Sunday, September 28, 2008

and in a crown too!

Last night was my official unofficial birthday. We went out and I wore a crown.

Also, I did Indian sprints home. Barefoot.

...wait, what?!?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A post in two parts

There is a flat rock on the window kitty-corner to me. The orange of the setting sun doesn’t reach it. I don’t know if it ever will and I don’t know if I will ever find out. Apparently the sun isn’t something that is seen often around here. At least, this is what people keep telling me, except I’ve been here for a week and a half now and it’s been sunny and gorgeous every day. In fact, it’s been so warm that I have to keep my window open at night, which consequently allows the melodious sounds of the construction site just outside to waft into my room every morning at 8 am. (or so. I’m not sure, I’m never quite conscious even after I stumble up to pull the window to.)
It’s a small window, but I love it. My desk is pushed up against it and I can set my tea mug on the sill while I curl up on the desk in the corner made by the wall and the window. It’s no great view, but now that there’s a rock on the sill diagonal from me, it’s more interesting. Also, I can see the river below me, which is always nice.

The birthday went well. It started at 2 am, which is always amusing. I had just stormed back from a club after the few scraggly remainders of our group had wandered off. I mean, this group consisted of mostly Americans, all friends from the early start program, and moved like someone’s Large Aunt Marge: kinda slow and indecisively, and parts occasionally attempted to go in different directions. I really want to go to this club Wait, there’s a cover ch– Cover charge? That’s ridiculous 10 euro Ridiculous, I’m not paying that Lets just go to An Brogue Wait, but someone said there’s a 10 euro cover charge anywhere I just wanna dance There shouldn’t be a cover charge on a barCan’t we just go somewhere I just wanna dance I’m not going to pay a cover charge I’M LOOSING MY BUZZ JUST GET ME A F’ING DRINK why don’t we just go to a bar Okay we’re going to a bar I juss wanna dance Wait where are they going Why are they going off that way Ladies please get out of the street Ladies please get in the line or move on I wanna dance I’m going I can’t stand this This is why I hate going out with Americans Dude, you are American I’m just going to go get a pint because I need an F’ING drink Just get in line, we’ll just go in here I’M NOT PAYING A 10 EURO COVER I NEED A DRINK.

Somehow, moving amorphously, we made our way to a couple of different bars. I met some kids from California and we discussed high culture topics like “hypy” and “thizz face” and the word “hella.” Stimulating conversation. But we also stumbled on an awesome live music venue. It was just what you’d expect from a live music venue in Ireland. It was dark and cave-like, with little booths and alcoves and nooks and crannies for hiding oneself in. The bar was long, old and wooden and rested on stone which curved up from the ground to form the randomly-placed arches above our heads. And then, as the old man who worked there somehow managed to communicate through such a thick accent that even I couldn’t understand him, if you just turned the corner, cozied away in a corner sat the band. And the music they played was wonderful. See, after 6 years as an Irish dancer, when I hear really traditional Irish music, my stomach seizes up. I start to get nervous and I feel like laughing or crying or both. I think it’s my psyche preparing to dance competitively. But the music that night was a little bit more modern and much looser, so I could just enjoy.

But I digress.

They had quite the time dragging me away.
And after much more debate, we somehow all ended up at the Brogue. Which I like. They tend to play rock and indie music. And we tend to start the dancing. But I dislike it when, after most of the group has peaced and started the long stumble home, the three people protecting me from the skeeves that come with every dance floor drunkenly wander off. Because that’s when the wolves close in. I watched the four guys who had been leering at the girls in our group edging nearer and nearer. And maybe I’m exaggerating, but I think maybe they licked their chops. Just maybe.

Long story short, I got pissy and stalked home.

And that is exactly when my birthday started. I checked facebook, of course, before heading up to my apartment, when three of my drunken friends burst into the common room and sang a raucous round of happy birthday. Oh it was indeed a heart-warming start to my birthday.

The day itself was all about self-mutilation, self-indulgence and those fantastic songs in which I see myself. See, I feel it’s important to set a precedent for the new year on the first day of said year. This, of course applies to all new-years: birthday years, school years, and the conventional New Year. Thus I started my 20th year dressed sharply in a new shirt, that I might always feel fresh, new and confident, and new knowledge, that I might always be learning an expanding my horizons.

