Monday, 29 December 2014

Dear Diary... My First Semester.

Notebook by Foray, courtesy of www.viking-direct.co.uk 



I am the sort of person who apologises to my diary for not having written in my diary in such a long time. As if my diary were offended. As if it had been so excited to read itself.

Beside my bed is a plush purple Foray notebook intended to be my diary for the past three months, as I began my first year of University. For the first few days it bears overwhelming detail… since my flatmates arrived, it has remained relatively untouched.

And that’s OK. For once, I don’t feel guilty for abandoning my diary or my blog. I’ve been too busy actually doing all these things to write about them, as with many other pastfailures.
It will definitely be one of my New Year’s resolutions to fill in more pages of my diary with all the important changes and day-to-day things that are happening, because this is an exciting and important time in my life and I want to be able to remember it all. I want to be able to tell my grandchildren about my adventures, as and when.

So hopefully I’ll have detailed accounts of all the ups, downs, olds and news that occur in my second semester. For now, I’m taking some time out of my holiday, in the manner of a middle-aged married woman writing the annual round-robin for the Christmas card, to take stock of the last few months and chew over all the developments in my life.

Academically, things have been… interesting. The first few weeks really shot my confidence. Having taken 7 subjects at Leaving Cert as opposed to 3 or 4 at A Level meant that I hadn’t studied either Literature or History in as much depth as many other students. Seminars seemed to discuss topics way above my head, often using complex vocabulary I didn’t sully understand. It was a scary, shaky start, going from the top of my classes to struggling in seminars. However, as the weeks went on, two things happened to help me gain confidence: everyone else relaxed and stopped trying to sound smart and intimidating, and I began to catch up and come into my own.

By week ten, I had a presentation to give with a friend for my Cultural Studies seminar, and it went from several weeks of “How the hell am I going to stand up and talk about this?” to standing in front of the seminar group thinking to myself “Actually, I really do know my stuff. Maybe I’m not an idiot after all”. I heard someone whisper “this is really good!” and our tutor then spent some time in the seminar expanding on a topic myself and my friend had introduced. I think this was the point at which things improved for me and my confidence really shot up. A shame it happened two weeks before my main deadlines, but even in those two weeks I found it a lot easier to get my head down and work, knowing that what I wrote would at least be worthwhile.

Now I can’t wait to start my new modules next semester. I’m going into things feeling like I’m on a much more level playing field with my fellow students and knowing that by keeping up with the work, I’ll get there. I also intend to throw myself into my studies next year. At school, I worked incredibly hard and admittedly, I haven’t done so at Uni! I’m not worried though: the priority this term has been settling in, making friends and getting used to new ways of learning.


Socially, living in a flat with thirteen other young students can have its trials at times (mainly involving crockery and shared bathrooms), but things have gone surprisingly smoothly. I’m hoping to publish a list of things they tell you about living in Uni accommodation, and whether or not I think they’re true, very soon! I’ve experienced that mild surprise of meeting new people and finding that they are keen to get to know me and become my friend… and I feel exactly the same about my flatmates, as well as my neighbours and course-mates. The sheer volume of people in one place means that you’re bound to find someone you click with.

Personally, I’ve experienced quite a few of those clicks, and am eternally grateful for it. The first few days after everyone moved in were pretty hard, because I met so many different people that I became overwhelmed and felt like a bit of an outsider. Within a few weeks, though, I couldn’t have felt more a part of things. My advice to anyone feeling like they don’t quite fit is to explain to people exactly why… you’d be amazed how many of your fellow students are feeling exactly the same way, and by opening up that dialogue you get to know some of your new friends even better. I certainly did.
Meeting entirely new people and making first impressions all over again has taught me an awful lot about my own personality—some of it a little surprising—which I’ll go into at a later date.

In short, I’ve met amazing people (and others), I’ve done some incredibly fun things and incredibly stupid things—the two aren’t mutually exclusive—and am looking forward to going back to Uni and seeing everyone again: catching up on their gossip, eating at 2am in the midst of kitchen chats, getting into deep drunken discussions with relative strangers and being hugged at precisely the right moment. 

Happiness-wise (which I used to write a lot about on my old blog), things are pretty wonderful. I feel happy such a lot of the time, and even when I don’t, I know that I will after a little while.
As far as adult-ing goes, it’s been surprisingly easy in some places and shockingly irritating in others. For the most part, I’m coping, but ever since I turned eighteen six months ago I’ve noticed that being an adult involves an awful lot of paperwork.


So that’s a brief summary of my last few months. I’m going to zone in on some bits and pieces for my next posts… I hope you’re all having as interesting a time as I am! 

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Remember Me? Christmas Tag.

I’m back from Uni and can’t wait to start writing some more blog posts. For now, I thought I’d ease myself in with a “Christmas Tag!”

1)      What are your favourite Christmas Movies?

Hands down, “The Muppets’ Christmas Carol” is the Christmas movie for me. My family watches it several times every year and even the soundtrack alone can get me in the festive mood.

Apart from that, I love “The Holiday” which makes me cry every time I watch it… and do the “Bridget Jones” movies count as Christmas films?

2)      Do you open your Christmas presents on Christmas Eve of Christmas Morning?

Christmas morning. It’s the only way for me. I’m also generally quite strict with myself in that I won’t open any presents ‘til the big day, even if someone gives them to me weeks in advance. It’s just important to me!

The only time I’ve opened one on Christmas Eve was when we stayed up until midnight waiting for my brother to arrive when his flight was delayed. It felt…wrong.

3)      Do you have any favourite Christmas memories?

For me, Christmas is one long happy memory. I love the sense of tradition and continuity—in a world of change, the Christmas staples like the turkey, the pudding and the tree remain the same every year. 

