Monday, December 22, 2008

Better Late?

I wrote this on the airplane coming back from Ireland. I thought I should get it up and book end the trip a little before posting anything else. Although, I had been awake for over 48 hours at that point and I have little to no memory of what I wrote, so I apologize in advance.

I saw a falling star last Saturday.

In transit:

The same way that I never let myself get excited about a trip until I see the place out of the airplane window, I found myself not really realizing that I was leaving Ireland until I watched it fade out of sight through the window of my first flight today. I probably won’t ever really realize how I feel about leaving; I’ll just mope around for a couple of days, never admitting to myself that I’m actually sad.

I sat in the Heathrow airport for a couple of hours today, fighting self-induced narcolepsy and trying to piece together my emotions. I really didn’t think I was going to cry last night. As much fun as I had in Ireland, I never really felt attached to it. I’ve left my heart in many places, San Francisco, Paris, San Sebastian, Honduras, but I don’t think Ireland it one of them. I did however, as I realized painfully last night, give little bits of it away to people I met there.

Cork isn’t a beautiful city. It’s not quaint and it doesn’t have quite the number of hints towards its humble beginning as Dublin does. Maybe Cork didn’t have humble beginnings; maybe it’s always been a port town which comes with all the cold, non-nostalgic trappings of business. But as I wandered aimlessly through the city in the past few days, I saw it as more a part of Ireland than I have at anytime during the past three months. On Sunday night I went for a walk down by the water. I followed the path to the left out of the city center and when I reached the end I started down the highway that stretches out of Cork to who-knows-where. And then I kept walking down the road, almost oblivious to the cars rushing by with purpose and direction. But suddenly Cork was connected with Ireland, connected with the countryside where culture (not “Culture”) thrives pure without as much of the pollution of international communication.

And then it grew dark and I turned around and walked back as the ice formed on the ground beneath my feet.

The next day I wandered on the other side of the river, up in the Shandon area, looking for the hostel that Laurel and I stayed at two years ago, and the Cork-experience I’d had during our stay. The steep hill of Shandon, the discount stores and dim-lit bars all framed in doorways and window panes coated with shiny, sticky paint with hand-lettered signs across the top, was more like an Ireland I had seen before, more like the Ireland I’d expected. And after sitting outside the hostel for a while in the same spot where Laurel and I had taken pictures two years ago, next to the same graffiti mural that I'd watched grow, I descended back into the bustling center of fashion and metropolitan life that is Cork’s City Center.

“Hey, smile and enjoy it! You know, merry Christmas and all that.”

We’ve all been talking for the past week about how sad it’s going to be to say goodbye and how we’re really going to live it up for the last week of out lives in Ireland. We’ve been going out every night to hear music or to visit our favorite bars and to spend as much time with our new-found friends as we can.

And I realized for the first time, the niche we’d each carved out for ourselves. From the bar where my Sacramento friend sits in with the live music every Sunday night, to the bouncer who knows us at the bar we always end up at, to the people I can expect to find in every place we frequent.

So last night, I carefully parceled out my time to make sure that I got to see every friend who I truly valued. I rushed out of the birthday apartment-party where I ate and laughed, then shouted apologies and promises to return when the bars closed, as I raced to catch the bus which had just passed. I jumped into a taxi with some people I didn’t know and arrived in town with two hours left to say goodbye to everyone else, all of whom I knew would show up at the Brogue sooner or later.

I’ll never forget bumping into one of my roommates by the bathrooms and have her embrace me and look up with teary eyes and tell me that I was one of the best roommates she could have hoped for and how she was going to miss me.

And that’s when I realized just how hard it was going to be to leave the people, friends, I’d made. Saying goodbye to the people I truly valued as friends was easy because I know I’ll make an effort to keep in touch, because somehow I just don’t believe that we are really saying goodbye forever, believe that we’ll meet again someday. Saying goodbye to the three Irish friends I’d made was more shocking than difficult because it was as I said goodbye to them and realized how grateful I was that they had happened to be at the Brogue that night, and I'd happened to run into them and been able to say goodbye, and I realized that I actually had Irish friends to say goodbye to. But again, people I plan to keep in touch with, and who I will definitely visit again when I get back to Cork. Because I will of course be back. (I may not have left my heart there, but it’s still become a part of who I am. It may not have been my favorite place, it may not have lived up to my expectations, but it is my Irish hometown.)

