Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Candles, candy canes and chaos

How lovely it is to have a (nearly) white (nearly) Christmas! If you don't have to leave the house, that is. This country is so very poorly equipped to be dealing with snow or even frost, or temperatures colder than -2. Coming from a country where temperature drops below -20 on a regular basis over the winter, and a couple of feet of snow is nothing extraordinary, I find it just a little bit funny. Closing schools because of snowfall is simply amazing to me. Had we done that in Finland, I'd probably still be waiting to finish primary school.

Traveling to the Christmas party on Sunday was exciting to say at least. We all made it there and were well impressed by the hotel. A warm welcome, comfy rooms, delicious food and above all, excellent bar staff who kept serving drinks until breakfast time. No scandals or embarrassment, just good fun had by all.

The day after there were a few pale faces to be seen around the breakfast room. Best fix for that was a decent fry-up and some retail therapy. Shops were heaving with Christmas shoppers and great offers, too. I picked up a few stocking fillers in record time without getting the usual feeling of claustrophobia or an impending panic attack.

Mr S returned on Monday night to find me eating my way through the house. Drink has that effect on me. Not so much as a hangover, just constant hunger. Poor Mr S had braved the icy, snowy roads
all the way from Oxfordshire to Wales, ferry across to Rosslare and from there on to the wilds of Connemara. The man fell asleep before his head hit the pillow.

We did the last of our Christmas food shop yesterday, so now all that is left for me to do is the last of the baking, and obviously the dinner. We'll have a nice, cosy Christmas dinner here on Christmas eve with just the two of us and we'll skate our way over to Mr S's mother on Christmas Day. Mr S has taken off to do the last of his Christmas shopping, he's improved since last year when he left it until Christmas Eve.

Pastries, cakes and biscuits are on the agenda for me today. I shall cover the kitchen in flour and what I hope, a
christmassy smell and atmosphere. I'll be signing off now until after the holidays, a peaceful Christmas to you all, see you before the new year!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Party time

It certainly seems to be THAT time of year again. Time to dress up in clothes clearly unsuitable and insufficient considering the weather/temperature, drink mulled wine and tolerate the company of people you spend most of your days with anyway. It is, of course, the office Christmas party time. I know I say office, I mean work in general. I don't work in an office. We do have an office but it is a little more than a glorified cupboard, really.

See, we thought we weren't having a
Christmas party for staff this year on account of it having been a bad year all around as well as our company having been leased to an outside party. I'm not saying the new "owners" aren't the type of people to deny their staff a party, but it has been a transition with quite a few characteristic teething problems to say at least. It hasn't been an easy year, so we thought maybe they were going to spare us the trouble of getting dressed up and spending time with people we're only getting to know as it is. Secretly we were all just a little bit relieved. This meant no wardrobe crisis, no shoe crisis, no hair crisis, make up crisis... well you get the point. You can tell I'm a girl, right?

Anyway, I returned to work last week after 6 glorious days off, sat down in my glorified cupboard and was met with an email from our newly-appointed GM informing me of a
Christmas party this coming Sunday. (which I now realise is the day after tomorrow) The party is at a quite a lovely hotel in the city, a hotel owned by our boss, hardly a coincidence there. We're all invited to eat, drink and stay free of charge. Having gathered my jaw up from beside my feet, I read the email again just to make sure I had got it right. I had. Free of charge. In a 4 star hotel. Fantastic.

At this very moment the "
Christmas party crisis" -part of my brain went into overdrive. I'm sure there was a little puff of smoke rising up from the vicinity of my left ear. It meant I had less than a week to find an outfit, sort out my hair, book an appointment with my beautician, organise lifts, colour co-ordinate my outfit of choice with my make up bag and SO MUCH MORE! All of this was obviously on top of the usual Christmas arrangements such as Christmas cards, shopping, wrapping and this year, since Mr S and I are staying in Ireland, sending the bought and wrapped presents to my friends and family.

