Ireland Day 1 (Swords and Dublin)

24 May

I landed in the Dublin airport in the mid afternoon after 15 hours of travel. One car ride, two flights, a train ride, two busses and a zillion security checks and I made it with minimal trouble or stress. As it turns out I’m a very calm traveler and I have my wits about me so none of it felt very tough. I take back everything I said before about Air France, they are classy as f***. Large, plush seats, complimentary campagne, unlimited booze, two meals including items like quinoa salad, brie and coconut cake) personal TVs on the back of each seat with on demand movies, television and music. The selection included many new releases so I watched the newest Hobbit movie and pretended I was flying to The Shire. To be fair, if I could compare the parts of Ireland I’ve seen in my first 24 hours to anywhere, it would be Middle Earth. 

My second flight was a little shadier. It was a tiny plane straight out of a trip from 1980 but I got to get cozy with a tiny old French man, so that’s a life experince I can check off. France from the air is spectacular; it looks like a beautiful patchwork quilt dotted with quaint neighborhoods. I also got very excited at the realization that I speak fluent French (I can only say hello, thank you, welcome, good bye, have a nice trip, and enjoy the food but those were the only things I needed to say in my 4 hours in Paris so that’s fluent in my mind).

For my first night I had booked a room at a B&B in a town called Swords just north of Dublin. The proprietor there was passive aggresive and seemingly sweet because she had to be, but I felt undertones of annoyance so I delt with her minimally. She directd me to a local pub called The Old Schoolhouse half a mile away in downtown Swords. It was everything I had pictured in an Irish pub. I was immediately friends with Dominic, an older Irish gentleman who was generous about purchasing Guinesses but knows nothing about where to eat actual food.  It seems like food in general isn’t often considered here, I went my first night with no dinner, but a beelly full of beer. The cute male bartenders were enjoying making jokes with me and I of course ate up all the attention I was getting. Dominic was introducing me to every person who came in and I got a much needed dose of salty old Irish men and great conversation. Everyone is so friendly and outgoing and I felt at home, realizing this trip is already just what I needed. I anticipated feeling scared and anxious, but I’m fast learning that this type of travel is right in my comfort zone. I love meeting new people, every new place is exciting, I enjoy my own company and I don’t mind getting a little lost.

I didn’t really plan any part of this trip, but I especially didn’t plan to land on what would have been my Grandmother’s 90th birthday. A few months ago she was talking to me about a big party; she always wanted a reason for a grand event. It’s not as though a 90th birthday isn’t reason to celebrate but at the time the thought of planning such a gathering was overwhelming with my busy work schedule. Now I look at where life has taken me and how much has changed in a short period of time and I’m a little sad thinking about the lack of a party and the lack of her. 

When I decided a week ago that I would get on a plane and land anywhere my first thought was to call her. My thoughts always used to be “call mom” and then “call Grandma.” After we lost my mother I spent months getting used to not being able to call her about everything. I still wish to call her constantly, but I have become more aware that I can’t; now I have to start all over again remembering that I can’t call my Grandmother. She had become the immediate replacement as my first call for news. To be fair, she was a worthy replacement for the spot as every bit of my life I shared with her was greeted with enthusiasm and fascination. She always told me that we had each other and I know for both of us time spent together was a small reprieve from missing my mom as we both found pieces of her in each other.

I know what both my mom and Grandma would have thought about me taking this trip; they would have been thrilled and terrified. I would have been made to stay in touch with them constantly. It’s amazing how much I miss their constant worrying; it’s a nice feeling to know someone can’t live without you. I’m checking in several times a day with Lisa, who has informed me if she goes too long without a word from me she will be contacting the embassy. 

