Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Yearly Review

This is the fourth and final installment in a reflective series on this blog leading up to the New Year.

28/12/14 - My Faults
29/12/14 - My Strengths
30/12/14 - New Year's Resolutions
31/12/14 - Yearly Review

I'm going to do this in chronological order, because I need somewhere to start.


I spent the first seven days of 2014 finishing off that year's Young Scientist project, and then spent the 8th to the 11th exhibiting at the RDS. I got a Highly Commended ribbon and my friend Anna won the whole Biology section, so that was cool. I also met a bunch of friends up there.

 It was a stressful but pretty incredible experience, and so I immediately started working on my 2015 project. I read buckets of research papers in January and February trying to get acquainted with my topic, and I'm glad because that work really paid off later on. 

In late January, the Mullingar regional semifinals of Briery Gap happened. Briery Gap is an annual light entertainment competition that the TYs enter, and our entry was called The Evolution of Music. We all performed as one famous musician from each decade (50s - 2010s). I was Madonna. It was so much fun. Oh, and we got through to the finals! 


If I recall correctly, I broke up with Cahal at the start of this month.

I did a lot of work experience in February - three weeks, actually.

I did one week in The Irish Times (big national newspaper) from the 10th to the 14th, which was awesome. Because it's such a big place we didn't really get to do any work of consequence, but we got shown around all the departments and had a lot of fun. We got to doorstep Ruairí Quinn. There were nine of us there that week but I only really talked to one guy - Cian. At lunchtime we sat off in a separate table and he talked about poetry and philosophy and how money is a flawed system. It was all very romantic. And by the end of that week, I had a huge crush on him. Pity he lives in Galway. I thought that was the last I'd ever see of him.

During the Irish Times work experience I pulled a big navigational faux pas by taking the wrong bus and going an hour in the wrong direction. I was an hour and a half late for "work" and completely soaked. Around this time I was also teaching my brother (who was in first class) how to multiply. He loved it. I should start doing that again.

I then did two weeks of work experience in a local analytical chemistry lab, Fitz Scientific. I can't be sure, but I think it was from the 17th to the 28th. I really enjoyed working there, because while it wasn't as glamorous as the Irish Times, I got to actually do stuff - dilutions, colorimetry, stocking shelves (has to be done), locating samples, pH tests, precise measurements, etc. It was really good basic lab training and it's stood to me.

I did miss two days of the Fitz Scientific work experience: one for a different work experience, and one for Briery Gap.

On the Thursday I went to Trinity College to do a one-day work experience in Astrophysics. It was alright, got to have a lecture in Schrodinger's Theatrre, make a fake comet and do a sunspots activity. I remember meeting some nice girls there but unfortunately lost their numbers so will probably never see them again.

On Friday myself and the Briery Gap girls went down to Cork to perform our show again. I'm proud to say that we came 3rd in the whole country and our Mad Scientist Aoife Dunne won Best Individual. The bus journey up and back took like eight hours and I had DMCs with some unexpected people at 3am while everyone else was asleep. Amazing.

I look a bit more normal here. I'm in the front, second from the right. You can see Niamh and Jayne holding prizes.
I wrote up a proposal and sent it to Trinity College and Intel asking for lab space for my Young Scientist project. I had a Materials List and Budget drawn up as well, and Fitz gave me some chemicals I needed. 


According to Facebook, nothing of note happened to me in March. I did start working for Stein Study as a Rep, though, which gave me €20 a month for liking and sharing all their posts on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ and trying to convince people to sign up to them. I resented the way it clogged up my newsfeed. And I really disliked the fortnightly updates I had to send because it felt like I was laying myself at their mercy. I'm not good at working for other people.

I did a synchronised reveal for Kim Curran's Control after her publicist Caroline contacted me about it. It felt quite special. 

I failed to qualify for the national round of the Linguistics Olympiad.

In mid-March I made the shortlist for the Drogheda Young Innovators competition and was invited to a conference at which the boy who came second in the 2014 BTYS spoke. It was cool. 

