Everything’s Fine when you Reach Cloud Nine

In 2000 I studied for a Masters degree in Drama and Theatre Studies. I was an introverted by day, social by night young woman, horrified by the unknown and with very low self confidence. This was a group of twenty people and even day one, orientation in the theatre was daunting. It was dramatic. The seats were in a half circle as if waiting for a performance. The mood was tense. Every one looked more professional…more talented. More entitled to be there. I would have ran away if I had been confident enough to stand up and stand out by running. I also couldn’t be sure where the door was. bitmoji-20180713083833

The group was a eclectic cross section of Irish turn of the century society, ranging in age and gender, completely different to what I was used to in third level education. Married people with grown children. Single parents. People just out of their degrees. Folk looking for new outlets. Hopeful actors and writers in their twenties and thirties chasing the dream. People with money and people without a bean. And I- uncertain and feeling my way into the darkness. bitmoji-20180714062530

I was the youngest. The oldest was in his sixties. We got on very well as the oldest to youngest would.

I loved the year even though I continuously had heart stopping moments. Being Mother Courage. Singing on a lecturer’s table facing a full auditorium. Reading my own writing aloud. It made me challenge myself and face fears. Unpredictable in nature, I was forced to stand out. Inevitability, I felt foolish or proud, like a failure or a true success and never just average as a result of this course.

Writing is what I love and I cherished those classes. I cannot say I do not enjoy the acting side of life. I enjoy it but I am not skilled at acting and I dream not of it. The design of the MA meant you could do the whole year without one acting class but I chose to enrol in them. Trying it might have compromised my end grade. I had to risk it anyway. It was my only chance. We had improvisational classes and straight acting. The creative stuff was a revelation to me. It was wild and unhinged. Wednesday morning from nine am until eleven I could be asked to be a reindeer. A car. The colour purple. To sing. Dance. Be still. These sessions ended with one large chant of sorts. We held hands and sang Everything’s fine when you reach cloud nine- just that line- repeatedly until energy built and it bellowed across the concourse. A little like sounding our

barbaric yawp across the rooftops of the world’

– Whitman

Upon leaving the theatre we were always met by the perplexed group who were next to use the room for a language class. I heard the word spread quickly that the drama group was a bunch of oddballs and got up to bizarre behaviour in class. Rumour is a great fertiliser and the tales grew tall at beanstalk rate. We laughed. It felt great to be part of something like that even if it no one in my real world would ever fully get it.

adult beard black and white boy
Photo by RAUL REYNOSO on Pexels.com

It all came flooding back when my friend suggested we meet for lunch at a new cafe called Cloud Nine in Athlone. I thought I knew every eaterie in the town. Not this one. Carefully secluded at the back of a well known local bar, it is not defined by connotation but is its own space. The interior of calming blues, whites and greys is lovely and nothing like what I thought- a cafe bar with the sticky remnants of last night’s beer. It is far from it. This is an old college friend who I met, one who I lived with me when I took this MA. She understood completely when I told her why I loved the cafe name. Just the laugh we needed as we had a lot to catch up on; her little boy is in his first year and we are in the Paper bubble which needed much analysis. (See Change)

Two slimmer’s breakasts (always fighting the flab here) and endless coffee later, I think we both felt really good from a purging cleansing chat and a belly laugh.20180703_113335.jpg

This time it was right. Everything was fine when we reached cloud nine. For a bit anyway.

This is all a true tale. No one asked me to write anything or paid me in any way. The good people at Cloud Nine had no idea there was a notorious blogger eating in their pretty little haven reminiscing their youth. It just happened this way. 20180703_112848

31 thoughts on “Everything’s Fine when you Reach Cloud Nine

  1. Well done for achieving your MA Orla, never an easy thing no matter how much passion you have! Friends and great coffee, bliss 🙂


  2. Acting/improvising takes such guts. I’m sure you’re a braver person and writer for the experience. Great post and sounds like a great cafe! It made me think of the performance art class I took in college. Absolutely mortifying–I flossed my teeth and bathed in mud in front of the class. Makes me shrink just to think of it! What a year you must have had! And I love hearing about Athlone, my fave spot from my honeymoon. My husband and I spent some time at the Castle Inn bar and still trade Xmas cards with a friend we met there!


    1. That is very brave!! A mudbath?? 🤣 it definitely makes you a stronger person pushing barriers like that.
      The cafe is nice- looking forward to going back too.
      I like the Castle inn, I used to live around the corner from Seans and worked in the book shop across from it. It is a lovely quarter of town.


  3. Belly laughs are the BEST! I have a few friends that I don’t get to see often, but love when we get to catch up and the reminiscing always includes a good belly laugh.


  4. Congrats on your MA! Serendipity. That’s the word that came to mind when I read your class chant and then saw the name of the cafe! Love the mural.


  5. Love the artwork on the outside of the cafe. And I’m glad you challenged yourself by taking art classes even though it sounds like it wasn’t mandatory for your MA. You got more out of your experience than people who went the easy route.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I applaud you, my friend!! I used to be a huge drama fiend, I thrived on spotlight (even when I wasn’t on stage) and then… I don’t know what happened, but crowds seem a different animal now and I don’t like to be noticed. I miss the days where I could “sounds my barbaric yawp across the roof tops” ha ha! (okay… Some will say I still do, but that’s after a couple of drinks out in public when people have to start telling me to keep the volume of my voice down) 😉😂😂


  7. I’m sure it must have been quite a challenge when you enrolled in it. I’m happy to know a little more about you. I had no idea that you have graduated in drama! So does that to drama in life, Orla? 😉


  8. Good for you Orla. Stepping outside the comfort zone for an introvert is really challenging. Some find it so easy and others…well, we struggle. Well done on the MA too. A superb achievement.

    Liked by 1 person

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