Father’s Day 2012

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Taken by Elizabeth Clanton on Sunday June 12, 2012. I found the gallery buried on her Facebook wall. I choked up, and almost cried some very happy as these are almost the only photographs of Caira, Garrett and I together, because I chronically hide behind the camera. I’ve rearranged the photos into roughly chronological order.


Garrett hands me a card
Caira shows me how to use the blanket
I unfold the blanket
Garrett hides under my blanket
I bear hug Caira
I show off Caira's Father's Day card
Caira at breakfast
Caira, Garrett and I at breakfast


Caira lead the charge into town
Caira at the bus stop in Cliffoney
Garrett and I by the bus stop in Cliffoney
Garrett checks out a garden light
Garrett looks mad
Garrett and I on our way back to the house
Garrett and I on our way back to the house

In the garden

Lucy and I relax outside
I swing Garrett in a basket
I swing Garrett in a basket
I swing Garrett in a basket

These next photographs were in the same gallery, and while they aren’t of Father’s Day, they are pretty good photographs of the view from my kitchen in Cliffoney, if I ever feel the need to brag about it:

The view down to the beach from the house
The view from the house across Donegal Bay to Slieve League
Classiebawn Castle at Mullaghmore Mullaghmore houses

by Mark -

July update

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Mum, looking Mummish,

Mum is sick, tired, in constant pain from arthritis, and I don’t think I care at all. I love her-she’s my mother and I her son-but I don’t like her. Mum’s been an unflagging negative in my life: First she passively put up with dad’s abuse, then she tenaciously apologized for him after he died, has constantly put me down and dismissed anything I have to say, has never been any more than lukewarm toward Caira and Garrett, and pretty much met my breakdown and depression with a staunch suggestion that it’ll all go away if I just get a job.

Mum’s drilled her own flavour of learned helplessness into me, and when I see her in pain, I just can’t bring myself to feel moved.

Frank’s Frank: Out of sight and beyond hearing; Jennifer worries about me (I think), but leaves me be; Ella adores me; and Oisin weeps piteously if he sees me.

Oh, just me.

Turgid descriptions of my raunchy sex life aside, better? I’m behind on all of my bills, I plan to send off Caira’s birthday present first thing tomorrow morning, my sleep pattern is nocturnal, I’m tired of being fat, my back has mended, my bad right arm has almost mended.

I’m over the worst of my breakdown, and the lasting depression, but my self-confidence and interest in a partner are zero, and I run off to escape in one or another virtual world when feelings threaten to come knocking at my door. I feel terribly alone all of the time, but I just don’t want the burden (or to be the burden) of company. Nicole found a boyfriend and a job, and dropped off the radar almost completely and immediately, and Jenny’s busy as a mother of two. That’s about it so far as close friends go. There’s a great, casual crowd at 091 Labs, but they aren’t really the group I want to open myself up to. I’m an abusive child-beater.

I’m poor, underwater in bills (~€700) as of this post, and in search of somewhere new to live, in Galway or wherever. Ostensibly, I’m not supposed to receive a VEC grant for a repeat year in college; ostensibly, I can apply for an exemption to this rule on the grounds of illness (breakdown); ostensibly the VEC is leery of providing this to me; and ostensibly the staff at IT Sligo have scattered to the four winds for the summer.

Do I continue in college? I hated Sligo. The county is gloriously beautiful, but there are no amenities there, no friends, no refuge of geekery like in Galway, and nowhere to really go or see as a pedestrian. And, of course, the last two years have tainted it for me. Too many bad memories are locked up there, and as always, I am running, running, running away.

On the other hand, it’s college, learning, and a chance to better myself, and prove to myself I’m not worthless. On the other other hand, there’s a huge gap in age and experience between the other students and I; I’m a decade older, and really don’t have much in common.

Garrett playing.

I don’t know what I really want to do. I am dogged by my many failures: That time I lost my temper at Mariah in Penneys, and the staff quietly asked her if they wanted me to call the police; or the time I hit Mariah and she did call the police; or the time I hit Caira and Mariah called the police, again. Or that time I tried to leave her in the middle of the night and return to Ireland, while she was pregnant.

I could list everything, probably, but it’s safe to say I’ve been a pretty horrible person to Mariah and my two kids on a regular basis. I know I’ve spoken here before about how I just want Caira and Garrett gone from my life, or how I want them in my life after all. Truth be told I don’t know what I want. There’s no question of Mariah and I staying apart, because children shouldn’t see their parents try to kill each other on a daily basis, but I don’t know whether I want to be there.

