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May. 12th, 2009

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Exercise #37

A character (or you, if you are writing memoir) thinks about a fear. This could be something practical, like the upcoming results of a medical test, or something vague and indefinite...

 

Fear. I have a fear. I recognized it only recently. It’s not the kind of fear that has me shuddering behind the sofa ready to piss myself at a seconds notice. It’s the kind of fear thats impending, not quite here yet, but it’s inevitable unless of course there is a case of divine intervention between now and then, of which I have high hopes for.

         Like most children, I grew up constantly trying to decide what profession I was going to be the strongest ones I can remember are teacher, vet and paramedic. Teacher because I actually liked junior primary school (not senior primary), thats a story for another day. Vet because I love animals, always have, always will. Vet was the last strong one I had in secondary school as well, but it died in horrid and devastating circumstances one night when I was watching some animal rescue program on BBC 3 I think. 

         It was the story of a poor decrepit bulldog mama with about five babies. She was locked in a shed since sometime in her pregnancy and she was nothing but skin and bone (tears are welling up as I recount this image). the big droopy eyes characteristic of her breed where no longer droopy and sad but emaciated, lonely and full of a sad lack of understanding for the abuse of her and her babies. Whilst watching the program I was not in tears yet, as I am now, (I can barely see the keys) I was horrified. She wagged her tail pitifully in greeting, her eyes as she looked at the first friendly faces she’s probably ever seen, was ‘look at my babies’ and she brought them right over to them. It’s amazing how she was still so willing to look to humans for help. Her pups were about 3 weeks old and were much healthier looking than her. The scene cut to the vets office were we could see the bulldog mama lashing in to a bowl of dog food. The voice over commentary proceeded to break my heart and years worth of dreams. Said in a really strong northern english accent: “The dog was deemed too malnourished to ever recover, her body destroyed all vital fat deposits in order to feed her babies, several of her organs are on the verge of failure. It was decided that the only humane thing to do was to put her to sleep after a final meal. Her babies will also be euthanized.”

         It wasn’t the putting to sleep of tiny puppies that broke me, but my own realization that they were feeding her, for psychological reasons, she hadn’t eaten in who knows how long, making her happy and satisfied after such a long time, the food would have done nothing for her. It was that last act of kindness before she was put to sleep that real character of a vet dawned in my head. And I didn’t have it. If I was ever to become a vet, I would be putting tonnes of animals to sleep. I don’t care if it’s the best thing for them, I know its the best thing for most animals when they get to a certain stage of illness. But I also know I would have a nervous breakdown and years of work would go down the drain with that first animal I had to euthanize. And that was it, an end to the vet fantasy forever.

         Paramedic was an odd one, I think it was too much medical/emergency services drama programs when I was small, BBC and UTV were full of them, I even named my dog after a character from one of them. 999, London's Burning, Flying Doctors, Casualty to name but a few. I was an odd child.

         I thought vaguely of doing a science, zoology or bio med, I even applied for bio-med on my CAO form just in case I had a change of heart. I like science, in school I did chemistry for the Leaving Cert, I picked it long before I had that veterinary crisis of conscience. But again i had a sudden realization just before biology class that I didn’t want to be stuck in a lab for the rest of my life, considering how most science jobs in Ireland lead to a factory floor, especially zoology. Which lead my to change my whole CAO form sometime in March to all arts courses. Originally UCD first, but a great idea form my parents of living with my Nan in Dublin whilst I went to college sent me to UCC instead.

         So September came around I went to UCC. Over three years which I consider (now that I know better,one year after college) the best years of my life so far. I had a lot of bad times, but a lot of good times too, and now have great friends, wonderful boyfriend and a degree I never suspected Archaeology. A degree which frankly, I feel the paper it’s printed on is worth more. Oh you must have a gotten a shitty grade you might think, no I didn’t, I got a 2:1. Even better is the fact that I did better I thought after I had my boyfriend figure all the mathsy stuff out. I went from profiling as a 2:1 to actually having a 2:1. ‘La-dee-fucking-dah’ you might be saying, ‘Quit yer wining’ you might also be thinking, ‘Take your 2 feckin 1 and wipe yer arse with it’ is another thing one might think when reading the writings of an ungrateful pompous degree holder.   I have thought of doing the latter alright.   For all my entire life I have been told “If you have a degree, the world your oyster” “You’ll always get a job when you have a degree”. Shove it.   You heard me.

         Even the last week of college, a month before my final exams. The professor of Archaeology stood up confidently in front of the class and boasted about how irish archaeologists were guaranteed a job, how there wasn’t enough people for all these jobs all over the place, that we would be spoilt for choice. I bet I wasn’t the only one who left that lecture glad I had done this subject, that all other arts degrees are bollox compared to this. “Archaeology: the arts subject with a job at the end.”   Bollox.

