Ho ho ho, motherfuckers

Christmas was not depressing, not at all. I had some friends over… two girls from my French class. We made magret du canard (duck breast) and roast potatoes and sweet potatoes and we had smoked salmon and cream cheese on little tiny pancakes and prawn cocktail and five cheeses and chocolate fondant cake with ice cream and honestly it was far too much food. I also bought more wine than I have ever bought, for one glorious afternoon I had a veritable wine cellar (my wardrobe)

I arranged my wine bottles proudly and decided to start a wine diary, to organise my drinking in some way.

Because I keep going to the supermarket and choosing wine and thinking, I like your label and I think I’ve drank you before… but I can’t remember the verdict. So I’ll buy you again, and maybe it’s shit, and I’ll probably forget again.

I told my friend about this plan to sophisticate up my boozing and she told me they actually sell notebooks specifically for that purpose here. I was torn between being pissed off that my idea wasn’t original, and impressed with a society who thinks like I do. Go France! You pretentious boozehounds.

On Christmas Eve I was looking smugly into my wine wardrobe and thought, fuck, I’m gonna start drinking if I don’t do something to entertain myself. So I went out into the city centre. Full of people. Full of people last minute buying presents. Not for the first time this year, I started thinking about how cool it would have been to surprise my little sisters on Christmas day, just showing up at the house in Italy, and making them so very happy indeed. But I have investigated every possible route and it’s just too expensive. Should have known I’d want to be with them in advance, but I was just like, meh, christmas, whatever, until the last minute. I really did try though, at the last minute. I even considered spending 8 hours in a car with a stranger through this car sharing website and then another 6 hours on a train to spend 3 days with my sisters. The 8 hours in a stranger’s car was too much though. Not so much stranger danger as god how boring would that be? What if they were boring? I initially considered it because one of the guys offering a ride was really hot, and I imagined thrilling him with 8 hours of prime convo and intriguing him with all my adventure stories. Then some over the pants stuff while he drives. But when I went back to book, his car was full. Of course.

The only free place was with the most intense looking young adult I’ve ever seen outside a mugshot. And he only had one review on the site:  “Thanks for a serious journey.”

No. No thanks, serious journey.

So I went into the city centre and wandered around. It was pretty hard to wander around because the streets were full of people searching for last minute gifts. For their families. Sick- making.

I had to walk in short bursts of purpose. I decided to buy a bag, because I need one for working as a teacher, a big one that fits an A4 folder in it, or else for like situations that might arise, such as visiting someone overnight, an ex lover or something, and not wanting to go with just one outfit but not wanting to scare him by arriving with a suitcase. That sort of thing. Found a nice bag and bought some overpriced tights. And a lime green miniskirt, that was a bit of a surprise to me even, I’m not sure where that idea sprung up from.

Then I was walking around with my shopping bags while everyone else bought stuff for other people and I felt like a dickhead, going shopping for myself. I tried to hide the shopping glow from my face and look a bit stressed, so people wouldn’t know how selfish and stress- free I was and would presume I too was caught up in the last minute giving frenzy.

As if anyone was looking at me, anyway. Christmas eve, an hour before the shops closed. No one was looking at me.

Probably why I bought the lime green mini skirt.

After that, I decided that although I did really want to open my wine and start the wine diary, I would wait for my friends to arrive and start cooking. Like, seriously. Need to pace myself. We got some cheap champagne and so much wine, and this awful lychee flavoured liquor. Man, I love Christmas.

We had a nice night. The cheese and smoked salmon and stuff was, as a starter, way too much. By the time the main was done, we were ready to explode. We drank mulled wine and normal wine and then moved on to the lychee stuff then watched a bit of a movie and some stand up, and then it was midnight and we popped the champage and they took photos but my opening champagne face is a lot like constipated so I don’t think I’ll be showing anyone those photos.

It was a nice night. Nothing like being with family or old friends or anything, but it was nice considering it was an expat christmas and I’ve only been here 6 weeks.

Christmas day was a bit shit.

I talked to my family on skype and that kind of made me sad. But I just drank some wine and then I felt better. Or worse. I’m not sure. My flatmate came home and chattered to me about Christmas as I stared at her stupid face and resented her interupting my personal space.

She really does have a stupid face. My dad told me he has called the apartment several times when I was here and asked for me and she has just talked in French and hung up, and never mentioned to me the fact that someone who didn’t speak French called while I was home, and maybe, like, it was for me?

When I heard the key in the door I pushed the wine to the other end of the table so it looked like it was from the night before and not morning drinking, but who knows what she thinks.

She had previously sworn she would come home and clean the place on Christmas eve before my friends came over, and although her dad did the dishes, she didn’t clean shit. So when my friends were over they suggested having dinner in one of their houses while their host families were out of town, and although I had mentioned to my flatmate that we could eat together on the 25th, I was like, yeah why not. If she had cleaned or something in preparation, or offered to put in some money for the meal, or done anything, I would have invited her too. But she didn’t, so I wasn’t about to feel bad.

She has family here anyway.

But then she told me she made a pie, and brought most of it home for us to eat… I felt kind of bad. But still. As with everyone I tolerate quietly for a while, eventually her little foibles have eclipsed any kind of human empathy and now the mere sight of her face or the sound of her voice inspires hatred.

Look at her, what is wrong with her? She doesn’t go out, she doesn’t have friends over, she doesn’t clean, she doesn’t cook (apart from the pie which was really good, like a fruit pie and I ate a considerable amount of it in the middle of the night), she doesn’t dress nice, she doesn’t do anything to improve her face or hair. She doesn’t even make the slightest effort to speak in a manner i can understand. She speaks incredibly fast and uses so much slang, I can’t understand her. I always say sorry I don’t understand and she just repeats the verbal diarrhea. No fucking concept of how to speak to a foreigner.

So I just despise her now. Well, it was only to be expected. Cohabitation is not my strong point, not because I’m not a joy to live with, but because I’m too much live and let live and then I don’t stand up for myself and eventually it becomes pure hatred for this person who is walking all over me.

Christmas day was a bit of a bust. I did have my meal in my friend’s house and that was nice but it was a total anti-christmas. Whatever, it’s over now.

This morning I woke up so fat and bloated, I entered the most depressing google search of my career: “how many calories does masturbation burn?”

That’s a serious low point.

(Results were inconclusive, because who knows how athletically we’re all doing it?)

Actually, while I’m on the topic of masturbation, it looks like maybe I need to step up my workout. On Christmas Eve, while watching Dylan Moran’s stand up, I came across a clip of “Monster” where he talks about the French. It’s very funny, so I was like I KNOW WHO WILL LOVE THIS, a FRENCH PERSON! So I sent the link to Antoine.

And then I thought about it and maybe it’s a little bit offensive to the French, so I wrote a follow up Happy Christmas to him.

The next morning I had a message from him sent at 3am, in French, beautiful French, saying Happy Christmas to you, and I’m so happy you’re there again.

It’s totally romantic in French.

But instead of being like, oh honey bunny, I want to be on you too, or the other option “don’t start thinking you have me back, cheeky frog, I’ve already decided that while I may continue to kiss you, you are not my prince.”

I just replied “YAY! Subjunctive message! You used the subjunctive! AWESOME!”

Because he did use the subjunctive, and that’s one of my turn ons. Only in French though.

Anyway we talked on Skype last night and he said he wants to come visit me and he also invited me to spend New Year’s eve with him. At first I was like, no no no, not New Year’s eve, that’s a time I want to spend single and looking awesome and mingling with friends and strangers, hiding my bad dancing with an oversized handbag and scanning the crowd for people I might like to kiss at midnight, and inevitably going home sad and alone and waking up determined not to get all excited about new year ever again.

And then posting hung over resolutions.

But then he told me he wanted me to meet his friends, and said they’ve known me for ages, ie, he’s talked about me to them, but probably in a more tasteful manner than I have talked to my friends about him….

I am a dirty detail divulger.

You can’t spell class without ass, is my motto. No it’s not. I’m just being silly.

You kan’t spell klassy without “ass” and “KY”.


You can’t spell penis without “is” and “pen”.

You can’t spell vagina without “a GI van”.

I’m going to stop now. Sorry.

So I MIGHT spend new year with him but only because I want to have amazing sex and also my girlfriends who I was planning on spending it with, are not really that keen to have a big blowout new year in the city centre anyway and what else is the point? I’ll be good though, I’ll make sure to get hideously drunk and not just sit on the arm of Antoine’s chair sipping champagne like some GIRLFRIEND. I will be a person in my own right, channeling Susan Sarandon in Alfie. (I keep saying that, I know, but it doesn’t just happen overnight. Baby steps.)

Some day, I’ll get there…

Anyway it’s getting to that time of year when every person alive with a blog is coming up with their new year’s resolution post.

I’m just going to squeeze mine in here because I feel like it.

New Year / New Mayan Cycle* Resolutions 2013

*In case you can’t tell, I’m being sarcastic. Mayans shmayans.

1. Keep wine diary. Maybe learn something about wine, or oenology as I think pretentious dickweasels like to call it. Not to sound klassy at parties but to turn one of my leisure pursuits into a legit kind of recognisable hobby so I don’t seem like such a bed- gremlin to outsiders.

2. Write something that’s not a blog post about my sex life, lack of sex life, or day drinking. Like a story or something.

3. Visit my sisters more.

4. NOT FALL FOR IMMATURE MEN ANY MORE, especially not the same immature man.

5. Masturbate more. (Christmas dinner really took its toll on my figure) Maybe incorporate some sexy lunges into my routine to increase the fat burning potential. Hey you may laugh but anything that gets your heart rate up should probably, and I know nothing about this, make you burn calories.