No specific memories come to mind, but Christmas always makes me feel nostalgic for times during my childhood when my whole family was together and there was that sense of excitement and magic in the air.

4)      Favourite Christmas food?

Aside from, of course, the roast dinner and the Christmas pudding, my mum makes the BEST mince pies. I’m also a sucker for a Panettone, as it’s so light after all the heavy Christmas food.

5)      Favourite Christmas gift?

That’s a tough one, but I’ve actually just received a rather overwhelming Christmas gift today. My university has awarded me a scholarship of £1,500 for my Leaving Certificate results! It’s much appreciated and I feel like my hard work just keeps paying off.

I also remember a writing-desk with a chalkboard and whiteboard I received when I was about 4 or 5 and the prospect of school was still a novelty. Those were the days!

6)       Favourite Christmas scent?

Cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. I always get excited over the Christmas baking and smelling those spices at any time of year can transport me to my home at Christmas time.

7)      Do you have any Christmas Eve traditions?

My family is Catholic so we attend evening Mass each Christmas Eve where carols are sung and the age-old Christmas story is recounted.

There’s one particular priest at my church here in Ireland who apologetically receives a call halfway through the service which turns out to be from “Santy”, making sure all the children go home and straight to bed.

We them come home from Mass and just chill out until it’s time to go to bed… even as an adult (sorry, what?!) I’m still always excited to go to sleep on Christmas Eve.

8)      What tops your tree?



This little woman has topped our tree for as long as I can remember. I’m always adamant that an Angel should top the tree rather than a fairy. Perhaps a star would suffice but I love our angel’s delicate china hands and lace dress.

9)      As a kid, what was one present you always asked for but never received?

I do recall asking Santa for a Barbie Beatle one year and being quite gutted when I didn’t receive it. Luckily, my parents did remember to buy me one for my next birthday and the wait made it all the sweeter! Also, my parents then got the credit for it all by themselves and were for once more admired than the man himself!

10)   What is the best part of Christmas for you?


Oh, I’m a total Christmas nut! I love all parts of the holiday season. I think that especially as I grow up and my family goes our separate ways ever so slightly, it’s wonderful to have everyone together for Christmas. But from the advent candles to lying on the sofa with a sore tummy on Boxing Day, I savour every drop of Christmas. 

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Gaeilge agus Mise

I felt a slight jarring in my brain, like something was entering my ears and not quite being unravelled on the way in. It was a sound alien to my environment, and yet somehow not quite unfamiliar...

A woman was speaking in a foreign language... one that didn't sound entirely foreign. I couldn't make out many of her words until it clicked into place. She was standing in a park in the middle of East Anglia, speaking in Irish. 

As gaeilge. 

The moment that twigged in my mind, I was able to understand the basics of what she was saying. 

I spent the next hour trying to work my way up to replying to her, saying something like "An raibh tu ag labhairt as gaeilge cupla noimead ó shin?" 

...but I couldn't do it. The words kept getting stuck in my throat. What if I said the wrong thing? I've only studied the language for six years. As any student who's done an oral exam--Irish or otherwise--will know, talking to a total stranger in a relatively unfamiliar language can be a daunting prospect. What if she overestimated my abilities and started an actual complex conversation?

I went home, of course, regretting not striking up a conversation and even just asking her where she was from. I'd reiterated what a waste it is to learn a language one will never really use. 

I also had a think about how hearing the language made me feel. 

Coming back to East Anglia has been like coming home. I finally hear people speaking in my own accent once again! But when I heard the Irish language, I felt a familiar pull. 

Where am I from? Let's look at it technically: on my father's side, I am a second generation Irish immigrant. On my mother's, third generation Irish immigrant. 

A complication arises when we look at the past six years for which I've lived in Ireland, before returning to the UK. 

Where is home?

Since arriving back in East Anglia a couple of months ago, I've had no trouble feeling at home. I settled in a lot quicker than I did after my last move, but perhaps that's down to being older and just a little bit wiser, coupled with the fact that this move was my own choice and I'm living with people who for the most part have chosen to be here too. There's more of a common ground. Rather than trying to chisel my way into groups of people that have been formed over generations, I'm just the same as everyone else. It's easier to fit in when the whole group is on the outside.

I would definitely say that there has been a sense of coming home. When I hear that Norfolk/Suffolk accent--mostly dying out in young people, but common in the older generation--I am reminded of people I knew as a child. When I sit on a bus and hear conversations about the NHS, about A levels, about anything I might see as quintessentially British, I feel comfortable and warm. I'm back.

But there was something about that snippet of Irish that tugged at my insides. Why, when I always felt so foreign to that country, am I now all of a sudden connected with it on such a personal level? Why did I suddenly become intensely aware that every drop of blood in my veins is Irish?

I have a lot of family in Ireland and a little family in England. Is home where my family is, or the extended circles of those I love? I love people in so many different places. That's actually a positive of dual nationality: you can have friends and connections in more than one place.

In truth, I don't miss my "home" (where I technically still live outside of term time) one bit. I always joked that it would be a nice place to come back to on holiday. In all honesty, at this moment in time, if my parents came to live nearby I doubt if I'd ever go back.

It would be stupid to think that won't change, however, in a month or a year's time. Feeling "in place" is always quite a delicate and precarious balance of the right friends, the right activities and something else not quite tangible. I have it right now, but there's no way of knowing how long it will last.

While I feel no sense of loss, there's definitely a sense of being part of the diaspora. I have come home and yet I have left my home. I am part of a unique group of people, that girl who spoke Gaelic  included, who belong to one country through their history or ancestry, and yet for many reasons live elsewhere. And in a way, that's special. It's something very few people understand.

