2015: Awareness

I made new year resolutions this year, for the first time in as long as I can remember. I’ve got big ideas and bold plans for the year ahead: Writing, Yoga, Adventure. Above all, awareness.

All told, I had a great 2014.  A year of travelling all over the world, a year of creativity and friends and laughter and so many fun times. So many happy photos on Facebook, upbeat updates on Twitter. But there was more going on behind the scenes. There was a lot of "broken-ness". There was sickness and sorrow, jealousy and bitterness, envy and hopelessness. I don’t like to advertise it when I sob on the floor. I don’t think any of us do. 

When I thought about this post, I was going to post an artful little shot of my resolution preparation: notebook, fire, glass of wine. 

But fuck that. 

You wouldn’t be able to see the counter full of dishes, the rumpled bed, the dust and dirt that accumulates when I’m busy pursuing my dreams (or procrastinating). 

It wasn't perfect. But I am really excited about the year ahead. I don't know where it will lead, just like I couldn't have predicted where 2014 would lead. Sometimes that's really scary. Sometimes I don't know what I am doing at all. Sometimes I feel broken, lost, messy. But then I look back and so much has happened even in the darkest times.

So, if you are feeling broken, lost, messy, alone or like you don’t know what you are doing or where you are going? You are not alone, I have you in my heart <3


To keep track for myself for those days when all feels lost, in no particular order, here’s what I am most proud of myself for accomplishing in 2014:

- Finished the first draft of my novel

- Gave a talk about play and the occult at game festival (twice!)

- Brought a game I designed to a game festival (twice!)

- Saved up and went to Thailand for a month

- Taught project management to some fantastic students in DIT

- Actually made rent money from writing

- Sustainably supported myself through freelancing work for the first time

- Met and talked about writing with two of my heroes (M John Harrison & Grant Morrison)

- Taught interactive fiction at the Irish Writers Centre

- Ate olives

- Became a full-time part of the Fumbally Exchange community

- Did a handstand in yoga

- Finally paid my 2010 income tax (I know!)

- My name is on MARS right now!

- Guested on my favourite podcast (twice!)


And for those days where everything seems possible, I want to remember to keep a check on what I’m not proud of at all & aim to be better at in 2015:

- Procrastinating all the live long day all the live long week all the live long month all the live long year...

- Jealousy and envy, so much jealousy and envy!

- Making excuses for anything for everything

- Sticking my head in the sand about money/security/health

- Hubris of the highest order

- Mess mess mess mess mess

- Over-reliance on social media to fill/alleviate moments of anxiety

- Not doing enough yoga/meditation

Ten Years Of Money In Snapshots


I live in a squat in Sydney. The basement is inhabited by heroin addicts and a nest of funnel web spiders. The doorbell rings often, never for me but our drug dealer landlord. I work in a beautiful glass tower for a health insurance company, wearing one of two outfits each day. I get paid not quite enough money to live, less than half of what the temp agency get paid for my labour. I meet my boyfriend after work to walk the house pitbull. I am as happy as I will ever be. 



I live at home in Dublin, in my childhood bedroom. I work at a big tech company, something something online advertising something. I can’t believe how glamorous it feels to go to work every day. I make enough money to pay all of my loans and go out on the weekends.



I live with my boyfriend in Dublin, in a tiny, charming, over-priced apartment above a pub. Work does not feel glamorous anymore. I make enough money to go on holidays, to buy as many books as I want, to buy box sets to watch in the exhausted evenings.



We fill the tiny apartment with too many things. I have a very nice title in work and the best desk on the 5th floor. I spend money visiting Singapore, paying for electricity, on drinks.



I leave the big tech company but not the tiny apartment. Thanks to stock options, I have plenty of money, enough money to live for a year without working at all. I read a lot of books. I buy many types of yarn for knitting.



We go to South America for months and months, leaving the tiny apartment for the last time. We stay in cheap hostels and spend money on buses, lomo a la pobre, palta, vino. We look at stars in the desert and get caught in the rain in cloud forest. I feel alive. I begin to write in a small notebook, “what should I be doing?” People I know buy houses, have kids. It feels like I have never done the right thing at the right time. I am as happy as I will ever be.



We are in a new rented home, a tiny cottage with a deck and a real fireplace. We fill it with little trinkets, memories of our travels. We work side by side, website design and computer fixing. We have hardly any money at all, but lots of time. Every week is an exercise in making something from nothing. I join a writing class. I am anxious as all hell. 



I work at another big tech company. It is all very exciting but I am on edge, watchful. It hurts my teeth to see the bright young folks out of college filled with that doomed messianic start-up zeal I once had. I have enough money to live, enough money for money not to be my primary worry. I leave a writing class; I say it is because I don’t have the time, the reality is I have no mental or emotional energy to spend on what matters to me.



