The State of Mind/Health


[Bit of a makeover. Not sure about the checked pattern, mind you. It puts me in mind of a strange garment we were supposed to wear in school, the tabard, a square polyester check tunic designed to protect you from poster paints and ketchup.]

[I'm listening as I type to the alto part of Faure's Cantique de Jean Racine. I ought to be singing the part but am trying the optimistic view that it'll just sort of magically get absorbed into my brain cells if I listen to it enough. I took up choir last week but it's tricky to shoehorn practice time into the day, he's sleeping now, and Heaven knows I need to practise.] 

[Oh yes! There are two teeth coming, rather thrillingly, craggy white peaks surging out of a - um - pink clouds? So that's why he's been so moany, poor kid. And yesterday feeling much better, he spent 10 minutes chortling at my brother's family dog, a (hilarious) black labradoodledoodle (more poodle than not) with a (side-splittingly amusing) curly coat. He made us all laugh too; it was a delight.]

It happens every so often, in the baby aisle in the supermarket or when I set foot in the Bermuda triangle of the Maternity Hospital of Doom that I have a clear comparison between this the present Twangy with the previous pre-Jay Twangy. I prod my scars, very gingerly, I try not to forget what it was like. I'd feel a strange loyalty to my previous self. I try to be mindful but it is not easy when your life is so transformed, when it feels so much more urgent and meaningful because of the presence of a baby. It feels like that, at least. I used to say there were many ways of makng a life meaningful, I used to hate it when people would say things like: you have to be a parent to understand. I'd be most offended. Maybe you did, I'd think, but you don't know what I am like. I don't need to be a parent to worry about a child trapped in a burning building. And yet, and yet there are things that I didn't understand and I couldn't imagine. They are not quite the things I thought, though. I didn't realise how relentless it is to be a parent. how much of a shock it is to realise you are going to be doing this again tomorrow and tomorrow and again and again, and there's no way out of the crushing sense of responsibility. You can't run away. Those things are what surprised me. 

So maybe I have leapt some sort of divide. I feel stronger. I feel I would cheerfully throw myself in front of a train, for Jay. Sleepless nights aren't fun, or anything, but my friends are way too horrified by my sleep deprivation. I feel a lot tougher than I would have thought. I seem to remember Seinfeld saying he went to the advanced planet when he became a parent and though this rubs me the wrong way I can see what he means. It's not fair, is it? That for some this way is open, and for some it is not, and it's always alarming to contemplate your own luck, because as soon as you do, it all starts feeling very random,  undeserved and fragile. 

Still, maybe one day I'll be able to park in the parent spot, and feel like I belong. 

Agh! Must go. It's days later and I've run out of time again. 

Good Sunday to all



hunger games

 Ah. I didn't mean to leave it so long. I've taken up worky reins again in a small way and while this is most helpful to the mental health and feeling a part of things again, it takes up the very few free hours I have available, so that taking time for something else (blogging, gardening, getting haircuts) feels uncomfortably like robbing Peter to pay Paul. Some juicy projects have landed on my desk, beautiful, perfect beasts of projects which I must fit into 3 or 4 hours a day; the rest of the time I'm thinking how much I relish getting back into them. 

I am actually not complaining, I must add. It's nothing new, is it, and my situation of being one of two mostly free adults to one easy baby is ideal, rare and wonderful. I have lots of energy and happiness to give to Jay when I come back from work, and I appreciate keenly all my extraordinary luck, I do. The universe is smiling on me, the sun is shining, it's been a golden time. I feel I am where I've been going to all these years. 

Jay is in fine fettle, too. He's enjoying his cot, kicking his way all over it, waking me with a surprised cry when he finds himself up against the bars. He's doing a lot of babbling; when he cries it is much more communicative of simple needs and less of existential angst (or colic as the less poetic of us call it). Aaaahoooo, aaddooo, aiya, he says. You know? Ayyyooh? His field of vision must have expanded; now he can take in his feet, leaves, the tiles in the bathroom. Everything is interesting.

