Tuesday, March 31, 2009

waiting for god... oh (apologies to Mr. Beckett)

Synopsis: Vladimir and Estragon wait at a tree. They just STAND there. Luckily, Evan and Shama don't hang out with either of these sad sacks and decide to go for more adventures in Paris! Their version of finding hope might make Beckett cringe, but at least they got the absurd part right.

ACT 1:

VLADIMIR: We are waiting for Godot.
EVAN: Well, uh... okay. Have fun guys. We're gonna get some crepes for breakfast. See you around.


VLADIMIR: That passed the time.
ESTRAGON: It would have passed in any case.
SHAMA: But the crepes were delicious! You guys should have come with. I had this delicious concoction of lemon and honey... oh it was tasty.
VLADIMIR: Never neglect the little things in life.
EVAN: Yeah, I agree. Hey, we're going to see Notre Dame now, and maybe Saint-Chapelle.
VLADIMIR: Did you ever read the Bible?
ESTRAGON: The Bible... (he reflects) I must have taken a look at it.

Evan and Shama depart. Vladimir and Estragon continue to stand there. Later...

SHAMA: Wow. That was beautiful! I love that the city left one spire uncleaned, to show how dirty it used to be.
EVAN: They probably just couldn't reach that one. But it was neat. The windows in Saint-Chapelle were incredible.
SHAMA: Have you guys been around much of Paris, or do you just... stand here?
VLADIMIR: Hand in hand from the top of the Eiffel Tower, among the first. We were respectable in those days. Now it's too late. They wouldn't even let us up.
EVAN: The line IS pretty long... Have you been to The Catacombs?
VLADIMIR: (lost in his thoughts) It would be nothing more than a little heap of bones at the present minute, no doubt about it.
SHAMA: Um, yeah. That's why we're going.

Evan and Shama depart for The Catacombs. It is much more than a little heap of bones, though. It's a massive heap of bones, all laid out in tidy stacks that make up the walls of the underground labyrinth. (We were told that there were upwards of 6 million skeletons residing there. It was spooky and very Indiana Jones.)

EVAN: Aw, man! That was so cool. I just wish I hadn't gotten dripped on while we were in there. It was kinda gross.
SHAMA: Ha ha. You have death-water all over you.
VLADIMIR: (angrily) No one ever suffers but you. I don't count. I'd like to hear what you'd say if you had what I have.
SHAMA: Unless if you have a turkey sandwich, I don't think I'm gonna say much to you right now.
EVAN: Hungry?
SHAMA: Always.
ESTRAGON: I'm going. (he does not move)

Evan and Shama get some bread, cheese and tomatoes from one of the numerous fresh produce/cheese shops that surround the accommodations. It is all quite tasty. Shama regrets the food in Ireland, but is much happier with the people there than in Paris.

EVAN: Why don't we go see the Arc de Triomphe and then head north to Montmartre?
SHAMA: That sounds like a great plan! Do you two want to come with?
VLADIMIR: Hmm... It'd give us an erection.
SHAMA: Don't be so dramatic. We know it's the "bohemian" area of Paris, and there are supposed to be, like, sex shops and strip joints, but can't you control yourself?
ESTRAGON: You know the story of the Englishman in the brothel?
EVAN: Englishman? I thought you guys were written by an Irish guy, but he wrote you in French.
ESTRAGON: An Englishman having drunk a little more than usual proceeds to a brothel. The bawd asks him if he wants a fair one, a dark haired one or a red-haired one.
SHAMA: This is absurd.

And it was absurd. We went from churches to underground tombs to a monumental, er, monument, and finished up the day in Montmartre, gazing out at the streets littered with advertisements for dancing girls and booze. At the peak of Montmartre was another church that we promised ourselves we would get to. It was weird to see a church in that neighborhood, but on the other hand, it IS Europe. They give good church.

NOTE: All lines taken from "Waiting For Godot" (Act 1) by Samuel Beckett are used entirely out of context. Mostly. I think.

