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My Never Ending Series of Unfortunate Events – A Collection of ‘Jessisms’.

So the other day while casually pondering life (ya know, as ya do), it occurred to me that I’ve had some pretty weird and unfortunate shit happen to me over the years. Now I know we all have our wacky experiences and encounters, but I’m starting to think that I have a significant amount more than others. After 23 years, and countless inputs from friends and family, I’ve come to the conclusion that ‘it’s just something about me.’  Apparently ‘I just have that ‘look’ (whatever that look is I’ll never know).

I’m just a recipe for disaster. A walking calamity. A magnet for mishaps. Quite a while back, I decided it might be a fun idea to compile a list of what I like to call my ‘Jessisms’, or in other words my own personal never ending series of unfortunate events. I’ve had this blog saved as a draft for some time now, and I’ve been slowly adding to it as my propensity for misfortune continues.

(Before I begin I must point out that most of these instances weren’t actually my fault, and therefore the circumstances surrounding them should not solely be put down to, clumsiness, stupidity, intoxication, or the colour of my hair).

Without further ado…

Being bitten in Coppers:

This is probably the most bizarre of them all. So there I am on my 19th birthday, minding my own business, enjoying my suddy and red to the gentle sway of Nicki Minaj in the basement of coppers. Utterly Sophisticated. When then, out of no where some middle aged bald guy runs up to me, bites me on the shoulder, and runs away. Next thing I know I’m being fussed over, your man is ‘goin to get the absolute shit kicked out of him,’  and there’s talks of tetanus and A&E in case the creature drew blood. Luckily he didn’t. Probably not surprising for coppers, but still unfortunate nonetheless.

Getting caught in the clothes line: 

It was a grand summers evening, and being the model child that I am I decided to hang out the washing for the fam. It was back in the too-young-for-a-job-days, so doing the housework would get you your 20 euro for the week. Which looking back is kind of bordering on the lines of child labour, but anyway. I had set out with great intentions, only the next thing I know I find myself literally stuck to the line. My long hair had betrayed me by getting deeply entangled in one of the pegs. The only thing I could do was stand there helplessly and hope someone would rescue me. A good forty minutes later my sister arrives back from my nan’s and sets me free. I have had a strange aversion to clothes lines ever since.

Being put in a strangers car by my father:

(Here’s looking at you Tom Keogh).

I regret to say that this one actually happened. It was around about 5 years ago, before my driving days. My dad was giving me a lift to the bus station, as I was heading back to college. All was going well, it was a seemingly inconspicuous Monday morning. That is until the car broke down less than half way through the journey. It wouldn’t have been so much of a big deal, if it wasn’t for the fact that I had a test that day that I couldn’t miss. If I missed the bus I missed the test. The car wasn’t budging and there was no one around to come to our rescue. So what does my dad do? Stands out in the middle of the road and attempts to flag down oncoming traffic. He then starts pleading with random strangers to take me and my mortified self to the bus station. Next thing I know I’m flung into a car, case in tow, with a woman called Ann and her two kids. Ann kindly threw me out at Waterford bus station some twenty minutes later, after the longest and most uncomfortable silence of my life. On the re-telling of this story my  Dad always says, “well didn’t ya make the bus?”. Yes Dad, I may have made the bus, but I can assure you my pride did not. (Also, she could’ve been a psycho killer, but whatever, “sure I made the bus”).

Accidentally using ‘Intimate feminine wipes’ on my face

Okay now this was just deceptively cruel. Who even knew such things existed? Again, not my fault. The culprits in question were bought for me under the illusion that they were, in fact, normal facial cleansing wipes. A similar incident happened shortly thereafter, when I used my nephews  “nappy rash” cream on my face. A serious dupe for sudocream let me tell you. I’ve now come to the conclusion that I need to just give up on facial products in general.

Drinking my own contact lense:

Some of you may remember this one from Facebook.

Yes I indeed happened to drink my own contact lense. I’m not proud of it, in fact it still haunts me to this day, almost exactly two years after it first occurred. It wasn’t a sick dare or anything, it was just something horribly and disgustingly unfortunate. You see, anyone with contact lenses will understand the hardship of taking them out after a night out. Sometimes you surprise yourself and manage to store them perfectly in their little containers of solution. More often times than not they can end up glued to your eyelids, left to shrivel on two plates, or in this instance floating in glasses of water. Now you can see what happened next. I’m drunk, I wake up in the middle of the night, I’m thirsty. I innocently reach for one of the glasses of water beside my bed, and well you get the rest.