         I was severely mislead. Two weeks later a famine swept the nation, and all others around it. Gone were the days of abundance and glory. Everyone can shut the hell up about the 80’s and how times were so feckin bad then. I don’t care about then, I care about now. I graduated into a recession. These magical jobs I’d heard about all vanished in an instant two weeks before the end of my exams, I heard word of archaeologists being laid off ‘But the professor said...’ jobs in this sector were being kept to those that had lied/proved themselves good or just giant lick arses to sooth the directors bum after using cheap porta-loo toilet paper. 

         I hear all this talk in the paper about all the builders being out of work and then eventually about the poor students that will graduate in June 2009 to no jobs. What about us poor fuckers that graduated 2008? We’re as bad off as those who are soon to graduate this year. Of my class of 60-70 odd people, 15 are in postgraduate studies I’d say 10 are out digging, I know some have been working in archaeology for years before doing the degree. The rest of us are doing nothing. I don’t imagine any other arts subject graduates are fairing any better.   Competition is higher than ever with 300 architects along with twenty dozen others of varying qualifications and nationalities all applying for a handful of jobs in Burger King in Dublin.

         There are more people unemployed now than there ever was in the 80’s which is why I can rightfully say to anyone who calls them woeful hard times to shove it where the sun don’t shine. I for one personally think it’s a lot harder now, when for one thing, everything costs more than it did in the 80’s. Lots of people are getting depressed within three to four months because they can’t have everything they’re used to. ‘Oh woe is me, I can’t buy a new LCD widescreen t.v or subscribe to all those digital channels I like to watch anymore cause all my spare money has to go towards my million euro mortgage.’ Times are much harder now because we’re surrounded by idiots like that. Good times made then soft. their kids are out of control and are even worse now because they can’t get everything they see on t.v anymore. People can be depressed, but I’d rather it not be for reasons such as spending money they didn’t have on complete crap, and because they were fired from a surplus job. i’ve had nothing to do for a year and I’m not depressed. I took an online test that told me I was but I don’t think it was avery well thought out test by some psychology dept. in america. All the questions were; ‘do you cry 1-3 times a week 5-7 times a week or more’ to which I answered I don’t cry often/regularly, ‘Are you bored all the time’, Of course I’m bored all the time! I’m unemployed! It graded me as seriously depressed and in need of help. I’m just bored god help me. And I haven’t got the money to spend on help either!

         Yes, this all relates to my speech about fear. I never thought I was much good at hiding things in my writing or being surprising. I’m trying to work on it. My fear at its very source is not about having a successful career, although that would be nice. It’s simply about never having a career in the first place. Even in College I was always behind on the job experience front, not just in archaeology, but in general. I could never get a job in secondary school because all the jobs that would hire a 16-18 year old in school were evening during the week jobs and I had no lift. Same went for summers during college. All I heard then was, when you have a degree you’ll find a job no problem. No I have my degree I find I’m being discriminated against because I have a degree! It’s hilariously cruel, yet I can’t quite make myself laugh. Over a year of hundred of job applications, I’ve gotten two interviews. Two. Both needed people with degrees. I was rejected from one because I hadn’t enough experience managing/supervising 20+ people, the other is a mystery, but from the way everyone who had worked for them a last season was there for the interviews, my bets are they took the people already trained for the job.

         No I’m about to make a last ditch attempt at using my degree to try and get a masters. I do not have any high hopes for it. In fact I think its vain attempt to hang on to 3 seemly wasteful years of my life. If it is unsuccessful, which I fear its the mostly likely outcome I will have to completely re-evaluate my life, find another course of study, because you still can’t get anywhere without a qualification. And hope I have better luck down that road. My fear is that because I’m spending each day on the dole and have nothing to promote myself above others, is that I will be unemployed and useless all my life. I have no idea where I can get my 3 years sandwich making experience in order to qualify to work in the deli at Spar. O.K now I’m depressed.


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Apr. 25th, 2009

From my childhood.

 Skinny malink melodian legs, umbrella feet,
Went to the pictures and couldn't get a seat,
When the picture started, skinny malink farted,
Skinny malink melodian legs, umbrella feet.


It was big in dublin, with a scottish origin.

other varations include:

skinny malinks long/lang legs
skinny malinky
big banana feet.

it's odd.

Apr. 19th, 2009

when random becomes a pattern....

This is the start of a series of writing exercises I'm doing to get back into writing.  I am very rusty.  I cringe at almost every sentence nowadays.  So I'm working to improve that (hopefully).

