The Art/work


[Ostrich metaphor to become apparent next time. Meanwhile: what a bizarro and wonderful creature!)

Hi all. Sort of a blog one-liner, though not of the witty Woody Allen sort. Days rather packed here. Of course, in true FEAST or famine style, this teaching job has neatly clashed with this illustration job, on precisely the same five weeks. OF COURSE they have, of course. This is the immutable law of the freelancer. The rest of the year's diary pages are untouched and virgin-like but these five weeks are full of smudged instructions to self, such as: practice music, make soup, buy ink. I am having to Plan Ahead. Adult.

Speaking of adulthood, I have a moral dilemma I need some guidance on, regarding some people I have inadvertently come to Know Something About in a way they could never suspect. Oh! It is difficult, isn't it, all this responsibility and Application of Judgement. I want to go back to being a teenager with nothing more to worry about than missing Top of the Pops on Thursday evening at 7.25pm, followed by Fame.

Off to visit parents now while the sun is weakly shining. (Btw, my mother seems to be still improving, if not dramatically. Thanks for your kind responses thereto. You are lovely people.)

Till Thursday, all.

twenty fourteen

Well, I don't know what I was thinking in the optician's. What am I, a twenty-five year old graphic designer? I am not the daring, out-there on the front-edge of fashion type. I situate myself firmly in the middle wave with some allowance for idiosyncracies, like whacky colours and/or handmade clothes. It seems, however, that I underwent what my father calls A Rush of Blood to the Head and now I look like the love-child of Carl from Up and Wendy Craig:

However! Be that as it may. Now that the existential crisis is over, and I have decided to cheer up and make the most of it, it is time to list the resolutions for 2014. I have whittled it down to this main one, from which other initiatives might spring:

  • Be more outward bound: stand back, Ireland, it is time for me to emerge from my shed in the garden. I am not short of friends, as such, nor indeed am I romantically lonely, but I very much miss being part of a work crowd, held together by a common purpose. This is at the frankly ridiculous level where I am have actual fantasies about water cooler chats with witty colleagues. So! Rather than diving headfirst into a proper job, I am looking into one of those modern hot desk situations. Some of them enticingly promise discounts on coffee and common areas where a person can "rub shoulders with other creative people" which I imagine I will enjoy. At least until the restraining orders against me come through from the creative types baffled by my sidling up to them shoulder first.

That's all I got, really. Oh wait:

  • Finish the online comic. Soon. This Spring.
  • And, continue Telly Ban Tuesday; jogging; try to meditate; blog weekly.

Dear all of you who visit me here, I wish you a very happy, prosperous, healthful, peaceful and fun 2014.
Go forth knowing your presence here is truly appreciated.

May 2014 be good to you.


Well. I think the letter is done. Like many embarrassing things, it was in fact Useful to push through it, in an amateur Aversion Therapy kind of way.

The expression on Brother's face in this one never fails to make me smile. Doesn't he look hilariously resentful? And I, pure smug? Ah, sibling rivalry.

Hombre, I have been up to my [insert appropriate upper part of anatomy] with work this week, but am feeling strangely optimistic, nonetheless. I accept fully that this makes me weird, but I like this time of year. Ooh, chill in the air, melancholic last gasp of summer, how I love thee.

I have a couple of  minor stories on the subject of: How easily I am influenced, one involving Spike (nephew), the other a previous Head of State. But now, I must go back to work. I am working on a well-known Christmas tale by Dickens. Yes, that one. And the Very Small Timothy character keeps coming out deranged-looking. Why this should be, I cannot say. I was going for delighted. Perhaps the full moon?

Till soon


with resolve

Let the boldness begin.

The brain fog has cleared; just as well, because it's the time of the year where I make rash promises. I wouldn't even mention it, but Some Sort of Magic happens when I document my resolutions here: unbelievably, it really works! As evidence: (No need to read. Is one of my more demented posts.) I actually did do and am still doing the running, the drawing, the comic-making. (The boldness: am working on. As above.) 

What have I stumbled on here? A subconcious-programming device? A direct line to the inner me? I feel all powerful!