Right now, I feel perfectly in place. At home.

I just wish I could speak to one person who understood how impressive it is to be related to Michael Collins. 

Sunday, 2 November 2014

On Not NaNoWriMo-ing...

My view on a very dull, let's-all-do-nothing-today morning... 


Saturday afternoon, the first of November, I sat at my desk trying to recover from Halloween’s “events” and catching up on some work for my TV module. I looked out at the lake beneath my window and got that leaping feeling in my chest… I’d forgotten something.

What does November First mean? NaNoWriMo time. This time two years ago, I embarked on a journey, undertaking the challenge to write 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days. I achieved it. I enjoyed it. I fell in love with writing all over again.

Having chatted with my flatmate about it, I’d more or less decided to do it again this year. But all of a sudden, here was November, here was I, and where was my novel? I had no plan, no ideas, and there wasn’t even a single one of my stories I felt totally enthused about picking up. Somehow, I didn’t want to delve back into one of those worlds and reacquaint myself with all of those characters.

Since moving into University, I haven’t written all that much. In fact, now I think of it, I haven’t written fiction in a very long time. But now, even though I’m surrounded by writers, some of whom are even studying Creative Writing as a degree… I find myself with less desire to write.


Perhaps it’s because my love of writing stemmed from feeling a bit lonely, and now I have the luxury of living a corridor or staircase away from my friends? (And there are, thankfully, lots of friends).  Perhaps it’s simply that I’ve been so busy adjusting to this new world that I don’t have the time to write. 

I know what you’re going to say: there’s always time to write. 

Although, of course, one can learn to be a better writer, I've always felt it's true that writers are born and not made. You're either going to be one or your not. Perhaps that can go untapped if someone's too afraid to try it out, and conversely there might be those who can write extraordinary things but wouldn't necessarily call themselves "a writer". It's quite a personal thing, a label you can only give yourself. 

I know that I am a writer. I talk about this all the time. I've got writing  I share with everyone (hi there), and writing I keep all to myself. I feel at home when I'm tapping away at a keyboard or scribbling in a notebook. I'd even go so far as to say that I've become a better writer over the years, simply  through repetition and practice. 

So why am I not writing now? Why, when I'm in first year at Uni, a year famous for leaving time on ones hands, have I not leapt into NaNoWriMo with gusto? 

I don't know. I don't know why I'm not missing my characters. I don't know why real life seems more appealing than fantasy. But surely it can only be a good sign? 

Honestly, I can't wait to start writing again. After however long this hiatus takes, I'm sure I'll recommence a story or begin a new one with renewed vigour and abundant creative juices. 

But for now? We wait. 

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Stifled.

Isn’t it always the way that when you’ve got so many exciting things to write about, you’re so busy experiencing them that you don’t have the time to write? That’s been the way in my life for a few weeks now, and I make no apology for it. This blog is neglected, the diary I vowed to start was abandoned after a few lines. Those are things I can catch up on. Right now I’m going to concentrate on living this mess I’m caught up in, a mess of new experiences, new faces, names, knowledge, emotions, responsibility and opportunity. Don’t get me wrong: it’s a good mess. A wonderful mess.
Sometimes, being part of a mess can be freeing.

Along with my fellow Freshers, I’ve been dealing with a whole new way of life. I’ve left behind the good and the bad and encountered both the wonderful and the problematic about my new semi-adult status. While some weight has been added to my shoulders as I deal with something that can at times be totally overwhelming, I’ve also noticed that a second weight has been lifted off.

I don’t think I’d quite realised before what it meant to be stifled… it’s something you only notice when it’s gone. Life at Uni (admittedly only three weeks in) seems so much less stifling.  Everything is so new…I am so new, that I find myself sharing things that I would have ordinarily been embarrassed by, and not especially worrying about the reaction I’ll get. I’ve learned that the more ready you are to share your opinion (as long as it’s not too opinion-y) or personality, the more likely you are to come across someone who you’ll really click with. People have so many different sides that if you hide a part of you, you might never find it mirrored in someone else.

Of course, it could all go horribly wrong. In fact, I’m sure it has. I’m sure that some people have heard my thoughts and feelings or something about the way I live my life and thought, “she’s not for me!”

After all, I’ve had that thought about a few people.

But it doesn’t matter. There’s so much diversity, the sheer number of people to make friends with… There will be someone, somewhere with similar views. Or at least someone who’s ready to understand.

I think it’s a combination of being in a new environment as well as simply growing up and caring less that makes me feel so free. I’m no longer that teenager who is embarrassed about everything and anything, all the time.

I’m not an adult yet either.

I’m just me. A less stifled version of me.

Not only has this helped other people get to know me, it’s helped me get to know myself. When you’re no longer worrying about what you should be doing/thinking/feeling, you often find yourself doing/thinking/feeling a lot differently. This year, among other things, I want to explore my faith. I’m fairly certain I believe in God. I’m fairly certain I’m a Christian. The rest is all a little unclear. I won’t go into it all in what’s turned out to be quite a lengthy post, but having that freedom to explore, having that freedom to say “Actually, I’m quite interested in this”, without worrying that people will automatically assume I’m an idiot… it’s nice, that’s all.

It can be hard, living in an environment where so many people have so many strong opinions, but I’m managing to keep hold of the part of myself that likes to listen, likes to explore, likes to learn. I’ve always said it’s not necessary to have an opinion about everything, and I’m enjoying sitting quietly and hearing to what other people have to say… and then often deciding that I don’t agree with them at all, or sometimes realising I’d never seen things from that angle before.  

Apologies if this hasn’t made sense, or if you haven’t enjoyed the read. I’m a little rusty as you can tell. My next blog posts will be fully planned out and totally coherent—well, sort of. This is just an update on who I am and where I’m at, and how I’m feeling.


