Tag Archives: school

I was too fat for skinny jeans in 2005 (and other such nostalgic thoughts)

This weekend has been one of nostalgia, dear readers.  Usually I am wont to tell nostalgia, politely as I can, to fuck right off. Nostalgia at it’s root means to long for something you can’t return to and I’m not down with that futile shit, yo.  But now and again, nostalgia can be a pleasant, warm ride.

I’m not okaaaaaaa-aaaaaaa-aaaaa-*Cough*

Last Friday I was mildly surprised to hear that the band that haunted my adolescence more than any other was splitting up.  This was strange for me, as I was under the impression that My Chemical Romance broke up in 2008.  Alas no, they have plodded on since the early days of 2006, which is when the first contagion of the emo craze was spotted in secondary schools across Dublin.  I was there, man. I remember it. Those little bug eyed cartoons drawn on schoolbags in sharpie marker. The elaborately decorated Nightmare Before Christmas wallets. And the music.  Oh God, the music.

I think I am completely qualified to talk about the emo craze because not only was I there, I desperately wanted to be one of them.  A younger BHT wanted so much to have a side fringe, a piercing in the cartilage of her ear and one of those chains you put your wallet on one end of and clip to your belt.  I wanted the Chuck Taylor sneakers and the dyed black hair, the gloomy outlook of a misfit child happily counterpointed with impossibly hysterical, chirpy melodramatic music and an aesthetic picked up from a children’s animated musical made in 1993.  But I didn’t manage to make the emo transformation for the following reasons:

1: I was too fat for skinny jeans.
2: My mam wouldn’t let me get piercings1
3: All of those accessories were so expensive
4: Razor blades make BHT so awfully nervous.  Poor 14 year old BHT saw one set of earring studs shaped like razor blades and she was outta there.

But ultimately I never really ‘got’ how to be an emo.  Young BHT did make a very ill advised decision to cut a side fringe over the Christmas of 2006 and spent the next eight months going around convinced it was the cat’s pyjamas.  My Chemical Romance existed on the side fringe of my teenage years: I was never really a true fan, but they were everywhere around me.  Slowly they soaked into my subconscious and made a damp little nest there.  BHT for one will mourn their passing as a band.  I will remember them fondly during my more melodramatic moments, where I am fond of screaming ‘I’m not okaaaaaaa-aaaaaa-aaaaaay’ in the style of Gerard Way.

I feel like the whole emo brand has come full circle on me.  Last week, I bought my first ever pair of Skinny Jeans.  Maybe there’s hope for me yet.  But anyway the whole MCR breakup was in my head for a few weeks while I encountered other nostalgic fare.

Is nobody else still excited about the TGV except me?   

I caught the last ten minutes of the 1996 boom fiesta Mission: Impossible on Friday night and it triggered yet another wave of nostalgia.  The climax of MI is possibly the most 90s thing put to film along with that scene in Baz Lurhmans Romeo + Juliet where Leo DiCaprio sits on a beach in California looking meaningful and young while Radiohead play on the soundtrack.  In Mission: Impossible, between product placement for the (at the time newly opened) TGV high speed train and Tom Cruise running away from things (as is his wont in every movie ever) we are treated to copious shots of mid 90s mobile phones, laptops and internet woes.  Then a freaking helicopter gets dragged into the channel tunnel as the train rockets through the English countryside.  Tom Cruise, why are you running everywhere?  How is this CGI so hilariously dated?  Tom Cruise, how did you survive that explosion? How are you not deaf?!  Why does the English bad guy look like the current prime minister of Australia?  Questions for the ages…

I felt a strange pang of nostalgia while watching this scene.  I can just about remember 1997, back when a mother fucking high speed train that goes through a tunnel under the freaking sea was pretty much the best humanity had.  The boundless optimism of the booming 90s, the clunky technology proudly flaunted as cutting edge.  The pre twitter, pre-wifi pre smart phone world is a quaint one indeed but it’s also the one little BHT was convinced she would inhabit one day.  I imagined myself sitting on my high speed train under the sea, tapping away on a ten pound slab of a laptop, while wearing a big hat.

I’m a Daphne in the street and a Roz Doyle in the Bed

The 90s were a good decade for Seattle- There was sleeping in Seattle, a little known music movement you might have heard of called ‘grunge’ which would eventually spawn the emo monolith discussed above, and then there was that spin off from Cheers set in the rainy north west city that nobody has given a shit about shit  (literally nothing else has ever happened in Seattle except for Jimi Hendrix and Boeing).

There is something supremely comforting about the 1990s high-brow sitcom Frasier.  Because the series focuses generally on the lives and problems of well educated, gainfully employed people of means, it’s a very safe show.  Nobody is going to be left destitute, evicted or oppressed.  That’s not to say it’s a bad show. A modern comedy of manners with what is to me a wonderfully welcome early 90s trip.  The big hair, the baggy suits, the PHONES again, posh people bitching at each other and inevitably being zinged perfectly by the down to earth working class characters.

~

If given the chance then, would I wish myself back to the golden days of 1994? Or perhaps to 2006 to relive the emo glory days in the skinny jeans I could probably fit into now?  I think not.  Nostalgia is tempting but in the end, all one really remembers are the highlighted high points and moments of quality; with respect, if all I can remember of the emo craze are the ‘good parts’, I’m fine with staying here.  As for the early 90s, I actually can’t imagine life anymore without constant remote access to twitter.