6. Get a job. NEVER work in a call centre again, no matter how desperate for money or no matter how lucrative the job. NEVER never NEVER. Never. NEVER. NEVER. NEVER. NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER. Never.

7. Get my teeth whitened again, they have seriously yellowed up. Take off my eye makeup before going to bed.

8. Don’t let the experience of one lousy flatmate put me off cohabitation. Try find a good house to live in with cool people… living alone is obviously the ideal situation but then I’d need paperwork I don’t have and I’d probably just hermit it up again.

9. Stop buying ridiculous amounts of food in the supermarket just because I love cooking and am if I do say so myself, a pretty fantastic cook. It’s probably my biggest expense. I spend more on groceries than rent. OH that could also transfer into a legitimate hobby. I DO have hobbies. See, I’m a well-rounded individual. Also, I need to not get fat.

10. Continue being friendly and making friends and being conscious of when I’m talking too much and remember to ask people stuff about themselves and remember their names so I don’t come off as a self centred dick.

That’s it. Otherwise, I’m doing pretty well I think.

Ok, that was the fantasy list of easy things I want to do anyway.

Here’s the real list of unpleasant difficult things.

1. Stop spending money I don’t have on clothes or shoes or makeup.

2. Get tested for stds. SERIOUSLY just fucking do it. Yeah yeah probably fine, probably don’t have anything but fuck, I have wasted so much energy stressing about this… just do it, for a good night’s sleep.

3. Quit smoking at some point.

4. Become a serious and organised individual with a tidy room and stop getting spots due to not changing my pillowcases and sheets.

5. Stop picking at my spots.

6. This realistic list of resolutions is boring me. I’m not going to do any of this shit, maybe it would be just more sensible to have one point such as get std checked and actually stick to it. Ah who cares, I’m going to have what my mother calls a whore’s breakfast now. A black coffee and a cigarette.

7. And seize the motherfucking day. Magna carta, bitches.


Fifty shades of cordon bleu

I spent ten days with my family soaking up whatever sun can pass through factor fifty, freaking out about the abundance of freckles on my face and feeling like the odd one out in my family of perfect accomplished tanned go getters. Goddammit. When I spend time with them I’m the albino gorilla, I’m the prodigal son… oh how different Abby might be if only she had learnt to play piano or volleyball or  gone to college or spent more of her childhood in the sun. They don’t say it… just.

My best friend joined us for the last few days.. way to rescue me from beach boredom. Had a lot of fun, until we got dressed up and I remembered why I don’t live in Italy, why I don’t fancy Italians and why I bought pepper spray. Eugh.

Not fun… well, just a little bit fun, because I had my biatch with me and of course it was pretty off the hook, regardless of the slimey greaseball Italian teenagers we encountered.

I was glad to leave though. On to France, to Bordeaux. To my lover….

I flew without fear, the second time I really nailed it, fuck you fear of flying, I am just a normal person now who doesn’t LIKE flying but the last couple of flights I have been so cool, no shaking fear, no commandeering both arm rests to grip  them tightly while mentally composing my eulogy.

I landed with a self satisfied smirk at how brilliant I deal with flying now. The girl next to me was white and panicked. SAP.

The airport was tiny, we walked about 50 metres from the plane and entered the baggage reclaim hall. Ahead of me those opaque glass doors sliding open for the crowd ahead of me. I ducked out of view… crap.

Suddenly the moment I have fantasized about for over a month, menaced me with its uncertainty.

Would he be standing there, too far…. would I have to do the walk-skip-keep composed while grinning furiously? The romantic reunion in front of the crowd, or would it be an awkward hello how was the flight is this your bag? While I accidentally go for a kiss and realise I’m just getting a hug?

And do I look ok? I had applied some makeup on the plane but I was up at 7 to catch two trains and maybe I look tired, drawn… my so called tan is just freckles, isn’t it? What if he liked me pale and alabaster, what if my sunkissed skin is too Irish and freckly.. did I trade my classy, elegant whiteness for a bad patchy shade darker? I think in panic of my bikini like, de-haired but so fucking white next to the thighs and pink belly… oh my pink belly….

I squint into my tiny hand mirror and think no, it’s ok… fuck it. Fuck it. I just have to do it. I swing out through the doors and don’t look at anyone, hoping at least to “spot” him as we are nearly beside each other, so there is less uncomfortable distance and idiotic smiling.

He’s not there. Oh oh… but my flight was late, he’s probably having a smoke outside. I turn left through the doors and there he is, sitting on the low wall, looking at me…

He looks young, oh so young… younger than I remember. He’s so tall and thin, his face is young and lost and hopeful. I reach him and smile shyly, not sure any more about anything… do I really have the most amazing sex of my life with this young man, do I love him, do I want him? Have I just followed something shiny because I couldn’t have it, has he been one of my conquests, have I pursued him to prove I could, have I fooled us both… does he love me?

And I reached him and his hand reached up to my face and he kissed me, tender but reserved, and doubt curdled in my belly and then I hugged him and dropped the handle of my suitcase and his arms were around me and he held me so tight and I kissed him tentatively on his cheek/jaw/neck and he breathed  heat onto my neck I missed you… and I said it too and it caught me, it caught up to me, the hug lit up between us and it was Dublin airport all over again.

Shyly he took my hand and I dragged my suitcase along, giddy with the confirmation of everything being right again.

We walked to his car, borrowed from his father. It was an oven inside… he turned on the engine and I sat beside him with my freckled knees showing and talked about everything and nothing, and he asked me would you like to go to the beach? And I didn’t want to go to the beach, no, I wanted to go to bed, to lie down with my lover and tell him how much I missed him with kisses and feel him swell up and want me again.

But I said sure, cool… let’s go to the beach.

We stopped at the exit from the car park and the machine was automatic. His card didn’t work so we tried mine, but that didn’t work either. It didn’t accept coins… the intercom guy told us we had to pay the parking inside the airport first. Oh. We drove back in circles, trying to find another space to park. Parked and walked back to the terminal. Hand in hand, our eyes flicking over to each other and smiles spreading contagiously. He stopped once or twice and pulled me to him and kissed me and murmured, you’re beautiful.

We paid in the terminal, again the machines wouldn’t take our cards but they accepted my last few coins. Back to the car, back to the exit. Ticket accepted… now DRIVE!

Away from the airport… He squeezed my hand and I babbled incessantly about my holidays, my family, my friends back in Ireland. I made myself ask him about himself. His work, his dissertation… his family. Living back at home. All the time I drank him in, his smell, and I loved him and loved him and loved him. I love you, I thought. I really do love you. I mentally formed the words but didn’t say them. We drove to a petrol station, it didn’t accept our cards again. PUTAIN!

I love it when you talk French. Say something in French…

He said something quickly and I understood… he said It was so hard when you left and I missed you a lot. I smiled, I don’t know if he thought I would understand that….I squeezed his hand and said moi aussi. Which was wrong so he laughed. I think it should have been je aussi. Me too.

We found another petrol station and this one accepted his card. It’s a little bit wrecked, that old bank card. Bent and cracked in places. They took his card and when he came back I thought great, let’s be off… I want to be free of these motorways and generic shops. I want patisseries and cafes and old men drinking pastis and striped shirted cyclists carrying baguettes in their wicker baskets. And mostly I wanted to be alone together where I could pounce on my chauffeur without endangering our lives, and eat him up and make him love me.

He slid into the driver’s seat again, and elegant folding of long limbs. He looked stressed, what’s wrong? I asked. He groaned… I forgot the lid of the gas tank at the other place. What? I took of the lid, and I must have left it on the car and it fell off. Oh. Shit. Damn this I just want to go now.

He drove back to the first petrol station and we couldn’t see it. I think it is green, he said. I scanned the road out my window. Nope. We drove away, and as we left I had a brief glimpse of something green on the road, right in a busy intersection. And we were gone before I registered, that might be it. Shit. Now it’s too late, isn’t it? If I tell him now, it’s like… why didn’t you just say there it is? Why didn’t I? I don’t know. But I kept my mouth shut. I guess maybe I didn’t want to sit there any longer while he found somewhere to park, circled back, left me alone and went to pick up the lid. I just wanted to go. I felt bad though…. A little reminder of how selfish love is, for me anyway.

We drove away, away from the motorways and concrete. A long, straight, two lane road lined with trees. Forests, he told me. Important woodlands for the timber industry. Ahh. Oooh. Roadsigns loomed warning us of deer crossing. I made stupid comments about doing some deer spotting. I made stupid comments about everything. Stop this Abby…. stop talking mindlessly. He’s a silent type, he’s going to think I’m an idiot. We held hands sometimes. In traffic he kissed me quickly and his eyes bored deep into me.

This is good, he said.. This desire we are creating…

I agreed but privately wanted to smack him over the head for this delayed gratification bullshit and make him pull over so I could go to town on him.

We drove for too long. We drove and drove and then we were in a bright, summery, well kept little town by the ocean. We parked a metre from the sand dunes and tripped down to the beach holding hands and looking forward to sitting in the sand and kissing properly. We sat on a towel… smiled quickly and he pulled me over, grabbed my bottom lip with his two and kissed me passionately. My arms fell around his shoulders and my hands caressed his neck. He’s beautiful. He’s beautiful. He fits me better than anyone, he slides around me and fills the spaces, he’s never uncomfortable, there’s never a spare limb, never a clash of teeth or a nose in the eye. He’s beautiful, I kiss him and kiss him and my chest overflows with love. He’s my prince, my young prince… I kiss him and he holds me close and I feel him breathe me in and gently hold the back of my head like I’m a baby, delicate.