I hope you’re all enjoying whatever October is throwing at you. I’ll be back soon—I’ve missed you this!




Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Happy

Wow.

Wow.

So, apologies for not updating the Blog in a while, even though it’s all shiny and new and needs all the help it can get to lift it off the ground… but I’ve got a very good excuse, and if you can’t accept it then you don’t understand what it means to be me, so anything I post won’t be of interest to you anyway.

I’ve been busy enjoying something that I’ve worked to achieve for years. I’m currently in the East of England studying for a degree in Literature and History, just like I’ve wanted for what feels like forever. I say studying—I’ve only had lectures since Monday. Most of the past fortnight has been a blur, and yet we all somehow feel like we’ve been here forever. It’s difficult to wrap my head round it all.

I’m going to do a proper update, I promise, but for now I just want to assure those of you who are interested that I am totally and incredibly happy. The past year of my life was a little bit of a nightmare and even when the nightmare ended, it would still gnaw at me every time a memory entered my mind. Now, I barely even think about it, and when I do, I just get this wonderful wave of relief that it’s all over. I feel like someone has given me—like I’ve given myself—the opportunity for a whole new start.

I tried to do the whole “fresh start” thing at the end of last year, as you may have read, but I learned that it’s not entirely your own decision to get a fresh start. Yes, you need to decide to take that opportunity, but sometimes it also takes a change of scenery, some new friends, or maybe just growing that little bit older and—hopefully—wiser.

I’m going to use this new beginning as I tried to use the last one—to focus a bit more on myself and what I think and feel, and I’ll talk about that in a further post once I settle back into a routine!

But for now, I’m going to have a cup of tea and some Nurofen. Having fun is hard.


In the meantime, here’s me dressed up as a zebra.


Friday, 19 September 2014

Dear Diary: The Final Week

This is a new series I’ll be writing with updates about my life for those of you who know me, or are just nosy so-and-sos. Get ready for stories of my misadventures at University. You’ll be able to find all posts of this variety under the “Secret Diary” tab. Enjoy! Xxx

It’s my last week in Ireland before I head off on my journey to the UK. I’m going home, really, having spent almost exactly twice as long in the UK as I have lived over here. I’m very curious—and a bit nervous—to see whether I still fit in, or if I’ve become so immersed in Irish culture that the place I once called home is now alien to me. I’m feeling a bit like a nomad to be honest… which many of you who’ve lived in more than two different places will probably scoff at, but there it is.

I’ve spent most of this week saying goodbye to all my friends as they leave for college, whether it be a few kilometres or an entire ocean away. It doesn’t feel much like goodbye, as we’ll all see each other again at Christmas, but I think when it begins to sink in I’ll be rather sad. There have been so many problems and so much sadness for me here, but it’s also a place where I’ve made some of the best friends I could wish for. Leaving them behind will be pretty hard.

Mostly though, life is an exciting mess of organised chaos right now. Letters and emails to and from my University, various student finance companies, banks… all kinds of scary grown-up stuff that I feel in no way up to dealing with, as well as trying to fit all my worldly possessions into one-and-a-half suitcases, is taking up a huge amount of time which would be better spent lying in the sun with my cat Draco.

A family birthday last night was a great way to chat with relatives and promise to see them when I’m home at Christmas—isn’t it always the way that you never visit those on your doorstep, but when you live in a different country you make twice the effort to keep in touch?

I saw my surgeon for hopefully the last time ever the other day. It was such a wonderful feeling and I’ll be writing a “scoliosis update” on my old blog very soon.

Meanwhile, my online persona goes from strength to strength and I am forever grateful for the support. I’ve now done two YouTube videos and at this moment in time have ten subscribers on my channel. That may seem minuscule, but to a nervous girl just starting out and rambling about books and “lairy fights”, it’s huge. It puts me in mind of when I got the first ten views on “Unlucky for Some”, and look how far I’ve come since then! There have also been some messages to the Catherine Ann Minnock Facebook page as well as some tweets and compliments in person. Not that we should measure our self-worth by how cool we are on the internet, but GO ME!

I finally got at least some form of a book list from my University, so I bought the books on Amazon and have begun reading with gusto. One piece was awfully stuffy and challenging, which made me a bit scared—will everyone else at Uni be a genius and will I feel like an idiot?—but the three novels I have to read: by Charlotte Brontë, D. H. Lawrence and Oscar Wilde, don’t seem too complicated. I’ve even read one of them before. I’ll keep you posted on how I enjoy all of that.
There seems so much to do in so little time. My main worry right now is that I’ll forget to visit a certain friend or relative before I leave the country and they’ll take it personally. If you’re reading this, please don’t! I love you very much but I’ve only got three full days left…and I need a haircut!

I’m scheduling posts in advance at the moment, in anticipation of a busy few weeks ahead, so by the time you read this I’ll probably be settled in to my new home and writing my next blog post about my first week at University.

Wish me luck!

P.S. I’m also currently doing the “100 Happy Days” challenge on Instagram, so if you want more instantaneous updates on my life, feel free to follow catherineannmk. I’d definitely give the challenge a go: it’s really given me a more positive outlook.



Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Movie Moments

There’s that moment in every chick-flick, or teen movie, or any story where the protagonist is being put down and made to feel like crap.

