Irish blogs

Looking for new reading material? Or curious to see what other Irish bloggers write about?

Fellow Irish blogger Limmster has created a new Pinterest Board for Irish blogs, over here.  Sorted by category, it’s well worth a follow if you’re a Pinterest user (I confess I’m not the best, but I’m told it’s quite intuitive).

I’ll let her tell you all about it here.

 

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Welcome to my new home

I’ve moved house. Kinda.

Currently straddling two platforms (ooh-err), An Cailín Rua will soon be a WordPress only site with its very own domain.

I’ve even set up a Facebook page, so give it a like if you’d like to be kept up to date with all the goings on over here. 

Thanks for reading, and please bear with me while I iron out teething problems (i.e. figure out how all this works).

Two Thoughts on Conforming

“Once conform, once do what other people do because they do it, and a lethargy steals over all the finer nerves and faculties of the soul. She becomes all outer show and inward emptiness; dull, callous, and indifferent.”
~ Virginia Woolf

“Nonconformists travel as a rule in bunches. You rarely find a nonconformist who goes it alone. And woe to him inside a nonconformist clique who does not conform with nonconformity”
~Eric Hoffer

Wake Up

Once again, this post was written as part of The Great Cake Experiment.

I look forward to the day I can write a weekly without prompting. In the meantime, why not have a read, and marvel at the talent of my fellow writers there?
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Looking for some inspiration for this week’s topic, and not trying too hard to think outside the box, I took the obvious route and googled the phrase “Wake Up” (including Boolean operators – do people still use those?).

That course of action resulted in this song circulating in my head for a few hours afterwards, which I didn’t much mind. I found this, which amused me greatly (but then there’s no accounting for my sense of humour). I also found this (Oh, the hilarity.) What struck me the most, though, was the proliferation of sites offering advice on “How To Wake Up Early”, “How To Wake up On Time” and “How To Wake Up Feeling Alert!” (“Alert” in my book = “Annoyingly Sprightly”.) All of which got me pondering why it is that so many people need assistance in awakening in the mornings. It appears I’m not so unusual after all.

I can only speak for myself, but waking up in the morning requires supreme effort on my part. It’s not that I’m lazy (Okay, maybe it’s that I’m lazy). I never sleep as much as I should. In fact, I’m almost permanently sleep deprived, and sometimes spend entire days in a state of dazed tiredness. But here’s the thing. I have no-one to blame but me. It’s entirely my own fault, because, well, I hate going to sleep.

This is a confession that few understand, and most greet with incredulous horror. Admitting such a thing usually elicits the same reaction as the one I garner when I’m spotted adding hot water to the milk in my Rice Krispies (I’m sick of having to explain why I do this, so I’m not explaining it here). Or, the response I received when I once admitted I’d never seen the Shawshank Redemption, a crime which, judging by the reaction I received to the admission is clearly on a par with eating one’s first-born child. The majority of folk are sensible, and enjoy winding down for the evening and curling up or cuddling up in bed at what my folks would call “a decent hour”. My genes took a wrong turn somewhere along the way, because my mum rarely stays up past 10pm. She, like most sane-minded people values a good night’s sleep.

Me … I’m different. I love the night. As the day wears on and most people fade, I slowly come to life. When others are fading, I’m starting to shine. It’s for this reason that I start work late and finish late. I’m at my most productive when most folk are comatose. It’s a pattern that’s continued throughout my life – school, university (cramming is king) and unfortunately, my work life. I sometimes wonder if I’m a distant cousin, twice removed of the old Count D.

I’m not sure why I dislike succumbing to sleep so much. Every night is a battle to stay awake, rather than go to sleep. Regrettably, when I really need to sleep, I never can. Oh, the irony! Recently, when I have had occasion to want to sleep, in order to not think any more, I find it eludes me – a shadow, escaping around the next corner, leaving only a trace of its presence as I chase. Ordinarily though, I love the solitude that comes with being awake whilst the world sleeps around me. I love the quietness in the country, and I adore the city at night. I feed off the energy; the lights, and the characters that only emerge after dark, the fellow nocturnal animals. Sometimes I take the car and drive high up the mountains when everyone I live with sleeps, and sit and gaze over the vista I have all to myself.