I learned that there is no good Mexican food in Cork and I should have trusted those who told me this before.

I learned that tourist information can be your own private GPS.

I learned that it is a bad idea to get pierced on your birthday for two:
1) it hurts like hell and I get all weepy afterward which is not fun on your birthday.
2) it continues to hurt for the rest of the evening, which is rather distracting from the birthday fun.

Also I learned that, contrary to what you may think, alcohol does not dull the pain of self-mutilation no matter how much you have, and actually, it may increase said pain.

I learned that it’s not a good idea to get one ear pierced when the other is still sore from your last piercing because, how are you going to sleep?

I learned that “Italian Rice” is not “Arborio Rice” and if you try to cook risotto for dinner with it, you will only succeed in making onion-y rice and will have to run down to the Centra and buy last minute chicken and bell peppers to sauté. Which will be okay, because everyone will either love it or just say that they love it because you cooked it on your birthday and also because it will be a delicious snack when you are later dealing with the drunchies.

I learned that I am now 20 years old, a thing that did not register until everyone sang me happy birthday over two pints of soy ice cream with a “2” candle and a “0” candle.

Finally I learned that the cute bartender does not work at the Washington Inn on Friday nights.

Quite an enlightening day, if I do say so myself.

The birthday is due to continue tonight since we were all exhausted last night. Don’t get excited, but I may get a birthday crown.

The Washington Inn inadvertently gave me a pint glass for my birthday.

Also. I bought a fiddle. What?!?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I love taking music classes here in Ireland because when I talk in class, my voice comes out like jazz. Not, of course, the smooth sultry jazz which women tend to wish their voices resembled, and not the bright, edgy, slightly raunchy jazz peppered with blue notes that I adore. But next to the liltingly formal and jangling brightness of the Irish accent with its sharp vowels and flat endings, my voice is jazz with a little bebop in it. In my American accent, my words run together in an informal and carefully intentional lazy slur. Sometimes they rush too fast. Sometimes my pitch can reach the jarring heights of the trumpet’s more difficult registers. Sometimes when I speak out after a long stretch of silence or concentration, my tone is smooth and blue. That’s mostly when I hear the jazz in my voice. And that’s when I can stretch into the easy, sleepy smile of self-confidence which is so hard to attain when you are trying to settle into a different culture and cringe to be isolated or singled out. But jazz is something I’m willing to stand by and be singled out with.

Other than that, I’ve been reading a lot of Dorothy Parker, and have been inspired. Her stuff is already eerily familiar to me, even though I’ve never read any of it. I think she’s my literary soul mate, in addition to being my hero. To wit:

Or, Why I Try to Never Lie to My Friends
I thought to hide and begged off sick
Though secretly they thought me slick
But at my door they showed me pity
“My God, you do look shitty!”

There’s One in Every Crowd

Hold her liquor she cannot do
She’s tipsy after just a few
Ecstatic when she knows your name
But when she doesn’t, it’s just the same
Always a tease, she flirts with the guys
Giggling and smiling and batting her eyes
With slurring words she much delights
In bitching at girls and picking girl fights
She sees no shame in falling down
She’ll stumble and lie there on the ground
Or uses your shoulder like a crutch
I never did like her much
But with one sad drink I realize
I am the girl that I despise.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sunday Morning

Mornings here tend towards slow motion. They start late, despite the nearby construction (story of my life, literally) and the sky is nearly always grey and misty. We walk slowly around the apartment, fixing breakfast and eating it in comfortable, tired silence. Everything is a little heavier, requires a little more attention. Not, of course, because of hangovers, but rather due to exhaustion. I fold myself into one of the kitchen chairs and hunch over the first meal of the day, which, more often than not, is actually lunch. There is always water in the kettle on the stove, we just keep replacing it when it gets low, so there is always water when needed. Mornings like this always seem to come with two cups of tea. I always reuse the tea bag so the first one is always stronger than the second. When the kettle whistles it makes little hissing and spitting sounds like a steam iron, which blends fantastically into the symphony of the apartment settling. It always seems like more too much work to be worth it to unfurl my limbs, which always seem unusually long and stork-like, and propel myself the two steps to the stove-top and refill my mug with hot water.

