I’ve just arrived back to Castle Black (my house) after a fun-filled week travelling the south and west coasts of my glorious little country (Ireland, for anyone wondering. Which is why it can take as little as a week to drive around the whole south and west coasts). Sometime in January, my friend Eve and I were contemplating exploring the country we’ve been raised and in embarrassingly have never fully seen, and when my friend Katie in Scotland announced that she and her housemates were thinking of roadtripping around Ireland this summer, we jumped on that bandwagon in full roadtrip regalia.
Happy Thursday, everyone!
I hope most of you are enjoying the sunshine outside today. For anyone sitting at your office desk counting down the hours to the weekend, you have my sympathy and also only about 29 more to wait until freedom. Although it is supposed to rain all weekend, so that’s a pity for you.
I’ve just come back from four days at my dad’s house in the Wild West, as I call it, which is actually not in the west but in the south of Ireland (but in the western part of the south called West Cork and that’s where it gets its very witty name). It was the first time I’ve spent there in as long as I can remember that I didn’t feel an underlying sense of guilt for not reading some sort of dull report or writing practice essays on German poets or checking college emails to make sure I haven’t forgotten something very important. For the first time in at least six years, I felt wholly relaxed and free to do as I pleased, be it helping Dad dig a new little flower bed next to the pond, reading a book (of my own choice!) in the sun room or drinking old bottles of Namibian Tinta Barocca late into the night without worrying about having a very functioning brain the next morning.
But whilst this lazy post-finals haze all sounds very idyllic and restful, there is still a niggling feeling that I can’t shake off, and I’m sure it’s the same for most college-leavers at some point in the immediate aftermath of finishing final exams. While I was still in the throws of mine, I phoned my best friend Katie in Scotland, who had finished hers a few days previously. “You must feel amaaaaazing!” I gushed, already feeling excitement building as I imagined walking out of the exam hall on the Thursday afternoon into the welcoming summer sun (it rained that day in fact, which is typical). “I did for a few days afterwards,” she said, “but – and it might not be the same for you – the panic about results and what’s going to happen next has started to set in now.” Even though I couldn’t imagine such a panic, even in the days directly after I finished, such a little knot of dread has struggled to its feet and begun to lumber about in my head in the last few days. Sometimes it tires and goes for a rest and the excitement of freedom and looming summer adventures takes over again, but when nap-time’s over the knot gets right back up and back to his post at the forefront of my mind.
Such a feeling, I’m sure many of you will understand, is exacerbated by such things as family friends leaping in front of you and demanding, “So what’s next??!” You can almost see a sort of lottery wheel spinning around in their head with things like “Going to work on Wall Street!”, “Travelling the world!” or “Doing a Masters!” written on each segment. As you hum and haw the wheel slows and ticks past each of these options before landing on “Who Knows!”, and the poor person’s expression is wiped of anticipation and replaced with a blank gaze before they stutter, “Well…it must be nice to be finished, at least”, to which you reply, “It was until this hideous encounter”, but in your head.
The problem is that during college you have so many dreams for your future whirring around in hour very busy head, but you also have the safety-net of “still studying” keeping you from having to act yet, from having to push yourself into the scariness of Real Life and grab whatever flies your way with both hands. In my case, new dreams are born every day, and where I’m finding myself now is a vast expanse in which ideas ping pong past on an almost daily basis, but don’t stay around long enough to materialise. While I was standing in Dad’s garden watching him prune a fir tree I complained to him about the situation to which he replied, “At your age, your head should be full of ideas. I wouldn’t expect anything else.” He continued pruning the tree and I went inside to put on the kettle, a little pacified but still not completely certain.
One of the hardest things to get my head around is the expectation that a child of 18 knows what he or she wants to be for the rest of their life and must then make the decision to follow that path. That is why I chose a BA in Modern Languages, giving me the freedom, I thought, to apply myself to whatever I like while chattering away in German or French as I go. But now that I am finished, I do not want to be a German or French teacher. I do not want to work in the EU (I don’t think). I do not want to be an academic because I don’t have the patience. So then I, and countless others who leave college with a degree that is not applied, are left wondering “What am I?” and, indeed, “Who am I?”
This is all sounding very negative, and I’m sorry. I might take this opportunity to give a little insight into Positive Kiera’s outlook on all of this: the good side to leaving college with an identity that is not yet perfectly sculpted and a bustling myriad of ideas which will not sit still is that you still have time to decide, grow and choose what and who you are. You still have space to try things, to feel, yes, the occasional thud of defeat, but the plentiful moments that something is working out and feels right. We have all heard success stories about people who have come from little and become great. My stepdad, for example, left school at 16 and became a DJ – though somewhere along the way somebody observed that he was good at maths and now he is the project manager of a bank. Jack recently met a chap in Croatia who, having worked for years on Wall Street and having decided it was not for him, moved to Croatia to become a boat skipper. Stories about change and fate and decisions give me hope for the people who answer “What next?” with “Who knows?” If you have any success stories or advice for college leavers you’d like to share, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment!
I have written a lot today, haven’t I? I hope you managed to get to the end and haven’t fallen asleep at your desk or thrown your laptop into the nearest dustbin. I also hope that, if you ever find yourself wondering “Who am I?” that reading this will remind you that you have lots and lots of time to become whomever you want to be, and in the meantime you are a wondrous creature with hundreds of possibilities. I am off on a roadtrip now around the Irish coast with some excellent girls. Next Thursday I promise there will be less depth and more pictures to my post 🙂
See you soon and lots of love,
(cover picture by the amazing Amanda Shadforth at @Oraclefox)
Today is a magnificent day. I am finished college forever and the sun is shining and later today my friend Ellen is hosting a Grown-Up Children’s Sports Day in her garden (sports will include sack races, egg-and-spoon races, obstacle courses and Competitive Hide-and-Seek, all with a fine smattering of jelly-shots and beer to keep the good-times rolling).