Monday, March 30, 2009

the speed of light

Synopsis: Adventures in Paris! Evan and Shama make it to the City of Lights and meet up with Evan's cousin, Josh and his companion, Jackie. Things take a turn for the bizarre when the four meet a down-on-his-luck accordion player who needs two singers, a guitarist, and a bass player to fill in for his band that night! The friends help him out to the best of their ability... and skyrocket to fame! How long can the band stay together and how big will they get? Special guest appearances from the Welshmen, Kevin and Evans in this episode.

Yeah, but no. None of that happened in Paris. Well, we did get a surprise email from Kevin, which put some very big smiles on our faces. If those two are to be the running gag in this series, I'm totally okay with that.

But I digress. Paris.

When we left yesterday morning, it wasn't as simple as waking up and hopping in the rental car. No. It was as difficult as getting our laundry out of the locked laundry room only to find that it wasn't really dry, then packing and wearing some pretty damp clothes, which we did. We were worried that we were going to miss the flight, but little did we know, this would be the earliest we arrived at any of our departure points.

I guess 'modes of transportation' is a good place to start. From the airport we took a shuttle bus where I realized I spoke the poorest French in the history of language. It would have been embarrassing if it wasn't quite so funny. I tried to keep up a conversation with a charming little boy, but even the 4-year old couldn't understand me.

From the bus, we took the Paris Métro, which puts the CTA to shame. Brown Line, I love you, but you're as moody as my mother. After we reached our 'apartment' and settled in, we did the standard "walk around like wide-eyed tourists" bit and improvised the "how the hell do we communicate here" part before making our way to the Eiffel Tower.

We did NOT go in the Eiffel Tower. I'm not apologizing for it either. There was a line that made me think of what the DMV in Hell would be like and I was not about to waste my first 5 hours in Paris in a freakin' LINE. Instead, we met up with the lovely folks of the Fat Tire Bicycle Tour just in time to take the evening bike ride.

The ride was amazing. Not only did we have outstanding tour guides, but a pretty awesome tour group. Everyone should have small children around to shout and point and laugh out loud at all the things we think we are too old to laugh and shout and point at. We got to see Notre Dame, Academie Francaise, The Eiffel Tower all lit up and sparkly, Princess Diana's Flame (which was actually a gift from the U.S.), Musée D'Orsay, and then (my favorite) we got to bike around the Louvre. Heck, we even stopped for the greatest ice cream in the world. THE WORLD. The tour finished up with a boat cruise on the river Seine.

All in all, I'd say we did a fairly good job of speeding through the City of Light without missing a thing.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

where there's a will...

Synopsis: Evan and Shama are at it again! Even though they have a big trip ahead of them, the two decide that they have time for one more Irish adventure... or do they? Will they make the only bus to Tipperary, or not? And what about getting back to Limerick? These two might be in over their heads! Let's find out!

I have been continually surprised and pleased by what Evan and I can accomplish, with our collective wills. Maybe our wits need a bit of work, but we have determination down cold. What began as a whim to visit the Rock of Cashel in Tipperary turned into a series of maps, routes, bus timetables, and frequent quizzical glances. We finally decided to throw a metaphorical dart and go wherever the next bus out of town would take us. And then we realized that would be stupid.

It was a Sunday, and Sundays mean little to no public transportation in a country that already gets by with the bare minimum in public transit. Exhibit one: We tried to catch a bus into Limerick City at 10:30am only to find out at the bus stop that the busses don't even start running until 11am. I miss you, my temperamental, but ever-present CTA.

Well, we finally made it to the bus station and looked at every possible destination for the day, decided that neither place sounded too appealing and that we still wanted to go to Tipperary. So, we took a bus to the airport and got a rental car. Yep, more adventures in driving on the other side of the road! Wheeee!

Once again, I was reminded of how destination points are nice, but getting there is the fun part. We cruised the Irish roads for a while, and eventually made it to the Rock of Cashel. The Rock of Cashel is the Swiss Army knife of historic buildings. A castle, a fortress, and a church, this place does it all! I was particularly taken by the fresco work. It was neat.

Know what else is neat? Hurling. After Cashel, Evan remembered a hurling match that our Croke Park guide mentioned from the other day. He also remembered that it wasn't far from Cashel, so, off we went! We caught the second half of the game and rooted for opposing teams-- Evan shouting for the Home team, and myself hooting for the (supposed) underdogs from Dublin. It was, once again, a heckuva match, with Tipperary winning by just a little bit. It was still fun to holler.

