Saturday, September 22, 2012

Meeting Caitlin Moran.

It's 9.15am on a Friday morning. Trinity College is in the midst of Freshers' week, and I am on the floor of Trinity Hall, wrapped in a sleeping bag and trying not to move. I have a very bad hangover. I am awake very early. This is not good. However, I have a lecture at 11am, so I suppose I'd better get up...very slowly. I don't feel too bad as long as I don't move too much.
I get up, put on a jumper and make my way to college, sipping a bottle of water and trying very hard not to get sick all over the lower floor of the 140 to Rathmines. By the time I get to college, I feel slightly more alive -- though still not very good. I collapse into my lecture and proceed to stare vacantly into space for the next hour, scarcely taking in a word the lecturer says due to the spiky headache building behind my eyes.

Fast forward six hours, several cups of green tea, some shopping and a hugely welcome bag of Doritos, I am in Easons', waiting to meet Caitlin Moran. Incidentally, Doritos are the best hangover food. Carbs, fat, salt and a lovely flavour I can only describe as blue. Remind me to write a blog about Doritos. Anyway...Moran is a feminist writer and columnist who manages to be a) important and b) funny at the same time. I read her book back in January and I've been (somewhat accidentally) turning into her ever since. We have similar hair, similar eyeliner tendencies (read: we both wear lots) and, joyously, Moran has a big round face. I've said it once and I'll say it again -- what celebrities have round faces? If I google "round face celebrities" I will get Kirsten Dunst, who has a face that is as round oval. Anyway. I like Caitlin Moran, and at the moment my hungover self is clutching three books by her (I have bought two copies of "Moranthology", her new book) and I am very, very excited.

Moran arrives late, but that doesn't spoil anybody's enthusiaism -- especially mine. All squicky hangover feelings are forgotten as she starts speaking. I hate to fangirl, but come on: this is a self-confessed strident feminist. She's funny, she writes, she looks strikingly like me. She used to be fat. Caitlin Moran gives me hope for my future. When she starts speaking, she's like a truck with no brakes: she's all whirling hands, swearwords and giggles. She speaks about celbirites, about her book and about feminism (and how important it is). I am either laughing or nodding in silent agreement for the entire hour she's speaking and then -- wonder of wonders! -- she takes questions from the audience.

I'm lucky that I'm a confident kind of person. When I say hello, Caitlin compliments my eyeliner and then wryly notes my "familiar looking hair". In June, I dyed a blonde-y streak into my dark brown hair, partly because I did it for a Ceilí last summer and partly because "it looks good on Caitlin Moran, thus it will look good on me!". Moran requests that I give her a pound. I'm not sure if she's joking or not. Next,  I ask Caitlin about male feminists -- she's all for them. "Everyone is invited to the feminist party!" Excellent. I have (hopefully) ended an argument with David that has lasted about six months.*

At the end of her talk, we get our books signed. Caitlin writes "you have my face!" on the inside of my battered copy of How To Be A Woman, before defacing the cover of it with an arrow saying "YOU!" pointing to her face.I get my photo taken with Caitlin and we both do "the Muppet face". I also hug her, which is nice.
I've heard on and off that you should never meet your heroes -- that they'll nearly always end up being a disappointment. I'm not one for "role models" myself, tbh, but Moran is as close as I get. Obviously I was terrified that she'd be arrogant, or rude, or much taller than me. Moran is a wonderful, funny, clever, averaged heighted woman with a face just as round as mine.

Worth the hangover? I think so.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Electric Picnic: the five best moments from the best weekend

Those of you who read my twitter will know that I won tickets to Electric Picnic in June, and last weekend I got to swap those lovely lovely tickets for an equally lovely wristband. I had the best weekend of my life, without doubt, and it's really hard to pick five (musical or otherwise) moments from the festival. How am I supposed to pick just five from a festival where naked hott ubs shares space with banter with Ryan Tubridy? How do I choose between some of the coolest bands in the world and free granola? It's difficult, certainly, but after nearly a week of sleeping thinking about it, I've decided on the following...

#5: The Depaul tent
At Electric Picnic, a whole area is dedicated to speakers and learning. It's called Mindfield, and I could have spent the whole weekend there -- yes, I am just that uncool. There were poets, politicians and a "puball Gaeilge" (sorry, I just love alliteration) but by far, my favourite tent in Mindfield was one named "Life's No Picnic On The Streets". Sounds fun, right? Run by Depaul Ireland, a homelessness awareness group that provide help to people who need it. The tent had posters detailing the stories of some homeless men and woman Depaul worked with, which were fascinating and really made me think twice before complaining about my tent. However, I have to say that the best part of this tent were the lovely, smiley volunteers who made hungry, broke punters cups of tea or coffee. Coupled with free bars of chocolate, this tent quickly became my favourite place. The Depaul tent gets a special mention because I saved about a tenner on green tea and Dairy Milk over the weekend, it had a wonderful atmosphere in it and it did a damn good job of raising awareness for life on the street. Also, did I mention the free tea?! Check out Depaul here.

#4: An awful lot of running
The trouble with festivals is that you'll never see it all. No matter how late you stay up or how early you get your tent up, it's next to impossible to experience all Electric Picnic had to offer. For instance, I didn't get near the Spoken Word tent, I missed Heathers and Metronomy and by the end of the day, I was far too tired to even think about raves in the woods. The flipside to this is the adrenaline rush of running between bands, however! It sounds like an odd thing to say, but it makes you terribly appreciative of a band when you've ran to see them. Seeing bits and pieces of sets sounds crap, but when you've run from The Killers to Hot Chip, hearing Ready For The Floor becomes exponentially better! In the space of four hours, I managed to see star-gaze to Elbow, dance to James Murphy, sing along to The Killers and jump around to Hot Chip. Seeing, doing and hearing as much as possible is dizzying: See, kids, sensory overload can be fun (and it makes you appreciate your tent at night)!

A rather shadowy James Murphy. Never in my life have I seen so much dry ice!

#3 Ryan Tubridy
Remember my waxing lyrical about Mindfield earlier? On Sunday morning, I found myself parked in the front row of the Levithan tent waiting for a Breakfast brunch with Ryan Tubridy, Miriam O'Callaghan and several comedians. Not expecting much, I was delighted to take part in a hilarious, silly and informative hour, where topics ranged from 50 Shades of Grey to the Sunday Business Post. My morning was made afterward, when I had a chat with the one and only Ryan Tubridy! I asked him did he want his own "Bishop and the Nightie" incident and he tried on my big, floppy sunhat. I won't lie, I was a little bit starstruck, especially when he called my "look" attractive. As someone who doesn't really have a look, I was delighted with this, as you can probably tell in this photo:

Yeah, I'm lame, I went to Electric Picnic and one of my highlights was meeting the man who presents the Late Late. What can I say, I'm a culchie!

#2 The Cure
There was never really any other reason for me to be at Electric Picnic other than one big-haired, middle aged man who writes songs "about being in love or being depressed. Or both." The magical moment arrived at 9pm on Saturday night, when a sequin-clad Robert Smith strode onstage, accompanied by the smiliest keyboard player on Earth and a greaser-type playing bass. Opening with the gorgeous Plainsong, The Cure proceeded to bang out thirty eight songs, from heartwrenching soundscapes to straight up, glorious pop music. I'm telling you, it was NOT an easy gig -- I had to leave the barrier around halfway through and spent the rest of the gig cocooned in the crowd. The Cure's second encore was one of the happiest moments of the weekend -- after playing a dark, dark "The Same Deep Water As You", the band seemed determined to get Electric Picnic dancing. Between "The Lovecats", "Close To Me" and an absolutely banging "Why Can't I Be You?" , they certianly achieved that. Without doubt, an absolutely life-affirming gig and something I can check off my "things to do before I am boring with a job and children" list.