The hardest part about saying goodbye last night was the people who I never will see again. Ever. The people who I was friends with, but more casually. Not the people who I would seek out, but the people who I’d been brought together with because of our shared American identity. And it was made all the more sappy and emotional because that particular group of friends was PLASTERED and therefore not capable of softening the harsh reality of goodbye.

Maybe the reason why I’ve been having such a hard time finding the tears, even with the exhaustion brought on by a total of three hours of sleep within the last 48 hours, is because I don't really plan on loosing people I should be crying for. I mean, I can’t right? Because the people I’d cry for are the ones I’ve given little bits of my heart to, and I’ll never loose those little bits of heart.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Hold on to your hats Folks, 'cuz this one's gonna be a Doozy!

I'm sitting here with an empty can of Coke on my left and an empty bag of "crazy sour" Skittles on my right.

And my hands are already shaking.

Back in freshman year, back when I was a double major in PACS and Art (oh those naive days of old), I convinced myself that a bottle of Coca-Cola and a bag of Skittles made me think more creatively. So every night that I had to work on some big art project I'd head down to the vending machines at like 11:30 pm (of course) and return with a frosty bottle of Coke and a half-eaten bag of Skittles. (What? I was on the 8th floor. That's a long elevator ride; it's necessary to dig into the provisions.) I'd sit with my sketchbook dwarfing my lap and sketch and plan and think.

Remember how I said that I've convinced myself that black tea doesn't have caffeine? I did the same with Coca-Cola. I told myself that it was my coffee substitute. Because I refuse to become a coffee zombie like the rest of you crazy kids.

I have no art project idea due tomorrow, not even a paper. I just needed a little pick-me-up.
But whatever the reason, the results are right here. I can promise you only one thing: this post will probably be too long to be readable, too convoluted and tangential to be followed and too excited to be interesting.

That said. Onward and upward.

So here's the problem with Ireland: when the fire alarm goes off, and I SWEAR it wasn't me this time, you not only have to go outside, but you have to suit up. I may have mentioned this before, but I had NO IDEA what I was talking about. It used to be, you have to put on a jacket then the alarm goes off. Now it's a coat, and make sure you're wearing pants, not shorts, put on your shoes, not flip-flops and bring an umbrella and hat. Make sure you have your keys and probably some money, because it'll be a while before the fire-trucks come, so you may need provisions from the vending machine.

Here's the other thing: it will take so long for the fire-trucks to come that the building would have burned down, were it not for the constant rain that this country boasts. I mean, if it's not actually, legitimately, 100% raining, it's misty enough to be considered rain, and everything, including building and flame would be enveloped in a layer of condensation enough to slow the burn.

Can you tell the weather has been SUCKING here for the past couple of days?
I mean, I'm in the South and we usually have drier weather (comparatively) around this time of year. We've had some gorgeous days. But since Monday it has rained most days and since Wednesday this thick mist has covered Cork. I wake up every morning thinking it's fog, or, you know, snow (which it doesn't here), but it's not. It's wispier than fog, and more depressing at the same time. You know that everything outside is soaking wet, and there's not a single drop of clean, pure, fresh, delicious rain to make it worth it.

So I've been inside. Doing "work." Well, trying to at least. Yesterday I did work. I also listened to music with a friend for a while. Today I wallowed.

Yes, wallowed. That's what three days of this does to a girl. That and exhaustion from the "final week festivities," pressure of work, end of the semester blues, anxiety and anticipation for going home and a little bit of heartbreak. You know, because I'm leaving and everything. Oh! and of course hormones. I'm a girl, I get to blame EVERYTHING on hormones if I so choose. It's my prerogative. (Wow, that word is totally not spelled the way I thought it was spelled. That just looks weird.)

So I've been wallowing. Last night I waited 45 minutes to find a taxi at the end of the night, started to cry because I was so cold I thought I was going to loose my toes, and today I wallowed. (Somehow those two relate, I'm sure of it. Or else, I just wanted to find a way to work my near-frostbite experience into this post.)

ugh. Just see what sugar gets you? I leave this blog post for ONE MINUTE and I totally lost track of what I was going to say. Lets see... weather sucks... Oh!

