Thursday, August 8, 2013

Why can't I just have a dance?: collegetimes and misogyny

Two things that are very, very important to the Irish student are nightclubbing and social media. No matter how big a wallflower you are, odds are at some point of your degree you'll find yourself in a darkened, sweaty box, knocking back rum and Coke and avoiding creepy boys. Social media drives the Dublin nightclub scene, giving away "guestlist" spots to fans and generally whipping up a bizz for a place.Clicking "attending", going out and cringing over the photos the next morning is something of a ritual for many Irish students, whether they like it or not. Nightclubs are blurring the lines between fun and scary, as proved by a article posted yesterday. The article itself - which I could write a thousand words condemning - not only showed rape culture and patriarchy at work, but also showed the deep-rooted problems with Ireland's ~club culture~. My feminist hackles are up, my lipstick (Smash The Patriarchy #2) is on, and I am ready to rant. What is wrong with Irish nightclubs - and more to the point, Irish students?

It's difficult to decipher what came first: sexist students or sexist promotional companies. Last year, we all discovered Midnight Promotions' dirty doings - as someone on Twitter put it, "degrading women as a marketing ploy". Midnight have been involved in a "knickers for liquor" debacle, the infamous "if you're  not up for it, don't cum" posters and, most recently, a night called "TIT Thursdays." The night promised guestlist spots to women who posted their breasts on their (public) Facebook page - to be rated by other members. TIT was quickly taken down after it was picked up by Twitter this morning, but the shock waves remain. Furthermore, it transpired that was run by Midnight - more misogyny for money. The borderline-rape-how-to article has since been pulled by the site - and an apology issued - but you can still read what it's plagiarized from here and the apology seems half-assed at best. To paraphrase Amanda Palmer:

 "It's 2013, it's supposed to be the future...what happened?"

Hate-filled articles and posters are one thing, but this doesn't turn 20something males into rapists. Just because an article uses phrases like "[a man's] target/prey" doesn't mean that he'll act on them. Surely I think better of men than that? Of course I do - I don't suspect every single guy I know of being a rapist. That is...a little extreme, at best. However, when we enter a nighclub, we enter a world of smoke and mirrors, where suddenly the language of misogyny translates into action. Our culture makes the black-and-white issue of consent into 50 Shades of Grey - and no matter how beingn these may seem, rape culture is rape culture. Over the past few years, I've been followed around clubs, insulted, yelled at, lied about having a boyfriend (numerous times - food for thought: the only thing that will prevent a man coveting a woman is the knowledge that another man has coveted them, not their consent), been felt up despite protest and - perhaps most memorably - being hit with the amazing line "want to come back to mine and make me a sandwich?" It's these incidents  that make me worry about articles like the CT one being published. The fact that women put up with this on a night out shows how deeply the problem runs. We almost expect to be mistreated in a nightclub, because that's How It's Always Been.The systematic slapping of arses, drunken shifts, one night stands and spiking of drinks are routine in nightclubs in Dublin City Centre - it's just part and parcel of a night out.

So what on earth are we to do about a way of having fun (YES. AT THE ROOT OF IT ALL, WOMEN ARE SUPPOSED TO HAVE FUN AT A CLUB, REMEMBER?) that perpetuates "a system...which privileges, inter alia, the interests of boys and men over the bodily integrity, autonomy, and dignity of girls and women. It is subtle, insidious, and never more dangerous than when women passionately deny that they themselves are engaging in it" ? Particaurly when it's there, right in our faces, when we want to go out for a dance? It's often just not practical to scream "YOU'RE PERPETUATING THE PATRIARCHY" at some scumbag in Dicey's, though it often does the trick. The terrifying truth is that I'm not sure what we, as bra-burning, man-hating feminists, can do other than give out on Twitter.  Because this goes so much deeper than a single article or even a promotional company - and it scares the living daylights out of me. So I'll keep shouting and writing and maybe, just maybe, we'll see a nightclub where women "shyly drinking their vodka cranberry" won't stand around waiting to pounced on by your local misogynistic scumbag. 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Review - Amanda Palmer, The Academy and EVERYWHERE

When you attend three concerts in ten days there's a definite period of "burnout", where the idea of standing in a crowded area under the hot sun has absolutely zero appeal. After two massive Phoenix Park gigs last week, I had a touch of the gig blues. And then, of course, I went to see Amanda Palmer, ferocious punk-cabaret artist and Kickstarter pioneer. Amongst other things.

In typical Palmer fashion, the singer began her gig not at 7pm but at 3, outside The Academy, armed with homous, orange juice and a ukelele. The singer's "ninja gig" took place beside The Hags With the Bags on Liffey Street, giving newcomers to her concerts a taste of what was in store. A chirpy beginning from support band Bitter Ruin quickly gave way to the feminist-pop-punk anthem, Map of Tasmania. As the hundred-strong crowd belted out the chorus of "Oh. My. God. Fuck it!" stragglers began to wonder what on earth was going on - Palmer is certainly a spectacle. Standing on the statue armed with only a ukelele, she powered through a quick little setlist that served to pique the interest of newcomers and send die-hards into a spiral of excitement.

Things I am not: a photographer. Pic one of two I took...
Come seven pm, it was time for the support acts - two of which were made up of the Grand Theft Orchestra, Palmer's backing band. Jherek Bishoff and The Simple Pleasure are quirky, classical and discoish all at once - both sets are storming. The real magic occurs when the truly bonkers Palmer takes to the stage, again armed with only her ukelele, and plays a totally unrehearsed, banter-filled set of covers and classics. NWA feature, as do The Beatles and (once again) the infamous Map of Tasmania. Things crank up a notch when her vassist, guitarist and, er, string quartet take to the stage, and Palmer ploughs through a stream of punky, shiny, catchy numbers from her last two albums, "Theatre is Evil" and "Who Killed Amanda Palmer?". Highlights include "Lost", a bouncy song about loss and love, dedicated to a crowd member who recently lost her mother. It's an amazing tune - and even more amazing that Palmer dedicated it to what most artists would look upon as an anonymous fan. Shout out also to Dresden Dolls classic "Missed Me" - sung, in a terrifying, shrieky, cabaret way - while crowdsurfing around the Academy.

Love her or hate her, Palmer is an astonishing live act. I've never seen a set less polished - it seems as though she's letting the crowd dictate what happens. The band chat, and Amanda takes a toilet break halfway through the set. That's not to say the set wasn't electric - just downright bonkers. Songs like "The Killing Type" and "The Bed Song" really benefit from the string quartet, but her rockier songs suffer a little. That goes unnoticed, however, because Palmer is just astonishing live. The raw power of the woman as a performer is enough to take the crowd's breath away, all on her own. Her stories, giggles and intensity totally captivated the crowd, and when she played a new (and remarkably intense) song, you could have heard a pin drop in the Academy.

Palmer is rapidly becoming known for her contreversies, crowdfunding and...well everything but her music. Her set of half covers ("no one can cover Tom Waits!"), covers and stormers from her new album prove that this woman is first and foremost a musician, one that I was privileged to see not once, but twice, in one day.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Legs and the patriarchy

Now that it's what passes for summer, it seems as though you can’t open a magazine without seeing an article about “beach bodies”, “summer pins” and whatnot. I have merrily ignored such articles for the last twenty summers (I said that mostly for dramatic effect. The first eight years don’t really count) but for some reason, this time around I felt a strange guilt creeping in. Not so much regarding the “beach body” – show me a diet that can get rid of my stomach in ten days flat, and I’ll show you a diet that will have me hospitalised – but definitely my legs. I’m not normally self-conscious about them, but then again, they’re usually covered up by gloriously thick black tights. However, I’m terrible in the heat, so the less clothes the better, really. I’d prefer to look ridiculous than to overheat. Or even worse, have to spend our rare lovely days curled up in a pair of thick black tights, overheating.