Would I ever take photos of The Cure in anything but black and white?

#1 The craic
It seems clichéd to say, but I couldn't have had the fun I had at the weekend without the people I was with. Once again, Conor and I took a festival and through him, I discovered The Jezabels, who are absolutely fantastic -- I can't stop listening to them! Paul, pictured above with Tubbs and myself, was a star when Conor and Áine disappeared -- we ate granola together, explored the festical together and quoted The Simpsons...a lot. Áine was my Queen of EP, between her leaf-covered hair and her neon paint and David...well, David bought me chips and waited for The Cure for three hours with me. Could I ask for a better boyfriend? I think not. These four, coupled with some enchanting randomers over the weekend, amde the festival for me. Notably the three guys in yellow raincoats who asked Áine and I for a threesome, people from the internet that I actually got to meet, and the Stereotypical Festival Couple that took pictures of me and David for most of James Murphy. Oh, Electric Picnic. You can't say it doesn't attract a diverse mix of people...

Nudes... ;)

Christy Moore - I'm an official Kildare person now! 

Me and my Dave at James Murphy. <3

Lots of posing took place over the weekend...

... exhibit B! NEON PAINT!

So yeah, in short, I had an amazing weekend. I'm saving up for next year already! 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Probably the best rock song in the world...?

From first year discos to the day after I got accepted to college, this song never fails to make my heart rate speed up a little bit. I heard it around earlier today -- I have loved Appetite for Destruction since first year. That's an achievement, especially when you consider that

  • I have never listened to anything by them that isn't on this album
  • I like no other bands remotely like G'n'R
  • I was in first year SIX YEARS ago
It's ever so perfect: as perfect as a song that isn't by The Beatles gets, to be honest. Plus, 80s Axl Rose is hot and I still have a soft spot for solos. So go on, enjoy the six-minute magic of classic rock'n' rooooooooooooooooolllllll, brother!

Monday, August 20, 2012

The final.

So I've been blogging about the Leaving Cert. on and off for the past year. Mostly off. Delighted to have the exams finished, by June I was ready to forget about everything and have some fun...which I did. Since my exams finished, I've been out a few times, saw a lot of Dave and volunteered at Castlepalooza music festival. In short: I had a really great summer. I'll probably post more about it sometime.

Me, Danielle, Conor and Hazel at Castlepalooza, in one of the rare moments of sunshine!

That didn't mean that I forgot about the results, though. They were always there in the back of my head -- one month, three weeks, two weeks -- and bang! Suddenly it was August 15th and I was awake and freaking out at 3am. All the post-its I'd used adding up 100s, 85s and 70s were worthless and now all I could do was wait and see. The scariest thing about the results for me wasn't not knowing -- it was knwoing that I couldn't change them, that I was stuck with whatever results I got. By Wednesday, I was convinced that I'd maybe scrape 500 and would never get to run through Trinity College, screaming like a little girl.

On Wednesday morning, I woke up at 6.30am, showered, drank copious amounts of green tea and then went down to the school with my parents. On recieving the envelope, I walked around for a moment or two, shaking like a leaf. The enormity of my Leaving Cert. results hit me then, I think -- not the best time! Eventually I opened the results and immediately zoned in on grade #1: a B2. This was immediately followed by a mental "SWEET JESUS FUCKING CHRIST HOW BAD WILL THESE BE IF I ONLY MANAGED A B2 IN ENGLISH?!" before realizing that the B2 was in Irish. Higher. Level. Irish. My year was spent crying over essays and being asked if I was dyslexic by my teacher and I came out with a B2! Fortunately, that bode well for my results in general...

Fucking ridiculous, aren't they?! I was particularly pleased about the A1 in Ag. Science, a course I did in a year. For those unaware of the system, these grades add up to 570 points -- out of 600! This means that this morning I received my offer from Trinity College -- I get to study English and History for the next four years! The wait for the offer was weird -- I wasn't too stressed about the points until last night. It hit me while cruising at 2am...thankfully I only had four hours to wait then, and it was wonderful when I woke up to my course this morning.

 I realize that the amount of exclamation marks in this post is unbelievable, but I've had a wonderful week. Well, apart from a mild case of the mumps and sticking my phone into a glass of water, but that's another story...I realize that this is the part where I should get all reflective about results, the Leaving Cert., and where, to paraphrase Axl Rose, we go from here. The thing is, though, that I don't WANT to think about 6th year anymore! It's all I thought about last year - as I said, I didn't really st back. I worked damn hard for those points, but to be honest, I'm over it now. I want to start college, move on, join a load of societies and be told how bad I am at things. I'm ready. And by God, am I excited!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Mon the Katie: 5 reasons why Katie Taylor is totally rad.

I realize the internet will be full of people lauding Katie Taylor over the next few days, and hell, she deserves every single word of it. I'll admit straight off that I haven't been following the Olympics much -- outside of Taylor, I haven't had a lot of interest to be honest. But Katie makes me want to follow all the Olympians for the rest of their lives, even though I know next to nothing about a) sport and b) following people. By god, watching her fight tonight was something else.  She. Is. Incredible. She's a hero. Why? Well, without further ado, here are my top 5 reasons. (My runner ups are that she has a great accent, her dad is her coach, she's hot and she did honours maths for her Leaving Cert., just FYI.)

1. She campaigned for women to fight in the Olympics.
Did you know that women's boxing wasn't an Olympic sport until this year? It was news to me, too, but not only was it not a sport, it was turned down by the Games in 2008. Katie Taylor proceeded to campaign to have the sport included this year, and she succeeded! She's part of the reason women's boxing is in the Olympics this year! That's a massive achievement in itself, but then she just came along and won the gold medal. Maybe that's why she won - imagine having to fight the woman who was the reason you were fighting in the first place. Intense, huh? As both an Irish person and a feminism-y person, that makes me so proud of her.
This photo is literally infinite badass.

2. She's an amazing boxer.
What I said up there about Taylor winning because of her reputation - I seriously doubt it. Taylor won a gold medal this evening because she is an incredible boxer. I did six years of kickboxing, so I know a little bit about boxing - I wanted to take it up, but alas, my mum's fear of broken bones availed. It doesn't take much to realize that Taylor is a force of nature, though. Her footwork makes her look like she's floating above the ground as she fights. Her punches - to quote my mum - could be felt here in Ireland. Her intensity and ferocity as an athlete make her absolutely spellbinding to watch, regardless of how interested one is in sport., or boxing. She makes me want to find my pink boxing gloves and start all over.


3. She's Irish.
I know, I know...I moonlight as Captain Obvious. But as Ellen said in her post, Ireland aren't great at sport. Except when we're on drugs a la Michelle Smith. But Taylor is the real deal - she's been boxing since she was twelve and not a soul on Earth would accuse her of doping. She's from a country that has less medals than Michael Phelps does. That's what makes us so proud of her. She's doing it for the little country filled with saints and scholars. She's put us on the Olympic map, if you will. I know I'm probably exaggerating a little, but I do think she's one of the greatest atheletes the country has ever seen. Over the past few days, I've seen a couple of British media gobshites refer to her as "British" when she's anything but. Her photos with the tricolour, her Green jacket and her thick Bray accent mean that she could never belong to anyone but us. And that makes me want to go out and learn the words to Amhrán na Bhfiann. 
Fuck you, Telegraph. Obligatory remark about the six counties.