I also did the Coca-Cola debates. We lost, but I was still sassy as hell up there and it was fun. The topic was awfully weighted against us, though - an all-girls school and we had to argue that it's no longer a man's world and that sexism is a thing of the past.

Myself and Anna went to DKIT this month to get medals for our involvement in the Young Scientist and then talk to kids about our project. Don't really know why, but it was pretty cool. The co-founder of the YS, Tony Scott, came to talk. 

On the 20th of March, we went to an army barracks near Dublin which was pretty cool. 

Look, it was lashing.

We spent three weeks in March working on our Mock Trials thing. I was originally solicitor/Team Leader but after I missed one day I was dramatically banished. I was completely distraught. However, I then went on to enter in the individual category, as a journalist. And this is really petty, but:

We went up to the Courts (early April) and I was the only one to win anything! I came third in Ireland for my article after they kicked me off the team. Revenge is sweet.

Around this time, a girl in my class won a nationwide journalism contest and I was so angry because, though I wrote it, I missed the deadline to send in my entry. She got so much publicity and ... Yep, I was really jealous because I knew I could have won it. Guess that teaches me a lesson.


The Mock Trials in the Criminal Justice Courts kicked this month off. It was a pretty cool experience, and winning was nice.

Yearbook had been steadily heating up over the past few months and now, with two months left in the school year, it was frenzied. People quit, got kicked out, joined up, brought pizza, started fights, ended friendships ... It was a very chaotic part of TY. 

In mid-April, Prof. Georg Duesberg emailed me back and said I could meet him to discuss the project and possible lab space. I was elated, but terrified. However, he was away on holiday so I didn't actually meet him until much later on.

My sister's birthday was on the 18th and my best friend's on the 20th. That was nice. The pictures are awful though. Like so:

Cliodhna looks lovely though.

Towards the end of April I joined a new literary magazine for teens, In It For The Long Scrawl. It's kind of faltered now, but I'm not sure I agree with its tagline - Serious Teens. Serious Writing. It seems awfully pretentious, and I hate when people act like writing is sacred. It's fun, but it's only human. 

The Yearbook went to print at the end of April/start of May. Phew. 

Derek Landy also replied to me a few times, woo!


In early May, there was the Drogheda Young Innovators competition. I just entered my Young Scientist project (the gift that just keeps giving) and won Individual Science. I got €50 and some vouchers. It was nice. Smiling for all the photos got sore after a while. I'm glad it gave me a lot of practice in speaking about my project though, because that came in handy in June.

I met Prof. Duesberg and Nina, and then a little while afterwards met Sinéad. 

My sister came 5th in the All-Ireland under-18s Chess Championships - proud.

On 22nd May, we graduated from TY. It was a hell of a year. A very gay one too. Literally.

On May 31st I submitted an article to Listverse for the first time and get rejected. Many rejections followed. I also tried to join a hell of a lot of content mills but usually couldn't because I'm not American or over 18. I'm glad now, Listverse and TopTenz are a lot better. I also submitted to but got rejected. 


June was huge. I went up to Trinity a lot (as I did in the months before and after). Morgan (friend from primary school) found this picture of us when we were like 10. It's so adorable. 

On the 15th of June, I got my very first freelance article accepted. It was "Top Ten Historically Important Notebooks", and gave me $50 for it. I was so thrilled that I went out and bounced on the trampoline. That whole week was pretty incredible, actually.

On the Thursday I worked on presenting my project, and then on the Friday I went to Belfast for the Sentinus Young Innovators Competition (basically the N.I. Young Scientist). The project was the same but I'd gotten a hell of a lot better at communicating it, because I got 11 judges rather than 3 at the YS. I won the 2nd prize overall plus the Queen's University Award for Mathematics, and Anna won first prize overall and will be going to America in May to represent Ireland. Our teacher also won the Educator of Excellence Award and will be going to America too. I was meant to be going to England to represent Ireland but sadly can't as I'm not an N.I. citizen. It was a huge success for the school, going there and taking the three top prizes and another besides that.