Oddly, I also adore greeting the sunrise… but only if I’m still awake. There’s nothing I relish more after a night of debauchery than wandering around the garden, preferably in my bare feet in the dewy grass, at 6am on a sunny summer’s morning, listening to the birdsong.  Oddly enough, I never partake of this simple pleasure if I have to set an alarm and wake up to avail of it.

Not sleeping has its drawbacks. Tiredness, I am told results in lower productivity and motivation levels, impairment of ability, and hormone imbalances that can lead to weight gain/loss, amongst others. Personally, I find that if I don’t dream enough, I feel stressed – I think dreaming is the brain’s way of processing and organising the things that happen us during waking hours (even if my dreams do so in the oddest way possible, but I digress). Lack of sleep can also contribute to poor skin, slower healing, and an overall sense of malaise.

So, no matter how much I love the night and reject sleep’s courting, as I get older, and need all the help I can get to stay healthy and sane(ish), I feel it’s probably in my best interests to stop viewing sleep as the enemy, take it by the hand into a quiet corner and get to know it a little better. My health of mind and body will thank me more, and the day will come… one day… when waking up will actually become a pleasure.

A Good Lie

This is my first post for The Great Cake* Experiment. Other posts can be found here:

http://thegreatcakeexperiment.tumblr.com/

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And so beginneth the Great Cake Experiment.

I’m a fan of Cake, myself – be it eating, baking, anticipating, throwing (yes, I’ve had those types of parties, not usually by choice) and sometimes, even just dreaming about it. The promise of some post-work tea and Cake has made many a Monday morning all the more palatable and many a Friday evening more blissful. So the promise of sharing in some Cake with lots of fellow Cake Appreciators in the future fills me with great joy, and is quite a good incentive to confront the deep-seated sense of apprehension I feel about sharing my inane ramblings with real people. But I digress. This post isn’t meant to be about Cake, as much as I’d like it to be.

So… back on topic. A Good Lie. What makes a good lie? Hmmm. At this point, if I were even a generation older, I’d be chewing on my pencil, scrunching up lots of paper into little balls and aiming them unsuccessfully at the wicker waste-paper basket in the corner. Unfortunately, modern technology has ensured that such simple, if environmentally catastrophic pleasures are now no longer available (I mean, who uses wicker waste-paper baskets these days?). I have briefly considered writing a post about golf; where good lies are relatively simple affairs, but that would just be taking the easy way out, and would doubtless make for terminally boring reading. O, Cakemistress, this is a tough one for a rusty writer, I cannot lie, in a good way or otherwise.

The very concept of lying is something that we are taught, almost as soon as we can talk, is wrong. The ironic reality though, is that life, as we live it each day is interspersed with lies. Today, in a bid to get ‘in the zone’ for writing this post, I resolved to be aware of examples of lies – good or otherwise – around me. I woke at 8am, feeling like muck. The last thing the world I wanted to do was open the blinds and admit defeat to the morning light, but sometimes needs (and rent) must. So when my housemate asked me over morning tea/frantic ironing how I was, why, I’d had a wonderful night’s sleep and was full of enthusiasm at the prospect of a day full of meetings about meetings. Bing, Bing! Two lies, and I wasn’t even dressed yet.

Lie #3 followed a similar conversation with a colleague who enquired after my wellbeing, but in my defence, I only told one of the above lies. Bing! Lie #4 was via email to a close friend who’d asked for a favour. Bing! Yes, in all honesty it was some trouble, and yes, it was a minor inconvenience but you don’t know how rubbish I’m feeling today, I would do anything for you, and you would do the same for me in a heartbeat, so telling you it’s no trouble at all doesn’t really count as a lie, right? Lie #5 was to another colleague – “Yes Michael, I’ve almost finished that, I’ll send it on to you shortly…” B… oh you get the picture. (In case you are Michael, and you are reading this, I had some PC issues earlier…… bing.) And so on, and so forth. By lunchtime, I was seriously questioning my integrity and re-evaluating my perception of myself as a decent person. By 4pm, I was projecting, and regarding my colleagues with deep suspicion, convinced that if I was such a compulsive liar, I couldn’t possibly be the only one.

At 7pm, my mother lied to me. “I’m fine. I’m feeling much better today”. My endearingly honest father set the record straight. Bing!

