Monday, 30 December 2013

2013

I've entered that time in between Christmas Day and my birthday where I become even more introspective and reflective than usual. My birthday falls on the fourth day of each new year, so looking back on and forward to a year is especially important to me. 2013 has been a strange, horrible and beautiful year, all at the same time. This time last year I honestly could not have imagined I would be where I am today. 
This year is one of those years I'm kind of surprised we all made it through. At times it's felt like my friends and I were dragging around the shattered broken pieces of ourselves. We've all been through a lot, but we're all relatively okay. 
When the clock struck midnight on 2013, I was very drunk in Westport with friends who weren't very good for me. Tomorrow I'll be in a house in Meath (I think it's Meath, anyway) with a bunch of pals that I barely knew this time last year. A lot of things have changed since then. My hair colour; I finally moved out; I've gone through several jobs; I've wandered into being a photographer. I could rant incessantly about everything that has happened, but let's just go for the highlights.

1. Roller derby
I started training with the bunch of fantastic people that comprise Dublin Roller Derby. I went into it thinking it would be a bit of craic and a way to get rid of my latent aggression, but I was honestly blown away by the dedication they all show to their sport. I wasn't able to sit my freshmeat assessments due to having fractured my ribs and when I went back to freshmeats again I realised that unfortunately I just didn't have the time to fully commit. However, I don't regret a minute of it because it was an experience that changed my body image and my views on sport, and it was really good to do something that got me out of the Trinity bubble.

2. Edinburgh
I went to Edinburgh with the Lit Soc in college in February completely on a whim, completely disregarding the fact I couldn't really afford it. I'm glad I wasn't sensible, though, because the people I met there are some of my best friends. That's a bit of an understatement. I met my flatmates, my best friends, my boyfriend because of that trip. Plus, I'm the LitFest coordinator for 2014.


3. Moving out
I'd been planning on moving out for as long as I'd been in college, but it never worked out until April of this year. It's been difficult (cereal is so expensive, what up with that?), but definitely a big step in admitting I'm actually an adult.


One of my flatmates "helped me unpack"
4. Dressing up
There was a lot of it.

I was dressed as the 90s
                                            
                                           
                                             

              
6. Drinking
Probably a bit too much of it...

this bottle of wine sums it up, really



 7. And just because "selfie" was word of the year...





8. Finally realising what I was good at.
Asking "so, what do you want to do?" is something that could inspire a panic attack in me last year. After losing a job because of my college timetable, I went literally everywhere in Dublin looking for a new job. One of the attempts was to get a job in The Twisted Pepper, but instead of bar work I was offered an internship with Bodytonic. I'd never really considered my ability to put on a good party as a career choice, even when combined with my love of all types of culture. Now I run my own nights based off cult movies (you can check it out here), and after being asked to take photos at two gigs we were putting on (Sam Amidon and Efterklang respectively)...







...I got hired as a photographer. 

All in all, it wasn't too shabby a year. 2014, let's being havin' ya!

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Home

Returning home for Christmas was an odd one. This was my first time coming back for a holiday since I'd moved out. It seemed different for a variety of reasons: I didn't feel I was trapped in a house I felt I didn't belong; I had been working Christmas Eve so it didn't feel like Christmas had arrived; I was drunk for the first night. I've been back since Christmas Eve, and it's put me in a weird frame of mind. Old habits like staying in bed until 4PM watching stupid TV shows on my laptop and not bothering to put on any make-up have quickly reappeared. I've never liked Christmas, but this is even stranger than usual because I'm supposed to be studying for exams for a scholarship I'm not sure I'm capable of getting, or actually want to get. It's hard to muster the motivation to do anything when you're constantly sleepy because the house is over-heated, and you're used to being cold on winter nights because you live in a flat intended for students. 
It's strange returning home, because you can sit in your room all day doing nothing because you're an only child and there isn't anyone else around. I joke that my flatmates asking where I'm going when they see in the hall wearing my coat freaks me out because I'm not used to that, but truth be told, it's something you quickly miss. It's strange to come home and breathe a sigh of relief because you can properly be alone. It's even stranger to realise that even though that's something you thought you needed, perhaps it's quite the opposite. It's strange to want to grab your sketchbook or a camera or some Panadol and realise all those trappings of your life are in their places in your other home, the one you live in more often. It's strange to look around at the trappings of your life from your life before you moved out, the books; stuffed animals; autographs from Michael Cera; the birthday cards. 
It brings you to thoughts of what will happen when you move on from the flat you live in now. Will your other family of friends stay with you, or will you all drift apart? Or was that going to happen after college anyway?
2014 will be another year of moving homes, making a home for myself in a different country for a few months, maybe moving out of the flat I've made my home. My mother talks about selling this house that saw me through my teenage life. It's hard to know where home is. Is it with your friends, your family, is it where your most prized possessions are, or is where you fall asleep at night?

