Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Song | December, In Dreams I Forgot



Never for the life of me would I have ever thought that I would end up singing here, and I am still figuring out why now, above all times seems like the most suitable. I am not Beyoncé, and I am certainly not talented in the slighted when it comes to these vocal chords, I usually try to stick to pen and paper. However, I wrote this recently, and I honestly think it would have come across rather bland without some heir, be it crackled, horrific or otherwise. I had intended for this to be a ballad, possibly sung at a local public house establishment (HowAreYa Lynotts, hey). But until the summer sessions come around - this would have been left, and possibly forgotten about by yours truly. I honestly think ballads are a forgotten art, they are starting to slip away as the years go on, which is disappointing as I think they are still, one of the most beautiful forms of expression out there. (Not necessarily mine, of course, all of the others are good eggs, though)

I wrote this in loving memory of a family member - and if you read my last post, you will understand who and why.

Without further ado, below are the lyrics and at the very bottom you will see a link to listen. If technology is on our side, it should play (please let me know if there are any hiccups).


December, In Dreams I Forgot

Did you hear that,
From the periphery,
That there's a woman -
A young widow of the sea
And she sits by her window
To mourn for an island
That she left and forgot
When she was only seventeen

I would call her brave but,
She might not agree,
She held a love of the shore
And the cold sand in her feet.
She could have it all again,
The land that she knew,
If God's will, in three weeks
She'll return to the fountain of youth.

Did you hear that,
On the periphery
That there's a woman,
A woman returning to the sea
And she's swimming past her window
Not looking over her shoulder
Latching on to years
She lost at the hands
Of the tide

In dreams, I forgot
What this woman meant,
When she told me that
Hardship made her life
Well spent
She said "For I shall remember
the times that I'll smile,
From here on in, it's just
Myself and the sun 
For the last little while."

Do you remember that
From the periphery,
The woman that carried all 
Her strength across the sea
And now the kids sit at her window
And they sing songs about her
That we'll hear across the wind
To be in our lives
Forever after.

Did you see that,
Right by the banks -
She can be seen talking to the 
Ghost of a man,
But she's just as content
As the very First Day
That she caught that
Brilliant herring,
In his currach,
On December's finest day





Friday, 18 December 2015

The "C" Word | Christmas



Have you put your Christmas tree up yet? Have you all of your shopping done? How many Christmas jumpers have you bought? Did you cry when you saw the John Lewis advertisement?

Ah, Christmas.

Christmas is an interesting time of year when you sit down and break it up into pieces. For me now, it is a time when the faaamily gather round, good food hanging around to eat, dodgy films to pass the cold nights and the visitors you see over the course of the few days. Since the numbers of young people who have fled these shores in search of work has increased dramatically over the last few years, it is a particularly important time for families and communities to come together and have a grand aul' do.

It is something that I have not talked about hardly ever before on here, but it also something that ticks away and consumes a large part of my brain this time of year, every year. If I was to tell you, that Christmas excites me, that I own ten jumpers for the time that's in it, that I am on the countdown to D-Day and I am watching Christmas movies to get me in the festive cheer - I would be lying. Do not get me wrong, it is a magical and exciting time for children and families alike - but it is easy to forget those who find the Crimbo shinagegans a bit hard to digest and plough through.

It's not a common, or even a popular opinion to share: "I find Christmas hard".

Anyone who is in the same boat as me will have their own reasons, and I have mine. It will be eleven years this December that my older, beautiful, wonderful sister had her life cut short - so tragically close to Christmas. At twenty-two years of age she had not long graduated from college (top of her class), she on the cusp of something great; the entirety of her life in front of her to live and enjoy. In a handful of seconds, that was all taken from her through no fault of her own. While it is something that I am usually open to talk about in person, tapping it onto these keys knowing that you are reading it is a tad teriffying. But the reason why I am sharing is simply to make other people feel not so isolated in this amazing and haunting part of the year for some.

Some people have discarded these notions I have towards all of this, "Sure you were only young when it happened" or "You hardly remember all of that, surely?" Little did they know that I replayed from the time I found out the news, to the day we said our final goodbyes over and over in my head at night, reliving the horror almost, so that I would not forget. It has left it's mark on all of us, and our family has never been the same since. It was a nightmare, that is the only way to put it. While time, in essence is a healer as they say, there is always that empty chair and her room will always be "Ashling's room" or the question of "What would she have said if she saw or heard all of this?"

A lot of the mechanics behind Christmas are regrettably, highly influenced corporately. I do not see why we cannot make time for each other, and our families especially, throughout the year. You only realise how much you miss something until the day that it is no longer in your grasp.

I am not Scrooge, I am just part of a minority. All I can say, is that this year was the first year I bought a Christmas jumper and I am starting to sing along (half hazardly) to the songs on the radio. Fairytale of New York gets me every time, dunnit.

If you take anything from this; keep an eye on those around you. Something as small as calling in on the elderly members of your community for a quick cup of tea could mean the absolute world to them. We are always busy, well we seem to be anyway. Can we really be too "ran off our feet" to neglect people during their loneliest time of the year?

Still don't believe me? Last year, half a million elderly people in the UK spent Christmas Day completely on their own. I stumbled across this video last year and it stayed with me afterwards.

After this post, ordinary content will resume again. I have come very close to discarding this one completely. However I made a promise to myself that I would be as authentic and as true as I possibly could be on this space. I also thought it would be interesting for a young person to shed light on this topic, as it is not a problem that is exclusive to any background or age bracket.