This morning in particular I feel even more stagnant. Probably because I am sore. Probably because I worked out yesterday. My arms and neck and shoulders are sore, and my upper back and lats, also my throat. Though that may mean I am getting sick…

Friday, September 19, 2008

in the crumpled wastebasket that is my mind:

Note to Self:
high heels are a bad idea for a night out. alright, I'm sure everyone else in the world knows this. Shut up. I literally had nothing else to wear.

Note to Self:
high heels are an especially bad idea when the walk to town is about 30 minutes sober and who knows how long drunk.

Other notes I have made to self:
-academic beurocracy is apparently as oppressive, confusing and depressing here as it is in the states.
-ditto for phone companies
-ditto for internet connections
-Ireland may smell fantastically like winter at night, but that is only when the all - too -familiar scent of cow doesn't waft over the breeze.

New cool words:
--meanings? not yet fully determined--

To Do:
-go to guitar store
-buy flats
-fix phone problem
-find gluten-free corn flakes (does barley have gluten in it? check this online at some point)
-walk along the quays
-find cool small live music venue
-indian food?
-remember where ancestors came from, and then visit it
-think about preparing ahead of time (like now) for possible trips
-something to do with laundry? or a laundry basket?
-figure out internet connection
-remember whatever it is I forgot to do/forgot I need to do (there is always something)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Appropriately Poetic

Appropriately looks like it's spelled wrong...

So this here is an attempt at an apology for yesterday's odd rambling weirdness.
I'm hope this is more what you were looking for.

Ireland, especially Ireland at night, smells like winter. It smells cold and crisp and clear with moonlight that slices down in a classically ethereal way. And if you can find a quiet enough spot, right by the river, which is itself an ever swirling and agitating night, you can hear the cold. The sensation of ice without water rushing in to your body through every pore, through your ears, your nose, your lungs, your eyes. Down past your throat leaving silver in its wake, down into your lungs where it sits and tastes like winter.
But it's a solitary kind of winter. Like the sound of falling snow. I feel no compulsion to find a warm fire or drink hot alcoholic drinks that burn going down and keep a healthy fire in ones gut all night long. It's just comfortable sitting in the night wrapped in cold.

However, it does feel good to walk into a hot shower that smells vaguely like hot stones and tastes of minerals.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

In the Land of Milk and Honey

Soy milk and generic tesco honey that is...

So, alive and kicking I have arrived! ... and there's not much else.

I'm in that traveler's fog that is actually probably jet lag, even though I don't get jet-lagged... just like I don't get hangovers or math.

(Even though should be one word. Eventhough someday it probably will be.)

But so far I have discovered this: that in Ireland, or at least at the Tescos (supermarkets not unlike Safeway) in Ireland, plastic bags to tote your groceries home in are not free. They are 22 cents. Okay, this is good, this encourages bringing your own bags and reduces environmental waste. Good job. Except that they SO aren't worth 22 cents.
Now, I didn't know this upon entering Tesco.

I didn't know this as I gathered up a hefty basket-full of goods (much of it of gluten-free, dairy-free stuff, praise Glory! I guessed that they'd do it better here because of the prevalence of Celiacs. I was right.)

I didn't know this as grabbed pointy-cornered things willy-nilly full of delirious pride and excitement. Shopping abroad, what what!

I only discovered this when I looked curiously at the checkout lady who didn't pack my bags and asked her for a few plastic ones.
22 cents.
Now, I'm not cheap, really, but that's a lot for a plastic bag. I got two.