Gramatically incorrect
Without sounding like a moany self-deprecator, my legs are potentially the worst part of me. I can recognise that without feeling bad about it, but lately I’ve been analysing ‘em and wondering just what I can do to make them look better. I blame the heat, but also the sheer volume of legs that have been on show lately. Skinny legs, fat legs, tanned to perfection. Legs riddled with cellulite shoved into tiny denim shorts. One particular leg that it looked like a shark had attacked. Tattooed legs. Most of all, pale legs – though none, I would argue, so pale as mine. I am milk-bottle. I am computer tan. If you showed a coroner my legs, he’d probably tag me and notify my family. I am paler than pale, scarred with shaving bumps and lumps, and plagued by weird spots that refuse to go away no matter how much I moisturise. Which brings me (sort of) to my next issue.
Shaving is a big deal. Caitlin Moran, somewhat memorably, wrote about it in “How To Be A Woman” (“Take your furry minge to Dublin, I say!”) and it’s something that feminists get slightly up in arms about. To shave or not to shave, that is the question.  Nobody can deny that it’s an absolute bitch to have to do. No matter how expensive my razors are, I always end up lacerated in several places. What’s more, some outcrops of hair simply refuse to be mown down, and I notice them in the middle of Stephen’s Green six hours later. “Damn you, hair!” I think, wondering if Sellotape would take them off. My leg hair is super dark, so believe me, you notice it. But back to feminism…I’ve actually been asked why I shave my legs if I’m a feminist, if you can believe it. I do it because I want to. Because right now, my slightly bleedy legs feel like dolphins.  Who doesn’t want that?! If you don’t, more power to you, you’re not spending a fiver on razors every six weeks.
“But…Áine. Your legs don’t look that much better shaved. They’re still bumpy and now they’ve got cuts all over them!” This brings me to my final argument, the argument that started the blog post: I don’t really care. The previously mentioned magazines very much typify the “typical” woman, assuming she wants beautifully tanned, toned legs. Assuming she wouldn’t look like two-tone chocolate spread if she did use tan. Or worse, freckled.  Because women’s magazines can be such a useful tool for the patriarchy, it’sbetter to ignore them, I find. Newsflash, kids: if anything is telling a woman how her body should be (browner, skinner, more muscular, blonder, sexier…you get the picture) it’s an instrument of the patriarchy, which is there, of course, to PUT US ALL INTO OUR PLACES AS WOMEN. “Woman should look like this!” grunts the patriarchy. “Woman no look like this. This no reachable standard for woman. But trying to look like this keep woman busy and stop her getting into trouble. Fake tan and 5:2 diet keep woman quiet”. It bloody worked, too.

So, I propose a backlash – a proper one.  It is this: we stop buying fake tan. We stop shaving. We let our gorgeous – genuinely, because no matter how pale, freckly, scarred or fat your are, you are inherently sexy – women’s bodies run free. God knows I do. My forays into fake tan have been scary for most, and 9/10 times my legs are not a bottlenose dolphin, but a forest. But when I do shave or tan, or do anything to change my beautiful self, I do it for myself. My legs are mine, in all their awful glory,and I love them. I’m going to show them off, tan-free and just a little bit unevenly shaved. I haven’t done this for Heat! or Marie Claire, and I definitely haven’t done it for the Goddamn Sexist Marketing Campaigns. I’ve done it  because I like dolphins and because I can use my beautifully silky legs to entice men (and ladies) and then teach them all about smashing the patriarchy.

Friday, June 28, 2013

You're doing it wrong: sex negative/positive/neutral feminism and me.

I don't know if it's just my addled brain or the week that's been in it, but it seems that feminism is everywhere lately. I can't log into Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr without being bombarded with images, articles and news reports on feminist issues, be it Youth Defence's awful stunt yesterday, Wendy Davis' heroics in Texas or something as simple as a lad mag issue. Is it just me or is the idea of feminism hotting up again? Brilliant, I crow! I welcome you all to the feminist party! Take off your shoes and have some wine. This is, after all, one of the most inclusive movements out there, right?

Or not.

I get that feminism is divided into lots of different factions, because it has to be. "Just as there is no one woman, there can be no one feminism", if you will. (I didn't say that - it was a quote I came across studying for my exams but it's a brilliant one) I'm cool with these factions - I don't have the same feminism needs as someone who is LGBT, or from another country - but when I read this article earlier today I couldn't help wondering just what these "feminists" were getting at. The article interviewed two "radical feminists", who go on to question consent and sex positive feminism. In an article that begins with "how two young feminists are using radical feminism to change the world", certain elements of the article seem just a little backward. It's no doubt an interesting read, but nonethless, parts of it rubbed me up the wrong way - so rather than tear the article apart (which, let's face it, I'm not clever enough to do) I'm just going to offer my two cents on bits and pieces of "radical" feminism that have bothered me for a while now.

First of all: yeah, we live in a hyper-sexualised society. The recent outrage at Kraft's at for Philidelphia shows that the hyper-sexualisation doesn't exactly go both ways: by and large, it's women who are presented as sex objects, not men. Things like capitalism are intertwined with this issue and that's a bloody problem. The portrayal of women in the media is one of those things I can't talk about without choking on my own-rage tears, unable to construct a proper argument. It's something that angers me to the point of incoherency. While I do see that society's ideals of women need to change, I don't think "sex negativity" is the way to do it.

A small history lesson: "sex-negative" feminism sprang up in the 1970's when a bunch of women decided porn was wrong. Fair enough. But it's other elements of it I dislike - Andrea Dworkin, for example, wrote a book (that I ought to read) called Intercourse, which kind of kicked off the sex-negative movement.

"Intercourse is the pure, sterile, formal expression of men's contempt for women," - from "Intercourse"

From ideas like this, the idea of "consent" arises. Consent is important: durr. But some feminists would argue that consent is meaningless in a patriarchal society, which to me, sounds like undermining women in a huge way. From what I can gather from SNF, it seems to be arguing that sex is...well, bad  for women. I think the TC quote was said in quite general terms, but it's still a dangerous thing to say . It's here my own life philosophy comes in: not your body? Not your problem. Consent is a thing between two people - yes, it's violated sometimes and that's horrific but I don't think that it's constantly undermined by the patriarchy. I try to keep the patriarchy out of my knickers in so far as possible.

" Even the notion of consent, considered by so many to be a simple matter, is problematic — in a patriarchal society where women’s agency is circumscribed by male supremacy, how meaningful is consent? These issues are purposefully obscured by sex-positive feminists who believe that sex is an inherent good and that to feel otherwise is somehow aberrant, abnormal, a position that should be remedied." - from Thought Catalog's interview 

However, my real problem with sex-negative feminism is how problematic it is to an young Irish woman such as myself. It's adding to the double-standard that women have regarding sex. I'm not pretending to be an expert on anything in this area - I'm nineteen, for Christ's sake, and I've only identified as a feminist for about two years! Nonetheless, however, this idea makes me uncomfortable. Not only are Irish women dealing with slut-shaming, vague Catholic guilt and all those general worries about having sex, we're dealing with dissention from a movement that's supposed to be inclusive and safe for women. I'm beginning to view the anti-sex brigade as akin to the anti-choice brigade - I believe that the option to  have sex should be there. Or to not have sex. No one will judge you for either choice, because guess what?

  • What you do with your body is no one's problem but your own
The notion that sex is anti-feminist and anti-women is bullshit. Sex is not in a vacuum; of course it's influenced by what goes on around us. But that doesn't mean it's up to someone with different beliefs to tell you what/what not to do. I'm not allowing rape by having sex. I'm not allowing the patriarchy to exist. If anything, by being open about sex and not allowing slut-shaming to happen around me, I'm helping (in a tiny, pathetic way) to dismantle it. From what i've seen, sex-negative feminism implies that women who have sex with men are somehow letting the side down. The whole thing smacks of keeping women down and conforming to someone else's standards - isn't that what feminism is trying to get rid of?

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I'm no expert. There's a lot of elements to Radical Feminism that I do not understand. But just a quick scroll through Tumblr's sex negative tag brings up some pretty worrying stuff.

In essence, I still feel that women's sexualities are trodden down - by both men and other women - on a day to day basis in various ways. It's being called a slut, posts on Facebook about how women should keep their legs closed, being told that hair isn't sexy, Youth Defence, hundreds of ads, airbrushing, having things shouted at you in the street, being told to stop talking about sex or the worst, scariest parts things - it's there, it's happening on a daily basis, and it's terrifying.  I am standing on a stool and shouting "I reject this!" because my sex life - and on that note, my body, my sexuality and my feelings - are not your problem. Just as yours isn't my problem.

Stop telling me what to do with my body, guys, you're acting like the patriarchy.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Going with your...not-gut.

There are numerous reasons why I didn't really blog for the last few months - largely because I was too busy trying to wrap my head around college. Anyone who tells you that it's easy to settle in in your first year is a liar: with the Leaving Cert., you have set goals, boxes to tick and a points system that is a simple as it is insufferable. it's all very Not so much. I spent most of the last term sleeping 'til midday and eating ridiculously overpriced pastries in cafés on Dawson Street. But such is life, onwards and upwards - if I had any time to do it, it was first year.  Or so I thought. Then - BAM - suddenly my last essays were handed in and exams...well, they were happening. I was convinced "I wouldn't know enough" --  or ANYTHING. That, as many of you very well know, is not a good feeling. The stress levels were sky high - so high that I couldn't study, really. Just eat chocolate-covered nuts, cry and sit in the library, trying to convince my hardworking friends to take a study break. Eventually I got over this - because that feminist literary theory ain't gon' learn itself - but it was difficult, and when I arrived in the RDS in May I couldn't have felt less ready.