I do wish you all, a happy, safe and peaceful Christmas and that you spend the holidays the way you want them to.

Nollaig Shona agus Athbhliain faoi Mhaise Duit

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Thursday, 19 November 2015

My Happy Place | Association with Independent.ie | #MindYourself


It is often taken for granted the little things around us that can collectively, if we avail of these things regularly enough, will make us happy. Over the last couple of years, the conversation of mental health has been allowed the space it deserves to be discussed freely on almost every medium. While, it is fair to say, there is a long way to go, it is with campaigns such as these that help to normalise and humanise this part of life most of us will go through at least once in our life time in some shape or form. 'For their 'Mind Yourself' campaign, Independent.ie asked me to discuss my happy place. Be sure to use the #MindYourself hashtag to read other incredible stories.

It was difficult to narrow down my favourite spots to spend my time, so I'm going to talk about two (I was always one to bend the rules wherever I could). Both of which, funnily enough, don't require any money and are two of the simplest things I do in my daily/weekly routine.

My desk has borne many a eureka! moment, tears, scratch marks, times of great creative splurges and other plummets of wheredoIgofromheres. I studied my Junior Cert on this piece of furniture, I've prepared projects, wrote pieces for writing courses, and indeed of course here on my blog. I'm currently now using it to try and plough through the Leaving Cert. It's a bit of an odd thing to say that someone can get attached to a piece of furniture, but as a young writer, you'll often find that it is a common occurrence. It's a spot that allows me to work hard, develop my craft, and if nothing else - to look out at the transitioning colours of the sky throughout the evening. Granted, at the moment, my current view is my Dad's dodgy boat that has only seen the water I would say, about three times, a porto-cabin (don't ask), and a concreted patch, the views above eye-level make up for all of that. 




Secondly, the route that I take religiously is definitely something worth mentioning. This was the first route that I was allowed to walk completely on my own. I mention the word “allowed”, because that is exactly how it was. After years of undergoing spinal surgery throughout my childhood, little milestones like these often came at a delayed stage, but were all the more rewarding nonetheless. I could have been about fifteen or sixteen when I took this route by myself. Having said that, it's one of the hardest in my village as there's quite a lot of hills and a demanding bray on the way home at "Biddy's Corner"! 











There are days where you just need to take a breather, switch off the phone, take yourself away from the desk (even my beloved one) and just head out to get some fresh air into your lungs. There is nothing more grounding I think, than the sureness of the road and crisp, sharp air to help to ease you out of a lull you may find yourself in. The views in my neighbouring village are often a source of great envy of visitors, and always provide some very Instagrammable-friendly snaps. I'll frequently bump into some of my neighbours or give the signature country "salute" on the road. In between the interactions, it almost allows me to forget about life and all the major and minor things that make it so - if only for forty minutes. It's a walk that I have brought some of my friends on and we would all agree that it is a gander we will never get tired of going on.

These are just two of the things that bring great enjoyment in their own way. I encourage everyone to:
A) Find out what makes you happy
B) Do lots of Part A

Life is full of waves and the occasional tsunami, but is up to us to make them tolerable lilts in the current. By taking some time for yourself and just being aware of where you are today, it is one of the greatest things you'll ever do.

Monday, 26 October 2015

What's the Story | Writing



Over the last few months, particularly in the weeks of late, I have met and spoken with different people - as you do. Since the excitement that the Irish Blog Awards brought, I've been asked what exactly is the deal with this writing arrangement I've had going on. I shall oblige and attempt to condense a tale of years of dodgy pens, torn pages and a project forever "in the pipeline".

Surprise, surprise, the fiasco started as soon as I could write with those 50c pencils we all bought in national school and a free copy from Supervalu back in the day. Usual, barely legible scribbles were the foundation of a life long absolute buzz. In the beginning, I used to rephrase and rewrite the short stories I read at school in my spare time. I wrote about the minor things that happened over the course of a day in a small, frightful, fuschia notepad that had those useless lockers on the side. As the years went on and my spelling improved (you would hope), we invested in a family desktop. Little did everyone know, that the desk it was placed on, would be the creative hub for endless hours of stringing words together.

The three main ingredients, I believe make a half decent writer; imagination, a strong back-bone of reading material of all kinds and a deep set interest in the world, along with its inhabitants. My imagination was always tapped into from the get-go, mainly thanks to my father and my sister. My dad would sit beside me at night and would make up stories on the spot to put me to sleep. I always felt sorry almost for every other child I knew, because no one else could enjoy these completely brilliant legends. One of my older sisters and I used to lament about leprechauns, fairies and butterflies. We would go out in the garden at the weekends when she was home from college and count how many mushrooms we could find to predict how big a seance our little friends had. I was never afraid to rope whoever was around to read me a story before I hit the hay. Being the youngest of four by a long shot, this was a regular thing.

I was a different kind of a little person, I loved pretending. I was the type of girl that would have made a bed for her Barbies out of a Dairygold butter box and a facecloth rather than asking for one made out of plastic. Admittedly, I also had an "imaginary" friend for far too many years than I care to account for. This is a common occurrence for many creative people, so don't be having a canary on me.