The day I flew out was also the same day that Ireland voted on legalizing gay marriage. The day I landed my NPR app notified me that the yesses had it and in further reading I saw that in spite of being one of the most conservative and religious countries in Europe, 75% of voters in Dublin had been for it. The streets were lined with signs about voting for equality and the locals were all a buzz. It felt special to start my trip with such a positive historical event. When chatting with an older Irish gentleman in a pub he told me religiously he didn’t personally support it, but he was in favor of the yes vote because the choices of others weren’t for him to decide. He then also told me, as he chuckled, that he has always been in favor of two women together but was less thilled about thinking of two men together. Baby steps I suppose; if ignorant people choose to be in favor of equality because they can recognize that it is right in spite of their personal beliefs, that is a good start.

 

One of many displays in the small town of Swords, Ireland


Lessons Learned on Day 1

  • The drivers are always on the side of the road I don’t expect and they are mad men.
  • Don’t ever stand on the bus even if there is something to hold on to. The Bus Drivers are in their own version of the game Crazy Taxi and they start and stop like a Terrier on speed.
  • Everything in Paris is pretty and everyone there is likely better than me.
  • Irish toilets are tall so everything lands loudly in them.
  • Going out just to drink is referred to as “going on the piss” which I’ll keep saying long after I leave.
  • The bathroom is called “the jacks” and I still don’t know how to use it in a sentence.
  • Tomatoes are seved with breakfast grilled and it is crazy delicious.
  • Due to my attraction to redheads, accents and beards, I actually have too many cute guys to even know what to do. For now I’m happy to befriend the safe, older men who have good stories, pay for my beer and refuse to let me return the favor.

Beginning My Trip

22 May

Ok so I’m at the airport. I got here and said goodbye to my ride and then strapped on my overpriced backpack and took a deep breath. I walked through the first glass door and saw through the windows a bevy of international travelers and airline attendants. I was feeling confident and excited. In my big moment, as I am about to walk into this adventure alone, the automatic door got stuck and only opened a crack. As I collided with the sign on the glass that falsely read “automatic” I was brought back to reality. Of course my trip starts this way, I’m still me after all and entering the airport without a minor incident wouldn’t do. It’s potentially the funniest way to enter the airport, so I’ll take it. Apparently in beginning a journey to “find myself” my first lesson is that I’m basically a dumb bird when left alone. Glass doors everywhere watch out!

I can’t make this stuff up. My eyes darted around to see if anyone witnessed my crash and when I saw that no one had I gave all my weight to the door having to fight against the failed mechanism. I am flying Air France, a decision I potentially regret because in the line to check my bag the French flight attendant was cold and rude, although pretty. A man behind me was yelling something in French that I now assume was, “Move you stupid American! Also: I hate your infinity scarf and everything you stand for.” I don’t know how I was in the way just standing on the line but somehow I was. 

Security was simple, a lovely Latino halogram told me all about what to expect and the TSA agents called me “darling” so that’s nice. I didn’t get the pat down I was expecting, but I assume I’ll get some action at customs, they are apparently fiestier.

Now I’ve been to Hudson News and I have everything I think I need. I haven’t stopped shaking but that could be because I haven’t eaten since 2pm and it’s now 8pm. Maybe I’ll see what all the fuss is about with Tobelerone bars. I land in Paris in 6 hours and 40 minutes. Maybe in my three and a half hour layover I’ll write more, if not I’ll post when I get to Dublin.

I really hope I don’t have to poop on the plane.

  

Update: I have landed safely in Paris and had my first experience with their fancy toilets (that’s right France, you just got to know me a little better). I am enjoying some wacky lounge area with bed-like recliners,  foreign outlets and for some reason a weird panda. I don’t think there are pandas in France so I’m confused about the decor theme.

  

  

Super Mono & Small Goals

6 Mar

I have been sick since late January.

I am not the kind of sick where I take some vitamin C, get some extra sleep and push through my normal schedule. I have been the type of sick in Little Women when you start to worry about Beth and put the book down to cope emotionally. To be fair I don’t have Scarlet Fever but I was diagnosed this week with mono. Not just normal mono but something my irritating ENT Doctor calls “aggressive mono”; or what my much funnier friend John is calling “Super Mono!” (the exclamation point and title caps are necessary). This is coming on the heels of pneumonia last month and the death of my grandmother. Turns out I caught the mono sitting at her bedside in the hospital. Nifty.

