentence together.

There always seemed to be a dozen other things to do. I’d like to say they were super-important or crazy-noble things, like knitting socks for orphans or rescuing kittens from trees.** But it was mostly just regular stuff, like drinking tea, or having chats, or watching TV, or napping. And I kept thinking to myself, “I’ll wait until I have more time, more quiet time to spend on this, and then I’ll write a really good post. Not now, I don’t really have time now, it would just be a crappy post.”

I’ve still been reading lots of blogs though (another pastime that seemed much more important than actually writing my own). Some of them are really good. I’ve often wanted to comment, but haven’t. I kept thinking “if I comment now, that person might be kind enough to click and have a quick look at my blog. I don’t want anyone to see it right now, I haven’t written anything in ages. I’ll wait until I get posting regularly again, and then I’ll start commenting again.”

Pathetic much? Waiting for the magical moment when I’ll suddenly become a brilliant writer and churn out regularly witty and insightful posts (attracting millions of readers, of course) with minimal effort. Still leaving plenty of time for my evening cup of tea and new episode of whatever.

No, No, NOOO!

When I got to thinking about it, I started seeing a similar pattern in other areas of my life.

  • I spent ages looking for somewhere to live until I found a landlady that agreed to rent on a month-to-month basis.
  • I bought an 11 year old car that has definitely seen better days. I taxed it up until February even though I could have afforded to tax it for the year.
  • I refused to sign up to a phone contract even though I was offered a really good deal, preferring instead to stick with my humble pay-as-you-go arrangement.
  • I nearly had a conniption when my  name had to go on the household internet bill and we had to commit to a 12-month contract.
  • When my boss told me a couple of weeks ago that my contract wasn’t getting extended as originally planned and I would be unemployed in a barren jobs market come mid-February, relief was pretty high on the list of emotions I felt.

    I'm actually not too bothered.

I hate committing to anything. From the trivial stuff like spending an hour writing a piece of lighthearted fluff or actually buying enough food to see me through at least the next week, to the slightly more important stuff like deciding what kind of job I really want or where I want to live. I’ve always got one eye on the emergency exit and yet I never seem to use it. I feel like I’m waiting for something huge and wonderful to happen that will change my life completely, and I don’t want to get tied down to anything that might get in the way. I just don’t know what it is yet. Or how to make it happen.

I’m not sure if this makes any sense. I’m young and I know I have time to figure things out.  I also have far too many blessings to count already. But I’m afraid I’ll wake up someday and realise its too late…too late to travel, make new friends, try new things, write a novel…because I spent too long sitting on my ass waiting for the perfect moment.

Being a Girl Without a Plan can be very confusing sometimes. I am a very lucky girl in so many ways, but sometimes I feel like it would be nice to have a little bit of direction or purpose in life. Or at least the discipline to actually follow through on one of my many castles in the air…

Well. I’ve posted something at least. God knows it isn’t perfect, and I didn’t spend hours deliberating over each and every word, but its honest and real. And maybe the next one will be a little better.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a date with a certain Dr House…

Oh, almost forgot…

Happy New Year! I personally had great fun ringing in the New Year, despite some shattered glass, a snotty duvet and far too much Captain Morgan’s. But that’s another story…

Keep smiling, you deceptive bastard. Paracetamol, anyone?

**Why are they always getting stuck up there? That is a thing, isn’t it? Not just something I made up, right? In TV shows kittens always seem to be getting stuck up trees and looking down with big stupid reproachful eyes for help. I thought cats were supposed to be resourceful. If they can get up, surely they can get down again. If they can’t get down, they

"Help! I'm, ahem, stuck." Yeah, whatever kitty. You've been rumbled!

shouldn’t go up there in the first place. I think it may all be a manipulative plot. Cats don’t really need us at all. They PRETEND to need human assistance to make their owners feel needed because they know that otherwise no one would bother keeping them and they’d have to sleep outside all the time. I bet they’re well able to get down when no one’s paying attention.

(I’m really more of a “dog person”.)

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Surprise!!

Last night I was enjoying some new material in one of my favourite blogs when I remembered that once upon a time (about eight months ago), in a faraway place (a small village about 20 miles outside Dublin), I used to have a blog of my own.

It was a pretty dull place where not a lot happened. I didn’t know anyone and I didn’t have a car. My housemate (and landlady) was okay apart from the fact that she was bitter at the age of 28 and liked to watch home improvement shows. So I spent a lot of evenings in my room drinking tea and writing a blog.

(Okay, mostly watching How I Met Your Mother. But occasionally writing a blog.)

Things are a little different now. Better different. I live in the city, or at least in one of the more central suburbs. I share my home with two of my best friends. They’re only bitter on certain days of the week and we all like watching How I Met Your Mother (okay, we all like watching lots of shows – too many. But definitely no home improvement ones). I know lots of people within a five-mile radius and I have both a car and access to public transport so I can go places sometimes. And for a long time, I haven’t even thought about my little blog.

As I typed in the address, I half-expected to get one of those annoying domain-for-sale pages. Maybe I thought that since I had ignored it for so long, my blog would have shrivelled up and died, like that sunflower plant I bought when we moved in.

Right, so I nicked this off Google Images but I swear the resemblence to poor Juno (my dead sunflower - clearly naming her didn't help) is uncanny

Or the coriander plant I bought a little while after that.

Okay so Google Images couldn't help me out with a picture of a dead coriander plant. Does this mean that I'm the first person ever to let a coriander plant die? Harumph.

But surprise number one – here it is! Still bright and yellow and full of rants and rambles and silly pages of nothingness.

Surprise number two – I really enjoyed reading over it. Usually I find it hard to get through anything I’ve written without physically cringing, but since I’d almost forgotten writing it, it felt like I was reading someone else’s work. It was almost as if that inbuilt self-critical switch was turned off – in a weird little way, I felt kind of proud.

Surprise number three (this one’s the biggie) – OTHER PEOPLE ARE READING IT.

How awesome is that??!

Not many people. But some. I know that there are lots of people on The Internet. And I know that the few people who stumble across my teensy insignificant blog every day are looking for something else entirely and just clicked on the link out of curiosity or boredom or whatever. But still. It gave me a little happy feeling in my tummy to think that a full 261 days after I last posted, people are still checking in. I know its not cool to care about page views, but its nice to know that maybe, just maybe, someone is reading what I wrote all those days ago. And maybe it makes them smile, or maybe it reminds them of something else, or somehow contributes something to their day. This makes me very happy.

Which brings me to you. Yes, YOU. You’re looking fabulous by the way. Thanks so much for stopping by! You’ve made my day. And just think how pleased I would be if you left a comment. You don’t have to offer any wisdom or insight into the mysteries of the world. You don’t have to be funny or clever. Just a hello would be nice. Go on…

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