Many hours were either spent travelling from one end of the country to the other or lulling around in waiting rooms, so I read and read and read. In the early years, I wasn't the quickest on the take with big words, but I wasn't afraid to ask whoever was beside me to pronounce and explain something. Vocabulary built over time, my stories got longer, books got bigger and it all got more thrilling as each year passed. 

From the age of fourteen onwards, I started attending the Scoil Acla Writer's Workshop with Macdara Woods. I wrote a blog post on it last year where I go into it in more detail. It was only when I attended those classes that I thought;

Oh
This
Could 
Be
A
Thing?

A light-bulb went off in my angst-y, teenage wiring. I let loose with the pen and made a decision to not let my own work intimidate me. I had never been a person to rebel, I stuck close on the curb along with the rules and regulations set before me. Though with writing, I could and still can, push the boundaries. By attending the reading nights and presenting my pieces, I started to make people think, I began to shed the Ordinary Plain Jane facade.

Since then, many things have been documented and morphed for viewing of beady eyes. The brilliant sister, my favourite person, is regrettably not roaming around to read and see me on this whirlwind. I haven't found someone since, who will voluntarily sing Peggy Gordan with me, dancing with sweeping brushes on the kitchen floor. But I feel she always brings a bit of luck. I was awarded Bronze for Best Youth Blog in the Irish Blog Awards last week, and it as just as much as Ashling's as it is mine. One thing I know for certain, she would have kept the celebrations going for an extra "week or ten days" as we say around here!

Between the jigs and the reels, it's been an-going process to say the least. Any craft is always developing, and there's not a day that goes by you don't learn something new. What's the ultimate goal? I couldn't tell you, it's a needle in a haystack. You might read about it somewhere, or hear it outside the door of Sunday Mass. We'll both know then, surely.

Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.
– E. L. Doctorow

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Standing Out | Why it's a Good Thing



Be it standing out from the crowd or following the herd, I've touched base on it before. I think it's an easy, almost passive thing to say to young people; "Stand out from the others". It is often said with little assurance and substantial proof of those "success" stories we are all looking out for. What is "success"? What defines or measures one person's achievements from another? Success, in all its forms is unthinkably vast, nearly unfathomable to measure, entirely.

Whether your interpretation of success is achieving your full potential as you and being happy with your lot, or the CEO of a major global firm zooming around in Mercedes and wearing unpronounceable labels, there is one main root that caused it. What's that you ask? I hate to break it to you, it isn't some farce, voodoo, witchcraft lark. These people quite simply, didn't give a flying notion about what people thought, they carried on with their regime. Once an inkling of success presents itself, everyone jumps on the bandwagon and asks what's the secret. 

If we were to sit around and lament our lives to the hymn sheet of other's expectations, we'd live in a time-lapsed, repetitive drone of "just alright", "doing okay", and "plodding along". Having said all that, it is becoming increasingly popular to have an "edge" of some kind. Although this said "edge", is morphing into a reoccurring niche; indie music, band t-shirts, a preference of tea over alcohol, and cats galore. Do not be mistaken, I am not making a mockery of people that are into these things, I for one enjoy all (minus the cats, sorry!). 

What do all these t-shirts, and music and others have in common now? They are materialistic objects, they are simply things.  (the cats are more than just things, I think we would all agree). Although, what is not as on trend to be associated with are the other important things; participating in events in your community/school, taking up a non-conventional hobby, taking an interest in politics (although the way the country currently is, I wouldn't blame you) or even starting your own blog. The reason why these (and more) are unpopular to the status quo is the fact that they are not the mainstream way of passing your time, and they are (sadly) often subjected to uninformed judgments from others.  

For anyone that knows me, there is very little "mainstream" about me, and I don't fit many boxes of people my age. This can be seen as an advantage, or an incredibly suffocating scenario, particularly during school-going years. Whether or which you may perceive it to be, I learned to embrace it. Does it make me any better than anyone else? It sure as hell doesn't, it's simply a curve-ball (or two) in how I see and understand things myself. Take for instance, the news. All down through the years, by both doing quite a lot of travelling from Mayo to Dublin as a child, and living with my parents, listening, reading and watching the news has become a part of my routine. From my early years, I would nearly be excited at the thought of long car journeys, if it meant I could listen to "Drive Time" on RTE Radio 1, or Seán Ó'Rourke. I started to form a liking towards Vincent Brown and watching Prime Time Documentaries with my mother. What is most interesting, when I think of all this; when I was younger, one of the most frequent things said to me was, "I'll be with you in a minute, I just want to check the headlines". Now, at eighteen, I find myself saying the exact same thing to people around me. 

This long-established interest is seen to be both strange and questionable by others. Similarly, my setting-up of this blog was also seen in the same light. But you see, as both a person and (aspiring) writer, my head would be spinning faster than the speed of any fancy yacht steered by any CEO. My thoughts would have no where to go and I would not be able to fine-tune my craft. Sure, I wouldn't be exposing myself to a lack of understanding that is still, to this day, to be found. But what I put to you is; who would I be doing the favour, if I didn't bite the bullet?

Between the jigs and the reels of writing here, of being sometimes apprehensive (petrified), of just doing what I do, this blog has gone through to the finals of the Irish Blog Awards for Best Youth Blog. Am I proud? Well, I'm grateful more than anything. But I am proud, because I got through the biggest hurdle of all; what people would think. (I have included a link to an interview I did recently below, if you want to hear a bit more about this!)

