Category Archives: France

50 Facts About Me

Kellie sent me a text the other day, asking if I had thought about doing a 50 facts about me blog post. I’ve never thought of doing one before, and this list will probably end up being incredibly dull, but here we go. Fifty things which you may not have known about me (unless you’re my sister, in which case you probably know all of these things, but I’m sorry, I’m boring. You try come up with fifty things about yourself!)

1. I’m not entirely sure what height I am. The last time I measured myself I got five foot one and three quarters, but when my sisters measured me about a year later, they said I was lying, and I’m actually only five foot one.

2. I love cereal, even though I hate milk, and will eat cereal at pretty much any time of the day or night.

3. Although I never wear any make-up now, when I was about thirteen, I decided that I needed to wear make-up every day. However, given that my mother and older sister don’t wear make-up, my first forays into this arena were disastrous, and I never really developed an interest in it again.

4. When I go to dog races (which, admittedly, is not often) I always back dog number 4 in any given race.

5. This is for two reasons – a) my birthday is in April, the fourth month and b) my birthday is the 13th, and 1+3=4

6. I learned this trick from a Dick Francis book. But I don’t remember which one.

7. Even though I have no real interest in horse racing, I’ve read every Dick Francis book and quite a number of John Francome books.

8. The first Dick Francis book I ever read was Longshot. I read this while on holidays with my family in France in (I think) 2003. I tried to hide the fact that I was reading it from my dad, as I thought he wouldn’t approve of my reading it. He knew well what I was doing, though.

9. When I was younger, I used to get in trouble most often for reading books after I had been sent to bed. My brother used to burst into my room trying to catch me with the lamp on after I was supposed to be asleep. I used to think I was excellent at hiding that I was reading, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realised that a lamp being on can be seen from the landing.

10. Although I have a hard time picking favourites, I very definitely have a favourite colour, which is purple. I even went so far as to get my masters thesis bound in purple, as we weren’t given specific colour instructions.

11. Whenever I get discouraged by the thought of how much work it will take to finish the PhD I’m currently a sixth of the way through, I remind myself that if I dropped out, I’d have to give back my iPad. Surprisingly, it works every time at convincing myself to keep going.

12. I have a strange obsession with cards. I still have my birthday cards displayed in my bedroom. My birthday, as I may have mentioned already, was in April.

13. I have an especially strong fascination with cards from Alex – I bully him into producing them, anything up to nine months after the date they’re supposed to be for. I also have a variety of cards from him displayed in my bedroom.

14. Even though it’s currently 1am, and he’s asleep, I have Alex on skype tonight. I’ll hang up in a bit. To be fair, he fell asleep mid-conversation, and I thought originally that he might wake up. I was wrong.

15. I really, really like ginger nut biscuits. When I was writing my masters thesis, I used to go through a few packets a week, because they cost 39c in Dunnes and they were something to eat while I was trying to write.

16. Generally, when writing lists, I’ll vary between letters and numbers within the same list. I’m not doing that today, because Kellie said fifty facts, and there are only twenty six letters.

17. I’ve broken a leg and I’ve broken an arm, and I’d say breaking the leg was far worse, in terms of sheer awkwardness.

18. I have two county medals in community games for backstroke.

19. I won those medals by default, because nobody else competed.

20. I would have won a third, except I accidentally crashed into a lane barrier by swimming diagonally.

21. I have a lot of trouble with straight lines – I can’t draw one, even with a set square.

22. I also can’t walk in a straight line, unless I’m given one to walk along. This has often led to me cutting across my sisters’ path, and their getting very frustrated at me. It also lost me a swimming race. See two above.

23. I broke my leg at a swimming competition. A few months after I recovered and could swim again, I started self-harming, and couldn’t hide the marks in a swimsuit. I never went back to swimming lessons again after that year.

24. I have a surprisingly good head for phone numbers – I can rattle off both my parents’, all three of my siblings’, both my, Alex’s and several of my friends’ phone numbers without pause for thought.

25. I also have a surprisingly good head for dates. I remember birthdays, often without needing facebook to prompt me.

26. If a blog post is posted at anything before about ten or eleven at night, the chances are very good that I wrote it a few days beforehand and scheduled it.

27. I’m not afraid of spiders, but I don’t like them at all. I have no real issues with killing them, but I’d rather someone else did it for me.

