Tag Archives: life

More notes on leaving home: The war of the noticeboard, letting go of bitter things and early drafts of new year resolutions

The most important note to make on leaving home- remember.  To do.  The hoovering.  You are going to regret it so much when you neglect the hoovering.

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The notice board wars began in early October and have continued until now, the final week.  The debate over which side shot first rages on, but what is known is this; in this Welsh medium hall, on the noticeboard there is a welsh and English side to each notice.  Someone swapped all of the notices to display only the Welsh side, or only the English side, depending on who you ask.  The war began to escalate into a blockade of language.  The English notice would be pinned over the Welsh, the Welsh over the English, endless loops of passive aggressive pinning.  The battle reached a fever pitch when someone took a sharp object to the English section of a notice and slashed it through.  The war then entered an uneasy truce.  We all knew a line had been crossed.  The war was revived last week, when someone attempted to throw out the ruined and slashed English language sign along with a reminder to keep the kitchen clean for inspection.

The war entered a new, potentially explosive phase: That of the note.   A note was posted, berating the attempted binner of the notice and the slashed sign.  A reply was quickly posted, citing the reasons for the binning and signed ‘love, Batman.’ A final note was posted in an attempt to defuse the renewed hostilities.  ‘I LIKE TRAINS’, it proclaimed.  There could be no truer peace treaty than that, and for now at least, the warriors rest.

Peace in our time

So I’ve been in Wales for three months, and it’s been nice.  A new network of friends and interests hesitantly and shyly started to root out.  A lovely thing that happens when you’re completely removed from your old town is that all your bitterness and anger just flows away.  It’s so much easier to just let go when you realise that these things don’t really matter, that these things are shifting, that there are more people to see and places to go and things to do than you could ever possibly get through.  Why waste time being stubborn and unhappy?  I slowly started to reflect on the place I’d stepped out of and while looking at it from an angle I hadn’t seen before I began to see where my edges were.  Where all the things that I had raged and wailed and cried about didn’t actually matter one single fuck once you were out of there.  I slowly got back into performing, after a pretty bitter departure from it last year.  I rediscovered the old magic and sprang back into it.

Doctor Who and Roomates

I started bonding with my roomates on the Pantycelyn international students corridor.  Three Americans, an Austrian and two French girls formed my little circle, along with some friendly Welsh and English from upstairs.  In a moment of near unrivalled glee, we ran up to campus as a group and found a Tardis parked in front of the Union, with a talking, lit up Dalek trundling around.  It offered a great photo op, both sweet group snaps and self indulgent selfies.

This entire year was worth it for this Time Lady picture.

This entire year was worth it for this Time Lady picture.

Now it’s nearly time to come home.  I’ve started into a new diary, a smart black notebook I bought to convince myself to maintain this diary- I paid 13 pounds for this notebook, for fucks sake, so I’m going to use it.  Around this time of year, I usually start to think about what I want to do next year, and reflect on what I’d like to develop, change or introduce in 2014.  I present to you here my rough longlist of new years resolutions for your consideration.

1. Become blood of the Dragon

2. Buy more mugs

3. Get really buff and strong.  Start lifting.

4. Also, get super fit and flexible. start yoga

5. Kiss more people.

6. Use the word ‘accoutrements’ more (Referring to luggage and bags)

7. Vacuum every week, so that your room does not become white with dust and the halls warden suspects that you’re dealing cocaine.

8. While deflecting this suspicion, illicitly brew Yakka in bedroom sink (not really, I promise. Please don’t kick me out if you read this…)

9. Listen to more podcasts. In fact, make one. It can’t be that hard.

10. Do couch to 5K, without ending up in a bath of cold water sobbing and eating oranges.

11. Learn to dance properly, and not like a complete berk. (seriously, you’ve made a name for yourself here as the ‘dancing Irish girl’. That’s not a good thing. You need help.)

12. Drink less soft drinks.  Stop being happy about being a non-drinker when you ingest about nine times your healthy level of sugar and caffeine every day.