We breathe together like this and I’m perfectly happy… with a touch of sexual frustration. We struggle to our feet and dip our toes in the water. It’s cold, the ocean… cold but not too cold. I thought it would be too cold… I picture myself in the water in my bikini, holding him semi naked in the cold water, my legs wrapped around him, the salt buoying me to fucking height. I could twine around his body and devour his face, and no one would see us from the beach because the sun is starting to set and they would probably just see a couple holding each other and kissing. I tell him we should get in. I’ll change into a bikini. He smiles with all his teeth and pulls up an edge of underwear and snaps it. Black lycra. Swimming trunks…. well, briefs I guess. There’s a flutter in my own underpants as I picture my hand reaching in there and pulling him out. I want to kiss his penis like it’s a tongue. I want his head lolling back and I want his hand on my hair. Oh I want him… I wonder how far the city is from this place? The airport was far but we messed around with a lot of petrol stations and shit.

We head back to the car and I take my bikini. I hope he likes it… I look good in this bikini, well, for me… I’m not a bikini person. I’ve never been “beach ready” but this year I am something close to it. Glass of wine first?

YES. As I realise the water is cold and alcohol will help.

Sit at a little table outside a bar-restaurant. Two glasses of wine. Two euros each glass. Lovely wine. Little pretzels on the table.

The sun sets behind him, sinking into the sea in a partially visible ball of fire. There are a few clouds just there so it’s not magnificent, but he says “it would have been too cheesy if the sunset was perfect.” We talk about our plans. I realise he isn’t still studying any more, just this dissertation and he’s finished his degree. He wants to do a masters but is going to leave it for a while. My heart sinks because that’s what made me feel like he had no choice about going home… the studying. He’s starting work as a teacher’s assistant and that’s something I know he wants to do, so I guess yeah he’s tied to France but not as strictly as I had thought.

I didn’t want to tell him my semi-plan on the first night as I have to find the right words so he doesn’t think I’m moving to France to be with him. In some way, yes I am… but I am doing it for myself too. I want to study a TEFL course here in Ireland over the next couple of months and then I’ll go to France. If he doesn’t want to be with me, or he’s just not willing to be in a relationship, whatever happens… heartbreak, but I know I will love France anyway. I’m tired of the parties in Ireland. Fun fun fun but too much, too often, too expensive, and too destroying. I want more elegance, more class, more good taste and manners, less howling and stumbling down streets and less fear on a Monday morning. I want fine wine and cheap wine, but not too much wine. I want cheese and bread and olive oil, I want to throw open shutters in the morning, let a pale yellow light flood my home and write amongst coffee and crumbs. I want a French man to make love to me. I want it to be this Frenchman but I’m open to interviewing replacements if it’s too much for him, too much passion and intensity for his first relationship.

I could find another Frenchman to swoon at.. just… let me love this one a little bit more. I want him to want the same thing I want, but I don’t know what that is yet. I have a flimsy image of us sharing weekends in the city, working and living our lives during the week and coming together Friday in glorious hedonism and enjoy each other for three days, regular but not suffocating. But I can’t tell him this because he’ll think this is my plan, my real plan, and I’m waiting for a YES LET’S BE TOGETHER WHEN YOU COME HERE. I’m not, I just want a “yeah that would be cool… let’s see what happens.”

Maybe. Maybe I’m bullshitting myself.

So I tell him I want to do the TEFL course, that I’m saving money, that I think I’d like to try France and I want to learn French but I don’t know what part of France yet. It’s true. He thinks it’s a good idea. I’m obviously not happy in Ireland. I tell him my dad’s take on the subject:

“You didn’t like Italy, you don’t like Ireland… if you don’t like France you know where you should go? THE PSYCHOLOGIST.”

Ha ha. Maybe he’s right, but I think I could try a couple more places before I can be considered jaded.

Antoine says he wants to travel. He feels the same sometimes, maybe he is looking for something that doesn’t exist. But he wants to work in France for two years, then travel… hitchhiking across the globe. I feel a twinge of annoyance. Like it’s a personal rejection of me. Dismiss the idea. Not everything is about me… I think his idea is swell. I tell him go for it, but I mean NO DON’T GO TO THOSE STUPID PlACES… it’s all here, what you need, here with me… but I’m jealous too, because I can’t hitchhike around the world staying in random houses, it’s just too dangerous. The height of it for me would be to couchsurf, I casually think I might do that some time but I’ll still freak out that maybe I’ll get a creep….

I tell him I want a new adventure, I want to write. I want him to know that I have a life I want to lead and I’m not hanging around waiting for his invitation. He leans in as we finish our wine. Looks sincerely in my eyes.

He says, “I know you’re gonna do it.. I know you’ll do something great. You make all these tough choices and you keep trying… you will do something great, I know it.”

I feel like crying. I don’t want to do anything great, anything, anything. I just want him to wrap me up in his arms and plug the hollowness that keeps creeping back in my chest. I want promises and kisses and I want him to lay me down and remove my meticulously chosen dress and peel down my knickers and kiss me there, and not notice the awful white triangle with the red bumps from the ingrown hairs, and just notice how non-hairy it is for a change.  I don’t care about learning french or writing books or teaching English or having friends or doing anything all I want is this man inside me. It’s crazy, why does he make me feel this way? Why does lying down with someone, touching them, looking at their eyes, why does that make me happy? Why am I always a little bit lonely, a little bit yearning for something that feels impossible, until I feel his face against mine, nuzzling and breathing, kissing and sucking. Why is this something I want? Why do I feel so peaceful in his arms, like nothing matters, like nothing can go wrong. He’s nobody, he’s a man I met and he’s smart and sweet and generous and polite, and funny and gentle and passionate and romantic. But I’m in love with him and nothing but being with him, totally and completely, fused together in an embrace, nothing else will make me happy.

I want to tell him I love him but I know it’s something we aren’t going to say. Maybe not until tomorrow, or maybe not at all. We walk back to the beach and I change into my bikini awkwardly, under my dress. I boasted I could do this ninja underwear change because of PE (phys ed) changing rooms as a teenager (and not wanting other girls to know how weird my nipples looked when they weren’t erect) But I changed awkwardly, and when I finally was ready, bikini under dress, I realised he had miraculously changed trousers without my noticing. Oh. Ok. A better ninja.

We ran down the beach. The sun was still behind clouds, hovering over the horizon. Red light behind the clouds. Waves crashing on the shore. I whipped off my dress and he took off his trousers. My belly seemed more bloated, suddenly. I wasn’t feeling so cocky any more. He was slim but had put on a little bit of weight. Tanned, he looked good. His legs were brown up to shorts height… and under his shorts was the part of him I use to love him. I couldn’t wait to take it in my hand and look up at him and for it to be that time…

We ran into the sea and it was cold. Up to our shins was too cold so I decided to pretend to be a daring, life-living, day seizing individual and I just dunked my body in, and as I crouched into the water I was drenched in cold, cold saltiness but it wasn’t so bad, it was a nice shock. He followed my lead but better, he went underwater. I didn’t want to mess up my eye makeup.

And the waves were suddenly high. We were standing up to our thighs, I needed to pee I realised. But the waves were breaking on us, up to our shoulders. Up to my shoulders, his ribs. I wanted to pee and we were standing far enough from each other, I knew I could do it. I just needed to get a little deeper…. But a wave was coming, a big one. So big, this close to the shore. We were 20 metres from the shore. He yelled get down but I didn’t get down, and the wave battered me, pumelled me, dragged my bikini bottoms to one side. I started to tighten the strings but I realised I was at the right depth to pee. I released a tentative stream of pee while re-tying my bottoms, but he started to wade towards me. Ack! I might be discovered, my filthy juvenile sea-peeing. I waded back a bit, away from him, unable to stop the stream of pee. He looked at me like why are you running away? And then another huge wave broke, and again I didn’t get down because I was tying my bottoms. The wave jolted me forwards, stung my eyes, stung up my nose. I spluttered and realised it had also dragged my bikini top down to my waist, and the bottoms down to my ankles. My pee was startled into submission and I clutched my bikini to me… retying furiously as another monster loomed. Antoine told me come further in, the waves are worse here at the shore. But I was panicking, it was too deep with the waves. I’m not a good swimmer… I’m not a good swimmer. I’m here, he said. I’ll take care of you. But I had my bikini to sort out and it was scary, the waves one after the other, mercilessly battering me and dragging my clothes from me. He came to me when he saw the fear and he held me in his arms and I hoped he didn’t have an impossible pee detecting sense but of course the waves had already dispersed my pee, he would never know. Maybe he peed too….

He held me all wet and cold and kissed me saltily. I just wanted to leave with him, back to warm and dry. But I didn’t want to seem like a pussy. But  was too freaked out. I garbled my excuses, not good at swimming… not used to the waves… scared of drowning… not enjoying the forced nudity… and he wanted to stay in and maybe he was thinking of fucking standing up in the salt water, but I couldn’t stay in I was too scared of the salt in my nose and eyes. So we sloshed out defeated, more waves to dodge and surfers to be ashamed in front of. He wrapped a towel around me although I wasn’t cold. From the beach the sea looked beautiful and it was beautiful. I wished I had stayed in, the sea felt amazing, and I needed to finish that pee that was interupted. But it was scary. He rubbed me with the towel and then I took his towel and wrapped it around him. He pulled it over his head, a blue towel, and I laughed and said he looked like the virgin Mary.

He said really, but actually you know I’m not a virgin…

And it was the first allusion to our magical sexual relationship since he left me in Ireland. I grinned.

“really? Did we have sex?”

“You don’t remember?”

“Ah I must have been drunk..”

We kissed and his hand pulled my face closer, owning my face. His lips forced my upper lip into his mouth and he kissed and bit it. I had his lower lip, the full one, always a little chapped… I sucked his lip, I squeezed him with all my limbs and then tore my mouth away from his, kissing his jawline, nipping his skin, to his neck, I love his neck. My nose fits in there and it’s warm and tender. I breathe into him and he holds me, wet and sandy lovers on a beach in France, nothing like the environment we met in, but the feeling just the same, just lovely. I’m melting.

Another glass of wine? Some food? Or back to the apartment?

I just want to get you home, I say. Apartment. I’m not hungry…. I bite him again. I can’t have ever wanted anyone as much as I want him. I try to remember how I saw him earlier, at the airport… sitting on that wall, looking like a lost boy. He doesn’t look like that now. It’s his character, the way he acts, the way he drives, the way he kisses me, the way he  talks… they fill in his face, they make him a man.

Ok it’s about an hour though. And it might be tough to find parking… I am filled with rage. Why did we come to the fucking beach, I just need to get him to a bed now… now… noww… but I know I’m glad we came to the beach, it was cool, it’s why I’m so ready for him now. But I wish there was a closer beach, or a closer apartment. Depressed, I slip into the car, throw on my dress over my wet  bikini. I sit watching the deer crossing signs and forcing myself not to make any more inane comments. He talks a bit, I talk a bit. We listen to music. I think about his penis. I can’t remember it very well… it’s lovely but I can’t remember what it’s like exactly. He tells me the road is boring to drive along, it’s so straight… people can fall asleep. I quip, but was actually serious,

“If you’re bored I could suck your penis for a while…”

He says no that’s probably not a good idea… haha.

I tell him just for safety, I don’t want him to fall asleep.

My half-joke-half-desperate plea for sex falls flat. I’m feeling grumpy and rejected. It takes AGES to get to Bordeaux.

Eventually we arrive but the only space outside the apartment is half on the footpath. It doesn’t look like you can park there… he might get a fine .At this point I couldn’t care less if he gets a fine, if the car is clamped, if it spontaneously combusts. I just want to get out, go upstairs, sit down and start touching hidden body parts. I make sympathetic noises and statements. He decides to risk getting a fine. We go upstairs and he opens the door.

It’s an old, bright, slightly messy apartment. Two medical students live here but are on holidays and are lending us the apartment… they are friends of a friend. They don’t know him or me…. pretty decent of them actually. He has made the bed up and there’s wine in the kitchen. We put on music and open wine and sit on the couch uncertainly. For a second.

And then fall on each other, kissing, whispering, Touching, stroking up under shirt and dress, running hands up legs, hand cradling back of neck, fingers through hair, mouths everywhere. He lies back on the couch and I fall after him, kissing and moaning. I am almost embarassed of how wet I am. He tries a finger… it’s ridiculous. I remember what I was waiting for all night and slip a hand inside his trousers. The fabric is soft and there is an opening at the front, they are kind of pyjamas really… He’s there, hard and smooth, curled underneath. I pull him out of the fabric he is caught in and he springs up.. I feel tenderness wash over me. He is his penis, it’s his delicate part of him…. the part of him I can concentrate my love on and he will feel the most. That’s what it is, it’s not a SEXUAL ORGAN, it’s an extension of the person you want… their avatar for sex, their vulnerable bit.

I lean over and kiss it and it tastes like the sea. I kiss it wetter again. He closes his eyes and tightens his grip on my arms. I kiss him again and again and then I stop because I want our first time to be closer than that. He pulls me up and takes my hand. Leads me to the bedroom and we collapse on the bed. Kissing and kissing. So lovely, so gentle.

I want him NOW. He murmers I want you, in my ear and it thrills me that we’re in sync like this. I bite hard where my mouth is, somewhere on his body, and I can hear a packet unwrapped beside me. It’s the plastic, he didn’t remove the plastic first. Rookie mistake, and sure enough it’s a few agonising moments before the condom has been isolated and I put it on him because we both know I am better at this because I have more experience…

He’s big and beautiful and he’s leaning over me, on his arms and knees, my legs closed between his. He looks at me full of fire and emotion and sweetness. I have been waiting for this moment for a month and a half. He kisses me and guides himself in. It’s the most incredible feeling, he’s so close to me. It’s a little painful at times… I cling to him, we rise and fall, we kiss like our mouths are also having sex. He wants me to come too… he feels around for my hand and brings it to me. I try but no, I just want to feel him. I don’t want to remove myself from the back and forth to try and come. So I tell him I just want to make love now, and I want him to come when he feels it… And I get on top of him for a bit and I grind onto him, and it feels so good. I’m full…

And finally we he turns me over but it’s not doggy style, which I don’t really like… I’m flat on my face and he’s flat on top of me. His body all over mine, his mouth behind my ear, his breath hot and his arm reaching around under me to touch my breast. He shudders into me again and again and it’s too hot, I can’t move and I love it. He nips my ear, kisses, pulls at me. And I feel something… I hear a snap or I feel it, but it feels too good, him inside me… I don’t stop him. He comes and I know the condom is broken. I think he knows too. He comes gigantically, mashing me into the mattress, gripping me with his whole body, and as he is tensest he lets go and moans into my sweat-drenched neck. He kisses me gently now, quietly. We pant and he hugs me and buries his face in my hair. A single last moan. That was incredible. Intense…

He lifts himself out and we sheepishly eye the broken condom bunched around the base of his cock… We both make some half admission of maybe noticing it happen but not being sure. It’ll be ok, we can get the morning after pill.

Now we can have sex without these fucking condoms…

I looked away and muttered, that’s not why we use condoms…

He said yeah but it’s already happened twice with us, that they have broken… so…

We smoke a cigarette, smiling at each other, drinking each other in. Holding hands and rubbing each others fingers. Kissing between drags… finishing the cigarettes and lying back down, kissing and touching, gazing at each other through the haze of emotion. He cups my face in his hands, those big strong hands. My skin against his skin. I shift forwards and feel him hard under my belly. Kiss with more urgency. Sucking his skin between my teeth. Reaching down and massaging him and his breath catches in his throat. Eyes closed. He’s so hard, so big and hard. I love your penis. My penis loves you too…

I move further up and I’m sitting on him on the low couch. I feel him strain up instinctively and I pull him up and into me and sit lower and he reaches to my buttocks and squeezes and my thighs and pulls me forward and back, we rock together more and more urgently. Sometimes his head jerks forward and he seizes a breast, pushes a nipple to his mouth, sucks, bites too hard, oh too hard. Then he lets go and clasps my back, tightens me to him and I shift my thighs and urge him on, squeeze him inside. He lifts me… we glance at the couch and decide on the bed.  Dart back to bed, he climbs onto me, he looks hungry, the hungriest I have seen. My legs over his shoulders and this time I touch myself and we come together, violently, disgustingly, beautifully, perfectly synchronised and I whisper I love you as he groans to the end and I don’t know if he heard me but I don’t care.  I love him so completely then, I want nothing, I’m at peace. He lies half on me half off and kisses me slowly, his thumb running over my freckles. I think cloudily about his body, his eyes, his face.

I wonder what  I look like to him. He has brown eyes and a slightly mournful expression in them. His lips chapped because they are full, and because I bit them very hard. His cheeks are not pudgy like mine. The bones sit just under the surface. An attractive skull…

I notice big pores on his cheeks. Wide pores… I wonder if he sees all my blackheads, all my facial hair. I get rid of my moustache and the ever growing beard hairs, but they are always back. I feel self conscious about a bit of a moustache that is about a week away from needing serious intervention. It’s ok… is it? I look at his pores and they seem oddly like part of why I’m attracted to him. I wonder does he love my defects too. I wish we were having a sweetheart’s conversation and not just smiling at each other. I ask him to tell me something. I want him to compliment me or tell me he loves me but I pretend I mean a fact, a story… something interesting. He  stares at me intensely and says sometimes you don’t need to talk to tell something. And I check the way he is looking at me for clues, and then it’s obvious what he’s saying, just what I’m thinking. He’s thinking I love you. He’s thinking I love you and I can practically hear it. I know why he doesn’t want to say it. I kiss him with as much love as I can…

We make love four more times that night and fall asleep in total happiness.

Waking up is perfect, his limbs warm and soft with mine, his face peaceful, together slowly realising awakeness. We kiss the chaste kiss of the unbrushed morning smoker teeth. He’s stirring, I’m still wet from last night. We make love again and come again, less violent, more contented. We lie together then he gets up and dresses, we have coffee and he goes to buy croissant.

I sit in this stranger’s apartment and listen to the sounds of France, the cars and shouts in my lover’s language, the slammed doors and barking dogs, probably poodles. I want to call my best friend to share my sexscapades but it’s too early. I giggle to myself about my lover going to buy croissants for breakfast. I think about Dylan Moran’s stand up about French people, naked from the waist down and padding around the apartment picking up croissant crumbs with their feet.

I stroke my belly which hurts… not my belly but something deeper. I’m sore inside, the sex was gentle but relentless. I’m raw and have something like period cramps. I wonder how it will be to buy the morning after pill in France. Embarassing… he’ll have to speak for me.