I could procrastinate my way out of a decision, for sure. As of today, I’ve been in Garrett’s life for eight months out of his almost four years, and Caira’s for three-and-a-bit of seven. From what little I’ve heard of her, Caira hates me. Garrett misses me, but he’s perfectly happy without me. I just don’t know. I want it, and push it away when I get it.

Mariah’s opened up a bit more to me since ~April, and passed on both photographs and nuggets of information, but not much, and not about any topic I don’t ask about. It’s frustrating trying to dig into a topic when often enough Mariah won’t even answer the question unless I directly ask and then repeat it when she tries to dodge or ignore it.

I don’t know if I really love the kids, when I’m able to abstract what I feel about them. Shouldn’t it encompass everything I think or do, if I really feel love? Answers on the back of a postcard to my home address.

by Mark -

Building up mental inertia

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I’ve sunk myself into virtual worlds and escapist fantasies since last September. There was World of Warcraft (a lot of it), fantasy, novels, and the Internet as a whole to run off into while I had my breakdown. It was great. Brilliant. I need to stop now, and get back in line with the real world.

My WoW subscription runs out today, and I’m going to let it lie for a while. I’m back in Galway for a few days, to get some design and coding work done on Bigworldia. I might even have found a place to stay down here for the summer. Yay. Tomorrow I go to the doctor’s office and apply to change my G.P. to our family doctor. Something something Mark something something happy pills.


The last year of college is a complete writeoff; I never went in, I didn’t sit any exams, and I barely even read any of the emails the campus and lecturers sent out. I in no way believe I am going to able to sit any repeat examination come July and August. I am instead just going to go repeat the year in September.

I’ve still had no contact with the children, or with Mariah, since she refused me access to them. It it something I have the means to fight, so I’ve made the choice to let it all go for now. Pack up the photographs, put them away, let it lie, and hope that one or the other decides to contact me when they’re older. I can’t get a divorce in Ireland until August 2017, which I plan to do the moment that month rolls around.

Bigworldia, as it stands, is now running in Monogame, on Linux. XNA was killed off by Microsoft, but Monogame has an active and passionate development community. I’m going to roll with this for the summer and see where I go. :D

by Mark -

Aafke came a-visiting.

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Vlastik has been quietly encouraging me to get away from Sligo for some time. He was one of the first people I spoke to after my breakdown, and he has been sympathetically pushing me to get out of Sligo and into company. As I admitted elsewhere, I badly needed a support network to help me stand again, and I completely destroyed mine as a reaction to my self-hate.

I was originally going to take a trip down to Aafke’s on Saturday, but I had vivid aural hallucinations, and I was reluctantly forced to postpone the trip. I mean, literally, I had been awake for four days straight, and I a quiet voice repeated my name over, and over, and over. It was (heh) maddening. I let Aafke know this, took a sleeping pill and fell unconscious for a good ten hours.

Aafke (very) generously came up to Sligo on Sunday, and took me up around the Sligo and Donegal coasts as far as the gorgeous St. John’s Point in Co. Donegal. It was absolutely fantastic to get out of the house, out of Sligo, and into the company of a photographer and good friend. I relaxed, spoke and, took a great many photographs with my shiny new phone after a breakfast in Drumcliff, where I ordered a grilled chese sandwich that the staff wouldn’t allow me to call a grilled cheese sandwich. No, really-there was a ‘grilled cheese toastie’ available, an object which, by any other name, is called a grilled cheese sandwich. Two slices of bread, and two slices of cheese cost four bloody euro. I feel bad that Aafke successfully browbeat me into allowing her to pay for it.

Words Were Spoken over brunch; Aafke delved into grief, and surprised me with how her struggle is similar to mine. I spoke at length to someone, I believe for the first time, exactly what went on in the breakdown, and what I battle on a daily basis. This isn’t the post in which to detail it.

I kicked Yeats’s grave on the way into the cafe on behalf of all the Leaving Certificate students on the island of Ireland. O you who suffer, I do not forget you in my prayers.

After this, I brought Aafke down to the wide wedge of land cornered by Drumcliffe and Grange: Lissadell. It was gorgeous. Gorgeous.

I’m a little sad that I never managed to bring Garrett or Caira down there on a fine day, but with no car it was simply out of reach. But I’m not too sad! The entire coast, all the way from Grange up to and past Killybegs is absolutely, astoundingly beautiful. If you ever do one drive in Ireland, drive from Sligo up to Killybegs; you will not regret it.

Aafke and I wound up at the desolate, beautiful (and pointy) Saint John’s Point after a drive around the bay. I had never in my life been past Donegal town, and on both occasions that I’ve travelled as far as Donegal town, it was very foggy. I was left with this weird notion that Donegal is a land of mist and fog.

And after that, back home to Sligo!

by Mark -