13. Try to quit coffee.  not tea though.  You gave yourself a three day migraine last time.

14. Vacuum every week.  Remember how much you regret not hoovering enough this semester.  Remember it!

15. Post more letters. people like letters.

16. Practice yoga stretches, tai chi and herbal tea to become one with your spirit and nature.

17. Be less of an angry motherfucker.

18. Keep your diary this year. don’t just get bored after a week like usual.

19. Make lists that are a nice, satisfying length. Don’t end list blogs on an odd number.

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Niamh ‘Wait… fuck!’ Keoghan

Advice for misfit teenage girls

Do you ever feel like you’re not really as smart  as everyone thinks you are, and that you’re just fooling everyone?

If you ever have, I want to talk to you.

Life gave me a lot of things to hate about myself when I was fifteen- I was some wanker, all things considered.  I was a teenage girl, which means inevitably that I was emotional and irrational.  My voice was too loud.  I was really fat.  I had horrible hair.  I thought I was gay because the sight of boys my age made me heave with revulsion (I later realised this was actually due to lynx body spray).  I had no friends that weren’t caught up in a quagmire of mean girls level political intrigue.

The world is not a kind place for a fat, awkward, loud, precocious teenage girl.

I’ve since met the type of kid I was; bursting with ideas and excitement and OPINIONS about THINGS and FEELINGS and speaking in a LOUD VOICE about everything.  They’ll talk your ear off for hours about their favourite obscure media, they’ll tell you ALL ABOUT the novel they’re working on, how much they CAN’T WAIT to be in college and out of school.  Christ, they can be nightmares.  it isn’t their fault.  They have yet to grow into the massive amount of personality they have developed in just over a decade of existence.

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On the other hand, girls at that age are wonderful.  They can do ANYTHING.  They’re writing novels (albeit mine all had unfortunately problematic gender relations and some slut shaming that I’m not proud of) and poems and getting jobs and buying CDs.  Usually if they’ve navigated through the junior cycle of school without much injury (or too much) at fifteen they’ll be finishing up worrying what other people think of them and asking ‘well what do I think of myself, actually?’  If they’re anything like me, they’ll look at themselves and not like what they see at all.

It’s a rough age for boys and girls (I focus mostly on girls on account of having BARRELS of embarrassing experience.), But I have constructed here a few pointers that I wish I had lived by when I was fifteen.

You are not going to look like that for the rest of your life-  I know your parents and friends will reassure you that ‘you’re lovely!’ every time you express concerns over how you look.  So let me give it to you straight- You probably are a bit weird looking. Everyone is a bit weird looking when they’re fifteen.

We had a femmy lumberjack phase back in ’07

You’re in that uncomfortable stage of looking a bit adult but also still childlike, while acting a bit adult and childish at the same time.  You’ll know what I mean when you look back on photos from this time when you’re 20.  It’s disconcerting, particularly if you’re prematurely articulate and clever. You are also likely to be overweight, suffering from acne, or have braces.  I am telling you that is both

a) totally okay

b) totally temporary

you will not look weird for the rest of your life because as you grow you’ll realize that good looking people are often not the ones with perfectly proportioned features, but simply the ones with a bit of personality.  The ones who are all laughing, smiling, having fun, asking you how you’re getting on.  You cannot imagine the beauty to be found in a pair of bright, alert eyes that are full of fun.  It’s also not the be all and end all to be good looking.  There are worse things to be.  If you’re not happy with your body, tell yourself it’s sleeping.  Be kind to it.  It’s as confused as your head is.

Trust me, the braces will come off, the fat will roll off, you’ll get a nice haircut and discover what clothes actually suit you, and you’ll be looking FAB.

….Most of the time

Listen to the music you like, not what makes you cool. This piece of advice actually comes from a girl who was a few years ahead of me at school who gave me a cascade of useful advice around 2006, and this is probably the best and most long reaching wisdom she gave me. Who you are when you go to school is not going to define you and your relationships for the rest of your life.  Seriously.  It’s fucking brilliant.  But the reason the music advice is so good is part of the reason I love music as a conversation topic- You can bullshit about your favourite bands for HOURS.  You can dissect and analyse and share interpretations for hours, and there’s always more to discover.

Listen to the stuff you like because when you talk about stuff you honestly enjoy, you’ll be more interesting.  People will open up and share what they like.  Don’t subject yourself to bad music- it is in fact damaging to your health (I am not making that up).  Music is something people get passionate about and love discussing, it’s a great conversation topic.  When you find people with similar taste in music, you’ll never feel as alone again.  Best advice I ever got- listen to music you like, not the stuff that makes you cool.  I am an EXPERT in sleeper indie hits on the Top 40 charts, for instance.  If you like it, you don’t have to apologise for it.  Rock bands are at least as over produced as pop music these days, there’s nothing more inherently honest about it.  So yes, go and listen to Born this Way, we’ll be waiting with coffee to discuss.