The other day the JB pointed out black circles you could see through the end of the bottle he'd been feeding out of for at least 10 minutes. Mould, people. MOULD. It seems I, the person who has been sterilising All The Things with neurotic care, inadvertently grabbed a dirty one that had been in the bag since the previous week, growing black fur. Well. I felt awful. I watched Jay tensely for the next day or two as if he was a ticking bomb. But no. No explosion, rather, even finer fettle. Totally, totally fine. Finer than fine. I am still sterilising but, you know. Colour me skeptical. I am similarly Fed Up with Aptamil and their constantly changing, arbitrary guidelines for making up formula, written on the side of their packets in their tut-tutting, fear-mongering tone, which at the same time contradict themselves, and make not even pseudo-scientific sense. It all smacks loudly of ligitious arse-covering, instead of giving real information and explanations people can understand. Boil exactly one litre of water, they say. Leave for exactly one half hour. Then I dunno, dance backwards in a circle, reciting the Greek alphabet. Bah. Just tell us why, you twits. What temperature should it be when you are adding the powder, exactly. That's all we need to know. It's not a flipping magic spell. And are we to not mention the fact that on the previous packet you advised pouring the boiling water into the bottle and capping it and then waiting 30 mins? (No matter the amount of water, by the way, always the magic 30). (Grr.)

Ah. Deep breathing. What is it about babies that attracts all the finger-wagging? A woman in the park hissed at me the other day: Don't you feel those raindrops? Dangerous! I was 3 minutes from home, and his buggy closes up to keep him dry. If that's what she meant, I don't even know. Maybe people make themselves feel good by styling themselves self-righteous Baby Protectors? Is that it? Perhaps a cape and tights would complete the look. They could hold meetings and discuss the failings of local parents and how their child did x because they did y and he's an engineer/doctor now. Bah.

Meanwhile though, actual friend parents have been MARVELLOUS with their honest and hilarious stories. So helpful. SO helpful. My friend E, whose child had finally slept through the night after weeks of shrieking the house awake told me one. He must be dead, her exhausted brain reasoned when she woke. But he'll still be dead if I sleep another 2o minutes, it won't make any difference really she thought as she rolled over. LOVE. (That child is now nearly five). Making babies by Anne Enright, in which she says it will occur to any parent to leave at some point but this would be like leaving your own arm. HOW FANTASTIC is that? VERY fantastic. VERY VERY. A neighbour with young daughter I never met before emerged and told me she knows how it can be, and they're great, beautiful, magical and relentless, but it gets better. I mean, let me be in that club.

Oh my, I must go to sleep soon, or I'll be banjaxed tomorrow. He is not, unlike our afore-mentioned caped crusadors' babies, Sleeping Through The Night. He's just too hungry at the moment, and when your baby has been in hospital with a feeding tube, it makes you more indulgent, I suppose. I don't mind at all. He is all magic and beauty. 

Night all


process in process

Let's see. The JB had a big day yesterday. He got his Fellowship (of the Ring! my brain keeps helpfully adding); preparations to leave home find other work accommodation are on-going, though we don't know yet which term he will start fellowshipping in. And, as if that weren't enough, he also passed his driving test. No more white knuckle Saturday morning drives for me, folks, that's right. I am most happy and relieved. 

No news from the US of A. 


I have some processing to do. Feel free to skim/skip, this may very well be dull.

