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Covid Plague Interior Highways Life In Eire

Isolation, On The Other Side Of The World

I guess I/we have been reluctant to write about the elephant in the room as we’re all currently still wading through the muck of it, in one way or another. Much like the term of the previous American president, we all just want the utter shitness of the pandemic to end. That’s really what it all boils down to, doesn’t it? End of post!

But that obviously doesn’t really help. Merely clock-watching doesn’t bring that horizon any closer (a la the detention room clock in The Breakfast Club).

Texting, voice-messaging, emailing, and video-chatting with y’all has helped tremendously and been a lifeline for us (so thank you, first and foremost). There has also been plenty of insightful writing on the subject of survival techniques from notable mastheads the world over, which have really helped us (the recent Irish Times piece on languishing comes to mind). We’re grateful to have all of you and these helpful resources in our lives. We only hope that we have been, or can be, as supportive to you and yours in your hour of need.

This however has been extremely difficult as deep down when one person’s tank is running low, and another’s is empty, there is very little fuel to go around. Certainly it makes the task of nurturing and looking after one another as we normally would very difficult. I think most of us have thought about this—or felt a variation of it beneath the surface—during this Covid era.

Adding to this the inherent limitations of today’s communications technology and its a miracle that we can even get our intentions across at all. “Zoom fatigue”—yep, obviously real. It just doesn’t cut it compared to the nourishment of real company, instead clearing the low bar of being “certainly better than nothing”. Texting/messaging: this suffers the “mental bandwidth” problem on the input and output stage, not to mention the absolute pain in the arse that is having to hunch over and exclusively use one’s opposable thumbs to operate (perhaps there’s some savage irony in that from an evolutionary perspective). I know I’ve had my fair share of messages that I’ve rightly bollocksed-up the intentions behind. If you have received one of these from me during this time (or prior) then I am deeply and genuinely sorry and intend to rectify this.

But it doesn’t stop there. We can add to the severe shortcomings of communications technology the full-scale information assault we face in our daily online existence and the “fog of war” maddening-effect-of-prolonged-crises-with-unobservable-endings. It really is a bloody miracle that anyone can currently stay in touch over long distances at all.

Anyhow, here’s something that might help. I’ve been thinking about Maslow’s famous Hierarchy of Needs recently in relation to this, and I wonder if it might give us some better perspective on ourselves and our relationships.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Image courtesy of Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow%27s_hierarchy_of_needs#/media/File:Maslow’s_Hierarchy_of_Needs2.svg

As a napkin exercise (or serviette as we Aussies call them) I have taken each layer and tried to quantify based on our circumstances right now, starting with the bottom (first) layer and moving up to the fifth at the top. I’ve issued each layer a value between 1 and 5, 1 being uncertainty/lack of needs being met and 5 being certainty/sufficient needs being met. So if you’ll indulge a peak millennial talking about himself flagrantly on the internet:

  1. 4.5 – our mattress leaves a lot to be desired, but otherwise we’re “grand” on all things at level 1.
  2. 3 to 4 – civil disobedience here at the moment makes this a grey area to me. The current gov has responded poorly in many regards and demonstrated a lack of genuine leadership, sure, but we’re not in the position of Brazil—or India. Far from it. It can be unpleasant walking through town after dark with groups of lads getting on the piss, but they’re just going mad like the rest of us. We don’t know their circumstances, and while the littering is bad as a result there are no riots, looting, or anything close to that sort here. Thank God.
  3. 2 – The hardest part to all this for us has undoubtedly been going into lockdown the moment we finished getting set up in March last year. Yes, we have had each other through this and we are so very grateful for that, but if you are reading this now its most likely that we haven’t seen you since 2019. Again, not to state the bleeding obvious, but nothing beats that real in-person connection and the ability to plan to do so. We miss y’all.
  4. 3 – Prestige* aside, this is where I see the languishing splitting us right down the middle. Finishing Mr Robot and every other show on Netflix, or Prime, or whatever stupid streaming service—yes it is a valid accomplishment (hence the middle score of 3). But alas, it is a pyramid after all. How do we know when we can return to focusing on this level? Do all the lower levels have to be satisfied, or become more certain to us, before this can improve? If “survive” is at the lower levels and “thrive” is at the higher levels, then this feels like one area where upward progress stagnates—and it is hard to stay hopeful about. Yet in spite of this I have no doubt that as restrictions start to ease in Ireland grabbing a pint with friends will be both relationship needs being met and an accomplishment.
  5. 3.5 – OK, why the high score here? Surely the highest level would yield rubbish results? Well, personally, I can say that during this time there have been bouts of pretty bad depression that have returned for me, but also pockets where it has been a creative boon being furloughed from work. I’m an enterprising and creative person, yet I’ve always worked in service industries/roles (because…life). I have attempted to use this time to get to some creative projects completed before returning back to the later. Some of the time I have recently spent on these projects has been incredibly positive. On the other hand, I know for a fact that this isn’t entirely the case with Aoife, who has worked her job through this entire time, so I’m sure her score here would contrast mine. This is one way in which we want to identify and address each others needs to make sure we both build up to thriving together over time. Starting with a bloody holiday ASAP! Amirite?!