You already know what I’m talking about, don’t you? That moment sticks in our minds. It’s delicious:

“Yeah. Yeah I am [a freak]. But you know what? Someday I might just grow out of that. But you, you will never stop being a jerk.”   --Princess Diaries

“You’re just some bitch who broke my heart and cut up my mom’s wedding dress.” –27 Dresses

You turned out to be exactly who I thought you were. I never pretended to be somebody else. It's been me all along. And it was me who was hurt in front of everybody. Look, I didn't come here to yell at you, okay? I came to tell you that I know what it feels like to be afraid to show who you are. I was, but I'm not anymore. And the thing is, I really don't care what people think about me... because I believe in myself. And I know that things are gonna be okay. But even though I have no family, and no job, and no money for college... it's you that I feel sorry for.” –A Cinderella Story


“If I'm going to be a partner in a law firm by the time I'm 30, I need a boyfriend who's not such a complete bonehead.” –Legally Blonde  

“I'm about three years late in telling you this, but nevertheless I need to say it. Jasper. Wait, I need the lights on. Jasper, you have never treated me right. Ever. Shush. You broke my heart. And you acted like somehow it was my fault, my misunderstanding, and I was too in love with you to ever be mad at you, so I just punished myself! For years! But you waltzing in here on my lovely Christmas holiday, and telling me that you don't want to lose me whilst you're about to get MARRIED, somehow newly entitles me to say, it's over. This - This twisted, toxic THING between us, is finally finished! I'm miraculously done being in love with you! Ha! I've got a life to start living. And you're not going to be in it.” –The Holiday



For many years I have both wanted and not wanted one of these moments. I think it’s true for many of us—admit it—to say that we have a few of these planned out. A few monologues written down in our own heads that we’d say to someone if we ever had the… well, gumption.

It becomes totally clear in your head just what you will say, just how you will march up to the school bully, the intimidating teacher, the guy or girl who supposedly broke your heart… You’ve perfected your speech and you fantasise, though perhaps never with full intention, about throwing a drink over them or slapping them in the face.

I tend to avoid people who upset me. In a way, I want that moment, of course I do. I want closure. But it’s never going to happen: that’s not the kind of person I am. I’ve actually had a few opportunities for my “moment” that I’ve missed, half on purpose and half due to lack of bottle. But then again, perhaps the people that “grind my gears” (new favourite phrase) would simply love to see me lose it and scream and shout at them. Maybe it’s what they’d want and I’m better off not giving it to them.

The truth is, most of us will never get our movie moments… and that’s OK. We can get closure in our own minds instead: closure that we are moving on, and we do see things for what they are… without needing to have it all out in public (or just to that one person), as appealing as that may sound at times.

It’s not up to us to expose fake for what it is, or to announce all of someone’s wrongdoings to a crowd—as much as we might like to, what would be the point? It’s likely that the person concerned—and a hell of a lot of other people—know that they’ve acted out of line, and know that you’re hurt. If you won’t stand for it any more, there’s no need to announce that. Just stop standing.

So a lot of my monologues remain unsaid, but they’ll be shown to the world in other ways. When I achieve what people said I never would, when I make new friends and cherish old ones… or even when I simply wake up one morning and realise I’ve gotten over something. Those will be my movie moments.



I don’t really know how to round off this blog post. I guess it’s just something I’ve been thinking about for a while. Have you ever had or wanted to have a movie moment?  Do you think they’re necessary? 

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Why You Shouldn't Mess With Scolio-Girls

To find out more about my Scoliosis Story, click here to be redirected to my old blog! 



A few weeks ago I was saddened to hear that actress Madison De La Garza (Jaunita Solis in Desperate Housewives, and as I now learn, sister to singer and actress Demi Lovato) fell victim to bullying due to her scoliosis.

As a fellow sufferer of both scoliosis and bullying, I felt her pain… although as she’s a successful famous actress who was fiercely protected not only by her sister, but by members of the public who used the Twitter hashtag #feelbettermaddie, I’m sure she’ll overcome it very soon. Feel better, Maddie!

It made me so angry to think that we still—and probably always will—live in a world where children are bullied because of something that they can’t help… not only that, but something that causes them intense pain already. It’s just ridiculous.

However, I was able to put this in a positive light in my own mind when I thought about all the reasons you shouldn’t mess with us Scolio-girls (and guys!).

1)      We’ve been through so much pain, both day-to-day and often due to surgeries, that nothing you can do will bring us down.

2)      We’re so hard-core, there’s actually metal inside some of us.

3)      We know people. People with a very specific set of skills… skills they have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make them a nightmare for people like you. (Surgeons, that is).

4)      We’ve got some serious backbone.

5)      We’re curvy and we own it. Anyone who says otherwise is jealous.

6)      We know that being different only makes you amazing.

7)      We’re seriously into hard drugs. Once we clicked our morphine pump when our pain level was only five.

8)      If you have had to wear paper knickers and/or a catheter, you have no shame… so making fun of us really is futile.

9)      Having scoliosis in no way inhibits our ability to smack you right in the jaw and wear your eyeballs as a unique new pair of earrings.

10)   Both Richard III and Princess Eugenie had scoliosis. That’s right: we’re royalty.





Here’s how my spine looks now, after my most recent op. To quote Penny from the Big Bang Theory, “the acceptable responses when you see it are 'awesome' or nothing.” 








Tell me, honestly... Do I look fat in these X-rays? 

Friday, 12 September 2014

Packing for Uni: Creature Comforts


I enjoyed making my first video so much that I decided to film another one!

I've been trying to find the time to do this for several days, but let me tell you something: being an adult is hard. There's a lot of paperwork. Being able to drink alcohol and vote... these things really aren't worth the wish to hire a PA.

Anyway, here's my vlog about what I'll be bringing to Uni to make myself feel more at home! I decided to do this one in a single take. I'd love to know which was you guys think works better.

Hope you enjoy it!



Sunday, 7 September 2014

A Kind of Writer


Starting on several new projects, moving to a new country and becoming a real-live “adult” has put a lot of pressure on me to decide what sort of person I am, or want to be.