The exams came and went: so it goes. I finished up after ten days and was left with nothing but a sore hand and a niggling feeling that I hadn't done quite as badly as I expected. Of course, as the days turned into weeks, I began to worry. Privately, I assumed the worst but hoped for the best. Trusting my own judgement led me down a somewhat negative path - and that's the point of my convoluted (and slightly gloating) story about my exams. Sometimes you shouldn't trust your own judgement.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying you should go home with the creepy, bearded guy making slightly off-colour jokes in a loud voice. I'm not saying you should eat that yoghurt that is ten days out of date. For the love of god, step away from the yogurt/creepy bearded guy! No, what I'm saying is based on the principle of human error: sometimes, we're wrong. In fact, I'd wager that 70% of the time we are wrong. And that's okay - we can't always make the right decision. Mentally, I mean. I make the wrong decisions all the time, but what if sometimes what we rely on -- our inner decision-maker, that weird core of ourselves that tells us what to do even if we don't know why -- is wrong? That nagging feeling that just won't quit can turn out to be bullshit, as I found out!

I truly believed I was going to do crap in my exams. I had dreams about low 40s, about repeats and I'd pretty much resigned myself to a summer of study. This is not to say that I have a negative personality, or that I wanted to sound shocking come results. It really is a case that my gut instinct was wrong. It's happened before and it will happen again -- I got two 2:1s in my exams and I'm single. You win some, you lose some, huh? It just goes to show that sometimes instinct is wrong and that one's natural mentality - in my case, one that's maybe a little pessimistic - can get in the way of the reality of things. The reality of things being that, as far as Trinity College is concerned, I did not get good exam results as a fluke. I got them....

I just really wanted an excuse to use that .gif. I'm sorry.

I suppose what I want to get across here is that sometimes we can't always trust our heads - or indeed, that weird feeling in our stomachs. They do lead us astray from time to time - giving us notions, implying we're fatter, or more arrogant, or stupider than we really are. The long and short of it is - try and hope for the best, because you can't trust your head, sometimes. Pro-tip, though: always, always run if you feel the need to. Always.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Review: Kate Moss' delicious lipstick

I've blogged about how much I love makeup before, but I'm a bit apprehensive about actually doing a "beauty blog" style review. For one, I'm bad at taking photos of these sorts of things - swatches are something of a foreign concept. I spent a solid half hour trying to get one right, but failed miserably. Who knew it was so hard to take a photo of a squiggle of lipstick on one's hand? But sure, I persevered, and I figured I may as well do this every so often to prevent this blog from becoming Shouty Feminism and Melancholia. So, behold, my first attempt at a make-up review: lipstick. My favourite kind: red.

Kate Moss for Rimmel - matte lipstick in #107

Well, for a start this lipstick doesn't have a name. Devastation. Lipstick names are one of my favourite things about lipsticks, largely because they're always so silly. I'd like to have a job naming lipsticks one day. But anyway. I bought this dark-red lipstick today after two of my friends recommended it to me. Actually, they both squealed about how good it was for quite a while, and Zoe produced the same shade from her yhandbag. So, you know, that's an endorsement.

What's it like, then? I'm somewhat suspicious of new lipsticks. I stick to my wonderful Catrice red most of the time, occasionally toning it down with NYC's glorious lip tints. I fell in love with this lipstick almost immediately though. For a start, it smells like cheap American sweets, reminding me of holidays. Like...Wonka Nerds, I think. The packaging is cute - I like Kate Moss' signature and the matte red. I'm a sucker for matte. Hence the lipstick, I guess...It's super-creamy to go on -- I'm used to Catrice's shiny, silky texture, so this was different! It's quite a heavy formula, but it doesn't feel gross to wear. On the contrary, for it's 7 euro price tag it feels quite expensive!

However, what really matters is how it looks on, am I right? Well, for a start, the colour is fab. It's a rich reddish-plum on me (it looks almost purple on my blonde friend Zoe) that's dramatic without being gothy. Obviously, if you don't like the dark look that I'm rocking below you can use it less -- I've piled it on for this photo. But yeah, the colour is gorgeous: it's great for people who are a little scared of purple lipstick but want something a little more intense than a straight-up red.

Aforementioned awful swatch. Can you see all the other lipsticks I tried on? :')

Now, one thing I will say about this lipstick is that it doesn't stay too well. I'm a divil for biting, rubbing and licking my lips, which doesn't help, but I still found it didn't stick as well as some of my other red lipsticks. It also bleeds, more than a little -- for those of you (like me) who don't quite "get" that concept, it means that your lipstick...wanders. It spreads to your cheeks, your chin, even your nose in a few unfortunate circumstances. Gross. To combat this, I would recommend buying a lil lipliner to go with this -- I picked up an Essence one for the princely sum of €1.49. It stops the lipstick from bleeding and makes it last much longer. Helpful for the price of it, no?

  • It smells yummy. I say sweets, Frances says apricots. Whatever. Definite plus.
  • It goes on nicely, and I've got awkward lips.
  • The colour is fab and buildable and rich, without being vampy.
  • BUT you ought to purchase a lipliner to go with it, cos it does tend to slip a bit. 
Overall? Yeah, I'll be wearing this regularly. It might not replace my usual scarleter-than-scarlet pout but it's definitely nice to mix it up. 8/10, yo! 

I tried to take a photo of just my lips, but after about ten up-my-nose shots and a load that just looked dopey, I gave up. Leanne Woodfull, I'm not... 

Friday, June 7, 2013

Fuck you, Chuck Palahnuik

I was in my room, tidying out some of my old college/leaving cert./second class notes earlier today. So naturally I got all emotionally entangled in the crumpled bits of paper that make up my past. My past is full of paper – failed attempts at writing novels, piss-poor poetry and most of all, diaries. Countless diaries. Shitty two euro notebooks and thick, gorgeous Paperblanks. Tacky pads from the mid-2000s with cartoon sheep on them, written in daily in glittery — albeit smudged — gel pen. A lifetime-lite poured onto pages. So much boredom. So much angst. So many experiences crammed into ten years of pages. Yet still with the distinct feeling that something was about to get better– that the people splashed across the pages would be the ones to make the difference. A near-constant stream of boys whisked me across a flurry of pages. They came, they went, they were obsessed over for reams and reams of gilt-edged paper. Friends, too, came and went across these diaries – friends who seemed wonderful at the time, yet retrospect had me perched cross-legged on my bed, shaking my head at fifteen year old Áine. Self-harmers, extreme dieters and manipulative bitches. This makes my past sound extremely negative – it’s not. It certainly wasn’t at the time, either. My adventures across time and space — space being mostly Stephen’s Green and Clane — sent me, occasionally battered, to who I am today.
One thing I’ve always obsessed over my whole life has been the idea of the marks people leave on my life. I did it in the last paragraph without even thinking — my adventures with others made me who I am. It reminds me of that Chuck Palahnuik (I won’t lie, I have copypasted that name. My spelling is atrocious.) quote:

“Nothing of me is original. I am the combined effort of everyone I’ve ever known.”

Chuck, my dear, I loved Fight Club (well, I loved the movie) but I call bullshit. This idea is something I’ve thought about a lot – okay, I make faces like my ex-boyfriend and talk with the rapid-fire intensity of my best friend, but at my core, I am the combined efforts of me. My struggles, my feelings, my mistakes, my vomit-stained party dresses. No one else has much to do with it – other people are completely, wholly, hugely important — but they aren’t me.
Yet we affect one another. I am not the combined effort of everyone, but my own efforts in relation to other people. It’s cause and effect. My reactions to other people are what shape me. Everyone I have ever met is an ink stain on my diary – one that I’ve tried to rub out or edited into a smiley face, or a heart. You get me?

Probably not. This all makes sense in the fever of my sun-addled, pretentious Literature student brain. You see, you know what the magical part is? Everyone I’ve ever met is an inkblot. Yet I’ve been an inkblot for so many others, despite not even realizing it. We’re all ghosts, haunting one another.You find people’s leftovers and that’s how they leave their marks. A history essay, a forgotten DVD, a lighter. That sort of thing. They leave their marks through the weird feeling in your chest when you find a letter from them. Maybe we’re not the combined efforts of everyone we’ve ever known, but we’re certainly the efforts of ourselves trying to scrub people away. The thing is, I serve that purpose for other people. It's far too easy when you're pretentious and literary (two things I'd just love to be, of course) to assume you're the only person who wells up when you find a mix CD from 2010. Look at Sylvia Plath. Do you think she thought about Ted Hughes finding a forgotten pair of knickers or wondering if, just at the that moment, she was thinking about him? Probably not. She was too busy being a poetry writing, self-obsessed hun. We wreck and make other people's lives too, which is something I, personally, had forgotten about until recently.

I'm spread over time and space. Bits of me pervade the lives of anyone I've ever met in the most forgotten ways. I dated a guy once and I'm pretty sure I left a history essay on his USB key. A boy I dated for two years has my copy of a Neil Gaiman novel (if you're reading this, I want it back!) and I owe a girl I went to primary school with seven euro from when I bought a potted plant in Cobh, age eight. I left a sock in Mayo and my ID card in Portobello. Ooh, this is crying out for a "I left my heart in San Francisco" reference. There we go.

