Come Join Me Over Here!

Hi there!

I'm glad you've come to read my blog, but unfortunately I don't live here any more!

Feel free to trawl through my archives or look up my posts on Scoliosis which will always be at home here, but when you're ready please come and join me at my new home:


See you there!

Catherine Ann x

Saturday, 6 September 2014

The Last Post (Sort of): Lucky, Lucky, Lucky

I can't believe this is still going on. I remember nervously sitting in front of my computer in March 2013 and pressing the "publish" button, watching the views creep up painfully slowly as I sent links to my most trusted friends and they dutifully pressed "refresh" to boost my ego.

I still remember looking at my mum in amazement and crying: "Seventeen pageviews!"

Now, I've had over eighteen thousand pageviews. That number still doesn't quite make sense to me! Aside from that, I've been nominated for an award, appeared on local radio, been interviewed for television, published zines with my friend, written for other Irish websites... and generally had a ball.

In a turbulent (understatement of the century) year of great experiences and disasters, my blog has remained a constant in my life and, while at times hard work with a few frustrations (such as uploading pictures upside-down!), it's been a great way for me to escape a world of exams, study and stress, and just focus on writing for a while. As many of you know, I use a sort-of pseudonym for this blog, so it can be a welcome break to log onto that account on my computer and  just "be" Catherine Ann Minnock for a while.

A huge fear for me has been internet bullies and trolls, but so far I've had nothing but lovely comments. The only negative experiences have been spam messages trying to sell me pills that I as a female will never have a use for... By now, I'm getting a few emails each month from people with new opportunities or just lovely feedback about my blogposts. Whether it's scoliosis or the Leaving Cert, people have rewarded my personal commentary by opening up themselves and sharing with me. It's such a special thing.

Speaking of which, I think proof of how far I've come was when I was offered something which for a small-time blogger just screams success... FREEBIES! Yessss.... these came from a site called www.vikingdirect.ie. I was emailed the other week about it, and of course I didn't want to be one of those bloggers who just advertises everything, but this is genuinely a handy site. Many of my readers will be heading to university this year, and Viking sell some wonderful stationery and office supplies.: everything from notebooks and label-makers to tea and coffee!

There is the added bonus of being able to buy in bulk: a top tip I've read about heading to Uni is to club together with a few friends and buy your stationery in large packs online to avail of discounts. If you're travelling a long way like me, there's the added bonus of having your stuff delivered directly to your digs or halls!

But I digress. What I'm really saying in this post is a) thank you all for reading and supporting "Unlucky For Some" and b) goodbye.

Not goodbye from me, just goodbye for Unlucky For Some. I've decided to take everything I've learned in the last year and create a brand new blog, www.catherineannminnock.blogspot.ie.





It's the same Catherine Ann, the same opinion pieces and recipes, but with a more personal touch. You can click on the "Secret  Diary" tab to see what I've been up to on my new University adventure. I'm also endeavouring to make the site easier to navigate and nicer to look at too, by adding more pictures and even on occasion a YouTube video!

I'm so excited and can't wait to get stuck in to my new adventure, but it's with a heavy heart that I leave this blog, where it all began.

Of course, the site will still be here for you-and I-to trawl through the archives. I'll also be returning to add any more posts to the "Scoliosis Story", because I'd like them to  be in one place where they belong.

If you're feeling as emotional as I am about this ending (even if it is to make way for something better) then you'll be pleased to hear about the "shop" button I'll be adding to the new site in the next few weeks. This will enable you to purchase, for a limited time, a copy of "Unlucky For Some: The Zine", an edited, illustrated collection of my favourite blog posts. I'll also leave a link here when that's sorted out.

That's all for now. Thanks so much for making Unlucky For Some the luckiest place on the internet.

See you on the other side! (...er, site)

Catherine Ann xxx

Friday, 8 August 2014

I'm Back! Explanations and the Dublin Zine Fair!

Hi everyone!

Do you remember me? I'm that girl who used to post regularly and then disappeared for a while. Unfortunately I had to go into hospital for a few days for another small operation on my spine due to my scoliosis. I'm recovering well, thankfully, and I'll update you all about it on a future post. If you're new to the blog, you can read my scoliosis story here

Anyway, I'm still not up to writing a big long post but I thought I'd let you all know about the Dublin Zine Fair that's happening on Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th August.