4. Her faith.
I think we've all noticed how Katie thanks god after every fight in interviews. People give out about it, people think it's weird: I think it's pretty fucking cool that someone so tough, so clever and so awesome has all that faith. I'm not remotely religious and never really have been, but I admire how strong her Christian beliefs are. Looking up at the sky and blowing kisses after a fight - Taylor obviously has deep, deep faith in a higher power and doesn't seem to give a shit what people think of that. I heard lately that she "put her life in God's hands" and if she didn't win a gold medal "then he had other plans for her". You have to admire the strength of that, regardless of your own beliefs. Though I am terribly appreciative that God decided Gold was the way to go. 

5. She's a woman.
Let my inner feminist have this one. Katie Taylor was a year old when Joyce Carol Oates, a famous writer, said that boxing is "for men, and is about men, and is men." She  went as far as to call it "the obverse of the feminine." When we think of boxing, we think of Rocky, Muhammad Ali and other big strong men. We rarely think of big (or little) strong women, and Taylor is changing that almost singlehandedly, which I hugely admire her for.  This is the first year all countries in the Olympics have been represented by a woman, and the first time women's boxing has been part of the Games. Taylor is undoubtedly playing a huge role in breaking down gender stereotypes in sport, and on a world stage, too. Can you imagine how many little girls will want to take up boxing now? How COOL is that? And furthermore, can you imagine how many people will ask these little girls to make them a sandwich? 
Very few, that's who.

The woman, the myth, the legend that is Katie Taylor. She's my new hero.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


I'd like to make something clear now: this is not, and will never be, a fashion blog. That's not me skillfully ignoring what's hip and cool these days, it's not me eschewing the Leanne Woodfulls of this world; it's that I don't, and never will, have a clue about fashion. I try, I fail. I don't try and I fail's just not my thing. Only the other day did I learn that bootcut jeans WILL NOT FIT INTO BOOTS. I don't know what's worse, in retrospect: the fact that I tried or the fact that I wear bootcut jeans. I think I'm selling myself short ever so slightly: I'm not THAT unfortunate in the dress department. I'm just not incredibly stylish, like some of my friends are. That said, I don't really try. 


The t-shirt changes. My favourite is either this one my Communist Party one from Threadless or a short blue tribal one my mum bought for me in America. The shorts are occasionally swapped for a dress, and the shoes change on occasion. I have these Docs in a shorter version and I love them. I also have black leather boots that have been worn to death ...But by and large, that's how I dress. Day in, day out. I like to mix it up soemtimes - one of my favourite things is a leopard print dress. Ooh, I know, I'm just mad. But I mean- 
 it's leopard print. Let me have this one, fashion world. I know I should leave it to people like Kesha, but the dress hasn't got a zip, or a belt, or anything awkward. One just has to put it on. It's lovely. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand I think I just proved the point is that I don't really keep up with trends, I don't actively seek out fashion and I'm really not that bothered. Sometimes, however, I just feel damn materialistic, and I drool over clothes from Topshop, A Wear and various other places. But goddammit. I just spent a good half hour online, looking at the above sites as well as others. It seems to me as though clothes I like have gone out of style, and have been replaced by ridiculous things like faux-fur headbands and peplum. WHO can wear peplum?! It's ridiculous!

This is why I end up in shops like Dorothy Perkins and this is why I'll never be as ~fashionable as some of my friends. I just don't understand a lot of the clothes out there today. Plus, I'll freely admit that I have an awkward body shape - by awkward, I mean big. Clothes just hang funny and "get caught" on my belly. What can you do?

I occasionally stumble across things that I love to wear, and I wear them to death. Some of them are a bit quirky, like the red beret I bought in Paris two years ago...

...which I wore in Paris, pretty constantly for summer 2010, for the entirety of last year's Gaeltacht, as a costume and teamed with a lovely red coat earlier this year. And all for the princely sum of 9 euro...

Some of them are completely un-interesting, like the leather jacket I bought in River Island the Christmas before last. I remember feeling sick to my stomach on seeing the 80 euro price tag, but thankfully the jacket is worn almost every day. It's been worth every cent...if only it was a bit warmer! Funnily enough, I have few photos of said jacket - I wear it with everything, but I always take it off when I'm inside.

So that's me and my relationship with clothes: in turns it's amazing, boring, depressing and exciting. I haven't been shopping in quite a while, but this post has made me want to go and take down half of Dublin city. Just in case anyone was wondering, here are my "fashion" tips:

  • Hats are incredibly important. A hat got me a boyfriend. Never underestimate hats.
  • Red, as Caitlin Moran says, is a neutral.
  • Sometimes it's good to buy something you wouldn't normally - my flowery Docs, my rainbow suspenders. You never know. 
  • If something isn't comfy, for Christ sake's don't buy it.
  • Sometimes one has to step away from the floral. I own a hideous amount of floral clothes. Floral is cute but too much is I need to stop.
  • Denim shorts + tights = lifesaving outfit.
  • If you think something looks good, wear it. Ignore anyone else's ideas. One of my favourite dresses is yellow and ruffled. My mother did not approve, but I feel better in it than almost anything else.
  • However, listen to advice sometimes.
  • Always bring a spare pair of tights.
  • Try to be interesting. It's all well and good to look like you've stepped out of a magazine (yay, you) but what does that say about you, really? My attempts at style make me look like a lunatic, but hey, at least I deliver what I promise.
  • ACCESSORIES ARE GOOD. Outside of hats, I don't spend money on accessories, because I lose them almost straight away. What I have are a pair of earrings my darling friend Brenda made me, and a belt that doubles as a bottle opener. Buy accessories. Don't lose them. 
  • Sometimes, sequins just have to be bought. I desperately want a sequin jacket. Then, maybe, I'll be cool. 
And that, my dear readers, is my part one of some on clothes, accessories, and what I have the nerve to call fashion. 


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

I get fit! Part three: I go swimming!

Swimming has been a constant in my life since my dad threw me in the local pool at the age of three. My childhood years were spent doing lengths; I literally spent every weekend swimming for a couple of hours. Naturally, myself and my siblings progressed onto to competitive swimming, except when I didn't. At the age of eleven, I decided swimming wasn't for me, much less training several times a week. After several rows, my parents accepted that and while my brother and sister won medals, I sat on the internet.
Would I be writing my "I get fit" blog had I kept up the swimming? Probably. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I love food far too much to be thin. A life without saturated fat makes me sad. I mean, I just ate a giant plate of goulash (I might even post the recipe. Hmmmm.) while writing this post. No amount of training would make me look like Kate Moss, and it doesn't really bother me. Much.

My role model for the past eight years.

Anyway, I've been working at the whole getting fit thing for a while now. I'm eating a lot healthier than I used to, I've been doing loads more exercise and I am sloooooooooowly seeing improvements i.e. I look like a living human being these days. The best thing I've found has been swimming!

I go swimming in my local pool, and my first go at it (in about two years) was horrific. I flailed up and down the pool for ten minutes or so, gasping after a mere five lengths. I managed to choke out a further five before I quit, promising that I'd build it up and bemoaning that I hadn't swam in two years. Funnily enough, I kept my promise - I've gone swimming five or six times since and this morning I swam thirty lengths, with the help of my wonderfully encouraging younger brother. I was so proud of myself, goddammit. Swimming is something that -  prior to the contests, the lengths and the rows - I really loved. I still do - it's a method of exercise I actually feel comfortable with, which means a lot when one's trying to get fit.