So to sum up, mine looks more like the leaning tower of Piza—or an in-progress game of Jenga—than a pyramid. No wonder things feel wonky and uncertain.

I also have a theory that, due to the pandemic, many of us find it hard to relate in conversation when one or more people of the same social class or generation have found their needs structure hollowed out suddenly and due to circumstances completely out of their control.

This exercise has helped me to identify some of what has up until now been quite hard to pin down, and once I was able to do that I realised I can do at least a few things about it. Starting with owning a better understanding of what I’m going through and hopefully being better in all relationships as a result.

What about you? Feel free to do the exercise either privately or you are welcome to leave it in the comments below.

*Re. prestige: IMO one reason Instagram et al. is complete dog shit is because we default to showing a perfect pyramid when actually we are but rickety scaffolding underneath at best—held together by duct tape and each other’s love and support. Just my 2c!

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Check This Out Covid Plague Life In Eire

Siberian Snow Front

Just now
The last snowfall in early Jan – AM
The last snowfall in early Jan – PM
Categories
Covid Plague Interior Highways Life In Eire

Habituary

This Feb is the perfect month. Well, certainly for making/breaking habits. It starts on a Monday and ends on a Sunday, with exactly four weeks in between. After being sloths and generally relishing the remaining Christmas tidings (as a pacifier against the reality of ongoing lockdowns) we have decided its time to change the circumference of our waistlines and make other various lifestyle improvements.

Seeing that many habits can be made or broken in 28 days, we are setting about to do exactly that in February. Here is going to see at least a few more months of lockdowns, so we wanted to put a sort of levy in place to buttress against the boozing and overeating of Christmas/Winter/various other justifications, and start making positive progress in 2021.

We didn’t make joint plans/goals for this year, but I don’t think that means we have given up on the idea necessarily. I don’t know if I can speak for all of our Irish/European comrades when I say this, but certainly the last 12 months has forced us to be more stoic and pragmatic. The goalposts have moved, almost on a constant basis throughout this crisis, but that doesn’t mean Aoife and I won’t (or shouldn’t) attempt a field goal when we can. I see stoicism as an optimistic strategy at its heart, though some folks associate it with cynicism or austerity. I want to make the clarification here that even though we, like all of you reading this, have undoubtedly had ups and downs throughout this crisis, we are ultimately optimistic about what is to come. We’re not giving up the game, just making a change of play.

We have instead focused on habits, what we can do now with what we have in front of us (this really is stoicism 101). If we can implement these things every day for a month we are confident they will set us up better for what is to come. Sure, if things here open up in summer and I am back at work then we would love to aim for a trip somewhere, anywhere. It doesn’t have to be mediterranean. When you can’t travel more than 5kms from home for the most part of a year, Brighton will do. Brighton would do quite nicely actually. I digress…

So my daily Make habits are:
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Journalling
  • Some form of intellectual exercises (audiobook, Duolingo etc.)
  • Music or other creative outlet. Even if the creative juices aren’t flowing—because its basically like trying to force breeding in captivity—just to put arse in chair.
  • Going for walks and getting some fresh air
My daily Break habits are:
  • YouTube
  • News Media*
  • Reddit
  • Any other form of mindlessly sitting on a device for hours on end
  • Sugar / shit food

We would love to hear what yours are, if you have taken a similar approach, so please feel free to shoot them at us in the comments below.

Alternatively, if you’re a more fixed-goals oriented person and you feel comfortable sharing what your goals for 2021 are, we would love to hear about it in the comments section.

Also, with Chinese New Year around the corner, we want to wish y’all a happy new year! Regardless of your calendar of choice (ours happens to be a Taylor Swift calendar courtesy of Anika), the Chinese calendar seems like a good timestamp of the changing seasons (in the case of the Chinese, it is welcoming the coming Spring) and here, where the seasons have real and tangible effects of everyone’s lives, that is important and something to appreciate. So we wish health and happiness in the new year to you and yours, and bring on Spring!