So now:

  • Keep the running/drawing/comic thing going
  • Be more career-oriented and (dare I say it) commercial
  • Institute telly ban Tuesday, in which (gasp) I will do Other Things. Crafty things, maybe. Or social things. Which brings me to:
  • Get Out More. Actually go to Meet-ups in efforts to see other humans, as opposed to just planning to. Converse more. Hey! Pay people, if necessary, to make conversation with me.
    [Ooh.This is an idea. A sort of X-factor for conversationalists!]
  • Read more - before brain turns to mush entirely
  • Be more confident
  • Take a breath. Believe that the husband and I will get there - even while we cherish what we have now.

 I wish you all so many good things in 2013. May it be great, healthful and joyful for all of us.




Tell me if it's just me

Rarely, about once a year, I don't know why - I eat Something and/or I am Extra-Knackered/Stressed - I get a wicked headache which doesn't improve until the Little People Within who control these things flip a switch that says Contents May Be Toxic: Evacuate All Contents, and I spend an indeterminate amount of time in the bathroom eh.. doing that,  feeling like dying would be quite nice.

[I think I have a rather puny grip on life. A headache, for goodness sake, and I warmly embrace death. Yay, Death, I whisper to the cold tiles I am dramatically strewn on, come and get me. So much for the stalwarty Hugenot genes. Pfft.]

Anyone ever feel like that? Anyone?
That was last night, and today I am weak but improving, like a weather system over the Atlantic.

Market Saturday was surprisingly good. It did have a mildly uncomfortable blind date vibe about it, but plenty of stallholders' camaraderie and the motion was carried: People Do Like Cartoons, bless them. That is, people who do like cartoons, a sizable enough segment of the population, really really like them. I sold practically everything, which was wonderful - the idea of dragging all those frames back home didn't exactly fill the ould heart with unalloyed joy.

I have quite a bit of choir stuff on this week, some dinners out and one in, which may or may not present its challenges. One of my lovely guests is gluten-free, some are vegetarians (me!). Hrmm.
How is your week looking, friends?


barrier still in place

A quick update before I scramble to get ready for a exceedingly lengthy trip over a fairly short distance. Ah, the Irish train system! HOW FUN.

The day of  torture drama went as expected. Our mentor, a man, the first I've met with a moustache waxed into points, arranged all us candidates all around a big square of paper taped to the floor. Then he knelt and placed in front of him a tin of Golden Syrup, which sat there, onimously, as he told us a story about his Granny. Then he rose and poured the stuff all over the floor from a height. Which was good. I liked that bit, especially when we were waiting for the slow loop of syrup to hit. (Mmmm.)

Then there was an awkward bit where we had to tell our story about our food item, and then chuck it on the paper, or crumble it and chuck it around in whatever way we thought fit. People had all sort of stuff: a potato, some sardines, some Mikado biscuits, coffee, crisps and so on. I brought a Cadbury's Snack Bar, the same as I had every lunchtime for 12 years of schooling. I told them all about this modest gift of love my mother packed for me day after day, and how I could make a house now using that amount of bars (3,000, give or take). Am not at all sure if this was "good" or "right", and indeed that was the odd thing about the day. Allegedly there was n right or wrong, but there really was. I mean, there we were in an apparently "therapeutic" setting, but actually we were all 12 of us competing for only three jobs, vying away and trying to show ourselves as the most bubbly, inspiring and yet soulful and kind. Pfft.

Twangy does not bubble.

Then, after a rather pleasant day apres Golden Syrup lollygagging around town, meeting people for lunch and so on, I was interviewed. By then I was rather weary and fed up with the whole gig, which I didn't by now even think suited me, but I sort of vaguely tried to pretend I was, and answered the questions and escaped finally at 6pm.

And now, I just find out I didn't get it and am feeling that uncomfortable mix of relief and pique that you feel when you don't get offered something you don't want. Ha.

Hrmm, I bet Mikados got it, you know.

So that was that.

Thanks for the encouraging replies to my last post, which I took to mean that yes, I should keep posting, and it doesn't matter what form it takes. You know what this is, don't you? This is licence to do what I like!

You might have created a monster.


(Yikes, 13.44pm, must dash.)


Hi. Here I am.

See, I find myself in a dilemma such as our beloved W4I did a while ago, before she found a new direction as the wonderfully entertaining and wise Aunty Lizzy. For I also doubt there'll be any interesting news for the foreseeable and as such, this blog risks becoming a bleak wasteland with only the occasional plastic bag* blowing through on the burning wind, on its way to someplace better.

I have therefore come up with some ideas to keep the desertification process at bay. Please feel free to vote for your preference, if you have one.