I've never written a dream before.  I don't like how dreams appear in books.  They always seem to make too much sense to actually be believable dreams.  obviously i based this dream writing on my own dreams, well on how I preceive my dreams.  It generally random junk thrown together.  Sometimes it feels like someone is just copy/paste some random paragraphs fromt eh random page button on wikipedia sometimes.

But it is surprising to me how much sense they all make afterwards when you think about things and their meanings.  To me this dream makes sense.  But to me this is also a random assortment of the oddest things I could put together in a short space of time, at stupid o'clock in the morning when I should be having dreams of my own.




 Exercise #17

Dreams are very useful in fiction, as well as fun to write. Sometimes we use dreams to give verisimilitude– they are, after all, a part of life. They can also be used to show a character's mood or even to make a point, as a sort of allegory in the mind of a character. Write a dream for a character in a piece of fiction you are writing or planning.

--------

 Where’s my baby?

Mani patted her stomach, where her pregnant lump was supposed to be.  She bent over to examine herself, which seemed to be a most perfectly normal thing to do at that moment only to notice a large gaping hole right through her torso and it was bleeding.

I need to call for help.

One of the stable boys Yart was smiling and beckoning for her to climb up the stairs with him.  The stairs were built into a wall, it was all made from stone and they were outside, but there was no other structures about.  The sides of her vision faded into darkness giving Mani only a very narrow field of vision.  

I feel like a goat.

Why?

Mani look down at herself again after climbing two steps only now she was holding a pot to cover her hole up with.  

No-one can find out about this.  She was beginning to panic.  It was detrimental to finding her... 

Why am I looking? What do I need it for?

Mani knew she had to find something and she knew what that something was.  It was on the tip of her tongue, but she couldn’t say it to herself.

The stairs began to look like the main stairs to the feast hall but she suddenly ended up in her house. The wooden one where she grew up with her mother.  

Mani questioned herself for an instant, there were no stairs in that house... or were there?

Well I’m here now and there are stairs. Of course there are stairs I just climbed them.  

There was a goat by the fireplace.  It looked like a human, but Mani knew it was a goat.  My Baby.

Mani registered the feeling of warm streams running down her face.  I must be crying.

She knelt down and hugged the goat. 

Oh you’re a girl! 

But you’re a boy! 

She knew both to be true.

Mani looked at her surroundings. She was now standing up.  She wanted to feel confused but couldn’t.  Instead as if it were the most rational thing to do she went towards the door to look for her confusion.

Adrenaline coursed through Mani’s body as she looked around her bedroom.  She was standing naked and shaking several steps from her bed, but she knew she had jumped that as she woke up.

She held her hands over her pounding heart, waiting to regain her breath before she felt able to sit down on the bed again.

Mani looked down and was surprised to find her pregnant belly there.  Wishing to herself that it actually wasn’t and this was in fact the real dream.  She sighed to herself noticing the chill on her skin from the pre-dawn air.  

I’m going back to sleep.

Mar. 3rd, 2009

Insert something philosophical/witty here.

 In an attempt to get back into writing and also an attempt at tirng myself out so I could sleep since it was the early hours of the morning I started this and didn't complete it because my brain had pretty much shut down and my train of thought was lost as was my motivation and the plot of the piece altogether really.



 
Write the story - Picture promt 4

(The picture was removed for hotlinking)
[It was a stick person inside a rectangle]
 

 

“Thats it, I give up.”  I muttered to myself whilst flicking my phone out of my pocket to check the time.  The luminescent screen said  3:32am. “Only?” I rolled my eyes expressing to no-one my annoyance about studying this late into the night.  ‘Stupid leaving cert....’  

As I stood up from my desk the chair squeaked across the pretend wood floor, my dog shifted underneath the duvet on my bed were she had been sleeping for the past few hours like I should have been.   She settled quickly with a loud sigh, as if I had deliberately intended on disturbing her.  After stretching I crawled into my pyjama bottoms being way to lazy to change my current t-shirt into the one I had worn last night.

I set my alarm to 6:30, ‘Yay! three hours sleep’ and put the phone on top of the metal grill behind the radiator, a noiser variation of the common tactic for lazy people that really had to get up the next morning.  

Tomorrow would be the first of my leaving certifcate exams, English, both papers.  I had spent the whole evening regretting not seriously studying anything until now.  Despite my friends best efforts on insisting I study at least five poets, I politely told them to “Fuck off” and studied two poets, and browsed through the notes I had on a third as a compromise.  

All my money was bet on the feminism arguement, women this women that.  It works for everything.  Bollox.  I knew if I ever had the misfortune to meet Eavan Boland I was determined to pull her uterus out with the closest stick to hand via the furthest orifice away from her lower abdomen that the stick could get into.  Emily Dickinson on the other hand just needed a swift beating with said stick (with or without blood), enough to chase her down the road with, just so she’d leave the feckin house for a change.