Last week I got empanelled as a juror. The selection process is the most stressful tedium you can imagine; a hundred or so members of fine Dublin citizenry in a large carpeted room with television screens lining the walls. After ages of the tense boredom, the court finally appears on the screen showing the judge and a defendant in a new suit. The registrar announces the crime and starts reading out names. The sight of the defendant and everyone shaking their heads at the crime gives you a sudden chill. This is horribly real. Start praying you won't be called. When your name is called, it gives you an unpleasant jolt of recognition. Oh no. You queue up, you file in to the court,  and no one challenges you, although they throw out two grey-haired elderly gentlemen and a cool young woman.  Apparently you look reasonable; maybe you should have worn your pink runners, or a fake sleeve tattoo? You are sworn in. Your lips feel like rubber but somehow you don't fumble it.
There is some preamble from a barrister about the case and what your role is therein. You are important; you must try and test the case to the best of your ability. You are to "decide the facts" of the case. How can you decide a fact? You are grateful for the other members of the jury, you are not alone, at least. In your meeting room you exchange some nervous we're-in-this-together smiles and some of your number, a tall man in motorbike gear, makes unfortunate jokes and honks with laughter. Fantastic, I'm sequestered here with a shower of eejits, you think uncharitably. 
You're told to come back the next day when the case proper is to start. You go home, but the experience looms large in your mind all night. This is bigger than you are. The next day, there is evidence from a Guard. He has made a map of a family home. Then on a video link evidence is given by the complainant. And then from the complainant's mother. It's really complicated; you are given a large amount of information about the family circumstances. More than might seem necessary. No one says Objection, Your Honour at all, or Hearsay!; maybe that's American. Or Hollywood, but you'd like to say it. Instead you must just sit there and listen. The judge have wigs on, deliberately formal and strange. This bit takes you up to lunch, which you have in an airless dining room. You are not allowed to mix with other juries - as if you would. You only want to talk about the case, but you've been warned not to by the judge, until it is appropriate. You are getting to know your jury members, there's a sort of reluctant bonding between you, though you all keep saying how you'd prefer to be in work, to be honest. Yeah, well, you might as well be honest. You're ushered back down the corridor by your Jury Minder. There's a lot of ushering, and standing in a row beside the wall while another jury is shepherded by. There's another time when you are told to sit on the stairs while a legal moment (15 to 20 normal moments) goes by. Other juries go by, their minders point to us and say they're bold, they're sitting on the naughty step. This is court room corridor humour, apparently, so help us.
Back in there, the next day, and you hear more evidence from a guard. There are startling revelations about the mother, and how a diary came to be in evidence. Again, seemingly not pertinent and embarrassing to know. After lunch the barristers sum up the case.  The barrister for the prosecution is very restrained. He just states the facts as he sees them. But the barrister for the defence is astonishingly skilful, he weaves a case so that you have no option but to draw the conclusions he wants. It is electrifying. You may not like it, but he has placed reasonable doubt in your head 5 or 6 times already. He's staring up at you knowing in his heart that you are reasonable, decent people. He's restrained, he doesn't bully or cajole. He just makes you think things you didn't think before; there's reasonable doubt and so you can't convict. 
To your relief, when you finally come to deliberate, the others agree. Everyone has reasonable doubt. You're grateful for these strangers, they have taken great care with their task. They have thought hard, not jumped to conclusions, have considered it from both points of view. They are not a shower of eejits, as it happens; your faith in humanity is restored, even if it's not in the judicial system. No one feels good about it, but the barrister has done his job and the defendant is acquitted. If you were in no doubt about the seriousness of it all, the drama of the moment when the registrar reads out the verdict to the courtroom, with all parties present, is palpable.

You file out for the last time. You say goodbye and good luck to the other jurors. Of course, this being Ireland, it has turned out you know one of them, to see. Of course you do. A woman whom you expect never to see again, despite this, says: No disrespect, but I hope we don't meet again. You have to laugh. You go home; at least it's over.



Screwit unto the very ends of the earth, I knew there was a reason for updating more often, otherwise, you don't know where to start. Also such not able articulate to do.

I had the Betty-head a lot in the last few weeks. The usual weird veil over my vision and weird sleep-walking sensations and weird feeling like someone else. For instance, I have no anxiety at all when in Betty mode. Zero. I am unflusterable. Betty is. I am not in my body. Weirdness. So last Wednesday I overcame my deep aversion to doctors long enough to give mine a potted version of this. ("I don't feel myself" being the acceptable version of "I am Betty", in case you wondered; the latter might attract a undesirable diagnosis of Dissociative Personality Disorder or whatnot.) The doctor took some blood for testing for food allergies and iron.