The rest of the evening was a blur (except for the very distinct memory of driving on the wrong side of the road for a few minutes -- that is a vivid memory). We made it back and packed our bags for Paris, relieved to have a car to get to the airport the next day. Is there anything we can't do, when there's the will to do it? Oh yeah, the laundry.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

the calm after the storm

commercial break

saturday, march 28th. we are still and silent, watching television and reflecting on the weekend in dublin. brian has left. he's probably just about home now, settled into his place, looking at familiar surroundings.

we sit on the couch under blankets and watch television until it gets dark. we don't move to turn on the lights. we are that tired. we think about everything we have done and everywhere we have gone in the past week.

it was all very fascinating, but now, now we are tired and want nothing more than to sit in the dark and watch television.

we'll be back after this brief bout of exhaustion.

Friday, March 27, 2009

the spin-off series

Synopsis: Evan, Brian, and Shama bid a fond farewell to Maureen, Brittany, and Marc as they head off to Dublin. The three reach the bustling city and find their hostel, Oliver St. John Gogarty's, named for a scoundrel of a man. Will the three friends have adventures worthy of this notorious man?

Also in this episode: A trip to the Guinness Storehouse, a visit to The Book of Kells, and the Trinity College library. Evan decides he wants a hurley after a tour of Croke Park Stadium. Shama discovers her new ability to fall asleep standing up, and Brian departs for the U.S. leaving Evan and Shama to their own devices. Music for this episode provided by the mysterious "Silver Fox."

A lot happened in the few days we spent in Dublin, and I wish I could remember the details, but alas -- I went and got older, and my memory isn't what it used to be. Of course, the pictures are what really tell the story. I'm glad we started our visit with the Guinness Storehouse. It was more of a museum, re-telling the history of the dark stuff. It's got some history, including a 9,000 year lease Arthur Guinness took out on the building when he first began the brewery. It's true that there is poetry in a pint of Guinness. There's poetry in all of Dublin. If you can get to the tippy-top of the storehouse, you'll see it all laid out for you, through the observation deck. If you're lucky, there might be a rainbow waiting there for you too, like it was for us. The city is astounding, and to have it so immersed in it's own history through Joyce's works is fascinating. I might give Joyce another shot.

The Temple Bar area is a whole other adventure, albeit a bit tourist-y. Then again, we're tourists, so what's the harm? The pubs were pretty, bright, and full of rowdy, boisterous people. We did miss our friends, Kevin and Evans though. Those Welshmen were great. We had a nice night out, but I was so tired that I excused myself a bit early, even though I was missing the traditional music stylings of a man only known as, "The Silver Fox."

The next day, we said goodbye to Brian. Then we went to Trinity College. Gorgeous, majestic, old Trinity College. It was strange to walk into the campus straight off of the main streets. It was an entirely different world. I loved looking at the Book of Kells, and Evan and I marveled at the work that was put into it. The library was even better. I want every library to look like Trinity's.

Evan and I decided to take a tour of Croke Park Stadium before heading back to Limerick. I don't know much about sports in general or Irish sports in particular, but I know how much pride a country and city takes in its sports by the look of their stadiums. Ahem, U.S. Cellular Field? I'm talking to you. Croke Park Stadium took my breath away. Maybe it was because of the size. Maybe it was because of all the walking we did. Either way, Evan and I took the tour with a few other people-- an older couple-- and we quickly found out that the gentleman used to play. I couldn't figure out whether or not I was in the presence of a Babe Ruth, or a really good Little League coach. I don't suppose it really mattered, because in Ireland, the players don't get paid. That's right. They play because it's a privilege, and honor, and they WANT to.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

the calm before the storm

tomorrow we leave for dublin. tomorrow i celebrate my 28th year. tomorrow i turn in my essays, almost a week early because we are going to dublin.
but that's tomorrow.

i have spent the last two days studying like mad and writing like a lunatic.

the guys are out right now so i can get these things done. i think they're attempting to learn set dancing. i am sorry to miss that, but i have to get this work done today so that i can enjoy tomorrow.

deep breath.