You can find all the details here on the website: www.dublinzinefair.com 

...but I wanted to let you know about it because I'm going to be there! Myself and Wolf are working on a few different zines to sell, one of which is going to be an edited compilation of all my best posts from this blog!

We're going to be there on the Saturday, so if you're around in Dublin on that day we'd love for you to come and support us. Our zines will cost no more than €3 each and we've got some special offers and free gifts planned as well! You can look at all the other artists on the website.

I've attended the fair as a customer for the past two years and absolutely loved it. It's great to meet fellow writers and artists and pick up a few home-made zines!

By the way, in case I'm not making sense, a zine is like a little booklet which is handmade and self-published. It can be about anything. I bought one the other year that was a collection of short stories, and along with the compilation zine we're selling a picture book and a booklet all about happiness! There will be all sorts of things on offer, and last year there was a freebies table... so why not come along, have a browse, and come and meet myself and Wolf!

Do check out the website for details.

Thanks, and hope you're all well,

Catherine Ann x

Friday, 25 July 2014

Summer Watch and Read: Elizabeth is Missing

How do you solve a mystery when you can’t remember the clues?

A couple of years ago, Duchess mentioned to me that someone she knew was writing a novel—as she’d been asked to help with the research. We were all very excited about it but it sort of faded into the back of everyone’s minds until earlier this year when it was published… and it’s now set to be hugely successful!
That someone was Emma Healey, just 29, and that book is now the acclaimed Elizabeth is Missing.





“Maud is forgetful. She makes a cup of tea and doesn’t remember to drink it. She goes to the shop and forgets why she went. Back home she finds the place horribly unrecognisable—just like she sometimes thinks her daughter Helen is a total stranger. But there’s one thing Maud is sure of: her friend Elizabeth is missing. The note in her pocket tells her so. And no matter who tells her to stop going on about it, to leave it alone, to shut up, Maud will get to the bottom of it. Because somewhere in Maud’s damaged mind lies the answer to an unsolved seventy-year-old mystery. One everyone has forgotten about. Everyone, except Maud…”

I had some reservations about reviewing this, since I will probably end up meeting the author at some point—it would be rather embarrassing if I had something bad to say about it!

I needn’t have worried.

The book was another one of my three day love affairs. It was thoroughly enjoyable and I can see myself dipping into it many more times throughout my life.

I received a signed copy from Tiger and Duchess for my birthday with a thoughtful message from Emma herself (thanks!).

“Elizabeth is Missing” is essentially two stories in one book. The main story follows Maud, an elderly woman with dementia. However, there is also a series of flashbacks to Maud’s childhood as she simultaneously tries to solve two mysteries: The disappearance of her friend Elizabeth in the present day, and the disappearance of her older sister Sukey seventy years before.

I felt that as a teenager, I would find Maud’s character hard to relate to, but it was actually fairly natural. The vivid description of both Maud’s feelings and the way she was treated was easy to empathise with. Think of all those times you were a child and nobody listened to you or took you seriously! And we’ve all experienced memory loss in one way or another. Now, where was I?

The story was so scattered, confused and repetitive that it really did put me in the shoes of this poor old woman. I became so involved with Maud’s thoughts that when she forgot something, I did too. A pretty spooky experience!

The story that takes place in the past was from the point of view of Maud as a young girl—completely compos mentis—and was of huge benefit to the book as it had a very clear plotline I could follow from beginning to end, rather than spending all my time trying to pick up and weave together the loose threads of the main plot.

For me, the characters are the most important part of a story, and in “Elizabeth is Missing” they were described so clearly and so well that I could see them in front of me. We’re all told to “show not tell” and this was clearly followed to a T. I fell in love with Maud right away and she was so endeared to me that I wanted to shout out on her behalf when she wasn’t being listened to, or put my arm around her and give her a squeeze when she was confused, lost and upset.

Such vivid characters made the story all the more real to me, and such sympathy urged me on toward the end.

It was fascinating to learn how the mind makes connections. Every time Maud goes to the shop, all she can remember to buy are tinned peaches, until her cupboards at home are completely full of them. We later learn that they link back to her past. In the same way, she focuses on tiny objects and collects seemingly nonsensical items that all have meaning to her life in some way. This made the book a learning curve about dementia for me… but again, we all have small items with huge significance in our lives.

