Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Abandon Trip

So this week The Husband and I were suppose to pack up our bags dude, and head off on a snowboarding trip. But sadly I write this entry sitting on the edge of our bed, not at the sexy mountain cabin on top of a fabulous piste overlooking endless vanilla type hills, but on our regular bed, at our home in the ATL. Bummer.

Unfortunately the trip had to be cancelled. Various events over the past weekend made it difficult, nay, impossible for us to go. Every year, The Husband and 2 of his buddies take a male bonding trip to the slopes of Kirkwood, California and spend about 3 days snowboarding. This trip was taken early last week and from there the plan was that he would do the male thing at Kirkwood, then fly to Boston on Friday, where a number of his athletes were competing at the Boston Indoor Games on Saturday evening and finally on the Monday he would head out to Boise, Idaho and meet me there for our very own snowboarding vacation.

But a bout of altitude sickness struck him down on the first leg of his extensive travel itinerary and he spent a solid night on his knees over a toilet. When he wasn’t in the crash position, toilet bowl style, he was nursing headaches and shaking. But he soldiered on and managed to get on the plane for Boston. Things looked like they were improving until after the track meet on Saturday. The illness raised its ugly head again and once more he was finding himself at the mercy of the toilet.

In between all this Fintan had also decided to get sick. So he had to be taken to the vet. It was just too much. All the signs were saying, “Do not go” and we listened. So no week of snow bunny fun for Shinks. We’ll just have to make another stab at it in a couple of weeks.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Rage

This week I have been very quiet on the blog front. The reason for this is tough to share cos it doesn’t paint me in a fabulous Monet type picture. But here it goes.

I have been a raging bitch. Don’t ask me why, I wish I knew. But it’s been a rough week emotionally and for anyone out there thinking “women issues”, that has already been suggested by various friends and is NOT the reason. I can’t actually think of one particular thing that might have triggered it all off, it might just be a build up of a lot of small – medium type stuff.

Upon reflection, the big red flag of bad things to come, was probably the whole experience with my new phone, (see post below), cos things just didn’t really pick up from there. Let me recap a few of the rages.

1 . While driving around the mall parking lot the other day, I spotted a car about to pull out of a prime parking space, right near the mall entrance. Now, I am never this lucky with mall parking, I always end up in the spots far, far away. But today my luck was in and I sat and waited with my indicator flashing, so as to indicate my intention to park in said prime space. Now, enter from the opposite direction a man in fancy, schmancy black Mercedes. He stops a few feet from the same space and turns on his indicator to indicate his intention to take my spot. Then he has the nerve to use some amateur sign language to tell me its his spot. He points to the spot, then to himself, which I interpret as “spot, mine”. Oh hells no. So in my own amateur sign skills, I shake my head from side to side and point at myself, “you must be joking, right? Spot, well and truly mine”.
So the car in the space starts to back out and wouldn’t you know he backs out at an angle that puts me at a total disadvantage and opens up the way for Mr. Shiny Black Merc to slip right in. Cue the rage. Wow, was I seeing red. Mr. Shiny Black Merc parks, jumps out of the car, will absolutely not look in my direction and bolts off towards the mall. I am not taking this lying down and I drive after the f*#ker. I am totally locked in on my target, I see nothing else, I hear nothing else. I pull up next to his ass, I roll down my window and I tell this jerk exactly what I think of him. He has the complete nerve to try and convince me he was there first. I want to jump out of my car and punch him I’m so angry.