So, in short - I am not the combined efforts of everyone I've ever known, dammit. Having looked at ten years worth of writing, I am cause and effect. I am bruised. I am torn up and made again by me: other people are catalysts for what I do for myself. Also, diarying is unhealthy and makes me think too much.
This all came off a bit Sarah Jessica Parker voice over in the end of an episode of Sex and The City. Sorry…not sorry.

How do you get to Carnegie hall?

Between growing up with the word “gifted” thrown at my head every five minutes and having the vocabulary of an academic by the age of twelve, I’ve always assumed myself to be quite clever. Sidenote: the word “clever” is brilliant. It implies a certain amount of intelligence without arrogance or what I scientifically class as “wankery”. Eight year olds are clever. The Doctor is clever. Meanwhile, in Trinity College, students are “bright” or “academic”, two words I absolutely cannot stand. It’s all in the language, folks. Use wankery terms and you will sound like a wanker, even if you’re not. Trust me, I know from experience.) Things came naturally to me – drama and storywriting in primary school, progressing to learning vocab and essay writing in secondary. Academics were easy-peasy in my head. I never really had to do much to be good at them. That’s not to say I didn’t work. The Junior and Leaving Certs. were four years of coffee fuelled toil for me — but I did extraordinarily well in both. Particularly in the latter, when I did so well that I got into Trinity College. Oooh, Trinity. Fancy.

That was almost a year ago. Maybe it’s listening to the current crop of LC students moan about poets and papers, but I’ve been thinking about one particular element necessary to exam (and possibly life) success. Practise.
Maybe it’s because it’s nine am but practise seems something that I, as a so-called “talented youth” never quite did. All my life I could just…do things. Things just got done. Spellings were just in my head. From a school point of view, I just knew things without much effort. It’s not that I  never had to try, I just didn’t have to try hard.
So anyway. What started out in my head as a SpunOut style article aimed at banishing procrastination has propelled me to new heights of narcissism. Shocker. What occured to me lately was this: nineteen years of free-livin’ has caught up with me. I have now reached a stage where a bit of practise wouldn’t go astray. For instance, writing. This summer I want to get into writing. I have a ton of ideas for what to write, and where to send said writing – but I can’t bring myself to write them. Why? Because I don’t want them to be rejected. I want them to be good from the word go, without me doing any actual work. That’s the curse of the interminably lazy former clever kid.
It’s the same deal with exercise. I’ve always been very, very lazy in this department but I’d love to be able to be fitter and a bit more…toned or something. I’m not sure how to describe it. This morning, I thought I’d go for a run, but I envisioned myself a sweaty, scarlet mess after 100m. I’ll never get fit cos I don’t want to practise.
How do you get over an irrational fear of working for something until you get good, when you’ve always been vaguely good? And how do you prevent your blogposts from derailing into a crazy train of narcissism? Christ.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

See you next Tuesday?

I haven’t been out much since I moved to Dublin, at least not in the conventional sense. Last night I decided to break that streak by heading to Dublin’s Lost Society, a tiny, tiny venue that hosts different nights a week. I was there a few months back when I finished my Leaving Cert; I was unimpressed. The club was crammed to the rafters and I spent most of the night trying not to think about the Stardust tragedy. Seriously. In all the photos from that night I just look concerned. However, I’d heard seriously good things about C.U.N.T., the Tuesday night extravaganza. So I went along, trying in vain to drag my History class with me but ending up mixed up with an entirely different course in my college. Nonetheless, you can’t always get what you want.

A bottle of wine and a long walk later, I arrived at the venue with my lovely friend Conor. On first glance, Lost Society seemed just as tiny as ever. Not so! Tonight, there was an upstairs – but the place was still mobbed. My God. I’m used to the giant nightclubs of Kildare, where there’s always room not only to sit, but to nap if you feel like it. C.U.N.T was absolutely jammed, but then again, there’s always room to dance!

Sometimes I forget how much I like to dance, to just go for it and pretend no-one’s looking at you. This is what I did last night, actually. So much fun, particularly when I knew the songs being played. Unfortunately, this was pretty rare: it’s not like me to be totally clueless regarding music, but I knew about one song in ten last night. Perhaps the music in the place is just not what I’m used to. It’s funny, though: music that doesn’t suit you really messes with a night. It’s not a night-ruiner…it just makes it weird. Dancing to songs you don’t know with people you don’t know. Weird.

My friend Kate has always thought that on a night out, you have a fifty per cent chance of having a good time. While this is probably true, I feel I ought to experiment with going out more. I don’t do enough of it, and if you do it right it’s not too dear (last night cost me four euro in total!)


So, dear friends: where do you all club at? What nights can you recommend to someone who is admittedly clueless? God, I’m a class rep and a half.

The D is silent

So here it is, the fabled Django review. Not that many opf you care, to be honest – you either haven’t seen it or have seen it. And by god, if you’ve seen it you’ll have your own opinions and won’t care about mine. I’ve been dreading writing this review because Tarentino films are…well, they’re a class of their own. Say what you will about the man, but he’s pioneered what could be considered a whole genre for himself. So it’s somewhat difficult to write about. However, if someone put a gun to my head and asked me to describe the film in three adjectives, here’s what I’d say

Django is the following:

-          Trashy

-          Unspeakably violent

-          Riotously entertaining

In the spirit of Quentin refusing to do anything anyway but his own, I’ll structure this review a little different to normal ones, discussing each word and whether it’s got good or bad connotations. Most have both.

1.       Trashy

Anyone who’s seen anything by Tarentino won’t be surprised by this. Pulp Fiction is, well, just that…pulp. It’s silly and brightly coloured and…well, trashy. “Django” doesn’t stray from the director’s crazy Technicolor path too much at all, I’ll say that. Blood spurts, muscles bulge and the trademark yellow text is still there.  It’s a lot more than a Spaghetti Western, but it lovingly nods to these sorts of films with a lot of close ups and sprawling landscape shots. But this is Quentin Tarentino, the man who writes his own bible passages and rewrites the history of the Second World War. Of course we’re not getting a straight-up Western, and the second half of Django spins into something of a revenge epic. The silliness is still there, of course – Leonardo DiCaprio delivers a wonderfully trashy performance as the egotistical Calvin Candie – but the second half doesn’t have the same wonderfully trashy feel of the first half. Yes, I knew there was going to be revenge and blood and gunshots, but I was enjoying Christoph Waltz’ mad dentist cantering around with the moody, sassy Django. (Jamie Foxx, who I loved, just to tone down the madness) The film clocks in at almost three hours, but I felt like I was watching two different films, and the second just didn’t “click” as much with me. Not trashy enough, yo.

2.       Unspeakably violent

I can hear the QT fanboys (or girls) groaning at me now. “OF COURSE it’s violent, Áine! Did you expect a fluffy kids film from the man who brought you Kill Bill? Be reasonable, and shut up pretending you know about films!” Well, to you I say: I don’t know much about films, but I’ve dated an almost-obsessive for close to two years – so I know more than most with a passing interest. I know enough to know that of COURSE Django is insanely violent, but I still think it’s worthy of mention. For some reason the violence of Django is different to the violence of Kill Bill, Inglorious Basterds or Pulp Fiction. It’s more…maniacal is the best word I can think of. While watching Jamie Foxx leap through the air shooting from two hguns, you can almost hear QT’s laughter. In a way, it makes the violence of other QT films seem restrained (though I haven’t seen Resevoir Dogs, so maybe I can’t comment fully there). Maybe it’s because the shooting in Django has more of a purpose? Waltz’ character, Dr. Schulz, kills for money. Django kills for revenge. It’s less random violence and more…well, enjoyable. The two central characters seem to love it, which makes it all the madder.

3.       Riotously entertaining

Odd as this may be juxtaposed with the previous paragraph, I haven’t laughed at a movie as much as I’ve laughed at “Django” in a long time. It’s all there: again, Christoph Waltz’ bizarrely polite European mannerisms (He asks a man he just shot to “keep your caterwauling down while I talk to young Django”), Django’s sass (there’s no other word for it. He just doesn’t give a shit for the entire film.) and Calvin Candie’s bizarre beard-twirling madness. It’s all hilarious, as is the violence on some level. Honestly, if you want to kept entertained for three hours and don’t mind very frequent use of the N-word (I counted 92 times), you should see this movie.  Above all the condemnations of rewriting history, blacksplotation (still not sure what this is. Blame David) and being downright racist, it’s fun. Tarintino has always been fun. Apart from the Gimp scene in Pulp Fiction…still gives me nightmares. But that’s neither here nor there.

Basically: Django is not perfect by any means. It is not Pulp Fiction: but it’s close. It’s funny, it’s silly, it’s got really excellent performances from its three main leads, particularly DiCaprio, who should play mental plantation owners more. And no, it’s really not a realistic portrayal of the Deep South in the 1800s – a central plot device involving slave-fighting never existed – but when did we go to Tarentino for realism? If I wanted realism I’d go to Zero Dark Thirty, the Oscar movie I am stubbornly ignoring. Also, Django has some really excellent performances, not only from Foxx, Waltz and DiCaprio, but Samuel L. Jackson, who almost steals the show. Tarintino also breaks records by being one of the first people to blow himself up on film. I think that says it all, really.