* Trump is gone, but news media still appears to me to be in an existential death spiral. I don’t know about you, but I really struggle with separating the ought-to-know stuff from the parasitic, mentally harmful info. I’m not talking about fake news, the facts have been hard enough to swallow this last year—and in recent years. I noticed an uneasiness in myself when I have looked at the news, especially on weekends, and a spike in anxiety. I haven’t figured out entirely how I am going to manage this one going forward (weening-off-methadone approach perhaps), but if anyone has any success stories, suggestions or recommendations please let us know!

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Christmas deserves its own category Covid Plague Ireland Adventures

Beara Peninsula, West Cork

So our first and only “proper” getaway of 2020 was to the Beara Peninsula in West Cork, and it did not disappoint. Amidst stunning weather and narrowly missing the abrupt Covid changes we were so thrilled and grateful to steal away for these few days at the end of the year and New Years Eve.

For those wanting to see West Cork, you wouldn’t want to miss this!

We also have videos but the current WordPress plan is being a stickler for hosting space. We might look at doing something about that in future, but in the meantime will try to send some around to ye. 😊

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Covid Plague Ireland Adventures Rendezvous!

Gougane Barra & Ardmore w/ Annalise & Tendayi

This last weekend we were blessed to receive our first OS visitors, Annalise and Tendayi.

They were in good form as well as good health, and really lifted spirits here in Beale’s Hill. Though recently returned from Italy we opened with an accidental pizza tour of Cork, followed by hikes around the spectacular Gougane Barra region and Ardmore coastal walk.

Both places were not far from home, which makes us all the more grateful for the stars aligning, the heavens to “plug it” (for a while), and for us to enjoy the quality company of friends that seems to be in such short supply in this Covid era.

Other highlights include frenzied rounds of Monopoly Deal, Hearts, and Uno Flip whilst Aoife cooked up a sensational menu. Also pints, vinos, and a mind-blowing M&S chocolate…

Mardyke Walk Bridge w/ cheeky canoodling in background

Gaugane Barra

Ardmore

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Covid Plague Ireland Adventures

Summer Escapes

We hope this post finds you and yours safe and healthy.

We managed to steal away for a couple of weekends in July and August to Cobh and Kinsale. Of course, tourism boards around the world right now are pushing for local travel, but both places were < 1hr trip from home and were just what the doctor ordered. So marketing aside, there is some merit to this! As Rob J would put it, “You can’t a good summer’s day in Cork”. See for yourself:

Cobh

Kinsale

Wow—a bus!
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Covid Plague Life In Eire

Sunday Walks Around The Mardyke and Fitzgerald Park

Smellovision required

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Covid Plague Life In Eire

Well, that escalated quickly

It has been three months since our last post but it feels like an eternity, doesn’t it? We have all seen the world change completely in this time due to the Coronavirus and global economic collapse, so wherever you are and whatever your circumstances, we hope that you are safe and sound.

For us, documenting our new adventure took a back seat to meeting our basic needs here. Myself and the other employees at my work office were furloughed during the week of St. Patricks Day after all events were cancelled and Covid-19 began to take over our lives. For seven weeks after my first payslip I had no welfare support payments, despite being entitled to them. This due to a technicality about payslips and reporting between my employer and Revenue. It has since been resolved through Welfare instead of Revenue, many thanks to them, but it was a stressful process nonetheless.

As we were just getting “settled in” at the time of the shutdown, we had no internet connection as this required a bona-fide Irish bank account to sign up. Until the banks could reopen we could not get this arranged, and lengthy tedium ensued. Suffice to say it was an enormous weight lifted off once we were able to get connected. We completely agree that in 2020 the internet is a basic human right and essential service.

Adding to the fact that Aoife still had both of her jobs, which at that point she had just started, and both required a stable internet connection. Tethering our phones seemed to barely work at times, but as our service provider stumbled under the administrative weight and burden on the network, this soon became impossible.

Fast forwarding to now, we’re grateful to have moved beyond these roadblocks. I guess, like many others, we are still uncertain about many aspects of our lives in the midst of this. We have been very fortunate and grateful to have made it to here with all of our basic needs met. Many others we see here have not been fortunate enough to have that outcome, so as we enter the real “mental game” stretch of this crisis I/we aim to continue our practises of gratitude. Writing this here is to some degree a note-to-self and self-reminder.

Yesterday was the first time we caught up with someone we knew. We were delighted by a surprise “exercise visit” from Rob, and we walked our quarantine quota distance back towards Blackrock in the beautiful May weather. Ireland is still in Phase 1 of reopening at the time of writing, and has one of the strictest health mandates in Europe still in place. As such the per capita infection and death rates among the lowest, and with any luck the restrictions will further ease according to schedule in a couple of weeks time.