As so often, I felt instantly better. Asking for help is good, it turns out, it opens things up. Doctors don't mock you or tell you you are a moaning minnie; I don't know why I thought they would, mind you.

And then on Sunday morning we got a email from the agency in the US. Would we like to show our profile to a birth mother due end of August along with some other couples? Yes we would. Yes, yes. Yesness. It was a straight-forward decision; the circumstances the birthmother finds herself in are sad, but not otherwise dramatic or complicated.

It's really hard not to let your mind go skittering torturously ahead, it transpires. It's such a uniquely, drastically on/off situation, a thing we are all well acquainted with from TTC days. But one attempts to stay in this here and now. I have a lot of plans for September/October, for instance, which I am  seeing as a good thing.
Road 1: BABY! Plans out of window! Book me on a flight immmmediately!
Road 2: No baby. But nice distracting plans? Yes, those. Oh, okay.

No-one will die either way. It simply means this is not our baby. (Still, though! BABY!)

Oh! The BP explosion of universes has now been canceled until further notice. I am almost disappointed, and yet, on the other hand, OH! HAPPY! DAY! It seems the Non Trembler must now make it his business to scour the United States of America for a house that meet his rather stringent purchasing criteria.

Ah. I've run out of time.  I see I am hitting a not impressive average posting rate of ONE a month, so I will publish.

I hope all is well with everyone. Your status update is always of interest.


I know this theme is dull but it works on all devices. Anything for your convenience, reader!

stuff happens

That huge BPD collision is scheduled for the August Bank Holiday, on which day, keep eyes trained on the relevant horizon, where we might expect a mad puff of smoke to appear. In the meantime, some stuff happened:

  • I meant to follow up: do you remember Meet-up Friend? I did write to her, as you suggested, back in February, but heard no more until she came to our event a couple of weeks ago. She seemed quite well..? Hard to tell of course, and really just functioning at all after such a trauma is itself a fecking walking, talking miracle. People are truly extraordinary, and yet, of course, what choice has she? It was so good to see her surrounded by her friends, working away. I was glad she felt comfortable to be with us. 

  • The JB has failed his driving test. It transpires this centre has a failure rate of 60%, so this was to be expected, though this did not prevent his feeling offended by it. And thus I am condemned to be his practice partner for another few weeks. I hate to whine ( - well, actually, I enjoy the whining, but I prefer to delude myself that I am not a whiner. It's a conundrum.) I mean, I realise I am not going down the mine or anything, It's Not That Bad, but this supervisory stuff brings out the worst most picky, bossy and impatient side of me which I find deeply unflattering. I remind myself (cue thunder and lightning sound effects) of MY FATHER. Of all people! URG. Apparently I also have to admit I am very vain about these things, which is another uncomfortable truth I could have done without uncovering. Bleah. 

  • If he gets his licence next time, it would be excellent. If he doesn't, screw it, I think we should get an automatic. Those things are so wonderfully easy, it's basically a bumper car, as far as I can see.

  • Or we could wait until Google brings out a driverless car. Where is the future, Google? Come on, hand it over.

  • Other than this, I feel sort of scrambled, today, and in general, sort of inept and thick. I can't sleep, can you? If there is the slightest deviation from the regular bed at 11, up at 7 schedule, I am reduced to a quivering wreck.

  • Quivering, I tell you.

  • On the other hand, things aren't so bad. There are sparrow nests in the garden. (Luckily cat is an inept hunter, only catching very few small and ancient or possibly suicidal creatures). Some sweet rocket came out. I glow with pride when I consider I planted it two years ago. How mature of me! See that, deferred pleasure. No need to dwell on the rest of the garden which looks like it's been abandoned some years ago.
  • I babysat the niece and nephew last week. Babysat is the wrong word. I sat with them in the kitchen drawing pictures with my niece while the nephew misspent his youth on minecraft. 