2. Am shopping at Target getting some much needed bits and pieces for the house, but have a “To-Do” list as long as your arm of other things I need to get done this particular day. So I am speeding through the aisles picking up my various items. Once I’m ready to checkout, I choose the register with the shortest line. The register lady, Margaret, says the usual, “hello, did you find everything you need?” to which I give my standard “Yes, thank you” response. Then Margaret sees that I’m buying a box of Splenda, the sugar substitute stuff and says, “You need to be careful with this, did you see the special warning on the side?”. “No”, I say. “Well, I use to use it a lot, but I had to stop cos it had a very (at this point she lowers her voice to a whisper and mouths some word at me) effect on me.” Me, getting frustrated with the idle chitchat and my time crunch, say, “I’m sorry it had a what?” She mouths the word again, but this time her whisper is more audible, “laxative, it had a laxative effect on me.” Oh for the love of god Margaret. What was it about me that made it look like I was the type of person, that wanted to hear about you and your pooping issues… seriously?? Luckily, I didn’t get these words out of my mouth, I just looked at her blankly. “Just be careful is all I’m saying”, she said. Ok, great, now I have all kinds of nasty mental imagery about Margaret going on in my brain and I don’t appreciate it one little bit.

3. Then there was the front desk person who told us it would be a 20-minute wait for a table and after 40 minutes we enquired about the delay and were told, “Oops, we appear to have skipped over your name”. Not music to the ears of a very hungry girl. I tried very hard to convey how pissed off I was by my stone cold facial expression and aggressive eyes.

4. My poor friend who was on the receiving end of a rage, when I was trying to relay a story about something that happened and he insisted on chiming in repeatedly with speculation and guesses as to what he thought happened or was said, causing me stop again and again mid story. The frustration was building and eventually I had to pull him into check, “would you just shut up for a second and let me get the story out, then all your predictions and questions will be answered, lord”.

So these are just a few examples of the kind of week I’ve been struggling through. I must emphasize that I am absolutely no saint. The sun does not jump up and smile upon me, the little birds to not flutter and sing around my happy head and the flowers most certainly do not bloom under my feet as I walk, but I assure you, I am not always this ball of anger and aggression. Something is up and I just can’t pinpoint the source. But if it doesn’t present itself soon, it may be too late and I will be left with all the time in the world to ponder the whole issue from my jail cell or from my hospital bed in the room with the padded walls.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Technical Update.

Great Success. I have 2 songs downloaded to my phone. How about that? The only thing I worry about now, is that I won't be able to repeat the process. It was oh so confusing, so I'm going to leave it for a day or two before I try again. I need the mental break and a break from my computer/phone rage.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

F*#king Technology

So my brother got me this new phone for Christmas. It’s a total top of the line, laptop in the palm of your hand type creation. Anything my laptop can do, this phone can do. Files, photos, watch movies, listen to music, everything.

So what’s the problem? I have spent the last 2 hours trying with all my might to download 1 miserable song onto the damn thing. I am fit to burst. I even read the f*#cking instructions. They may as well have been written in the biblical language of Latin for all the sense they made to me. But I persevered. I plodded on, determined to make it happen, but sadly I have been yelling and swearing at both the manual and the phone itself for the past 45 minutes to an hour. The S.O.B does not know how close it is to getting tossed across the room. Seriously. I can’t get one sorry little song from my music library to the phone. And my brother, who is the god of all things technology, is selfishly on honeymoon in South Africa, so, totally inaccessible to me.

I wonder would it be taking things too far to show up at his hotel, phone and lap-top in hand, on my knees, tears streaming down my face, begging for his technical help and emotional support in this, one of my many hours of need???

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Boston or Atlanta?

Actually, its Georgia and that is our home. It has been snowing here in Atlanta all day long. Everything looks so pretty and of course, the Georgians are acting like we are at war and will be under house arrest for the foreseeable future. The store shelves are being cleared of all their non-perishable items. Various schools and businesses didn't open or did, but later shut down. We had a friend who was suppose to play a basketball game this afternoon but it got canceled? I mean what’s up with that? Last time I checked, basketball was an indoor game, right?
Anyway, they do it every year in Georgia, get all drama queen about a few flakes. Its like it catches them off guard all the time. And the funny thing is, it never lasts more than a day. Guaranteed it will be all gone tomorrow.

But its Fintan's first snow, so we took him out to see how he would like it. You can see from the pictures below, not so much. He was begging to get back into the house.

Here he is climbing to the highest point he can find, Husband's shoulder.