What I am saying to you is, do not be, for one moment of your life, hesitant of seizing opportunities with both hands that may come your way. The day you draw your last breath, you want to be able to say you lived your life whole-heartedly for you, and unapologetically for others. We are dealt with an unknown set of years, and subsidizing a single day out of those out of fear is, I think, one of the most human tragedies of all. 

Go out, do you, and live. In the meantime, you'll be doing yourself the biggest favour imaginable. 




Wednesday, 23 September 2015

A Poem | In the Wake of a Day Lived




"God bless you, darlin'," croaks through empty space
From Digges Lane as I 
Carry on with the routine;
A pilgrimage of some description.
Flinching as revolving doors threaten
to howl at my arrival
"Bionic Woman" has lost its touch,
It seems.
The lotto is unjustifiable this week,
to pay extra for two 
measly numbers.

Instead, I opt for the staples,
Avoid the ingredients that filled 
My cupboards of a time when
Heating an extra plate
Wasn't questioned.
A packet of Bisto kindly reached
By the same face, different name tag,
Sparks a discussion of 
Tonight's fine dining.

Feeling brave, the self check-out
Seems appealing now,
As I lift the groceries from the counter -
The weight of which
More tolerable
Than Before,
I decide to leave my change of
Three-twenty for some
Ordinary Joe Soap
To prize their stars on.

I mull around Stephen's Green,
Bags in hands, feet on pebbles,
Waiting on a name to find me through
Vodafone's dodgy connection.
In the absence of a
Word received,
Signals a taxi to consume
More of my coppers.

Without the scare mongering
of Home, I flick the immersion
To life;
Where I plan to let parts 
of today and
Pieces of me
Fly down the plughole
Forever.

Waiting, always waiting,
The kettles boils,
One cup. One Sugar. Fortified milk.
My phone vibrates, and answer
To find a voice residing down
the country, but it wires to a 
Similar frequency of my own.

And I forget of where
I am, of today, and all
That I'm not.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Update | Battle of the Busy



I am sure, that it is no secret at this stage across my social media, that I have entered into my final year of secondary school, i.e., Leaving Cert, i.e. stressed-to-the-nines. Unfortunately, my senior year is not depicted like your average romantic Gossip Girl/PLL saga. It requires a lot of hard work, energy (that is not plentiful) the right mind-set, and plenty caffeine. 

I’m dedicated to my work, which is one of my biggest strengths, and indeed, one of my downfalls. From time to time, I tend to lose sight of looking after what should be on the top of the list; myself, and not Club Accounts from White Heads Golf Club, year ending 2005.

I want to do well, of course I do, but I don’t want to get swarmed up for a year and forget to be who I am. Writing is a big part of me, there is not one without the other. Rewind two weeks ago, I would have said all that would be put on the back-burner, but I was reminded that at the end of the day, I can’t neglect what makes me happy. I have a hard time taking leaves from my own books.

“Work, life, balance” is a sentiment that is preached in society, and while right now I can’t fully recognise it, I hope I will soon. There is a lot going for this space at the moment and I can’t let it go by the weigh-side. Believe me; I would much prefer to write album reviews, short stories and other things you would find here, rather than Comparative Essays and Balance Sheets.

So what’s been happing, you might ask. I was recently shortlisted for the Best Youth Blog as part of the Irish Blog Awards. There is a public vote until 21st September. Being shortlisted, as I’ve said across Facebook, is a major achievement in itself – but to be able to go the extra mile would be fantastic. If you would like to help your gal out, you can click here – I will let you know how I get on!

There are a couple of other things that may possibly be happening in the background in the near future, so I won’t be fading away from here. My plan is to write up a couple of blogposts at weekends, and getting up earlier in the morning to do so. My workload aside from blogging is quite vast – and there is a lot for me to get through, but I’ll try to make it work. Meeting people out and about, even in school, who say to me they read my blog and ask when will I write again, is one of the main reasons why I keep coming back here. For so long, I felt I was writing to an empty matter of wires and connections, but I’m learning that that isn’t the case, and I have you to thank for that.

All I can do is take a deep breath, take a minute to look from my desk and hope that the turf gets brought home before September is out.

Let me know how you balance your "Battle of the Busy" in the comments below.

Friday, 4 September 2015

Weird Dreams Anonymous | #IRISHBLOGCOLLAB



Following fierce intense discussions with Maeve from Thrift O'Clock through Snapchat over the last few weeks, this was an inevitable post to be written up. I am by no means responsible for the happenings of my brain in the little hours. And unfortunately, I cannot muster up any explanation as to why my dreams revolve around an intoxicating amount of weirdness. Having said all that, as I say, it's a bit of craic and you might get a laugh or two!

YOU SAY IT BEST, WHEN YOU SAY NOTHING AT ALL
(YOUTUBE IT, BUD)
I might as well start off with the one that raised the eyebrows across my social media - because it was as bizarre as the Leaving Cert curriculum (yes, honey, I went there). Unfortunately, I was caught up in a rather, ahem, compromising scenario.

Let's set the scene, I'm in a room, littered with beds, Norris, Emily and other various members of the Coronation Street are around the place. All bunker style, nothing too shady? Right next to me, is no one other than Ronan Keaton, formerly known as the errss and the arrrrs and the urrrs from Boyzone fadó fadó. I wish to outline, I am not, never have been, a fangirl of either Keaton or Boyzone. I never listened to them when I was younger, and I am still a good person.

