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.

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