Office parties are tricky to say at least. It really is a lose-lose situation to many people. If you decide to be sensible, not have any alcoholic beverages and in general just to behave yourself, you're running the risk of being perceived as a bit of a bore. And there's of course the added disadvantage of having to listen to the drunken rendition of "Fairy Tale of New York" for the umpteenth time, grinning manically and trying to pretend it's just as hilarious as it was the first couple dozen times. If, on the other hand you're one of the people singing said much loved classic after your ninth glass of mulled wine and a few shots later, you probably will be considered a little bit of a liability.

I usually fall on the latter category. There is a degree of drunkenness at which I will inevitably start singing. I cannot help it. I have gotten up on stage in pubs and clubs, informed the actual artist performing that it was MY TURN and proceeded to sing a song of my choice. I know I do this, I'm not ashamed to admit it. I can sing, by the way, so all is not lost I suppose.

Wardrobe crisis was averted after chatting to a few colleagues. Blaming the recession, I have shamelessly recycled an outfit worn to a party earlier on this year. Few new accessories later it will look appropriately seasonal without breaking the bank. Maybe new shoes. I could do with another pair of ankle boots, I'm sure. See? Some things never change.

The reason this year's party will be different is the fact that we don't know everyone there as well as we'd like. In the years gone by, our staff has been a bit like a family. A family of over 80 members in the high season, with about 35 permanent, full time staff. We all know
each other well enough to be able to make complete fools of ourselves and then laugh about it together the following day while nursing one of the hangovers of the decade. This year will be different, however. Everyone seems to be feeling like we're going to be judged based on our behaviour on the night. Maybe we will, maybe we won't. I, for one, have already decided on my song. Bring on the wine, good people!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Comfort and Joy

Oh, my poor neglected blog. I'd be lying if I told you I've been busy doing things as I've done very little since my last post. Right now I'm halfway through a stretch of 6 days off and I am being decidedly lazy. And being lazy has never been easier.

First of all, the weather. It has been truly horrid over the last week or so. Gale force winds, horizontal rain teamed up with sub-zero temperatures don't exactly encourage me to venture out of the house. If I can hear the wind in the morning when I wake up, I find that an excuse enough to roll over and go back to sleep for a bit.

Second of all, Mr S is still away, so I have nobody to kick me out of bed. Or to come up with things to do. I am missing his
presence, I really am but the fact that I can just arse about in PJs all day long doing nothing is really quite wonderful.

I don't think I could do this any other time of year, to be honest with you. It's something about the long dark nights that make me want to stock up on good books, red wine, bread and cheese and just ride it out until spring. The only thing stopping me from doing this is Christmas.

Yes, THAT C-word. I hate Christmas shopping. Really hate it. And I'm sure I'm not alone. I mean, who likes going into over crowded shops, which always have their air-conditioning set to "inferno" for some reason, so as you walk in from the cold air outside, you're met with a balmy heatwave. You end up taking off your hat, gloves, scarf and opening your coat, and filling your hands with your own clothes even before you've started shopping. The heat in the shops makes me very irritable and tired of the whole experience before it's even started. This really isn't helped by the hordes of stressed out fellow shopper, 70% or whom seem to have a cold or a flu judging by the amount of sneezing and coughing around me.

For a season entirely
focused around joy and cheer, people are very very rude around Christmas. People out shopping bump into you, knock you in the back with their trolleys, push their way through you to get to the perfect Christmas present just out of arm's reach. All this done either accidentally or on purpose, never once have I heard an "I'm sorry" uttered not even over their shoulder on their way to plow through another unsuspecting victim.

So, this year I decided to avoid the shops at all cost. I shopped online instead. I bought all but two presents online, all of which are currently residing in our spare bedroom waiting to be wrapped and sent to family. The two presents I didn't get online however, were purchased the old-fashioned way. In a way of making up for such stress-free Christmas shopping experience so far, I headed out with my friend and her 4-month old baby boy.

I suddenly have new-found respect for all those
harassed-looking mothers pushing prams and buggies around the shops around this time of year. I never realised how hard it was to do the simple things you normally do when you're out shopping by yourself. Take trying on clothes, for example. No fitting room is big enough for both you and the pram. How are you supposed to work that one out? Leave the door/curtain open so you can keep an eye on your little one while at the same time really defeating the purpose of using a fitting room at all. You might as well go and try the clothes on in the middle of the shop floor. Everyone is going to see your wobbly bits anyway.