A lot of people my age refuse to swim, for fear of looking silly in a one piece. This is something that riles me no end, because once you get over that: swimming is fun, easy and absolutely fantastic for your body. Yeah, I'm still more manatee than model, but I don't mind. The lovely thing about a swimming pool is that people will always look worse in a swimsuit than you - they don't give a shit, why should I? It's all about body positivity and health, to me. Anyone who's laughing at my body needs to re-evaulte their life choices, and as long as I hold on to that mentality it's grand to swim. My thighs bump, my swimsuit is a bit dodgy, but I'm in the pool, thrashing around trying to change it. I'm not Superwoman, it's hard to deal with that, especially when guys from my year are hanging around. It's fine once you get used to it, and I'm absolutely loving swimming. 

Fitness as of now:

I'm finally starting to notice my body shaking itself up. I think I deserve a new swimsuit, a la this lovely picture via Frances' pinterest: 

Retro swimsuits

Now if only we had the weather for it...

Monday, July 16, 2012

Elliott Smith - Needle in the Hay

Ever come across a perfect, achingly sad song? They're rare things. Most songs have a tinge of sadness to them - it's much easy to write melancholy music. But when you do stumblr across this kind of song, it's hard to get away from them. Some of my favourite songs are very sad, but they make me happy because they're just...well, gorgeous. This song is one such perfect song, one I can't stop listening to since I discovered it via The Royal Tenenbaums last week. The simple guitar, the fact that I have no idea what Elliot Smith is saying, the end. Love it. 
Enjoy x

Friday, July 13, 2012

Les cartes.

Greetings, islanders. I write to you from the wonderful French west coast, where I have spent the past week. It's all been sun, sand, sea and, er, Breaking Bad until today. The weather has taken a turn for the Irish and it's been lashing since 6am. I woke up this morning to raindrops slamming off the roof, sounding like thunder. Not one for the sun, I don't mind too much, but my mum and my sister are distraught, particularly Eimear. She came here, it seems, for one reason only: to tan. Hilariously enough, my brother has tanned, but not her. I have freckled terribly and chunks of my shoulders are considerably pinker than others. My main gripe with the holiday has been the fact that I can't sleep - thank American Psycho and tin rooves for that.
Rain, rain, go away, you're ruining my sleeping pattern.

Unlike many things, La Palymre is considerably less fun when wet. My family and I have spent the afternoon in our mobile home, eating crackers and coaxing the shitty wifi to work. Shockingly, it's not that much fun in a mobile home, particularly when there are five people in it. Two of which are over six feet tall. Anyway, Enda's and my solution to the boredom was a deck of cards. Cards on holiday seem to be a quintessentially Irish thing. To me, it conjours up images of a Father Ted-style caravan holiday, with seven kids yelling snap at each other while the parents do shots of whiskey and make ham sandwiches. My mum spent her childhood holidays playing cards together because it was too wet to do much else, in Galway, Cork, Kerry and Wexford. Thirty years later, history is repeating itself - Enda and I spent a good hour playing twenty-fives. We played five or six games, one of which I managed to win.

The problem with me and cards is that my brain is...just...not...that logical. It's okay for social logic ("YOU CAN'T JUST SHIFT SOMEONE ELSES FELLA, GODDAMN!" etc.) but when it comes to any kind of numerical logic, I really, really fail at it. Of five. Maybe Enda has a gift for these things, I don't know. It was pretty embarrassing to lose that badly to a 14 year old, though.

It got me thinking about ~the simple things~. I've got a laptop with a bunch of movies on it with me, but it was just as enjoyable to play with a few bits of paper with Enda. I'm not remotely patriotic, but maybe the rain brings out the, eh, Irishness in some people. Or maybe I was just sick of the laptop. Either way, cards are great. I can't say I understand their logic (or even half understand it) but it beats walking on a beach in the rain by several country miles.

A bientot.

Friday, June 29, 2012

I get fit! part two: I do step and tone classes!

So I'm writing this on a Friday evening, almost a full week after my first get fit class. How did I find it? Well, I'm still alive, and my legs are slowly returning to their normal size and temperature. I'm going again on Monday and I hope to survive, but I can't promise anything. Here's what happened:

On Monday evening, my younger sister and self-appointed personal trainer asked me to tag along to her night class. Apparently, one could burn off about 400 calories, it wasn't that hard and I'd feel good after it. Not wanting to muss up my new hair by swimming, I decided to give it a shot. It was...interesting, to say the least. I arrived into the class five minutes late, clutching my iPod and a bottle of water. Having been in the gym for a bit beforehand and then having to run up three flights of stairs, I was pink faced and panting. Ah, the joys of muscle wastage during the Leaving! 

The room itself was like a typical "dance studio" - bright pink, wooden and full of women. Big women in voluminous grey tracksuits. Little, almost women in short, tight tracksuit bottoms and purple vest tops. A few people around my age who looked either super fit or super uncomfortable, and a few mammy types as well. All in all, an eclectic bunch, but this didn't make the room any less intimidating. "Jesus Chriiiiiiiiiiist, Eimear, I'm going to kill you for this\!" I thought, particularly when I spotted the trainer, an impossibly toned, Lycra clad, tanned lady who was dragging steps around like they were pillows. Everyone else was ready to go: I lumbered to the only spot left in the room The one spot no one dares to seek out. 

 Front and center. 

Think about that for a moment. Your first exercise class in about five years, and you have a room full of lithe sixteen year olds and superfit ladies forced to watch your arse wobble in a bad, bad pair of tracksuit bottoms. Not exactly an easy intro to the exercise world. However, I decided that I was there now and I might as well give it a go. This "fuck it, be grand" attitude is something I really ought to try more of. The class started when the trainer switched on the peppy, poppy, loud music and yelled at us to warm up. "okay. Warms up. Stretching and jogging. I can do that!" I figured. Easy peasy. I wasn't that unfit. 

Hahahahahahaha. Laugh, dear reader, as you sit at your computer. Go on, enjoy my naivety. It turns out that "warm ups" these days are the same as the rest of it: HARD! I spent the first ten minutes sweaty and confused, kicking legs and moving arms at total random. I eventually caught on - the premise of step and tone is simple enough.  You are given a step, and you stand on it in a variety of ways. It's very fast, and sometimes arm swinging is involved. I was okay at it all provided it wasn't too complex: my lack of co-ordination caught me out more than my general lack of health. 

One particular move astounded me: side stepping onto the step, lunging and swinging your arms. WHAT?!?! I am not Michael Jackson! I am not Rihanna! I just came here to become more human shaped, not become a backup dancer! My god, it was more like dancing than the gym. I was red-faced, sweaty and gasping for breath after 15 minutes, and when my sister's friend fell and hurt her ankle, a sick part of me was grateful that I no longer had to move my poor legs. I spent the next 15 minutes stretching out, hoping I wouldn't hurt the next day. I didn't hurt the next day - I hurt for the next five. 

You know, reading back over this post makes it sound like I had an awful time: I didn't! I'll be honest, I felt great when I'd finished. Super proud of myself for surviving and all doped up on endorphin. The instructor, though a bit scary, was nice and generally let me do my own thing when I ended up using my left foot instead of my right. As I said, lack of co-ordination. Fun times. Next week, I will drag someone with me, though: it's a bit scary to do all alone. I'll also be arriving about 40 minutes early to grab that coveted step at the back...