I struggled into bed, all my muscles aching despite (or because of) the lack of physical exercise I had done that day.  The dog had created a small warm patch in the very centre of the bed as usual and was keeping it for herself as usual so I ended up shifing my legs around so it suited her, yes as usual.  In the end she was curled up behind the bend of my knees like a furry, yet oddly placed, waterbottle.

The mushy residue inside my head, or whats scientifically called a brain, refused beyond all logical reason to surrender to the warm, loving, benevolent dictator that was sleep.  Stomping through my head instead were badly remembered quotes from Hamlet and various feminists/ crazy IRA heads, they all seemed to be melding into some sort of bastardised work of prose that would serve only to humiliate me on the big day.  

After five minutes of futile tossing I started to feel some sort of compassion for the loony Emily Dickinson, “I felt a funeral in my brain”  it seemd oddly apt for my mental situation at that moment.  I heard a thud throught he wall next to my bed, it was just the brickets collapsing on the dying fire in the sitting room.  The sound reverberated through my exhausted mind and the silence became louder.

 



Feb. 23rd, 2009

Trodding on through unchartered territory.

What confuses me most lately is feeling like it's not my place to say/do anything.  Inside my head I'm prepared to do anything to make things better and help in any way I can but there is nothing that I can do or that can be done.

it feels similar to being trapped, that helplessness, but its more like looking at someone trapped in a cage with a key on the table five feet away and theres no guards about, except I'm across a ravine with a 200ft drop and its 200 miles to a bridge either side of me.  I'm free to help but there is nothing I can possibly do.

I've never felt this strongly about it, but it could just be another part of being grown up, watching things happen and not being able to do a toss.  This is why being a grown up sucks, because you no longer have the hope/optimism that something can be done.  Being a grown up is all about understanding reality and how much balls it sucks.

But then again, I didn't like being a kid either.  I would prefer to understand reality, no matter how horrible it is, because I would rather know my enemy than follow the saying: ignorance is bliss.  

I'm somewhere, yet no-where


I decided out of sheer boredom to do several things, join several sites because quite frankly, I have nothing else going on.

For a start looking through themes and titles made me realise how much I like going on trips away, no matter how scary. 

I found a few travel quotes which are apparently the 50 most inspiring travel quotes, they didn't inspire ME as such, but quite a few are oh so bloody true so I would like to share my favourite ones here:  (editing purposes win over actual quality of content for my first post)

Naturally I took out the ones I consider rubbish/boring/not applicable to my experience.

1. “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” - Mark Twain

3. “There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.” - Robert Louis Stevenson

4. “The use of traveling is to regulate imagination by reality, and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are.” -Samuel Johnson

7. “He who does not travel does not know the value of men.” - Moorish proverb

8. “People travel to faraway places to watch, in fascination, the kind of people they ignore at home.” - Dagobert D. Runes

10. “No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.” - Lin Yutang

11. “Your true traveler finds boredom rather agreeable than painful. It is the symbol of his liberty-his excessive freedom. He accepts his boredom, when it comes, not merely philosophically, but almost with pleasure.” - Aldous Huxley

12. “All travel has its advantages. If the passenger visits better countries, he may learn to improve his own. And if fortune carries him to worse, he may learn to enjoy it.” - Samuel Johnson

14. “Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things - air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky - all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.” - Cesare Pavese

15. “One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” - Henry Miller

18. “To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.” -Freya Stark

19. “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” - Mark Twain

20. “Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” - Miriam Beard

21. “All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” - Martin Buber

23. “Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going.” - Paul Theroux

24. “To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.” - Bill Bryson

25. “Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

29. “A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.” - Lao Tzu

30. “If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.” - James Michener

33. “I have found out that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.” - Mark Twain

35. “Not all those who wander are lost.” - J. R. R. Tolkien

36. “Like all great travelers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen.” - Benjamin Disraeli

38. “Too often travel, instead of broadening the mind, merely lengthens the conversation.” -Elizabeth Drew

39. “Wandering re-establishes the original harmony which once existed between man and the universe”……Anatole France

40. “Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.” - Seneca

41. “What you’ve done becomes the judge of what you’re going to do - especially in other people’s minds. When you’re traveling, you are what you are right there and then. People don’t have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road.” - William Least Heat Moon

43. “To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.” - Aldous Huxley

45. “The first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it.” - Rudyard Kipling

46. “Travel is glamorous only in retrospect.” - Paul Theroux

47. “The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” - G. K. Chesterton

49. “A wise traveler never despises his own country.” - Carlo Goldoni

50. “Adventure is a path. Real adventure - self-determined, self-motivated, often risky - forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind - and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.” - Mark Jenkins