Tuesday, September 26, 2006

autosummarize

There's this story I've been working on for a long time.

Literally.

It's been going on for years and I'm not even half way there.

Anyway, at this point I've squeezed 41,867 words out of the first draft, and I'm nowhere near a conclusion.

Rather, the conclusion is ish written, but the midriff is empty at the moment.

The point is that tonight in a fit of pique I decided to autosummarize the story into 1% (in a separate document of course).

I recommend it to any fellow people trying to write and failing miserably.

It is really gas, and it reads like a bad haiku.

Anyway I can't tell you now, it gives away the ending.

But it has put a smile on my face, and has given me more energy to write the next 41,867 words!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

A friendly compass

I'm completely lost, on the verge of some incident, and then the phone rings and I'm meeting my mate for lunch, she's been away for a week or two and like some superhero has flown in just in the nick of time.

It's great to meet someone when you're on the edge, I find. At best they can point you in some direction and at worst you can off-load some of your angst on them, unintentionally of course.

Besides, often times I'm the ear that listens, and so today was my payback.

She was so happy, just back from her holiday, and I felt so guilty that I tried not to off-load. After about four minutes I exploded into a pile of confusion. Smiling, in a calm way, she mopped up my messy life into a few manageable pieces of advice, which I'll impart here:

1. It's ok to be the wrong one (this is in relation to an admission that work isn't ticketyboo, and this may be, partly, due to ahem, my attitude)

2. It's good to have a wide range of objectives (this is in relation to a babbling brook of future careers I may wish to pursue like now - ranging from café opener / entrepreneur through psychoanalyst through global explorer)

3. You're not experiencing an existential crisis, it's just your life (this nugget I admit I don't fully understand, but it made me smile so I felt it was useful. The fact that I'm reading Camus' The Fall and that I'm really on a ledge I may not have communicated fully. Plus, and I'm probably being 1 above, but I'm not sure she knew what I meant).

And all the while she smiled, smiled and smiled. I feel much better now, even though I'm still utterly lost.

The only fear I have, apart from all the morbid fears I'm experiencing is that up until about a week ago, when I had a friendly chat with another mate who is going through something, I was feeling fine.

I just hope this precipice stuff isn't contagious, and that I've passed it on to my compass.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The stupidest girl in the class

A few years ago I made a mistake. These things happen every day, I don't expect sympathy or anything.

It wasn't especially bad, but still. Lord know what overtook me, everyone else I knew just headed to Australia or South-east Asia when they lost their way in those initial years after college.

My freakout took the peculiar shape of a masters in strategic marketing. It's tame I know, compared to trying smack, robbing rare birds eggs or even heading to the nether regions of the globe with only a smelly sleeping bag and some grubby fivers. But I lacked direction, and the course title seemed to suggest some. Plus I was a confused young adult, and as I said it was a mistake.

Even in rebellion I rock too gently I guess.

Anyway there I was, the strange kid in the class who kept mentioning deconstruction while the other kids focussed on the construction industry. It wasn't pleasant for them, and it was hell for me. I took joy in any moment I could.

And while normally my memories come to me as Platoonesque flashbacks, the other night I smiled a nostalgic grin as I remembered the day we studied one Harvard case study in particular.

It was a fraught Strategic Marketing Management lecture (note: the more times Strategic is mentioned in the course and module titles, the more important the course must be) and the class were flipping through their paper, personal organisers and other gadgets with great intent.

I was aping them, albeit a few seconds late, similar to how it was when our school choir would sing at Christmas and I didn't know the words.

The lecturer said, 'I know we're scheduled to look at the Enron case this week, but in light of all the ahem, issues in the press at the moment, well, I think we'll focus on revising our previous cases'.

We sat in silence, one hand wavering alone in the air.

The lecturer nodded at her.

Business students you ignore at your peril, they are so serious they make philosophy students look like comedians.

'I've studied this case indepthly...' she started, 'so I presume that we can use it in the exam, can we? Otherwise it's just a waste of time really, isn't it.'

I laughed, but it wasn't a joke.

The other night, slipping 'Enron The Smartest Guys in the Office' into my dvd player, I remembered that evening, and smiled.

Two years out of my life, a mistake, but hey, at least I didn't lose my pension on it.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Going to the movies by oneself

Last night I was supposed to go out with a friend, who had to cancel and I was left on my own, on payday.

There was no way in hell that I was going home. It has been a dreadfully tough (aka boring and hard work) week. I left work at five thirty and wandered down town.

I don't often shop for longer than neccessary due to the crowds and the pokey shops, and the fact that generally speaking I don't really get overly excited about the colour of a cardigan or whatever.

Anyway, last night I felt a bit girly, so I decided to browse the shops, and wandered aimlessly around for a bit and bought a miscellany of objects. Exhausted I looked at the time on my phone and realised with fright that it was still only ten to six.

Still I was bored, so I decided to go to the cinema. Now, there are good and bad things about going to see a movie by oneself, something I was thinking about when I bought the ticket for Little Miss Sunshine at nine in UGC. The good thing for me is the sense of complete independence, and the fact that you don't have to account for anyone else's taste.

And I thought it was an interesting, good movie. I felt that it looked at today's world through a caustic, yet somewhat nostalgic eye. There's a moment in the beauty pagaent that I got a jolt, as it's shocking, but then I thought about what it was saying, and I think it's poking at an important message about our society.