At the end of the book (no spoilers!), I felt I had an idea of what might have happened to Elizabeth. This, far from making things predictable, actually added to the story as I could tell why Maud was so confused and why those around her were so frustrated. Being a few minutes ahead of her really emphasised the way her thoughts dragged through treacle, struggling to keep up with the present while stuck so firmly in the past.

This is such a new concept—to me, anyway—that I’m afraid I can’t really do the “If you like x, you’ll love this”, but to be honest I recommend it to everyone.

If you know someone who has suffered from dementia, you should read this book.

If you have parents and grandparents, you should read this book.

If you’ve ever lost someone, you should read this book.

If you ever feel lost, or frustrated, or like nobody is listening to you, you should read this book.


I really loved it, and I hope you do too.

(PS... I gather this one is being made into a TV series, too. Hurrah!)  

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Sidenote: I Understand!



A while ago I saw something on Twitter that made me kind of angry. I’m aware, by the way, that Twitter isn’t the place to be easily offended, and that’s not what this blog post it about!

It was a tweet that basically said if you had a problem with someone you should take it up with them directly. OK, fair enough. But it also said that anyone who doesn’t do this, who talks about it with someone else, is a bad person.

Hm.

This made me angry because, while I know it’s not nice to talk behind someone’s back, sometimes it’s the only thing you can do. Those few words made me feel like I was being accused of doing the wrong thing simply because, when I got bullied at school, I took it up with one of the teachers rather than the person themselves, for example.  

It’s hard to stand up for yourself directly to the person you’re being hurt by. You can risk all these things I’ve experienced: being physically hurt, receiving threats of violence, making the situation even worse, or perhaps the person turning it all around on you, turning on the fake tears, and making it look like you’re in the wrong. There’s no guarantee that anyone will hear or believe your side.

I got the point of the tweet, and it was a good point. You should always stand up for yourself rather than going behind a person’s back.

But just because you should, doesn’t mean it’s easy. And if you don’t feel strong enough to do that yet, or if you’re scared, that does NOT make you a bad person. Sometimes it is necessary to explain the situation to a teacher, colleague, boss, friend, parent, sibling etc, because you simply can’t handle things on your own. This doesn’t mean you’re being “sneaky” or “back stabbing”, it just means that sometimes things get a little too much, and we can’t all solve problems on our own.

Now on to my apology. I realise I took the tweet too seriously, and that it mightn’t have been meant to hurt anyone, and that made me realise that perhaps my words on this blog have come out the wrong way sometimes.

I’ve written lots of posts about friendships and bullying in the past, and I’ve always advocated standing up for oneself. As I said in my article for Foroige.ie,

Life begins to improve the day you decide that you no longer want to be bullied. Of course nobody enjoys getting picked on, but I speak from experience when I say that life changes dramatically the moment you stand up and say: “I will not be bullied anymore.” 


…and I stand by that, of course I do. But I want you all to know that I realise just how hard it can be! While I think you—we—should all be able to say exactly what we feel, I totally understand that it might be the scariest thing you’ve ever had to do.

So if you’re having a tough time, I do feel that you should pluck up the courage and tell the person who’s hurting you—but if that’s too hard, approach someone else and deal with the problem as a team. It’s not “b**ching” and it’s not weak. It’s called being human.

So if I’ve ever come across as thoughtless, or talked about speaking out as if it’s the easiest thing in the world, then I wholeheartedly apologise and I want you all to know…

I UNDERSTAND.


You might not be ready to make that step yet, and that’s OK. I just hope that one day soon you will. 

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Food, Glorious Food... Blackcurrant Jam!

We've got an over-abundance of blackcurrants in the garden at the moment--they grow really easily in case anyone wants to give it a go!




The other day, the internet was out so I actually did productive things, one of which was harvesting about two baskets full  of these gorgeous berries and making jam!

Honestly, I didn't put much thought into this. I  just cleaned the berries and got rid of any stalks, dirt and leaves, and chucked them in a big pot with what appeared to be just over an equal quantity of sugar--I know that you have to have at least 50%, if not more, sugar, or it won't... well, jam.




So I mashed some of the blackcurrants up a little and brought the whole thing to the boil. Rather than turning the mix down to simmer as you normally would, you have to leave it bubbling away quite violently, like molten lava, for around fifteen minutes.



And it really is like lava--don't stick your finger or anything else into the pot!