Monday, January 21, 2013

There and back again: some thoughts

So I have returned to the flat. It's amazing how much time one person can spend on buses -- I spent an hour at home today, vs. three hours bus time. It's also amazing how quickyl one person can get used to making their own dinner, walking everywhere and staying up all hours to watch Girls. Have I mentioned that living independently is amazing? It's already strange to be asked to em[ty the dishwasher or cean my room at home. Both of these things I do in Dublin, but more often than not at about 2am...

Remember how I said I'd be reviewing Django Unchained tonight? Yeah...not so much. I spent my evening in Centra instead, selling 1c coffee and having friendly banter with customers. Exciting stuff. It's a shame that it's so late, because I'm overflowing with blog ideas at the moment -- and not a moment of free time to be seen! If I do manage to do any writing, expect some sexism, religion, Tarintino (hopefully) and nightclub antics over the next week. Oh, and Girls. I have quite a few opinions on that show. I'm just not sure what they are yet.

I don't think it's like Sex and the City and I think it's the exact same. I don't know if I like any of the characters. I don't know if Lena Dunham can write. What I do know is this:
I need to watch more to make up my mind.

Oh well. Until I get some time to write, dears. Apologies for the shit post today. I was out earning money -- you can't win them all.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Music post: Joan Armatrading

So last night I went to the pub with a bunch of old school friends. "Old" being the operative word. Looking around a tiny nightclub and seeing girls you're pretty sure haven't a Junior Cert. between them can be pretty scary, let me tell you. That said, I had a lovely night, drinking cheap mojhitos, talking about blogging and rocking a denim jacket. As David would say: lookin' fresh til death. Or is it "to death"? I'm never sure, so I never say it in case someone calls me out. I'm cool.
This is myself and fellow (more successful) bloggers Megan and Danielle. You should follow both of them. Old friends and excellent bloggers. 

I arrived home from the night out at about half one and found my mam still up. She asked me about a song she heard earlier that day: The Weakness in Me by Joan Armatrading. I'd never heard of her before, but mum urged me to look her up, seeing as she'd been one of my mum's favourite artists back in the day. Wow, I'm glad she did. Go up there and listen to it. Right now.

There's something haunting about this song of love and loss -- it's spellbinding. Mum and I sat and listened to the whole thing through twice. I love singers in the vein of Armatrading, like Kate Bush, Patti Smith and other Lady Wonders -- but Joan is something else. Wow. The emotion in it is incredible. So here it is, for your Sunday night listening pleasure. Tomorrow, I'll (hopefully) be reviewing Django Unchained for you all and trying to get through the Romantic (and totally not racist) poetry by William Blake. The joys of an English degree. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Break Up.

Have you heard of Breaking Bad? Well, it's the best thing since The Wire. If you haven't seen that Family Guy video and don't know what Breaking Bad is, you definitely need to get out less.

Breaking Bad is a mind-blowingly good TV show that has engulfed my life (albeit on and off) for the past six months. I'm not going to go on and on about Breaking Bad and what it's about, because you probably know. Here's a very quick synopsis
  • Bryan Cranston (Hal from Malcolm in the Middle) gets cancer. He shaves his head and becomes a badass meth cook.
  • He is helped by Aaron Paul, the most beautiful man ever to exist. He says "bitch!" a lot.
  • Bryan Cranston's brother is in the DEA. This makes things complicated. Way complicated.
  • There's a lot of violence, hilarity and awesome meth-making montages.
So what more do you want, really? Well, I know what I want. I want it to never end -- I want Walt and Jesse to go on having methy adventures forever. This is my problem with television. TV, unlike movies and books, creep up on you. You start watching it, one or two episodes a day. You fall slowly in love with their clever direction, pithy one-liners and forty minute episodes. Time passes and you find yourself missing Breaking Bad if it doesn't feature in your day. Breaking Bad becomes what you wake up to (iPhones with Netflix apps are my lord and savior) and what you fall asleep to. In short: I fell in love with Breaking Bad, and over the summer we got into a relationship of sorts. We spent three beautiful seasons together, before I took a break. See, that's the thing with Breaking's really, really intense. It's beautiful and magical but way too intense. It's violent. It breaks your heart.

So, we stopped. I sped through three seasons of Arrested Development. But I missed the intensity. AD is a wonderful, wonderful show I'll blog about later in the year, but it's just not the same...there wasn't enough meth involved, I guess. Like the drug, Breaking Bad is horribly addictive. So I went back. Breaking Bad and I got back together and I've just finished the first half of season five.

So where does that leave me? Suddenly -- just as we were doing so well -- Breaking Bad has left me until July. It's a real kick in the teeth that comes only with TV -- the show finishes, almost as soon as it starts -- and leaves you without something to pass the evenings. There's a little hole in your life when a TV show finishes that no amount of Tumblr or movies can fill. Maybe it's just The Breaking Bad Effect. It's the most intense thing I've ever watched -- I feel somewhat lost without having another episode to eat.

You'd think that I wouldn't recommend it because of this awful sadness: I would. Trust me: you need to watch this show. It will ruin your life. You'll sit, lost, after it finishes, looking at photos of Aaron Paul on Google Images. You'll count the days to July. But you'll love the show. It will take over your life. It converted me to TV.

Go on, break bad. You know you want to. Until all of you become converts, I'll just sit here crossing off days until I discover what happens next.

(My blog inexplicably won't let me post videos, but here is a really good trailer for season one if you're not convinced by my heartbreak)

Friday, January 18, 2013


According to Daniel Corkery, the three things an Irish writer needs are an in depth knowledge of religion, nationalism and the land.

This quote comes directly from Irish writing critic and general nutcase. I suppose he may have had a point in the 1900's, when land, religion and nationalism was all we had, but it seems like such a dated idea now. It's strange that three things so important to yesterday's Ireland are more or less gone now -- except, I guess, for Irish nationalism.

What is nationalism these days? Obviously it's had a long and difficult past but today, in a post-war, financially crippled Ireland, how do we celebrate out selves apart from getting hammered? More importantly: do we really need to? I've always been somewhat mistrustful of nationalistic ideals to be honest. Maybe it's because so many of them are tied up in Michael Collins and the RA or maybe it's history, but I've never it. Outside of Shipping Up to Boston by Dropkick Murphys, nothing makes me feel patriotic.

This apathy towards the four green fields made for quite a fun reading of Cathleen Ni Houlihan, a Yeats play about a man who is visited by Ireland, in, eh, human form. If you can get your head around that, well done, because the play is a cracker. However, there's an undercurrent of terrifying nationalism to it. Michael, the hero (of sorts) is almost hypnotised into going to fight and die for Ireland by Cathleen. At this point, my non-patriotism flared up: to quote the great Irishman Aengus MacGrianna: WHAT?!

This is something that I can't wrap my head around, to be honest. The whole idea of sacrifice to the cause. I suppose what I'm getting annoyed at isn't hugely relevant these days -- Irish people aren't throwing themselves into firing lines (much), thank god -- but the ideals of Cathleen Ni Houlihan seem to br still prevalent in some places, and it's weird. It might be the smallest thing -- graffiti proclaiming "up the RA" on a radiator or even the recent Belfast riots -- but it's there, this terrifying loyalty to a country for no apparent reason. I just do not get it.

This isn't a post slating those who are nationalistic, or even feel the remote stirrings of nationalism in their hearts.. God no. I envy you guys! I'd love to love something that much! Unfortunately, okay don't get it. Cathleen Ni Houlihan can't bewitch me anymore than 1916's blood sacrifice can. It's something that's always been beyond me -- is it because I'm a 21st century kid or a freak of nature? Strange one.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Poetry thursday

Yes, it's a lazy post. But sometimes one just doesn't have time to write much at all, especially when they have a single hour of college. Oh, and cake to make, a flat to clean and a party to have! In the meantime, I will return as normal tomorrow. Enjoy this lovely little poem by Ambraham Alghaenem, who I have never heard of. Ain't love grand? 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Wishful thinking: sleep.

I really wanted to write a blog post today. I really did. Unfortunately, cooking a dinner (and a cake!) and entertaining friends/a boyfriend all evening has sapped all my energy levels for this evening, and now it's midnight and I'm falling asleep. Why does that happen? . By midnight, I'm ready to drop in a way that suggests the sleeping patterns of an infant, not a college student. And don't talk to me about nights out -- I'm useless for about three days afterwards. For the moment, I can do very little to help this. I can only hope that I can one day become as indifferent to sleep as the rest of you...

Of course, you would imagine that I could sleep wonderfully late if I stayed up late. Nope. I have a rigorous drill-seargant of a body clock, barking orders to wake up at the same time every day. I wake up bright eyed and bushy tailed only to mooch around my flat all morning, eating hobnobs and wondering why I'm incapable of sleeping past 9.48am. I hate you, afternoon lectures*. It's unfortunate if I've been busy -- falling asleep at five and waking around nine is never fun. 

