The final year files: October

The final year files: October

Hi again!

Hope you’re feeling spooky on the day that’s in it. Welcome back to the bitter place of Hell that comes in the form of final year at university, brutal I know. Now October was a scary time as the college as monsters decided to come to life as assignments. These fiends were worth a high proportion of the grade and were coming all at once, a little thrilling I must admit. The dreaded and much spoken about week 6 came and went and didn’t take too many victims on its rampage (but it was close, let me tell you). So overall, it’s been a fairly scary time, so much so that Halloween itself was welcomed.

Now I know I started things off positively last month and I don’t want to totally lose that, but I will be brutally honest and say, from the front lines – we’re finding it difficult here. I thought for a short while that it was just me, when my not-so-amazing first grade of final year came back with a bang. But I soon found out that I was not alone in this pit of despair (there’s actually a few pals down in this pit, we’re holding things up pretty well).

So although it’s been stressful, it didn’t result in total failure and even encouraged some unity- that’s a plus yeah?

To change it up, I’ll bring you right back to the end of September, when my fellow students and I arose from the final year pits and attended the March 4 Choice gathering rally in Dublin city centre. An amazing experience, difficult to some up honestly as it was really such a huge thing. It ranged from chants to bants from young people (younger than I) and those a little more mature (much older than I). But it was clear that we were all united collectively for the one cause, something that on the day was tiring yet very rewarding. I’m so happy that we gave up a day to march for those whose days have been destroyed and changed utterly due to our restricting, inhumane and cruel eighth amendment.

On another more positive note, I got to attend the Irish Blog Awards at the start of the month due to this blog being placed in the final of the Personal Politics and Current Affairs Section. This was pretty incredible to be surrounded by the community – another huge one I’ll admit – of those doing something similar to me right now writing like this actively. I was honoured to see the title of this blog to pop up on screen, and although it wasn’t crowned a winner – I’m delighted for the blogs who did triumph. It really encouraged me again to keep this going further, coming back next year stronger.

So I’d like to say that we’ve now really settled into the way of final year with lectures, housemates, friends mostly known well and familiar, assignments, tests and presentations – it’s clear that we are doing things on an individual basis. We’ve faced the wrath of assignments and maybe learned a little bit more about our own capabilities. Things really came into focus when I attended a jobs fair in the college. Seeing the adult world creep closer from all sides, in an all-consuming manner probably should have panicked me. My friends graduating (although delayed slightly by the gal herself Ophelia) should have also but fair enough, it did have affect and made me think of the future ahead.

The future is dividing us as students right now. It appears to me that some have their ideas decided upon, settled and excited to run with. They have their eyes and mind focusing forwards only, not exactly seeing what’s going on either side of them. For me personally, that hasn’t happened yet and honestly, I don’t really want it to. Call me crazy here but I’d rather smell the final year flowers than think of the big company I’ll sign my soul over to or masters course I’ll choose from a hat just to have a plan together.

I know the unknown is a scary place but for me, tackling the monsters of final year right now – the unknown doesn’t seem so bad in comparison.

 

All images are taken from my personal instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cathyleex/

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21 blog posts series ease eighteen

21 blog posts series ease eighteen

Eighteen: “Knowing and trusting the power of your own voice”

I’ve come to learn that having your own individuality, being proud of it and embracing it for what it is, is something of great importance. This comes in to your likes and dislikes as far as your political views and lifestyle choices. I think if we can master how to delve in and out of trends new or old that suit us, that keeps your own individual originality intact. Maybe and hopefully by doing this we can be truly happy and comfortable in our own skin.

What can stand in the way of this is simply: fear. Fear of not fitting in or even fear of those around you disagreeing or putting you down. But I will say that overcoming this fear is something so totally freeing and worthwhile that it’s worth the (possible) hassle you might face. It takes time for people to be comfortable with change but that’s helped by a little reasoning and sometimes even persuasion. If you’ve a view or opinion that can be well backed up in the form of fact and true belief from your own perspective, I think that you can fight it on any battle field.