Fitness as of now: 

I am the lady on the right. I miss chocolate. Lovin' the exercise thing though :)

I get fit! part one: an introduction

Evening, everyone. I'm back blogging again after a pretty rollercoaster week of finishing exams (!), nightclubbing, partying and jumping around like an idiot to Red Hot Chili Peppers. However, with my Much Anticipated Post LEaving Cert. Week Of Fun out of the way, I've found myself quite bereft of a...project. Sure, I have stuff to do. My CDs need sorting, my room is a mess, my CAO, etc. etc. But this summer I'd like to have a big focus. Something to work on - and for the first time in a loooooooong time, it's not education related. Quite the opposite for me: instead of sitting at a desk, munching toast, I am getting fit.
Le gasp!

Yeah, I've decided that this summer, as opposed to trying to lose weight or drop a dress size, I'm going to be able to run by August. I want to be able to go to the gym without looking like Tomato Lady. Yes, I'm hoping I can shed a subtle 20lbs on my way, but it's not my main goal. So, first up on the plan: exercise. Something I've always had a little bit of a love-hate relationship with. No kidding, there are home videos of me whining about having to go outside to walk around. I'm about three. Yet I have every intention of changing that. I can swim, I can walk for miles and I want to be able to dance without looking like a total weirdo. 

What's all this got to do with my blog? Why am I blogging about it? What the hell is the point, Áine? It's simple really: I've tried diets and junk before and they have never worked out too well. I suspect that if people read my posts (or comment...! God forgive me but I love a good comment) I'll be super motivated and energetic. Won't that be nice? I hope so. That's what I envision the posts to be. Here's what they won't be: 

  • "Thinspiration". God, I fucking hate that word. I hate the whole world of ABC diets, calorie counting and this idea that thighs touching means that you're as sexy as the aliens from Alien. No. This will not fly with me. 
  • Boring. I plan to write about my plans to get fit in a humorous way more than anything. Laughing at myself with others is something I'm good at, plus I have a feeling there will be some pretty funny incidents involving me and sport! I'm never going to be an Olympic athelete or a Baywatch type, so I might as well try and get a few giggles out of my tracksuit escapades.
  • Obsessive. Don't expect me to blog about exercise 24/7. Now that my exams are finished, I have a zillion and one ideas for stuff to write about, from short stories to blogs to (hopefully!) a film script. I'm not going to write about exercising unless something cool or funny happens.
So that's my plan for Summer 2012. Get fit. How? Well, I haven't a bloody clue to be honest. Walking, step and tone classes, swimming and yoga, if I can find classes. Wish me luck!

About to go "running". Hair trussed up and all! 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Paddy K and the Leaving.

I wrote this around Christmas time and for some reason it stayed stagnant in my drafts. I don't know why. I think it's quite a nice post. In the spirit of today being my second last day as a Leaving Cert. student, I think I'll post it. I promise stuff that isn't about exams as soon as I finish!

We studied Patrick Kavanagh in English class in sixth year, and while I wasn't enchanted with him like I was with Heaney or Rich, I did love the poem "Advent". In the poem, he talks about self-denial and other lovely Catholic ideas (no), but he does open with this charming and wise couplet:

"We have tested and tasted too much, lover/Through a chink through wide, there comes in no wonder"

When we did this poem in class, racist jokes were made, but that's not the point. I hate the idea of Catholic guilt but Kavanagh was onto something here. A chink too wide, comes in no wonder. Life gets very dull and monotonous very quickly if you're exposed to the crazy stuff all the time. Take this school year: Leaving Certificate year. The chink has become too wide, forced open by Home Economics notes, maths equations and Irish essays. Nothing I learn surprises me or interests me because the chink has been blown open, creating a huge chasm which I have to fill with really boring knowledge, like the Modh Conniollach and Simpson's Rule.

I tried to cram it all into my head (well, more or less. Thank you Biology.) and thus, there was  no room for wonder this year thanks to the unwieldy behemoth of the Leaving. I needed big things - a week off school, a party, way too much blue WKD - to cancel out the relentless slog of this year. Unfortunately, that sort of thing was thin on the ground, particularly when I got used to the Blue WKD. The little things that make me happy - or used to - no longer do so. Which is a bummer, because I used to be the sort of person who loved little things. A free class used to mean chatting and not cramming. A clean room used to matter because I got to stay in there. A phonecall used to make me happy, instead of an excuse to bitch and moan about the breadth of the History course. Little things are now met with a kind of "okay...great..." radiating from my very being.

Unless you count the wonder of a new refill pad or finding your purple biro after a three month absence. Or actually being able to do my maths homework - this happened last week, and hasn't since October. Or a particularly funny history class. A good speaker for Religion. No study on a weekday. Maybe the little things that make me happy haven't vanished, they've just...shifted slightly. Changed. School-related little things for a school related life. I miss normality, though. That might sound self pitying and over dramatic, but life hasn't been normal this year, not with friends telling me just how close exams are on a regular basis. Not with more rows chez-moi than ever before. But I guess I can't complain, considering how near the end I am. I'll probably look back on these posts from my wonder-filled life and wonder what the hell I'm on about.

Or at least that was the case. As of writing, it's the 19th June, and my summer holidays are just around the corner. Life has a funny way or surprising you - I looked at that paragraph up there, nose wrinkled, and went "really? REALLY, Áine? Life was that bad, was it? Grow up!" but the fact is that it sucked. I couldn't see the little things because the big things (aka exams) took over my life. With this sage knowledge, I look forward to a summer filled with little things that make a big difference. Big things have small beginnings, to quote Prometheus. But that's another blogpost.

Maybe the trick with wonder is to look for it. Maybe I have to stop passively noticing and start working at happiness. Go out and find things to marvel at. Have adventures. Through a chink through wide there comes in no wonder - but through a chink too narrow there comes in none, either. In lieu of that, here is my list of small things that made me happy throughout the last year: 
  • Phonecalls with David.
  • Going to the gym.
  • Lemon traybake.
  • Zoe's baking.
  • Red and cream spotted underwear sets.
  • White Apple earphones.
  • The Hunger Games.
  • Swimming.
  • Doctor Who.
  • Sunlight freckling my face at the bus stop.
  • Going without a jacket.
  • New friends.
  • Seamus Heaney's love poetry.
  • Writing something really good in class.
  • The Big Lebowski.
  • Sunday evenings in my granny's house.
  • Babysitting a three year old.
  • Long hair.
  • Rum.
  • My history research project. That was fun.
  • iPhones.
  • Sporadic blogging.
  • Caitlin Moran's twitter.
  • Twitter in general, and my little bunch of LC themed followers. 
And above all...
  • Knowing that someday soon, the Leaving will be over. And real life cthe day after tomorrow at 12.30pm.
  • Just around the corner.

Have some LCD Soundsystem. Party music.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

I got 99 Problems, and the CAO is all of them.

Motivational LC music of the day. 
Ten down, one to go. Seven good exams and three awful ones. One particularly lovely History paper.  All that stands between me and the best of summers is Agricultural Science at 9.30am on Thursday. Then I shall be free. Free to dance, to drink, to have adventures...and to panic about colleges, courses and points. Yes, I am just that lame. I have every intention of having an amazing summer, don't get me wrong...but it's going to stay in the back of my mind, I can tell. Or maybe that's the hangover talking, but I digress. Here's why.
For a start, as my CAO stands, I have three 500+ points courses at the top. All in Trinity (it's easy to get to being my main reason to want to go. That and - come on - it's pretty.) and all involving English, History, Politics or Sociology. So far, so groovy. Yet there's a problem. I've done 10/11 exams now - and I don't think I got the points for any of these courses. History and Sociology maybe - it's 505 - but I can't be sure, particularly with the GODDAMNED MOTHERFUCKING POINTS INFLATION we have to deal with. So yeah, I'm in a little bit of a points pickle, and like all things, I find them easier to deal with when they're written in size 14 Times New Roman. Also when they are bullet pointed.