Yes, I know I look insane. But look at the pretty trophies rather than my hair.


I joined Codecademy, sold two more articles to TopTenz and one to Listverse (!!!). But the most important part of July was my beloved CTYI, and there's a whole post about that here which you should definitely check out. I was still going to Trinity every week this whole time. It was fairly hard to co-ordinate.

But you'll never guess who I saw sitting in the CTYI canteen - that guy I'd had a crush on in February in the Irish Times. I could not believe my luck, it was like something from a book. I got an even bigger crush on him during CTYI and he turned me down. Oopsie. But anyway, I had an amazing time with my friends, and I love and miss them all so much.


August was sad, because CTYI was over and I missed it so incredibly badly. I couldn't write that whole month. My best friend there this year lives in Cork, my crush in Galway - even the closest ones lived an hour away in Dublin. Myself and Cian started dating, the family went on holiday in Donegal, we met Dad's girlfriend. 

My 16th birthday was on the 11th so on the 9th my friends Morgan, Ciarán and John Joe came down to help me celebrate. We had a lovely relaxed party in my garden and got our faces painted. Then on the 11th I went to see Cian in Dublin and Jerry, Ciarán and John Joe came. It was wonderful. Ciarán and I held hands in the morning and I thought we would go out, but then that afternoon Cian gave this dramatic speech and told me he was in love with me. I was too easily swayed and went with Cian. I regret that now, because I hurt Ciarán's feelings and ruined the prospects.

That was the best day.

I also started using Duolingo as my French was rusty, which was a great decision.

Oh, and I started this blog.


This month, I got back to writing my 1000 words a day. I also went back to school, and found 5th Year pretty damn overwhelming. I went up to Dublin a few times but really nothing much that month.

Oh, but I did find out I'd qualified for the National Finals of the Science Olympiad. So I started studying Biology like crazy.

And I was still working on the Young Scientist project, and feeling under pressure.

Very photogenic, I know.


Working on Young Scientist and studying Biology for the Science Olympiad.

I got another article published on Listverse.

My school Open Night happened, the last one I'll be around for. It was poignant and lovely, and filled me with school spirit.

I also joined the school Chess club. I was bad at it then, I'm still pretty bad at it now. But I quite like it. I started to enjoy Physics and settled into school.


The Science Olympiad was on the 1st. I didn't qualify for the International team, but I'm proud of how I did because I got a huge amount of the questions and at least it motivated me to study Biology. Oh, and I saw Jack, Gráinne and Andrew up there.

I went on a week of work experience up in AMBER. It was meant for TYs but as I was up there working on Young Scientist they invited me to come along. My favourite part was going to St. James' Hospital where they have a nanotech research lab in the basement, where I met AJ who's a translational neuroscientist and is pretty awesome. I also had a lot of fun with PJ (a CAT who I'd never spoken much to before) that week, we got on like a house on fire pretty much immediately. People alternately thought we were siblings and shipped us. Incidentally, hospitals have a lot of cool things in their basements. Blackrock Clinic has a particle accelerator. We also went to the Tissue Engineering lab in RCSI, which was cool.

I finally completed a Codecademy course (HTML & CSS), which I'm pretty proud of even though it's an easier course. Maybe I'll get up the nerve to try Javascript again at some point.

Cian and I broke up somewhere around now, I think. Or maybe it was October, I can't remember.

In good news, I won the local heats of the Soroptimists Public Speaking competition, and advance to the Regional Semifinals in Athlone in February. Woo!

Saw friends in Dublin too.

Also, my book blog passed 10,000 total views and I won NaNoWriMo.

And I was extremely stressed about Young Scientist.


Three words: Young Scientist stress.

I started updating this blog daily, and found it's doable. Really heavy emphasis on Young Scientist this month though. I finished this year's novel, so I don't have to think about that for months.

And now we're here. Today itself has been pretty shitty, but I'm sure things will turn up.

Happy New Year! 

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