Capsizing in the waters of Slovenia

Now this one was a genuine near death experience. Not being dramatic. So I’m on an inter-rail with a group of friends, and we decide to do something other than destroy our livers. That something turned out to be white-water rafting. Very adventurous of us altogether. Let me set the scene. So we’re looking sexy in our wet suits as we embark our vessel. (Which was basically a blow up floating boat, and not a raft made of sticks like I had originally imagined/secretly hoped). Our instructor ‘Yuri’ was quite the man, and ensured us we were completely safe as we navigated our way through Slovenian waters. All was going well, until all of a sudden the boat capsized. Before long we were all being flung rapidly downstream. At first we found it amusing, but after Yuri’s frantic screams of ‘this is fucking serious,’ we were in full titanic mode. The water was fairly shallow, so me being me, think ‘ah sher it’s grand I can just stand up and sort of walk back’. Disaster. Of course I’m flung back straight onto my arse and dragged across rocks, dodging trees, and screaming for my life along the way. What made me think I could walk against a rapid current, I’ll never know.  In the end I somehow managed to swim back to the raft, oar in hand, exhausted. All I could do was lay there like a wet seal and wait for the others to be rescued. Tragic stuff.

Being asked on a date to Mcdonalds by a Dublin Bus driver:

Now I know some of you might not view this as unfortunate per se, some might find it flattering. But picture the scene. It’s 11:34pm. I’m en route home from a late shift and I have to be up and back in work at 7am. All I want to do is peacefully disembark the bus and fall in to bed. I press the buzzer and I approach my stop. The bus driver seemingly innocent, turns to me and asks in the thickest Dublin accent “Dya wanna go ta Mcdonalds?”  Still genuinely not sure if he was asking me on a date, or if I looked like the type of person who frequents McDonalds. Either way I stared blankly at him, shook my head politely, disembarked the bus and ran for my life.

Wearing my leggings inside out to work:

Now I must stress that for 6 months straight I had to endure the pain of 7am starts, something my former college student self wasn’t accustomed to at the time. (My present self is now peeling herself up at 6.30am). Anywho, after my early rise I then had a bit of a bitch of a commute, so naturally these types of mishaps were bound to occur…weren’t they? Nonetheless, after my usual ritual of crying into my cereal at the foot of the stairs, I set out for work. I got on the bus, put in my earphones and tried to avoid the oncoming plague of other passengers. Only then did I happen to look down and realise that my leggings were in fact inside out. Facing an hour long commute and a further 10 minute walk to work before I could rectify the situation, there was nothing I could do. Fortunately I wasn’t the strangest creature on the bus that day.

 Being abandoned by my ‘friends’ in a dyke:

 When I was in primary school we had a dyke (which is basically a washed out ditch/trench like thing), that ran along the back of the school. Of course we were forbidden from going near it, but that never stopped us. I remember coming to school after spraining my ankle in a separate unrelated trampoline incident. I was on crutches, but my friends convinced me to come out to the dyke anyway. Not wanting to miss out on any of the fun, I agreed. Next thing I know I’m being lowered into the dyke crutches and all. It was all fun and games until  someone got wind of one of the teachers coming. Everyone fled, leaving 10 year old me alone in the dyke to navigate my way out with my crutches.

Being run over by a bike in Sweden:

I think I’ll let the below speak for itself on this one. I did legitimately have a stalker in Sweden btw, but that’s a post entirely of it’s own.

Chipping my tooth on a pole in Barcelona:

Not intoxicated, just blind and laughing too much. I probably reacted a little too dramatically when this one happened, but in fairness it was one of my worst fears realised. I thought my whole tooth was gone. Plus, I hadn’t long shed my braces, so it was pretty upsetting. I did however, get to rock the ‘London Look’ for a few days.

At this stage, I think I should probably start wrapping this up! I am aware this post is probably quite long, but it has only just scratched the surface. I mean I could probably write an entire book filled with my misadventures, perhaps one day I will. For now I will leave you with these short anecdotes, in the hopes that you enjoyed reading them just as much as I enjoyed re-telling them!

As Mr Lemony Snicket himself once said:

 What might seem to be a series of unfortunate events may, in fact, be the first steps of a journey.

~Jessie

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Life after the Leaving Cert- You are more than a piece of paper

So leaving cert results day is upon us once more. This morning thousands of Irish students across the country will open a brown envelope that they think will determine the course of their life. The truth is many of you will be overjoyed, but the other sad reality is many of you will be disappointed. And that’s Okay. I know we’ve heard this countless times.  Every year it’s the same spiel, ‘it’s not the be all and end all’ ‘there are ways and means around everything’. At the time they seem like throwaway comments to make those who didn’t quite get what they wanted feel better, but in actual fact it’s the truth. I didn’t believe it then, but I sure as hell do now. For anyone feeling a little let down today, let me share with you my leaving cert story.

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I sat my Leaving Cert in June 2011. (Still coming to terms with the fact that, that was five whole years ago). I was 17. The world was my oyster (or clam as I once very blondely referred to it).  For a long while I struggled to find what it was I actually wanted to do after school. All around me classmates were interested in being teachers, doctors, lawyers, accountants, nurses, radiographers, dietitians, pharmacists, scientists, vets, you name it. But I knew I didn’t want to be any of those things. They just didn’t appeal to me. It felt like there wasn’t a single course out there to suit me. It was by chance that I actually discovered my area of interest.