I'm looking forward to going home. I know that Berkeley and San Francisco aren't REALLY tinted the sepia-and-rose color they seem to be in my memory. I know that I'm not headed back to those days in the early summer where the sun cuts through a blue and green world that stands in Technicolor-sharp relief. Those days where every blade of grass is visible and you can see every detail in the fluffy white clouds meandering across the sky. Those days when everything is slower and everyone is smiling. The macramé, braids, flip-flops and daisies are everywhere and you feel like the hippie children's children who sit in parks with guitars and finish their text messages with "peace" have the right idea about the world. You can feel the heat emanating off the sidewalks and frozen treats are always on the mind. In cities where a wide variety of ethnic food seduces passersby on every corner, lunch means eating take-out on some grassy knoll. Those days when the only thing that seems really important in life is to do something ridiculously poetic, like piling into some tiny car made back in '83 with no AC and road-tripping to music played through iPod speakers, or walking along the railroad tracks, picking dandelions and kicking pebbles until you see where it takes you, or playing baseball in the streets and heading down to the local playground at dusk just to feel nostalgic, or hiking up to Sunset on Mt. Tam and sitting in the grass watching the entire bay flush orange. Days that should have a soundtrack featuring Creedence Clearwater, the Grateful Dead and Bob Dylan.

I know it's not that time of year. It's not Summertime when everything from the grass to the sun is golden. But that's the Bay Area I love the best. I mean, to someone who is still a part of our nations school system, Summer = Freedom. And I know that the summer I just described is NOT the summer that we always see, but there are glorious stretches of time when this is my existence. And this is what I really miss.

But I get nostalgic for that time of year EVERY year. Last year, in April, when I was ready for summer to start, I started craving lemonade and Southern Rock and sitting outside in the sun. I even made a play-list for it.

So I know I'm not going back to the image of SF and Berkeley that is conjured in the minds of all when those cities are mentioned. But I do get to go back to MY holidays.

Don't get me wrong, the holidays here are fantastic. Being a Catholic country that does not celebrate Thanksgiving, the Christmas trees started popping up the day after Halloween like acne on pre-teen the minute he or she hits puberty. Maybe not the DAY after Halloween. The lights are beautiful; the cobblestone streets that are open only to the foot traffic of the patrons of the myriad shops and boutiques of Cork City are almost canopied with light displays. Every bar is wrapped in Christmas garlands and Christmas lights. I'm sure they'll sprinkle the glitter in the streets any day now.

But I'm looking forward to the giant Christmas tree in Union Square with all the Christmas displays in the department store windows and watching everyone bundled up in fake fur like it's really, truly cold. I'm looking forward to the Pottery Barn-and-Restoration Hardware decorations that festoon the marketplaces of Marin County. I'm looking forward to the start atop Christmas Tree Hill (That's still there, right? Did it catch fire last year, or am I just crazy?). And of course I'm looking forward to my own house, where my family appreciates my fanatic holiday spirit.
Where everything will be red and green and gold, right down to the candles on the table. Where the glorious tree which stands in front of windows and mirrors the stars outside during the night. The house smells like Christmas from the mulling spices forever brewing in the kitchen and the fresh garlands that my mother strings around the house. It's always warm because there's usually a fire in the fireplace and soft strains of lullaby-like Christmas carols drift through the living room. I can't wait for the bows and the wrapping and the ornaments, whose bright colors and geometric have this great, classic and old feeling instead of the cold "modern" feeling Ikea-flavored geometric designs tend to have.

Oop! And hello sugar crash. Now I'm bored and sleepy. So much for a frenzy of research tonight! At least I won't be up until 2 am bouncing off the walls.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

what to do when the weather is this crappy

I have a knack for discovering things that have already come, hit peak popularity and gone.
I mean, have you heard of this band "The Who?" They're amazing! And this chick Dorothy Parker, she's a fantastic writer, you should really read some of her stuff; she does a lot of reviews of books and plays and such.

Bands and books and such I'm sure you can forgive me for, but my proudest moments are when I discover a TV show and proceed to gush about it as if I'm the first one who has ever seen it; even though it went off the air two years ago.

