What’s the carbon footprint of an opinion?

A double-hairpin turn on the map, like carp caught in the Baltic, packed in Bangladesh, sold in Berlin. Turn it over and read the label. Scan the manifest, check point of origin.

Held in the mouth, an opinion is a pleasure, dense with flavour. But all fruits struggle from soil and vine, out of sight in the back. Men with cloudy heads pluck them out and pinch finger and thumb. They rub the dirt on their sleeve and take a quick sniff. Time x temperature. Not quite there.

Maybe a dash of the…


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When you’re not paying attention, you trip and tumble in.

You take off your jacket so it doesn’t get wet. Neatly folded it bobs on the surface.

Even when you’re not in the well, you’re still in the well.

A lady with a clipboard asks you to pick from 1 to 5, but you’re not listening, you’re drip drip dripping brown all over her nice new brogues.

“You’re lucky, your well’s one of the nice wells.”

Open every window to air out the damp. Sit up last so they don’t see the dark oval.

When you’re down, look up. Telescopic…


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Photo by Raphael Schaller on Unsplash

Lads, I’m begging you. Give me something real. I’m starving.

Don’t give me how. Give me why. Why should I bother in the first place? What’s waiting for me on the other side? I’m serious. I want to know. Describe it to me. Make a boat I can sail in. Fold this muck into origami. Make it into a swan. Watch it flap over the water.

The algorithms coax me along and now someone is telling me that “your energy is at its peak in the morning shortly after waking up”. Oh mate, what could you possibly know about my…


I went to a sexy cuddle party, and it was fantastic.

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Photo by Ava Sol on Unsplash

I’m in a basement, with a bunch of strangers, listening to a “body sexologist” talk about hugs. It’s a Wednesday night.

Ona, our cheery, robust guide for the evening, is reciting psychotherapist Virginia Satir’s popular saying that “we need 4 hugs a day for survival, we need 8 hugs a day for maintenance”, but her accent makes it sound like “hearts”, a more semantically awkward but poetic alternative. “We need 12 hearts a day for growth.” Looking around the moodily-lit room, I count at least a dozen.

The speech is context: to begin, we’re supposed to walk around the room…


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Photo by TK Hammonds on Unsplash

Sometimes you hear something and you think “I will remember this forever.”

I’m having a sudsy time, listening to writer Elizabeth Gilbert being interviewed by Chase Jarvis on his Creative Live show. The whole thing’s great — can we hurry up and just canonize Gilbert already? — but 40 minutes in, she says this:

I don’t know if anybody realises what percentage of my life I spend taking care of my mental health. Like, that’s my full-time job. And writing is a hobby that I do on the side. Every once in a while, I write a book. The rest…


Generally random and probably not actually useful tips

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Photo by Grace and Shine Photography from Pexels

Be Alienated

This one’s easy. Because if you’re on Medium.com reading articles with titles like this then you’re definitely already alienated — probably from your self. Even for the secular, The Fall makes sense as an origin story of our deep-dive dislocation.

The better question isn’t whether or not alienation exists — you’re a person, so it’s kind of baked in — but what you are alienated from.

You scroll down the feed and see the shiny people and wish you were one of them — you know you do, it’s okay — but can’t you see, this would be a death…


Please stop telling me it is

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The Online + Optimised have ruined their lives, and now they want to ruin yours.

They’ve done their best to disrupt simple, everyday pleasures like “going for a walk” (steps) or “just sitting in silence” (premium meditation apps ). Now they are coming for our beloved books.

hands off.

Given its demographic, Medium is particularly vulnerable to this line of thinking. One article identifies reading as the “one habit ultra-successful people have in common” (countdown to a Warren Buffet ref: three sentences); another outlines its various health benefits. This one gives extremely detailed instructions on maximising what the author calls…


An Irishman walks into a bar

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Latex is expensive so I’m buying my sex club outfit at Primark.

The changing rooms are closing. Quick, be practical. Where will you put your keys?

I scour and find the only women’s leggings with pockets. They have two sizes: large and extra, extra small.

I am basically wearing the bottom half of a wetsuit.

I’m capping a week of attempted integration (spoken word open mic! helping a tourist with the S-Bahn! gaelic training on an abandoned Nazi airstrip!) with a look at the city’s famously liberated night-time spaces. And I am terrified.

“You have change of clothes?” The bouncer…


Sometimes it’s not even close

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Francis Daniel via Stocksnap.io

Saying “no” to sex is new and weird.

For men, discussions of sex in single life turn on questions of “getting” “it”: how to, how much. Less discussed is the inevitability of mediocre sex, and what to do (emotionally) with it.

One of the side-effects of having spent your twenties riding the person you love is the total difficulty of unknotting sex and love. Your body gets the first — without the second — and freezes up. Wait, what is this? Where’s all the other stuff?

(After, when I ask how they’re feeling, I want poetry.)

Eventually I develop a…

Conor Smyth

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