So I’ve been trapped in my apartment, and most days even restricted to my bed with only the pathetic stumble to the bathroom while I grumble at my cats. Having a lot of time to think after a recent loss is no good. My life has come to a screeching halt.

To combat the feelings this uniquely cruddy situation is brewing, I recently started thinking up daily goals in order to feel like I was still a person:

Friday: Do the dishes- FAILED. 

What is amazing though is how many times you can reuse bowls when you are eating the same chicken soup, mac and cheese and ramen noodles for days. (Disclaimer: If one uses the same pot over and over it makes the chicken soup and ramen a little bit cheesy and the mac and cheese a little bit “oriental” –I’m not racist, they named the flavor that and nobody knows what it officially is.)

Saturday: Shower- FAILED.

When your major activity is sliding your foot back and forth under the covers to mess with the cat, not much body odor is accumulated. I was told by trusted loved ones that I didn’t smell. (Disclaimer: I haven’t really had a sense of smell for over a month, so to me I smell totally acceptable)

Ninja Squee may be by my side for all selfish reasons but I love her for it

Ninja Squee may be by my side for all selfish reasons but I love her for it

Sunday: Trick pink eye away- FAILED.

Alright, so this was my goal because when I woke up unable to open my right eye and it was the color of a pink peep marshmallow I suspected I might have pink eye. I decided that if I meditated hard enough on not having pink eye then I wouldn’t. Turns out WebMD does not recognize this as one of the treatments. (Disclaimer: Thanks to my eye, I now understand the inspiration behind the second Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film, if this cultural reference is going over anyones head, click here)

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pink eye ooze– less fun than this classic toy

Monday: DON’T GET PINK EYE IN LEFT EYE!- FAILED.

Yeah, no. I’m officially a monster and must remain quarantined. (Disclaimer: I have never been so gross.) 

I wish I could say I looked as good as him.

I wish I could say I looked as good as him.

Tuesday: Count to three- ACHIEVED.

Through conditioning I learned to set my goals lower. I felt good about a win, I really needed one, what with both my eyes rebelling and waging war on my face. (Disclaimer: Pink eye in both eyes is kind of metal; I’ve never looked more hardcore.)

Wednesday: Don’t speak- FAILED.

Tuesday was the day the Doctor called me with the blood test results about mono, so I had called concerned parties to update them. The lesson from that day is that the sore throat gets vengeful when I speak. It’s my new cruel master who keeps me living as close to a monk as I will ever get. This one was failed because with a separate family crisis in full swing I have to answer when they call. I also may still be occasionally singing to my cats, but I worry what they would do if I deprived them of customized theme songs.  (Disclaimer: If my throat asks, I was not speaking ill of it, or speaking at all. Let’s just keep it happy because I’ve seen the power it wields and there is some rage behind that tonsil. I now fear swallowing even my own saliva, but I’ve learned innovative ways around it.)

Thursday: Dishes? Shower? Dealers choice?- FAILED

Fuck it. I feel like garbage and I’m not seeing people. If the pets complain I’m open to suggestions but they seem super happy that my electric blanket is on all day every day. Mostly I think this is the best thing that has ever happened in their world. (Disclaimer: I used to think pets could sense distress and I’m now questioning that because mostly I think the cats are plotting ways to keep me trapped inside with them forever. When I asked Ninja Squee if she could help me she rolled on her back and demanded belly rubs. I caved.)

Friday: Do anything- ACHIEVED

This is vague I know, but I’ll relish the small achievements. I put on bottoms today. I feel so accomplished I could cry. (Disclaimer: I was forced into human contact because the movers from my grandmothers apartment were bringing some of her stuff. To those super nice gentlemen carrying bookcases into my apartment– if you experience a sore throat or itchy red eyes in the upcoming days I’M SO SORRY!)

Tomorrow- Be less gross- ???

I make no promises.

Dusting Off

30 Oct

Yesterday was brutal. After the post I wrote, I continued to struggle emotionally. Then, more “terrible-awful” got tacked on to the day: I found out I didn’t get a gig I auditioned for and got into a useless fight with one of my bosses which ended my time at that job.