For now I’d like to talk about that in terms of writing, because thankfully in most aspects of life, I’m fairly comfortable with who I am—I know that’s rare and am rather grateful for it!

What do I want this blog to be? I’ve got several ideas of what I want to do—diary entries, opinion pieces, crafts and recipes, the odd video, even… but I spent a long time trying to decide how I want to write it.

For inspiration and advice, I looked to my favourite blogs, those I would consider to be “professional”, and those I thought I wanted to be like.

That was when I caught myself. What was I doing? Never in my life have I wanted to be like other people, or put any kind of effort into it. Why start now, when I could be doing my own thing as usual?

People have enjoyed a lot of my blog posts, and they were all written in a very specific voice: my voice.

I realised I don’t have to categorise my blog, which was a huge problem from the start. I’m not a lifestyle blogger, though I blog about my life. I’m not a journalist, though I mention current events. I’m certainly not a fashion or beauty blogger—as most girls my age tend to be—and I couldn’t handle the pressure of having an “advice” blog. Yet these are all things I want to include in my and your online experience: I don’t want to limit myself or become exclusive, but I want to  enjoy and learn about all these different topics and themes.

So I’m afraid I’m going to have to stop overthinking and do what I do best: write. It might be about my day or week or month, it might be about products or books I enjoy, it might be my musings on various topics, both important and mundane. I’ve realised that as long  as I write it in my voice, and write it as well as I can, with a little characteristic humour and lightness at times, then it needn’t follow any rules… just as long as it matters to me.

I realised this was OK when I read a quote by John B. Keane (who Leaving Cert students still wake up in a cold sweat thinking about):


I am a kind of writer. Nobody knows what kind of 

writer I am, least of all myself. My ambition is that 

people will say, some time: "He was a kind of 

writer. He said things a different way from others."





I think that’s rather a nice ambition to have. 

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Out with the Old, In with the New...

It was time to finally say goodbye to my first ever blog to make way for this one.

Scoliosis story posts will still be appearing there as and when they are required, so do check back on occasion. I know I will be.

I'm so excited to put all my energy and experience into this website, but I'll miss Unlucky For Some terribly!

Say goodbye here....


Thursday, 4 September 2014

Pictures, Poems and Postcards: Zine Fair Haul!

As I mentioned previously, I went to the Dublin Zine Fair the other week with my best friend... and came back with a lot more than we sold! The fair wasn't exclusive to zines: there was a place for everything homemade. Everything featured here cost between £3 and absoolutely nothing.


This tiny artbook featured a collection of pictures from an exhibition by Andrea Byrne.
Here's some of what was inside...


I'm always picking up business cards and there were loads here. The cards of artists are always the most beautiful--it's where they show off what they can do--and, who knows, I might need one of them to illustrate a book for me someday. 

"The Daily Doomed" was another freebie, a little tiny zine made from one glossy A4 page.
Look at the wonderful pun inside:



This is a poetry zine I was given and have yet to read. I'm looking forward to finding a quiet spot and a mug of tea to enjoy it with. They were actually on sale but the stall-holder gave me one for free at the end--what a lovely guy! We decided to give him one of our zines too. You'll find a lot of zinesters are willing to trade, which really is half the fun. 


These two postcards really caught my eye, the pictures are beautiful and whimsical, and the black and cream colour will look so well on display somewhere. Two things I love are a cup of tea and an empty cinema with someone special. 



These pictures were so detailed and beautiful, the animals seemed to stare right across at us. I assumed they had been etched then printed, but was amazed to find they had been intricately drawn with a pencil. The inly drawback is that these pictures are on two sides of the same page, so you can only display one at a time! At least I'll never get bored of it. They were on sale for 20c each as they were photocopies, but I put down a few more coins because I couldn't believe how much attention to detail had gone in. 

This tiny booklet came from a project about what it means to be a hero: why should we reward those who die in battle but not those who keep things ticking over at home? It means everyone should be rewarded no matter how big or small their act of bravery is. The zine contains two cut-out medals which you can reward yourself for "taking the bins out" etc. It was incredibly cute, but also a clever idea.  

My friend bought me this postcard, because she knows I can't blooming stand pigeons! Yuck... (but of course the card is fabulous) 



This card was made ("with love 'n' scare") by our neighbouring zinester, Venus De Vilo. Each was original and the feathers and ribbon added a great 3D effect.  
Beautiful inside to write a message to a friend! 




I even picked up this tasty Brazilian treat. Did someone say chocolate? 


This was my haul from the Dublin Zine Fair. I hope it's encouraged you to hunt for your own crafty bargains or even make something yourself! 

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Why "Art" Needn't Be So Pretentious...

The new Irish Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys, stated recently on the radio that her policy was simple: “arts is for everyone.” I found this absolutely refreshing and wonderful, as it’s an issue that’s been playing on my mind for months and months.

Even the word “art” can be a little intimidating. We immediately think of Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Lowry, Picasso, Monet… who perhaps we might know about, or perhaps might just be words thrown around to seem sophisticated.

In fact, art encompasses dozens of different media and within that, hundreds if not thousands of styles. Music, film, radio, television, literature, painting, photography, theatre… to name but a few. And frankly, we all need to stop being such snobs about it.

When it comes to art, there really are no rules—or at least, those rules that are in place are made to be broken. Art is undefined and undefinable.

For me, if I were to define it, I would say that art can be anything that makes us think or feel a certain way.
It can be very intimidating to state what our favourite TV programme, song, book, film, or any piece of art might be. So much so that this admission is often proceeded by a swift: “It’s my guilty pleasure” to excuse anything that might sound “uncultured”, or that terrifying four letter word… “mainstream”.