He comes back with two croissants, two delicious pain au chocolate and some juice. And the morning after pill. I love that he bought it for me. Saved the embarassment. The pharmacist insisted I come in person, but he refused. “It has just as much to do with me as it does with her.” She relented and sold it to him. I took the pill.

We drink coffee and eat and then smoke and shower together, intensely and slowly washing each other badly, just feeling the soap suds, nobody getting very clean. We leave the shower and make love again with a condom, careful this time and then again, and then I’m too sore to move but I still want more. He kisses me with questions in his eyes. He looks like he can’t believe it, how good this feels. We talk and make plans for the day. I want to see the city but I don’t care what we do…

Outside the car has a yellow fine tucked under the wiper. We wince but it’s only 15 euro.  There’s a proper space free now so he moves the car…

Walking around the city goofy with love. Holding hands and stopping to kiss. Lunch with wine, delicious and simple. See the sights, the cathedral topped with a gold Mary. Towers and parts of the old city wall. A palace-like building he explained to me but I don’t remember. The river and the fountains. The people so elegant and relaxed, the streets wide and leaf-shaded. Beautiful, everywhere beautiful. We go home and make love again and eat cheese and bread and I wonder when will I be able to go to the toilet. The toilet is a little closet with no sink… the bathroom has no toilet. It’s too unprotected. My body seizes up and demands a 20 minute safety window so I can relax, go to the toilet and not have him realise.

We go to the cinema, it’s lovely…. sit in the dark and he feels my fingernails, the badly applied polish addictively smooth to touch. We go for a drink after and want to meet his friends but they are going to a concert and don’t reply to his text asking to meet up later. We drink wine, talk about life, I make a comment about how I think my family thinks of me as someone deeply unhappy…

He holds my hand and tells me I deserve to be happy, so happy. It feels like something I would say to someone I wanted to find their own happiness, but had no intention of contributing to it personally. Like a breakup platitude…

But then, let’s go home and make love.

We go home and make love and I don’t want to sleep because the day will be over, and we will only have one day left.

We sleep sweetly and wake and breakfast and make love and shower and make love and shower and it’s all so perfect. We drive out of the city again… to see the vineyards. Lunch at a tourist-heavy medieval town full of wine and cafes. I order the chicken and it’s boring and dry. His is duck, and it’s succulent and lovely. He shares his with me and we have an expensive, lovely wine. Flies surround us as we eat. It’s annoying and I stress about the flies maybe being more around me than other people. But no, everyone has a lot of flies.

I still can’t go to the toilet. It just isn’t happening. My belly is a drum… It’s awful. I want to be slim like I was when I was in Italy. I want to look good…

We drive through towns in the hottest car in the universe, and stop for flan which is delicious and a cool drink at a boulangerie. I ask him what a boulange is and he says it’s nothing. Boulangerie means bakery. I have to stop saying stupid shit… But he often comments that I’m intelligent. For a woman… it’s a joke we have because his friend said that once, perfectly serious but drunk out of his mind. I tell him he’s pretty smart… for a man. We are in a bubble of stupidity really, but nothing matters.

I want him all the time. He kisses me every chance he gets. He touches me… he puts an arm around my shoulders and I feel like a woman and I feel loved. We drive for ages, we talk about everything. I talk more of course. He leans and kisses me passionately at traffic lights. I want him again… we can’t find a parking space so we drive far away, I’m going crazy because how can we not find a parking space? It feels like a massive conspiracy against us. Our precious time wasted in a car. Finally a spot is found, miles away. Long walk back to the apartment in the sweltering heat.

We pick up food in the supermarket and I feel like crying because that was the last day. I have to leave tomorrow and I don’t want to go, I want to be with him and it’s so hard…. I’m so happy with him by my side.

He notices the things I like about myself. He’s intelligent… he’s lovely, he’s polite, he pulls my chair out before I sit down…. he’s sweet and passionate. He’s interesting and he likes a lot of things I like and a lot of things I don’t know about.

Back in the apartment we fell onto each other, a whole day in the car and all that longing. I gave him the really, really, really good head. The stuff reserved for people you are afraid of losing. The effort, the diligence. He whispered that’s incredible and he came with a flicker of fear across his face. He held me tight and kissed me all over and told me it was amazing, incredible, amazing. I swelled up with love and so did he. We showered together again and he made dinner while I contemplated what I had to ask him, what I needed to tell him.

We ate duck breast, beautiful and pink inside. Potatoes with peppery, creamy sauce. Drank red wine while the words jumbled around in my head, waiting for the moment.

We smoked after dinner and kissed each other and I breathed deep.

So how do you feel about this? Now that I’ve come here….

He told me he was glad I came… it felt so good being with me. So happy, so relaxed.. but he didn’t want to make plans for the future, he couldn’t handle it. He couldn’t think about the future… his eyes widened in panic as he spoke.

I wanted to reach out into him, some special part where decisions could be made, reach out and press DO IT, JUMP WITH ME. Let’s be together…

You’re young but you love me, I’m young too but I’ve loved and risked and lost and started again and it’s worth it my fuck it is worth it. I’ve suffered.. I’ve cried and cried over worthless men but the feelings… the feelings were worth it. I don’t ever want to run away from the happiness because it’s scary, I’d rather take your hand now and lose you in a month than stand alone now to avoid the hurt. You can’t fall in love and avoid the hurt. It comes either way. But we can have more happiness before it comes. To make it all worth while… but I didn’t say that, I said something like that, something about how I wanted to try… but I didn’t want to make big plans either.

I knew I wasn’t saying all the right things that I needed to say but I was afraid to  say the thing that would make him run for the hills. We didn’t say we loved each other but it was obvious.

I told him how I was so hurt when he left because I thought he didn’t care, that it was all bullshit….  he stared at me incredulous… how could you think that? How could you imagine that?

And I explained, he told me he wanted to try move on, be happy without each other… but he said no, no, it’s easy to say… it’s hard to do. It was so tough losing you. So hard to say goodbye… I missed you so much. We kissed and held each other and I felt like no matter what he said it was fine, he obviously loved me, he made it clear. He just didn’t want to plan to be together. But I was in his arms and it didn’t matter, he clearly loved me, he couldn’t turn this down….

We went to bed and made love. And then again, the last time although I didn’t know it then. It was perfect. It was the most wonderful time I have ever had with anyone. He gasped I love you and we came together with our mouths together, kissing and still kissing as we came, and he stayed inside me and we kissed afterwards, until eventually we had to make sure the condom was still intact. We gazed at each other and our sweat shone and our eyes shone and I loved him so much and I have never felt so loved.

We smoked a joint but I became paranoid and couldn’t sleep… I wanted to go to the bathroom but I still couldn’t go. The joint made me panic, nearly three days without going…. could I die? I sat in the bathroom with paranoid thoughts for a long time, worrying about something vague, worrying worrying about it until I realised I was just thinking about goats…. my mind full of pictures of goats. Tried to shake it off… until I heard something, just when I thought maybe I could go, maybe… I got up and skulked into the kitchen, freaked out… thinking maybe someone had broken in… of course it was just him, of course… but the joint made me so paranoid. I found him in the light of the fridge, lean and tall, drinking milk with a straight back. He saw me and told me, he had been paranoid too. Thought I had just left… got up and left the apartment. We laughed at our paranoia.

We cuddled and smoked a cigarette and then went back to bed. I was sad because I don’t want to leave him, I want to sleep with him next to me. I want to wake up with his face to kiss, and I want to do beautiful things with him, make love and feel warm. He fits me so well, I wouldn’t need to be jealous, protective, paranoid… when I’m with him it all makes sense.

We had breakfast and a last glass of wine and we said we won’t be sad today, ok?

We bought a good bottle of vodka for the girls who lent us their apartment and left some money too. We packed our things and cleaned the apartment and changed the sheets and he collected all the condoms. Some of them hid, under the mattress, behind the bed. We rounded them all up and I realised that was the last time, last night was the last time. It was perfect. It couldn’t have been better. We left it at that. He drove me to the airport and said I don’t think we should spent an hour together in the airport, that isn’t good and he was right. He parked in a taxi spot and we kissed goodbye quickly and with a slight wrenching and parted suddenly. I walked into the airport without looking back and he drove away and I felt like crying but not like when he left me before.

I wanted to tell him so many things, I wanted to tell him I loved him and would he just cop on and be with me, whatever it takes, just stop being confused, realise how special this is.

I got my flight with a slightly broken heart but I was able to cope… after take off I picked up the last book I was reading, One Day. The bit at the end… the sad bit. I don’t know why I thought I could read that but I cried on the plane and for the first time as an adult, I cried on a plane and it had nothing to do with thinking I was going to die. I had to stop reading the book but it made me realise I was not totally ok. It would be hard, off course it would… the easy lightness when we spoke about everything, barely touching off what we should have spoken about… it doesn’t seem so cool and fine any more.

I’m not as desolate as I was last time… he made me feel sure that he loves me, and I still do…

It’s just…

Yesterday my mother got married to her long long long time partner. Official stepdad now. They were very sweet… I had a great day and a great night, I was in top form. But there was so much drinking and I only got about three hours of sleep. So this morning I had an atrocious case of the fear. I yearned for my lover. I ached for his warmth beside me, his sweet face and murmuring you’re beautiful.

And I wrote to Antoine saying I miss you. And he replied pretty quickly, yes it’s hard for me too to be separated again.