It's frigging terrible though going to see a good movie. Noone I know has seen it, and I hate that I have noone to talk to about it.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Weighing Scales

I stand, the last in the short queue, coveted pink weighing scales heavy in my hands.

It's late in the evening, they're about to close the department store. Still bright outside, late summer. Only one or two aimless customers wander in the kitchen utensil section, browsing garlic crushers or expensive heavy saucepans.

The weighing scales was the last complete set and it's quite dirty, will need to be cleaned when I drive it home to its next home on my kitchen table.

It's my turn and I place it on the counter, for the price to be taken by the cashier and for the other woman to swathe it in layers of light, protective foam.

The cashier lifts it delicately, and I'm afraid that she'll comment on it's dirt, that she'll shame me into leaving it, even though it's the last one, and if a weighing scales were to be some tool to communicate who I like to see myself as, this is it.

She doesn't comment, she's listening to the other woman who says,

'I'll get you that water Mary now, and then I'll take over from you. It's becoming clear though, that the only way to go is private, and I don't like that Mary. It's costing a fortune, but going public, well it would take a few weeks for him to even see me, and I just can't wait Mary, I think it's serious, you know, I have a bad feeling about this'.

The cashier nods, and finding the barcode, attempts to scan in the price. The other woman hesitates, and doesn't move away, instead continues,

'But do you think I should wait, like, and go public? I feel just terrible Mary, just awful. He's going to have a look tomorrow, but maybe I should leave it and go public?'

The cashier turns and says,

'You can't not see him if it's arranged for tomorrow - it doesn't work like that, and your health is the most important thing, if you think something is wrong, then get it taken care of. I'd like that water, it would be great.'

And the other woman nods, saying,

'I'd have to wait weeks Mary, for them to see it, if I went public.'

The scanner can't pick up the code, so the cashier begins to scrunch her eyes to read it, and then carefully types it, digit by digit, checking each one, into the register,

'Last night Mary, it got so bad that I was in the toilet for an hour and Ciara was knocking on the door, saying 'are you alright in there Ma', it was terrible, I couldn't keep anything in me, all the food from the day passed right through me.'

The price pops on the screen and the cashier pauses, before the other woman says,

'I'll do this one, and then I'll get the water.'

The cashier nods, and hands the weighing scales to her before asking for my credit card, which I hand to her.

The other woman handles my weighing scales carefully, as though she's sizing it, before placing it on the thin sheets of foam.

The cashier places my credit card in the machine and asks me to put my pin number in the keypad.

Somebody stands behind me, and suddenly there's a queue again.

'I don't mean to you know upset you Mary, I know that you, and a couple of years ago and, you haven't had your break yet, what time is it, are we near closing?'

The cashier says

'The water will do me grand, it will be fine. If you're worried, have it seen to, that's my advice.'

The other lady nods.

'Well, Mary, I'll just wrap this up, and I'll get the water. But I'm very scared, really I am.'

She begins to roll a layer of foam on, securing it with sellotape before beginning the second layer.

'Was it awful Mary, was it?' she asks.

I wonder whether they even realise that I'm standing listening, I'd rather not, but I can't help hearing from where I am. And if I move, it will be too obvious.

The other person behind me, who I can't see, must be listening too. Or maybe they can't hear.

'After they took the ovary out, it was over, and I've had no trouble since. If you're worried, get it seen to, that's my advice.'

The cashier says.

I admit that I'm shocked.

I know that she would like her glass of water, and I'm feeling that she wants the conversation to end. If I could, I would get her the water, or better still, walk away, but I'm in the middle of this transaction.

The other lady looks at the cashier who is handing me back my card, and says

'That's where I've messed it up, Mary, by leaving it too long. I should have had it seen to when the problem started, instead of ignoring it for so long. I have a really bad feeling about this Mary, a really bad feeling. I'm scared.'

After saying this, and pausing for a few seconds, she slowly lifts the swathed weighing scales high in the air, and the cashier, understanding what she's doing, places under it a large paper bag bearing the department store logo. Between them, moving each object carefully, they place the inflated heavy scales securely in the bag.

The cashier hands the bag over, without looking at me.

I nod and say thanks, quickly moving away from the till.


Sunday, September 10, 2006

flaming nora

Why is it that a simple invitation to dinner results in my having a stinky hangover and a throat like a chimney pre-smokeless fuel?

There was absolutely no need for me to stay up talking until almost five. In fact, the conversation wasn't that illuminating or interesting really.

I had plans, things to do. My gym bag was packed, I was going to tidy the house, get some preparation in for the interview tomorrow.

Instead an afternoon moping around on the sofa, reading the guardian magazine from yesterday and chortling at the images of Jimmy Carr as Jack Nicholson in the Shining whilst munching crisps and chocolate and generally feeling most unwell.

What was the frigging point of today in my life, like really?

They say that you should never feel you've wasted a day in your life, yet I've wasted years of my adult life through hangovers.

The mandatory Irish lets get pissed. Take tonight for instance, I just know that I'll have at least a can of beer or a glass of wine. Maybe booze is the only requiem in this windswept waterlogged island, but at the same time, maybe if I didn't booze I'd actually get something done instead of being a permanent slacker with a PHD in self-pity.

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