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Niamh ‘That being said, I think I’d go back just for the big hats’ Keoghan

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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

Atheism and me

I'm an atheist but I'd wear this T Shirt.

Recently I’ve heard a lot of people speak about their non-belief in god, and how they feel a bit sad they’ve lost their faith.  They observe those of faith with a kind of longing.  ‘I wish I could believe.’ they’ll fret.  ‘I wish I could believe the way they do.’ I seem to hear this a lot around Christmas time, with all the cribs, the mulled wine, the carols and the family feeling.  It’s easier at this time than any other to feel like you’re missing out by not believing in God or religion.  I’m not one of these people.  I LOL’d so hard at the news that the Pope had joined twitter that I ruptured something.

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Now, let me say outright I’m not getting at anybody for their religious beliefs- as sacred as sacraments are to some, so is their freedom to believe in what they like to me.  I know good Christians, good Muslims, good Unitarians and a load of good wishy-washy non-denominational people with a spiritual bent.  I’m cool with religious people.  It just really isn’t for me.  It isn’t for me for the following simple reasons- when I was religious, I wasn’t very good at it. I’m bad at Catholicism, full stop.  Here are the list of things that made me a bad Catholic.

I’m not good at being told what to do.

I don’t like the taste of communion host.

Incense makes me sneezey

I used to try and take the baby Jesus out of the crib and use him in my dolly’s games

I have masturbated many times a week since 2008

I love eating chicken on a Friday.

I was a practicing-ish Catholic until 2010.  I went to Mass pretty often.  I believed that generally, God had my back.  Even as I drifted from Catholicism, I had my own personal relationship with god.  I had a firm faith in the afterlife.

You can trace my split with the Catholic church back to the early days of 2000, when I had a massive nervous breakdown in Second class.  When I was in second class I made my first Holy communion and so we were taught by Sr.Dympna, a nun who was a very cool old lady but also very firm.  She was old school in a nice way; big on handwriting, sums, nature and common sense.  Being as I was bold as brass, completely disorganized, scruffy and unfocused she had a lot to work on.  In fairness to her, she saw my potential, which many of my later teachers didn’t.  We once had a class inspection by a Christian Brother.

When I was seven I was very sensitive to bad smells.  And that day, the classroom stank of a vegetable stench.  It was everywhere- it was sort of like raw onion.  I still remember the feel of it in my nostrils, choking me.  It was the most horrible thing I’d ever smelled. Even now 13 years later when I get a hint of that smell I gag.  It was in my throat and up my nose and giving me a migraine. I could hardly breathe.

Of course, when you’re seven and you can’t cope with something, you naturally have a little freak out.  I didn’t know where that smell was coming from- I actually think it might have been an onion bulb that the class had in a jar of water, growing the roots- but my tearful cries of ‘the smell! It’s such a bad smell!’ were interpreted by Sr.D as the seven year old saying ‘the christian brother is smelly!’ My mother was spoken to sternly outside the door when she picked me up early for a dentist’s appointment- the nun was disgusted that I would insult a christian brother by calling him smelly, or indeed calling the room he was in smelly!

That’s where it began.

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Encountering dickheads in the wild.

Dickheads

Let’s talk about what happens when you encounter dickheads in the wild.  In my time, I’ve had a fair share of bullshit thrown at me.  I’m hesitant to call it ‘bullying.’ It was more ‘low level constant bullshit.’ Is that a thing?  Anyway, in my years knocking around the northside suburbs of Dublin as a fat unhappy teenage loner, I got my fair share of harassment.  I think this is a right of passage for any working to middle class girl who grew up in an estate this side of the Atlantic.  If you are in any way weird, you will get bullshit.  Just… Little comments.  Boys heckling you on the street.  Girls running after you, pointing out your undeniable lady ‘stache.  Low level acts of cruelty that at the time were pretty fucking devastating.  The randomness is the thing that always cut me about it.  The fact that these kids would waste time and thought on upsetting a teenage girl makes me just as sad as the nice comments about my writing recently have made me happy.

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Bullshittery

Now that I’m something of a grown up (i.e. I am 20, can make my own boiled egg and soldiers and masturbate, my own personal definition of womanhood) these low level acts of bullshittery are both a) uncommon and b) hilarious.  The winner for best random act of bullshit was on a train back from Maynooth where a lad of about twelve looked over the seats and said the following-

Lad: ‘Hey missus!  Missus, Missus, HEY MISSUS!’

Me: ‘Yes?’

Lad: [with the most earnest, honest look ever] ‘Cunt life?’

That was it.  That one statement.  ‘Cunt life?’ offered as a question, a statement, and an insult.  I have no idea what he meant by it.  Considering cunt is one of my fave words ever, I have adopted this as my personal mantra- it was nearly going to become the tagline of this Blog, in fact.  It’s the kind of thoughtless crap that just makes me laugh.  It’s been a very long time since someone has legitimately upset me with their dickheaded behavior.

When Dickheads strike

So I was eating in Chill the other day, as is my wont every day.  Chill is a happy place for me.  Amazing coffee, nice food, and an endlessly looping playlist containing smooth piano covers of popular songs of the last 2 decades.  It’s painted all in neon pinks and greens.  It is a happy place.  I am safe there.  I was eating a bowl of soup and a wrap with my coffee at 11AM, sitting alone in one of my snugglely hand knitted jumpers.

It was a good morning. It was a fine morning UNTIL the following happened-

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