But then it went downhill… He said he thought it was pointless to write sweet things to each other because it’s not a substitute for actually being there. And he said we can’t just see each other for a few days here and there…

He would love to have a chance to make things happen but it’s not like that. I told him, look I’m not making plans about this yet, but I might be in France in a few months and we might have this chance. I really don’t want him to think it’s for him, it’s not. Without him I still want to do it, but with him I’d probably go to his city. Without him I’ll avoid his city. I do love his city… but I’m going anyway.

But he said, please don’t have these expectations, I don’t know, I’m lost… He said he loves me, he loves who I am, but he doesn’t know what he can offer me.

I told him I haven’t got expectations, I just love being with him and I’d like to see him again, even if just for a few days I think it is worth it. But he said, I have to go back to work, we can talk later.

And I remembered his dissertation and he only has a few days left to work on it. And here’s me badgering him about our relationship when he’s got a serious deadline…. Because I need hung over confirmation of his feelings, of things we have already talked about. MY best friend tells me move on, he isn’t worth it. He’s too young, he’s not ready.

But I want HIM, he’s the man I want. Why can’t I have the man I want, if I’m so freaking awesome? She told me I don’t realise how great I am, how special I am. But if I’m so special why isnt he chasing me across the globe, begging to be with me? I know he loves me. I know I’m special. I know he’s had the best sex of his life with me., the best time with any girl or woman… But what does that add up to? I don’t know if he will want to see me if I go to France. I would love to go to that city, I loved that city… but can I really go there if I’m gonna bump into this man who gives me goosebumps, who I love, tenderly, passionately… who loves me and loves being with me but doesn’t want to risk saying “ok let’s try this!”

Again I’m doing mental gymnastics for a man, to try and make sense of his love but disinterest. The feelings are sincere. He may say confused things but I know he is sincere. So where am I?

I had the best three days with anyone I’ve ever met, the best sex, the best romance, the best dates, the best time. And I should be happy… so happy… but I’m hung over and my love says he’s lost and doesn’t know and we’ll talk later but he was online later and didn’t write to me.

And what does he have to offer me? What is it? I’m addicted to the feeling I get when I’m with him. The first night we met and walked in the sun back from that party…. we talked a little bit, about our hopes, our families, our pet hates. I was ready for someone to sweep me off my feet and he did it so effortlessly, so simply. I fell for him that morning, that night… he was romantic. I don’t think I’m asking for anything. Just two people enjoying each other… does he think that’s too much or does he think if we lived nearby, I’d expect him to be at my side night and day, just like when we were in Ireland or France with limited time? If that’s his fear then no, no… I know that’s not sustainable long term. I’d want my own space too, even if only to give myself a chance to use the fucking toilet.

Some part of me knows I’m lying to myself and him, that I’m head over heels and stupidly so, and I won’t be happy until I’ve smothered the fire, worn out all the passion we have and can be finally bored of him and cast him off, lost and confused, and be my own woman again. Maybe all we have is passion and an appreciation of another lonely intelligent person who isn’t quite a nerd or quite a party animal, somewhere between romance and sex addiction, somewhere between doing what’s right and doing what feels good. Maybe I just opened my eyes to someone who’s kinda like me right at the moment when he came along, and now it seems like he’s the only one…. I don’t know…. is it him? Is it me, aching to make someone fit and be my companion in a life that’s lonely and confusing? I don’t even know where I’m fooling myself. I don’t know if maybe he’s being naive, making annoying decisions about what’s right and what’s wrong, or if he’s totally right, and his doubts are right, and I just can’t see the problems for myself because I don’t want to let go of something sweet.

I have lied to myself about every man I’ve met, and it’s a hard habit to break.

But I’m ok… I will survive. From one romantic crisis to the next,

yours, and always…

Abby N Flicker

Grabbing the bull by the balls, and hoping I don’t end up covered in cow-jizz

Where we left this…..

I was drinking some whiskey and waiting for the death sentence on my love affair. Half-preparing wheedles and rebuttals to all the excuses he would surely produce to avoid being with me.

I drank quite a bit of whiskey and hot rebound photog guy came online. Entered a halfhearted flirting loop and didn’t really know how to get out of it. He went to the shop and got whiskey and we drank together online while the butterflies fluttered for another man.

I got quite drunk and whipped out my I’m about to lie to you phrase, which as you may know is “to be perfectly honest,”

Told rebound guy that the whiskey was urging me to be honest. In all honesty, I said, I’m just out of a relationship and still pretty all over the place about it. Just… wanted to put that out there, let it shake its thing… just FYI.

Oh, he says, I didn’t realise..

Yeah, um… the guy you took photos of me kissing that night. The one I told you I was in love with that night.

Oh right, he says. That.

The boy does smoke a lot of spliff, he practically chain smokes joints, so I guess that memory evaded him.

He told me it’s cool, he’s in a similar state himself… He’s easy going, it’s cool.. do you want some space?

Hmm. Well not really, I don’t mean.. I want space. (I don’t want to cut off my access to that amazing oral, especially as I don’t even know where things stand with Monsieur Plan A… and I don’t want to gain weight now that my primary source of excercise has been taken from me)

Just… hmm… I struggled with how to rework I’m attracted to you but in love with another guy and will jump at the chance to be with him again and leave you alone with your pot and all those photos of me…

In the end I said something like:

I may be a bit hot and cold, I just don’t want to be a dick.. you’re too sound to use as just a rebound guy. Sorry I’m just being honest… (Lies… lies… I could totally use you for a rebound guy, it just makes me feel a bit icky that I’m still carrying on a love affair with someone else and he might even potentially contact you to get copies of those photos, and then it could blow up in my face… and nothing compares to him. Nothing, not even fantastic head…)

It’s cool, he said, I dig honesty.

Ok. I feel like I have set up my escape route now, it’s all fine. Wait for my love to come back online. He appears late of course, and I ditch rebound guy in a heartbeat. Night night! I have to wash my hair and get an early night… laters!

Nerves jangle me into the conversation I steeled myself for… but it didn’t go the way I dreaded, I didn’t have to wheedle much, I just told him I thought that he didn’t have to see it as this huge decision, together or not, we could just try one step, and go from there. A visit. A little weekend together.

And he wanted to give it a shot… it won’t change anything, he said, but he wanted to see me anyway…

Booked flights yesterday. Going to Italy for 10 days to see my family and then France for 3 days to see my lover and hopefully will be all rosy and relaxed and have beach hair after 10 days by the sea, and I’ll be able to work my manipulative magic on the guy and give him the impression of how great it would be, just him and me, and make him want to work for it somehow, any way.

I’m looking forward to seeing my dad and his wife and my sisters. The adults are the voice of reason and talking to them always inspires me and gives me resolve… Every good decision I have made, I made standing on their shoulders, and they never bully me with advice unless I’m lost. My dad couldn’t be asked for money to start a new life following some 21 year old who isn’t sure of anything, but he’d certainly pour out options for me.

Why don’t you do a TEFL course? Get a job teaching English? What have you got to lose? You could stay with your aunt, it’s nowhere near where HE lives but it’s France and you could learn French there, rent free… until you’re ready to get a job….

I don’t even know what he would say really, but he’s bound to shed some sense on my confusion.

And I get to spend time with my sisters… in a good mood, optimistic… looking forward to my weekend with my garcon, not moping around after it’s over… Thank fuck I got the flights in that order. Good idea. Not my idea, but a good idea. HIS idea.

And I find myself getting carried away and googling things about moving to France. I don’t even know, I don’t know… it might be a disastrous venture. I’m not saying I will, I’m just enjoying the idea. It’s possible, of course it is, and even if I wound up in Italy mark 2, lost and friendless, isolated, hating the differences and missing the craic, well it’s not like I’d have a fucking mortgage there. I could come back to Ireland having lost only a shitty job and an expensive apartment I’m only renting.

I know I’m falling into the trap of picturing myself dabbing baguette crusts in melted butter while I type blog posts that are infinitely less skeezy, in some attic with annoyingly slopey ceilings, while an elegant French cat hops lightly in the window and gives me a haughty French look, and then a noise will stir me and I’ll throw open the painted shutters and lean out and down below will be my monsieur with a bottle of wine under his arm shouting things in French up at me like “Je suis venu, mon amour! Ouvre moi le port!” And I’ll have to go down to let him in the building because it will be an old building and there will be one of those lifts where you have to pull the metal grating closed and then ricket up two floors and we will kiss passionately in the lift and then stumble into my apartment and make love all over the place while the air cushions us with summery warmth and there will be so many stars in the sky and maybe I’ll have an affair with a painter who looks suspiciously like the French guy inn the Simpsons who Marge nearly cheats on Homer with and he’ll paint me naked.

I know in all reality that won’t actually happen if I move to France. I would hate to live in a slopey ceilinged attic with an old lift, I’m scared of lifts. Also I don’t really feel the desire to have a pet right now. And if I had my lover coming over with wine I wouldn’t want to have any affairs with painters.

Actually hot photog guy is not a photographer he is just an aspiring artist so he does paint. Initially I had a thought that maybe I would get to be painted and then I would have this really cool painting of myself as a young, slim naked woman to keep forever. But I realised that if he painted me he would probably keep it and not just give it to me, and I’m not sure I want men who I am probably going to hurt, in posession of naked photos or portraits of me. And oh I did feel weird after we had sex the last time, and sort of during. I felt at times like I was actively stopping myself from saying my French guy’s name. Like it was an effort to summon the right name to the front of my mind, and it was with a sad pang… and I decided against saying any name at all and just thought of the two of them, to and fro, to and fro… and I eventually faked an orgasm because I just felt sad. And I never, ever, ever fake orgasms because I like to be honest with the men I sleep with and because if you come once, there will always be this “did you come that time? Awww” so you just have to keep faking them all the time, and then when you DO come you can’t even let them know how special and wonderful THAT time was because all far as they know, you’re like a karma chameleon, you come and go, you know?