28. I am full-on afraid of mice. Something about them freaks me out, and I will practically shriek if I see one.

29. Even though my dad always gives out to me about it, I keep food in my bedroom.

30. I like counting in fractions. I know that I’m currently one-sixth of the way through my PhD. I’m also currently three-fifths of the way through this list of facts.

31. I have two pairs of Doc Martens. I really, really liked the first pair, which have polka dots, until I got the second pair, which have roses on them. Since I got the second pair, Christmas 2011, I’ve only worn the polka dotted pair once. I feel guilty about this sometimes.

32. I have an awful tendency to repeat myself. I’ll tell someone a story, a factoid or a tidbit of information, and then the next time I’m talking to them, I’ll tell them the same thing again. Alex bears the brunt of this, and hears all my news multiple times. Yet somehow, he still manages to forget it all.

33. A few months ago, I went to band practice, but forgot my clarinet. I had to go home and get it and then come back again. It was one of my more forgetful moments.

34. Although I can speak Irish, I don’t, generally. However, when I’m not in Ireland I feel far more of an impetus to actually make use of the language.

35. Although I have a degree in French, my standard of spoken French is actually atrocious. I’m relatively okay on reading and writing French.

32. I have an awful tendency to repeat myself. I’ll tell someone a story, a factoid or a tidbit of information, and then the next time I’m talking to them, I’ll tell them the same thing again. Alex bears the brunt of this, and hears all my news multiple times. Yet somehow, he still manages to forget it all.

36. I went to four different schools in five different uniforms in two different countries.

37. But I had the same schoolbag from fourth class until fifth year (year five until year 12).

38. When I’m bored, I write blog posts in my head. Most of them never make it onto the blog.

39. When I know I’m going to have a serious conversation, I mentally play out how I think it’s going to go before I actually say anything.

40. My mental conversations never work out the same way as the actual conversations.

41. Although I’ve had a keyboard since I was about seven, I think, I can’t actually play keyboard or piano, beyond three simple pieces (Fur Elise, Mad World and one which I’ve forgotten the name of, which a friend taught me when we were in year seven!)

42. Even though I talk to the same three-five people every day and I know they’d be willing to listen to me, I don’t like talking about any issues I have.

43. Conversely, I love to listen to any issues my friends might have, and relish the feeling that they trust me enough to tell me things.

44. I’m fascinated with marking anniversaries and the passage of time. According to something I read, people are fascinated with the past because they’re afraid of, or don’t know what they want in, their future, but I’m not sure how true that is.

45. I love Nordie accents. I could listen to someone chattering about nothing as long as they keep that accent up.

46. But I hate the accent of Gaeilge Uladh. I don’t know why the difference in language makes such a difference in my opinion, but it does.

47. Even though I love my name, there are time that I could kill my dad for picking an unusual spelling of it.

48. Unlike most people I know, I have only four first cousins. Two are big, two are small, and all four of them are totally great.

49. Even though I’ve read all of John Green’s books, and can’t really find fault with any of them, I don’t like John Green as a writer. This is probably worthy of a blog post on its own. I’ll elaborate on this some other day, so I’ll give you a new fact 49.

49a. I read a lot. My Kindle (which has a purple case) is one of the first things I put in almost every bag I bring out with me. I don’t know how many books I’ve read this year, but it’s more than twenty. I always intend to review the books I read, but I get very lazy. I also tried keeping a list of the books I was reading with a website, laisin, but I was too lazy for that, too.

50. I have always hated my middle name – Patricia. I felt that my older sister should have been blessed with it, given that she was born on St Patrick’s day. My parents, however, decided to be original, and not name her that. The last time I renewed my passport, I took Patricia off it. However, it’s still on my degrees and on my driver’s license. Since my gran passed away, I’ve become a little more fond of the name, so I don’t think I’ll be deleting it from anything else any time soon.

51.  your turn.
Write a fact you know about me in the comments. Write a fact about you in the comments. Write fifty facts about you and post it on your blog! I was peer pressured into this and thus, you should be too!

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Matching

I’ve posted a couple of times before about the books in my house. There are millions of them.
Well, not literally millions. But a good few.

In any case, I’m not talking about ALL the books in my house, but specifically my books. And, actually, my sisters’ books as well.

I have too many books to fit in my bookcase. Those that will fit in my bookcase are organised alphabetically, but when I tried to fit them all into the bookcase, I was sadly deterred by the fact that, well, I have too many books.
So I’ve separated out those series of books which can reasonably be displayed on the top of my bookcase, leaving space for single books, etc.

