June, Friday 21st precisely.

Coming up to a week back from a family holiday to Sacramento, California. Generously and kindly hosted by our friends Robye and Matthew. Kids had an amazing, different experience. Constant intense heat, huge cars, freeways, eating out constantly, swimming pools. Thats was my goal- just one time for them to experience a different holiday- rather than the usual west of Ireland rainy, cold, wetsuit on into the water for 30 seconds out and into the car to get home to change as its too cold at the beach, cramped irish holiday cottage with weird furniture (the stuff they don’t want in their own house) which is unfortunately usually very inaccessible. I hear myself saying this and I hear my privilege loud and clear- we save for a holiday every year and usually get some sort of a one, which put us firmly in the fortunate and privileged bracket, rain or no rain.

Last year we went to Roundstone in Galway, where we have gone for years, but not so much in the recent years as rental prices have gone up and up, making it harder to find somewhere to stay. We got a last minute cancellation last year and stayed in a lovely harbour side cottage. Except that it was split level with narrow wooden slotted stairs and completely unaccessible. Our mistake. Regardless of the accessibility, the relentless sheets of rain defeated us after 4 days and we went home. The memory of these 4 days of pulling and lifting and crampedness and dampness and rain was the catalyst for the audacious US plan. Much saving and planning ensued, and it all culminated in the first 2 weeks of June trip. The pre trip drama of not qualifying for a 90-day holiday visa (when everyone else did) and having to speak to a local politician for advice (what people do in rural Ireland apparently) and queuing for a morning outside the US embassy Ballsbridge Dublin to access and get processed for a holiday visa, and then being questioned in Dublin Airport by US custom officials, was also interesting.

Photographs of works from Crocker, Sacramentos art gallery. No artist names here I’m afraid. I was particularly drawn to the huge, detailed painting of discarded things and deitrius that the artist collects and arranges with leaves and soil in between. How they draw attention to the thrown away things deemed worthless, and in doing so gives them huge meaning and value.

Its good to back back however and have spent a week wrestling with the revenue- my tax clearance certificate was rescinded without warning and the subsequent unanswered enquiries, endless waiting periods on the phone (if you call at 9.30 when they open, otherwise you are guaranteed to get an automated message saying they are too busy to answer) did not help my self employed confidence. The monty pythonesque circular travels around the online revenue system- the phone line not being answered and the automated voicemail telling you to access the online inquiry system (which Niamh from PAYE had told me there is a 6 to 8 week backlog in responding to, because of ‘the recent busy period (as she mysteriously referred to it) and then trying to access a complaints system, to find out you have to write to your local revenue office if you have a complaint. And to access the ROS online system to find out where the your local office is. Which I was unable to find but that could have been down to my frustrated fury and exhausted inability to look at a screen any longer. I eventually found a pathway to book an in person appointment with revenue which you are supposed to do if you can not get joy via the enquiries system, and the phone number for which to book said appointment? The same one that tells you in an automated voice that they are too busy to answer calls and to try again later! Its enough to make an innocent tax payer think that the revenue don’t want to speak to you…

Nonetheless I braved it all again today and spoke with Maria, Shane and Keith respectively. 5 minutes to wait for Maria (after all the automated messages telling me to press for various options), 4 for Shane and 12 for Keith. Apparently its all sorted now and i’ll have my tax clearance cert again by Monday. I am interested ( or will be when I can be more objective about it all) in how inept and useless I feel when dealing with tax and money things. It always serves to make me feel old and stupid and not competent enough. I always chastise myself that I should be able to manage this shit by now in my life, and if not, why can’t I? What have I been doing with my time? So I end up struggling with feelings of emotional ineptitude and de-creptitude  (sublime word) whilst navigating the mysterious inaccessible Irish revenue system. Theres a performance in this.. on the short term I can harness and utilise these emotions for p(art)y Here and Now this Saturday, our 5th p(art)y. I am looking forward to it as I need a dose of abstract intentional action to balance all the above adulting I’ve been managing. And planning our summer events for July and August.

Performatively, I am still thinking about Ringfenced, and the notion of effort. It took time and effort to make Ringfenced happen. I have the recollection of the performance, the photo documentation taken by Bonnie and the review written by Helen. I am very glad I took steps to have it documented. I was thinking about how performances always happen under pressure and the massive self doubt and fear of failure and worry that I go through before each one. I have written about his before, I remember being on the train going up to Belfast to make ‘This is not the end’ a performance to mark the closing of Ogham, an amazing residence/show I got to do with Stephanie Tanney and Brian Kielt curated by Jen Alexander, at Catalyst Arts, in 2022. I was absolutely bricking it, and was almost paralysed with self doubt and nerves.  I kept thinking how my idea was stupid, that I was too old, that people would be bored, that it as self indulgent, that I was wasting my time. It is incredible how powerful and bullying these voices can be. Each of these performances demanded effort, effort to conceptualise them, effort to create them, effort to project manage and materialise them and physical effort to perform them. And of course effort to conquer the self doubt and negativity from within questioning everything about the whole process.

After this weekends p(art)y I have the Irish La Pocha Nostra Summit event at Milford House, Tipperary. This is on over a week in July and I am already anxious about being away for this long. Its lot to ask of my husband and I would feel the same if he asked it of me. I will go home in the middle and come back, at least once. But it will be worth it as I got a lot out of the first LPN event I attended. I have a strong feeling of NOWNESS- its now time- I’ve reached the Now stage of things. Don’t wait. Don’t hesitate. Do it.  No procrastination (no easy feat for me) no pondering. Do it and then at least I wont look back and wish I had done it.