Each individual occurrence is normally manageable; but when things come in threes and all within the span of three hours I am less equipped.

Then a funny thing happened; I took a shower. This in itself is not super unusual or funny, but yesterday I really needed it. I sat under the hot water and cried, not uncontrollably and not for long but just enough to be done. The water actually and metaphorically changed the tide.

It was as though the large amount of bad cancelled itself out. When I arrived at my other job, a place I love with people who make me constantly smile I was so ready to laugh. It wasn’t the smoothest night of bar tending but over the course of the evening, for each problem I found a mini resolution.

For the fight with my friend I had other friends, tons of them, sending me sweet, encouraging and loving texts. I was reminded that not only do I have a lot of friends, I am the lucky girl who has a lot of friends who are like family. Really good friends are in my corner through everything (my comedy friend included even if we hit a bump yesterday). It doesn’t stop the hurt of what was said in the fight, but it redefined what the day was about for me. Now it was about my other friends and family and not just him.

For the audition I didn’t get, I spoke to some people who also didn’t get cast and a few who did and realized we will all just audition again and sometimes it is my time and sometimes it is not. The cuckoo thing is that if that had been the only thing that happened yesterday it would have rolled off much smoother. I think this was a case of feeling overwhelmed and needing something positive and only having more garbage fall from the sky. This one was easy to move forward from when I singled it out and took some time to think about it.

As for the job and my now former boss. I wanted to be done for a long time. I was staying out of loyalty, love for the bar and the people that became my regulars. I was constantly sad to watch that ship sinking and it was time to exit even if I didn’t feel ready in that moment. I wish it had gone down another way, but I suppose I should have known that when things are out of control and someone is floundering, they will rarely handle things rationally. How did I get over this? Well I went to my other job where my wonderful boss informed me that he needed me on the nights I had freeing up. Then I worked my tokhis off and made four times the amount I would have made at the other bar. I’ll say that again because it feels good: four times as much.

When I arrived home at 4am I was tired and content. I snuggled up with my critters who reminded me as always that I am missed. I got into bed knowing I had turned things around, and not because anything was actually resolved or different, but just because I decided I was good. It took a little time to get there and I’m sure I’ll slip again, but this was a proud moment for me to see how much I’ve grown and how capable I am of handling anything. Sometimes that’s a reminder worth suffering for.

Crumbling Down

29 Oct

I’m not good at keeping all my juggling balls in the air when I’m sad. I am incredibly capable of accomplishing amazing feats when I get on a fast track and my mind is clear. Days like today I feel my success slipping through my fingers.

I got into a fight this morning with one of my closest comedy friends and he ended up saying some things that have cut me to my core. Now I have to write in my blog, shower, grocery shop, eat, get ready for work and bartend all night and I can barely think straight. This is on me now. I’m supposed to say that words don’t matter and have enough self love to at least keep moving for the day. How does someone reach that point? This isn’t a love interest or a boyfriend, those people I can brush off and move away from with my head held high. This was a friend. This was someone I didn’t see coming and I’m done for the day.

I need to write 6 more blog posts today. I must smile while I serve cocktails at a fundraiser. I have to take in stride any other bad news that comes my way. I don’t want to. I can and I will; but I don’t want to.

I just want to be seen and heard. I want to be able to say, “you are hurting my feelings” and have that not get turned on me. We all have our baggage and things get ugly when it all collides with other people’s stuff.

I have talked to multiple people in an effort to bounce back and the truth is that this one is going to take some time. So there is my blog post. I have to march forward and keep working towards my goal, but I couldn’t possibly write about anything else right now.

Top Five Cheeses

28 Oct

Who can believe I haven’t covered this topic yet?! Hanging out with my best friend John I asked him to choose a top five list for me to write about today. His response was, “best cheeses” but in such a matter of fact way I felt as though I had let him down for not thinking of it myself. We sit now in his kitchen while he cooks and I write as we debate our cheese MVP’s.