There’s nothing worse than knowing you’re right on something or having a good idea but not having that belief there from the people around you. The convincing part of this can be a challenge but honestly, it just takes a bit of bravery and commitment in not giving up on yourself and really testing your belief in order to get it off the ground. I agree with the idea that there’s no one size fits all idea in terms of how our world should be, how politics should work, economics and even how religion fits in. But certain things that make sense for the progress of the world all the way from the richest to poorest, should be sought out. This being done by the power of the voice of individuals.

The ideas I have in mind are that of equality and feminism. Call me biased, but I don’t understand why in a democratic society we wouldn’t want to aim towards this goal? How somebody could vote in favour of the “yes equality” campaign and not support feminism, boggles me. Feminism is about equality between genders, aiming for a fairer society in which we all live. Although in its roots, the main writers on feminism were women – I believe currently that feminism has undergone and is being embraced by both men and women. (Maybe it could do with a name change to prevent confusion, but that’s another debate altogether).

What I’ve always believed when it comes to views is that you shouldn’t push them on people in terms of forcing a view onto someone. Make an argument, state your case but at the end be willing to accept that others may not agree but they should respect your idea and give you that chance to voice it. What I particularly dislike are those who take the form of a so called “keyboard warrior” who are all for one view and simply block out opposing views. These people are shutting their eyes to the world as much as those who they claim to against, making them in some of way of it: no better.

So what I would say and encourage everyone to do to counteract that fear of being opposed to is to express yourself. Whether it be through writing, getting involved in political campaigns, taking photographs or even just following things on social media – don’t be afraid to admit that you’re part of something because trust me you are not alone. Communities based on politics or political views are growing and we shouldn’t live in fear of saying who we are affiliated with, because if we truly believe in our views and opinions – they shouldn’t be something hidden.

21 blog posts series find fourteen

21 blog posts series find fourteen

Fourteen: “Questioning in order to understand politics”

Politics is a tough thing, ever-changing and ever unpredictable (for the most part). I have understanding for those who can become disillusioned with politics because of the nature in the way that it is. But I would hope that this disillusion would be something temporary. I understand that when the results of elections, referenda on a big or small scale don’t come together for you – that could push your interest away on a human level due to disappointment or lack of support.

But I think once something has been passed into law or someone has been elected in, the debate has not stopped, the playing field has just changed up a bit. Are your views or opinions going to change over night? Not exactly. Often, election results present to us the view of the nation. The winner or loser knows their place and the citizens must adapt accordingly. But is that the real picture? If you look to the amount of spoiled votes and those who didn’t cast a vote at all, sometimes those levels can be astonishing and honestly, disheartening.

So what can we do to get people more focused in on politics, to act out their role and entitlement in contributing to the future of a country? I’m currently writing an academic paper on political satire and it’s place within mainstream journalism/news. One scholar notes how political satire can act as an introduction to political issues on an larger scale, being that bit more engaging and emotive. Do we need to be emotionally driven to go out and vote or is the element of duty strong enough?

Both are up for questioning here. If we aren’t happy with a politician, political party or even a Taoiseach, I think we have the right to hold them to account as members of the electorate. We were the ones who voted them in their based on what we conceived as their ability and commitment to the policies they wished to evoke. If they aren’t doing what they said they would do, peoples’ own power should come into play here. Or else, what’s the point in being involved at all?

We are seeing a lot of this recently with the number of strikes and public protests or rallies in the last number of months. I find this public participation something to truly admire. It shows the lack of fear that exists and of course the belief in the power of having a voice to back up your view. I think this activism allows us to question the way things are and really if our way of living is up to scratch. Protests are rooted in history and marked for a reason so I feel we should never live in fear of voicing our views.

As well, support is key in political protest in terms of lending a helping hand to the cause of our fellow citizens. This can come in the form of men marching at the Women’s March or those who took part in the Strike 4 Repeal campaign on International Women’s Day. Last week those with physical disabilities spoke out at the Irish Government for their lack of supports and the fact that standard law regulations set by the EU/UN has not been passed here on disability rights. Here we could see people from all different backgrounds supported by family and friends out for the cause.

I think this encouragement is vital when a group has the courage to step up against an oppressor. Even at the moment with the Bus Eireann and public transport strikes, I have seen those with no fixed personal involvement stand with these workers who feel they are up against it. The question remains, do we all have a part to play? We have the choice whether to participate in any of these campaigns, but as we know, politics is unpredictable. Each and everyone’s role as individuals is vital in some shape or form.