Monday, March 23, 2009

cliffs notes

Synopsis: In this episode, the gang gets "Moher" than they bargained for! (laugh track here) The six travelers road-trip to Clare to take in the view at the Cliffs of Moher. After the group splits up, Evan, Brian, and Shama do a little rock-hopping at The Burren and wind up in Galway. They meet (supporting characters) Kevin and Evans and have a wild night with the Welshmen! But that's not all! After a harrowing ferry-boat journey to the Aran Islands the next day, the trio must decide how close to the edge they really want to go...

Adventure, excitement, drama, and comedy!

Well, it may not have been as action-packed as all that. It might be a cliche, but the real reward of traveling is in the journey, not necessarily the destination. This might be especially true when the journey involves driving on the opposite side of the road, learning how to drive a stick shift, learning how to take the parking brake off in order to drive a stick shift, making rest stops at charming little towns for lunch, meeting the locals, or in our case, meeting other visitors. Kevin and Evans (yes, those were really their names) were a couple of friendly fellas from Wales who were in Galway for a marathon. They kept us laughing until nearly 2am. It's a wonder that we made the ferry to the Aran Islands the next morning, but boy am I glad we did.

The Aran Islands surprised me. It felt so... OLD. We visited a ring-fort that was no longer a ring because half of it fell off with the cliff it was built on. Scary, I know. Here's Evan's take on the cliff at Inis Mor (one of the three islands that make up the Aran Islands). We did a lot of walking (even though my boot broke) and climbing, ooohing and ahhhing. We even got our "authentic Aran sweaters" which weren't even made on the island! Hooray for being tourists! My sweater has a giant neck-hole and Evan's smells a bit like sheep urine. Now THAT'S authentic.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

i'm still breaking them in

when i left for Ireland, i brought two pairs of boots and a pair of wellingtons for the rainy days. here's what happened to one pair during the weekend. i managed to hold it together by tying the laces around the bottom and the instep. they just barely made it. so long, old friends. we had some good times together.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Best. Detour. Ever.

On our way to Cork, we saw posters for the Aussie Super Circus. Then we saw the circus. Then we stopped by the circus. I enjoyed meeting the llamas, wallabies, and emu.

reality tv meets situation comedy

I watch too much television. I admit it. I tried to be one of those people that didn't own a television and only read books, magazines, newspapers, and the backs of cereal boxes, but I have come the firm and absolute conclusion that I am a tv junkie.

"What does your sitcom addiction have to do with anything, Shama?" I hear you ask. Well, here's what:

This and the next several posts focus on my time traveling around Ireland, Paris, and London from March 20th to April 6th, and for the sake of keeping a record for myself while making the stories entertaining for all three of my readers, the posts are going to read like this:

Synopsis: In this episode we meet Evan and Brian, brothers from Chicago who travel to Ireland to meet their gal-pal, Shama, who has been studying there since January. We also meet Brittany and Marc, good friends of Maureen's, who, coincidentally, also hail from Chicago. Maureen and Shama have become fast friends, but will their friends do the same? We'd better hope so, because all six of them are going to crammed into a tiny car for several hours while they drive to Cork, Clare, and Galway! That is, if Shama can even direct them from the airport to the University! Annoying hilarity ensues!

Also in this episode: Evan and Brian get used to their new surroundings, Evan discovers he is the only one of the group that knows how to drive a stick shift, the gang goes on a quest for eloquence, but not before they get sidetracked by... a circus! What could happen next?

Right. You get the picture.

In real life, I did have a surprisingly hard time directing us from the airport to the campus, even though Evan showed no difficulty in driving on the other side of the road. We got everyone settled and took a stroll to the ruins Maureen and I stumbled upon, went out for a pint at the campus pub, and called it a night. The next day, all six of us crammed ourselves into the little car Evan had the foresight to rent and we drove down to Cork (pronounced "Cahr-kh" by the locals) to see and make out with one Blarney stone. Yes, I know the locals all pee on it at night. What I didn't know was why people kiss the Blarney Stone. It's told that the smoocher will be granted the gift of eloquent conversation, if they manage to make it up several million steps then hang upside-down to kiss the seemingly-ordinary stone. We were all pretty excited, some more than others.