But I faked it with hot rebound guy and then felt like I’d sort of justified myself a bit, like I’d undone some of the betrayal to my love by putting a lie in between my intimacy with the other person. It’s mental fuckery and I’m sure no man would look at it that way. A fuck is a fuck is a fuck.

And I haven’t done anything wrong to my main man, because we are not in a relationship really we are just in love. He has the freedom to be with anyone he wants, and so do I. I’ve only made myself feel weird by poisoning the purity of the situation, because rebound guy is a common aquaintance…


That’s the lie of the land.

Also I am coming to entirely the end of my patience with work.

I sat there for three hours with a dejected, miserable, awful look on my face and all my colleagues tried to tell me to chin up and get on with it and that just made me angry because oh my gawd am I the only one who gets how shit our job is? Are they just superior people, that they can soldier on? Or am I revealing myself for the egotistical cunt I really am, sitting there sulking because I’m too good for a job that they maybe clearly are not?

Umm… I sat and stared and hated my job for three hours in the afternoon, well for most of the day but the last three hours I didn’t even bother hiding it any more. I made 200 calls which is what is required of us but no one ever manages, and I got 0 success out of those calls. Can’t blame the fuckers on the end of the line for saying no, I wasn’t exactly smiling down the phone. Ah well. Hate job so much, would kind of like to be fired.

Although I have never been fired before.

But anyway.

I made it through a whole 4 days of the week so far and tomorrow is a slightly shorter day because we have team meetings and then go home early because we work extra mon to thurs.

This is shamefully the first full week I will have worked in 2 months.

Bad employee.

Sure amn’t I always?

I’m just too good for all this shit.

I just want to be recognised for the splendid human being I am, and sit in a big office somewhere and occassionaly have someone come in and ask for my opinion and leave again and then have my friends over for lunch and then go home after lunch. And make shitloads of money.

what is that job called? That’s the job I want.

CEO of something.

Or President.

If only CEO had been a course in college I am sure I would have been able to stick it out for what, four years?

I know there’s an awesome job out there for me that could make me rich, I just need to get hooked up with the right contacts.

I have lots of good ideas and while I’m not punctual, I always come up with really interesting excuses about why I am late. In fact I nearly started a website called excuses.com but I think someone else did that already, where I came up with plausible excuses for why people didn’t go to work or school or their family wedddings and sold them and possibly called the boss pretending to be an emergency helicopter medic.

I have lots of great ideas…

I’m just lazy.

Happy Colon day!

Hello there!

So when my mum was over recently she took the opportunity to guilt trip me about being a terrible card and present giver.

In my defence I am generous and thoughtful when I give gifts, and often spontaneous. This is when I have money. Lately, not so much.

But I am also forgetful, lazy, and have a tendency to feel extremely guilty about cards I haven’t bought or written or sent so I hide the task away in the dark recesses of my mind and pretend it doesn’t exist until months have passed and it occasionaly makes it past security and stabs me in the conscience. So I have sort of tried to cultivate what most men seem to be allowed cultivate: a persona of “Hey I don’t DO cards”.

I don’t see why my dad, my stepdad and most of my boyfriends, have taken this stance on cards and gotten away with it with just a touch of eye rolling and tutting from the womenfolk, and then when I decide I want an equal opportunities Xmas, it’s guilt-trip city.

I tried to explain to my mother than I do care, that’s why I freaking CALL on her birthday and all, and if we are in the same country she is getting a whopper, super considerate gift, I spare no expense or personal inconvenience, for real. But sending a card before a certain date, in this day and age with email and whatnot just seems like a load of unecessary stress and also, as a frequent recipient of cards, I don’t appreciate them one bit. I hate the pang of “I’m a shitty person” I get when I rip the side of the envelope and shake to see if money falls out before reading the card or looking at it. Then I will peruse the card which is supposedly the thought that counts and all but really, it would be a lot more thoughtful to just send cash.

It’s quite a sad moment when you pretend to be touched by what they wrote while inwardly thinking “If you love me as much as you claim to, where’s the fucking cheque?”

So I try to explain this to my mother without implying I don’t love her cards she sends me, but she insists I can’t rationalise my way out of this one, and she is right but I’m feeling like if I cave now, it will always be a thing where every year I am stressed by the need to send cards and people will be disappointed by the lack of a card and I have to take a stand now.

So I declare my new intention: a compromise, if you will.

A way to show I care enough to buy stamps (however the fuck you go about the business of acquiring a stamp, I do not know) and write some interesting variation of “happy birthday, love from me” which after 20 something years is getting a bit stale let me tell you.

But my way will not have me freaking out and feeling guilty.

Here is my idea: I will randomly buy or make a card, and when I feel like I really do have the time and desire to go to a post office and do all the stamps and things, I will check to see what holidays are coming up and I will wish my mother a happy St. John’s day, or a Merry Independence of Bulgaria day.

And she can’t say it’s late because I will choose the holiday based on what’s coming up soon.

I love this idea.

I seized it and ran with it.

I told my mum.

“No no no that’s awful” she said.

I raised my voice so I was talking over her.

“Just think, you might wake up one morning and receive a lovely surprise, happy hannukah from your daughter! Happy Vernal equinox! And it will be all the more lovely because I just thought to do it of my own accord, it’s not some tiresome chore…”

Anyway she insisted it was an awful lazy idea and she didn’t like it but I don’t care, I am wishing her a surprise holiday as soon as I get around to getting envelopes and stamps and stuff. I know where to find envelopes at least, they have them in Lidl this week.

So I was checking out the holidays on today, and guess what guys?

You guessed it, I almost let the day go by without wishing you a HAPPY COLON DAY!

It’s national Colon day in Panama.

So there you go.

Anyway. I have unfortunately missed the opportunity to send my mum a hilarious colon-themed greeting card. But there’s always next year.

So I hope you find some amazing way to celebrate colon day.

I know I will!

My crotch just made a new friend!

Hi there,

Guess what just went down?


I just got my crotch deforested.

And it went well, so well I actually left the salon beaming.

I was all geared up for it to be as bad as or worse than the last time –

But I had to do it because tomorrow I leave for war-torn London, and I need a smooth babylike mound in case I get killed by rabid teenage delinquents and there’s a post mortem and a hot doctor sees me naked.

I was resigned to meekly taking my punishment, lie back and think of Britain, while some joyless bitch probably jealous of my thick lustrous head-hair tortures my innocent genitals with hot wax while making snide remarks about my borderline hirsuteism.

And, as usual, I was WRONG.

Usually I’m wildly overconfident about everything, and it goes pear shaped.

So I rush back from work and give the vaginal area a good scrub, dry off, put on a nice dress that can be lifted for easy access, run out the door, realise need to pee now, go back for a pee, wash again, dry off… leave properly this time.

Arrive and am instantly convinced this is going to be awkwardsville. Three perma-tanned teenagers with drawn on eyebrows huddle around the counter giggling. They are the beauticans. Fuck. Fuck. These girls will judge me and think I’m not pretty enough. Garrrr nooooo… I try to arm myself in being more successful than them, so maybe they won’t consider me a failed peer, but rather a different category of adult and maybe they won’t judge me so much.

This is my little defence mechanism, don’t knock it, it at the very least has placebo benefits for me.

So I whip out my kindle and start reading serious things, and sit like a lady (or whatever approximation I could manage)

And then one of the girls calls me into the little cubicle, instructs me to de-clothe and lie on the bed thing, and I do so, and holy shit this is happening again, I want to go home, I don’t like this. She comes back, begins whicking off my leg follicles.

Ok. Ok.

Another bitch comes in, this time slightly more normal looking and less drag-queeny.

She asks if they can double up on me, can I handle two at once?

I was determined to say NO if they asked me, but again, I’m on a table and my crotch is out in the open. I say yes… legs, that’s fine… just not the bikini.

Sure ok, and she begins.


Lie back and think of London.

I’m going to London tomorrow, yay!

Except, riots. Fucking scumbags out causing havok and possibly setting fire to houses near me, or at the very, very least, causing pubs to be closed when I want to go drinking. Please don’t fuck up my holidays, nasty teenagers.

I know, people are losing their livelihoods and houses- I’m not a heartless bitch, but these holidays are super important to me and as a selfish person I can’t help but feel like it’s partly the world conspiring against me to destroy my chances of a decent social getaway. Last time I travelled, pilot strikes were threatened. Before that, there was a freaking volcano spewing engine-hating ash everywhere. I just want to go out on the lash and get hit on and be a bitch to 90% of the people who hit on me. It’s my right, I work enough…

I do feel bad for the Londoners, also, those children need to be taken over someone’s knee and spanked until they’re whimpering and grateful they even have blackberrys. I think it’s bollocks that people are like “oooh poor young people are having their youth clubs shut down, it’s no wonder they did something like this” and then BBC world news switches to footage of Libya or some other place I’m wildly ignorant about and it’s like, they don’t even have smartphones to coordinate rampages of their cities, and I don’t even have a blackberry either so a little perspective, people.

This stream of thought distracts me from tensing and increasing the pain for a bit.

And then we move on to the piece de resistance, the groin area. The first girl leaves us and the second, better one began ripping out the hairs that least want to be ripped out. Stop! They scream as they are yanked like cesarean babies, hundreds at a time… We want to stay plentiful and long, and trap sweat and intensify its odour so you smell like a ripe fuckable monkey!