I did it with Friends, That 70's show, recently with Weeds and now with Veronica Mars. I get this "new-convert" obsession thing going on where it's all I can talk about, all I want to watch, I sing the theme song all the time... you get the picture.

Unfortunately everyone else has already been through the honeymoon stage and is over it, and "don't really want to hear it, Maggie!"

Ah well, at least when I get into a show that's already been on the air for a few years, or has even gone off the air, I get to spend my "brain -break" time during finals week watching them. I don't even have to wait a week to see what happens next!

Seriously. If I were the head of advertising for a company that caters mostly to college-students, I would double my ad sales to online hosting sites during finals times. Everyone is on those sites, like or,, and my personal favorite, actually, I won't release that one in case the secret government anti-internet pirate squad sees this and takes it down. That would be devastating. But even the legal ones, like or I think streams in HD too. all those sites are gold-mines. I KNOW I'm not the only college student who does this. (Proof? I've got your proof! We're all on the same IP address in this dorm building and so megavideo, which tracks the IP address and keeps a record of the number of minutes towards the limit that have been used per day. So I'll turn my computer on in the morning to watch "The Office" and I'll get a message saying "you have already watched 1,792 minutes of Megavideo today, please wait 134 minutes or sign up for unlimited use!" I have NOT watched 1,792 minutes of TV already today, thank you very much!)

In other news: 2 Performances, 1 Final and 1 Final paper down, 2 Final papers to go! (and they're the shorter ones!!!)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Read All About It

I love the smell of newspapers. The newsprint itself has such a distinct smell, kind of fresh, but muted, not a sharp fresh like air or grass. It's warm but not musty. The ink, too, adds a whole different layer of smell - dark and almost licorice-like, but with a bamboo flavor.

I walked into one of the practice rooms this morning and immediately smelled the newspaper. It was all the way across the room, sitting on the windowsill in the sun. The sun has a curious way of augmenting the smell of newspaper and deepening its warmth. The newspaper itself was similar to the Wall Street Journal, but with more color. But the paper size and font were about the same. It just made me think of home and Sunday mornings when the newspapers get spread out on almost every surface of the house: coffee table, dining table, kitchen chairs, bathroom floor, my parents' bed.

Maybe my parents are fighting a loosing battle, single-handedly trying to save the print newspaper buisness, but then again, these are the same people who brought me up to cherish the smell of old books, not just for their comfort and that nostalgic feeling that comes from old books, but for their possibilities.

So all the newspapers are scattered around the house, and they all have that particular intensified smell from the sun or even just from the morning bustle. There's colors and pictures and words. Glorious words! The beauty of the way the letters are formed with their lines and curves within their orderly phalanx of words and sentences. The history and familiarity they hold, that has just become a part of our knowing. I mean, it is so easy to identify a piece of newsprint even in a tornado of mixed media art. And that scrap of newsprint, by virtue of the fact that it is publishes, tells about the past and hints to us the distant past. The Golden Age of print and newspapers and news: Hollywood, World Wars, Depressions. The days when news was big and bold and black and white, instead of mimicking those days with fonts and layouts shining out from the blue glow of a television or a computer screen.

I realized this morning that I haven't picked up an Irish newspaper in the three months since I've been here. I got a free copy of "The Star" which is much like "US Weekly" only on newsprint. Leafed through that a couple of times. Considered making a collage with it. But other than that, I've had no connection with newspapers in all my time in Ireland. I haven't even gotten chips wrapped in it.

I guess what I'm trying to say, in a way too poetically convoluted manner is, I'm looking forward to going home in a week. I'm looking forward to the comforting smell of newspapers that is my home, my history and, in many ways, my family history and possibly my own future. I'm looking forward to returning to a place that is the past, has already been published. Of course my family and my home will continue to grow and change, but it is the nest of my childhood and will always be tied to my past in that way.
I've loved Ireland, but I'm not ready to settle down here, it's too fast and new to feel comfortably like a home. And therein lies the irony: we all come to Ireland to see a land tied intricately to its past, our past and our ancestors and especially its ancient traditions and lore. But we forget that parts of Ireland are every bit as modernized as any other country, and those that aren't, are getting there. I took a bus tour around the Burren in Western Ireland (Clare County) and although we passed through little villages with corner pubs, the roads were paved and the outlying houses were more like cookie-cutter tract housing than I'd ever have expected. I haven't found the Ireland that Yeats immortalized, poised on the boundary between our world and faerie. I don't know if you can. Maybe someday I'll finally make it up to Donegal, Sligo and Mayo, and we'll find out.