  • My fourth choice is Galway to do Human Rights and Arts - amazing, right? Probably my dream course. Human Rights, History, English and something else. Something silly, like Greek or Philosophy. Lovely stuff. The only catch is, you know...Galway. It's fierce far away. Three hours on a train and let's not get into the expense of living up there. Plus, I've got friends, family and a lovely boyfriend in the Pale. I'm not quite ready to give that up, to be honest. I'm only eighteen.
  • I'll be blunt: I am too lazy to trek to UCD, DCU or anywhere else that's not just a bus ride away. 6am starts? No thanks. I'd crack up.
  • I've wanted to go to Trinity since the age of six or so. It's so big and historic, it's always appealed to me. The points are just too damn high. Seriously. 535+  to do English and History? Not fair, Trinners. Not fair...I guess I'm just not a winner, huh?
The rest of my CAO is filled up with Arts courses and courses my parents would have a fit over - English, Media and Cultural Studies still sounds like a bant, but I don't see my parents paying two grand for that. I've never had to make such a huge decision before and it's been a source of terror since January. Terror and tears. I still have no idea what career I want - journalism, lecturing or maybe research - so I want to keep my degree as general as possible, as well as as near a city as possible. Oh well, maybe I'll shock myself and get 580 in August! Time will tell, I guess. Maybe I'll pull an A1 out of Ag. Science and all will be well. The only thing I'm certain about is how good a summer I'll have....provided it stops raining! 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

So, what's your damage?

So, I'm three days and four exams in. Home Economics over forever, maths paper one (algebra, calculus and graphs) and other such lovelies over forever too. In a manner of speaking, because I'm sure I'll be waking up in the middle of the night screaming the properties of sugar for the next month or two, but how and ever...

English One was a fantastic paper. I hate to sound lame, but I almost enjoyed it - I did a persuasive speech on the importance of literature and it was essentially a culmination of fourteen years of devouring books into a six page essay. If I don't get an A1, I'll be after the SEC's children. I love English paper I because it's almost creative - I just went in and had the bants, really, no study needed at all! Unfortunately, it quickly gave way to Home Economics, a subject I had spend hours despairing over all year. Did you know that Home Ec. has a 3% A1 rate? Well, guess what, I'm not part of that 2-3%. Such is life - I relied far too much on common knowledge, which will either cause me to do very well or fail. I really hope it's the former...
The strange thing about the first day was that it didn't feel like my Leaving Cert. English felt fun, like writing on a blog or for homework. Home Ec. didn't feel like an exam, mainly because the paper was damn stupid. Still, better than two rock hard papers to reduce me to tears, wha?

No, day two was the one for the rock-hard papers and, more crucially, the tears. English paper II. Can you imagine the feeling between being given that paper and opening it? If you can't, well it's similar to a certain scene in a certain blockbuster that's soundtracked by this:


Of course, when my lovely examiner uttered the dreaded "you can begin", I have never moved so fast. I looked at them for 30 seconds or so, but barely took in the Hamlet and Comparative questions. No, I was after the big'un: prescribed poetry, 50 marks. Would my lovely Heaney be up? Would Sylvia, who I'd done a good seven essays on be up? Would my watching of "Out Of The Marvellous" and reading of "The Bell Jar" be worth it? In short: no. Unless you're talking about the enjoyment I got from studying two great poets, it wasn't. No Plath. No Heaney. I gasped in the middle of the exam when I saw who was there:
Day 148 - 7th June 2012

In case you've never spoken to me for more than ten minutes before, Adrienne Rich was my favourite aspect of LC English. She also made me a femnist, which I'll write about someday, so obviously I was delighted to see her! My only issue with Rich is that I tend to run away with myself, but after an hour and a half and six pages, I had finished up LC English on a damn good Rich essay. Didn't stop me feeling awful for the rest of the country though....

Got my comeuppance in Maths yesterday, where I possibly scraped a C3. The paper was ridiculous - I still can't figure out some of the questions! Paper two won't bring my grade up either, but hey, what can you do...I've survived this far. I have six consecutive exams next week, which won't be fun, but then I'll be (almost) free to blog to my heart's content!

See you then :)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

It begins.

So, it's the night before the Leaving Cert. The hallowed night that I imagined would involve lots of crying, screaming, frantic Home Economics learning and chocolate. Save for two Lily O'Briens, none of this has come to fruition - weird, huh?
Like everyone else in the country, I'm opening English paper one tomorrow morning. I'm not too worried - English is one of my better subjects, and I have enough opinions to ensure that a personal essay or magazine article goes my way. I've even half planned one on sport, should the worst come to the worst! Like everybody, I'm dreading paper two, but I'm sure I'll surivive it. Home Economics is a different story. Two and three are big numbers for Home Ec. - the number of hours, the number of sections on the exam, and the percentages for A1s. Me being the kamikaze that I am, I'm going to try damn hard to be that 2/3 out of one hundred. How hard can it be? I've worked my ass off on Home Ec. so I'm just praying for a decent paper, along with a decent paper for everything else!
Speaking of prayer, at this stage I have a grand total of three sets of candles, four masses and a hell of a lot of prayers to various saints going for me, notably St. Jude and Joseph of Cupertino. St. Jude is the patron saint of hopeless cases - sincerely hoping that that was a joke! My parents and grandparents think otherwise, but to be honest, I'm on my own - Jesus can't help me now. Just my left handed, ergonomic pen. Fantastic! It's a very Irish thing to have prayers said for you, isn't it? Danielle has nine candles, I think: "one for each subject and two for luck." Ain't she a fortunate one?
Hopefully I'll get back to blogging in 16 short days once everything is over. I'm getting a little nervous watching the RTÉ report. It's all so real now. Fourteen years of study and bam, I have seven days to prove it. Sure, if all the years before me have survived it, so can I..

Good luck to everyone sitting papers tomorrow, both Junior and Leaving Cert. Destroy it. Enjoy it. Let the points roll!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Leaving Cert. lists

The world of Leaving Cert. multitasking is a very scary one. Right now, I'm writing a blog, watching The Simpsons and attempting to write up my History Research project, which is due this day week. All of this is being done through a haze of coughs and sniffles, as an infection has knocked me for six this week. I've been out for the whole week (typical - just after Easter!) but managed to do my Irish Oral...just. I now have two days to cram some French into my brain as well as catch up on all the work I've missed. Fun, eh?
I'm the kind of person who makes lists in an attempt to make things seem less scary. My phone is full of them, from work I need to do to songs I ought to download. It calms me down somehow, much like having a full pencilcase or a big, chunky ringbinder. Maybe I'm just a big lame. Anywho, earlier today I made a list of "key dates" between now and the magic June 21st. Seems terrifying, huh? But it's made me that little bit more motivated to see just how things flesh out. French and History on the same day, eh? I know where my loyalties lie, and it's not with the French.
Anywho, I'm posting the list here, partly so I know where it is and partly to have something to post. And I'll get to cross stuff off, and who doesn't love that? :)

  • March 28th: Agricultural Science project due
  • March 28th: LCVP portfolio due
  • April 18th: Irish Oral
  • April 23rd: French Oral
  • April 27th: History RSR due
  • May 2nd: LCVP exam
  • Week of May 2nd/3rd: Agricultural Science interview
  • June 6th: English Paper one/Home Economics.
  • June 7th: English paper two.
  • June 8th: Maths paper one.
  • June 11th: Maths paper two/Irish paper one
  • June 12th: Irish paper two/Biology.
  • June 13th: French/history.
  • June 21st: Agricultural Science.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Just dropped in.