I whimper a little.

She goes straight in for the kill and gives me a landing strip, I actually wanted a triangle because that means less of the really painful waxing, but a landing strip is fine. I’ll make do.

She gets right in there from the start- other beauticians have had me hold my skin taut or to one side with my thong covering whatever isn’t getting waxed right then, but this girl lifts my skimpy horrible undies completely away from my body and pats powder down firmly and yanks and it’s over, the worst part anyway, before I even had time to consider if she’s coming on to me. She had my holding a leg in the air but it’s all very quick and I barely feel ashamed at all.

Then she pulls out some cream- and where most beauticians will rub it on my legs then hand me some to do my own crotch, she just pulls my undies out and sticks her hand down there and gives me a 20 second fucking VAGINA massage. It was actually pretty nice once you get over- and I didn’t- the part where some random woman just without warning, stuck her hand down my pants and rubbed lotion on me. I was still reeling when she commanded I turn over.

She finished my legs and then asks “do you want me to do your ass?”

Eh, yes?

She pried my cheeks apart matter-of-factly and whipped off the offending follicles.

Then the lotion made an appearance. She wedged the side of her hand in between my ass crack and lotioned me up some more.

I was again running the “she’s coming onto me, I know she is” delusion through my mind when I realised I was mentally fucking with the first good beautician I have found. She rocks my waxing world, and I’m there getting all “ewww lesbian, gross,” and I should grow up and be a mature adult and stop getting my kicks sniggering at girls touching my front-bottom.

So I thanked her very much, and hobbled out to pay.

And guess what it cost?

Top half legs, bikini, ass, and all..


Yep. It cost me 4 euro more the last time, and I was abused and mistreated and I didn’t even get a rub down of my lady parts, just a bit of confusing leg-touching.

I have finally finally found a place I will go back to. I’m a little bit in love with that girl, she made me feel like I was a baby having its nappy changed, and I didn’t even give a crap if she saw my EVERYTHING.

Anyway, I’m happy.

Just hope London is all sorted out tomorrow. I really really don’t want my holiday to be shitty.

I want it to be sexy and fun and drunken, not… stuck inside some house in fear of arson attacks.

Ok. Must stop procrastinating and pack my fracking suitcase.

And pare it down to one suitcase, because this shit is ridiculous and I don’t want my stuff to get looted.

Something about the beach? I think

Dog gamn it, I can’t stop eating. And I just accepted (stupidly, not thinking about the money I’d be losing out on by not working all weekend) an invitation to visit a friend by the sea. The sea! Yay! Beach…

Shit, my holiday drinking and eating antics have caught up on me and I’m back at plump levels of belly, not quite as bad as before but… not beach friendly. I’m also coming into my fat week of the month, so that doesn’t help either. Stupid one good week per month side of being a woman. It’s not fair, there is honestly only one good week in every month. I call it the skinny week (imaginatively) and then the other weeks are: fat week (before period arrives) period week, and the not so fat week that still sucks because I’m stressing about the timing of skinny week, and whether or not skinny week will even come this time, or if I really am just gaining weight at the rate technology gets old… And repeat. No.

Also, my hairs have grown back to the point where they are too short and sparse to get waxed, but too visible to not do anything about. Looks like I’ll have to undo all my good work and shave or something. Dannng…

AND whenever I go to the beach all confident, packing my nice clothes I bought with the mental excuse of that would look so pretty while I’m lounging by the side of an aquaintance’s nice hotel pool and I’ll look like I also stay in a hotel and not in someone’s parents’ camper van, and then I’ll meet people in a better economic class than me and then I’ll probably get lots of free things because “free to those who can afford it, very expensive to those who can’t.” Withnail and I quote there for you, because it’s probably my favorite film of all time. And I’ll feel so self-contained with my three days of clothes in a massive suitcase with wheels that don’t quite do it like they used to, until I arrive at the blinding sun and sand and sea and tanned people everywhere, and what? How are they so tanned? They just lie there and take the sun like they’re its peers, while I look at my own skin and it looks blue in the unforgiving cancerous light. And I’ll put white, thick, nostalgic factor 50 on all over while small brown children stare at me like I’m a lady with a moustache, or a little person, or something that will haunt their dreams and if I’m lucky and they are polite children, I won’t hear their terrified questions to mummy about WHY? WHY that girl has the pigmentation of raw prawns? (maybe not in those words precisely. I don’t know I’m not a children person)

And then I take lots of photos and can’t look at them properly on the beach because of the blinding light, and then I get home after a few days strutting around town in summer dresses looking so fucking German or British tourist that I feel naked in my transparency, and I load the photos onto my hard drive and wait patiently and then OH FUCK ME SIDEWAYS WITH A BICYCLE PUMP, I look revolting. That’s my face? That’s the face people saw as I interacted with them? Holy shit I look like an ugly person. This can’t be right. There are two possibilities here, and neither are comforting.

1. I am an ugly person with a huge deluded ego. This thought is unbearable. It can’t be… Oh fuck it really could be. Maybe people are just humouring me as I act like an attractive person and maybe men just don’t give a shit what the head on top of the vagina looks like.

2. I am a reasonably attractive person, somewhere in the middle, better looking than Sarah Jessica Parker but not as hot as… any other woman on tv, and what happened was I looked really fucking shit at that time, and bad camera angles and stuff. People I met probably thought I was ugly but I normally am better looking. But people I met, whenever I spoke to them, were thinking the patronising thoughts I think when I’m talking to someone I deem ugly. I remember there was this fucking ratfaced girl in school with me and she was a bitch too or maybe I’d be a bit kinder here, and she always told me these stories about these “drop dead gorgeous male models” who would be asking for her number and stuff and I had to go alone with the friend charade (I have no idea why we were friends, she didn’t like me much either) and be like “ohh maybe he’ll call tomorrow,” or “yeah you go girl” or whatever, while all the time I was smirking inside and being like “dude, either she’s lying, or she has no taste. I don’t want to see what she thinks is drop dead gorgeous, if it’s asking her out…”

And yet again, you get a flash of how really not a nice person I am. But it’s true, people. I bet you’re all arrogant dicks too, just like me.

Anyway. I had to reread that to remember what the fuck I was talking about in the first place, because my body was flooded with horrible high school memories and rage against the people I somehow wound up being friends with on my quest for people to appreciate and tollerate me and be entertaining without me ruining it by sleeping with them. A long and winding road, lots of sexy destructive pit stops.

Right I’m angry-nostalgic now so laters, I’m off for a quick facebook stalk of my old classmates and then bed time for me, long day tomorrow… and the next day, and the next, in a cyclical fashion, trundling towards death like every other unique human before me. RIGHT ON

On the upside, my house wasn’t broken into

I’m back from the holiday. Back to real life. Work begins as soon as tomorrow so I’m going to stay up really late. Screw you, working self. It will be worth the drowsy and weak first day back if I can just hold on a little longer.

So, I pinned all my hopes and needs on this short holiday. It was pure escapism and I completely ignored the possibility of time continuing after it was over. I’m always sure I’m going to die in a plane crash anyway, so being back at home and back at work didn’t seem like a real possibility. If I didn’t have such terrible credit I would probably take out a huge loan before any flight, and spend it all in an insane ritual to ward off death. (Murphy’s law says that if I have money saved, I’ll die in a crash, and never get to spend it. If I haven’t a penny to my name, I’ll live to have to deal with the consequences. This is my worldview, don’t argue with it) Thankfully I don’t have credit, so I just have to content myself with spending all my available cash on luxury makeup in airports. At least if my ritual fails I’ll leave behind a good looking corpse…

Phew…I’m tired. It was a wonderful trip and I did what I needed to do, I suppose, clear my head and what not.. but now the wasted hours are crashing in on themselves and all the excess has to be paid for. I’ve cleared my head all right, and I’m back home, with my clutter and all the clothes and things I had no need for when I was away. I want to sweep everything up and throw it all away, all the things I didn’t miss. But then I spot a pair of shoes I might have worn once, or a bag that might have come in useful. Or a jar of spices I could have added when I cooked for my friends. My hairdryer which is better than the one I used.

I wouldn’t be able to part with anything. There’s a huge comfort in arriving home after being away, but it comes with the weight of everything I was fine living without. Needs and personal tastes arrange themselves in my background and I know I won’t feel that free again and until my next holiday. Which, of course, I am already counting down to.

I’m getting glum. There’s no need for that. I had fun. I saw people who make me laugh and make me cry and I got drunk and I kissed strangers and I threw up and I watched tv and I ate expensive food and drank cheap wine and slept in my clothes. It was great. I’m just back now, with my electric whisk, my laptop, my spare coat and my comfy bed and all the socks I could ever wear.

I’m going to write something… I was going to write something. I was honestly going to relate something positive about my time away from it all, but I wanted a shower and the boiler has been off so I can’t have hot water for another 2 hours. Then I was hungry, and the fridge is empty but for a very black avocado that shows how optimistic I was about everything before leaving for my holiday. I was so fucking excited that I actually thought an (already ripe) avocado would last 2 weeks.

I’m starting to feel angry at my pre holiday self. Smug bitch. Then I feel good because I realise that smug bitch will have the stupid grin wiped off her face soon when she has to come back here to the cold house and the lack of food and I better stop typing now before I become full on psychotic, taking pleasure in the knowledge that my over excited past self will one day be as sad as present me… which is me. Oh dear.