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I love a list.  It has a beginning and an ending. It’s a certainty. A sure thing. Naturally, then, I love Rob Gordon, a kindred spirit erstwhile hapless record shop owner in Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity. A compulsive maker of lists, his “top fives” run the gamut of pop culture, eclectic compilations that include his top five episodes of Cheers, top five Elvis Costello songs, and the top five “women who don’t live on his street but would be very welcome.” Like Hornby’s character, I can produce all kinds of top-five lists . . . album covers, fonts, pet peeves, life lessons, things not to say to a teenage daughter, mix tapes (now playlists) for any occasion, places to see and avoid in Phoenix, dive bars, concert venues, ways to get my own way, pizza toppings, authentic “Irish” bars in Phoenix (there might not be five), hairdressers, Tom Petty concerts, Van Morrison songs, things Nora Ephron said about what not to wear, lipstick shades, road-trips, playlists for road trips, white lies, cocktails involving gin, dramatic entrances, exit strategies, famous people who could play me in a movie, Heaney poems, laughs, crying sessions, and ways to let someone down easy (mostly myself).


It turns out there are psychological reasons for this love of lists. For instance, there’s the guess-work, the wondering if what I think will be on the list will be there when I click on it, confirming that I was right about something. Apparently, a correct prediction causes the brain to send an extra little shot of dopamine, and that boost makes for a better day. Screen Shot 2015-08-28 at 12.13.08 PMSo today is a great day. I clicked on the link, and there it is – this blog has made it to the long-list of  the 2015 Blog Awards Ireland competition in the Irish Diaspora category.  It is a lovely thing to know that there are readers for whom this corner of the blogosphere represents the Irish abroad, and the recognition delights me as does being included on a list with others who have lifted me up and set me down again in this very space.

And, on the top-five list of people who would be happiest about this?  Other than myself – my mother, my father, my daughter, my best friend, and my Ken. This is the second time the blog has made it this far without him here to celebrate with me. He knew better than anyone that after the bloody cancer  altered our life together; it altered me.  He understood that when I retreated online to this timeless space, that it was to reconnect with the girl I used to be and with the country I left behind. The blogging often excluded him as I spent so much time in my own head, but he nonetheless carried endless cups of coffee on Sunday mornings and on week-day evenings, he’d leave a glass of Old Vine Zinfandel on my desk, just to get the juices flowing.

When I finished a post, I would always read it to Ken first.  God love him, he endured thousands and thousands of words – many of them not the right ones, not even close – words about breast cancer and bad hair days, about Belfast and bombings, extended rants about menopause and motherhood and having it all or not having it all, about Seamus Heaney – ah, Seamus – and back home, about vinyl records and ticket stubs, and brown paper packages tied up with string the way my mother still does.

Sometimes he’d get misty eyed, but mostly he would find something to laugh about and tell me to keep on keeping on. So being on this list is as much for him as it is for me.

Thank you.

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Blog Awards Ireland will announce the shortlist on September 2nd and it will open to a Public Vote on September 7th. So G’wan . . . vote for us, will ya?