Making a break for it. He's had enough and is not trusting that we won't try to make him play in the snow.

Waiting, begging, willing the door to open, so he can get back to the heat.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

We are Family

Husband and I have now become 3. We have officially moved from being a couple, to being a family. And before any of our parents start jumping the gun on the excitement front, I am NOT pregnant. It’s much better than that…… We got a cat.

Now for anyone who knows me, among many things, I am not a pet person. But age is apparently making me soft, cos for a while now both husband and I have been thinking about getting a pet. A dog was the first option. We flirted with the idea for a while then Jen, Husband’s assistant, let us baby-sit her dog for a weekend, just to get a feel for the whole thing. It was all going fine, doggy was playful, doggy was well behaved, doggy was walked regularly but doggy also poo’d. And this was the deal breaker for me. Not that he poo’d, but that it had to be scooped up, by me, in a bag every time he did it. It was a very traumatic experience. Once when I took him on his early morning walk, he decided to dump a load in one of the neighbor’s gardens. And it happened to be the neighbor we are less than popular with, Fat Neighbor (not her birth name, just my name for her). Because I am not an excellent pet person, I was very unprepared and had no plastic bag with me. But since it was early and I was sure everyone was still in bed, therefore, no witnesses, my plan was to run, oh yes, a poop and run. But when I got back to the house, husband broke the news that I would have to go back and get it. This was crushing. I almost broke down. The thoughts of picking up dog poo were causing me to want to hurl… bad. I begged husband to tell me he was kidding, I begged, but he wasn’t. So off I went, with bag in hand cursing violently and dreading what was ahead. I located the offending poo and wrapped the bag around my hand and tried to reach. I was standing so far away, I couldn’t reach. For some reason I thought the poo might jump up and bite me, so I kept my distance. Eventually I had to concede and move a few steps closer. I finally got a grip on it and started to sequel at such a pitch that was not audible to the human ear. The stuff was still warm, so f*#king gross. I was trying so hard not to puke. I raced back to the house, again, just in case the poo tried to get out of the bag, and dumped it in the trash. The whole experience ruined my day and absolutely turned me off the idea of a dog for life.

Now I know cats are not everyone’s cup of tea and I use to be one of those people, but Husband had like 50 cats growing up, so he’s a true fan and after spending some time around the brother and sister in-laws cat, I began to realize that they were not too bad. And the fact that they will only poo in a designated box, in a designated place, in a very discrete manner, works fabulously for me. But also a cat fits much better with our life style, They are completely independent and can be left to their own devices for a day or two, just as long as they have food and water. Perfect. So with the decision to get a cat made, we headed off to the Humane Society so we could give a good home to an abandoned kitty.

There were so many cute cats, kitties and kittens. It was so sad to see them all sitting in their cages, abandoned and alone. I wanted to take them all, but we picked this teensy blond kitten who was about 3 months old. Unfortunately he wasn’t ready to be adopted and once he was, he had been promised to some one else. So we got our second choice, a small ginger tabby, about 6 months old, too cute and very chilled. A boy, in case anyone was wondering. We packed him up and took him home.

Because of his ginger color, we determined that he must be Irish, so we gave him a good Irish name. Everybody, meet Fintan.

Fintan is so cool. Once we got him back to the house, we left him off to explore his new home. He followed us everywhere. If we sat down for a second, he was straight up on our lap. While I was lifting weights in the basement he came down and followed me from machine to machine, and was constantly clawing at my booty. This guy loves his bit of booty. It’s such a relief that he’s a people person, cos the house is always busy with traffic. That and the fact that we will need people to keep an eye on him when we’re out of town makes things much easier.

So there you go, Shinks has become a pet person, not just a pet person, but a cat person. Who’d a thunk it??

Sunday, January 13, 2008

No Comment

Some people have been e-mailing me to let me know that they are not able to post “Comments” on my blog.