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

the ethics of piracy


One of the subjects I study in college is ethics. I tend to apply my somewhat hazy moral understanding to that place in which I live a good 80% of my life: the internet. 

For those of us who are more intensely immersed in the internet, we seem to have a certain sense of entitlement. We'll lazily drawl that it's okay to get a cracked version of Photoshop because Adobe don't really mind students doing so as when (if) we get into a career that requires Photoshop, we'll be paying for it then. 

The ethics of torrenting and piracy is a messy, messy thing in my mind. As someone quite competent with technology, it's all to easy for me to acquire whatever it is I want. And it's usually quite justifiable. For example, I study film. Although what's said in the lecture hall remains in the lecture hall, I can say with certainty that the faculty would be quite surprised if any of us paid to watch any of the prescribed viewing. It's quite easy to justify most things on the basis of education, after all. As a broke student, I don't exactly have the funds to fork out thirty quid plus on a hard to track down book on vampirism from the eighteenth century to modern times. So do I do without or gain my educational tools through illicit means? After all, either way, I won't be paying money, but in one scenario my degree doesn't suffer.

Going down the academic route certainly makes things muddled. After all, there is the argument that academic writing is funded so the proceeds from selling these writings to students is just extra money. When you're struggling for cash dollah dollah, this is what you're going to jump on. Let's say hypothetically that piracy is A-OK when it comes to academic purposes; at what point does it stop being academic? I'm doing horror in film at the moment, does this mean I'm entitled to access to all horror films for my education?

Now let's leave aside academia. Let's talk about music. Torrenting music is equally murky, as it's more about the actual possession. We have the ability to stream music via Spotify, Youtube etc, so why do we feel the need to actually own the music? I rarely pay for music these days, whether it be through legal streaming means or, ahem, other methods. One of the justifications I've used to myself is that in the toss-up between forking out twenty quid for an album, or forking out twenty quid for a concert ticket, I'll always choose the concert ticket. Even this has become murkier for me now, however, as while doing an unpaid internship, I get paid in concert tickets. There is also the element of being in a working environment where you are surrounded by music, you feel it's your obligation to constantly discover new music. 

These days, we're a lot more discerning about what we'll actually spend money. I love rap, but I refuse to pay for it because I dislike the idea the idea of funding Odd Future's somewhat misogynistic lyrics---but I bought The Heist from iTunes because I admire Macklemore's ability to rap about issues in a thoughtful and provocative manner. A lot of us these days are choosing to spend our money to fund particular artists, whether it be through buying vinyls, T-Shirts or concert tickets. 

As per usual, when I come to the end of typing this, I'm no closer to formulating a stance then I was before.

Monday, 28 October 2013

on @Horse_ebooks

Finding out that @Horse_ebooks was a fake spam account hit me like a two-ton truck. It was like finding out that Santa wasn't real all over again. When I was first told, there was lots of anguished shouting of the word "what?" and upset texts. Apparently I'd come to the discovery a month after everyone else, having been without my laptop as incompetent repairs were taking place. My friend Sile and I were having a minor mental breakdown about the whole thing, and all those around us were mildly confused and concerned.

I tried to pinpoint why exactly I was so upset about the whole thing. I am one of those people of our generation who grew up on the internet. During my awkward adolescent phase, I made friends on message boards and Googled my problems. The internet didn't judge you and you were invited to everything, unlike in real life. When I started to make real friends at the age of thirteen or fourteen, they were all people more comfortable sitting behind a keyboard, and we spent hours on MSN, occasionally leaving our respective houses to see each other in real life. 