BRITTANY: Come on, bitches! I wanna get some fuckin' eloquence!


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Irish Prom

okay, so it's not REALLY prom, but it certainly felt like it. i had a cool dress, no date, and a messload of fun people to spend the evening with. it was actually the Clubs and Societies Ball, and it was held to award outstanding clubs and societies for their extraordinary efforts and accomplishments. it was also an excuse for everyone to get really dressed up, have a great meal, dance, drink, and do it all in a fancy-shmancy hotel.

the catch: you had to buy your (pricey) tickets in advance. luckily, i already had mine, through the debate society. i've mentioned in several previous posts how much i love these people, but i also want to mention that they were up for multiple awards this year. if i had been allowed to vote, i would have voted for them twice. so, i already had my ticket, which they reserved for me before i even knew this thing was happening. god love 'em.

the awards portion was nice, the band was good, and everyone looked fabulous. my favorite part of the evening? as usual, it was dessert, which i got to enjoy twice because of the empty seat at the table which got served anyway. it was a trio consisting of a chocolate mousse, raspberry sorbet, and a strawberry tartlet. i didn't know if i would ever get as delicious of a dessert ever again, so i took a picture of it.

and then i ate it.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Saint Patrick's Day

... is a holiday here. An honest-to-goodness holiday. I'm not entirely sure of which holiday I can equate it to though. Some of it reminded me of Memorial Day. When I walked out of the house today I was greeted by blaring music, footballs being tossed around, people sitting outside on the grass or on couches they had dragged out. There was a scent of barbecue and beer in the air. The weather was outstanding, and I think Spring is finally poking her head out from behind the dreary damp in the form of a million bright yellow daffodils.

It also felt a little bit like Chicago today. Specifically, the day of the South Side Irish Parade. Except without the mobs and drunken buffoonery. Well, no mobs at least.

Is this a drinking holiday? Sure, but I'm from Chicago, where Flag Day could be considered a drinking holiday. Did I indulge? Not really. I was happy enough to down my Fanta and just watch as everyone around me joked, drank, and generally had a good time. They tried to subject me to "beer pressure," but I was happy enough knowing that I was in Ireland for this event. Who wouldn't be?

As the day progressed, I kept thinking that it felt a bit like Halloween too. Everyone was dressed in their finest of cheap, gaudy, green hair ornaments, hoodies, boas, or in some cases, capes. It felt a little bit like New Year's. The noise, the celebratory greetings, the jovial hollers of, "Happy Saint Paddy's Day!"

Of all the holidays it felt like, it occurred to me that it couldn't be compared to any holidays I've experienced in America because, quite simply, this is not America. Well, maybe it felt a little like Christmas too.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

the hyphenated world

Identifying with a culture, class, religion and country has always been a strange fascination for me. I know I have written about the multi-cultural aspects of Ireland before, and I have also written about my own minor identity crises, but I still don't quite know what it is I truly identify with or how much it even matters these days. We are all hyphenated, to a degree.

Pakistani-Indian-Muslim-Middle-Class-American? In Ireland.

Ireland has a strange history of being oppressed and colonized, while struggling to find its own true voice in the world, and for that my sympathies go out to this country. But what about the fact that the Irish language is dying? What about the fact that Yeats CHOSE to write his masterpieces in the language of the oppressors? Why do we allow our native languages to be overshadowed by English?

I am trying to learn French. I have a bit of Spanish. I can understand most Urdu very well. I try very hard to pick up Irish phrases, but it's so unlike any other language I've ever heard that I can't make sense of what I read and how it should be pronounced, and I LOVE that.

When my mother speaks to me in Urdu, I hear her in English.
Yo le puedo oír sólo en inglés.
Je peux vous entendre seulement dans l'anglais.
Ich kann nur Sie auf Englisch hören.

I can only hear you in English. I can only dream in English. Yet, I have a heritage that is older than America, and I can't access it. And that makes me unbearably sad. When I see Irish words on the street signs and hear it on television, I feel so hopeful that this country will never let its language die, the way I let it die within myself. And why did I let it die? To belong.