Absolutely nothing shady or dodgy was going on. Truth be told, he was telling me all about his kids.

We subsequently, after all having dinner, headed out to Today FM's offices in Dublin - for what? Who knows. (I did work experience there earlier on in the year!) Instead of being greeted with the regular routine of getting in and sorted, the whole place was Easter themed. 

In the middle of summer.

Next thing I know, we are all wearing bunny costumes, hopping around the place.

I can't explain this any further, I know, I want answers too.

STOP THE LIGHTS
One minute, I find myself mulling around Dundrum shopping centre with my neighbour. Next thing, I'm the passenger of a coach driven by Carson from Downton Abbey on the way to Achill, with no headlights on.

Fearing for not alone my safety, but my entire life, I didn't think it was unreasonable to ask what he was playing at. I wasn't met with any favourable answer, and I can only say that I am glad I woke up shortly after!

FLIP IT 
Have you ever made food for your boss? Or been asked to produce a piece of artwork in an office-based setting? One such night, I was a PA for a radio presenter, the name of which I've sadly forgotten. My classmate was working in the desk across from me and he was summonsed to an office. Once arriving, he was asked to make pancakes for our boss. Shortly later, I was asked to come in and do the same.

I allegedly burst into a tsunami of tears after trying to explain that I can't draw a line to save my life when asked to turn into Picasso on the spot. 

When I woke up shortly after this, I woke up actually crying before I told myself to cop on!

I'll leave it there for today, be sure to read Maeve's post for all bundles of randomness. Please let me know what weird dreams you've been having for a chance to be a part of the exclusive #WeirdDreamsAnonymous - two members, and counting.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Album of the Month | I Forget Where We Were | Ben Howard



It is true to be said, at this stage, I am late to the game with albums and raving about them. I'm generally present before the bandwagon or at the complete tail-end, there is no in between. So how did I stumble on this? As part of my sister's birthday present in July, I bought her the album. Taking a chance, after listening to a couple of his songs before, I figured it'd fit the bill - and it seems to have done.

If you've been following my Snapchat, you'll have known I was temporarily residing in my sister's house for a short time when some (major) plumbing works were being done in my own abode! With this, I was left home-alone quite a deal while she worked, which suited me down to the ground. Instead of listening to the radio like I usually do when I'm on my own, I threw on her CD player and low-and-behold, the said album was in the tray so I fired it on. Trying not to sound dramatic, I haven't looked back.

The vocals, lyrics are beautifully hypnotic, immersed in carefully constructed strings and strums. In this album he finds a tendency for electrical, spaced instrumentals and an effects box. All this sounds rather bland on paper but is a work of art to the ears, truly.

My absolute, favourite song in I Forget Where We Were has to be Time is Dancing, it is stunning. Listening to songs like these makes me want to fire out the Fairy Liquid and do a wash-up. Only me? But I can assure you, that's a high regard from your lady here.

"Wrapped up in empathy
The chemicals are pushing past my blood

Hold all my cliches
They are tipping my tongue to tell you that it's love

Hold it in, let's go dancing
I do believe we're only passing through
Wired again, look who's laughing
You again, all you, all you, all you"
(Like, HowCanYouNot?!)

Admittedly, I am reviewing this as a stand-alone, as I have not yet had the time to listen to his debut album, which is fair to say - is quite backwards of me. Having said that, it doesn't take away from my imminent fangirling sessions I have endured as of late.

From top-to-toe, above all, I Forget Where We Were is clearly enriched with experience and memories, and it makes you think; whathappenedhere?

So should you listen to it? Abso-bloody-lutely. You will find the Spotify widget below and will be placed on the right hand side of my blog for the month of September. You can thank me later.

What have you been listening to this month?

Monday, 24 August 2015

Tales of the Short Life



It seems that in the last couple of years, being short, for us ladies, seems to be “on trend”, which is quite bizarre to me. Years ago, we wanted to be as tall as the rest of the girls up and down the runway. No body shape or size, should be just on trend whenever the world sees fit. If you’re as tall as a lighthouse or as short as, well myself, that’s perfectly okay. 

Having said all that, the short-y life is entertaining and includes many a tale to be told. Being 4 ft 9 (maybe 10 inches on a good day) doesn’t fail to be the centre of a (mis)happening or two.

THE BATTLE OF CUTENESS
The “guys love short girls” sentiment has to be one of the most patronising things that has been lamented to me. Yeah? This simply, has not materialised as successfully as people like to make out. 
“But-“
No buts, just make me a cup of tea.

NOT REACHING, NOT REACHING, STILL NOT REACHING
How would you feel, if there was perfectly edible food in a press, you’re starving, you’re home alone, and you can’t reach it?

Think about it.

Pretty awful?

Other beautiful things that are (literally) out of my grasp:
- I’m unable to look over the dashboard in most cars, hilarious and sad, but true.
- Bucket chairs are the epitome of all things wrong in the world.
- The top presses in whatever house I’ll live in will never be used.
- Windows, oh good God, windows.
- High heels are just a no-go, they make no difference.
- Making my way around any kitchen is like RDS show-jumping.
- Paying for items at a counter that is too high should be an Olympic recognised sport.
- This is not an exhaustive list

When I’m out shopping, I often can’t reach the essential things I went into the shop to buy in the first place. I can imagine myself, in my twenties, mid-thirties, heading into Tesco to pick up some gravy – and a chap who works there I would have befriended knowing exactly what to do as soon as he saw me trotting up.
“Well Catherine,” he’d say, “gravy then?” he’d say.
Is that even a question?