Our lists are similar if not exactly the same as we do much of our explorative eating together and have pondered the matter many times before. We had no trouble with the top two, but when thinking about three, four and five realized there were so many we love and want to mention. John sums this up perfectly when he says, “Cheeses are like NFL Quarterbacks; once you get past the top three or four there is not as big a difference in the greatness of them.”

We got there though and I think I originally imagined this list would have a lot more rare cheeses on it, but when thought through it made sense to have the winners be the everyday heroes of the cultured dairy world.

5. Fresh Mozzarella- The key here is that it be fresh. All mozzarella is delicious, but the stuff sitting behind the glass in a supermarket Caprese would not have made this list. For anyone who hasn’t tried high quality fresh sliced mozzarella, go now. Read no further. You have one objective, get too it and thank me later.

4. Cheddar- It’s cheddar cheese. Seriously.

3. Swiss- This remains my favorite sandwich cheese, it adds a unique flavor that reminds me there is cheese. I get anxiety when I forget that there is cheese in my food.

My theory is that swiss cheese has holes in it because it is so tasty it self mutilates out of guilt. It knows it needs there to be bites where I hit a hole and have minimal swiss so that the other ingredients can have their moment. So if that is the case I will also give swiss bonus points for being the most philanthropic cheese.

2. Smoked gouda- Oh dear pooh bear, just writing about it is getting me all uppity. The smoky flavor, the smooth melt in your mouth texture, the lingering aftertaste like a scrumptious campfire. If this is on a platter at an event, I will consume most or all of it. I cannot be stopped.

John also brought up the incredibly brilliant point that this is the best “smothering cheese”. That is to say that melt this over a food until said food can no longer be seen under it’s smokey coagulated blanket. Heck, I would smother just about anything in smoked gouda. Good ideas are happening today.

1. Goat cheese- This was a tough call as this one is nearly tied with number two if not perfectly matched. I deemed this the best, in part because of how often I consume it. This is one of my magic ingredients which, if seen on a menu, I will almost always order the dish it comes on (other magic ingredients include capers and artichokes).

Also, it comes in log form. I think more delicious foods should come in log form, it’s truly wonderful.

Also: I am not allowed to purchase said logs. I learned long ago that I cannot be trusted once it is open and I am humbled to have to admit that I have, on many occasions, eaten an entire log in one sitting. I believe my record was consuming the entire thing in the duration of one Full House episode. Towards the end when Danny Tanner was teaching his lesson I had abandoned the pita chips and was simply cutting chunks off and eating them directly off the knife.

I would like to personally thank goats for making such tasty lactation. Thank you from the bottom of my salad bowl.

You're doing it. You're really doing it.

You’re doing it. You’re really doing it.

King Moe

28 Oct

I have a pet shrimp named Moe. He lives in a self contained eco-system that I keep on my living room table.

Quick science for anyone confused about the whole concept of the glass shrimp globe home: There is a plant, water and an air pocket. The plant allows for CO2 consumption and O2 excretion, algae grows due to photosynthesis and the shrimp eats the algae. I don’t officially know what happens to all the shrimp poops. It is possible that Moe lives in his own secretion. This only makes him more badass in my eyes as he does not complain.

When I first purchased my tiny aquatic world I was the proud owner of 5 shrimps. I do not know what when down or who ate someone else’s leftovers but one day Moe was the only remaining sea creature. To be fair, they all looked the same so I had named them all Moe, but now my sole survivor is King Moe. He didn’t want roommates anymore, he wanted the kingdom to himself so he is the one true ruler.

I worry he might be lonely sometimes, but whenever I check on him he is swimming happily around the sphere.

What concerns me more than anything is that I never saw any trace of remains from the other shrimp. I think Moe decided that algae was for chumps and went rogue. The issue now is that he has no meat left to feed on… which leaves the other residents of this home. That glass is thick, but is it thick enough? My only protection is the love and respect that I hope exists between Moe and myself (I worry for the dog though, she is a real wimp).

He is one gangster crustacean.

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