All anyone wants is a sense that they belong somewhere. It's home. But what I didn't realize, growing up as a first-generation Pakistani-Indian in America, is that I would never fully belong in America. I have a strong grasp of English, and I have centralized my education on it, but I will never be without the hyphen -- that divisive line which reminds me of a past that hold precedence over my present and my future.

So, why is it that there is only 10 percent of Ireland that speaks Irish? What happens in 20 years, when it's only 5 percent? And then what? Will this gorgeous language become obsolete?

I saw a short movie today in class that made me weep. Yes. I WEPT. Here it is. I hope nothing gets lost in the translation.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

wild horses can't tear me away

i don't think they were actually wild horses. they were more like tame ponies. maureen and i took another long walk today, to see some other ruins near the campus, and came across some gorgeous animals. two ponies, grazing in what looked like a football field. huh.

we approach, they whinny. we move towards them, they move away. they were calm and regal, and we were fascinated.

horses. just grazing. they were so relaxed it made me think about all the other animals i've seen since i've been here. the dogs aren't on leashes, and they never bark or chase one another. it must be the environment. things just move so much more slowly here. the Irish make jokes about how nothing ever starts on time here. parties don't usually start until about midnight. teachers are late, but never too late, to classes. time moves at a different pace here.

i know that in America, the clocks have been changed, which mean that I am now only 5 hours ahead instead of 6. this is odd. Ireland won't switch their clocks until April. i wish i had the time to find out the reasoning for it, but the one thing that is on a deadline are my essays, and i have more than a few of them to do.

homework. sigh. tear me away.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

quick aside


and i left some of my souvenirs on the shuttle to Girona Airport. not like Ryanair would have let me bring them anyways.


Monday, March 9, 2009

picking favorites

The air in Barcelona smells like a bakery as it is shutting down for the day. It is warmish, and slightly sweet, and there is a sense of familiarity in the breeze. Spain. I went to Spain this weekend. I never in my life thought I would be able to say that, yet, there it is.

I'm back in Ireland now, and I feel a sense of familiarity here as well, but it is different somehow. I can't quite put my finger on it. Maybe it's the weather. Maybe it's the difference in how the landscape is cultivated. I know they are distinctly different countries, but they both become generalized as "Foreign" countries in my mind, because I am, after all, an American. I admit, I am a city mouse, and Barcelona felt more comfortable to me, with its trains, dense population, apartments, streets and architecture. But I am happy to be back in Ireland. I feel less anxious here, less guarded. It's a feeling I don't often get when I'm in America.

I am reminded of a phrase I read once: You can't pick a favorite place until you've been to them all.

Well, I might not be able to say Ireland or Spain are my favorite places, but I will say that they're pretty high on my list, so far.

In Barcelona, I felt exhilarated, like how I felt when I first realized that I wanted to live in Chicago. Today, I say that I want to live in Barcelona, the way a child says they want a new toy. Saying that, I finally begin to realize just how very American I really am. "I want to live in Barcelona! I KNOW I have Ireland, but I want Barcelona now. Give it to me or I will stomp my feet, tell the teacher, and slam my bedroom door."

Maybe that is the difference between my identifications. I AM an American. I WANT Barcelona. But Ireland actually has ME. I loved Barcelona. It was brilliant. I could describe the sounds, the food, the sea, the scent, the views, the way the city looked like an intricate collage from the top of a mountain, but I wasn't there long enough to describe it in useful terms. I can't describe what a mundane day might be like in Barcelona, because I didn't have one. I went to museums, and tourist-spots. I ate and drank and saw the things that tourists eat and drink and see. I did not want for anything during my time there, and my time there was brief.

I think I love Barcelona, but I can't really be sure. I only got to see it, as a child sees a new toy from a shop window. As this child, I go back to my room, and look at the things I already have: I have America. I have Pakistan. I have Ireland. I recall wistfully the colors of Barcelona, and wonder if I will ever see it again.

Picasso's work.
Gaudi's architecture.
A Flamenco dancer's skirts.
The beach in the moonlight.
The various nibblings in the market.
Gothic cathedral spires far up in the sky.
The impossible Catalan language; French and Spanish.