  • And! Our little country isn't so backward after all. We have a lot more work to do, of course, but 62.07% in favour of marriage equality is good. It was a beautiful day; the sun shone, actual rainbows came out as if a sign of approval from the universe, and we were so happy and proud to be us.

Hope you are well, folks. What stuff is happening with you? Stuff, anyone?


[Insert inevitable lamenting on subject of own poor blog-keeping skills. Aime, alack and alas, etc.]

Here's another reason, as if there weren't already very many, to love Lucy Knisley - her lovely piece on the subject of her miscarriage. Just in case you happen this way, Lucy, I am very sorry for your loss. Thank you for being so open about it.

It seems this winter will never end, doesn't it? [Applicable only to readers in northern hemisphere.] It snowed yesterday; big sudsy shapes of snow came down and melted messily on the ground. Let's move on, shall we, winter? You're putting me in a mood, full of self-doubt and riddled with introspection. Yawn. This is dull; I'm boring myself. Maybe I need to get out more; maybe I need to do some voluntary work or something. Maybe the sun needs to come out. 

4AM would seem to be Pointless Introspection o'clock, though I do it during the day, too. The other day I was wondering what sort of parent I could possibly be. I was doing an image search for ponies on Friday (This is part of a proposal I am doing. Nice job, eh. Ponies!) as I introspected gloomily about my ruination of our future child. At that moment, this image popped up in my feed, like magic: 


I don't pretend to understand the image, in which I presume I would be the imperfectly perfect grinning monster dressed in a cardboard box feeding my child a cake of solid gold, but it cheered me up, anyway. 


Valery and family were over.. a month ago (see above, poor blog-keeping). It was so nice to see them with little Suzy. I love that age; so spirited, utterly trusting, and mysterious. Ah, so sweet.


I feel much less rutty, since I wrote this post two days ago. It seems it was hormonal. You would think I would know this after so. many. years. but no. One of the less appealing parts of the human condition is this inability while in the rut to recognise it for the rut it is, and that it will end and the other mood will begin. Every rut seems to be an endless proposition, doesn't it? We're such odd creatures, all fear and unhelpful jumpiness designed for the jungle; no sharp teeth and only our wits to live on. We're social, and we need each other to survive, yet we're rivals for the limited resources available. It's all very conflicting.

Well, now, my dears. I think I'll just press post now, as I doubt this post will stand up to a re-read. You poor lovely people, worry not your heads with commenting, really. 

Hope life is treating you well.


As it happened, I did not actually forget I had a blog, but there was just so much to do.  So many grant applications to do, meetings and ideas and spaghetti to throw at the wall to see what sticks. People visited. Donkeys went lame and sound again. Parents held their own; in fact, [fingers extremely crossed] my mother is walking much better, I thought, last weekend. The weather is peculiar, the way it keeps pressing itself warmly against the windows, fogging them up, and a evening primose has bloomed, which is certainly all wrong. The world is still on fire, heaven knows, but we are here anyway, witnesses to it all, making the most of it, still hoping it can be turned around.

Still, progress is good on the adoption front, we met our agency man [agency man? That seems not quite right. Am I in Mad Men? No. Blogging muscles have gone slack. Can only write about start-up projections and specific enablers] some weeks ago, in a one of those creepy futuristic business "campuses" [campi?] with a winter garden in the atrium. He was a real breath of pine-fresh air. What a nice man! Cheered me right up, with his Adoption is All Very Possible Attitude, and actual swear words applied to the Authority! True love.

And yesterday, we finished up our renewal with the social worker, the male version of the detective. They are so alike, they speak with precisely the same ultra PC social worker lingo, smiles and cadences. It is remarkable, and it leads to wild speculation on the way home about whether they are in fact the same person, in a Michael and La Toya Jackson sort of way. 

I hope you are well, all. I conclude my dip back in the blogging waters with this photo, (taken on Thursday in Blackrock DART station, in case anyone is interested). Dublin is good at this sort of flat, pewter day.
Have good weekends, everyone. 