Cover your bedroom in posters.  You will regret it if you don’t; curate a fucking exhibition of yourself in that room, mark it out as yours.  You will never have such a license to throw whatever you want up on a wall ever again, unless you become an eccentric billionaire.

Nobody gives a shit what you did in secondary school. No, read that again.  None of that shit matters.  Read it again.  NOBODY CARES.  You cannot begin to imagine the pettiness you’ll identify when you look back on your teenage years.  Keep in mind always that school ends- you leave when you’re 18 and you don’t have to meet these people EVER AGAIN.  You can go to college and start over. You only have to keep in touch with the people you want.  This doesn’t give you license to be an arse, but keep in mind that no matter how bad it seems, usually that stuff won’t carry over into college and the real world.

Do things for your personal happiness.  Do things that make you feel good, and understand that it is not your job to only satisfy other people’s needs and whims.  Friendships are about two people enjoying one another’s company.  You’re not anybody’s lap dog, nor are you anyone’s boss.  Don’t do things that make you unhappy.  When you’re fifteen you’re allowed be a bit selfish and live for yourself, so do that!  Try not to be too much of a dick.

Relax.  The way you feel right now?  That’s not how you feel forever.  It’ll return now and then, in dark moments of self doubt and come creeping back, but that’s a temporary feeling.  You’re going to be okay.  You are going to do a lot of things you regret, but that’s okay because you’re allowed.  We have all been there.  We are scarlet for the things we did, said and believed when we were fifteen. That’s not  to say what you believe in and want and feel isn’t important- a lot of things you decide now will stick with you, but not all of it.  You will discard those things you don’t enjoy like a snake sheds skin.  You’re only starting out.  You’re going to be fine.

Oh, and under no circumstances should you wear jeggings.  You’ll be scarlet you ever wore jeggings for SURE.

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Niamh ‘I was quite the looker’ Keoghan

Things they don’t tell you about losing a stone.

I am moving from being a heavy syrup latte with cream to being a smooth, bitter americano of a person.

I went to the doctor with cripplingly bad period cramps.  I wanted the pill so the pain that stopped me in my tracks every month would stop.  So I trotted along to the doctor, in a hoodie that I assumed made me look okay.  I explained to her the pains, the crushing depression I felt, the irrational anxiety and the general discomfort that was beginning to effect my work.  She nodded, and then briskly glanced me over.  She said the worst thing I’ve ever heard.

‘I wouldn’t be happy putting you on the pill with your weight.’

The bottom dropped out of my stomach.  The fact that she had this doubt from only glancing at me was the worst part.  To confirm her suspicion she weighed me and took my height.  I was 5 foot 3 and I was 14 stone, 5 and a half pounds.

She kept using the word ‘obese’. my BMI was 34.  I was too overweight- too obese- to get the pill.  She asked me if I needed the pill for contraception (Who the fuck would bed me when I’m this huge was my first upset thought) and I replied no, I only wanted it for my period.  All I wanted was the pain to stop.  My weight was something else.  Help me with my immediate problem, please.  Make the horrible dark depression and the knot of worry in my chest go away.  Make my hormones behave.  The two major problems of my life- the loud and immediate one of crippling hormonal imbalance and the silent, unspoken problem of my weight- had clashed in mid air and sent me spinning.  The doctor began to quiz me about my diet and all the charisma and wit just leaked out of me, all my words were lost.  I just wanted to cry.  She wrote me out a prescription for painkillers and handed me some pamphlets on weight loss.

I managed to make it to the bench outside the medical centre and dial my mother before I cracked and burst into tears.  Haltingly, I managed to explain to my mum what happened- In the confused final moments of my appointment as I tried to hold in the wave of tears the doctor had forgotten to give me my painkiller prescription, so here I sat- 14 stone 5 and a half pounds, five foot three, empty handed and heartbroken.  Not only was my periods problem still unsolved but the other, previously silent problem, had lunged at my jugular.  My mortal fear has always been that I will someday become so obese I won’t be able to move.  Since the age of 11, I have consistently gotten heavier and heavier and never managed to put weight off.

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