At some point, I moved on from being that person without even realising it. All of a sudden there were parties and boyfriends and taking selfies in bathrooms. My relationship with the internet  became one of validating my existence: how many likes can I get on my profile photo? And thus I became someone who watched Youtube tutorials on how to apply liquid eyeliner and put serious thought into my Instagram filters. The more I was concerned with how I appeared in real life, the more important it was to document the life I wanted people to believe I had online. 

When things got rough for me, the internet was a blessing and a curse. There was the ability to peruse the lives of my former friends and find myself crying because I didn't understand why they had all decided to cut me out. I stared at the computer screen, refreshing to see what colleges everyone had added  to their timeline after the CAO offers came through, and wondered why my life wasn't working out. I Googled everything I got diagnosed with, and scrolled through pages of Calming Manatee to try and make myself feel better.

When things started to feel better, everything got chucked on my Instagram, Twitter, Facebook to prove to ex-boyfriends, former classmates, the world that my life was GREAT now.

And when things weren't so great, there were always nasty anonymous messages on Tumblr for me, ready to make my day.

And when I made one of my many decisions to start AFRESH, there were endless websites for inspiration.

The internet functions as an innate part of our lives. I've gotten internships by sending ballsy emails, won free lunches on Twitter and been able to interact with musicians and artists and people who inspire me in a way that I would never be able to do in real life. 

The reason we lived Horse was because it was a tiny snippet of magic. Seemingly random bits of nonsense were sometimes beautifully philosophical, and it seemed to prove that even in a world where we carefully curate our online presence, sometimes serendipitous things could still happen. It brought us all together as we retweeted and screenshot the best ones. We laughed because only Irish people would find "shift shift shift REJECT shift shift" as funny as we did.

So when we found out it was just performance art, we felt used. It was proof that anything online can be a lie, and that we'd all been taken for fools.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Societal angst over leggings.

Picture the scene: you put on an outfit that you look damn good in. "Fuck, I should get a Lookbook or something," you think. 
Picture the scene: those particular items of clothing that you love and wear too often and buy in different colours.
Picture the scene: you're walking down the street and get shouted at for the clothing you're wearing.
Picture the scene: you get told you dress like a slut.

I've recently started wearing garter leggings. I love them. They are warm and visually interesting and a great hangover outfit staple because you pair them with a baggy t-shirt or jumper and BAM! OUTFIT! They also attract a lot of attention. Mixed attention. Scathing looks from old ladies, up and down looks from everyone, winks from creepy guys. It's to be expected, really. It's your own fault.

Every so often it is made glaringly obvious that we live in a culture of slut-shaming. It's the small things, like refusing to give a guy your number and then loudly being called a slut. I've attempted to defend the clothing choices by declaring that garter leggings aren't even that slutty because it's just the sexual connotations associated with them, not the item of clothing itself.

This, my friend, is rather silly. It is just playing into the whole slut shaming culture to try and defend yourself against it. So wearing a piece of clothing suddenly becomes a politicized action, that you are deliberately wearing, not in spite of, but because of the attention it draws. 

It's rough when a piece of clothing inspires this much confusion and self-doubt within yourself. I hate spending this much time agonising over a pair of LEGGINGS. They're great. I get a lot of compliments on them. It just makes me kind of sad that the reaction a piece of clothing inspires is so indicative of our culture.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Life Goals Etc

Sometimes all you want is to curl up in the fetal position and watch made for TV rom-coms on Netflix with the possible addition of Dairy Milk Mint Crisp. Or sometimes you drink an obscene amount of whiskey. Or both, if you're me. Then you have to sternly tell yourself off for being a twat and decide to do something with your life. Staging a self-intervention involves realising you are being a tad self-destructive and doing something about it.  This is the point wherein I start making life goals...