But for now, in the Ireland I know? You won't find men in tweed hats drinking pints of Guinness in the middle of the morning hidden behind an oversized newspaper. The men are there, certainly, and friendly as all get-out, but there are plasma-screen TVs in all the bars.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Trouble with Blogging

I swear I meant to work on my paper tonight, I tried. I have the document open and everything, the only problem is, I've got my blog voice on. That, and I watched some TV on my computer while I was eating a late dinner so instead of the academically flavored writing that should be, like this:

Although jazz was to one day be called the Great American Art form, it had humble beginnings in the folk-steeped culture of the deep South, which would have been possible, had it not been for centuries of isolation of the African-American culture."

(which, I should mention, took me 20 minutes to get intelligent-sounding), it's all coming out sarcastic and witty.

"To the earliest jazz musicians, back when jazz wasn't even called "jazz," wasn't even called "jass," there was no internal impetus of this "great art form" that urged it to move forward; more or less, it was just a sound that, for one reason or another, was 'hot' enough to make some money."

Ugh. It's just so convoluted and informal. There are too many appositives, too many slang terms in quotes, and it's just way too long. I mean, we all know how much I enjoy my lengthy sentences, but there is a time and a place for everything. Plus, there's just something a little... smirky about my blog writing, as in, I'm usually smirking while I write it.

I guess I'll just have to study for my exam tomorrow instead.
Dealing with the Irish school system is just so difficult! How am I supposed to know what to expect from an exam or what is expected in a paper? Ugh, the trials of being me, am I right?

Mid-Essay, Final Exam and an overusage of parentheses

I have two things I'd like to discuss today (although the only thing I REALLY should be discussing is either the intricacies of jazz harmonics or the development of jazz in a historical context.)

The first is my insistence on admiring the fashion of high school girls on TV shows and movies from the late 90s. I mean, I guess it's not entirely a bad thing, but I'd really like to end the cycle of psuedo vintage graphic tees and pigtails or, you know, anything that resembles a belly shirt (especially if it's crocheted.) I mean, a couple of nights ago I went out in purple tights, black boots, a black skirt and layered purple and black tank tops. Oh, with a vest and pigtails. It was like the Hot Topic girl from 7th grade grew up just enough to loose the chokers, black nail polish and chunky goth boots. But just barely.

Okay, so on the whole, it wasn't a bad outfit. A little "twilight-loving-school-girl" but that may have just been my paranoia. It's the IDEA behind the thing that bothers me. It's the fact that I watch an episode of Veronica Mars or one of those horrible teen dramedy movies that we all secretly hate-to-love (and not the other way around) and see the protagonist and think "Ohmigaw! She is so cool! Maybe if I dress like her I can be cool too and maybe then the cool kids will want me to sit at their table and eat lunch with them!" (So... the last part there about the cool kids was a bit of an exaggeration... maybe those movies/shows are pulling me in more than I think...)

Let's not beat around the bush here. There are certain merits to a college girl dressing in that laid-back "I still wear a lot of the same stuff I did in high school, but now it's ironic and artsy, plus I get that cool vintage/thrift vibe." I can do that, I get it. I like it.

My problem here is the fact that I still seem to think that TVs high school girls wear the coolest clothes. I saw an episode of What Not To Wear once about a girl who had this same problem, except she had graduated college already. I fear I am doomed to go down the same path.

I mean look at me; I'm half-way through my junior year of college. I'll be graduating in a year and a half (God willing). I'm studying abroad and living out and away and on my own. I don't want to be in high school anymore, when everything was easy and safe and right there, and I called my mom "mother" when we weren't speaking because it was SO much more formal and thus stinging.

And yet I still secretly want to emulate the cool kids on TV (well, at least the edgy, angry ones I think are cool...)