In other non-Covid, non-Trump related news, the days are getting longer as we approach the summer solstice. We are beginning to understand why the Irish gush about spring and summertime so much here: it truly is glorious. Sunup is at about 4:30am and sunset at 9:45pm with clear skies and hardly a drop of rain in the last few weeks. On that note I shall keep this brief, get off my backside and go enjoy it, and let you do the same 🙂

From both of us here in sunny Corcaigh, we wish you every blessing and providence to endure these wild and strange times.

Simon & Aoife

Relaxing beside the River Lee
About nine-thirty on the Michael Collins Bridge
Further down the road
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Interior Highways Life In Eire Moving Abroad

Day Two of An Overseas Job (and The Rest of The Day’s News)

Well today was a big improvement on yesterday, both practically and emotionally. The best news of all was that we got a place to live(!)

In the space of 24hrs Aoife looked at a place on the inner north, facetime’d me a squiz, and managed all the leasing and paperwork while I worked up here in Dublin. A monster effort from her that paid off big time. Photos / videos to follow soon!

On the work front, it was better today spending a full day at work here. I was able to become more familiar with the processes and how a day plays out with the Dublin lads. A little bit of craic thrown in there too. I’ll be heading back down to Cork tomorrow, whereby we will get the keys and then move in over the weekend. I’ll then come back up Monday to Dublin, work the week, then head back down again thereafter.

Getting the keys will be a big boost for us no doubt, as finding a place is by far the biggest challenge the countries’ renters face. Followed closely by finding an affordable place.

Hopefully with a decent night’s sleep in the industrial complex, and provided no security alarms go off again during the night, I’ll be back to report on the move in over the course of the weekend. Until then…

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Interior Highways Life In Eire Moving Abroad

Day One of An Overseas Job

Today was a frosty start—literally. More snow had fallen last night than we’ve seen since being here. Cars and the countryside were an inch or two thick with it, which made getting to the train a bit slow going, and I had to catch the next one to Dublin.

Once here one of the lads picked me up and it was hitting the ground running on arrival with training.

Later on my trainer, Ian, and I drove around the corner to the uniform shop and picked me up some gear. I then drove the van around to Lidl and just couldn’t make the hill start without stalling it. Geez, talk about embarrassing. It’s been more than ten years since I’ve driven a stick and it showed right then and there! Given that 95% of vehicles here are manual I’m going to have to upgrade my license quick smart. Irrespective of if we need to get a car I would still like to get it and finally put THAT training to bed. Life has been so insanely busy recently that essential life stuff like that has repeatedly taken a back seat for us both.

Coming back to the accomodation, which is above the office, I felt pretty weird and lonely. I’m not gonna lie. I mean, it could be the fact that I’m eating a chicken tikka masala freezer meal (quality as expected) on my own in a flat above a warehouse in the middle of an industrial estate. I’d say a good dose of missing familiar faces and voices too. Something just feels a bit weird and sad though. It’s like an organ transplant and I’m the organ.

I was waiting for when I’d feel something like this; displaced or questioning motives etc. etc. Sure it will take time to get in the groove of things here, and we’re getting closer to finding a place to rent, but something about full time work has always felt like a prison to me. Like the cars, 95% of work here is full time. I’m not ungrateful for the job and the opportunity, quite the contrary, but I’d be lying if I didn’t acknowledge the need for art and life in the picture there too.

The tricky thing for an artistic type (which I believe both of us are) is that life can constantly feel like a procedural flowchart of either dead ends or impossible prerequisites. Chicken and eggs scenarios, and that’s even before getting to negative thinking in terms of lack or scarcity. It is hard no matter what you do. I know graphic designers, choreographers, instrumentalists, you name it and it’s the same for them. Everyone has to, or has done more than their fair share of, jobs that pay the bills. I think it’s fair to say we’re not lazy. It’s not that we don’t want to work full time. We want to work ceaselessly outside of a prison of time.

Sure, I’m generalising again here, that most people do something they don’t want to do, or at best have their great days and not great days at work. I also don’t know anyone who’s ever had a 10/10 first day at work.

Explaining it to Aoife earlier I just said that it feels like time is slipping through my fingers. I don’t think you necessarily have to be a creative professional to feel that on your first day, or any given day, at work. I guess my gist here is that we think Ireland should adopt the four-day week and/or six-hour workday too(!) It sounds like a good idea right? Do we have to strike and protest like the French? How can we make this happen? Let’s think it over by another cup of tea…