It's quite sad really. I feel like I miss out an awful lot, being asleep in the dead of night. Much of the fun of the internet seems to take place at that time, and I could finally get to finish Breaking Bad if I could stay up past 1am.

Sigh. This has been a sleep deprivation post. Zzzzzz.

*That's a lie. My flatmates have four 9am starts and I don't know how they do it.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Coffee fueled ranting #1: state of her and the price of tampons

I'm aware that all of my blog posts this week have featured my big move to the big shmoke, but you know what? No one wants to read about how I'm in love with my Medieval and Renaissance Romance lecturer. I'm far too busy to write about important things. So here we are, discussing...well, no. Sqeamish guys and gals look away now, because I'm going to be talking about...


You heard me.

Disclaimer: I am not "hormonal". This post is not inspired by my own period, but a good half hour spent stacking Tampon boxes in work today. So you can keep your jokes to yourself, or direct them to my supervisor in Centra.

Another disclaimer: I am not going to go on a feminist rant about how fucking stupid it is that people (even me) consider it to be disgusting. I'm far too tired for that, and I won't say anything thing that hasn't already been said to be honest.

 No, I have a much smaller bone to pick with the world of female reproduction, or more specifically those who make it that bit simpler for us. I am talking, ladies and...who am I kidding, ladies, about tampons. We can agree that they make life a bit easier for us all. I won't go into details because no one needs a long detailed blog post detailing the advantages of tampons over pads. NO ONE. It's like a post about condoms v. the pill or something. Actually, that might be helpful. I'm not doing it, though. I'm sticking to periods. Gross!

Anyway, my main problem with tampons is simple. It's the same problem I have with my phone's 3G connection, Costa coffees and Snow Fairy shower gel from Lush. These are all things I need in my day to day life. They make my life simpler, more informed, brighter and...sparklier. Unfortunately, all these things are really fucking expensive. But the difference between shower gel, coffee and tampons? I won't BLEED EVERYWHERE IF I DON'T GET CAFFEINE THAT DAY*.

The price of anything vaguely menstrual really wrecks my head. I mean, come on. A box of tampons is four fifty. No matter where you go. FOUR FIFTY. That is OBSCENE! It's nearly a fiver! I can go to the IFI and see a movie with that...I can make a lasagne. I can buy a book. There are so many things I can do with almost-a-fiver, yet I end up spending it on tampons. It's like water: if I had my way I wouldn't spend money on these things at all. In fact, I may spend the rest of my life campaigning for free menstrual gear for students. We get free condoms, so why not tampons? Why should I have to pay an inordinate amount of money just to know that my uterus still hungers for a child? It's a necessity, but an expensive one. I can't get around it. I can't go to the two euro shop for Tampax. I can't get them in Aldi. Well, maybe I could, but I'd probably regret it for the rest of my life...still, though, four fifty!

 I am a student! I cannot afford this sort of thing! It's madness -- and all to be uncomfortable for a few days?! For Gods' sake.

I think the combination of not much food, too much coffee and not enough sleep has driven me mad, friends. I apologise for both the content and language of this blogpost. Meg sums it up best:

*I may not bleed everywhere if I don't have my caffeine fix, but other people might. I'm not fun without my fix.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The little things, specifically in relation to a cold flat

So it turns out I'm not very good at packing. By that, I mean that I'm not very good at packing at 10pm when I'm moving the next morning. And by THAT, I mean that my packing was reduced to haphazardly throwing things in a suitcase while muttering "it's only a week, I don't need anything really."
Two days later, here are some things that I have forgotten:

  • Runners, rendering the two pairs of tracksuit bottoms I brought with me somewhat useless. I had promised myself that I'd head to the gym this week, but that looks significantly less likely without, you know, shoes.
  • Pyjama tops. This I cannot understand. I brought three pairs of pyjama bottoms but inexplicably forgot any of the (numerous) pyjama tops, forgotten band t-shirts, thick jumpers or vest tops that I sleep in. On Saturday night, I was almost strangled by a polo neck I wore out of desperation and last night I was repeatedly scratched by my TCD hoodie. Sigh. It's too cold in the flat to wear anything thinner than seven t-shirts.
  • Socks. This I have no excuse for -- who forgets socks?! Socks are necessary for day to day living. Without his socks, Alexander Fleming would have been far too chilly to discover penicillin. Wearing tights under jeans is a pain, I can tell you that. It doesn't work for anybody! 
  • I also forgot perfume, candles and enough clothes to get me through the week, but those are a good deal less important, I have to admit. 
Of course, this could not stand. I could not spend my week wearing tights under jeans, nor a poloneck that is trying to kill me. So today I headed to Penney's to pick up some very necessary bits and pieces. I have something of a love/hate affair with Penney's...the clothes hang awkwardly on me and often they seem to ignore the existence of sizes that aren't six or eight. Today was no exception -- there was a striking lack of size twelve anything. That's not the point of this post, though. The point is something wonderful that I bought on a whim. While wandering through the pyjama section, something caught my eye...

"No, Áine, don't be ridiculous, you can't buy slippers"
"But they'd be so comfy. They're only four euro. They're an investment. Save you a fortune in fluffy socks."
"You don't buy fluffy socks"
"Look, four euro! And they're RED! Red is part of your grand design for your bedroom!"

Before I knew it, I was waltzing around my flat in a wonderfully fluffy pair of red moccasin slippers. They're the best thing I've bought in ages. I'm a sucker for fluffy things and a slave to capitalism, what are you going to do? If capitalism warms my feet, I'm going to roll with it.

My webcam skills need work

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The art and the artist: a dilemma

Today was my first real day in the big smoke, complete with about 20 euro worth of bus journey and a trip to the cinema. David took me to Roman Polanski's Chinatown, starring a very young Jack Nicholson and a very classy Faye Dunaway. The film was fantastic -- of course it was -- but afterward David and I got talking about the director himself. Polanski, of course, got done for statutory rape some years ago. The question we discussed over a cigarette and longing stares at the IFI menu was this: do the flaws of the artist destroy the art?

According to some, Art is separate and can still be appreciated, albeit in a different way. I am much more emotional on the subject: to be honest, I can't take art the same way if I know something's happened in the artists life. Chinatown, while hugely entertaining, was marred for me by Polanski's reputation.

And this isn't the first time. While I am no fan of Chris Brown, I experienced the feeling his (sensible) fans felt recently. Ian Watkins, lead singer of Lostprophets, was accused of sexual assault and owning child pornography. As a dark haired, eyeliner clad teen, I LOVED Lostprophets. I saw them live, listened to their albums lots and swooned at the fringed, snake hipped singer. "He seems like such a cool guy!" Is what I always thought. So, understandably, it shook me to my core to hear the news about his arrest.

Yet unlike Team Breezy, I couldn't come back to Lostprophets now. I didn't have a symbolic burning of their records or anything -- but I can't listen to them without feeling sick. I can't look at Ian Watkins and not be disturbed in my own head. How do I reconcile their music with that, even if I did enjoy it? How does anyone? It's disconcerting to say the least. Though maybe that's what my own head tells me.

It's certainly a tough nut to crack, and teenage girls posting about Chris Brown and how "he can beat me ANYDAY" don't help. I suppose it's down to the person and how much they enjoy the music - I personally wouldn't look twice at anything Ian Watkins, Chris Brown or others would do, yet I went to Chinatown this evening. Is it because I'm removed from Polanski's act, given it happened before I was born? That doesn't make it okay, of course. Its definitely one to think about in my new flat...


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Happy Independence Day

Quick post today -- and a photo of a very glamorous me, fresh from my flat in Dublin city! As of today, I live in the Big Shmoke. I have a duvet, an internet connection, tea and glow in the dark stars -- what more do you need, really? Of course, this is going to mean a good few posts about How To Live Away From Your Parents And Cook For Yourself. Today, I had soup, but I'm going out for dinner now, so I'm not too concerned. Though I was telling my sister about my meal plans and I ran out of ideas after Wednesday's macaroni cheese, so maybe I ought to be...

Anyway. Wish me luck in my new adventures :D

(I have visitors. Happy birthday Conor x)

Friday, January 11, 2013

Les Miserables review: or, I squeal over Anne Hathaway

A word of warning: don't go to Les Miserables unless you have plenty of food and water. Oh, and make sure you've peed first. At almost three hours, Tom Hooper's epic musical is one of the longest films I've ever seen in the cinema, but thankfully it's (more or less) worth it. Based on the 1987 musical, Les Miserables is all singing. I mean it. There are about twenty lines of spoken dialogue, almost like opera. If you don't think you can hack this, avoid it at all costs. However, if you can hack this, please go see this wonderful movie!

