Life, Writing

Growing Up… Growing Down and Everything in Between…

Well four weeks have come and past, freshers week has come and went, and through it all I’ve emerged my bag intact, a stationary supply as weak as water and about as much knowledge of politics and economics as I do on how to speak Hebrew. All things considered; college is fun. I’m waking up each morning and meeting new people, studying subjects I actually enjoy instead of force feeding myself one more geography essay, and I actually (don’t) know where I’m going this year (in trying to find buildings in UCC I successfully located Galifriey, the Chamber of Secrets, a rather peculiar wardrobe and Wonderland).

Meanwhile, when I’m not inside the Booles frantic for that one last slide on something long and psychological (which I won’t begin to spell as my dyslexia will have a field day) or staring into space in the students centre in the morning pontificating the inner most meanings of my tea cup  (COULD be talking to girls. But it turns out that, “Any milk?” isn’t a chat up line much to my best efforts), I’m stacking shelves in Tesco in my first proper part time job.

On paper: I’ve a job and I’m in college doing a REAL degree with REAL career prospects and a REAL job that’s not me at my keyboard thinking I’m Stephen King. I’ve been in college a month and already I feel old, which raises a question which I’ve thought about since I was 10… HAVE I GROWN UP?

Back when I was 12, there was something about growing up which seemed to freak me out and confine me to my bedroom up until about six months ago. For years instead of going out and actually living and going out there and exploring the world I spent my days trapped inside the cosy panels of the new issues of Spider Man and Batman. While most of my friends were out talking to girls and testing the boundaries; there was me at home with 100 or so issues of Avengers trying to figure out the best continuity for them and a way that would make most sense for reading. I also wore black, listened to bands named Slipknot and seemed to have some problem with society and life which eludes me to this day. Looking back I can’t help by cringe at my vain attempts at protecting my innocence and handcuffing myself to a ghost.

Even when I repeated last year and spent a year in the College of Commerce; the trudge to nineteen began. By trudge; I mean it was a one legged man limping through a quagmire blindfolded. Throughout the year I began basic traits of nineteen; what not to say to girls (turns out making constant Liverpool jokes and expressing your disdain towards Dundalk FC isn’t the best way to open up), what guys to for fun (pints, pool and random road trips to Fermoy!) and also how to do a good leaving cert*.

In college now; it’s not that scary. With every new goal I get (job, college, writing stints) new challenges and responsibilities prevail over and sense of complacency and each day I’ve to fight that little bit harder and harder to keep up with the pace.

If life is a race, then I’m getting fit and joining in. No point in strolling in behind, you’ll only miss out. Give me a few more weeks and I could be doing a few marathons even.

Now… if you don’t mind, I’ve a small bit of training to do there. Thanks again as always,

Dylan.

PS: Always hold onto who you are. Don’t cover up what you are with masks and false promise. In between everything sure; you’ll still see me in my Spider Man tee shirts, watching Doctor Who and listening to metal. I’m not trying to change who I am, but adapt to the pace.

*Little bits in moderation, do what you can, don’t over stress and take public holidays seriously and not say you’re going to study and end up stumbling in the door at midnight after supposable two pints.

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Art, Life, Writing

Pressure

Pressure is a funny thing. No matter where you are, no matter what you do it’s hard not to see it. Whenever you are a corner forward scoring the winning point in Pairc Ui Rinn or stepping up onto the stage in Cyprus Avenue in front of a sold out crowd; it’s hard not to feel it. Some of us thrive under it, to propel ourselves to new distances and find bouts of energy that we never thought possible while some of us cower under it, to shrivel up and wince at the thought of moving.

I know I don’t play sports (I did win a South Munster Cross Country medal!) or tune a guitar, or even know how to sing, but still in fact forever, pressure is something which I starting to become far too friendly with. It could be Thursday night and the lads are texting me in the group chat to head out for a few quite ones or a Saturday night down out with St. Johns trying to get something ready in the back of the ambulance, or even our own successes and passions weighing us down.

As most people know, I love to write. While most of my friends play hurling or football or drama and dance; I spend my afternoons and days staring at a blank document watching the cursor blink and flicker at me, as if taunting and teasing you to do something. Other days could be different, I’d spend the whole day planning and constructing some great masterpiece; only to go home that night and stare at the plans and wreck my brain for the missing piece; the little ingredient which’ll make the whole thing gel and blend together.