It also seemed as if the shops were stocked up to the maximum capacity, thus making any space between the aisles/racks even narrower than usual. Getting through with a buggy required an impressive amount of
maneuvering. It would've made any driving instructor swell up with pride, I'm sure.

And then there's the bathroom issue. If you need to go to the bathroom, what are you going to do with your baby? Leave him outside? All alone? In a world full of weirdos? I didn't think so. Seeing as all the cubicles are too small to take the baby with you, you end up using the wheelchair accessible bathroom. And to me, that seems like a completely acceptable option until I heard another friend of mine who had done just that tell me that on her coming out of the bathroom she was met by a very angry man in a wheelchair outside the bathroom telling her that "Having a baby is not a disability, it's a choice. You should be ashamed of yourself!" I don't know about you, but I thought that was a bit over the top.

In any case, I have all my Christmas presents bought in good time. With minimal stress. Until I remember someone I
should've shopped for and never did. Thank god for internet!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Artistic liberties

I have just received photographs from a friend who is a Dancer. Yes, with a capital D, because that's the way she says it. "Hi, I'm K and I'm a Dancer." The photos are of a works premiere (whatever that may be) from a dance workshop she attended. Now, I didn't know she was attending a workshop. I don't know anybody else who attended the workshop. Moreover, I am not a Dancer. Or just a dancer for that matter. This left me slightly confused as to why K had decided to email me 76 photos of people I don't know dancing. Oh, sorry, they're obviously Dancing.

These photos were accompanied by a
lengthy email telling me how she got so much out of the workshop and a lot of waffling on about pureness of form. I won't bore you with the details, bad enough I had to wade through the email. I do that out of guilt more than anything else. And to read between the lines, which is far more interesting.

See the thing with these Artists (using the term loosely here to describe all aspiring painters, sculptors, dancers, Dancers, actors, directors etc. who live for their art and keep banging on about it as if they're doing the entire world a huge favour) is that they're incredibly competitive and petty, largely insecure and in need of constant validation. I know this because I went through that phase in my teens. I am a founding member of a small independent theatre company which, as far as I know, is still up and running. I was actively involved for 10 years (I started when I was 14) and I know all too well how things turn out. While there is great camaraderie, the moment a coveted role/show/film comes up it's every man and woman for themselves, dogs eating the proverbial dogs until one comes up on top of the pile when it all dies down, the fake smiles a plastered back onto the faces and everybody gathers around the Chosen One, pats him/her on the back and quickly
skitter away into a dark corner to bitch about them while mentally flagellating yourself wondering what it was that has made you so shit.

It's in no way healthy, being so dependent on outside approval. But the inner workings of any of these art-
sy groups are truly fascinating. From K's email and photos I could easily gather that within their little workshop were found:

a) Miss A. The queen bee. Averagely talented, think she's hugely talented. As much flesh on show as possible, will flirt
outrageously with anyone she thinks may further her career. Girls don't like her. Men don't really know what to do with her. You will find her on the foreground of most photographs or using one of male friends as a pole dancing pole.

b) Miss L. Miss A's best friend and second fiddle. Thinks being associated with Miss A will make her more popular/talented. Ironically, often more talented than Miss A but less ruthless and desperate. In group photographs she's the one with her arm around Miss A while Miss A fights to get the most exposure.

c) The Amateur. The Amateur is someone who's not really all that into Art. He/she joined because his/her friend didn't want to go alone. Male amateurs sometimes hang around Artists in hope to attract a mate or appear more interesting. Female amateurs want to belong or appear moody and interesting. The Amateur doesn't give a toss about pureness of form or method acting. The Amateur is there for a good time and maybe a shag.

d) The Scorer. 99% of the time The Scorer is male. He's there to exploit the vulnerable nature of Artist females. Insecure beings, female Artists will latch on to anyone who tells them they're beautiful (pretty is a 4-letter word to an Artist) and talented. Female Artist will repay any complement with a sexual favour of choice, provided The Scorer has played his cards right.