Later ones got added, for example "get into second year of college," "buy a fucking camera" and "take skating seriously." The great thing about life goals is that they come from a place of great negativity, rock bottom if you will. The type of mindset where you would buy self-help books (or trawl through Lifehacker obsessively). Where you watch several Youtube famous people talking about positivity and shizz, without being a cynical c*nt like you normally are. Being a self-deprecating brat who says nasty things with a smile on my face is kind of my thing, but sometimes you have to shake yourself out of your usual mindset, if only because it starts coming out through social media...
Yes, relationships, money, health, education etc have all been a little topsy-turvy lately, but reenacting my days as an MCR lovin', dark eyeliner wearing gal is not the best way forward. Neither is drowning my sorrows, as whiskey does not a problem solve. So this is where my life goals came into play, and here's an insight into how they've gone.

The ones I've achieved...
  1. Make this the last first month you're (not) in overdraft. I have a serious problem with money. It doesn't matter how much I have, I end up in debt every month, and I've been brushing it off for the past year as a funny part of my hot mess act. Originally I resolved to make August the last month of the saga that is Grace's Bank Account is in the Red, then I decided to fuck and just not go into overdraft. By the time I got paid I had 14c in my bank account. It might not seem like something to be proud of, but I am. Very.
  2. Find a job that doesn't make me feel physically ill. I was working in a very well paid job as a sales advisor in a call centre for a prominent TV company. A lot of dollah dollah, but memorising Premier League fixtures and struggling to hit sales targets was destroying my well-being. I had justified it before that I was working to fund the rest of my life, but it was becoming my entire life because it made me so miserable. So I left, took a sizeable pay cut (partly due to a cut in hours), and now make sandwiches and run around Dublin delivering them. It's not my life's calling, but it is money and there is way less pressure. 
The ones I've kind of achieved...
  1. Get into second year. Academics was really easy for me when I was younger, so I never had to lift a finger. This is SUCH A CURSE BECAUSE I DON'T KNOW HOW TO STUDY. So that combined with not actually going to one of my exams meant I had to do repeats. I think I managed to do enough. Hopefully. Oh the anxiety.
  2. Take skating seriously. Master dem t-stops. It's my second time doing freshmeats for roller derby, and I love it so much, but I'm not applying myself properly because I don't seem to apply myself to anything. So I've just bought myself a few new sets of wheels so I can skate around the streets outside of training. 
  3. Don't stop learning. Lifehacker strikes again.
  4. Buy a fucking camera. Not only did I not go into overdraft, but I have a sizeable chunk of money set aside now. Enough to buy a camera and have some left over. Which means I'm reluctant to let it go, especially because I could just be going through my photography phase that every girl goes through (bonus points if you get that Lost in Translation reference).
The vague ones that involve more of a life overhaul that taking up different habits...
  1. Be more creative. I have vague ideas about having a career in the arts. But reblogging things on Tumblr isn't what being creative is. Going back to being a cynical c*nt, I used to be a lot more creative. I was in devised plays, I wrote stories, I did things. Let's be honest, most of it was probably bollocks. But I was making art. At some point, due to overexposure to pretentious artistic forms, I got into the mindset that everyone should stop making art that wasn't "valid". So I stopped making anything. Which is stupid, because the only way you can make something great is to make so much mediocre stuff until you bring out a gem.
  2. Get rid of toxic people/stop being a toxic person. *Cliche alert.* Life is too short to put up with negativity and people who make you unhappy. Similarly, I have a habit of being a brat and a fierce temper and bitching incessantly. 'Nuff of that.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

We Need to Talk about Shopping

As you can probably tell, I love clothes. Aesthetics is something I've always been enamored with, which means among other things that Wes Anderson is one of my favourite directors and I tend to view life as a photo op. It also means that I have a problem with shopping, and not just with clothes. My life is a series of new projects and ambitions, and each one involves buy-in.  My quests to better myself and become a different person have been an intrinsic part of my personality ever since I was a kid. Back then, I used to model myself on characters from books. This meant I periodically decided to become Artistic, a Tom Boy, Intelligent, so on and so forth. As I got older, this meant picking up and dropping groups of friends. This meant changing my hair and clothes regularly. This meant picking new things to "be into". I was constantly short of money, but I blamed this on coming from a low-income family and being more disadvantaged than my more wealthy friends. When I started working and making my own money I was at a loss to do with all this cashflow I hadn't had before. The next month I was back in overdraft.
Every few weeks it's like a switch goes off on my brain. I become frustrated with the person I am. I want to be better. It could be that I want to be smarter; that I want to become more cultured; that I want to be healthier; that I want to be more fun. This becomes something I focus on, it becomes all I can focus on. Here are some examples of past life decisions:

  1. Fit Grace: I wanted to be THIN. This involved hours of scrolling through the fitspo tag on Tumblr. Checking the calories on everything. Logging every single thing that into my digestive system on the MyFitnessPal app. Crying when I ate a piece of chocolate cake. Expenses: Gym membership. Gym clothes. Rye bread. Boxercise classes. 
  2. Intelligent Grace:  Leaving Cert results came out. I did well, but not as well as I expected of myself. Decided I needed to better myself. Expenses: Books on quantum physics. Literary novels. Books on political philosophy.
  3. Slightly Crazy Grace: Got out of a two-year relationship. Started college. Things got a bit out of hand. Expenses: Alcohol. Lots of alcohol. Cigarettes. Coffee to combat the constant hangovers. Stodgy food to combat the hangovers. Chats with friends over coffee about my constant shame. Clothes to wear to all the clubs I was going to. Replacing the passport I lost in a nightclub.
  4. Fuck-It-I-Don't-Know-Let's-Try-Everything: I believe this is called an "identity crisis". Expenses: Outfits that would make me look like a character in a Wes Anderson film. A trip to Edinburgh with new friends. Books as I tried to figure out what literature I enjoyed and what I was just reading to impress other people. A deposit for a flat. Various different hair dyes. 
It has gotten to the stage where checking my bank balance makes me feel physically ill. Where I feel like money trickles through my fingertips. Where going into overdraft is something of a relief because it is familiar territory. Where I have no regard for Future Grace. Where I feel entitled to these things I buy myself, and convince myself it will all work out. Where my present happiness is more important than paying the electricity bill. Where buying this [insert material object here] will be the first step to a New Me. Where my friends are used to hearing new life plans from me every few weeks. Where I feel burdened by the constant weight of my irresponsibility. Where I am being forced to realise (by other people, I will admit) that this isn't a symptom of flightiness, but of a problem. Where making it to payday with going into the red seems like an impossible task, but one I am determined to accomplish. Which may mean not being able to afford to eat anything other than 12c Tesco noodles because I bought some t-shirts online last night.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Teenage Dreams

I had one of those awful revelations yesterday. You know the ones, where you realise something that completely screws with your head and may possibly shock you into some sort of action? I have exactly five months left of being a teenager. This could explain my recent hobby of dying my hair fluorescent colours รก la Avril Lavigne.
Ever since I turned eighteen and was able to legally able to drink, smoke, get married and watch Kill Bill I have been having a pre-midlife crisis. The constant anxiety that I should know what to do with my life by now and be achieving something or other is somewhat terrifying. 
Then there is the feeling I haven't been making enough of my teenage years. Sure, I had the classic sneaking into the house drunk/failing tests/losing my virginity/school fights moments, but where were the adventures? I smoked a few times when in my school uniform, but only when far away from the eyes of any teachers. The only times I ditched school was in sixth year, and that was to go to the library and study. I feel I have failed at being a teenager, but I have the next five months to rectify that. So I started thinking about events that would mimic  my favourite teen movies...
  1. Spend the day adventuring when I should be in school college.
  2. Serenade someone/be serenaded.
  3. Make friends with a group of misfits in an unlikely setting.
  4. Spread scandal about myself.
  5. Plot to overthrow the popular girls.

The problem is, those seem like awful life plans. Ditching college is fairly easy, bringing about serenading is tricky, EVERYONE MY AGE IS A MISFIT, spreading scandal is fairly silly. Does college even have popular girls?
Really, all these films are about self-discovery and finding love and acceptance and blah blah blah. So possibly I should continue being a bit of a mess and not knowing what to do with my life and dying my hair ridiculous colours and worry about life once I'm twenty?