Everything is art, and I think it deserves to be appreciated. If you’re one of those people who refers to One Direction as “mainstream” or says they don’t make “real music”, remember that people once said similar about The Beatles. One man’s champagne being another man’s vinegar springs to mind. I’m just using One Direction as an example, by the way, as they’re in the media so much. I’m not even that big a fan myself, but if someone tells me that “Kiss You” made them look at life differently or gave them happiness, then who am I to argue?

My parents often sniff at my love of the BBC series Waterloo Road, and I don’t blame them: it’s hardly what you’d call “high-class entertainment”. It’s hardly what you’d call “art”...

A few months ago I was really angry with a loved one because they simply weren’t seeing things from my side. After a good, productive day of crying and fuming, I sat down in front of the telly and watched the episode where a young couple, Kevin and Dynasty have had a row. Dynasty is in the middle of having a right go at Kevin when things get blurry and distant, he begins to collapse…

He’s had a stroke. There’s a clot on his brain. He, a teenage boy, is rushed to hospital and may be about to die.

Immediately my mind snapped to my loved one. What would I do if I lost them suddenly like that? Now, in the middle of a fight? I realised that I didn’t hate them; I couldn’t. I realised that while I didn’t always like this person, while I might be angry like Dynasty was at Kevin, I didn’t know what I would do without them.
That night, I forgave my loved one. I told them just how important they were to me.

 Art makes you think. Art changes the way you look at a situation. It doesn’t just hang in the gallery; it isn’t just viewed through opera glasses. In life, art is everywhere. We need only look. 

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Packing for Uni: My Favourite Books!



I decided to test out my talking/presenting skills for a change and give my readers a more multimedia experience--you can now become "watchers", too! I've never made a YouTube video before so I'm starting with one about which books I'll be brining to University and why. I really hope you enjoy it, and if you have any feedback I'd love to hear... because I honestly have no idea what I'm doing! Considering I've never made one before and did this with a digital camera balanced precariously on a music stand, the result could be a lot worse...


Tuesday, 26 August 2014

The Dublin Zine Fair





Intrigued? For those of you out of the loop, zines are home-made, self-published booklets that might contain art, stories, essays or anything creative. It’s pronounced “zeen”, since the word comes from “magazine”, which is what a zine essentially is--except on a smaller scale and, to be honest, a lot more fun.

So on Saturday 16th August, myself and my best friend hopped on the bus to Dublin to attend the fourth annual Dublin Zine Fair at the Centre for Creative Practices on Pembroke Street. Ever the procrastinators—and procrastineaters—we’d been up until 11.30 the night before finishing our zines… so perhaps rather than “hopped”, we stumbled, zines and stall décor in tow.

We were so excited to be there, having gone both in 2012, when we promised we’d make zines someday, and 2013, when we dragged some other people along—roughly half of whom actually wanted to be there. We absolutely loved it both times and this year, as we finished our Leaving Cert exams, we became even more determined to return not just as customers, but as Zinesters.

We brought along two varieties of zine: “The Little Zine of Happiness”, which focused on the things you can do to try and let yourself be happy, as well as what happiness can mean for different people. This was all original content, some based on writing I’d done and enjoyed in the past.

The second zine was an edited compilation of some more popular posts from my first blog, Unlucky for Some. As I began work on this blog, and started to say goodbye to Unlucky for Some, it was nice to have a printed version made for myself, my readers, and some new faces at the fair.


Both zines were illustrated by my best friend who happens to be a fabulous artist. We called our publishing company “Bear and Wolf Production”—I’m Bear and she’s Wolf.  You can read about Bear and Wolf Productions on the Dublin Zine Fair website.



We’d never expected to make shedloads of cash, and ended up scraping together the bus fare home, just about, but were actually surprised and delighted by how much interest we got. I’ve been blogging for about eighteen months now, but to see my words in print felt much more serious, much more professional… satisfying, somehow. It was pretty nerve-wracking when people read the zines right in front of us, but such a lovely feeling to see them smile or laugh in all the right places. 

The stallholder next to us was Venus de Vilo, whose brand of horror-punk contrasted nicely with our bright orange zines! 


The only problem with a fair like this is that you will invariably end up buying more than you sell. There was so much amazing art on offer—most going for a song—that we had to nab several bargains. I’m going to do a separate “haul” post next week, so you can see what I bought in detail.
We’ve already got tons of ideas for some more zines, and have vowed to return in 2015. I want to write a handbook about Scoliosis surgery which I had a couple of years ago: the things I wish I’d known, etc. It’s safe to say that we caught the bug!


For those of you who missed the fair and have an interest in Zines, I’ll be selling the leftover ones on www.Etsy.com in the next couple of weeks. I’ll install a “shop” button on this site when they’re available.




In the meantime, if you’re any kind of artist or writer, why not have a Google and see if zine-making is for you.

Raspberry Tart

(This recipe by Catherine Ann Minnock first appeared on www.2013unluckyforsome.blogspot.ie, all photos and original content copyright CA Minnock 2014) 

For the Pastry Case:

Ingredients: 

250g (10 oz) Plain Flour
50g (2 oz) Icing Sugar
150g (6 oz) Butter (or equivalent, I like Stork margarine but you can use any spread/butter you wish)
1 tbsp Water

Instructions:

1) Sieve the flour and icing sugar together in a large mixing bowl.
2) Add the butter and rub it into the flour with your fingers repeatedly until it is all mixed together. The mix should look something halfway between breadcrumbs and sand.
3) Add in the water, just the tablespoon to start but more if needed, and use a butter knife to stir it until it begins to form a dough. Hands can be used if necessary... I’m not judging.
4) Roll out the dough on a floured surface (I always use a glass chopping board) and then fit it into a pyrex/enamel pie/tart dish. Don’t worry if it doesn’t look perfect, it’s going to be covered up.
5) Prick the base of the pastry with a fork in a few places which will stop it from rising. Then bake it in the oven at 200 degrees for about 25-35 minutes.