e) The Oldie. The Oldie has been there from The Beginning. The Oldie is old beyond their years, their face a map of a journey completely devoted to Art. They've made sacrifices, they've done it the Hard Way. They have stories to tell and there's no more receptive audience than young, impressionable minds. Inside the group The Oldie is revered as a tribe elder,
imparter of wisdom. The Oldie has done it all and wants to tell you about it. To an outsider The Oldie is a has-been trying to grab back some of the golden years by returning to the place where it all began. Like a dog to its vomit.

f) The Talent. The Talent is a rare find but they do exist. The Talent is someone who actually has a chance to make their Art into a paying job. They work their asses off and get results. The don't waffle on about pureness of form or method acting or suffering for your Art. They're the ones to watch out for, they've every chance to make it big.

Now I do understand I may have come across a bit harsh. But I need to stress that all I said above applies to the ones claiming to be Artists. These people are a completely separate breed from people who actually are artists. I have the greatest respect towards people who make their living as artists, no matter what the field. It is extremely hard work. 3 months in a drama school was more than enough to determine it wasn't a line of work for me. Because that's what it is. Work.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

All things wet and wonderful

Okay then. This is now day 6 without Mr S (and please don't tell him this) but I haven't noticed his absence all that much. I am quite enjoying the peace and quiet so far. I can go to bed without being woken up a few hours later by Mr S stomping his way from the living room (all lights on, telly turned up loud enough for our neighbours to enjoy), through the kitchen (stop at fridge, have a quick drink, don't forget to turn on light, make as much noise as possible closing the fridge door), into the bathroom (turn on the light, bang the toilet lid, cough loudly or make some other kind of noise), then doing his best baby elephant impression walk all the way back through the house to the living room, turn off all lights, lock the door and make as much noise as humanly possible getting into bed. The only thing that makes this worse is him turning around and saying "Sorry, didn't mean to wake you up".

Now that my rant is safely out of the way I do have to confess that I do miss him. Maybe more in one respect than others. And get your filthy minds out of the gutter, please! Although I must admit celibacy isn't bringing out anything pleasant in me. I miss being able to pick up the phone and ring him to ask him what to do if something goes wrong. Nothing major, but something like the TV or the dishwasher, or anything electrical or technical. Don't get me wrong, I can change a light bulb and programme the DVD recorder, tune a telly and I'll even give the old changing a flat tyre a go, but I need Mr S to tell me what's wrong with things so he can then fix them. There's nothing the man can't do and I really do wonder where do men in general learn this stuff? Is it one of those things dads gather their sons around for? Or are they little pearls of wisdom men just pick up along the way? I really haven't a clue. I'm glad he does, I'd hate to have to call the plumber around
everytime the boiler needs bleeding.

Could somebody tell me what's going on with the weather? Apocalyptic floods and gale force winds are what prompted my mother to ring me from Finland (the bad floods had made it into Finnish news, too) just to check if I was still afloat. Being a mum, she asked me if I needed her to come over. Considering this is a 5'2" woman who cannot swim, I found the question extremely endearing but funny nonetheless.

But seriously, seeing photographs in the papers and in the news of houses completely devastated by the floods, homes underwater,
bridges collapsed, traffic come to a standstill; well it all just makes you realise how little there is to be done. For all we know, these freak storm might well be our own doing. But honestly, disaster movies have tapped onto a very real fear. What can you do when your own surroundings, your very own comfort zone you call home, are getting a bit too close for comfort. I truly feel for all those who have been driven out of their homes.

All I can do is ride out the storm and hope I don't wake up that much closer to the Atlantic sea. That and start building an ark.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Anti-social experiment

Right, friends. Mr S has left me. Not "left" left me, just left the house for three whole weeks. Today is day 1 without Mr S. I have a funny feeling it's going to go one of two ways; either I'll find I thoroughly enjoy spending time alone and be delighted to see Mr S on his return OR (and this is the more likely scenario) I will go insane and become an anti-social shut-in who will shun all human contact and be extremely annoyed to see Mr S return and mess up the perfect world order I have created in his absence.