Even out of the most little victories comes an enormous pressure. For as long as I can remember I’ve had a love of writing. As most of you know, I grew up with my Dad telling people stories of far off lands (The Lebanon) and the daily misadventures of Fearanree, and since I first began to form some understanding of the hidden meanings, truths and jokes, all I wanted to be was a storyteller. The feeling that a person read what you wrote, took it to heart and could have actually made a different always intrigued me. To have five or six people eating out of your hand; suckling on every detail is something I’ve wanted before I could even spell my name. In January this year I started this blog, in March I started writing for Cork City FC, in June I had two poems published and throughout July and August I had the odd piece in the Echo and the Pundit Arena while I anxiously awaited my results. In that space of time; I’ve gotten over my confidence issues with writing, had hundreds of views and reads, having my phone hopping with relatives telling me news and compliments and my friends shaking my hand and wishing me a job well done. Deep down; I became the person I wanted to be since I was three years old.

Did I wake up each morning saying to myself, “Life is good?” No. Do I sit for hours and hours at my laptop writing away now thinking that I’m the next Neil Gaiman? No. Do I sit back and tell people that I’m a writer and look and claim that I’m some artist great and powerful? No…  God no… Personal expectation and people’s anticipation is a fun combination (love it though; I have to try and keep a high standard… or some shape and form of one!!). I wake up each morning wondering where my next idea will be and will be and if it will be any good; have I had my moment and that’s it: time to burnout.

Am I going to sit back and complain though? Hopefully not, I’m a football fan and after Celtic’s performance midweek, I’ve more than enough to complain about. I’m not going to bombard you with piece after piece claiming, “This is amazing! Check it out!”. I’m going to embrace it hopefully, use it and drive on towards being like my heroes Neil Gaiman, Stephen King and Terry Pratchett.

Thank you very much for all the reads, compliments and criticism over the summer. You made a three year old and a nineteen year old Dylan very happy. The fact that people are interested in what I have to say on a week in week out basis is cool; and that I might have helped people is even better.

I don’t have some big realisation to give away or a great word of wisdom… so… Stay tuned, same bat time, same bat channel…

I’ll leave you with a Batman reference.

Thanks again,

Dylan.

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Art, Poetry

Tiny Wooden Pieces

Tiny Wooden Pieces

 

You never seem to notice me,

Not so much as a wave,

Perched right here, next to this tree,

Did you ever stop and think of all the people I had to save?

I’m more than just a piece of wood you know

Not just some little toy,

Just because I’ll never grow,

Doesn’t mean that I’m something for a little boy.

Once upon a time,

I was big and tall and brave!

Back when I was in my prime,

I was more than just some useless knave.

I have seen great buildings boiled and burned,

And never uttered so much as a word,

With only a few pennies earned

I was thrust back, amongst the herd.

I always did what I was told

To never mind and to always be kind

But next time you see me out in the cold,

Please ask, what is on my mind.

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Poetry, Writing

Midnight Whispers

Sometimes, words echo, long before they’re written down

From ever last syllable to the most bitter of noun

They reach out and whisper to us

As the sun is tucked away into bed,

When there is nothing more left to be said,

And just as we are beginning to let go

They let us know;

Our deepest darkest of desires

Our most pitiful of regrets

Even our tiney tiniest of fears

They follow us,

Time and time we awake,

To beg and plead, for God’s sake

Hoping that there is nothing more to say

Clinging on for the first sight of day,

Soon the dreams begin to take hold

Through their thoughts and ideas they begin to mould

They reach out, and whisper to us.

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Uncategorized

Nineteen

I’m nineteen years old. Just finished my Leaving Cert (again) and hoping that I’ll be accepted into college next month. Every morning I get up to a few pages of my novel American Gods, followed by a glass of juice and a few episodes of Community. Every afternoon I either spend out with my friends, scaling the heights of an abandoned mental institution, playing football or making a blissful attempt at being a writer. Every day I wake up safe, my only worries the misfortunes of youth and my only fear is dogs (no way I can say that poetically, they scare me… don’t judge…)

Overall though; being 19 is fun. I’m too young for the weights of adulthood and free of the restraints of childhood. I’m luckily threading a fine line which unfortunately I’ll have to cross soon into the unknown waters of girls, college exams and work.

Recently however, I heard a statistic. Don’t worry, I’m not going to bother you with facts and statistics of historical events which will bore us all to tears and leave us with a sour taste in each other’s mouths.

One evening, while driving home with my Dad from a game the song 19 by Paul Hardcastle came on the radio, a song which, I’ll admit shrugged off, until I heard one line in the song.

“The average age of the soldier fighting in the Vietnam War was Nineteen Years Old”

I’m nineteen.

Most of my friends are nineteen.