All images used are from my personal Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/cathyleex/

21 blog posts series ease eleven

21 blog posts series ease eleven

Eleven “Managing your money”

We’re always told about saving for that “rainy day” occurrence. It’s something that’s planted into our minds from an early age from pocket money to cashing in for brithdays or special events. I agree with saving for the rainy day and rightly considering that you might not have an influx of money in the near future. But sometimes, with the money demands that come with being a student, it can feel like it’s constantly overcast and the rainy day is happening constantly, just above our heads.

Never fear, these challenges can be tackled with a small bit of planning and some self control. Before I get into this I will say that it isn’t very good to live your life in fear of spending. What I’ve learned is that with each purchase or investment we make, we must decide on the how worthwhile the action is that we’re taking. Start with devising in your mind whether the thing is a want or a need, like a form of pro or con list. At the end of the day, every time we make a purchase we are making a choice whether something is worth it or not in terms of parting with your money.

However it is you get your income, money comes with responsibility attached. It can easily enough become something scarce when not handled or managed properly. A smart way to go about spending less is to get yourself well set up to deal with the unexpected. There are some great apps out there for money management which are worth a try for sure. But what I’ve found most useful is having two accounts to work off one as a spending and one as a saving account.

It’s not really that much of a hassle, it just divides your funds more fairly so you can attempt to stay on top of things, having something to fall back on if you really need it. I think there’s something built in us to love spending money, I don’t really know of anybody who doesn’t partake in the act. But I think surrounding yourself with people who you know may entice you to spend can sometimes be an act of harm. But this doesn’t have to be a thing you avoid if you put a bit of planning into it.

If you’ve arranged to meet a friend out somewhere, say a café or restaurant – familiarise yourself beforehand with the price range of the place. How much are you willing to spend here? What’s your budget? For me, budgets and weekly expenses can fluctuate. I’ll have more money in if I get more hours at work but I won’t if that doesn’t come together.

So what do I do? Lock myself away from the world if there isn’t a certain amount in my account? No. I would say, always do the thing if at all possible, but think ahead of what you might need to draw in on and make sure you keep your wits to do that. Plan out what the likely expenses will be and see if there are alternatives to these in the situation. This can be applied to any sort of social event when you really give it some thought.

Student life can bring with it huge pressures, from money to exams and really the balance is sometimes impossible to get right. Should you get more hours at work or in the library this week? It’s hard to know. So I’d say if you’re really stuck, don’t be afraid to go for the student loan option, be that from a bank or another source. We all place value on our degrees and if a loan is what you need to get that done, so be it. Grants are great things and should be thoroughly appreciated but when it’s a tough time financially, do what you have to do.

All images used are from my personal Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/cathyleex/

Nothing in particular

By Cathy Lee

 

I’m not doing

Anything in particular

Just taking in those humble sounds

Of those around me, enjoying their selected company

 

From young to old, all collected here

 

It’s dimly lit and homely

Comfortably warm

While for show an unused fire,

Is completely provided for just in decoration

 

This is simply where I am

It’s recognisable

But not incompletely special

 

The wax trickles slowly down and it’s something steady

The bright yet translucent colour of the flame won’t give up

Not just yet

 

It’ll hold on with me, to welcome the next person to sit in its company

 

We’re in the land of a thousand welcomes

That is becoming something more special, now

Considering

 

Considering what’s going on, the current state of things

Those things that so affect us, going as far down deep as our morale and self-worth

 

The perspective of us, it’s shifting

The plates are moving further away

Shifting away from what’s known

 

I think these sails are facing backwards

The wind here is reckless and unusual

It’s no longer comfortable on this deck

 

I’d rather walk the plank,

Step off the platform and into the unknown

 

From one state of unknown to another

But consider this:

Coming out the other side,

Better.

Shortlist, Irish Blog Awards

Delighted to announce that this blog of mine has been selected to be on the Shortlist for the Irish Blog Awards 2016 for the Current Affairs/Political section of the competition.