I am looking forward to this in a way. It's ages since I've been home alone. Maybe I'll get into amusing adventures involving two hapless would-be burglars (and me armed with a baseball bat). Or maybe I'll bore myself out of my mind within two days and resort to visiting everyone I know in a 100 mile radius to keep myself occupied.

Thankfully I'm still working 3 days a week. I know I'll moan about that, too but at least I'm guaranteed some form of human contact. Not that I'm usually this much of a homebody but lately I do feel like just staying at home and reading
a lot.

Let my anti-social experiment begin.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Unlucky 13... arse. I just wanted to share it with the world. There's nothing unlucky about my Friday the 13th. The salon I go to had it's 10th "birthday" today and they were handing out freebies and vouchers. I have a collection of Dermalogica samples, €20 gift voucher, and I got facemapping done for free.

If you haven't had facemapping done before, a word of advice; don't do it. They stick your head into a little box where you can see yourself in some kind of UV light.
Everything shows up. I mean everything. Remember that holiday you had 6 years ago when you got badly sunburnt? Even if you don't, your face does remember. Unless you have spent your entire life in the shade or have slathered on factor 50 every time you step outside, your face is going to be covered in little dark spots. They look like freckles' evil twins. And they're everywhere. Apparently dehydrated skin comes up purple. Needless to say, I looked like Barney with skin cancer. It wasn't pretty. I have resolved to cleanse, tone and moisturise religiously every day. We'll see how long I last this time. Standing record is 11 days.

I'm saving the best for last, obviously. I opened the glove box of my car to put some unnecessary crap from my handbag in there, and I was greeted by a lonely, forgotten
unopened bag of Pick'n Mix! I bought it on wednesday when shopping with Mr S, shoved it into the glove box and forgot all about it. I smiled all the way home.

Unlucky 13 my arse.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


What a nice day I had today. If I sound surprised it's because I was working today and was, quite frankly, expecting it to be shit. So I was pleasantly surprised when it turned out, well, nice.

Mr S wanted to go shopping yesterday. I know, I was just as shocked as you are. He NEVER wants to go shopping with me. He much rather goes in by himself, picks up exactly what he needs and nothing more and then goes in to one of the electrics -shops and looks at TVs and other gadgets and then comes home telling me we need most of them if not all of them. The man loves his gadgets. Some of them do come in handy, such as the navigator, which has saved me from many a sticky spot. I love not having to take out the huge map of the entire country and trying to locate yourself on it every time you're not entirely sure where it is that you're supposed to be going. On the downside I have completely stopped paying attention to road signs. All I can do is hope there's no major changes on the roads down our neck of the woods any time soon, lord knows where I'll wind up. But then I do have my trusty navigator to tell me where to go in case I do get lost. It really is a win-win situation. Just don't tell Mr S I said that, I was complaining that he spent too much money on the thing at the time.

A work mate told me today they think I'm suffering from
OCD. The thing is, they're probably right. I'm borderline at least. What prompted the statement from my colleague was when he saw me re-arranging plates by size and shape and stacking them on shelves. For me it was completely natural to do that with my spare time. When things aren't put away in the right place, it does bother me. Rationally thinking I know it's not that big of a deal but in real life if I see a square plate stacked on top of a pile of round ones, there's very little I can do to stop myself from placing the square one safely back with it's own kind.

I just like things done in a certain way, but I do have to admit I do take to the extremes sometimes. It's not like expect everyone to do the same. Apart from Mr S, who, often gets me nagging at him to do something only to find me re-doing it if he hasn't done it
exactly as I would do it.

For example, I can only make sandwiches in even numbers. This causes problems because most loaves of bread will only make an uneven number of sandwiches or worse yet, you're left with a lonely slice of bread without a partner.

My car stereo volume can only be an even number. Acceptable uneven numbers are 5 and 15. If anyone else is driving the car while I'm in it, I will keep a close eye on the volume. If it's anyone
else's car I really don't care as long as the music is good.

I never put a new
CD onto track 13 unless I know the track. Again, if someone else does it, I don't care.

It's not like I believe something horrible is going to happen if I don't do these things but I still insist on doing them. It makes me feel better.

Order into my chaos.