At this point I decided to consult Delia Smith, just in case, and she assured me I was doing the right thing. On her advice, I coated a spoon in the hot jam and let it cool. It formed a firm skin when touched, which meant it was ready!



I sterilised a jar with some boiling water and poured in the warm jam. It was left to cool, before some greasoproof paper was placed on top and the lid was screwed on.



The jam had set within a couple of hours and, to my surprise and delight, it actually looked like jam!



...tasted like jam, too. 


I'm not really sure how long this will last as it's the first time I've made jam properly, and I don't think I sterilised the jar quite so scientifically... but I'm not too worried about that. The stuff is disappearing fairly quick!


Friday, 18 July 2014

ANOTHER Tag! Who Are You?



It’s another Tag! These are so much fun. I was tagged for this one by my friend Zoe at Zoe Figgle,Just A Girl. Her tag was a really interesting read so here’s my go at it! If you’re a fellow blogger and want in on the tags, leave one of us a comment.

1)      Where were you born?

Cambridge, England.

2)      Were you named after someone?

No, but my middle names are after my two grandmothers.

3)      If you have children, how many do you have?

I don’t, as I feel I’m too young. But I’d love to have children eventually—can’t imagine not, so I really hope things work out. I’d like to have as many as I can afford, and then I’ll probably end up with one more, because that’s just how things go…

4)      How many pets do you have?

I have a cat called Draco or Buster (that’s an ongoing argument between Ferret and I). Here’s a picture of him!



5)      Your worst injury?

I’ve not had many, thank Goodness. Most pain I’ve been in was due to spinal surgery but most pain inflicted by mistake was probably when I was a kid (I get to say that now!) and Ferret shut my hand in the bathroom door, didn’t believe me when I screamed at him, and proceeded to lock the door. Ouch.

It did teach me to think twice before trying to barge in on someone else’s bath. You live, you learn.

6)      Do you have a special talent?

I’d love to say writing?

Also I can make my tongue look like a flower. It’s really my only “party trick”.
I won’t post a picture as people tend to be 50/50 on the awesome/gross opinion.

7)      What’s your favourite thing to bake?

When I don’t feel like trying something new, I make lemon drizzle cake. I got the recipe from Tana Ramsay but have probably adapted it since.

8)      Favourite fast food?

I love SO MUCH FOOD but I had McDonald’s twisty fries today so I’ll say them. (Incidentally that occurred two hours after I had officially declared myself “on a diet”).

9)      What’s the first thing you notice about someone?

“Well, most lads would say eyes, but they’re lying. It’s your nunga-nungas.”

In all seriousness, I’m not really sure. I usually notice who the louder, more confident people are and who are the quieter ones, then go and talk to the quieter ones because I find them more interesting. You know, mysterious and what not. Something about still waters being covered in interesting pondweed.

10)   Favourite smells?

Well foody smells are lovely like vanilla, coffee and Christmassy spices like cinnamon or nutmeg. I also like smells that remind me of something like pine needles (Christmas again!) or my mum’s hand cream because it always reminds me of her.

11)   Why do you blog?

“For the lols.”
I really enjoy it, I love to write, and people are very very nice to me about it. Someday however I’d love to get more successful and make some squids, and say if I wrote a book it would be useful to sell that *jerks awake*.

12)   What song do you want played at your funeral?

I want a song everyone hates to be played at my funeral and I’ll tell you why. Every time I go to a funeral and a song is played, I associate the song with a sad memory and it always makes me cry. I don’t want to ruin everyone’s favourite song.

Failing that, I dunno, maybe “Burn Baby Burn” if I get cremated or something funny because I think it’s important to remember that even if someone dies and it’s sad, it’s still OK to laugh.

13)   What is your least favourite thing about yourself?

Can’t blooming stand me. Where do I start?
Kidding, I’m OK I guess. Probably that I waste a lot of energy trying to help those who don’t want to be helped. In that way and others, I don’t prioritise well.

14)   Any pet peeves?

I’ve thought of tons, so this could turn into a whole other blog post. But today’s winner, after a scroll through Facebook to get me nice and peeved off, is…

The Bathroom Selfie!

Seriously, girls? Your outfit is lovely, your makeup surely took a lot of time, so why would you ruin it with a sanitary towel bin in the background? Just no. I have never taken part in one and never wish to. I also think that it spoils the sanctity that is the ladies’ room. I think men would probably prefer not to know what goes on in there.