So I've been thinking, and I've decided that this phenomenon is one of two things: a natural human tendency of sorts, something about media manipulation and stuff like that (if my brain weren't so fried, this would be a much clearer statement. OR it's an early mid-life crisis.

I think it is the latter. Thus I will be requiring a fast, well-oiled corvette (preferably a vintage stingray) and a fast, well-oiled boy-toy.

Man, I meant for that all to be a lot more thought provoking and philosophical. It looks like it's reads "whiny." Sorry guys. I guess my brain's too fried.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go back to listening to the music of my youth and continue to avoid studying.


Thursday, December 4, 2008

What happens in a diet of meat and potatoes

So as I sit here, watching TV on my computer, eating ridiculous amounts of pasta and working on my 9-pager, all I can think about is food. Now, this could be hormonal (the standard fall back), it could be due to matters of the heart (le sigh, and yes mom, I did recycle that phrasing from our earlier conversation), or you know, boredom.
I mean, I literally sat at my computer for about an hour thinking about a bowl full of pasta. But it didn't stop there. I mean, I stopped eating pasta for a month here, so it's just about the only thing in the house that I haven't ODed on yet, so it's conceivable that I was fantasizing about it.

I mean, peanut butter? We were over it before I made peanut butter cookies for Thanksgiving and I'm still over it.

Cornflakes and jam (because I can't drink milk)? Meh, we had a fling for a day or two, but that's all it was. There's really no substance there.

Oatmeal? I was into it for a while, but either I just can't take the sweet or I make it with peanut butter, and, well, we've already been down that path.

Apples? I'm just not that into them. I mean, they're nice and all, but they're not really interesting. And there again with the peanut butter.

Bananas? Same story with the peanut butter (any wonder why I'm so turned off by peanut butter now? obviously we saw to much of each other). Also, the banana peels here have this sickly, yet faint green/brown tint which squicks me a little.

Soup? I mean, there are a couple of cans in the cupboard, but I'm just not really into cans.

Quinoa is too high maintenance and time-consuming. I usually really like hamburgers but the ones I recently bought taste a little artificial. Eggs are good, but my most recent batch of hardboileds was a disaster (yes, that is correct. I cannot hard-boil an egg) and we don't have any ketchup to spice up scrambleds. Nuts are too boring and I'm too picky about dried fruit to brave the mixed bag in our

And salads aren't a meal. Period. End of story.

But it wasn't snack food I was really focused on. (Ooh, mashed potatoes would be DELICIOUS right now. Geeze I sound pregnant.) No, I was nostalgic for REAL food

Like the crab dinner we always have Christmas eve. With the lemonaise and the gluten free bread which used to be sourdough bread and champagne flutes of Martinelli's.
Or a really good, meaty bolognese sauce on thick spaghetti, the kind of sauce that it rich with tomato and loaded with spices and meat and yet still light and slightly sweet.
Or my favorite pad thai, which I can just visualize. And taste, I can literally taste it. Thin rice noodles, moderately spicy sauce with the little bits of egg and green onions. Oh and the lime! I adore the lime.
Also, hot dogs. Like good, old fashioned hot dogs with relish and ketchup. Where the skin is tight and sweaty and not hard and boiled like the one I had at Eddie Rockets (a.k.a. Irish Johnny Rockets) last week.
I would linger happily on the thought of tacos, but the lack of Mexican food here is so devastating that I can't even bring myself to think about it, the spicy and the sabor. Oh, even the word Mexican food makes my mouth water and I'm not even imagining the flavors or anything.
And I can't even remember what sorbet tastes like. (Don't get me wrong, Italian sorbetto is heavenly, but sometimes Haagen Daz raspberry sorbet is just all I really want.)

(My God, throw in some pickles and it's like a pregnant lady's dream...)

Thankfully, it's now 1:45 am and I'm too tired to make more pasta. Because as good as it is, it's not filling the void inside. I mean the one that was created when I was ripped away from the exquisite culinary delights of my family's kitchen, my grandmother's kitchen, and of course, sunny California.

hmm... if we have any salsa left maybe I'll have scrambled eggs for breakfast... I wish we had ketchup.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

It's Christmas TIIIIME in the city!

So it's paper-writing season which means I'll be updating this blog daily... if not hourly due to extreme boredom. I must warn you, the content will likely be inane, but at least your daily dose of Maggie will be more regular.