Some of the series are easy to display – the Chronicles of Narnia, which I got in a box-set, are seven perfectly matched books which sit, all at the same height and roughly the same width, looking perfect, as they should. As well as that, I have the full Keys to the Kingdom series, all seven of which are the same height, roughly the same width and the same edition for all seven.
Similarly, I have the first 43 Animorphs books piled up on top of my bookcase. This annoys me a little bit, because numbers 1 and 2-17 are a different edition to number 2, 3 and 18-43. BUT, luckily, they are hidden by the fact that the Chronicles of Narnia are displayed in front of them, so you can’t see the non-matching books. It’s all good. Besides which, they’re all the same size, so that’s some consolation. It means they stack nicely, so that’s okay.
And furthermore, as my beloved baby sister has pointed out to me, I was actually given a present of all the animorphs books (bar numbers 2-5) by my cousin, so I can’t actually take any responsibility for them. Thank you, cousin.

Similarly, my copy of the Guardians of Time Trilogy doesn’t match perfectly. When I first bought The Named, I didn’t realise that it was a part of a trilogy. It wasn’t until a few years later that I found The Dark and The Key. Unfortunately, by the time I got around to finding and buying them, the editions had changed.
This bugs me to no end. I don’t know why. They just don’t match. It’s actually so annoying I’m struck occasionally to go out and buy a matching edition of the named. In any case, I prefer the later editions. Check them out! I have the Named from this set:
And then I have the Dark and the Key from the following set of covers. I think they’re prettier, so sometimes I think I want to change my edition of the Named!I want this edition!The whole thing that they’re not matching is sort of my fault, so it’s not like I can complain that much about it. If I really wanted to, I could find and buy a copy of the Named with the red cover, so that it would match the Dark and the Key, and everything would be all fine and dandy. So although it annoys me, I can cope with it.
HOWEVER! There are certain other things about my books, along the same vein, which similarly bug me. Take, for example, my collection (combined with Sinéad) of A Series of Unfortunate Events. The collection as a whole makes me really happy, because there are thirteen novels, plus horseradish, which match PERFECTLY. And this just makes me smile. We also have the Lemony Snicket, the Unauthorised Autobiography, which, although it doesn’t have the same design (i.e. the coloured spine, picture in an tombstone shape on the front, relevant motif along the coloured spine, and the blurb which looks like parchment and so on and so forth) but it’s the same size and whatever, so that’s cool. And that makes me happy too. BUT, we also have the Beatrice Letters. And that’s just off the wall in its different-ness. It’s like, twice as tall and as wide as the other books. It doesn’t match in any way whatsoever! This frustrates me hugely. What’s up with that? They’re all published by the same people! Why would they do that?
You can see here that ASOUE novels reside on the bottom row, whereas the Beatrice Letters is on top, and is markedly different!

In the same vein, I (and by I, I mean Aoife, because it actually belongs to her) have the original British cover of Twilight, with the stupid girl on it.Then I have the matching Atom editions of New Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn (seen in the image above) as well as The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner and Twilight, The Official Illustrated Guide (don’t judge me, okay, I don’t even like them). And while it annoys me that the Twilight cover doesn’t match, naturally, same as the Named, it annoys me even more that the New Moon edition is like, an inch shorter than the others. What is up with that? They’re all published by the same crowd! They’re all paperback! Why don’t they match???
This, too, bugs me.

Furthermore, my Harry Potter collection, also seen in the image above, bugs me for two reasons. The first is that I have an adult edition of the Order of the Phoenix. As you can see, it doesn’t match at all, and sticks out like a sore thumb when you put them all together. Then I also have paperback editions of The Philosopher’s Stone and the Chamber of Secrets (although it was missing when I took that picture). The whole hardback/paperback thing bugs me as well, because it means that the series/trilogy/whatever ends up being a mishmash of different sizes. This upsets me greatly.