Set in Paris in the midst of revolution, the film looks absolutely gorgeous -- it rivals the stunning Life of Pi. Like I've said before, I'm no expert, but I know enough to know when something looks good. By god, does Les Mis look good. Shot in beiges and blues, it only makes the vivid reds of the revolutionary's flags look brighter. Amazing, but overblown. Any film that opens with a stretch of prisoners pulling a ship into a dry dock is guaranteed to be overblown, but Hooper takes Les Mis into almost Baz Luhrmann-esque territory. Not that this is a bad thing: musicals are made to be overblown. They are overblown by their very nature and that's why I love them. I loved Les Mis -- despite knowing two songs and no characters except for Fantine, Anne Hathaway's shorn, doomed prostitute.

Can we talk about Anne Hathaway's role in this film? I don't want to spoil anything for anyone: but fuck. The woman spent about thirty minutes on screen and completely steals the show. Her rendition of "I Dreamed a Dream" had me in tears about thirty seconds in. To be honest, I wouldn't recommend listening to it unless you can see her. Hathaway breaks down during her performance. Seriously. It's terrifying to watch and without doubt the highlight of the film. Watching her practically scream "So different from this hell I'm living..." with tears in her eyes is almost unbearably intense, and Hooper direction doesn't help. Almost from the moment Hathaway opens her mouth, the camera is on her: no-one and nothing else. There's no escape for the viewer: we're forced to feel her agony and shed some tears along with her. Christ. I'm not sure I'll ever get over that scene.

Less depressing, thankfully, is the rest of the film. No, actually. That's a lie. Les Mis will break your heart about ten times. Eddie Reymayne will break your heart with his adorable performance as Marius, lovestruck, semi-revolutionary, freckled heartthrob. How is it fair that someone that good-looking can sing and act? I was surprised at how adept he was at both. In fact, the entire cast is worthy of praise, particualry Hugh Jackman, who at times carries the whole film on his shoulders and (YES THANK CHRIST) Sacha Baron Chen and Helena Bonham Carter provide some splendid comic relief. Yes, some of the actors can't sing: Amanda Seyfried's birdlike trill gets on my nerves no end. But the rest of the cast left me starry eyed, playing their roles with such intensity that you can't help be spellbound.

One could complain that Les Mis is overlong, and no, it doesn't have enough of a plot to warrant three hours. It is dull in parts if you don't find singing entertaining. But the thing about musicals is that we're not there for the plot. We're there for another world, where people sing before battle, sing when they fall in love and even sing as they die. In terms of another world, Les Mis delivers. In spades. Bring the tissues.

Thursday, January 10, 2013


My friend Frances recently blogged her New Year Goals, one of which was to get a small tattoo. We were talking about it yesterday (over a mound of peanut butter cookies -- oops) and it got me thinking about tattoos. Again. After my Leaving Cert., I decided I wanted to get a little tattoo over the summer: I was convinced that this was what I wanted. This, like the blonde I stuck into my hair in June, was part of my post-Leaving Cert rebellion. The hair worked out, the tattoo didn't because I just couldn't decide on a design. I had plenty of ideas, of course. Just like when I was in Transition Year, and third year, and fifth year...

Tattoos and I have had a long and checkered non-history. It started off when I was fifteen, when I decided I wanted lyrics from The Killers' "All These Things That I've Done". Specifically, I remember thinking that getting "I need direction to perfection, you gotta help me out" up my arm was a good idea. In retrospect: it wasn't. While I still love The Killers with every beat of my heart, it's just not the most optimistic of things to get slapped on your arm. While the reminder to get help with things probably would have helped while I was crying over history assignments last term, in retrospect I'm glad fifteen year old me didn't have the guts to go through with it. Plus: up my forearm?! For all to see?! How about no!

Of course, I didn't stick with this idea for long. The fancies of the teenage girl never stick around, and pretty soon I had hit on a new idea: I wanted to get the lyrics of "La Vie Boheme" from RENT tattooed up my back. In case you don't know about RENT,  I wanted to post the video, but Blogger won't let me post videos, inexplicably. So here's a link.

Don't get me wrong. It's not a bad song. But for a start, my back isn't that big. The idea of getting an eight minute long musical song on my back was nonsensical. I'm five foot four, for God's sake. However, the real issue is: cringey or cringey? I can't listen to the song without wanting to curl into a ball and go to bed forever, hoping that anyone who remembers my oh-so-earnest tattoo plans will be dead by the time I get up again. Can you imagine a middle-class, Irish country girl getting ~bohemian~ lyrics tattooed on her? It's been three years and I've only just discovered who Allan Ginsberg is. I couldn't be less Bohemian if I tried. (Well, I could, but that would mean agreeing with people like Ronan Mullen and wearing bodycon, and I'm not prepared to do either of those things. They just don't suit me...) It's incredibly embarrassing to think about, but I was sweet on that idea for a good year or so. Christ. If I ever, ever mention wanting to get the word "yoghurt" on my person again, please slap me, friends.

Fast forward a year and a half to June of last year, when my longing for a tattoo reared up again. Picture it: I'm studying all day every day, mostly English. Mostly poetry. Mostly Adrienne Rich, in the vain hope that she'd come up on that pink paper in June (spoiler: she did. And I got an A1. Mwahaha.). So of course, the obvious conclusion was a nice homage to the wonderful feminist poet who I loved so dearly. I had the quote picked, the spot on my body picked, even the font had been chosen. ("The words are purposes, the words are maps" on my right hip in Courier, in case you're interested.) All that was left was to scrape some money together and head to a tattoo parlour: but I never did it. Something stopped me. Maybe it was the pain factor, maybe it was the idea of the two-year rule with tattoos...but something did. Thank god it did, because four or five months later I studied Adrienne Rich's feminist theory in college. Turns out she is something of a raging douchebag who believes motherhood is a social construct and that Trans* people are 100% not okay. Much as I adore Diving Into The Wreck (and my god, do I), the woman has too many poisonous ideas for me to tattoo her words on my body forever.

So now, I'm stuck. I desperately want a tattoo -- what Caitlin Moran calls "a marker pin on your body, to reclaim yourself, to remind you where you are: inside yourself. Somewhere." Since starting college, I've been a bit all over the place, and I want something that's really me: something that would have been ten year old Áine, is nineteen year old Áine and will be forty-five year old Áine. I don't want one for the sake of a tattoo. I want something that'll look cool and that will remind me of who I am, who I was and who I will be. Apologies for the odd, biblical sound of that last line. Maybe I just need to get very drunk and make a snap decision. Though knowing my luck I'd end up with a Bane from TDKR quote on my leg forever...

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Music laziness on a Wednesday

I'd like to think I have reasonably cool taste in music. That is to say, not unspeakably bad. My Spotify is a nice mix of LCD Soundsystem and Rihanna, Muse and Taylor Swift. With some Johnny Cash and musicals stuck in there, of course. Anyway, I figured on the days I'm too busy to write a long post, I figure I'll cheat and give you some music from my Spotify playlist for that month. Today, it's Rihanna feat. The XX. Yeah, RiRi has gone off the rails a bit -- dating Chris Brown is 900% not ok -- but Talk That Talk is something of a banger of an album.

(If it doesn't post, I'm sorry. It's called "Drunk on love" and you ought to listen to it)

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Transformation

I've blogged about getting fit, losing weight and eating healthier before, when life was a post-Leaving Cert bag of smiles and sunshine. Over the summer, I went to the gym several times a week and dieted like crazy...and all I lost was a cup size! Three hard months of dieting and I still had a big tummy, big thighs and a general air of wobbliness. Much as I'm an advocate of loving your body, I found this a bit of a kick in the I stopped dieting.
College started, and fifty hot chocolates, an immeasurable amount of Kinder Buenos and a lot of pizza later, I'm back where I started: the same weight I was doing my exams. And again, I do accept how I look (it's not too bad), but it could be a lot better. Less -- wobbly, shall we say. I could do with tightening up the screws. (January, being the most depressing, dreary month of the year, is of course the time for it. OF COURSE it's time to eschew chocolate with a firm hand. Of course. I'll never understand the January fitness craze. It's such a depressing month without dragging yourself into the freezing rain for a run and ignoring those delicious biscuits. I should start a petition for Get Fit February. January is just not okay.)

Of course, Trinity College seemed to read my mind, and last week I received an e-mail about TCD Operation Transformation. It's basically a bunch of people getting together to follow the TV show and to get fit together. Sounds great, right? I was a little hesitant about doing it, largely due to the following:

  • Problem one: I haven't got a TV in my flat. This makes watching the TV show -- and following my "leader" (a notion that sounds vaguely cultish, but I'll roll with it. I am the newbie here) somewhat difficult. But Operation Transformation is all over the RTÉ website, so bang goes that excuse.
  • Problem two: Cooking meals is expensive, yo'! I can't afford that! I'm a student! Except that the "diet" for the show involves massive quantities of fruit and vegetables, which are cheap as anything in Aldi or Lidl. No excuses!
  • Problem three: Exercise. I just don't like it, yo'. I'm going to do the exercise (read; THE HARD BIT) with the lovely Louise, however, plus find a way to go with David. I mean, come on, if working out with your boyfriend isn't motivation enough, what is? 
Thing is, excuses won't get me anywhere, and neither will delicious, delicious Dairy Milk. So there you go. For the next seven weeks, I am transforming, coming close to the light, and eating lots of carrots and Special K. It's going to be a bumpy ride that will probably culminate in a lot of tweets about hunger. Maybe, just maybe, though, I can learn to love exercising and healthier food. Now put the cheese down, Áine... 

