Sunday, 20 August 2017

how i feel about leaving certificate results 2017

I'm sitting on my bed, staring at a pile of notes that have been on my bedroom floor since I finished my last exam six or seven weeks ago. I wasn't sure whether I'd recycle or cremate them, but it's been so long now that I don't know whether I want to do away with them at all. In a box on my desk, I have Irish and German flashcards. I still remember what most of them mean - it hasn't been that long - but still I feel strangely about parting with them. Essentially, I liked most of my subjects and don't want to forget all that I learned, or really stop learning them.

I was so terrified to open my results on Wednesday. I'd been anticipating the moment for the entire two years of the leaving cert course, getting particularly anxious in the week leading up to the event. I kept coming up with ideas of how terribly it would go. I dreamed that I had barely passed ordinary level maths, and got low grades in all the subjects I liked. In a way that helped because I knew that it would never be quite as bad as that.

Nevertheless, the morning came and we all strolled up to the school to collect my brown envelope. I wanted to open it away from my family, just so that I could know first, and open it as slowly as I wanted.  I was more relieved than anything to see that I had gotten good grades, top grades in some cases. I couldn't say I was happy with my results, but it was too soon. All of my months of hard work and, as the exams came closer, no play, had just been summed up for me in one single number. It felt kind of underwhelming, like I wanted more than a number, (the numbers in the new system range from 1-8, no more As and Bs), maybe a letter grade or a percentage or "very good".

I took out my CAO points calculator and inputted my grades. The grades are secondary to the points which gave me a rough idea of whether I'd be getting into my first choice for university. In Ireland, most college courses want you to get a number of points, but it changes every year because it's based on supply and demand rather than suitability for the programme. Which is stupid, if I'm honest, because you can get higher grades in English, Irish and Home Ec and still go on to study maths if all you got was 50% depending on your chosen university. I got points which should enable me to do my chosen course, but I'll find out tomorrow at 6a.m. when the offers come out. wish me luck.

I brought my results and calculator back to my parents, who were waiting for me a few meters away. I burst into tears once I'd shown them, prompting my dad to exclaim "don't cry! people will think you've done badly!" but I couldn't stop yet. Relief really is the only word that fits. I mean, I got really good grades, but I still have a hard time convincing myself of that.

Only 1.2% of everyone in the country who sat the art leaving cert got the top grade, a H1 (formerly A1, >90%). A lot of people in my class were disappointed not to have achieved a higher grade, which I totally understand because I was surrounded by girls whose talents I was envious of, and who put in long stressful hours at all points throughout the year. I didn't expect to get the top grade, seeing as so few people get them, so I wasn't surprised not to. However I must admit that it still bothers me that some people were robbed of higher grades due to the examiners' standards being too high.  It's like they expect us all to be artists whose work is saleable rather than students who have been studying art at a non-professional level.

Perhaps the problem is the change in the grading system. The fact that they've changed it makes any 2s (80-89%) seem like they're worth less than previously A2s or B1s. An A2 being 85-89%. Making the grades purely numbers based makes the grading feel more harsh to me, a strong feeling of "second best" rather than "a slightly lower grade".

Anyway, not long now. It's 18 hours until I'm sure of my fate, and I think everything will feel a lot better then. I tend to my hard on myself anyway, and coming from a family of smarties and a friend circle full of amazing intelligent girls probably doesn't help. I know a lot of people are proud of me, and I should be too. I'm both under and over-whelmed it seems!

Thank you so much for reading, I owe you the usual bloggers apology for being MIA for a few days.

Anna x

Sunday, 6 August 2017

maybe love

As I walk down the street,
Alone this time,
I take in every road sign,
Every shopfront, 
Every curb and crossing.
I pause to peer into empty caf├ęs
And look at vacant bar stools.

I picture you sitting in every spot,
Reclining on the couch in the doctor's waiting room,
Flicking through an old magazine,
Waiting for the green man,
Walking through revolving doors at the old hotel.
Because I'm worried that you'll be my reality
And I have to make sure you fit.

Anna O

taken on an iphone 5s

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Destination: Galway City

Galway, Galway, Galway. A delightful city in the west of Ireland. And it's so tiny, which is amazing and makes it perfect for a day trip! There is so much to do and see, but it's possible to squeeze it in to one day. The town centre is small, but there were so many street performers. Galway is a place that holds on dearly to its tradition of the Irish language and tradition. Almost all of the performers were playing trad music or Irish dancing. There are loads of pubs there in the traditional style. There are also loads of adorable shops, including an amazing toy shop that sold foreign made toys. So cute! Also, I adore all of the Irish sign posts. They have a prominence in Galway that often seems lacking in other parts of the country

The River Corrib runs through Galway City, and is apparently amongst the shortest in Europe. My traveling companion and I had an amazing stroll down along it. The water was moving so rapidly, and was remarkably clear. We even had the fortune of seeing a rainbow created by the spray and the gorgeous sun that was out that day- which I must add, is rare enough in the west. Seeing such a vibrant rainbow was magical!