I’ve also heard people having a good time at a party or a club, and deciding to leave the party in order to take pictures in the bathroom.

Bathrooms smell. Stop it.

15)   What’s the last thing that made you laugh?

When Crow, who’s known me for over a year, asked if I watched the match last night.


Good one. 

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Busy Little Life: Life Update


Since I’ve been doing so many different things lately, I decided to give you two separate updates: one on writing, and one on life! You can check out the writing one here.

So I finished school at the end of May and did my last exam on the 12th June, which I’ve already mentioned. That same day, Ferret and his girlfriend came over for a visit. We did all the usual, touristy stuff, visiting places such as Kilbeggan Distillery in county Westmeath. I think she got the idea that all us Irish people are interested in is drinking…




What's everyone else having? 



...I know. Mad. 





In all seriousness, though, the distillery is a really interesting place to visit if you’re at all interested in local/national history, or free booze. Personally the whiskey wasn’t really my thing—nearly took the skin off my mouth—but there you go. They also sell a great selection of whiskey infused marmalades which were more my cup of tea.


Heather and Whiskey was my favourite!



Next up, my mum’s friend from college came for a visit—it’s so great that they keep in touch! She’s also Tiger’s godmother. More touristy-stuff happened, and then it was time for…

My birthday! That’s right: I’m officially an adult now. I can’t recommend the adult part, but the eighteenth birthday part was fab. I was determined to have a lovely party after last year’s fiasco, and so I decided on a barbecue on the day, and to go out with Wolf the following weekend.


It was absolutely brilliant. I was spoiled rotten and it made me feel so loved. I haven’t had the best year and the party reminded me that I’ve actually got some pretty cool people in my life! I got loads of lovely presents which I won’t list off, but I will mention that I got a signed copy of the popular new book “Elizabeth is Missing” by Emma Healey from Tiger and Duchess who know the author. I mention this because I’m going to review it soon as part of my “Summer Watch and Read”.


Another of my three-day love affairs

The following Saturday, I met with a few of my school friends for a meal at the best restaurant in town. We all ate ourselves silly, obviously, and had a great time catching up. It felt really odd sitting beside the people I sat beside at lunchtime every day in the canteen, but this time we were dressed up and eating dinner in a post restaurant. It was a little bit unnerving but again, it reminded me of the awesome people I know. These were the reasons why, when I would come into school feeling awful and wanting to cry, I’d have forgotten all about it by lunchtime. I love you guys! (Sorry, awkward, moving on…)

Afterward, Wolf and I went for cocktails to celebrate… well, the fact that I’m now allowed to drink cocktails. We went to a bar with a live band (i.e. every Irish bar) and tried a few different drinks. As much as I love being part of a large circle of friends, it’s so nice to get together and have a proper chat with her.


"She's such a Samantha."


So what else? I’m struggling to remember—it’s hard being interesting. I went to the cinema with Crow to see Mrs Brown’s Boys D’Movie, which I’m also going to review soon. I dragged him to it as revenge for Godzilla (which I actually enjoyed, but let’s not admit that), but to be honest, I didn’t think it was all it was cracked up to be. What did you guys think, if you’ve seen it?

Then it was off to Galway for two nights with my four oldest friends here in Ireland. I was the one who planned the trip—so it was all on me if things went belly-up, but thankfully we made it home in one piece, with smiles on our faces if a little worse for wear! I’ll tell you all about the trip in another post.
I went up to Dublin with my cousin for her birthday last week, and then she had a party the following weekend (our birthdays are a week apart, and were both on a weekday this year, so we postponed the partying till the weekends!) which was brilliant too, but very tiring after Galway.

Ready for the off! 



So for the last couple of days I’ve done nothing, which has made a hugely welcome change. However, being an adult now means I have to organise myself a bit more. I’ve had to send off Identification Forms to universities and student finance services both here and in the UK. It complicates things a fair bit when you are Irish by descent, but were born in England, but live in Ireland… all kinds of paperwork are highly suspicious of you, and there’s a lot of explaining to do. I don’t think being an adult is going to work out for me at all.


Fortunately, with all that’s going on, I simply haven’t had time to worry about my exam results.

One month to go!


Catherine Ann x


Oh! And I've joined Tumblr! So if you want to follow my posts or ask me a question, you can find me here: 

http://catherineannminnock.tumblr.com/