Last night I put a bunch of famous movie music on my iPod - my dad's habit of buying CD's in airports has it's advantages. Amongst the usual suspects - that song from Pulp Fiction that's NOT Pump It by Black Eyed Peas, Lovefool by The Cardigans - there was a song that I recognized from one of my favourite films ever, The Big Lebowski. I'm not going to pretend I'm a film buff (except in my French oral, when "je suis un vraiment cinophile") but when I like a film, I really, really like it. I watch TBL roughly every three months and it never fails to make me giggle. Bits of it are undoubtedly strange, though - not least the usage of "fuckin' Nihilists, man!" every five minutes.

For you poor unfortunates who don't know, The Big Lebowski is a Coen Brothers film starring Jeff Bridges as The Dude, an unemployed, laid-back stoner type who gets into difficulty when the aforementioned nihilists steal his rug. Not a whole lot happens, but it's absolutely hilarious and incredibly quotable - it's like Mean Girls for stoners. Stop reading this damn blog and watch it, right now!


Now that you're back, here's the song I've been listening to non-stop since the CD was put on my iPod. No other song has got a look in. It's bizarre beyond belief, as a song. Written as a warning against LSD usage, it's used in, er, a drug scene in The Big Lebowski. It's also sung by Kenny Rodgers, the guy who sings The Gambler. What's not to love, really? Here it is in context (sort of) in the film.
Fuckin' nihilists, man.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Spoken words and crowbirds.

Hurling Crowbirds at Mockingbars - Buddy Wakefield

Since Adrienne Rich died last week, I've been reading quite a lot of her poetry online. This isn't exactly conducive to studying, but I've been sick to I guess that wasn't going to happen anyway. I really, really love her poetry, and there's probably a post all about her coming up soon. My interest has spread to a couple of other poets too, though. Shockingly enough, not all are on the Leaving Certificate English course, either, though Seamus Heaney is. But who doesn't love Seamus Heaney and his cute little love poems?! Like I said, I've been reading and watching a lot of poetry online of late, because hey, the internet is much more fun out loud. The lovely Dave introduced me to spoken word type stuff (namely the above video) and I think I'm in love. Though I can't make head nor tail of the whole spoken word vs. slam vs. Beat poetry thing. Give me time.

I wish I had the time to spend days and days watching and researching spoken word poetry on Youtube. Like I said, I've only seen bits and pieces. Earlier, I saw a brilliant piece called Homicidal Rainbow on Facebook and I decided I'd have a look again at poets out loud. Alas, all I found was a little bit of Allan Ginsberg (27 minutes long? The sixth year inside me is saying "noooooooooooo!") and then I went back to Adrienne Rich, who of course doesn't count as spoken word poetry. She's mad as a brush and the only poet I've ever read with the balls to use the word "clitoris" in a poem. That's off the point, though. The point is the magic of poetry, the way it can wrap around one's cerebral cortex for days and STILL mean something different a week later.

Unfortunately, poetry is one of those ways of writing that I can't really do. Not for want of trying, as some unfortunate friends and teachers have seen over the years. Can't really do it unless I'm extremely upset, and then it's just terrible. I'll admit that I'm good with words, but I'm not artistic or imaginative enough to create images with words like a poet can. I can knock out a decent essay, yeah, but when it comes to art from words I truly suck. I think that's why I like it so much. Spoken stuff is fantastic, and a lot of it beings back all my Bohemian city feels. But that's a story for another many feelings. Anyway, ...Mockingbars is one such poem. I don't know much about/by this guy, but this poem is incredible. Seriously. I'm not trying to be cool or hip or anything, it's just...insane. It's not even just the words, but the energy, the intensity and the emotion behind it all. I could watch it over and over and still hear new things in it every time.

What's funny about this poem - and about all poetry, I guess - is that we all see different things in it. Maybe it's due to a string of crappy realtionships, but his verses about losing someone - I quote a bit there - tear through me like a freakin' machete. He gets it so, so, right. The pain of it, and there's desperation, too, and the rage, the rage you can feel for being left, for trusting someone and having it wrecked, for feeling like this. Ultimately, neither Buddy nor myself could go on. There's one part -

"if you ever wanna know how it felt when ya left –

if ya ever wanna come inside –
just knock on the spot
where I finally pressed STOP
playing musical chairs with your exit signs."

Ohhhh, it kills me. Those last two lines. It's perfect and it reminds me of Trying To Talk With a Man, my favourite Adrienne Rich poem. Hell, my favourite poem. For much the same reasons - anger and sadness and ripping control away from someone you used to love. Emotion. That's what poetry is about at the end of the day, isn't it? Emotions? Maybe that's what I can't get on a page, for fear of feeling stupid or pretentious. Both of which I've achieved in this post, I think. Oh well.

In summation: I really love Adrienne Rich's poems, but then I really love all poems. And I'm going to write about Adrienne, poetry and FEMINISM!!!! a bit more soon. In the meantime, have a listen to this. It's pretty brilliant.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Journo 2k12?

So I was just reading this post (which is brilliant, thought provoking and made me nearly vomit with rage. My god, do I have opinions on the same issue, but umyeahok discusses it brilliantly and, not only that, but I'm too bloody tired to coherently analyse the causes and effects of the RAMPANT SEXISM in Ireland today. Ask me in June, and until then go and read umyeahok.) and it caught my eye that the writer is a journalism student. Obviously, she's an aspiring journalist and judging by that post is going the right way about it.
And that's when it hit me. Do I want to do Journalism next year?

There's a story behind this, I promise. Back in the glory days of third year, where a livejournal was considered cutting-edge, I wanted to be journalist. I longed for scribbles on a shorthand notepad. I longed to give opinions, write news and be someone. Make a difference, even only through a column about my life. So far, so peachy. I did a three week Journalism course back in Summer '09 and I loved it. I followed this up with not one, not two, but three work experiences in the field of Journalism. Apart from the fashion world (which still fills me with horror) I adore it. This, without doubt, was my calling in life. I wanted nothing more than to follow in the footsteps of Bob Woodward or (somewhat more realistically) Ian O'Doherty.

So what happened? Why am I staring at my CAO form and wondering if I'd actually like primary school teaching?* Well, to be short, I grew up. I met people who'd interviewed the Taoiseach at sixteen, been printed at fifteen and me? Well, I was in the Leinster Leader once. Okay, I get that we can't all be printed-at-fifteen whizz kids but the fact that I had done nothing gnawed away at me. Should I be sending work into newspapers? Should I be trying for more experience? Do I, a relatively quick-witted Kildare girl, really have what it takes to brave the big bad world of media? Somewhere in fifth year, I decided I didn't. I was too soft, too breakable: big bad interviewees would crush my fragile spirit! I went back to writing solely about Adrienne Rich and Ireland in the 1950's, and prayed that I'd eventually decide what I wanted.