For the Crème Pâtissière Filling: 

Ingredients: 

300 ml Milk
1 tsp Vanilla Essence
3 Egg Yolks 
50g Sugar
2 tbsps Cornflour
2 tbsps Flour

Optional: 1 tbsp Brandy

Instructions: 

1) Ensure you are using a thick-bottomed saucepan like I have in the picture,which will prevent the mix from overheating. Put the milk, vanilla and brandy (if using) into the saucepan and heat until it just begins to boil.
2) In a medium bowl, mix the yolks, flour, cornflour and sugar together thoroughly. Then pour on the milk and stir. Do not pour the mix into the milk as the egg will cook and curdle.
3) Once mixed, pour into the saucepan and return to a medium heat, stirring constantly.
4) If it looks lumpy, don’t panic, just keep stirring. Gradually a thick kind of custard will form as shown.


To Complete: 

Pour the crème pâtissière onto the pastry case once cooled, and sprinkle fresh, or defrosted frozen, raspberries on top.



Wonderful for dessert or afternoon tea. 

Bread and Butter Pudding

(This recipe by Catherine Ann Minnock first appeared on www.2013unluckyforsome.blogspot.ie, all photos and original content copyright CA Minnock 2014) 



Ingredients/Equipment: (may vary with size/quantities required) 

A large ovenproof dish (e.g. lasagna dish)
White sliced bread (any will do, this is a great way to use up stale bread), enough to make up two layers in your dish
Butter
Milk
One egg
100g sugar
Raisins


Instructions:

1) Preheat the oven to 200°C.

2) Grease your dish with a little butter.

3) Butter your bread just like you would for a sandwich.

4) Line the bottom of the dish with bread and sprinkle over as many raisins as you like.  

 5) Add another layer of bread and sprinkle with a few raisins (you can add some grated orange peel if you want to, but this doesn't bode well with certain family members so I tend to leave it out). 


6) Now for the delicious bit... trust me on this. Break the egg into a pint glass/ measuring jug and beat it with the sugar. Then fill the glass up to the top (or fill up to a pint) with milk. At this point, if you like, you could add some of your favourite spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, mixed spice...) or some vanilla.




7) Pour the mixture all over the bread. If it doesn't look like it’s covering well, you can just add some more milk.




8) Bake for about half an hour until golden and crunchy on top and solid but soft in the middle. Can be eaten hot as dessert, and the cold remains are great to be picked at long into the night. 




Here's how mine turned out! It might not win any beauty contests, but tastes amazing! 




Wednesday, 20 August 2014

A Momentous Occasion

There's so much pressure going into this post: I think that's why it's taking me so long to write. It's the first one, the introduction, the Grand Opening of my Next Big Thing. In other words, it's gotta be good...

If you want to talk about pressure, I'm really no stranger to it. Let me introduce you to this envelope.



This is a pretty regular envelope containing a sheet of ordinary, albeit fairly fancy, paper. If you recognise it, then you too took the Leaving Cert at some point, perhaps recently. You alone understand the blood, sweat, tears and tantrums that went in to the past two years (and that was just your parents).

For me, that lead-up has extended for about four years, when I made the decision for various reasons that I would study Literature and History in England, where I lived until I was twelve. After looking at universities, this meant I had a firm goal. When I got my offer from UCAS from one of my favourite choices in November, I was over the moon... but the pressure was really on! I have to say that I really didn't enjoy Sixth Year, the year leading up to the big exams, and by the time I finished them I doubted I'd even get near the conditions of my offer.

Fast forward to the 13th August 2014, and I was clutching this envelope in my hand. Tears were running down my mum's shoulder as I buried my head in her soft cardigan and familiar smell, just like so many other times.

I had done it.

These were tears of happiness, relief, and to be perfectly honest, amazement. I'd far exceeded the grades I'd been hoping for, and my dream of several years had finally come true.

It's been a week since then and now everything is really starting to sink in. The next few weeks are going to be full of sewing, packing, washing, organising and, sadly, an awful lot of goodbye-for-now-ing.

The other reason this occasion is so momentous is that I'm starting this brand-new blog to tell you all about this crazy new ride I'm about to become a part of. It's going to be a bit more personal, more "about me" than my old blog (here if you've not seen it), and hopefully a bit more organised too with tabs at the top so you can find all your favourite posts: personal ones, recipes, crafts, reviews and anything else you or I might enjoy. You can also check out the "My Secret Diary" tab where I intend to write all about what I get up to each week. Friends and family: enjoy that! In addition, I'm hoping to make it look more professional and include more pictures for you to flick through.

So come and join me as I embark on my brand new adventure, both in cyberspace and in life. For all the trepidation and organisation, I'm so excited to be moving on with my life and delighted that you'll be joining me.

See you soon!

Catherine Ann x


Sunday, 8 June 2014

Contact Me!

Whether you love what I write, hate what I write or have something you'd like me to review, I'd love to hear from you.

Here are all the places you can find me:

Follow me on Twitter: 

@CatherineAnnMK

 https://twitter.com/CatherineAnnMK

Drop me an email: 

catherineann.mk@gmail.com 


Check out my lovely pins:

www.pinterest.com/catherineannmk/

Trawl through my archives:

www.2013unluckyforsome.blogspot.ie 

(This was my first ever blog!) 

Find me on the book of faces: 

https://www.facebook.com/CatherineAnnMinnock


I hope to hear from you soon! xxx