It’s something incredible to have my blog listed alongside eleven others whom are as dedicated to writing and having an online platform on which to voice their views on such as this. I’m humbled honestly and I really wanted to say a huge thank you to everyone who has ever taken an interest in this site over the last year and a half of its existence.

Now, you have until Tuesday to VOTE for the blog which you can do by following this link: https://blogawardsireland.secure-platform.com/a/gallery/rounds/17/details/8666

I really appreciate this so much and it’s such a boost for going forward. Thanks to everyone who I know will vote!#LWIBloggies2016

 

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A Political Poem

Back in March of this year, I competed in the National Slam Poetry final which was held in NCAD, Dublin. It was sponsored and judged by members of Poetry Ireland and altogether, it was an incredible experience to see poetry so alive within the youth of today.

Afterwards, I kind of didn’t know what to do with the poem. It’s a performance poem so I thought maybe a video, a recording or a live set would suit it best. But then I remembered I’m a writer not a stand up, more-so anyway.

I was informed yesterday via email that I had made the Longlist for the Irish Blog Awards 2016 (yipee!) so I thought no better way to celebrate than releasing this poem to my very own place, this blog.

I hope you enjoy it, thanks to everyone who has taken an interest in “Cathy In Conversation”.

 

A Political Poem”

By Cathy Lee

 

I don’t write political poetry

But I can

There’s nothing stopping me

Just a bit of research and insight,

Little bit of brain power:

It’s never out of sight,

The power is mine

 

I don’t swim long-distance,

But I’m sure I could.

A little bit of resilience and resistance.

Give it some time,

Sure didn’t my mother have me swimming since I would walk?

And my legs are still mine

 

I haven’t painted a masterpiece,

But I could try.

Little bit of focus, my hands and my mind.

Keep the point to the brush and visit the hushed galleries,

We all need a bit of inspiration –

And my hands are mine

 

I don’t have a PHD

But really, what’s to stop me?

I always did want to reach higher.

I have a brain inside this skull,
and I really should use it to the full

Sure isn’t it mine?

 

I could use my legs for good,

To flee from this green isle.

Go on a trial, somewhere fresh and new

Not like the Catholic school grounds I knew.

I have a passport, the ability to pack

What’s to stop me never coming back?

 

I have used my hands for good too

Recently,

I used my hands to make demands

I put my views down on ballot paper.

 

I voted for change, I wished and hoped

And saw a slap returned to me.

A national let down,

 

But as I said, I don’t write political poetry.

 

I also don’t have abortions

And I can’t

Because the state has rules over my body.

It doesn’t matter what my legs, hands, brain or power can do

This fact remains the same.

 

say goodbye to a stable government,

say slán to repeal the eight

and hello to a mixed range of politics

of TD’s filled with hate

 

thanks for letting the progression digress,

cheers for the recession

and the maintenance grant that I didn’t get,

because only one of my parents is in oppression.

 

Old fiends now friends, those FF’s

I remember the cunning smiles of your devils dressed

The suits and ties, telling the lies

On repeat far and wide

 

Keep smiling, it’s what you are trained for

Don’t Nama own you all?

Or was it the Treaty of Lisbon,

That fix or “change of mind”

 

Are we to see the same again,

When the decision makers can’t do just that.

 

Don’t say you called it,

Don’t go down to Paddy power and try your luck

Can’t make a buck around here anyway,

Have you seen the tax rates?

 

Inflation fluctuates

While we wait in hope

For the coming of the centenary year,

So we can be “different” from our peers

 

Those Europeans didn’t invent republican revolution,

No sure it was just Irish

Weren’t we told that in school?

 

The school that has religion compulsory

And demands you’ve had that dash of water tossed over your head before entry,

Are you saying I wasn’t born holy?

 

Ah let’s then talk about the unborn.

Probably has more rights than me now

The state have a say don’t they?

 

In Ireland we talk about the weather over tea

Pity the same isn’t done by the rulers of the country.

Choosing to be concerned about a concept

When the time suits.

 

Climate changes isn’t waiting for us to finish up our economic plan.

Neither are the women traveling to England each day.

 

But sure time doesn’t exist,

There’ll be another election yet.

 

What waste?