Yesterday, Lucy and I decided to go to Bray and walk around the headland to Greystones where we would cosy up at sundown with a falafel wrap at The Happy Pear. Unfortunately, and characteristically, all did not go completely according to plan. Somewhere along the walk a grey cloud smothered and burst over Greystones, and we found out, at 7.30 pm, that The Happy Pear closes at 6. So we walked just over halfway and then turned back to avoid what can only be described as a falafelless washout.
We did still get a bit wet, mind you. Luckily I had worn a beret to keep my head dry, though as many of you know, when wool gets wet it takes on an unattractive wet-dog scent, and in the end it didn’t prove to be much help. Still, such a weird mix of blazing sun and lashing rain would, I reminded Lucy, surely cause a beautiful rainbow to appear over the seaside town.
“I’m glad you’re such an optimist,” she said. But since I am known, among my closest friends, to be able to completely change my mood and go from Care Bear to Death Stare in less than five minutes, I said, “Yes. Nice of Optimistic Kiera to show her face today. We needed her.”
“Still plenty of time yet,” Lucy said, “for the other one to rear her ugly beret-ed head.” And we both chortled and continued on along the strand, wondering if the men pushing the big orange rowboats into the sea were trying to steal them of if they were the Bray Rowing Club.
I’d better go now; time stops for no man and all that. I have to get my eggs ready for the Sports Day races.
Have a lovely day, all. See you next time!
Because sometimes when you have a two week college break it makes you feel inspired to get creative and hang out by the sea.
Recently I’ve been getting more interested in photography (and if you saw my little ski video you’ll know I’ve even begun to dabble in film which is unexpected since until recently I didn’t know the first thing about filming or editing). It’s a great way to get creative during busy times as well as being good at forcing you to look for the pretty things as you go about your day. Here’s a little bit of fun that my best friend Eve and I got up to during our college break in March, on one of the sunnier days in Dublin.
SO even though this little weekend escape happened way back in January I still thought it important to post it on the blog, partly because the pictures were too picturesque not to put anywhere and I’ve already exhausted my Instagram with Paris pictures. So voila, here you go.
The trip was a birthday surprise for Jack, who last went when he was a wee toddler and couldn’t remember anything about it except for loving Les Invalides, which sadly we didn’t make it to. I had already been twice and had done most of the most touristy things there are to do, but it didn’t stop us from moseying around the winding streets from the moment we left the apartment until after sundown, sparingly taking the Metro in a bid to see as much as possible in the four days.
Speaking of the apartment, we did REALLY well. We AirBNBed it (what else does anyone do these days?) and found a beautiful authentic poet’s apartment in Montmartre. I had insisted on staying in Montmartre because a) I’m difficult and b) it’s one of the known artists districts in Paris with the incredible Sacre Coeur overlooking basically the whole of central Paris. The apartment was on the top floor of a large, ornate block of apartments and it felt like you could see across the whole world out of the window, where the sunrise shone in and lit up the whole room. If you don’t like studio apartments, this wouldn’t be for you. The toilet, for example, was in the same room as the bed and in fact everything else. Not ideal, but at least I feel I know Jack a little better after that trip ;).
If you wanna stay in this little gem of a place just click here.
I won’t go into detail about our day to day activities in Paree because I’m sure you can guess the majority. We walked under the Eiffel Tower (we didn’t go up it because we couldn’t be bothered waiting for the queue to shorten and we wanted a crepe). We went to Place de Contrescarpe and basked in the delight of knowing Hemingway used to drink his coffee there (more me). We spent a lot of time in Le Marais because it’s possibly the best hangout spot in Paris, especially if you like quirky back-alley shops and falafel pittas. On this note, we did find a very recommendable drinks spot for all you night owls. If you like sitting on stools designed like Warhol’s Brillo Boxes in cosy cocktail bars disguised as laundromats, look no further than Lavomatic, your go-to speakeasy in Le Marais. You won’t be disappointed.
One other thing which was a definite highlight to my trip was spending time at Shakespeare and Company, the original library belonging to Sylvia Beach and frequented by many of the big names of the Lost Generation (like Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald and my beloved Hemingway). I could have sat in that typewriting room for the whole weekend, if only it had a little fridge stowed under one of the benches.
Now I will finish writing and leave you to the pictures. I am off to watch Midnight in Paris with Owen Wilson in it as a sort of #TakeMeBack, both to my trip and to the 1920’s.
Thanks for reading, as always, and lots of love,
Hey everyone! Welcome to the first real post on my shiny new website. I hope you’ve got a nice cup of coffee and are reading this from the comfort of an adequately squashy chair or a sun-drenched cafe. If you’re at your work desk or in a library having a sneaky read, I salute you and am sorry for your woes.
Sometime in January Jack invited me along on a ski trip to Lech, a little town in the Austrian Alps. “I can’t,” I said. “I’ll be broke and I’ll have my dissertations to write.” Needless to say shortly afterwards we were booking our flights to Zurich and it was all hands on deck re. trying to fish out matching ski socks.
Well, it’s been a while since we last spoke. What happened was, sometime after I came back to college and the true stress of final year set in I decided I wouldn’t write any more. Firstly, I thought, my life was about to get pretty boring and un-noteworthy. Secondly, I assumed that I’d have zero time on my hands with which to write updates on my supposedly boring days. All in all, I felt it was time to pack in The Peapod and Pearl. In actual fact, whilst I was (almost) right about the second assumption (I have close to zero time to write anything but essays), I was wrong about the first. Your life is as boring or as exciting as you make it. And mine is still pretty fun, thankfully.