THREADZZ
Not many brands carry a petite range, so that’s a problem. The top is too broad in the shoulders, it’s long enough to pass as a dress. Then the dress comes to your ankles where it rests just at the knee on the mannequin. The material gathers at the bottom on your jeans, “just cut it at the bottom” they’d say. Little do they know that’d horrify both my mum and my aunt, who are almost tailors in their own right. Next thing you know, the changing-room becomes a fully forced wrestling match with yourself.

And in the end you opt for a pair of leggings, an oversized jumper and fluffy socks.

R U SRS, M8?
Frequently, people can’t quite wrap their heads around the fact that I am as old as I am.
“You’re going at the Junior Cert next year?” they’d say.
When the information is swiftly delivered that those exams are long, gone, done and dusted, it’s like a whack to the chest and they question the entirety of the universe as we know it.
“And you’re eighteen? Well jhaysus” currently onto the whyisthegrassgreen, “well good girl yourself anyway.”

I can see myself in ten years’ time, twenty eight years of age, after having a week from hell at work, simply looking for a quiet evening at the cinema.
“Sorry, there, I just have to check you’re old enough to watch – what is it? Magic Mike XXLABC5”.

I also reckon the likelihood of bouncers not believing that my ID is legitimate, is a fairly probable occurrence. 

On the bright side, think of the amount of YEARS I’ll be able to get out of my student card for discounts?

Keeping it short and sweet (no pun intended) for today. Have you any entertaining stories about your height? Tell me in the comments below!


Wednesday, 19 August 2015

A Short Story | "A Mark on the Calendar"



This is the first time I have shared a short story on my blog. I am by no-means an expert, but you have to start somewhere. This story, I would like to add, is a fictional piece. Grab a cup of tea and have a read and let me know what you think in the comments below.

I folded the clothes like I did every other day. Edges, crisp and parallel to one another, a strict structure to make up for the one that my life lacked. Pretty blouses and tops I’m not sure I’ll wear again for some time. Wednesdays were “pay-day”, laundry-wise. I had a system of jobs to do every day – the same system I’ve had since I was fourteen years old. 

I could hear her stirring upstairs, she liked to take her time to make her appearance. I took a break from the clothes and flicked on the kettle. What mood would she be in today? Her humour swung mid-air daily, and you could only hope the pendulum would land in the favourable direction. 

Every morning she walked in the kitchen, she looked stunned almost, surprised to find herself in the house she had been living in for a handful of years or more. “Good morning, Mam” I tuned to her. She flew her head around, was she surprised to see me, too? “Ah, morning.”

I watched her find her way around the kitchen; checking that everything was in place. Yesterday’s newspaper caught her attention, political so-and-sos plastered on the cover. “Enda Kenny,” she choked, “Taoiseach? How did he manage that?” About twice, or even three times a week, this revelation would take the weight from under her feet. “So the Fianna Fáil crowd are all booted out? Well, I can’t say I’m sorry that it happened – too many shady characters in it, I would say. Although I did take a shine to Eamon Gilmore. He’s still the head of the Labour party now?” For argument’s sake, it was easier to go along with whatever put her mind at rest, “Yes, Mam, he’s still there in the ranks with the best of them.” I don’t think Joan Burton would be losing sleep over my attempt to appease my mother.

The kettle finished boiling, she took a cup down from the cupboard, poured the water, popped in the teabag and stirred it. As I was about to go back to the clothes, I could see her bringing the cup closer to her mouth. She had forgotten to put the milk in to cool it down. I darted from the other end of the kitchen, and took it from her in a matter of milliseconds. If I was a fraction of a moment too late, I would be nursing a scalded lip, mouth and throat. She tried to contest with me, “I was going to drink that, actually.” Keeping my patience in line, I tried to level my voice as calm as I could, “Why don’t you get the milk?”

She studied the door of the fridge, her eyes honed in on the picture frame I had picked, a photo of us on our holidays in Tenerife five years ago, happier times. Beneath the beaming photo, My Daughter, Sorcha, was etched. I intentionally placed it where she would she would see it several times a day. She turned her head to find her eyes on me, she smiled – with the brown, beady buttons I had inherited from her, but it didn’t feel as genuine as it did before. Alongside the photo was a note, it read:


Today: Wednesday 12th August 2015
Sorcha receives her Leaving Cert results
Aunt Mary will pop around at lunch-time, she will bring you to the GP for 1.30

I started leaving these notes on the fridge a couple of years ago, we don’t speak about them, I write them and she reads. It’s said without saying it; we both know why they’re there.

She returned to the counter, not a shade of embarrassment for her slip up two minutes prior, “And you’re getting your results, today? Very best of luck with them, and sure the hard work is done and dusted now, what will be, will be.” I wished I could have believed her.


I deliberately waited until lunch time to head to the school to pick up my results, so that I could get Mam organised for the day. As promised, Aunty Mary arrived at 1.30 to relieve me for two hours or so. I didn’t avail of a great deal of help from the family, part of me doesn’t want to bother them, part of me wonders if they sincerely mean; “If you need anything, just let us know”. It had become a catchphrase over the last while, words – that’s all they are. Having said that, I was grateful. It was important for my mother to go to her regular check-ups. She had been put on the latest clinical trial to treat early-on-set dementia. Every year there was some new “breakthrough”, and whether or which this new cocktail will make any difference would remain to be seen. I was anxious to make sure she was kept on the programme. We have to cling to hope wherever we can sometimes. 

