People say that deciding to go is the hardest part of leaving. I disagree. The hardest part of leaving is ignoring the scared voice in your head that’s telling you you should stay. I know this to be true, because I’m writing this from the departure lounge in Dublin Airport at 6am, as I wait to board a flight that will start me on my journey to Vancouver. And I’m still not 100% sure I’ll actually get on the plane.
I decided to move to Canada nine months ago. My life wasn’t panning out quite like I thought it was going to, and I felt, at the time, like I’d spent the two years since graduation in an existential crisis that I couldn’t quite seem to shake. Mostly, I bundled through that time focused on one thing, and one thing only; keeping myself afloat.
I had spoken of moving away so many times, and eventually, there came a point where I realised the only thing that was stopping me was me. So I quit my job, sold my car, said goodbye to my family and friends and promised the dog I’d come back to visit, and now here I am.
The question asked of me most over the last few weeks has been ‘Are you excited?’. The truth is I’ve been bouncing between feelings of total denial, outright excitement and sheer terror for some time now. But I’ve been assured more than once that the things that scare us most are often those that are most worthwhile. And my Mammy says I can come back if I don’t like it.
I love stuff. I’ve had a long-standing relationship with stuff for quite some time now. As to what kind of stuff, well I’m not prejudice, I’ll welcome every kind of thing into my home. DVDs, vinyl records, shoes, handbags, clothes, pictures, scarfs, hats, books, you name it, I have 50 of it.
I don’t know at what point in my life I deemed it necessary to have so much stuff, and I don’t know why I somehow associated it with being the key to happiness. Like when I’d say to myself I just need to add this book to my shelf and then contentment would reign. Followed swiftly by something else two days later. It’s a ridiculous idea to have, and an expensive one too.
This affliction was never one that really caused me any issues before now. It hasn’t seen me rack up a large credit card debt and I haven’t had to sell myself on the streets for the cost of a pair of shoes. As a result, I’ve lived blissfully unaware that I had a problem. That is, until this week.
‘Not That Kind of Girl’ is a collection of personal essays by creator and star of HBO’s Girls, Lena Dunham. This memoir covers everything from bad sex to mental health, which will make you laugh out loud and want to die from second-hand embarrassment in equal measures.
I love Lena Dunham. She’s successful, ambitious, feminist and she doesn’t take any shit from those who criticise her work. She’s everything a 20-something might hope to be.
But I also hate her.
Lena’s on-screen persona, Hannah Horvath is selfish, privileged, spoilt, self-involved, and generally, a hot mess, and until I read ‘Not That Kind of Girl‘, I had separated Lena from Hannah entirely. However, the more I read, the harder that became. Because Lena seems to share all of these attributes, if not with a shred more self-awareness.
However, much like Girls, this book is entirely real. And painstakingly relatable.
The 2015 Goodreads Reading Challenge is happening, and this year, I will complete it. Mostly because I actually remembered to set myself the challenge this time.
50 books seemed unrealistic. That’s almost the equivalent of one a week, and until the invention of a three-day weekend, where would one find the time? Therefore I chose 40 as the more reasonable target for my challenge.
Due to a combination of factors working against me, I didn’t make any new year’s resolutions this year. So let this be my only one. Armed with my new Kindle (thanks bro!) and the stack of books my housemates and I have accumulated over 2014, I have made the following list. You’ll note, no doubt, that the list isn’t the full 40, but I decided to leave some space for books that come to my attention during the course of 2015.
- The Cuckoo’s Calling – Robert Galbraith
- The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightime – Mark Haddon
- The Secret History – Donna Tartt
- The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt
- One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – Ken Kesey
- The Spy Who Came in from the Cold – John le Carré
- A Visit From the Goon Squad – Jennifer Egan
- The Scorch Trials – James Dashner
- The Death Cure – James Dashner
- The Kill Zone – James Dashner
- The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells – Andrew Sean Greer
- Not That Kind of Girl – Lena Dunham
- Yes, Please – Amy Poehler
- The Year of Magical Thinking – Joan Didion
- Just Kids – Patti Smith
- I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts On Being a Woman – Nora Ephron
- The Luminaries – Eleanor Catton
- Mrs Dalloway – Virginia Woolf
- Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim – David Sedaris*
- Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls – David Sedaris
- Insurgent – Veronica Roth
- Allegiant – Veronica Roth
- City of Heavenly Fire – Cassandra Clare
- Ugly Girls – Lindsay Hunter
- Bad Feminist – Roxanne Gay
- We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves – Karen Joy Fowler
- Girl, Interrupted – Susanna Kaysen
- Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy – John Le Carre
- Consider the Lobster and Other Essays – David Foster Wallace*
- Morrissey – Morrissey
- The Black Echo – Michael Connelly
- The Subtle Knife – Philip Pullman
- The Amber Spyglass – Phillip Pullman
- Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides
*In the interest of transparency, these books I in fact started in 2014, but due to their nature (i.e. short stories/essays), I tend to read them on and off. Is it therefore cheating if I include them in the list? NO.
Firstly, these are in no particular order, and as always, I will have none of your music snobbery around these here parts. If you so wish, I’ve also made a Spotify playlist with these albums, which you can find here.
1. The New Pornographers – Brill Bruisers
2. Beck – Morning Phase
3. Bombay Bicycle Club – So Long, See You Tomorrow
There’s something inherently addictive about travelling. Maybe it’s the fact that seeing other parts of the world opens your eyes to how much you’ve been missing. Or possibly the heat and sunshine has infiltrated your brain, making your life in little Dublin suddenly seem monotonous. Either way, I’ve been bitten by the bug, and my travel board on Pinterest is only proliferating my addiction.
In this, the second instalment of ‘Pinterest’s most coveted’ (read the first instalment here), I bring you: Travel porn – beautiful places to visit, according to my Travel Pinterest board*.
From left: Sorrento, Amalfi Coast, Italy; Krka, Croatia; Fisherman’s Bastion, Budapest, Hungary.
In keeping with my New Year’s resolution to go exploring (one of the few that I’ve managed to obey), and sticking firmly to my list of places to visit in 2014, I spent three days in Edinburgh, Scotland last week. When I say it’s one of the most beautiful cities I have ever visited, I do not exaggerate. For anyone considering making the trip, here follows a short and cheerful review.
We stayed in Brodies Hostel on the Royal Mile. I picked this particular hostel more so for the location than anything else, however the pictures looked pretty good and it had decent reviews. Beyond being sufficient for our needs in that it was a place to stay, the hostel itself wasn’t great. Brodies has two buildings; our room was located in the second building, which appeared to be much older and dreary-looking than the main building. To avail of the WiFi you had to pay extra, and there was no towel hire – something that I genuinely believed was available in every hostel. The location also proved to be as much of a curse as it was a blessing, because the Royal Mile is LOUD. So unless you’re a heavy sleeper and not at all fussy, I wouldn’t recommend Brodies to future travellers.
Edinburgh Castle was the first stop on our three-day adventure. Situated on a hill, at the top of the Royal Mile, the views from the Castle are spectacular. Unfortunately, you have to pay through the nose for the privilege of actually going inside. An adult ticket to enter the grounds will set you back a hefty £16.
In defence of the price, there is a huge amount to see once you actually get inside, including the National War Museum, the War Memorial, the Regimental Museum, and the Royal Palace Crown Jewels. Even if history isn’t particularly your thing, these are still fascinating attractions, if only for the beautiful badges of honour and soldiers’ uniforms.
Helpful tip: Try to avoid visiting the Castle on a windy day. I was in danger of blowing off the side in several instances.