I'll confess something: I was never a bagger at a grocery store when I was a child. My mom thought it would be a good 1st job. But I opted for a more glamorous job as a table-busser and -cleaner at a restaurant where I could begin a career in the food industry, setting my sights early on the bartender position. Anyway. I wasn't a bagger. I always thought that I had a pretty good idea of how to bag groceries, especially when I watched a surly incompetent throw all my crap in bags. I'd scoff. Don't put my canned goods on top of the bananas, punk, they will bruise them. Duh!
Oh how the mighty have fallen. Or at least, oh how the mighty's groceries have fallen. The pointy-cornered things sticking out at all angles. For some reason (not jet-lag) I though that it would be a good idea to stick all the big things in one bag and all the little things in another.
Oh how little I know about packing a good grocery bag.
Obviously everything fell.
But I swear it was not my fault! You don't believe me, it's okay. I have tricked you a little. I have just gone on and on about how bad I am at bagging, making you believe that it must have been my fault. I'm sorry. Let me explain.
The bags broke, but NOT because pointy angles triumphed over the flimsy plastic. No. The handles broke. The plastic handles decided to neatly separate on each bag. First one, then the other. Then another part of the handle would snap and I was stubbornly tying and re-tying them together so as to make the 20 minute walk home. You see, the bags broke and my groceries went flying/rolling around because the plastic bags were cheap. Not because I packed pointy-cornered things every which way. They broke because the 22 cent bags weren't worth their 22 cents.
So instead of saving 44 cents that an extra couple bags for double-bagging would have cost me, I had to pay 6 euro to take a cab back.
And what was left of the bags still split in two in the parking lot of my apartment complex, sending my food rolling, again, everywhere.
That is how it was not my fault.
And you can't say it was my fault because I packed the bags too heavy because... because. There's a good counter argument to that but I'm just not going to tell you it. So there.

Did I really just write for 20 minutes about how my grocery bags broke today? I'm so sorry.

Maybe I am a little tired after all. I mean it is like 11 pm here... not jet-lagged or anything...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Stuck Again (Oh! who called that?)

The spirit of bureaucracy is out to screw me this year.

I got detained at customs. Yea, I'm just that sketchy and hardcore.
So I missed my flight.

I mean, don't worry or anything. I got a new one. I'm not stuck in some crazy airport layover purgatory where all I can do is wait for a connection that will never come because it has already passed and where I will quickly finish my only book and have to spend the rest of airport forever forlornly watching the passersby rush around getting gone because they are not in airport purgatory. Yea, nothing like that.

I remember how lightly I'd joked about not being able to survive the layover. Oh how young, innocent and naive I was. It just goes to show kids, don't count your chickens before they spill milk... or something like that.

I'd go grab a drink except I only have Euros. and also except that it's not even 10:30 am. and I am nothing if not classy.

I'm hungry.

Thoughts En Route

You know how on a flight you always secretly hope to end up sitting next to some amazingly interesting and attractive person? And then you’ll have some sort of awkward smiling introduction disguised as an apology because you accidentally on purpose bumped his/her elbow. Which is of course an offense that merits an effusive apology. Which of course leads to meaningful conversation and a lifelong friendship...

(Jeezus these seats are small. Not that I really need a lot of space. But Damn it’s tight… And if the guy in front of me does not settle the hell down I may just have to go medieval on his ass.)

Anyway, I never sit next to that person. I always sit next to the quietly awkward businessman who was too cheap to fly business class. And in this case apparently someone’s grandmother too.

(My God. They Flight Attendants are presenting the safety features in PERFECT unison.)

I am always amazed when the same people who were in the check-in line with me keep turning up near me in security and sometimes even at the gate! And then when they get on the same plane as me, that’s when it gets really weird. I begin to get the notion that we are forming some kind of unspoken bond, like a brotherhood or the family of comrades that forms in times of trouble. We stand together in the face of delays and cancellations, our shock and appall bringing us ever closer. Until I remember that the only reason that we keep ending up in the same place in the airport is because we are on the same flight. The fact that we check in at the same place and are on the same plane is not some amazing cosmic coincidence. Which is, of course, far less interesting.

The food looks really gross. (Surprise, surprise) I have already eaten the meal I packed for myself (Surprise, surprise.) Even the cake, even though I tried to save it. I tentatively poked at the mashed potatoes because they looked rather… hard. I was right. Apparently this offends awkward business man. He is probably looking forward to his mashed potatoes.

...and yet I ate the food anyway...

If this is an international flight, can I order alcohol yet? I only have Euros on me, no pounds, so I can’t buy myself a drink during my two over layover in London. Which figures. I wonder if I’ll survive the two hours…

Don’t you hate it when you are sitting by the window and your seat buddies are sleeping and you REALLY have to get up? Yea, Me too.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Airport Bum - Delayed, Possibly Screwed and Generally Stuck

As this is not an uncommon position for me to find myself in, I'm sure this will be a common theme here.

I have a tendency to travel.