1. I could post drawings. This could get quite boring quite quickly though. Oooh, maybe I could draw people on public transport and the JB could make up stories about them. (This is a creepy talent of his.)

2. I could just be really trivial, filling the internet with meaningless drivel about the cat. I feel this goal is quite within my reach.

3. I could be very sporadic. In this vision of my blog, the few posts I'd make would be Really Good and Worth The Wait. [Downside: High potential not to work. Updates might never happen, as I am paralysed with great expectations of self, sitting around in velvet jacket, smoking and waiting for muse to smile, etc.]

4. I could tell a few bizarro but true stories from my teenage years and so on. I could tell you all about the time I spent a day in a friend's school, having donned their uniform, and everything, for instance. Essentially I broke into another school, masquerading as one of its students. All true.

I think that's all I have in the way of suggestions. If you have one, feel free to make it.

Next week I have rather a scary interview, for a job working with hospitalised teenagers. I have no idea why I applied. Why did I? OH WHY. The interview will include a presentation (gulp) of my entirely spurious and untested theories about art in hospital settings, for young people. Teenagers, I mean! We already know those are very dangerous. And if that wasn't enough, which it clearly is, the letter also makes chilling mention of an hour and a half workshop with the mentor, a Drama Type, most alarmingly. I fervently hope he doesn't ask me to pretend I am a tree.

Are any of you lovely readers Drama Types? It's not that I wouldn't like to be, I would. It's just, well, as I understand it, within all of us lurks the Barrier of Embarrassability. To be a drama type you must break with scalding cheeks through this barrier to get to the other side, where you can frolic, sing, and pretend to be trees at the drop of a hat, without even blushing. 

I am barrier intactus, folks. I am all walled up, like a good Northern European.

What to do? Can I fake it, I ask you?
Advice welcome, per usual.

Your pre-mortified,

*[This is an automatically generated Typepad-recommended link. "Plastic bag"? Well, I think that deserves a bit of research, in case anyone is in doubt of what it is. Similarly helpful, links to "teenagers" and "Northern European". Thanks, Typepad! We're all much better informed now. Mysteriously, it didn't offer any link for desertification. Perplexing.]


She must be fitted with some sort of radar.

Well, my darlings.

It seems that drawing comics every day does not make for thrilling blogging content, indeed, as will become painfully apparent in a moment or two, I have absolutely no news at all. I wanted nonetheless to thank you for your (as ever) kindly and empathic comments of last week. I have cheered up quite a bit. And, Vietnam has reopened (sort of) in the interim - so you know, it can happen. All is possible. I have reverted to hopefulness as the vision of the JB's potential American children has faded. Of course they won't say "mere" and "draw"; I was just testing. No, what they'll say is "hey" when they mean "hello"; "hey" being what you say when surprised to see, say, Rock Hudson. (As well you might be.) "Hey, is that Elvis?", for instance.

They may well also say "store" when clearly what they mean is "shop". One can't know.

[Somewhat related aside: Despite 4 years of living in country stateside,  the exact meaning of certain words continued to elude me. So I'd revert to my former modern language student self, as if with little notebook at hand, just like when I lived in Italy: so is  "asshole" more the equivalent of "dickhead", or "bollocks" in this context, I'd muse to myself, and collect examples that proved it one way or the other. Isn't it strange how swear words in another language don't have the same impact on you as your own language? Funny enough, I find it's the same in US English. I could say "asshole" with total aplomb, just feeling a bit of a phoney. But the Irish "bollocks"? No. Gasp! Only in an appropriate moment of passion.]

See, I do have no news.

Time is moving along at a fierce clip, is it not? It's nearly October, and the back-to-school golden sun is giving way to a autumnal chill. Time for chimney sweepering and car servicing and other evidence of being an funtioning adult. So it is, I put on socks, draw, I run, I go to choir, eat, sleep, making life up one day at a time, like we all do.

All's quiet on the edge of the world.



Mr Blue Sky

Most improbably, I have finished my cone project in plenty of time for hand-off this evening, an event which will require me to walk for 10 mins, take a bus, walk for another 20mins, (or MAYBE, I'll just take a taxi, though that kind of thing makes me as nervous as W4I. Apparently I believe a taxi is the thin end of the wedge that will inevitably lead to a online gambling addiction, thousands of euros of debt and end with my living under a bridge) knock on a door I have never seen before, go: Martin? in hopeful tones if a man answers or: Hi! Is Martin there? if a woman answers. Then I will dump deliver the Big Black Portfolio and SKIP SKIP SKIP away feeling OH-SO-LIGHT and who even cares what it looks like anymore? I've got rid, as they say on Corrie.