Mary looked at me wearily, squeezed my shoulders and tried to lighten the tone in her voice, “I’m sure you’ll have done great, take deep breaths – it’ll be all over soon enough. Are you sure you don’t want someone to walk down with you?” Funny that, I thought, I’ve seem to miraculously manage everything else on my own and somehow sit exams amid the functioning chaos that is my life. I sighed, “I should be grand, thanks. As you said, it’ll be all over in a jiffy.”

I hadn’t given myself a spare minute to think about what the numbers on a piece of paper will tell me this afternoon. Admittedly, I was just so caught up in getting my exams finished, to be able to say I did them, that I had almost forgotten there were results to be sought afterwards. I took the route to the school, it probably being the last gander I would have for some time yet. In my mind, I had it all sorted. I planned to defer whatever course I’d be offered for a year at least until I had some long-term-fixture in place for Mam. 

*****

The following day, I received a message from Johnny, you have to hand out credit where it is due, and he had been a determined individual the past few months in his effort. I put him off time and time again – who would, in their right mind, decide to put all their energy into someone who has all theirs deposited solely in caring for a person? 

Bearing that in mind, I had a look at my phone all the same; 
“Hope you’re happy with your results. Fancy meeting up for lunch one of the days, catch-up? - John-Boy”

Just as I was about to reply, to reiterate the response that he knew was looming, there was a knock on the door. I checked to see that Mam was safely resting in the sitting room before I answered it. The last person I was expecting to see, stood the tallest I had ever seen him, it looked like he was standing on clouds. If this were a film, John’s signature genial smile would have taken up the whole frame. He consciously organised his charcoal hair into a perfect mess, and dressed head-to-toe in Hollister. He was a man that meant business.

Not alone did he not give me a chance to answer his message, he interrupted me as I was opening my mouth to ask what in God’s name was he playing at.

“Cool the jets,” did my face look as stunned as I felt? “Your mother will be well-taken care of, I called round to your Aunt Mary-“ queue the entrance of the woman of the hour “- and sure look, perfect timing. I had a feeling you’d take your time to get back to me – so I thought if I rocked on up-“ 
I cut across him, “That I’d be snookered?”
His smile went crooked, “I didn’t realise my company was so torturous. No more questions, grab your coat.”

I went into the kitchen to fetch another couple of layers. Mary was putting Mam’s medication into little plastic boxes – she was due her will it, will it not work concoction around about now. I’m not used to going here, there and everywhere at the drop of a hat, “Mary, what’s happening? Are you sure you’ll be okay here for a couple of hours? I didn’t know I was heading anywhere ‘til he showed up-“
“Don’t worry about it, pet” she cooed, “It’s all sorted, you deserve a break. Like we always say, wherever we can help, we will.” The evening’s sun was streaming in and wrapped around her heart-shaped face and platinum coloured hair, making her look like an angel in disguise. I pulled my most thanks a million, you’ve saved the day smile I could muster.

“Sorcha’s off on a date, Bridget, with John down the road.” she said to my mother as I was running out the door.  I grimaced at the label she chose for this turn of events, but my mother would probably forget my whereabouts as soon I got into the car.

***** 

John was the first person I had made friends with when we moved to Lucan eight years ago. He is quite literally, as clichéd as it sounds; the boy next door. He had become my closest and dearest friend in no time, it’s hard to say no to his charm – even as a ten year old. In the last year he had been hinting towards something a bit more committed than our friendship that had stood the test of time. I had tried to steer him clear – he can be just as stubborn as me, it seems.

You could tell John took pride in his VW Polo, despite the fact it was obvious he lacked leg-room, whereas I had plenty. Now that I think of it, I saw him sponging down his precious chariot earlier this morning. 

Although, at this stage in the game, I could nearly trust him with my life – I didn’t like to be left in the lurch. “If you could fill me in on where exactly we’re going, that would be delightful, thanks.”
He grinned at the stretch of road in front of him, rhythmically tapping his fingers on the wheel. A lilac sky cast, signalling that summer was in its prime – but it didn’t provide an ounce of any calming effect on me. I honestly thought he was going to get premature wrinkles with all the smirking he has been doing today alone.
“It’s a surprise, you see,” he was enjoying this, “all in good time, squirt.”

Since leaving our home in Lahinch – the sea and beaches along with it have been the single thing I have missed since moving to Dublin. I hadn’t acquired the salty, crisp air that my lungs fuelled on in quite some time. Even when I do get a dose of it when we’re down, I only consume it in snippets. The air by the coast would make anyone feel young, the sand curled up in your toes keeping you grounded.

My eyes blundered when we pulled into the car park by the promenade in Sandymount. John whipped his head to me, “Since you’re always given out about” he gestured his hands around, and he pitched his tone into a squeak; “’this polluted oxygen we are subjected to’, this is the best I can do, missy”.

While he never seems to stop taking the absolute piss out of me, and I thumped him hard in the arm to let him know, this was the nicest thing he had done for me – it felt strange to be thought about for the first time in an age.

We didn’t say much when we initially made our way onto the strand. Granted, I am on the other side of the country, but thundering onto the shingly grit made me feel closer to home. 

