So I was living with my dad and step mom and sister in a small house in the city centre of dublin. I had started going to school the previous year in st. Louis school in rathmines. To be honest I didn't like it much. Irish kids are very different than welsh kids, there's a different slang, they think different things are cool and all that. Anyway I found it hard to adjust, but I tried to fit in as best I could. When my sister moved in the situation in the house became very unstable. She didn't want to be there, and that was quite obvious. There were constant arguments. Dad and ann liked to have a few drinks quite regularly, they both smoked, and would often go to the pub and come home quite drunk. Dad and fionn seemed to have a really difficult time getting on with each other and there were lots of arguments, I tried to stand up for fionn as best I could. Ann was usually the voice of reason, she would try and stop arguments when she noticed things were getting out of control, and she was also normally the peacemaker after arguments too. Dad could be a very nasty guy sometimes, he was very moody and would often be destructive, he was a very authoritarian guy and he didn't like people talking back to him when he said something. He seems to think he's right about everything. He is quite intelligent in some ways, but to be honest He was quite horrible back then. If an argument went too far he would have no problem "beating the living daylights!" out of us. He is a big enough guy and his smacks would leave an imprint of his hand wherever he hit you. He also would lock fionn in her room sometimes. Not just that, he would destroy things if you were arguing, once he destroyed a teapot when someone said something he didn't like. just picked it up and smashed it off the wall. another time He threw a book I was reading in the fire, because i refused to go read somewhere else. Ann was like the opposite of dad. where he was angry and aggressive she was calm and composed. but for some reason she would nearly always side with him even when it was obviously not our fault whatever had happened. Ann only ever hit me once, after which she apologised and promised never to do it again, and she kept her word. It was quite obvious that I was the favourite child, I didn't really understand why, I felt kind of guilty about it. I had friends in school I wasn't that popular but at least I wasn't hated. Fionn got bullied in school for a while, she had started secondary school and I'm not sure what happened but it probably was quite tough for her. The arguments in the home were practically continous every second day there was an argument, going through a whole week without something bad happening at home was like a miracle. anyway we didn't see much of mum, but she came to visit us in dublin when I was about eleven. She stayed in a care home in dublin and we visited her a few times. I feel guilty thinking back on it cause I should have gone more often. When I was in with my mom and fionn, she couldn't even recognise me, she kept saying "where's michael? where's michael?" It made me feel really uncomfortable, she had no problem recognising fionn and I didn't know why she couldn't see that it was me. its probable that I had changed a bit like most young people do maybe thats why. After a while mom went home and shortly afterwards she died from a stroke. the news came when we were on a camping trip and fionn had gone to germany as an exchange student. we came home and it was organised for fionn to come home. my parents sat me down and told me, when they told me I didn't cry. I didn't know what to do, I didn't really understand death that well, I knew more or less what it meant, it just didn't sink in. I went outside and played football with my friends, after i had been playing football for a while I suddenly burst into tears, when they asked me what was wrong I told them and they were shocked that I hadn't said anything. I couldn't stay so I went back home and I can't remember but I think I had a long crying session. We went to wales for the cremation. it was really weird lots of people came up to me and shook my hand, I didn't know who any of them were. I was given sometime alone with my mother. she looked very pale and when I touched her she was very cold. I didn't cry, maybe I was trying to be strong. I kissed her on the forehead her skin felt kind of clamy. after a while it was time for the cremation all the people gathered and sat in the hall, some kinda priest read some stuff and then they put the coffin into the furnace, I couldn't believe it was happening. My cousin nick read some of my mothers poetry and then it hit me, like a bomb going off, I burst out crying, balling my eyes out, fionn was crying too, we hugged each other and cried, it was fucking horrible. we came home back to dublin, it had impacted me and fionn both but in different ways. the way I tried to deal with it was by almost ignoring it had ever happened. Fionn sat in her room crying staring at pictures of mum. I guess I was trying to be strong again, I think this might be the point in my life where I developed the mechanism I use to prevent myself from getting upset, I just forget it. and after a while its like a blur where I can't remember if it happened, it just becomes really vague and distant. I had started secondary school at this stage, and that was even worse than primary school, it was totally different. People in secondary school were all so cliched. everyone formed little groups. smokers, cool people, jocks, geeks, nerds, popular kids. It kindof freaked me out cause I didn't know my place. I didn't know what kind of person I was, or what kind of person I should associate with. I spent a few years trying to make friends without much success. eventually I had a group of friends but something bad happened. I started smoking and hanging round with the smokers in school, they were nice to me at first but then after a while they became total assholes. I don't know why they hated me so much but they would call me names and write stuff about me. they would spit on me and flick their catridge pens ink on me, it got so bad that I was going through a couple of shirts a week at one stage. I was quite athletic up until I started smoking, I had been a swimmer, I used to get dragged off for training even though i didn't really want to get out of bed, four days a week, I had quite a good figure for a guy my age, I looked strong, that much exercise and it was pretty intense will have you in good shape. and I guess I was attractive, although I didn't seem to have much luck with girls. both me and my sister played violin, and we were both quite creative. By the time of my junior cert I had become extremely depressed from all the bullying, I dreaded going to school, I got tonsilitis quite a lot. I think I only got tonsilitis because I hated school. The arguments at home were still there, everything was shit. One day I broke down crying in front of ann, I don't know why, but I couldn't keep it in any longer. She asked what was wrong so I told her about all the abuse I was getting in school, even though she probably knew from all the shirts she had to buy me. Anywayz my parents talked to the school, but it didn't seem to help. I left that school after my junior cert and went to a different school, that was pretty exclusive using money I had gotten from my grandfathers death. I had started to smoke hash on a regular basis with my stoner buddies, all my money went on getting high, for me it was a way to forget when i couldn't and laugh when all i wanted to do was cry. when I was 16 I met a girl at a party who I really liked, I basically followed her around the house for the entire thing until I got her on my own, her name was louise courtney, She had long brown hair and dark eyes, she was very attractive and had a slim build. I loaned her a book ( the beach ) and thats how we started getting to know each other. My best friend was emmet doherty and we used to smoke a shitload of hash every week, it was good fun. Me and louise didn't last very long about six months, which was totally my fault, so I can't blame her. fionn had finished school and moved out and started college by then. there were less arguments in the house and it was not as bad as it had been. my junior cert was in 1999 and that was the year that the matrix movie came out, which I didn't realise would have a profound effect on my life. I used to wear a trench and so did emett which wasn't that unusual as a lot of stoners wore trenches at the time. after me and louise broke up I was pretty upset for a long time, everything went downhill again, smoking hash no longer made me happy, it made me paranoid, mostof my friends ditched me and then I got kicked out of school for smoking a cigarette on the street, on the day of the leaving cert exam. I had started listening to heavy metal when I met emett and we used to get high and listen to metallica and pantera and slayer. When I dropped out of school I was no longer living at home, I had inherited money from my mum and my parents wanted me out of the house, I stayed with my sister for a while but that didn't work out either so I ended up in a flat in rathmines. I was very depressed none of my friends were ever available and I felt so alone. I had a bad experience with a guy who lived upstairs, he seemed to think i was a homosexual and asked me to give him a blowjob hahaha, i told him to fuck off and get the fuck out of my flat. Then my dad brought me down to rathdowney and I lived here with him and ann. ann was commuting from rathdowney to dublin so she could work, she was a teacher in an all Irish school. Dad no longer worked, but he had been an aircraft mechanic and later a director of his own company. for the first year in rathdowney I didn't do very much, just messed around, eventually I met some stoners here and started getting high again, but I don't know if any of them actually liked me, but at least i wasn't alone. Eventually I got sick of rathdowney and felt caged, like it was some kindof prison, I was feeling different than I ever had before. I moved back to dublin and it took me a while to find acommodation, I was almost homeless but I got diagnosed as shizophrenic and then I was put into rented accomodation and prescribed medication which i didn't take. I stopped smoking hash and was going to a college where I was learning computer programming. I didn't mention this already but I played a lot of computer games If I had any free time I was always playing games. I think I'm not that good in college type situations because I totally blew it. My teacher hated me, and would give out to me even if I was only five minutes late. I was obsessed with the matrix, I spent a lot of time just thinking about it. I even started to dream about it. I could almost believe that it really was some kindof horrible prison, where we were all just slaves. Interestingly things seemed that way to me. I began to notice things, things I thought were strange. I would see the word matrix written all over the place, or number 1 or trinity, sometimes I would see a combination of things. I even took some photos once, just don't know where they are. I had managed to get a girlfriend when i started in roslyn college her name was carla, and that was the first time i had sex, it didn't last too long mostly because I thought she was kinda stupid. One day she came over and we had sex and then she called some guy who she had met in a nightclub the night before. I was pissed, when she finished the call I told her to get the fuck out of my flat, and never talk to me again. so that was that. after that I noticed a girl in my class called shannon, she was shy and nerdy looking but I really liked her, I just didn't know how to approach her. so I spent a while figuring out how to send messages over the network in dos. turned out I sent a message to everyone except her by accident introducing myself. Eventually I found out that here computer was the only one not connected to the network, go figure. anyway somehow I worked up the courage to ask her if she wanted to chat online, and thats how we got started, eventually she agreed to meet up with me outside of college and we went and walked my dogs in the park. one day she came back and I held both her hands and kissed her. we did a lot of kissing but it didn't seem to be going anywhere, eventually i got a bit pissed off and dumped her. she phoned me up and told me she was in a hotel and could she come over and then she did and we had sex. she was very strange, I don't mean that in a bad way. but she wasn't like most girls i knew. she didn't bother with makeup and she was very quiet and nervous, and she was a total geek like me. she was attractive but not the way some women are. she had a pretty great body, and i enjoyed it a lot. we fucked loads, everyday at least once, but more often usually. I fell in love with her, and we had a pretty good year roughly after that things started to go downhill, and it was probably my fault, I was having a hard time dealing with everything. I was very angry and stressed. I was convinced that I was going to "wake up" and I nearly did a few times. I constantly thought about the matrix. and I was seeing strange things around the city that made me certain that something was going on. I'll explain more about this in a different chapter. By this time I was about 21 or maybe a bit older.