Oops, that’s my bad. Blogger automatically sets up your page to only allow others with a G-mail account or a Blogspot page to leave comments . You actually have to go and change that setting yourself and cos I am a little challenged when it comes to all things technology, I didn’t figure this out until it was brought to my attention.

But as far as I know, I have changed it, I hope. So now everyone and anyone should be free to give me an earful.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Kite Runner

Have you ever read a book that as the cliché says, “you just couldn’t put down”. That you carried with you everywhere just in case you got a spare 5, 10 or 15 minutes? That had you so focused, people were talking to you and you heard nothing?

I love to read, but it’s been a while since a book has gripped or sucked me into its world and its characters quite like this book, “The Kite Runner”, by Kahled Hosseini.

I’d seen and heard about this book a couple of years ago but when I picked it up in the book shop and read the description on the back cover, I had to say, I was turned off. What turned me off? Honestly it was the words “Afghanistan” and “Taliban”. My feelings around these words were that of fatigue and frustration.
Since the Gulf War when I was in Secondary School, I’d been hearing those words along with many more and I'd got to the point where I was now saturated and immune. That and maybe my own ignorance was part of the pre-judgment. Ignorance about the region, the country, the people and their religions.

But I ended up getting a copy of the book as a Christmas gift from my friend, Sinead. Along with her assurance that it was “brilliant”. I trusted her opinion but I still picked it up and began reading with an attitude similar to that of a patient taking their medicine. However, I was proved completely wrong. This book, is nothing short of amazing. Its difficult to even describe. The story told, puts names and faces to the people we are hearing about everyday in the media. It’s an education about the country, the people and their culture, as well as the madness of those who are out to destroy it.

I’m desperately close to this blog sounding like some sort of book report. So let me stop myself there. But if any of you are looking for a good book, this is the one. I’ve just finished it, so I’m still kind of attached to the story and its characters, which is making it really hard for me to move on with another book. It’s a bit like getting dumped by a guy you really liked. You were totally into him, you weren't ready and you have no replacement, at least not one that matches up. Its going to take me some time to get over.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Taking Stock

So we have finally returned home from our American/European Christmas tour. But I have to say I’m feeling a little bit out of whack. I just can’t seem to get back into my daily life. I’ve been on such a buzz of traveling, eating, catching up with friends and family, celebrating, eating, sleeping in, partying, eating and least I forget drinking.

That and the fact that it’s a brand new year can cause a girl to get overwhelmed in her own mind. Obviously this is the time when most of us are taking stock of our lives. Reflecting on the year just passed and planning new and improved ways to live and exist. I know we are already 9 days into 2008, so my evaluation is probably a little bit behind schedule, not a good sign for someone who is considering getting better organized as one of her resolutions. But I have travel and jet lag and the odd hangover acting in my defense.

Anyway, for the past 2 years I’ve being finding myself challenged by my own life. Why 2 years? Well, it been 2 years now since I retired as a professional track athlete and since then I have found it just one big struggle to figure out what it is I want to do. My whole life I’ve been an athlete. I started when I was 7 and competed all the way through Secondary School (Middle School & High School for my American friends) and College. Once I graduated from Waterford IT (big shout out to all there) I was at a level where I was good enough to turn professional and compete for my country and I did that for 10 amazing, emotional, successful, full of the highs and lows of sport years.

Now, that phase of my life has ended, I find myself in a sort of limbo. Its not like I didn’t know it was going to end some day, but somehow, I always thought when it did, I would know exactly what it is I wanted to do and I would just go ahead and move into it. No such luck. Part of the problem is, well, 2 parts of the problem is, I have so many interests. Which is both good and bad. Good, cos I’m rarely bored, but bad cos I just can’t choose an area to focus on. And secondly, letting go of something that has been a huge part of my life and history has been very, very difficult. It was what I did, it was what I was great at, it was all I knew. Now, Shinks needs to dig deep and find her other great talents and unfortunately they are not jumping out and slapping me in the face. Of course there have been ideas and suggestions but few of them excite, drive or motivate me in the same way my previous career did. And that has been my struggle for the past 2 years.