“Isn’t a shabby way to spend the evening, I suppose,” John uttered the first words between us in the last ten minutes. It was getting chillier now, but if it was as cold as the Antarctic I think I would have still kept going. He continued; “And neither is the company, can’t stop the chat out of you,” winking at me.
“I’m just thinking,” 
“That’s what all you women say, sure we all think.”
“Do you want a bruise on that arm, John-Boy?”
He stopped in his tracks and turned towards me, surrendering his arms into an empty space.
“What’s on your mind then?”
I sighed, “What isn’t?”
“Now, now” he teased, “tell Uncle Johnny all about it. You never told me about your results?”
The results. I hadn’t thought much about them myself, being honest. 
I inhaled deeply, I hadn’t said them out loud yet to anyone; “I got 455, I reckon I’d have enough for Multimedia in DCU, my first choice, but I’m not sure-“


He stopped immediately again. Eyes popped, jaw opened and set in such he way he’d never pose for a selfie. His voice cracking and pitching to random frequencies; “Sorcha, that is absolutely, UNREAL? Aren’t you pleased?” He looked like a Jack-in-the-box that was about to set into orbit, RDS show-jumping style.
I thought about it for a bit, surprised at his reaction in comparison to mine. “Ah yeah. I’m delighted,” was I lying? “I’m just not sure if I can accept the offer on Monday, if it comes around. You know how things are at home. I can’t dream of leaving Mam unattended, even for a day. All hell will break lose, I’ll defer my place.”

He didn’t say anything for a minute. Instead, he looked out at the sea and we kept walking while the waves lipped and lapped over one another, a neat strip of foam forming on the shore line. The two Poolbeg chimneys out past the water looking as lost as I felt.

He gestured for us to sit down in a sheltered part on the sand. Finally, he started to speak, taking in a deep breath before he began.

“Sorcha, you are one of the most determined people I have ever had the pleasure of getting to know. You have put everyone else in your life before your own, and that is something I will always admire about you, you’re completely selfless. I know, believe me, you haven’t had it easy the last few years – and you haven’t looked for any medal for all the work you do for your Mam.” He took a break, another breath, as if he had rehearsed this all week; “But you have your own life to live. Life is for living, isn’t it? You can’t live in the shadow of your mother forever. And I know that sounds harsh, but it’s because I care about you that I’m being honest about all this. You have so much going for you, so much so, you don’t even realise it. 

It’s time for you to think about yourself for a change. We can figure out a way to make sure Bridget will be looked after.  I promise, if it is the last thing I’ll do, I’ll get this to work. We can do it together, because you deserve the best chance – you above all people do, at least”.

I knew John wasn’t a lad of few words, and he stuns me from time to time with half the stuff he comes out with, but this was a new level for him. Deep down, I was agreeing with him. There’s usually something about his manner, that makes me always want to contradict and argue with him. Everything he said was true, a voice of reason. 

He looked smug, happy with himself after the speech be bellowed, “and no strings,” he said, “Pinky promise.”

I laughed, forgetting the last time I had done so. I laughed until it hurt and my head felt dizzy, I laughed until I sensed that I could push the waves all the way to Clare and back. I laughed until I could loosen the nuts and bolts inside my head, clearing the fog. I laughed until I fell and buried my head into his shoulder, without feeling self-conscious, like I had already started to live, unapologetically. 

I didn’t think I’d ever compose myself. “You’re right,” I beamed at him, “your opinion on many a thing is questionable. But you’re absolutely right.” 

On that note, he hauled me to my feet, his face a mirror of excitement, and picked me up in his arms. “That’s settled then,” he chorused, “you’re ready for the off.” 

I laughed again and threw my head back, splinters of rain falling on me as we whizzed around, I would have welcomed a flood, because they tasted like the purest drops of adventure.


*****

I fumbled with my house keys as I was paving my way towards the front door. I took a glimpse at myself in the pane of glass on my third attempt to turn the key clockwise to let myself in. The sea-air must have gotten to my head, I thought. Even in the reflection I saw before me, with its saturated colours toned down, I was the picture of the perfect matrimony of health and happiness. My auburn hair, although, now a mess – went well with my flushed cheeks,  my freckles didn’t demand to be seen half as much, pupils dilated – a sign of youth I was told before.

I found a note on the cabinet in the hall, it seemed I just missed Mary twenty minutes ago; “I had to pick up Tom from his match, I made sure mum was comfortable before I left. Hope you had a nice time.”

Before I summonsed myself to the sitting room, I calmed my breathing and patted down my hair, Mam wouldn’t recognise me in the slightest in my windswept ensemble.

Her eyes darted up, she looked more here, more present, and I saw Mary had helped her get ready for bed. “Ah, you’re back. Did you enjoy yourself?  How is John keeping?”
She remembered.
Overwhelmed, I opened my mouth; but I couldn’t think of anything without hiding my emotion. The day I dreamed of, when she could recount, even a minor happening in the day - had fallen on my lap and I didn’t know what to do about it.

I raced over to her, threw my arms around her neck and my blubbering, salty tears dampened the shoulder of her cardigan. “Ah now loveen,” she soothed, “was it that bad? I’m just after watching the news, it seems I’m behind the times, I feel the same way about Gilmore”. I managed to gather myself, and I cupped my hands around her face, “No Mam, everything’s great, perfect even”.

She started to come back to me, with the 13th of August forever cherished.