We visited Galway Cathedral before lunch. I didn't want to take any photos there, it just didn't feel right to me. However, it is beautiful, so beautiful inside. It's huge (unsurprising) and has a very good mood about it. The organ in particular was very impressive to me, and I left the church with a fantastic sense of calm.

Lunch that day was spectacular. The veggie special on was Spaetzle! Dude! I adore Germany, and this particular dish is German. I have never seen it outside of Germany before, and so I had to try out the Irish version. I was not disappointed, rather, thrilled. My friend who'd never tried the dish before also had a very positive experience. I was sorry we didn't stay for desert, but we had much to do! Also, they had Irish made lemonade there, which was pricey but tasty. My sister was the one to recommend this restaurant to me, and now I'm recommending it to you. It's called Ard Bia at Nimmos, and is right beside the Spanish Arch.

Being the total nerds we are, we had to check out the NUI Galway campus. It was really lush and pretty, and we spent ages chatting away on the grass. It was a very peaceful spot, hard to imagine it full of students as it will very shortly be.

Our final destination was Salt Hill, a very picturesque beach area along the Atlantic Ocean. The views were spectacular, and the air so so fresh. We headed back into town and got some pub grub before heading home. It was a lovely day out, one which I would love to repeat.

Where's your favourite spot for a day trip?

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

a poem about why

In these words
I seek something I believe that they can never give to me,
But each time,
I feel a little bit better.
Not much.
But enough to keep me
Picking up my ageing pen
And writing to the god
Who told my hands to listen
To my head.


I just wanted to thank you all so so deeply much for the kindness you've shown to me in my recent literary posts. It delights me to know that you've all been appreciating them! A new post will be going up, hopefully tomorrow, on a more travel related theme, so I hope you'll all read and enjoy that too.

I want to get to know you a bit better, so please tell me a bit about yourselves in the comments below :)

Anna x

Saturday, 29 July 2017

a story about love, self and fear

It felt strange to me, leaving the house at night in order to do what really was a very three p.m. activity. It was early summer, and the sky was still bright, like a glass of water the moment someone foolishly pours milk in on top of it. The flowers along the path seemed different, less beautiful than usual, less garden-show. They didn't remind me of flowers at all, more like figures coming out for air. A fairy with a white skirt and a princess freshly dressed in purple caught my eye as I walked towards the bus stop.

The bus carried me away into somebody else's world. People wore hours old work clothes and talked to each other or their phones, always too busy to be alone. I did too, looked at my blank screen, through some empty old pictures like I was someone with something very important to live for.

Each day I lived with a feeling of trepidation. I never knew who I might see, or where I might see them, or what small talk I'd have to make. I worried we'd get off at the same stop and have to walk some of the same direction, and that we'd both hate it completely. This day was fine, I was all alone with my thoughts. I'd given up on my old pictures and begun to write contentedly. Inspiration came to me from a book I was reading, and the sky I could no longer feel. I was about to say 'thank you' to the driver. I glided into reality.

In the cinema I thought about the two characters on screen, a bad fit for each other, one much older than the other, and mean in purport. Yet he was so happy with his evil woman, and I thought about the fact that I would one day fall in love, and have the chance to simmer happily in our set of imperfections. Later, when it turned out that she really was a murderer coated in greed, I had forgotten about my mini monologue- 'look at those misfits, they have found love. you deserve that too, one day.'

After the film we all walked back to the bus stop. The others were bubbling with laughter and comments about strange moments and our immature responses in the movie. I joined in too, reservedly as I was tired. Once there I didn't have much profound left to say, so instead I talked about things I've now forgotten and danced on the tarmac because that's what I like to do best. There was no music, only me, and movements that I had locked up inside of me for a long time.

We got the same bus back, and bundled and bounced as we chatted and giggled. I sometimes caught their eyes, which glistened in the pleasure of the company of friends. Sometimes I think I was born to make people smile. It fills me with such relief and gratitude that I can hardly contain myself. I want to be loved, but more than that, I want to show love to others. I want to give it to them, in their own lives, make them happier. The way I do it is very simple, but very, very hard; I take the ribbons out of my hair and look straight at the sun. I wear a broad grin and say the silly things that occur to me, about animals in the wild, their free fur stuck eternally on a willow tree. I twirl and jump when I want to. I tell people what I like about them, and radiate what I like about me. I listen when I'm needed. I trust myself. I find it a challenge, a toll, but I'm learning. I trust myself not to drown, not to dither, not to fluster. And in a rare moment of peace, I know who I am. I do not sink like I normally do. I do not trip on the mountain, or slip on that freshly polished floor.

One foot after the other, and I am free.

I am alive. Beyond that, I float.

Anna x

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