The one rule I have kept to with this blog since the first day has been: write only when I feel like it. If the mood doesn’t take me, then I don’t. Well, truth be told here, the mood hasn’t taken me in some months.
The first and big obvious reason for not writing has been how busy I am:
A move to Galway.
Two half marathons and injuries and trying to maintain a vegetarian diet while running.
A growing relationship with someone new and awesome in my life.
Work, including trips back to the office in Dublin.
Many new and great books to read.
My life keeps me going even as it is not a morass of stress and busyness. Given that I work from home, the last thing I want to do after a day at my desk is spend more hours at my desk writing or playing videos games.
And as well, I’m out there trying to figure out where I fit. The last round of therapy left me with a profound sense of detachment and burnout. It dislodged my fear, the need to keep everyone away and myself safe, instead leaving burnout. It has left to fight to find the desire to engage with others, to reach out and make new connections. After everything, I’m happy to heal alone now.
So that’s me, running and enjoying the new summer with somebody wonderful.
The Run Clare event is a series of four road races held through the winter and spring around County Clare. In 2019 took part in it this year for the first time with the wonderful members of the Galway Mikkeller Running Club.
Running the series as a whole has been a great step for me, first for injury recovery and later for pushing myself hard through races. In January I tore a ligament while out on my morning run. I still don’t know how it was that I injured my knee, only that the pain in my left knee got worse over the course of the run, so that by the end I could barely walk.
So injured, the 5k was a horrible run around Harold’s Cross and Rathfarnham in the rain while my knee screamed bloody murder at me. Every runner has their own mantra to get them across the finish line. Mine is that I pour out all my anger and scorn and pain. My world shrinks down to my breath, my feet and the road below. Nothing matters more than the next step, then the hill, then the next kilometres. These are things I expect on a half marathon,not a neighborhood 5k! I cried, I raged, I ran.
The other races in the series were not so dramatic. Running with the Mikkeller Running Club was so much fun. It’s a place where we build each other up. We grant each other the confidence to run the length, do the hard thing.
My 8k and 10k runs were perfunctory out-and-back loops around the Ennis area, one that gave us pretty medals at the end. :)
It was the 16k that challenged us (look at the number of finishers!). The race began with a 200 metre ascent and kept us on roads shared with traffic, but the glorious sunshine of the day got me through the day!
My progress and improvements through the four races of the series are a point of real pride for me, proof manifest of the gains of hard work and training!
This recipe has been an on-and-off staple of my home cooking since 2009. Last presented here in 2013, my chili has evolved with my tastes. These days I mostly eat vegetarian food, and have gotten over my earlier distaste of kidney beans.
Speaking only for myself, I’ve desensitized by palette to hot and spicy food. What I find mild will likely be oppressive and hot for someone else, and the recipe below makes a fiercely hot pot of food. Adjust the pepper and chili powder used to make this to fit your own taste. Whether or not you find this to be edible is a subjective matter of taste.
This recipe should be both low-cost and low-effort to make. Prep takes me about 30 minutes, and cooking/simmering another 90. The upfront cost and overall effort of making a pot are higher if you don’t keep a stock of spices. One you do that, the cost drops to as low as €15/week for five portions. All ingredients can be sourced from your local Tesco or Dunnes supermarket, though you’ll get far better value on spices from any Asian superstore.
0.3 cup of chili powder, any heat.
1 tablespoon chipotle paste.
1 tablespoon brown sugar.
1.5 tablespoon cumin.
2 teaspoon paprika.
0.5 teaspoon salt to season.
Sauces and Stuff
1 400g can of kidney beans.
1 carton of tomato passata.
1 tube of tomato paste.
1 cube of vegetable stock, to make 500mg.
1 tablespoon of olive oil.
Feel free to substitute something for something else. I really like mushrooms, for example. You could replace the Quorn mince with chickpeas, or diced carrots and sweet bell peppers instead of mushrooms.
350g pack of Quorn mince.
1 hot chili pepper of respectable heat.
250-300g mushrooms of any variety.
5 cloves fresh garlic.
1 white onion.