Friday, 2 August 2013

The Importance of Getting Away

When life gets crazy, sometimes all you can do is run away. Which is exactly what I did this week; with the help of my best friend, a Groupon voucher and a bottle of Jack Daniels. The trip had been planned (if you can call deciding that the deal for a hotel in Donegal was too good to pass up, and we therefore needed to call to Donegal planned), but happened to coincide with a need to get away from everyone and my various dramas.
Getting away from where you're used to is one of the most important things you can do, in my opinion. Wondering around a village where no one knows you and shamelessly taking photo after photo and being away from everyone you know and just reveling in being somewhere unfamiliar is a drug to someone with such a severe case of wanderlust as me. Part of it is to do with the fact that all the people you meet can define you by is the fact you are not from there, giving you a certain sense of freedom to be completely yourself.

Rural Ireland is like nowhere else. The fact that everyone says hello is disconcerting. The air really is cleaner. You find yourself squealing over sheep and cottages and imagining that you're in a Discover Ireland ad. Your resentment at American tourists and their image of Ireland as a tiny backward country dissipates because you are standing in postcard scenery. You love being here where there's no cinema or pressures for fashion or night clubs, but you know you could never live here. You're getting drunk in your hotel room, but you know anyone else your age who lives here is just waiting to get out. 
Turns out we were in the gluten-free haven of the world
Casual shrine.




I am a shameless tourist, yes.

The point of the bus journey where I had no idea where in the world we were.




I was really excited to be near sheep.


Donegal is fierce pretty.

I couldn't resist the photo op this cottage presented.


Saturday, 27 July 2013

Interview: Markus Thyberg

Markus is one of the masterminds behind Collectably, a nifty new extension that acts as a virtual pin board. This is dead handy for people like me who bounce around the internet reading about new topics all the time, and I've found it invaluable when it comes to organising college research. Markus was lovely enough to have a chat with me about how Collectably came to be and where he finds motivation.


1. So, first of all, describe Collectably in a few words.
Collectably is a Pinterest for links and open browser tabs.

2. What made you want to begin such a project?
We suffered from tab overload ourselves. We were drowning in tabs for our research, for our hobbies, for a work project, for a home project…, and needed a place to overview and organise all the good stuff. 

3. What is a typical day like working on Collectably?
There is really no such thing as a typical day at Collectably. We are a rapidly growing start-up so everyday comes with a new challenging and exciting task. Right now, we are preparing the launch of the new Collectably mobile web, which will be up and running within a couple of weeks. Other days the team heads out to study user behavior, actually looking over the shoulder of people researching the web, and trying to identify work flows that rarely would come out if you ask someone how they browse or how they google. These are the clues to which features our users are going to love.

4. Who do you see using Collectably?
Collectably is for anyone who wants to get more use of all the best bits of internet. We get a lot of feedback from bloggers, researchers, media and IT consultants who love our service.

5. Starting up something new can be pretty grueling at times, where do you find motivation?
Our motivation is to contribute to people learning new things! When our users tell us that Collectably makes their life easier, helps them make a better job or learn more about their personal interests, we get very excited about working on making the service better and better. 

6. What do you see the future of Collectably as...?
Except for being the easiest way to save and overview anything on the web, Collectably will be an even better place for sharing and working together.

7...and how do you intend to make that happen?
There will soon be more features to support quick and easy reorganisation of links, communication, and integration with other services

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Applying Nietzsche's "The Birth of Tragedy" to "Saved By the Bell"


 Nowadays we don't have any direct understanding of myth, but we can understand it somewhat through the context of history.

 Here we see Carrie play the role of the "Greek chorus". Although it is only one actor (traditionally a Greek chorus consists of two or more actors outside the action), the role of this narration is to provide context to the story and give an idea of what is about to happen.
 In our modern Socratic society we shun art and drama in favour of the pursuit of knowledge.
 Nietzsche would be so proud, as he believed that to save modern culture from self-destruction we had to bring back the spirit of tragedy. Dead frogs...
 ...lack of school supplies...


 ...failing a class due to your moral beliefs about dissecting frogs.

 A classic Dionysian response, giving free rein to ones impulses, passions and emotions.
SOCRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATIC.