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Cheese and cheer: TYSIC Week 2

Hello. A difficult couple of days, which I suppose should be interpreted as a welcome test of my optimism v0w. It’s all very well talking big about being positive when things are going fairly well anyway, but the proof of the pudding is when the pudding comes out of the oven tasting like shit, and you still manage to say ‘this looks nice’. Or in another cliche, if life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Or at least, if life gives you lemons, get an Indian takeaway and give the lemons to someone who likes lemons.

Anyway. My beloved football team are careering down the league and have sacked their manager, one of my football heroes. My tour is still selling… shall we say, better in some venues than others, and I had some other small professional disappointments. My three-week-old went a bit psychotic in the Post Office the other day and the queue of people looked at me as if to say ‘who gave you that child to look after, you obvious idiot’. And in general he’s been a lot angrier at the world these past few days, which means we are a lot tireder and confused-er.

But I’m doing my best. The team will sort themselves out. The tour will pick up. I packaged up the parcel with one hand and got out of the Post Office and kept walking and walking and walking like Ian Botham when he used to walk for charity, until the baby settled down. I keep not taking it personally when my wife’s held the baby for eighteen hours and he’s gurgling merrily, then I have him for seven seconds and he wails like Paltrow getting her Oscar. Yep. I’m rolling my sleeves up and getting tough with the optimism. And several times it has been difficult, but hey, that’s what ten-year projects are about. And I’ve been greatly cheered up by the coming together of the plan to ship an iPod around the country before it comes to rest with our winner, Anna. You can still join in with this, on the Forum. They’d like everyone’s address by the end of Friday. It will be fun. Thanks.

While some people, by their own admission, have struggled to get off the ground with their TYSICs this week, there have been some excellent efforts too. I’d hoped to summarise these in this blog, but the baby had other ideas (I will do it soon, though, so please keep writing up your progress). There’s just time, though, to pay tribute to our Challengers Of The Week.

I asked for proof of decisive steps forward. Amy – whose blog is below – and Kirsty met this request by trying to counter their turophobia, that is a fear or loathing of cheese. Before you sneer at this quirk, I strongly dislike cheese myself so these are kindred spirits of mine. Kirsty gets a commendation for bravely touching Stilton, to the minds of people like us one of the world’s most horrid substances. But Amy trumped that by sampling several different types of cheese. She hated them. But carried on nonetheless. This is what it’s all about…

Take inspiration from this, friends. And all this came from a more general TYSIC of ‘trying not to be lazy’. So if you’re struggling with your challenge, think laterally. Do something which might not directly help, but advances you in related ways. Eat some bloody cheese. Go on.

34 Responses

  1. Kirsty says:

    I’ve also just committed myself to making cheese sandwiches for a proposed Watsonian picnic in July. So go me! :-D

  2. Anna says:

    If it’s any consolation, the insane screaming in public for no reason does stop eventually, though it is horrible while it lasts. I remember once bursting into tears whilst round the shops because Nicky wouldn’t stop wailing (he was about 7 weeks old at the time). I ended up phoning my mum and telling her she would have to take the baby because he obviously hated me.
    Best advice I got was just to keep telling yourself ‘this too shall pass’. And it does. Generally to be replaced by another baffling behaviour that will drive you mad.

  3. Anji says:

    It’s been an odd week for me, and I can’t really lay claim to any triumphant meeting of challenges. But I have passed the week, and that shall have to do! I think my week was lemons and I didn’t make anything with them!
    Mark, I’m fairly sure the people looking at you in the post office were just remembering what it was like for them! Anna is right, it will pass and
    be replaced with something else!
    My next step? To take my puppy to training class tonight and get her to a) not wee in excitement and b) to ‘stay’ when told.
    Baby steps lead to giant leaps!

  4. Corey says:

    My original TYSIC’s are at the same stage. Will comment when they start to advance, but last night inspired me to add another to the list of: 1) Be funny for a living 2) Make some kind of music and 3)Jump from the biggest bungy in the world….my new number 4 is: when you can …….do a good deed for someone.
    Last night I watched the oldest football club in the world beat a team from Italy called Pro-Appio 13-0!. I say 13-0, you know you’ve seen a one sided match when the linesman disagrees with the ref over how many goals a team won by!..he said it was 11!?!…anyway, the Sheffield keeper at half time took pity on the Appio team and offered to be their keeper for 45 mins. Not only did they only concede 3 goals in the 2nd half, but the Italians were so grateful to him for helping out and making them look not quite as bad as they were. Now, i’m not going to take up goalkeeping at this late stage, but if I spot an area where I can help someone….I will!

  5. Ben says:

    amazing cheese craziness! hats off.

    i’ve got some fun travel plans for the summer, which i’ve kind of justified as being TYSIC related with some curly logic. all blogged and accounted for where my name is.

  6. Misha says:

    Fact: Babies will pick the most inopportune moments to cry. Worry when he learns to speak, you can’t not look like a weirdo when there’s a small child lying over your shoulder screaming “I don’t want to go with you put me down.” (my brother)

    The ipod challenge is coming together nicely.

  7. I’ve been feeling like I’ve gone backwards in my “giving a damn about things” this week but we I look at it objectively maybe I haven’t. I’m getting down to things that need to be done without a thought. Maybe I just need the added pressure of idiots trying to ruin my life for the next 9 years, 11 months.

  8. anna lowman says:

    Go you indeed lovely Kirsty!

    Sorry to hear it’s been a shitty couple of days Mark. There will be shitty days. But there will be oh my freaking goodness this is what happy feels like days, too. x

  9. Someone says:

    Re: Baby’s crying – Several things might cheer you up. 1st I had to ‘look after’ one of them toy babies at school a few years back, y’know, that cry, and cry, and cry. And i couldn’t cope so i err stuck a paperclip in the ‘please be quiet’ button i found on it at like 2am. My teacher told me I ‘couldn’t do that to a real baby, lizzy.’ Which was helpful.
    2nd, i used to work in a supermarket on Saturdays and the amount of screaming, distraught babies/parents was unbelievable. Definitely scared me off leaving the house with one, ever.
    And 3rd Rhod Gilbert’s Work Experience show on i-player at the mo – this week he’s being a mum. It’s hilarious. He tries to go shopping with the 1yr old who is so unhappy and he just doesn’t know what to do so he tries to make jokes to it/her. Haha, it doesn’t work. I’d do the same though. Awkward.
    Anyway, hope next week/tomorrow is better!

  10. Adele says:

    Bit of a crap week for me. Went running and immediately felt ill. Had to be helped by an old lady. Not good. Got nowhere on the learning front either… There’s always next week!

  11. Marie says:

    I’ve found myself with an odd craving for cheese now. Half an hour before the supermarket closes… Hmm… should I?

  12. James F says:

    Sorry about your Beloved Bristol City… But i’m not gonna lie as a newcastle fan its come at perfect time..
    Optimism is the way forward So its all good..
    I’m definately gonna fail my A levels but all i’m thinking is.. Well noone died so theres no need to worry..

    “When your smiling, the whole world smiles with you”

  13. Corey says:

    also, to add…I don’t know the figures but I imagine Chesterfield isn’t selling that well on your tour!?!…its not a bad place but Bernard Manning type comedians are more the kind of fayre served up round these parts. If you want I could act as an unpaid promoter/tout and attempt to spread the word and get some more sold!. Call it my good deed for the day!

  14. Shell says:


    Well done to all those progressing well and understanding for those struggling as I have myself this week.

    After a good start last week – this week I have been remiss and procrastinated as usual and dropped off the piano practice. It’s dumb that because I really like it but I get so frustrated that I’m not ‘brilliant’ at it that I give up! I do see the flaw in this – argh!

    This IS a 10 year project however and if my challenge was easy I wouldn’t have picked it. I may need to break things down further though to see successes.

    Tomorrow is another day…

  15. clara81 says:

    I agree with Anji and Anna. When I see young babies screaming like that, I’m invariably thinking “I want another one…” (Hope Sy’s not reading this or I’ll be in trouble). Our son screamed every time we went into a supermarket for about 2 months, but I got used to the noise and he realised that it didn’t matter how much he screamed Mommy was going to drag him there anyway. They’re amazingly quick at the learning thing.

    Like you say, it’s easy to be optimistic when things are going ok, but not quite so straight forward when they’re not. If you can keep it up through the sleep deprivation and constant worry of early parenthood, you can handle anything. There’s not much in life that’s harder than watching your offspring cry and not being able to comfort them. You (& Mrs W) are doing really well, so relax!

  16. Hannah says:

    I love cheese, is it cheating if I join in with the cheese eating?

    I also have not stepped forwards greatly with my TYSIC this week, although I am trying and my procrastination is definitely being battled against even if I’m not successful everytime.

    Looking forward to the picnic!

    Chin up Mark, tomorrow will be better and if it’s not – at least it’s Friday :)

  17. Natalie-Helen says:

    Ah babies crying is one of the worst noises in the world. Not because of the “omg why can’t they shut it up” but more because my maternal instincts (overwhelmingly strong sometimes) mean that the sound tugs at my heart strings too much!

    I have a blog for my TYSICness now which posted on the Forum and will let them know my address asap! It’s been a balanced week. Learnt some French and went to the allotment today but haven’t written my essay or done anough reading for it, and haven’t gone swimming since Monday. So swings and roundabouts really!

  18. Lisa Brunders says:

    evening Mark. I went back and reviewed my Tysics lastnight, and I’m making progress on 5 out of the 6, so I’m very pleased with myself.
    You’re bound to find it overwhelming sometimes, it’s a huge undertaking bringing a baby into this world, having a dependent. Don’t expect too much of yourself

  19. Catherine says:

    Weekly update: I managed to sleep until 2:00 P.M. today since I stayed up ‘til 5:30 a.m. Just couldn’t sleep. So I watched Never Mind the Buzzcocks for hours on YouTube. Always get a good giggle out of that show.

    Good news on Spanish class – we got midterm grades, and I have an 88. My grade is salvageable with extra effort. Went to Spanish Club meeting to see presentation on Madrid. First time I had been to a meeting all semester. Trying to be more conscientious and less lazy. Have a meeting on Monday about my summer trip to Spain. Will find out more about what I have to bring with me, what is proper etiquette, etc.

    My youngest son’s wife left him. He’s 22, and she’s 19. They have an 11-month-old daughter and another bun in the oven. They whole thing just had disaster written all over it from the beginning. They are in Florida. I am 750 miles away. But on the upside, I get to listen to my granddaughter shriek over the phone more often since her mother frequently drops her off at my son’s house. Must get them set up on Skype so I can see her, too.

    Didn’t workout at all this week.

    Got my new glasses yesterday. Finally I can see to type on my laptop.

    TGTIF – Thank goodness tomorrow is Friday.

  20. louise says:

    This TYSIC might actually be having a negative effect on me. I have been socialising more to gain confidence but because I have been out a lot these past two weeks I am now sitting here at 1am trying to finish a lab report which is due in tomorrow morning. I still have loads more to do and I have a job interview tomorrow afternoon as well which looks like it won’t go well now. I suppose I will need to learn how to balance socialising and studying to avoid this in the future or I could just go back to spending all my time concentrating on uni work.

  21. Jamie/James says:

    I was thinking of doing a challenge that could involve fellow TYSIC’s. I want to travel round the country and record loads of people/musicians/sounds…and turn it into a song. It could be a big TYSIC song and I’ve read how a lot of people want to make music for a living, this could be a sort of ‘first step’. In June my music degree will come to an end and I have a few months before I move to LA and study for 2 years. Ideally, the project will begin in June/July.

    If you are reading this and you like the idea or have any comments etc. please @ me at lobsterlinguini on Twitter. My main TYSIC can also be found here:

    Maybe when it’s done, I could put it on the iPod? :)

  22. Lally says:

    Got some temp work, and some volunteer work! Make efforts, get results, ho lovely. Encouraged to keep trying. Excited that the MP3 player is on its way to Anna, and also trying to “roll my sleeves up and get tough with the optimism.” Thanks. Exercise is what will turn this around for me, and what I am prevaricating the most about. Walking will come easier in spring and summer, but I hope to do this because it is fun and good for me–no real reason against it. Trying to smile at and speak to people every day, with enjoyable results and some good stories/introductions. Was blue this evening, and then some friends called to ask me to a free blues performance. It was some excellent, foot-stompin’ stuff, I got to hug my friends and see people dance, and it was free! Came home in a much better mood, and still have a chance to get more stuff done before the weekend. (Supposed to snow up to seven inches, so I may count cookery, reading and housework as lovely ways to spend some time, too.) Sorry to go on so long–just psyched to see a bit of progress–so many people are doing wonderful things! Best wishes.

  23. ElizabethD says:

    I’ve spent a lot of time in week 2 noticing how much more pleasant life is just since I’ve been working more. Apparently–and I don’t mean to shock all the other writers out there so do sit if for no other reason than standing while reading blog comments seems unreasonably formal–actually writing a lot feels better and is more satisfying than staring at paper wondering why there aren’t words on it. Also I treated myself to a shopping binge at my favorite stationary supply store (My god, I am such a nerd!) and I have found the absolute perfect notebook for script writing! It’s bizarrely well designed by someone who is clearly at least as nerdy as I am. (In the interest of full disclosure I should point out it is possible that I’m endowing the notebook with more specialness than it deserves simply because there are already 20 pages of shiny new script dialogue in it.) And I turned 36. That wasn’t on my official TYSIC list of goals, but it was something I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do a few years ago so I’m including it.

    PS I worked in child care for 10 years. New babies cry at EVERYTHING there is nothing personal in it. I found it comforting to put myself in their shoes. One minute the world is a small, warm, safe and quiet place and the next it’s…all of this. I’m not surprised they cry at everything. I’m surprised they ever stop. They do though.

  24. louise says:

    I retract my previous comment about TYSIC negativity. I finished my report just there and still got 5 hours sleep which is pretty average for me anyways so I will just need to learn to balance work and play next week!

  25. amycool says:

    What a wonderful day I’m having. The sun is shining, I don’t feel ill anymore, I got a lovely letter from my penpal (who is very impressed with the idea of TYSIC), I don’t have to wait in all day for the chimney man, and now it turns out I’m famous. :-)

    I was under the impression that everyone else in the world liked cheese and that I just had to keep eating it and would eventually like it (my French teacher told me that she hated cheese but got ill in France and all the hospital would give her was cheese). Now it would appear that other people don’t like it either! I shan’t give in yet though. Yesterday I put some grated cheese on a baguette (‘some’ may be overstating it) and I ate the whole thing! I think it’ll be a long while until I can eat it without psyching myself up but it will be worth it I think.

    Oh and just to make the link between not being lazy and eating cheese clear (:-D), by lazy I mean sticking with what I know and never testing myself, i.e. being comfortable. It wouldn’t be difficult to eat crisp sandwiches forever, but would I be grasping life with both hands if that’s all I did?

    Mark – the fact that you’ve managed to write a blog every day despite having a tiny screaming baby is a huge achievement and bodes very well for the next decade. Although I’ve never been in charge of tiny babies, I did train to be a teacher, and I know that feeling of kids behaving wonderfully for their normal teacher and like feral animals with me. It’s not a nice feeling but children and babies don’t think like adults and are too egocentric to consider your feelings. In a few weeks when the little one decides to scream with your wife, you will look back on this tiring draining experience and smile. Hopefully. And if not, we’ll be here to big up your parenting abilities, which I’m sure are marvellous.

    Cheerio! Amy. xxx

  26. Simon says:


    Who is the chimney man?!

  27. Jen says:

    I am just about to fully embrace the TYSIC challenge but replying to a job offer which makes me so scared I want to hide under my duvet forever and ever, but I’m being brave as it’s actually a great opportunity. If I keep being brave then in ten years I might not be so scared of these things. I was going to say no and then I remembered this blog and my promise to be more courageous. (So if I balls it all up in a few months time, I can blame this blog as well? Hurrah!) And hey, what’s the worst that can happen? I don’t like it/can’t do it, then I’ll leave and have a re-think. Bring it on.

  28. amycool says:

    @simon The man who mends the chimney of course! :-) I was going to have to stay in all day while he was here but he cancelled. Hooray!

  29. Chrissy says:

    all babies go completely nuts from 2 and a half weeks to 3 weeks, then somebody gives you your normal baby back. I have not told anybody about my TYSIC but I have managed to run for 1 and a half minutes on a tred mill this week, and being somebody who is terrified of running that is a big step xx

  30. Chris says:

    this will mean nothing to almost all of you and I’ve had to explain it in various ways for friends to understand

    just back from Brighton after a night watching Premier League Darts (by the way my TYSIC is to become a pro too and go on an entertainment tour, so last night was educational and fun)…

    short version is at the hotel, Adrian Lewis asked me to join him for a drink with his family/friends and with Phil Taylor, whilst I also met and had breakfast with Sid Waddell, chatted to Ronnie Baxter and shared an elevator with Raymond Van Barneveld

    in the world of football, it’s like Wayne Rooney asking you to join him for a drink with Maradona, whilst meeting John Motson, chatting with Ryan Gigs and sharing an elavator with Dennis Bergkamp

    in the world of hollywood, it’s like Matt Damon asking you to join him for a drink with Jack Nicholson, whilst meeting Morgan Freeman, chatting with Anthony Hopkins and sharing an elavator with Roberto Benigni

  31. Rachael says:

    I wouldn’t worry about the baby thing, everyone hates the post office.

  32. david says:

    TYSIC: be funny for a living

    goods: I did stand up for the first time at a student competition on Thursday and came third out of twenty-one. Yay.

    bads: Fringe show being denied venue at pleasance. Boo.

  33. Bill Hayes says:

    Oh hey, you wanted proof of how we’re getting on with TYSIC?

    Here’s mine:

    Work in progress but I reckon that’s the first track.

  34. Knox says:

    As it is now 1.54 am, I am obviously not doing so well on my ‘go to bed before midnight’ goal… I should maybe add one: stop procrastinating. I reckon a lot of things i need to change could lead back to that one… really need to stop reading, and get to bed…

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