Which brings us up to now. Now, I'm in my penultimate term of sixth year and as I said, my CAO #1 currently reads: TSM, English and History in Trinity College Dublin. Journalism features once on the form - which will no doubt me mixed up - at number 7. Now I'm wondering if I'm wasting my time and if that DIT course should be bumped up a few notches. Why? Well, to be honest, I am beginning to think (again) that I'd be well able for it. I can write - not to sound conceited - for Ireland and I'm damn good at it. I have opinions - some a bit weird, some the usual (DYK? Hitler was bad is still an opinion!) and I'm wondering if I'll have the chance to develop these when I'm studying medieval English and suchlike. It's all a bit scary.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Short story #1: Quite a Night for it

Just for something a bit different. For the Leaving Cert., students have to write a short story or a personal essay - as a bit of a history nerd, I decided to combine my two favourite things. I decided I'd post it up here to see if people like it. It's called "Quite A Night For It" and I wrote it back sometime in September. I love short story writing, but I'm not brilliant at it...I'll work on it post-Leaving, much like everything else in my life! Anyway, here's my story, let know what you think :)

London, 1941

The familiar klaxon wait comes late, but when I hear it I feel the remnants of my meagre supper force their way up my throat. I want to hide beneath the table and cry like a child, but that’s more than enough to earn me a shake and a slap from Mother. Besides, in these times we do not think – only run. I fetch my bunker bag from beneath the stairs and I feel a pang for the tiny sack left behind in the dusty little room. The bag contains the standard: gas mask, a light, an identity card...and a bettered, worn teddy bear. He brought that bear everywhere with him, and in the end, the bear was safer than he was...

But I mustn’t lose my concentration now, and I fight the flashes of memory. The sirens are still screaming but I hear my mother, shrill above the din: “Amelia! It’s time! NOW!” The panic in her voice is obvious, and I know that she, too, fears that we will die here. In this damp, paisley patterned excuse for a home that we’ve lived in since our house was bombed to bits a few months back. A real home, filled with memories as warm and rich as a cake made with real sugar. A home of red brocks, smiles, bedtime stories and fearing nothing but the apparently-haunted apple tree in the garden. I instinctively smile at the memories of Victor and I taking turns to try and climb the apple tree. We were told that a ghost lived at the very top of it, and almost every day my cherubic, red-haired brother would demand that he and I climb higher to find her. We never did, of course, but we shared apples from the tree – we created a whole world up there, he and I.

A whole world that now lies rotting in ashes, much like the smiling red- haired boy. His body was never recovered, so deep in the remains of 34 Cherrywood Road lies my little brother. And here Mother, Father and I remain, shell shocked ghosts of ourselves. I was at a friend’s the night of the bombing, and Mother and Father won’t speak of what happened that night. And it’s hardly the time to ask, running through the tiny garden towards our houses’ bunker. I have time only to take a lungful of smoggy London air before I’m being pushed down, down, down...

After Victor died, I woke up screaming every night, seeing him trapped beneath layers of debris, alive, gasping for air. Not exactly conducive to a weekly stint in a dank little space beneath the ground, but what choice do I have? The steps down to the bunker seem endless, the crashing sirens keeping twisted time with our footsteps. I hear Father mutter “again...this is the third time this you think that...?” but Mother immediately shushes him, with a meaningful glance at me. Ignoring this strange conversation, I go down deeper towards the bunkers. The sirens are quieter now, as they drive us deep below the ground, away from light and freedom and safety. I shiver – not only from cold, but because fear of the bunker pips fear of the Germans to the post for me. The thought of the tiny, narrow room beads my forehead with sweat.

Eventually – eventually – we unlock the narrow grey door and floor the shelter with light. I see something move about in the gloom, but luckily it’s only a mouse and my scream is drowned out by the Vicar crashing in. Round-faced and booming, Reverend Winters is the perfect sort of man to have in a crisis. “Evening, folks! Quite a night for it, quite a night!” His unflappable manner affects us all and by the time he and his wife have settled in, I feel almost calm. He begins to chat quietly to Mother, giving me time to take in my surroundings. Steel beams reinforce the stone ceiling and the place has a musty, unkempt smell. Something drips in a corner and the hanging gas masks give the place an eerie feel, their empty eyes staring into the blackness. It’s the sort of place meant for sadness and fear – it’s completely without happy memories. It’s also impossibly small and I begin to fidget uncomfortably, feeling as though the walls are closing in on me. One...two...breathe in. I stare at the floor, feeling sure that the rooms boundaries creep closer. Three...four...breathe out. Stiff upper lip. Keep calm and carry on. It’s easy to be strong, proud and British above ground, but deep in this underground place, considerably less so. My stomach tightens and again. Breathe slowly to try and calm in...

And that’s when the first bomb hits. It resonates deep in my body, my bones. It threatens to shake the teeth from my skull. The bunker shudders, but only dust falls from the ceiling. The five of us creep closer together, powerless against the Nazi monsters in their giant places, fighting the unknown, unseen war above our heads. I’m terrified. My legs cramp. Blood rushes to my head and I fully expect the ceiling to open up, the sky raining death.

Suddenly, the lights go out. Total darkness reigns and I lose myself to panic. I leap Father’s arms and scramble towards the door, uncaring about the outside chaos. I try to scream but it lodges in my throat and I emit only a strangled sob. I’m crying, tears running down my cheeks as I pound the door. “We’ve...we’ve g-got to get out!” I choke, slamming against the walls uselessly – if they can hold out against the rage outside, what chance do I stand? But I need to get out. “We’ll be trapped. Trapped like Victor, nothing but ashes. Don’t you see? We’ll all die here! Buried alive!” I don’t realize that I’ve spoken aloud until I see the shocked, uncomfortable looks on my parent’s faces. Nothing about hysterical teenagers in their guides to The War, I suppose.

Again, the room is shaken by a blow that brings cans from the shelves and drowns out my screams. I need to run. To hide. The rooms quaking like it’s going to collapse around us and I know that now, I am not alone in my screaming. A drawn out vision of death flashes before my eyes as the bunker rattles. For a few minutes – or hours? – I know nothing but the screams of the Luftwaffe planes but I can imagine the chaos outside all too well. People, running and screaming, becoming balls of flame. Bodies littering the street. Fire and death at every turn. In my daze I hear a muttered “Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name...” and we all join in, even though my family aren’t religious. Perhaps God is our only way out of this. We sit together, chanting every prayer we know for what feels like hours, feeling the bombs explode around us, buried beneath it all.

Eventually the all-clear sounds and it’s suddenly eerily silent. I feel as though I’m in a tomb, as though that this London street has surely a graveyard for thousands, and though Mother is sobbing softly with relief and Rev. Winter’s is thanking God for keeping us safe, I can hear only one thing. The screams of the German fire bombers ring in my ears with each step we take towards the shattered street, mingling with what I am sure are the moans of the dying above. Surely Mother, Father, even the Winters’ must know this. The shocking, unadorned truth: we aren’t safe, not really. We’ll leave this unkempt, unloved prison underground safe and unharmed, yes – but what of above?

Sickening images thunder through my head: people running and screaming, flash ablaze, crying out for loved ones. Houses lying in ruin, crippled by Nazi shells. Bodies of those who didn’t get to a shelter in time littering the streets maimed and burned. Everywhere we’ll turn, we’ll be followed by carnage – and yet, that won’t be the worst part. London will become a graveyard again and again until this War is won. Mr. Churchill won’t stop, Hitler certainly won’t stop and I reel backwards as I realize the truth: nothing in the world can make me feel safe again. The gas mask’s faces seem to be teasing me “as if you can feel safe again after this. As if anyone can feel safe again after this, after the bombs. We can pretend, of course. We can adapt, repatch, and keep fighting for victory and for Britain. But I realize in that moment, deep underground, that there’s no real victory, no real leaving. That I’ll never leave this dark, dusty cellar, cowering powerlessly, never truly escaping the horror of the bombs.