But in last couple of days I have been e-mailing with a good friend of mine. She too competed on the Irish track team and retired a couple of years before I did, so she is totally in sync with where I’m at. She said something in a message lately that has really helped. “Stop worrying, stop pushing, just relax and enjoy the process”. I know this piece of advice may seem a bit obvious, but to someone who is in the middle of “The Big Life Questions”, who is trying to hurry up and figure it all out…. its not. I can’t tell you how many times I am being asked, “So what are you doing now?” This alone can cause all kinds of anxiety and feelings of failure because I haven’t got the answer. So I pressure myself, I push myself and basically come down very hard on myself for not having it all worked out. So now its time to back off the self and relax about the whole thing. And that my friends is the New Year Resolution. Wow, talk about taking the scenic route to make a point.

So I am now just going to keep trying new things, come up with new ideas and enjoy the experience of it all.

And to my good friend Nicola Coffey, “Thank you for sharing your struggle and stating the obvious”.

(This is me on vacation in Bali a couple of months ago, having the craic with some locals. Why I included it? Cos it fits with my whole babble above about enjoying this tranistion phase I'm currently in.)

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Congratulations The New Mr & Mrs Shinkins

Congratulations to my big brother, Edward and his new wife, Sarah. They got married yesterday.

I would love to fill you in on all the details, but we partied until 4am this morning and so I’m a bit short on energy and focus at the minute. I will just say, that we had a blast and it snowed. Yes the whole country was white. It was just perfect for the Christmas type wedding they were looking for.

Also, Shinks met her match with the D.J. I have a bit of a reputation for dancing hard, and as long as the music is good, I will not be off the dance floor. I get so into it, that I’m usually gutted when the night is over and Mr. D.J is packing up to leave. But last night he just kept banging out the hits. It was getting close to 3am and there was no sign of him winding down. I was starting to panic. I told myself to dig deep, the next song is probably the last. But no, he kept them comin. F*#k sake, my legs were starting to ache. The shoes had been kicked off hours ago. But I was definitely reaching my breaking point. I finally had to throw in the towel. I wasn’t one bit happy. One of the first things I asked the brother when I woke up this morning was, “ did the D.J finish up long after I left last night?”. He said he played a few more songs then packed up. Damn it. I was so feckin close. But know this. I will remember this guy and if I see him again at another celebration, I am going to be ready. He will not get me a 2nd time. I fully intend to step up my training in order to be at the peak of my endurance for our re-match. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED MR. FECKIN D.J.

Enjoy some of the snaps.

(Me with a family friend. Hmmmm, should his hand really be there??)

(Husband busts some moves, but my younger brother on the left, just finds it hilarious)

(A big crowd dances around the happy couple)

Tuesday, January 1, 2008


Happy New Year to you all. It's officially 2008 and another Olympic year. Honestly, it doesn't feel like it's been that long since the last Olympics. This is an occupational hazard for all athletes. Our lives are always measured, planned and plotted in blocks of 4 years. We try to work out our living, training, eating, travel and competing in a way that allows us to peak right on time to firstly qualify for the Olympics, then to do it all again, but better at the Olympics. Even though I'm not competing anymore, I'm still conditioned. It'll be a while before this habit breaks.

So what about my New Years resolutions? This is still a work in progress. But I will definitely update once I have my list finalised.

But the Shinkins family will be kick starting their year with a wedding. Yes, my older brother is getting married. And not a minute too soon. The big day is Friday Jan 4th. So as you can imagine these final days are packed full of crunch time, last minute wedding details and duties. This evening we had the ceremony rehearsal. As is the norm in Ireland, the ceremony will be taking place in a church. I included a picture of the church above, cos it just looked so cool, yet the teeniest bit haunting in the way it was lit up. This also happens to be the church where husband and I sealed our own deal 2 years ago. Oh the memories.
Inside is still decorated with all the Christmas lights and looks so pretty. See below. It's definitely going to add a little sum'in sum'in to the day.