While I was in La Pedrera, Gaudi's famous apartments, now a tourist spot, I was approached and interviewed by some folks from Hong Kong about my views on Gaudi's work and it's relationship to the city. I'm usually terrible when it comes to impromptu answers, but I think I summed it up fairly well. I said, "Normally an artist is inspired by their surroundings, but in this case, I think the city has been inspired by the artist."

Gaudi's work is fantastic, in every sense of the word. It is dreamlike and unreal. That is how I see Barcelona and how I will remember it.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


i leave for barcelona in 12 hours. i am a little nervous about traveling. yes, i know how ridiculous that sounds while i'm in Ireland, but it's different when you're leaving FROM a comfort zone like Chicago and when you leave from a place that you only kinda know. luckily, i looked up some fabulous travel blogs and found them all to be highly interesting, though some were not terribly useful to me, as travelling works differently for many folks. some want convenience, some want comfort. some want it to be cheap, and some don't really care.

i'm traveling and have made plans to best of my ability. i love google maps for this reason. how did people manage without the internet?

i guess i'll find out this weekend.

this is my departure post. i will post again when i return.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

recipes for disaster?

Hey hey! Meatloaf Wednesday! I was told by one of the guests that it was, "the finest meatloaf" he has ever had. He followed that with, "It was the ONLY meatloaf I've ever had. But it was the finest."

I love feeding the Irish kids. They're always so grateful, AND quotable. God bless 'em.

Aside from the mammoth meatloaf, others brought their own contributions to the meal. The Americans brought the biggest bag of chips (french fries) I have ever seen, and the makings for s'mores. The Irish... they brought 'Taytos' and Dairymilk.

How do I explain Taytos? First of all, you need to know that 'chips' are fries, and 'crisps' are chips. Sometimes Taytos are called chips too, even though they're more like crisps. Got all that?

Taytos are the epitome of potato chips (crisps). They are quite good. Not as good as Dairymilk, though. Man, if I miss anything about Ireland, it's going to be the chocolate. Gosh, it's good here.

All in all, the evening was a delicious success that reawakened the culinary ninja in me. I want to cook. Sometimes I believe I really can cook, but it's only in fleeting moments that take me and everyone else by surprise. The culinary ninja strikes again! What will she make next? When will it happen? Could this be her final adventure? Dum-dum-DUUUUM!

Maybe I'll make a quiche tonight. A NINJA quiche.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

it's all about meme

sigh. i finally gave in to the meme. truth is, there isn't a whole lot going on at the moment because i'm getting ready to leave for Barcelona this coming weekend. in the midst of not spending money, going out, or doing interesting things, i turn towards... the internet.

i mentioned this game in a previous entry, but i never actually did it. i usually don't participate in blogosphere-fads or 25 things lists, because, quite simply, i could be doing other things. today, i have nothing, so here is my award-winning album, "The Worst Vice Ever Invented" from my fictional band, Hovelange.

Hovelange, interestingly enough is a tiny town in west Luxembourg. they have a population of 270. i was thinking about visiting Luxembourg.

Monday, March 2, 2009

don't get your knackers in a bunch

i learned some new words today. they make me giggle.

KNACKER: a somewhat insulting term for an Irish person of a, um, nomadic background. basically, they're what Americans refer to as 'white trash.'

HALF (insert a number 1-12): actually means 'half PAST' the hour. this confused me for a short while and i was showing up at events a full hour early, wondering where in the hell everyone was.

HOOVER: it's a vacuum cleaner.

GOOD LUCK: is the Irish version of 'goodbye.' kinda says something about the level of optimism in a country where they'll wish you good luck instead of goodbye, eh?

THANKS A MILLION: standard Irish version of saying 'thank you.' i rather like it.

Sunday, March 1, 2009


i love learning about Ireland. i love learning about the sports Ireland holds dear. the result of this love led me to go to my first hurling match. it was a lotta fun and kinda confusing, but then again, i've had a rocky relationship with sports. don't believe me? i've put together a short video to prove it.

one of my favorite observations during the day was the fact that the advertising on the arena walls were all for banks, or ice cream, or sporting equipment. it was nice not to see ads for beer everywhere. i can dig that. even though Ireland has a reputation for drinking, it doesn't touch their love of a good hurling match where guys beat the crap out of each other.