I went to a Christmas party last night. Why they held a Christmas party on December 2nd, I don't know. I mean, we're not even close to the 12 days of Christmas.

Anyway, it was 7 euro to get in, but I think Lady Luck had her arm slung drunkenly around my shoulder last night because man! what a night! The girl at the door didn't have change for 20 euro so she gave me 15 euro back. So then I approach the bar to redeem my entrance ticket for a free vodka something. I don't like vodka, so I decided to get it cut with Sprite (works best. and if you add grenadine it's like Shirley Temple's all grown up.) I guess Lady Luck hiccuped a little because the bartender heard "Sprite" and gave me... a Sprite. With nothing else. I know there was nothing else because he felt bad and gave me two Sprites. So I started out the evening double fisting Sprites. Merry Christmas, ah to me.
Luckily, one of my other friends felt bad and bought me a rum and coke. He is now my best friend, and my ultimate plan for my last few weeks here is running smoothly.

But it was a good party. I mean there were decorations, snacks, Santa hats, plenty of Ho-Ho-'Hoes, and a giant blow-up Santa who was somehow walked around and gave out Jell-o shots. That Mariah Carey song about "All I want for Christmas is You" came on twice, along with a Grease medley and numerous Michael Jackson songs. What more could you ask for?

As the bar closed down and we supported my friend out the door, the general consensus was to head to The Classic for the rest of the night. The Classic is a club. I'm not really into clubs. I wanted to go to The Brogue, just like every other night and sit in familiar dinginess, listen to hard rock and metal, and scan the crowd for cute boys.
But everyone was on their way into The Classic. So the new Maggie (who is really the old Maggie who has just gotten her groove back) decided to just go to the Brogue anyway, and as I sauntered down the street with two friends who had (luckily) been turned away at the door (for alleged drunkenness), Lady Luck and I clinked martini glasses.
The rest of the crew eventually saw the light and ended up at the Brogue as well, and thanks to myself and my imperceptible comrade of fortune, we snagged the couch seats (which are not as bouncy and cushy as the purple velvet makes them appear as I unfortunately found out by flinging myself upon it). And the night was fantastic. And at the end of it, I found 2 euro which is similar to finding 5 dollars. No joke.

Oh, and to those of you who have been following my personal life on more conversational terms, essentially, I went back last night. (Codespeak that I'm sure even the Navajo Windtalkers couldn't crack.)

For now, it's back to the grindstone. Back to the paper writing and the reading. Back to dealing with the University of California Public School system. Back to faxing and searching, emailing and planning. And tonight when I go out, I'll lean myself up against the bar and when the bartender asks "What'll it be Miss?" I'll sigh and say "Smitty," "Smitty," I'll say, "gimme something to dull the pain of dealing with the bureaucratic filth that invades our souls, minds and hearts and slowly chips away at our resolve and destroys our desire to rise above and to choose until we've become nothing more than zombies, molded like all the others and all those who came before to follow and act with no resistance and to allow the cycle of oppression and subjugation to continue in this Orwellian world. Hm? Oh, sorry. I'll take a rum and coke. And if you make it Old Jamaica, I won't say no."

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Paper-writing Procrastinating Time!

Lets talk about wishes.

About 6 months ago, during my lunch break from summer school, I walked myself down to the little Brazilian food stall on University street. I don't remember what I ate (except that it was DAMN good) but I do remember that the owner pulled out a green ribbon from the large jar of ribbons and said something about three knots and three wishes and let it fall off on its own. I think, his accent was a little hard to understand. But I did. I made three wishes and I tied three knots. I wore it around proudly, it fit me. Green is my favorite color and I really liked how it looked sitting there on my wrist. I wondered when, if ever it would fall off; it seemed really sturdy. But for the past two months it has been fraying. Part of it has rolled, so it's no longer flat against my wrist. And a knot may have come out a while ago, I can't tell.

Long story short, the thing came off this morning in the shower. I tried to untangle it and lay it flat on my wrist as is my wont, and it came off smoothly. I stared at it for a few seconds. It's gone. No longer on my wrist. Wishes freed to the universe and ready to come true. There's a little white band on the top of my wrist where it used to sit.