Poor Mr S.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Strangers on the line

I love facebook, I really really do. Where else could you find lost friends from sandboxes of time and stumble upon people you once had a drunken conversation with in a crowded night club bathroom while you're both dancing with the need to pee. It's also the perfect place to stalk people while pretending to be their friends. I do it, you do it, we might as well be honest about it.

What I don't understand is the friend requests from friends of friends or
facebook's own suggestions of "people you may know". Firstly, friends of friends aren't necessarily my friends. Just because we share an acquaintance, it doesn't mean we should be friends. I recently got a friend request from my friend's work mate who then sent me three subsequent messages asking me why I had turned him down (his wording, not mine) as a friend. Ha was quite frankly starting to scare me...

I'm sure
facebook had the best of intentions when introducing the "people you may know" feature. But let's face it, if I haven't friended someone by now, I'm quite unlikely to friend them now. What truly baffles me is these people who I have 18 or 15 or more friends in common and still, I haven't a clue who they are. The case of one girl, we have gone to the same school, known the same people and obviously frequented the same bars, shops, restaurants and cafes for quite some time. I can honestly say I do not know her. We even had a laugh about it on facebook. We're now facebook friends.

But it did get me thinking. How come our paths never met? Surely she was at the house party to end all house parties (which it did, mainly because of the fire), I know I was, as was the entire town. She was only one year below me in secondary school, and it was a small school. Everyone knew everyone else, at least knew their faces if not their names. Maybe I was such a self-absorbed little twat that I only cared about my own clique and nobody outside said clique mattered to me? Or maybe it was her who was oblivious to my
presence? I obviously didn't miss her as a friend, nor did she miss me. It's just funny in a way, to be in such close proximity to someone for years and never meet, only to be introduced to each other via a social networking tool.

Just so you know, she's a lovely girl and we exchange quite a few messages every week. I daresay more than I do with some of my "live" friends in fact.

Welcome, me!

Okay, goes :)

I've tried blogging about a million times before, always managing to produce something at various intervals for about a month and then abandoning it all. Who's to say this time won't be just as bad as the previous attempts, but what the hell? I'll give it a (yet another) go.

For those who don't know me (and that would probably be all of you) I'm 28 years of age until January next, when I'll be turning 21 +vat once more. I live in Ireland, have done so for the last 7 years. I was born in Finland and found my way to this little island through work placement in college, I met Mr S whom I've been sharing a bed and more with for over 6 years now. Despite prolific procreation going on all around me lately, I'm yet to have any offspring. I'm starting to think I might not want any (*gasp*). Right now I'm happy enough to mind other people's babies. That way I know I can just hand the little buggers right back to the parents the minute my last nerve starts to look just that little bit too frayed to withstand another screaming fit.

I have an older brother, who has a daughter and a fiancè, and two very excitable dogs. My niece's mother is not my brother's fiancè, just to make things a little bit more complicated despite amicable splits and joint custody.

My parents decided after I was born to have achieved perfection as far as offspring goes and decided to stop at that. Lucky really, I don't think I could handle any more immediate family.

About 4 years ago I persuaded Mr S it would be a good idea to get a cat. It was at the time, still is, most of the time. She was ever so cute when she arrived, little white ball of fluff we named Lily. She's still cute, most of the time. Not when she decides to jump on the bed at 6am to wake me up. Mr S sleeps through nuclear holocausts, it's very unsatisfactory for the cat to jump on top of him if she's expecting a reaction of some sort. Lily was joined a couple of years ago by Tom who had hung around our house for a while and one day decided to move in. He's a lot quieter. Except at the witching hour when he positions himself beside the bed and let out a howl loud enough to be heard in parts of Scotland and Wales.

I work, most of the time (which is a way to at least partly explain the sporadic nature of my previous blogs). I'm an assistant restaurant manager for a quite a large tourist attraction. It being a tourist attraction I find myself with plenty of spare time in the winter when only the bravest of all tourists venture out here to experience the cead mile failte and buckets of rain and the turf fires. Fair play to them, really, I'd opt for something like Spain or Italy, but that's just me. Good thing I don't work for the Irish Tourist Board or any other such authority.

So this is me. Nice to meet you.