By 10pm I’d stumbled across a rather uncomfortably relevant article about Facebook Fakers – those who use their Facebook, Twitter and various other social media accounts to project false information and portray the image of the ‘perfect’ life (‘Perfect’ by definition meaning having lots of friends – real or virtual, being tagged in lots of photos teetering on gravity-defying heels and looking impossibly glamorous with said friends, preferably with a glass of wine in hand – but never with anyone who’s hotter than you – meeting celebrities, and tweeting from various cool must-be-seen-in locations, while in reality you may actually be stuffing your face with cheesecake from the fridge whilst wearing a face mask, fluffy socks and watching the Late Late Show. For non-Irish readers, watching the Late Late Show is a very non-Perfect-Life thing to do on a Friday night.) Apparently, this is just the beginning, and very soon we will all be appraising our lives, not by our own happiness, but by what others approve of. Or so the ’experts’ say.

By midnight, I’d stopped questioning it, and realised that lies are everywhere.

So the question remains, what makes a ‘good’ lie? This is where the line blurs. What is ‘good’? Who defines it? Indeed, if lying is so prevalent, does it even count as lying anymore?

I suppose a ‘bad’ lie is one with negative consequences for others. A lie in work, told because you don’t want to expose your lack of knowledge or experience, can have consequences for your colleagues. They may have to forsake their time to help you out of a rut. They may even tell you that it’s “fine” and “no trouble at all” Bing! Telling someone you love you’re happy in a relationship, because they’re not in a good place, and you feel telling them otherwise may damage them is a Bad Lie. Telling someone you’re ill, to elicit some pity or because you haven’t delivered on something you should have, that’s a Bad Lie. Lying to yourself, and trying to be someone you’re not to preserve the status quo, that’s one of the worst lies of all. (On the other hand, saying “oh, didn’t you get my text earlier?” just makes you a bad liar.)

After much thought therefore, while lying as a hobby is a bad pastime, there are varying degrees of untruth. If a Bad Lie is one with negative consequences for others, then conversely, a Good Lie is one without. Telling a mate I’m fine in the morning because I don’t want to burden her with my feelings when she’s going through a rough time herself, y’know what,  that’s a good lie. (Particularly when I, in all likelihood will feel fine by lunchtime.) Telling a stressed colleague you’ve something under control, even when you don’t, is a good lie, if it calms them (but only if you frantically begin to get it under control immediately, otherwise, it’s a Bad Lie). Telling your friend you won’t make a fuss of her birthday – in fact, you might not even be around that weekend, but then surprising her with something that makes her feel really special and loved, that’s a Good Lie. Sometimes we compromise ourselves and in doing so, compromise the truth a little in order to make other people feel good. There’s a fine line, and we often teeter on the rope, but sometimes, telling a Good Lie will make all the difference to someone else, and where’s the harm in that?

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to change my Facebook profile photo to the Face Mask and Cheesecake Horror shot…..

Getting Comfortable.. with Cake*

So…. this is my new home. It’s all new and shiny here…

*pulls up a chair, kicks off shoes, pours a glass of wine*

For now, this is the kind of place that needs coasters, a good doormat and possibly even some dust sheets. But I’m sure it won’t be long before I’m putting my feet up on the table.

I should explain myself. I do the occasional piece of scribbling here and there, when the mood takes me. I had my own blog…. I managed to write five posts over the course of two years. Mostly about me, which wasn’t very interesting. (No really, it’s lovely of you to protes t … but it really was terribly dull.)

So when my lovely friend Kathryn (who can be found here) announced that she was setting up a writing project, I was happy to get on board, if not a tad apprehensive.

The Great Cake* Experiment involves 16 writer, each of whom had, at some point in the last while admitted to Kathryn that they wished to wrote more, or more often, or who had expressed an interest in starting a blog of their own. So Kathryn sent them all a mail suggesting this project with the following rules:

“Everyone who takes part in The Great Cake* Experiment pledges £5, to be collected at the end of the season.

At 4pm every Monday, Kathryn sends out a topic, word or phrase, and the writers then have one week to produce a blog post of any description.

When everyone’s posts are online, each one who contributed votes for their three favourite posts. After 12 weeks, the points are added up and the top three writers win everyone’s £5 – to spend on cake!

They don’t *have* to spend the winnings on cake, but really, it would be a crying shame if they didn’t.

So… this is my new blog, which will contain all my Cake* posts, and maybe a few other bits and pieces too.

Other Cake posts can be found here.

Looking forward to writing and reading with you all, Great Cake Experimenters.