So now I don't know what will happen. I mean, if I think about it, the timing is perfect and conditions are just so that my three wishes could come true. But we'll see.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Uh oh Hueston.

We have a problem.

I was watching Weeds today (yes, watching Weeds and not doing my homework. I know, I know) and I realized that I was reading the English subtitles when characters spoke in Spanish. So then I tried not reading them (easy enough, the Japanese subtitles from the bootleg copy I was watching covered them up anyway) but I couldn't understand the Spanish. Could. Not.

And I'm leaving for Costa Rica in a month and a half.

Non e bene No es bueno.

Also, I just found dried pasta in my skirt. I'm disgraceful.

In other news, today I begin my countdown to my next 14 hour flight (can I get alcohol on the flight before it leaves International waters? must look these things up), and start wrapping up the schoolwork here that I don't even feel like I started. 16 days left, and suddenly it's not enough time. Of course I've been making the most of it; I've been going out more to meet people, I've been walking around the city more, I've been traveling around Ireland more.

I went to Galway last weekend and couldn't have picked a better weekend. The weather was gorgeous and deceiving, much like a gold-digging socialite. It was blue and clear and the clouds were puffy and white. The air was crisp and clean and bit like friggin frostbite. I'm pretty sure the temperature was about equivalent to that at which they cryogenically freeze people.
My face looks oddly puffy in most of the pictures but I'm sure that is my body attempting to compensate for its exposure to the elements.

I stayed with a friend of mine in his super high security dormitory buildings. It took all my secret agent skill to get in each night. Trust me. I can't really divulge details because it's all super top-secret stuff, but sufficed to say, I'm part ninja.

His mom and her friend were also staying for the weekend, and as much as I protested that I needn't be a burden, he insisted that I act as barrier and or distraction. But it was a good arrangement, slightly awkward, but good. I got to pretend that I had people visiting me because we did all the visiting things: went out to find traditional music, ate out in pubs (and spent considerably more money on food than I had intended) and took a tour bus around the area. Actually, that last part was fantastic. I really wanted to see the Burren, it's supposed to be one of the most beautiful places in Ireland, but I wasn't sure how I was going to do just taking the local buses between towns. The tour bus fixed this problem and had the added educational advantage. So we saw hills and caves, fields and rocks, old broken castles and ancient ring forts. The guide pointed out the famine walls which are stone walls and roads built all over the hills that have absolutely no purpose save job creation during the famine. We stopped at the Cliffs of Moher (if you think you don't know what I'm talking about, you're wrong. They're way famous, see for yourself:)

actually, the lighting sucks. Sorry about that, I was more interested in the clouds than the actual cliffs which were unfortunately disappointing. Or maybe I was too cold to appreciate them...

Also in Galway I collected more evidence that I can visit any city, even one as small as Galway, and stumble on a really cool, dark and edgy bar that has live gigs. Literally stumble. But no matter where I live, I will never, ever be able to find that venue. I mean, there's got to be some in Cork here, I'm pretty sure I've been told about them, and yet, all I can seem to find are the same small, packed pubs and a scattering of clubs. Same with Berkeley (although that may have something to do with the whole 21 and over rule...)

But really, Galway city is beautiful. It's got this great artsy feeling that comes from somewhere, I don't know where. Maybe it's the colors of the buildings and the cobblestones. Maybe it's the fact that all the shops, restaurants and pubs are small and close together. Maybe it's simply that the city is small and on the water. Whatever it is, it was a fantastic city to walk around in, like we did on Sunday. There was a little craft mart where I almost emptied my wallet, except I only had two euro in cash for the bus ride from the Cork bus station to my apartment. We walked down by the water where everything was picturesque, and not only thanks to the shocking blue sky that we were graced with that day.

Then finally, I climbed back on the (thankfully) heated Bus Eireann for a long and entirely unproductive 4 hour ride home. And just think! Next week I get to take an 8 hour one! yipee!!

ETA: P.s. It is so friggin cold here that not only can I see my breath, but it has its own shadow. Yes. This I discovered when I locked myself out of my room (note: not my apartment. I was in my apartment, and thus wasn't wearing shoes, sweatshirt or coat) and had to stand outside the warden's office for 10 minutes. Just be thankful I'm still alive.