It goes on. I work, I make money. We get married and go to Laos for a whole month on our honeymoon. I remember who I am while I am there, I’m re-inhabited by my travelling self. I stay off the internet. I write. When we get home, I cry on the way into work and when I get in, the whole floor is empty, cleaned out. For one transformative moment I think the whole company closed down while I was away and I am free. Then I realise we just moved to a different floor.



My travelling self didn’t leave me, it screams for escape. I have enough money to live for a few months without working. I have a novel I’ve started and want to commit to. I don’t know what I’m doing but I’m going to do it anyway. I leave the big tech company but not the tiny cottage. I write. It hurts. I cry a lot. I feel things much more, like my skin has been removed and my raw insides roll in the dirt of the world. I write more. I make new friends in the real world and find other kindred spirits online. Listening to small talk and platitudes starts to make me feel itchy. 



I go to Thailand. The money is almost gone and I’m gripped with a huge fear of needing to return to work in another big tech company. I begin to teach. I love it. All that expensive yarn I bought is eaten by moths, along with the painstaking creations I knit and crocheted. I think about those moths, every atom of their material being forged into reality from the products of my creativity. I write. I write and write and write. I write until it hurts too much and I need to cry. I cry until I remember “I chose this” and get back to it. I am happy. I wouldn’t say I am as happy as I will ever be but I believe that such things can only be recognised in hindsight.


Precious Memory


We hiked all day, climbing higher and higher through the trees via the zig-zag paths, scuffing our boots on dusty rocks. Our packs weighed heavily upon us then, several days into a ten-day hike. 

In retrospect, I chuckle at our youthful enthusiasm for an experience we weren’t really equipped with the fitness for. It was November in New Zealand, 2004. On the first night of the hike, we flung ourselves to the frozen ground in exhaustion, laying down our sleeping bags under an over-hanging crag. If I was ever more cold than I was that night I cannot remember it. We woke to frozen water bottles and got lost that day in snow flurries atop a high mountain. 

But on the day of this precious memory, this day of endless climbing, the cold night was so far away it could have been years. All the worries of the first day had been eroded completely. There was no point in worrying anymore. There was nothing but one foot in front of another. The reliable psalm of constant pain in backs and feet, a chorus with each step. I was warm, no matter the real temperature. I hiked in a tank-top, the fabric between me and my trusty backpack always soaked with sweat. We talked, mostly the two of us. We talked of dreams and plans and the things we looked forward to, how much we missed our family and friends after eleven months away and how we would see them soon soon. On that day, I remember a small bag of fruit chews taking on an inordinate importance as we rewarded each other with the treats for making it just to that tree trunk, just until we could touch that rock, just until we were two zig-zag stretches ahead of the others.


On and on we trekked and it felt like forever, but it was only seven hours or so, the span of a regular working day. We walked through streams, didn’t care about wet feet by then. We hopped over rocks, rested our backpacks against trees, drank water like it was the nectar of the gods. 

It was getting dusky when we made it to the top of the mountain. To one of those huts you find in New Zealand’s national parks, solidly bare of furnishings but feeling like the Taj Mahal after nights sleeping rough and days walking walking walking. We made blue cheese pasta for dinner. There was no internet, no mobile phone coverage. I lay on the hard pallet in my sleeping bag and read a chapter of a Steven Erikson book by torchlight, chewing one of those glorious fruit chews. I will always remember that moment, pure heaven. To rest after labour, absolute luxury is just some sugar and words while horizontal. 

After dinner, our guide took us all out in the dark with our torches to a spot close to the hut where there were natural hot thermal pools. We were the only people on the mountain, no way to these pools except the seven-hour slog. No changing rooms, bottled water, tiled edges, slides. In the dark, we stripped off all our clothes and got in. The base of the pools was uneven, muddy and silty, the water perfectly warm and steamy and it all felt divine on weary backs and feet and dirty bodies. At night, it was cold cold up there on the mountain, and we kept ourseves beneath the water’s level and laughed with delight. 


There was a moon, I don’t remember if it was full, but our eyes adjusted and we could see by it after sitting there a while. Our mountain was smaller than the others surrounding it. And suddenly there was a huge cracking sound in the night, and by the light of the moon we could see an avalanche breaking and cascading off down the side of one of the other higher mountains. Maybe we were the only ones to witness it, out there, hours from anything. 

And at that moment I remember feeling very small indeed, like a tiny creature balanced tenderly in the hand of the universe. And although it was cold all around us, I was warm, we were warm. And we raced back to the hut laughing and shivering and slept so well that night. And I thought, this is what life is all about, moments like this, and I brimmed with excitement for the possibility of so many more moments woven of the same stuff.