Dice onion, garlic and pepper. Slice or dice mushrooms as your prefer.
Measure dry spices into a bowl and mix.
Lay out tomato passata, paste and can of kidney beans.
Boil kettle of water.
Drain and rinse can of kidney beans in sieve.
Add oil to pot on medium heat.
Add diced onion until it begins to caramelize.
Add diced garlic, pepper and chipotle paste.
Add mushrooms and quorn.
Add mixed bowl of spices and vegetable stock.
Add carton of tomato passata and paste to thicken per your tastes.
Increase heat to bring to boil, then reduce to simmer.
Taste chili. Add anything you feel the chili needs: more cumin, stock, water, brown sugar or chili powder as you feel fit.
Reduce heat and leave to cook. Stir regularly, taste and add whatever the chili needs.
Leave the kidney beans until the very last, about 15 minutes before you take it off the heat to serve. Mix those in when you’re ready.
Take off heat and serve.
Serve the chili with whatever you like. This goes great with a cilantro garnish, sourdough baguette and butter, sour cream, tortilla chips, or rice. Use whatever works for you.
The past month has been a bit mad for me. I ran in three races over three weekend at the same time I completed a cross-country house move.
So, move! It’s no secret that I haven’t been at all happy in Dublin over the past two years. It reached the point that the only thing which kept me in the city was work. The amenities and coffee and eateries, while all great, aren’t the stuff of a life built. I’m not social, there’s nobody to keep me here. Amenities are too far away and too crowded as a rule. Dublin has been work, high rent and lack of living security.
The move was a fantastic move! A space that’s my own and comes with the security of a signed lease has taken so much weight off my shoulder. It never mattered how well I got on with my housemate when the stark fact was that I was a sublet licenses not on the lease. By all rights under Irish law they could evict me without recourse with 24 hours notice.
Galway is great, and Galway is home. If I ever have to leave here again for work, I’ll go to the continent over Dublin. Ik spreek een beetje Nederlands dankzij mijn vrienden (en Duolingo).
And getting to the title, Galway means my family. Back in January I decided to put up a high wall between my mum and I. I tried for years to get some-any!-recognition from her about so much that matters in my life. It’s the classic child’s need for approval that became a toxic cycle that I drove. I needed approval, I tried to pressure her/get acknowledgement, she failed to give it, rinse and repeat. After five tough therapy sessions I decided that my focus wasn’t healthy. It was wrong of me to try to drive change, and that I’d be happier on my own recognition, so I stuck up the wall. Believe it or not, life’s gotten better without the woman who will roll their eyes at me and call me stupid to my face.
Right after the move I’ve had to confront that again. On Tuesday mum wound up in hospital with pneumonia after my sister found her ill at home. The hard truth is that I didn’t feel anything when I saw my mum in hospital on a bed. There have been too many negative emotions, for too long, for that. Yes, I could be there for my sister, but Irish society holds it a pretty fucked then when one has zero desire to look after their ailing parent. Parents are such an important component in the lives of so many people I know. Families rally to answer the question of who’ll look after parents when they get old.
To my sister it’s straight up common sense that you look after you parent despite whatever. It’s the Done Thing. That’s not acceptable to me any more than her emotionally-negative arguments. My family runs on guilt trips like “well what would you think if your children didn’t come and visit when you’re old?” (Answer: I’d do my best to be a good parent so my children love me and would want to come visit). Families should be love, not obligation. I’m dammed if I reject my family, and I get to live feeling like shit if I don’t. So that sucks.
It’s this same moronic question I come back to after every bitty accomplishment. Well I ran over the hill. Now what? Oh great, I tackled some ineffable inner demon. What’s next? To paraphrase the song, I don’t want what I know, but I know what I want. Everything I have done, everything I do, there’s something else next.
On Sunday I ran 25k (2 + 23.5) with a 400 metre ascent. My hydration, clothing, pace, and breaks were all as good as they could be, yet I was wide awake at one o’clock this morning wondering how I could have done it faster. It really is stupid, how I wear away my accomplishments by wanting them to be something more.