Down to the great lottery which God plays we all happened to be born into 21st Century Cork City.  I know we complain and all that; how there is nothing to do and how we’ve no money, but imagine if the dice rolled wrong into March 1965? We’d have been thrust head first into the Vietnam War, our lives never to be the same again.

Between the period of 1965 and 1973, the American Army was embroiled in a bitter struggle against the Vietcong over the battlefields of Saigon and South Vietnam. During this period it is estimated that over 600,000 men fought deep in the jungles, with the average of nineteen. Meanwhile, young men who were deemed as intelligent by the American system and in college, were left out of the draft and saved from warfare.

Over in the battlefields of Vietnam, the young men trudged through the jungle, not fighting the trench warfare of days gone by or the tank battles of yesterday, but to take on gruella warriors coming from all angles. In searing heats, they marched through the thick bog land not knowing who their enemies where. Men and women would have been hiding anywhere, to spring upon them at any time, with no one to be trusted. Truces, such as on the festival of Tet in January 1968 where short lived, ushering in a battle of constant tension and danger.

Personally speaking, I can’t imagine crawling upon thorn and thistle, while bullets whizzed through the air and any step could bring death.  But imagine having to kill a person? To decide a person’s faith and being told to carry on that you did the right thing? When we see it in movies it’s grand, we all have sat through the new Batman or James Bond watching the Joker kill another innocent while Batman races to stop him, but we all shrug it off. Imagine seeing a person’s head taken off next to you in a heartbeat? Or even to sleep and shit in the same room with a person for six months then to have them gone in a second?   Following the Vietnam War, it is estimated that half of the Vietnam War soldiers returning, of an average age of nineteen suffered from the medical condition, “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” to which the experiences of battle have been burned into their memories. One soldier, named “Roy” described it as, ““You can’t take a 19-year-old brain and subject it to the constant threat of death or injury by rocket fire and expect it not to be affected.”

These soldiers, whenever after six months of heavy combat or the medic in the sidelines, each came home battle scared and worn, with an estimated 100,000 “still fighting the war ten years on“. The problems of Vietnam where tumbled into the seventies and eighties, with many of the veterans suffering from drug addiction, depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts which lingered around leaving an almost thirst, with 100,000 having succumbed to these urges by 2015, with other homeless on the streets, and others constantly reliving the war in their only private theatre; forever nineteen.

Imagine having your whole world changed at nineteen? To be forever altered into such a way that you can’t hold down a relationship or even function from day to day? It’s something which scares me, fascinates me and intrigues me all at the same time. Like every other young person out there, I want to travel and experience the world, but not under the conditions of a foreign countries war and problems. I don’t want to kill a person. I want to grow up, get married and get a job.

Unfortunately though, some people are forever destined to be nineteen.

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Art, Poetry, Writing

One Thousand Housing Estates to the West

He woke up this morning,

To the cold and blistering sun,

Knowing full well he was on his last warning,

This is going to be any fun.

No food, no job, no gun, no hope

Just another day in this mess,

All he wants is to score some dope

But first he has to get dressed.

Did you hear the news today?

Did you hear the news today?

Another one laid to rest,

Another one of our best.

He takes whatever he can get,

Wallets, watches, phones, rings,

Making sure he can pay the debt,

Which he would not like to soon forget.

Just another day in this prison,

From the top of the flats to the bottom of the rats,

Everywhere you seem to look,

With neither rhyme nor reason,

It’s its own form of treason.

Did you hear the news today?

Did you hear the news today?

Another one laid to rest,

Another one of our best.

Just another day in the estate,

Another young one gone off to some cell,

Just another day in the estate,

Ah well.

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Uncategorized

The Life and Times of Eleanor Rigby

Eleanor Rigby, she was born she was raised,

A life of tea and waiting to be saved,

Between the pot and the sink,

She was one who never wanted any praise.

Am I the only one?

Am I the only one?

Of course not,

Well, this isn’t any fun.

Summer, autumn, winter, spring,

She was never one to have a fling,

Always alone, never to complain,

Just sitting by, waiting for the phone to ring.

Am I the only one?

Am I the only one?

Of course not,

Well, this isn’t any fun.

Years seem to pass her by,

Mr Perfect, he was never the right guy,

But she never gave up hope,

Eleanor could feel it, her time was coming nigh.

Am I the only one?

Am I the only one?

Of course not,

Well, this isn’t any fun.

A life most basic from start to middle to end,

Hoping that something would break this trend,

Endless nights waiting,

Could she not even have a friend?

Then one day, for all her prayers,

She was found at the end of the stairs,

With not so much of a smile,

But in some far off land, they were walking off as pairs,

Eleanor Rigby had found a friend.

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