Monday, January 7, 2013

...and suddenly i'm an adult!: pillows edition

Sometimes, things don't feel real until the smallest things happen. Moving out is one of them. When I signed the lease on my flat, I figured I could survive pretty well: I can cook, I'm reasonably clean and I don't have wild parties on a regular basis. Though I'm not sure if that last one is a big plus or a big minus for moving out. I'd been thinking about moving out for months, and BAM! here I am in a little flat with my parents, 97% I wanted to move there.
But, as always, I didn't really...take in the gravity of the situation. That is to say, it didn't really hit home (hehe) with me for a while. I stayed in the flat on New Year's Eve, which was fine, apart from the fact that I couldn't work the oven or the heat. "Maybe I'm less prepared than I thought!" a voice chirped in my head. Fortunately, it was NYE, so a bottle of Rosé sorted that out nicely. I slept on a mattress with a sleeping bag, terribly pleased with myself. I woke up in a very sunny mood the next morning. "It's 2013! I'm in my flat! This is the first day of the rest of my life!". That sort of thing. But, of course, it's easy to think that when you're having pizza for breakfast.
Of course, now that I've been home for a week, reality has set in. Heaton's shaped reality. I went shopping with my mum yesterday, thinking I'd pick up one or two things I needed. You know yourself. Maybe a pretty duvet cover or some nice mugs. So I'm standing in Heatons and I have this...crystalizing moment of realization. Or horror. Though I think that's Heatons fault. I'm not sure how many of you have ben to Heatons, but it is one of those bizarre shops that seems to stock everything and anything, but stocks it all in such a way that it's impossible to find any of it. I wandered around, lost in a haze of bath towels vs. bath sheets (will someone explain to me what a bath sheet is?!) and whether black bedsheets was a good idea. In the end, I figured out what I needed -- save bowls and plates, which I forgot -- but it was an eyeopener.

In less than a week, I will no longer live under my parents roof. I'll be fending for myself. Buying washing powder, toothpaste and soup will be my responsibility. This is not a case of a few nice mugs and a duvet cover. This is TOWELS! PLATES!  SPOONS! A CAN OPENER FOR ALL THE CANNED FOOD I'LL BE EATING! (Fun fact: I can't really open cans. I'm a leftie and I grew up in a house that never seemed to have a working can opener. I've stabbed them open for as long as I can rember...not very safe, that, I think I'll stick to ring-pulls for my flatmates' safety)

All of this hit me in Heatons, of course. Suddenly mugs weren't so important and I set about finding the cheapest bedsheets. And pillows. It's these little things that you don't think about -- cooking, cleaning and washing, yes. But the other things. I have my own tube of toothpaste now. My pair of €7 pillows are sitting in my bedroom, ready for off. I HAVE TO BUY MY OWN SHAMPOO.
Sheets! And pillows! And, eh, toaster bags!

And that's terrifying. Not the buying the shampoo, you must understand. The symbolism of it. The real world-ness of it. The "if you screw up at work you can't eat that week" of it. Tins of soup I can deal with. Washing I can deal with. But the idea of being self-sufficient is pretty scary.

All that said, I'm moving in on Saturday and it's scary, all right, but it's also terribly exciting, wonderful and life-changing. I can't wait. :)

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Before it Breaks out: short film and the importance of talking

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I had several blogposts planned for today, believe it or not, but this film (linking because my blog is acting up Youtubewise)  is so good, and so important, that I decided to post it instead. David's college friend made it and not only is it a cool film (spot the cute boy with the Electric Picnic wristband), but it's got a really important message of, well...talking. Mental health is important. Really important. Talking is really important. I once saw a quote from a comedian about mental health, her basic message being: no one is blamed for cancer. No one gets slagged off for broken bones. We rarely keep illness to ourselves -- so why should we keep feeling low, angry or sad to ourselves? It's our brains feeling ill, and talking is the bed rest and Berocca of mental health. It's something I've learned lately, no matter how hard it is to do: talk. Talk and talk and let it out and talk. Don't let it build up in your head until your thoughts are tangled all over the place because it never ends well. Yeah, it's hard. You'll probably wreck peoples heads, people will probably knock you down but you have to keep trying and keep talking! No one wants to be stuck on a bridge screaming their head off. 

There's one of the first of some mental health posts. Because shit's important. It's a minute long, do watch.

Love love x

Saturday, January 5, 2013

In praise of brown eyeshadow, red lipstick, and black eyeliner

Today, I'm going to go all ~beauty blogger~ on your ass. I'm not even close to  a fashionista, as I've said before, but I love me some makeup. Oh, man, do I love it. Always have. Makeup is forgiving. Makeup will not make you look pregnant. Makeup will not grow back, leaving you with silly roots. Makeup will not slip, slide and feel least, most of the time. Everyone can appreciate makeup, even more so than clothes. "High fashion" makeup doesn't really exist in the real world. Whether you stick on a bit of concealer and mascara and get going, or spend hours on it, makeup is makeup. It loves you all. Even the 2007 version of yourself -- back in the day, I used to wear various crazy colours of eyeshadow to school (the neon pink glitter was a mistake). I'd still rock a bright green every so often, just for old time's sake. Over time, I upgraded to brightly-coloured eyeliner and then to metric tonnes of winged black eyeliner. Then I stopped wearing makeup altogether in sixth year. I was so tired from studying all the time that I basically rolled out of bed in the mornings and I didn't go out much. But my god, how I missed it. I could write poetry about putting on makeup. I just love to do it. The sweep of the eyeliner (okay, I digress, I still rock A LOT of liquid eyeliner) ,blending several different kinds of eyeshadow together to make your eyes look all pretty...the despair when I mess something up or have one eye perfect but the other ALL WRONG. But hey, we can't have it every way. On a good day, I cross the final frontier...lashings of red lipstick!

Lipstick and I have had something of a troubled past; my mother never liked it and I convinced myself that I didn't suit me. I was wrong, though. To be honest, with pale skin and dark hair, I'd be a fool not to pile it on like I'm Marilyn Monroe. It's just about finding the right colour. I had a practically-pink Rimmel one for years, but it's just...too damn pink. I discovered that if one is going to do red, one should do it PROPERLY. Firebrand. Pillarbox. Tomato. Proper, Dita Von Teese red. My favourite is by Catrice, which I'm wearing in the picture below. I got it for four euro just before Electric Picnic and it's just great.  Lately, I've been rocking red lipstick with my usual makeup quite a bit. Whoever came up with the eyes/lips rule is a boring cunt. Who doesn't look exponentially more sexy with red lips and dramatic eyeliner? Messy sexy, of course...
Pictured: metric tonnes of lipstick and eyeliner. Unfortunately, I can only really wear red lipstick when I'm not with David. It's not conducive to smoochin' at all.

But where was I? Yes. I've grown out of the bright eyeshadow (mostly) and have taken to stealing my younger sister's browny colours for college and work. Much to her chagrin, of course, as Eimear is someone who has a special right to everything I own but woe betide me if I borrow her stuff. Furthermore, her eyeshadow palette is "special". (Read: expensive). I'd been thinking about buying my own, cheaper version of what she has, so you can only imagine my delight on Christmas day when THIS turned up, courtesy of my wonderful aunt: the glorious NAKED palette from Urban Decay.

The Naked palette is glorious. It is the perfection of nature, the song of songs, the most beautfiul part of the creation. And I've been doing too much English. For those of you who don't know, this pallette is ten pretty shades of brown eyeshadow, a grey one and a black one. Six of them have SPARKLES (yay!) and they range from practically white (If I was doing this properly I'd call it "champagne shimmer" or something, but I'm not,I'm just fangirling) to chocolate coloured. Behold: 

It's beautiful, isn't it?! I've used it every time I got out since I got it. I can use the sparkly black one on top of eyeliner to make it last longer,  I can use the grey one to be all ~smokey and sexy~ and I can just shove the brown ones on three at a time, blend it all together and look nice. The gold colours make my eyes look more Kurt Cobain blue than their actual washed-out blue colour (flawless flawless) and the pale ones are really handy to highlight stuff. Or at least they would be if I knew how to do things like that. Like I said earlier, I am not going to go through packaging, pigmentation and all that jazz. Mainly because I don't care. This isn't a review telling you to buy this eyeshadow; this is a post in praise of having it bought for me. Here's to brown eyeshadow, man. But here's to red lipstick and green eyeshadow and purple eyeshadow, too. But most of all: here's to metric tonnes of black liquid eyeliner.