I've been having a bit of a time of it. Do you remember this, kindly readers?


This is what it's been like, for months, but with extra juggling and exhaustion-induced despair/irrational thoughts. I am so burned out I am actually a Walkers crisp, and those illustrations still need to be done by end of month. (Those fecking things - it's like trying to outrun your own shadow. It's getting mystical, as this point.) While this is just feasible, I am reminded of that saying about people who have been made partner in a law practice: It's like winning a pie-eating contest. And your prize is more pie.

Next week, my students have exams, an event that involves a vast amount of forms called (things like) Learner's Assessment F11-R456. On the other hand, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Only! 6! weeks! to! the! end! of term! Holiers needed URGENTLY.

Other things I have noticed of late:

  • The JB has been away for the last week, at a conference. In his absence I have been shocked to discover my breakfast dishes are still there, lying around in grey water, when I get home after school. Proof he does do dishes. Huh! I thought I did Everything Around Here. That's the thing about housework, isn't it? It's only noticed if it's not done.

  • Also. Yes. What was the other thing.

  • Ah. Our floor in The Hotel Tallafornia now hosts a weekly vist from Slimming World. A whole world of slimming - imagine! Continents of svelteness and seas of self-confidence! I am reassured by its logo every morning: Slimming World: Because [I am] amazing. Huh, ta, Slimming World.

  • I think, anyway.

  • It seems that the Authority may be sorting something out with regard to India opening - soon-ish. Also hopeful signs float over Florida. Too tired to be excited, but I presume I am, really.

  • Alrighty then. I am going to go and do the drop-off, I reckon.

Be well, friends.






first world problems

I'm in that dopey, la-la, mood, where I keep half-doing things and getting distracted and half-doing something else. I have loads to do, I am sure of it. But you know when you don't quite know what to do first, and you think: I know, I'll write a post? And then I'll feel better, having given myself the illusion that I have achieved something.

  • My laptop gave up the ghost last week. When you try to turn it on, it starts patting its pockets and saying: Oh, ssshit. Now, where did I put my hard drive? Hang on, I am sure it's here somewhere. It must be... oh, how embarrassing, maybe it's... no...
    Then it makes some unreasonably loud electronic pings at you, while presumably it searches around its flat frantically, throwing stuff around, looking for its vital bits.
    Nothing, according to the young man in the laptop clinic, can be saved from it. It is officially banjaxed. I am trying to take this in cavalier fashion. After all, I did back up sometimes and what the hell, it's just a sort of forced de-clutter of all the detritus I collected over the years. Onward, and less encumbered by crappy freeware programmes!
  • Likewise banjaxed is my car. Battery is defunct.
  • Teaching is making me feel a bit lonely. I want to be on the other side of the desk, where you have friends to complain to - it's so much funner, more collegial. Boo. But, oh, fellow teachers! Oh! It's all (almost) worth it for that wondrous moment of squeeeee! freedom when you escape from the classroom until the next time! OH THAT BIT IS MARVELLOUS, isn't it?
  • PKitty, though, now, the kitty, has been doing her best to cheer me up with little gifts. True, had I been in a position to choose, I might have preferred a pink Moleskine sketchbook, or perhaps some lavendar soap rather than - say - a half-dead fieldmouse, but, you know how it is, it's the thought that counts. So far I have not witnessed the delivery of the afore-mentioned rodents into the kitchen for bragging purposes but the JB has reported that she even went to the trouble of putting on a mini Christians and Lions type show for his entertainment. Mousey, mousey, I release you! Ha! No, I don't! Yes, I do! NO, don't be silly, OF COURSE I DON'T! CRUNCH.
    And so on. Anything to offer on this, anyone? I understand Nature is all red and rude, and so forth, but I feel sorry for the mice. She's so mean.

Here she is, the murderer herself:
I fear she is about that fat. She might have lost a few ounces recently. My human friend R, to the cat, when she came to visit:
Ooh, you're enoooormous!
BODY FASCISM, that is.

Anyway. How goes the mood with you?