A micro-post:

I was feeling a lot of first-world frustration about the frankly almost comical amount of rejections I have been receiving. I'd say my hit-rate is 1 out of 5. Which could be worse, I suppose? And then I got this letter from my sponsored child in Guatemala and my jaded, young-old heart melted like chocolate.


Now must:

  • Write back including a photo of self as requested, sitting on some green Irish grass (this way she can also see I am not actual man, (Much as I like being "Padrino": Aw!) which is added benefit.)
  • Plan trip to Gautemala one day.
  • Woman up.



How goes it, folks? It's a strange, uncertain time, isn't it? I feel like I am being held together by powdered barleygrass*, meditation and sellotape. Sure, I have opinions on the awful state of the world lately, but nothing new or interesting to add. My response seems to be to have never-ending exam dreams. Every flipping night: 
What, I have to do maths and physics exams? I have to do a French exam? But I don't remember those! Also, I am in my mid-forties. How can this be? 
Can we move on please, subconscious? Or I will actually retake my Leaving Certificate (hilarious Irish name for final exams at school. We, the Irish government, certify that you.. left. We really couldn't comment on whether you learnt anything or not. You did leave, though. Well, bye, now.) and see if that works.

It is a strange time to be alive. Although, truth to tell, I've always been flummoxed by the oddness of it all, haven't you? It's so strange. Why is life this way and not another? I can't get over it. My tombstone should say: Well, that was all very odd.

It's not all bad, au contraire. I am working at my comics, in a speedy, barleygrass fueled way, and going out at night. There are nice people out there, muddling through just like me. We are not alone. Dublin has a wannabe Berlin vibe just now; you could go to something different every night for six months. Also, all our adoption papers are now processed and in file in our agency, and though I have discovered that this part of the process has it own particular flavour of anxiety/excitement attached to it, we are just so happy to be at this point at last. 

I have a very welcome sense of reprieve, in general. My parents seem somewhat well-ish for the moment; they are enjoying the summer. That virus which caused my mother so much discomfort (and to lose a stone in weight) this winter seems to have disappeared, she is able to do what she needs to; it was not permanent. Tremendously relieving. It seems we can delay for the moment the plan to convert their stables into a flat for me and the JB so we can be beside them for moral and other support. 

As usual, I am flirting with the idea of getting a job job. So far I have applied to be a designer for the souvenir industry, part-time (Read: Leprechauns!) No response so far, perhaps mercifully. Also something else: one of those in-company type ones. I can't recall. Also no response. Possibly all this is a dream, and I am actually back in school, studying in lackadaisical fashion for my maths exam.

How are you?

*Da bomb. I HAVE ENERGY.

calm after the storm, or, possibly, between the storms

Apologies for the slight gap in transmission: I had what my mother calls A Back and it hurt to sit. The mighty Balmoral arrived and pushing it up the stairs (it was light! Honestly.) I managed to pull something. (Well, that's one version. The other one says the toilet gods were not pleased with my mockery of them and have exacted their revenge. Take that, lowly human! I CERAMICALLY SMITE YOU.)

Be that as it may, all better now, though I must adjust my working posture somehow. (Apparently we should all be standing to work. [Resigned eyeroll.] I mean, what next? Working while on the eliptical trainer? Could you be into that?)

We had a house visit from the social worker - the detective has been replaced by a social worker clone, with exactly the same conscientious, caring attitude, even the same intonation, only male this time. Remarkable! It went well, I thought, the usual faceache-inducing smile-athon, but I am relieved it's over - I hope an interlude of summer calm with very little mowing and minimal tidying might now follow.

See this?

Someone (being the JB) accidentally beheaded the whole flower-head of this foxglove a few weeks ago and it grew two new ones. Isn't nature amazing? Not to stretch a metaphor, but I was sort of hoping this could apply to me too. Not so much that I'd grow two whole new heads, you see, (they would argue) but have a similarly invigorating new burst of life. In fact, if we could all have a little metaphorical new head-growing, that'd be great, Universe, thanks.

Happy Sunday, all. I hope you are well.