hot sausage and mustard

December 29, 2012

2011 was a really hellish year. I limped hysterical, battered and bruised towards 2012, needy, with arms wide open, desperate to get away from the deaths, disappointments and devastation of 2011. I prayed and hoped 2012 would be a better year. And it was. All thanks, no doubt, to my particularly fervent and pious prayers (I’m the best at those).

Now, I wouldn’t say I am running arms wide open into 2013, but at least I could run if I wanted to. This year has had its fair share of difficulties, but I enter the new year with some anticipation rather than desperation. My world seems to have shrunk a little – the withdrawal from social media has had a surprising real-life impact.

And so I kiss goodbye to my twenties and tentatively take one step closer to the grave (as my granddad would cheerfully announce each birthday). I won’t know what to make of these years until I can get some proper distance from them. One of my older friends says that her life took a significant turning point at the swing of each new decade. I don’t have a lot of decades to go on, but so far something about that rings true.

I don’t have any summing up done. I’m not compiling the list of favourite movies, books and music from 2012. I’m not making a list of goals. I just want to survive 2013 intact, with a few close friends attached, and not fall apart because I have to get up at 5.45am every day and work, commute and study 65 hours a week.

Yesterday the husband unit and I dived into a project operated with military precision to cook 20 nights’ dinners for 2 people. Over five hours we chopped, stirred and simmered until we had dishes of soup, thai green curry, biriyani, chilli and meatballs coming out of our ears. I guarantee you, we cooled, decanted, labelled and froze more pre-prepared food than God himself (not a guarantee). We are doing everything we can think of to make the first couple of months of 2013 as smooth as possible. While I’ll be crapping myself over a demanding new job and yet another motherfucking thesis, he’ll be crapping himself over final year exams. Feast your eyes on these mismatching boxes of foil and tupperware glory, my friends, complete with instructions for adults blind with exhaustion. (Thank you to those of you who donated your old Chinese takeaway boxes. You know who you are.)





When we were finished, we smelled very strongly of food and a full-scale hose-down was required. This morning to our disgust, the mingled odours of curry, Mexican taco beef and boeuf bourguignon greeted our slightly hungover noses. A veritable rainbow of multicultural food stench!

However, the days are fast approaching when I will applaud my own extravagant foresightedness. Bravo chip monk! I imagine I will shout of a rainy Tuesday evening when I get in at 10pm and feck a plastic box in the microwave.

Oh the future. Who’d have it, eh?


i work in the dole office

December 13, 2012

Me: Hello, how can I help you?

Him: (Slowly removes coat, hat and scarf, sits down on chair and crosses legs. I am filled with a sense of foreboding.) Hello. I have a problem with my household benefits.

(Household benefits is a small amount of money given to the long-term unemployed towards phone, tv costs etc. It is not my area and he is not in the correct office, but I will listen to the problem and see what I can do.) 

Me: Ok. Let’s have a look here. What is your PPS number?

Him: (Spends several minutes trying to locate it. As this is rush hour, the queue behind him begins to lengthen.) 1234567Z

Me: Ok. Tom. What seems to be the problem?

Him: Well, on the fifth of October I closed my telephone account with Eircom. I don’t use the phone anymore. It’s just of no use to me. I have a mobile phone for emergencies. And today they sent me this. (Slides a bill for €8.03 across the counter to me, dated November 11th.)

Me: Ok.


Me: What can I do for you?

Him: Well, can you sort this out or not?

Me: What do you mean?

Him: (Getting irate) I closed this account!!

Me: Tom this is the social welfare office. I can’t do anything about your Eircom bill. You need to contact Eircom and tell them that you have closed your account and they have issued a bill to you in error.

Him: They sent me down from upstairs! (Upstairs is the maintenance section for open claims. I work in the new claims section.) They said you would sort this out for me!

Me: I’m sorry, they must have misunderstood your query. As I said, you will need to contact Eircom yourself and tell them that you have closed your account and they have issued a bill to you in error.

Him: How am I supposed to do that?

Me: (Examining the bill) You need to ring this number here.

Him: (Looking at me like I am a moron) …I don’t have a phone!

Me: You are welcome to use our phones over here (I gesture to the public phone area). They are free for public use: just dial 3 for an outside line.

Him: Why can’t you ring them for me?

Me: Tom, this is the social welfare office. We did not send you the bill. You must contact the people who sent you the bill. I cannot ring Eircom and sit on hold on your behalf. This has nothing to do with me or this office. This is a private matter between you and your phone provider.

Him: Fine! (He storms off, leaving his coat, hat and scarf on the chair. I decide to continue calling other customers in spite of his marking his territory.)

(3 minutes later)

Him: I couldn’t get through. (Sits down at my desk again.)

Me: Tom I don’t know what to say. You just have to keep trying.

Him: Well, I can’t get through.

Me: (Beginning to lose it slightly) I understand that you are frustrated about being issued a bill that you were not expecting but it is up to you to contact Eircom to resolve this.

Him: But I can’t get through.

Me: Perhaps you could write them a letter of complaint and enclose a copy of the bill. Would you like me to copy the bill for you?

Him: Yes, ok.

(I go to copy the bill. There are now six other customers waiting. To my horror, neither of the photocopiers is working. About to do my nut, I have the brainwave of using the fax to make a copy. I return to my desk.)

Me: There you are.

Him: Thanks.


Me: So you should write to them and enclose that copy of the bill Tom.

Him: What is the address?

(Trying not to snatch it or explode, I examine the bill. There is no address listed. I begin to hate Eircom almost as much as I hate this encounter. I google for an address for Eircom customer complaints, eventually find one and write it down. I also find another helpline number listed, which I write out for Tom.)

Me: There you are.

Him: Ok. Thanks. (Spends several long minutes putting on his coat and hat and gloves while I, and the other customers, look on in utter disbelief. He leaves and my brain explodes all over the dole office, leaving chunks of fudgey grey matter on every surface.)

me, too

December 10, 2012

Allow me a moment to boast. Myself and the husband unit did something really good.

We’re lucky enough to have a lot of love and, out of that love (to our idiot astonishment), came a small burst of life: I was pregnant. But sadly the little life didn’t make it. I had a miscarriage before it really had a chance to get comfortable in there. Just at the end of last month.

Surprising in the sadness is the sense of thankfulness for who was, and that we got to be involved at all. Thankful, too, that it was quiet and private and at home, and not in a hospital.

Almost every woman I’ve told has quietly said, “Me, too.” One had lost her baby just the week before me. Unlike me, she had named her daughter; she had things to unwish for and plans to unmake.

My doctor, who I love, to protect me, wrote “viral illness” on my sick cert. I’ve lied about it in work. I’m not exactly clear on why. Why do we not mention miscarriages?

The husband unit went and had another birthday and we ate beef wellington and drank two bottles of sparkling wine: one expensive, one cheap.

And, I got a new job. That company called me back and offered me a more senior role than the one I’d applied for: more responsibility, longer hours, better pay. It’s a little hard to believe…and a little hard to care, to be honest. Nothing like a bit of death to put a bit of perspective on things. Or is that a bit of life?

Anyway, we are ok, but a bit like play-doh at the moment: squishy and easily smashed flat if not approached with tenderness. On the upside, play-doh smells oddly good, is brightly coloured and ruins even the fanciest of carpets. And is non-toxic to children.