Surprise surprise it was actually at one of those tedious higher options fares that you only go a long to, to skive a day off school. But it turned out to be very useful. I realised that my passions lay with writing and the media. Within weeks I had decided that media and Journalism was the route for me. Looking back it definitely wasn’t one of the more advertised courses.

Anyway my friends agreed it was the perfect avenue for the blunt, outspoken Jess they knew. So I started working towards my goal. At roughly around 435 points in all of the colleges that offered it across the country, it was achievable. I decided on UL as my first choice. There was an extra entry requirement in most colleges of at least a B3 in English, but as far as I was concerned this wouldn’t be an issue. English was my subject. I loved it all the way up both primary and secondary school. As a child I was always writing stories in my spare time. Most people loathed Shakespeare and the the list of ‘boring dead white guys’ i.e  poets, but I loved it all. It was a welcome escape from algebra, equations and the Krebbs cycle.

I worked hard, I did my homework, listened in class, and did my bit of study every night. I didn’t kill myself, but I definitely applied myself. When the two weeks of exams came I was confident. I was happy with every exam bar English paper 2. I felt I over thought it a lot, which resulted in me panicking slightly through it, but aside from that I was home free.

Summer began and the worries of the results were put on hold until August. I went to Oxegen with my friends to celebrate. Almost every weekend thereafter was spent traipsing around the public houses of Kilkenny city. Summer 2011 was a good’un. Then came August and I was turning 18. A mere 3 days before results day. The excitement and simultaneous nervousness was rife.

I’ve spoken about it briefly in previous blog posts, but the night of my 18th was bitter sweet. Many of you reading probably already know, but my drink was spiked pretty badly. I ended up suffering an adverse reaction, which saw me confused and disorientated in hospital the night before results were out. The spiking caused a chemical imbalance in my brain so I was really unwell.  Not exactly what I had planned but sure hey. That’s a story for another day.

The morning of results came and my mam had gone in to collect my results and bring them home, seeing as I had only been released from hospital late the previous night. I’ll never forget the feeling of opening the envelope, hands shaking my entire future rested in what was enclosed. I ripped it open and quickly scanned to make sure there were no Ds or Fs. I saw As Bs and Cs. Relief. When I had calmed down enough to check what each grade was in, I was met with a wave of horror.
I just remember asking “What’s the second C in?” Everyone in the kitchen was silent. But it was there in black and white.
English: C1.

C fucking 1.  

I needed at least a B3. My sister added up my points and informed me that I had received 495. Amazing, 60 over what I needed. But it didn’t matter. I still couldn’t do what I wanted. My favourite subject had let me down. I had gone from an A/B student to a C. I threw the piece of paper on the floor and I ran down to my room. I was still suffering the affects of the spiking, so later that day I actually tried to convince myself my family had conspired against me and fabricated my results. I demanded to see the ‘real’ copy. It was all pretty crazy. In the days that followed I was in and out of hospital for check ups.

It soon transpired that I would be taking a year out before going to college. My family encouraged me that it was for the best. I was well and truly devastated. It was never part of my plan. But looking back I was too unwell to start, plus I didn’t get straight Journalism so I needed the time to figure out what I was going to do. In an instant all my college dreams were slashed. I felt like a failure. Watching all my home friends move away and start new and exciting lives in Dublin and beyond was one of the hardest things I’ve gone through. Though my friends were amazing to keep in touch, I couldn’t help but feel left behind.

I never thought I would be the one it would happen to. I wasn’t going to be the disappointed one, no. Not me. Yet I ended up getting hit with a double edged sword. For the year I was off as a result of everything that happened, my mental health suffered a lot. I grew into myself and I was sad and lonely all the time. Who was blunt, outspoken Jess? Where was she? 

A dodgy drink and a piece of paper had ruined my life. (or so I believed at the time).

It wasn’t until the summer before I was due to start college the following year, that I truly started feeling like myself again. I realised the grade wasn’t a reflection on my abilities, and that what happened the night of my 18th wasn’t my fault. I went inter-railing and I re-discovered the spark in life. I had debated about repeating my English, but I didn’t want to go through the stress of it all again. Given it’s so subjective who’s to say some cranky old examiner wouldn’t have given me a C all over again?

My heart was still with UL though, so I decided to go for their New Media and English course instead. I could always do a post grad dip in Journalism after, if I so desired. Once I had gotten over the disappointment, I realised the range of options available at my fingertips.

So you see, I was more than the piece of paper. It just took me a little while to realise it. There’s an old cheesy quote that goes something like ‘sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck’, and I firmly believe that.

Five years on,  I’m working in London and flying home to graduate in 5 days. If it hadn’t been for everything that happened in August 2011, I wouldn’t have the friends, boyfriend, and wonderful memories and life experiences I have now.

So if you’re any way upset today, please know there is life after the leaving cert! It’s natural to feel this way, but I promise you, your dreams aren’t over.

So cry it out, drown your sorrows in a few naggins, but don’t let it hold you back. It didn’t define me, and it doesn’t define you.Plus life is more fun if there are a few twists and turns a long the way! The straight road is overrated.

You are more than a piece of paper.
~Jessie