The next picture is rather more fuzzy (shaky hands) but you can see roughly what the series on the top of my bookcase are. The one I’m talking about now is the Old Kingdom series, by Garth Nix. You can see that it’s a black and a red hardback next to each other (Lirael and Abhorsen) with a white paperback on the left and a tiny black and a purple one on the right.
This series drives me insane. It was actually so bad that I demoted it from the top of the bookcase, because it was bugging me. The deal is that I bought Sabriel first, and a while after it was published, so that was in paperback. Lirael and Abhorsen, then, I was super excited about, so I bought them as soon as they came out, meaning that they’re hardback. Then Nix released a short story for World Book Day, which I also picked out, because I really like the Old Kingdom series. Lastly, he re-released the World Book Day book in a collection with a few others – that’s Across the Wall, which is the purple one. The hardback/paperback differences between series/trilogies/whatever really annoys me. I don’t know why. I think there’s something wrong with me, in that this kind of thing actually bothers me to the extent that I had to take the Old Kingdom series off the top of my bookcase. I replaced it with the first three of the Fallen Quadrilogy (the last one isn’t out yet) (don’t judge me, I know they’re really bad). I also refuse to put Cornelia Funke’s Ink trilogy on the top of the bookcase because Inkheart is hardback and Inkspell and Inkdeath are paperback. I’m not entirely sure how I managed to get that one the wrong way around. You would think that I’d have a paperback edition of the first in the trilogy, but no, I have the first in hardback and the second and third in paperback.

In any case, matching up series of books makes me incredibly happy, and mismatched series actually frustrate me to no end. It’s some sort of weird foible of mine. But sometimes I wish I was French, then all the books I bought could be livre de poche, and they’d all be the same size and I’d NEVER HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT THIS SORT OF THING AGAIN.

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Roundup

Yup, it’s that time of year. Last day of the last month, i.e. New Year’s Eve. It’s time to have a look back at what I’ve done over the last 12 months and have a little think about what I’d like to achieve in the next 12.

I’d do it month by month, but I don’t think I have an interesting enough life for that, so I’ll just take a general look at things.
In 2011 I…

  • Earned a bachelors degree. The same degree I started way back in 2008 finally came to fruition and I am the proud owner of a 2nd Class Honours Grade I Bachelor of Civil Law (Law and French). I’m not gonna lie and say I slogged my butt off to earn my degree, but I did work for it, and I’m proud of what I got. Especially considering how much I struggled through the middle of the degree, I’m proud to be able to say that I got there, and in the recommended amount of time.
  • Started a Masters degree. The LLM (International) International Business Law offered by NUI Maynooth and the Catholic University of Lyon. This was, perhaps, not my smartest move. I’m not saying I’m not enjoying the degree (I’m only halfway through it) (and I am enjoying it) but choosing this particular degree, given that it’s an LLM (International) meant that
  • I moved to France and lived there for three months. I’m not gonna lie. It was tough. I struggled with language barriers, loneliness, motivation, grocery shopping, paying bills and occasionally just getting out of bed in the mornings. But I did the whole three months, I didn’t go bankrupt, I went to every single class, I travelled around the South of France and saw lots of it, I went to Geneva to visit my dad, I sat all seven exams and (hopefully) did pretty well in them, and in all, I think I pretty much kicked France’s butt.
  • I struggled with a long-distance relationship. Alex was in Limerick for six months (March-September) and I was in France for three months (September-December). It wasn’t fun. We made it, but not without a lot of tears, a lot of fights and a lot of struggles. Still, we’re back in the same place now. He’s sitting next to me now, and the sheer fact of being able to see him whenever I want makes me way happier than it should.
  • I reviewed a few books. Not as many as I’d like to, though. We shall see if it continues into next year. I’ve read a couple of books over the course of the holidays, so I might review them if I think about it
  • I missed the crap out of music. Having quit both the band and the orchestra, I needed some sort of outlet for musical creativity, so I joined the Gospel Choir in the college, as treasurer, and sang my heart out. I couldn’t, obviously, go back to band and orchestra when I was in France, but I went to the first orchestra rehearsal back in September and I played the carol service with the band on Christmas Eve, so come the second half of the year, I’ll be back in the swing of things. Now I just need to work out how to improve my embouchre, which has become beyond terrible.
  • I quit my job. I had to, because I moved to France, but I regret it. I miss my job, I miss the people in my job and I definitely miss the money. I need a job, so from next week I’ll be looking for someone to employ me. I’m friendly and hard-working, do you want to give me a job??
  • I ran for Students’ Union Vice-President – but failed miserably. The less said about that the better
  • I beat depression. After several years of misery, tears and general low mood, I’m finally able to say that I am 100% depression free, with no pills, no nothing to help me.
  • In conclusion, I had a good year. Bits of it were sad, bits were brilliant, but looking back, I’m pretty pleased with it. So I’m looking forward to a 2012 which is as good as, if not better than, 2011.
  • Screw Flanders

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