Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Streets of Irelandy (second installment of the Irelandy saga)

On day two of my trip to Ireland. I ate crepes filled with chocolate and brown sugar for breakfast (it was ALMOST like being at Paulette's...minus all the psychos that HAVE to have brunch out on Easter so BAD that they'd be willing to eat it before they go to church just to get a table...oh...and minus the slightly more bland food...oh AND minus being miserable and overworked) I also ate chocolate eggs.

We walked in the bright sunlight of the first official day of spring through the streets of Cork. Mieke took us to her lovely university campus where she studied rocks or something like that. Then over the river on a shaky bridge and into fancier part of town. I actually had to strip my coat, scarf, and hat off for the first time. It was fabulous. I don't expect this to ever happen again.

Along the way, I took some pictures....well...A picture with a view of the lightly sprawling city behind us...and by "I took some pictures" I mean.. .Mieke took this picture of Liam and me...Liam is eating my face.

This happened right before taking my jacket off and basking in the sunlight.

We then made our way to a pub that was holding a beer festival where we sat in the sun and drank samples of lovely Irish beers and ate hamburgers that...despite their cheap looking appearance, actually tasted quite nice.

The beer also tasted nice. This, my friends, was not festival for those that wanted to drink as much beer as they could and impress their friends with their incredible ability to belch the alphabet.

No, this was the type of beer that you had to smell before a fine wine. Different shades, aromas, flavors...alcohol percentages. I stuck with the low percentage beers so that I might able to enjoy them more fully. My favorites were the flowery flavored wheat-y beers. Like these.

After we exhausted ourselves at the festival of beers, we made our way home to watch a few minutes of television in Gaelic. On the way home I discovered this

on the pavement. I don't know why, but for some reason I really wanted to take a picture of entire jar of jam that someone had wasted on the side of the road. Perhaps whoever dropped it, was coming back with an empty jar, salvaged from a garbage can.

Our flight back that evening was delayed about an hour because it was snowing in London...there always HAS to be some form of precipitation in that darn country. It lives under a perpetual cloud. We watched the first ten minutes of the England/New Zealand cricket match in an airport bar. Which leads me to this question: How can a country that experiences such insane amounts of so crazy about a sport that is completely impossible to play in any sort of wet condition...even if it isn't raining...not cricket on a wet pitch. Is it the tea? Is it the lunch breaks? I might up for playing a sport that offered lunch breaks...but then again...I'd have to want to play it long enough to merit a lunch break. I'd also have dress like a robot and yell at the umpire as a rule. I'd also have care.

So I leave you with this picture of the lovely inlet of the ocean at least. The ocean that divides us, my loves.

Friday, March 28, 2008


So...having promised to live open and honest...I thought my next blog should be full of mundane details spiced up with silly pictures! Enjoy!

Ireland was sunny every day (both of them) that I was there. The first day, we slept until 10 and then set out into town where...I didn't take any pictures, We went to an English market and ate spicy sausages, Liam went to the bathroom in Mcdonald's after which, we discovered this:

Don't worry...I didn't take the picture until the next day. I wasn't lying to you before. In any case, I could seriously use one of these.
Then we took a bumpy bus ride to a small coastal town (=touristy) where we walked along the harbor braving the winds towards a hill that I was told we would be walking up. I was also promised a fort...and I was not disappointed.

(Warning mom!) Along the way, I noticed a lovely message that had been carefully put together along the water. Kiddies...go play in your rooms (or the street, as my dad would say) for a minute.

Mieke (our guide) told us that it used to say "Happy Mother's Day." Perhaps someone doesn't have as good a relationship with their mother as we may or may not. Am I talking nonsense? Perhaps. Perhaps.

We made it to the beach:

Where there were some people kicking a ball around, two kids crying because they wanted to keep digging in the sand when daddy said it was time to go home, and two people in swimming suits racing into the water...the freezing cold water. Perhaps if I had the balls to do something like that...I wouldn't drink.

I, spurred on by my sudden decision to stop being afraid of the small challenges. Lead everyone in the route Liam usually begins over the rocks along the waters edge. Liam and Mieke (old MS program buddies) chatted about geology and the ocean floor (or whatever) while I crawled around the rocks with the tip of my tongue gently clenched between my teeth and poking out the side of my mouth.
The came the promised Fort which I climbed around in frantically taking pictures in order to give others an idea of the fact that I was in Ireland...but this one is my favorite:

(for those of you that thought I'd given up on the funny pictures and embraced the canned smile...oh ye of little faith!)
But perhaps you cannot see much of the fort in this picture. Perhaps it is not me that you were hoping to see (as lovely as I am). I tried to take some fancy schmancy pictures too

After leaving the beach and the fort, we walked up a long narrow (and by up I mean UP) road and Mieke pointed out the endless blue-green ocean to us...and Liam pointed in the direction of home (USA!). It felt as close as I've been...with only an ocean in the way.

Then we decided to take a shortcut and climbed off the road on the hillside and into a giant never-ending patch of brambles. We waded, knee deep in thorns, with Liam leading the way, until we could hop down onto the sidewalk...and carefully pick the thorns out of our jeans. After which, we hopped the bus back into town (snuck a little nap on the way) and enjoyed some delicious Thai food. We ended up in a pub (surprisingly, Irish pubs are very similar to bars in which I mean: full of drunk assholes dressed like frat guys at a job interview and loud with half top forty half I remember that song! tunes...p.s. I am writing a letter to Chad Kroeger [look it up] that says simply: Please Stop. Liam thinks I should curse...but then it sounds less serious), drinking stout, and struggling to keep our eyes open. Needless to say...sleeping was LOVELY.

And that was day 1 of my 2 day trip to Ireland.

P.S. Ireland is pretty damn expensive. Worse than London...if you can believe it...and I was in CORK....apparently NOT where cork comes from. Who knew.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Walking with my Head Up

Lately I've been walking around town with my head up...not too far up, mind you, I don't want to look like a tourist with my head tilted back and my mouth open. I keep my eyes straight ahead, and I've been surprised by the number of people that have caught my eye and given me the friendly head nod. Most people avoid eye contact. You don't want to accidentally catch the eye of some freak, of which there are thousands in London, and end up explaining that you aren't interested in whatever he or she begins to babble about to you.

Having said that, I was walking to buy my lunch yesterday and I came upon a little boy that was out with his grandma and had fallen behind. She turned around to coax him back, and, with outstretched arms, he dashed forward. I, noticing he was aiming himself more and more in my direction, jumped out of the way to let him race to his grandma, but he changed directions quickly and threw his arms around my legs with a yell of, what seemed His grandmother apologized as I gave him a pat on the head and thanked him for the warm greeting. It got me thinking...mostly because I've been brewing up a blog in my head for a long time, and I've been looking for the right beginning. I don't know if this is it yet, but I'm going to keep writing.

I went to Ireland this weekend (for Easter!), and on the plane over, I read the G2 from The Guardian. The cover story was entitled...something like...The Dangers of Being Honest about Motherhood. It was about this woman, a writer, that had written a memoir about her pregnancy with and the birth of, her first child. She explores all the emotions, all the joys, and all the horrors she experiences during and after pregnancy, and apparently, it really pissed some people off. Some men AND women were appalled at the audacity of a mother that would express her terrifying doubts...Apparently, making statements about how painful childbirth is is off limits as well...some even labeled it 'post-feminist' with the 'we hate all things feminist' tone of those that either don't truly understand women or don't understand who they are as women. The author's tone was hopeful, as she wrote, and honest. I couldn't help feeling a bit guilty about my own reluctance to be honest about my feelings. I KNOW...this is the LAST thing you all think I am doing...but the truth is...I weigh my words very carefully...I feel that if I don't...I might worry some of you. On the plane, I absolved to be more be as raw and gory about the details of my inner thoughts and feelings as I used to be in my blogs (but don't worry....I'm not having a baby, so no gross child-birth stories). I sat in my seat with a satisfied sense of accomplishment. I sat in my seat in a cloud of an 'i've just discovered a secret' utopia.

I saw small corner of it...and I had a lovely time in the bright warm sun...and I allowed all the feelings...all those real the reality of death mixed with the awe of seeing the ocean...or the pain of uncertainty mixed with the faith in right now. I ate a lot of chocolate. And then I came home, and I watched a lot of T.V. and I went back to work. And I didn't blog, and I didn't imagine that I would say much if I did blog, except to recount the goings on of the weekend.

But that kid, with his laugh, and his arms wrapped around my legs, brought me back for a moment...and I allowed myself to imagine what I might be able to do if I stopped looking for the easiest way to think and feel. For a moment. I'm not sure what to say right now, and I'm not sure if I'm ready to say it...or if those that love me won't be terrified that I'm not okay. Because I AM okay. I'm just tired of keeping my head down.

p.s. I'll post some pictures in the next blog. It just don't fit the mood y'all.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

When in England (Have I already used this title?)

I am currently sitting at my desk eating a delicious Chorizo, Tomato, pesto, and parmesan sandwich. It is delicious.

Today I called a hospital about a Birth Notification I received at work. While speaking to the woman from the labor unit I said the word 'birth,' and the woman actually corrected me with the 'english' pronunciation. Which is (hard to spell) said with a great deal less 'irrr'. I must admit, I was taken aback. I thought about repeating it back with an english accent, but in the end I just kept using my good ol' American r's. I suppose she could have been checking to make sure she was understanding me, but, honestly, what's so hard to understand when someone actually pronounces all the letters in the word. In 'english' the words 'shaw' and 'shore' sound exactly the same. When I say it...I pronounce the 'r' when there is an 'r'. It makes sense. It is audible. It is good.

The weather here has taken a turn for the worst. Although the sun was gloriously bright this morning, the air is cold as the behind of a witch (as my parents used to say), and it's getting colder. This weekend is easter. EASTER. The best thing was cold in Memphis last Easter. I don't like the cold any more. I am not enjoying it. I like it when it's in the fiftees, but the forties are mean and cruel, and I want them to go away. So I can stop wrapping myself up like a mummy every day. I'm also tired of unwrapping whenever I go inside. goo.

Complain, Complain...I KNOW. I also have to go and make a spreadsheet...right now. Perhaps I will say more later. Because I KNOW you love my wingeing. I have to do my taxes tonight. hmph.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Anti-Social Behavior

This morning I woke up to a cold cold room with the wind banging the windows in their frames and the rain plinking incessantly. I ate my bowl of cheerios in the solitude of my room...mostly because if I eat it in the kitchen, someone will come in and want to talk to me. I don't like talking to people in the morning. I don't like it. I don't even like having to acknowledge people in the morning. It's awkward and unnecessary. I plan almost everything in order to avoid any human contact before I have to really start my day and start talking and doing things. Does this make me a bad person? I don't think so. This morning, I didn't plan efficiently enough and had to round up a great deal of my things from the kitchen before braving the terror of the winds. Almost all of my house mates were in the kitchen. Simone, who I really like (in medium sized doses because she is quite the small as she is), but who I'm sure thinks I hate her said she'd walk with me to the tube and I told her she didn't have to wait because I normally walk on my own with my ipod pretending as best I can that I am in a car. I think I hurt her feelings. The truth is, it was too early to start talking to people. I wasn't ready for it. I must have felt really bad about it because after my 15 minute walk (normally ten) to the tube against unrelenting winds and spitting cold rain, armed only with my weak umbrella that kept turning inside out and making me look like a fool...I thought I saw her in the huge crowd gathered outside the turnstiles (?) waiting to be allowed onto the overcrowded platform for a train that was delayed because of RAIN (and probably wind), and I ran up to 'her' to ask how long she had been waiting. It wasn't her, however. It was another very small Indian girl with the same coat, same hair, and same orange scarf. Who would have thought. So...I ask you...does my desire to be left alone in the morning make me a bad person?

This afternoon I kept accidentally getting on trains going in the wrong direction because I was daydreaming/feeling blue. Work was a constant reminder of my inability to EVER complete a task given to me as they never end and they just keep piling up on top of each other and beating me down into this wimpering pile of wet wool coat and crappy umbrella. No babies today. Babies come at the end of the week. I ended up a good 30 minute train ride in the opposite direction from home, but I had bought myself a Galaxy Caramel chocolate bar and I sat quietly in the back of the crowd on the platform licking chocolate and caramel off of my fingers and waiting patiently until I could own an entire tube door without having to squeeze in like a lemming with the masses.

I ate hummous for dinner.

I'm a little homesick. I'm a little confused. Sometimes life feels like such a gift...the good and the bad...I like the title of the Nada Surf album 'The Weight Is a Gift' because it truly is...but I don't always feel like it. Sometimes I get caught up in the mundane plodding of my existence. I get tired of bundling up in my coat and scarf every day. I want to be free of my coat. I get tired of the ticking of the clock and my inability to feel certain about anything I feel. I want to be free of my inability to be content. I prayed, this afternoon, that God would renew my faith in the uncertainty of life, that I might be overwhelmed with the joy of it, that I might be able to trust in the weight of my thoughts and emotions.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Mr. Allen Goes to London

I've been a might busy over the past couple of weeks entertaining my dad, and I, therefore, apologize (I literally almost spelled it the 'english' way just then...apologise....!!)for not blogging and subsequently for the crummy update blog in which I try to cram everything into a blog that isn't so blindingly daunting that you take one look and click on the link to Diana's the by...has been dormant for longer than mine...and Diana is on spring break now.

OKAY. So my dad arrived on a Thursday evening two weeks ago. I was late to pick him up from Heathrow because, ironically, it takes longer to get from central london to southwest london on the tube than it does to get from Glasgow, Scotland on a plane. Awesome. He was fine though, sauntering around with a pocket full of change that he only recently realized was 1 and 2 pound coins. Liam and I tossed him right into the frying pan by making him walk about a mile to and from a restaurant Friday night and then dragging him up a big hill at Highgate and up and down numerous hills on hampstead heath. we visited Highgate cemetery where we saw the grave of Karl Marx:

and this:

and this:

and finally, this:

Then we walked some more and then some more and finally forced dad to sit through the last half of the United/some other team that lost football game in the pub down the street where the owner tried to charge me 1.40 pounds for two small bags of chips, but took a single pound when I (lied and) told him that was all I had. .70 pence is way too much for a bag of chips at a pub....and I know...I love pubs. In fact, pub culture is one of my favo(u)rite things about London life. They're so warm and inviting with their fireplaces and big 'leather' chairs, dark lighting, and creamy bitter...especially when there's no t.v. to spoil the atmosphere, and trust me, there are plenty of pubs without tellies.

Anywho. Later, we made chili with beef...which I was embarrassed about when my house mate Simone came home. She's Hindu...and I wasn't expecting her in, and I LOVE beef chili. She (lied and) said she was already planning on eating something else, and every time I wanted to look up from my bowl of chili to remark 'isn't this delicious,' I felt kind of bad and I bit my tongue. beef schmeef....hindu schmindu. yeah, i said it.

The next week was filled with dragging my dad around from one corner of London to the next until he (literally, on occasion) begged to slow down and just sit and read at home. I was worried he wouldn't see everything he might want to see, worried that he might not have a good time. I was being a daughter. curses.

After a few nights of not being sure I was going to be able to see them, I downloaded the academy awards and watched them on a couple of train rides on my laptop. always a pleasure.

My dad and I saw Kevin Spacey and Jeff Goldblum live in David Mamet's 'Speed the Plow.' Brilliance...sheer brillinace...except for the girl. Rarely do I see a play and think, 'I would have been so much better in that role,' but this is one of those instances. She just DID NOT understand Mamet and his dialog style. It was miserably watching her perform. She sucked the life right off the stage and made Jeff (cause he's my pal) practically beg for some interaction (which was not the idea). In the end they were supposed to have slept with each other, but the chemistry experiment was an utter failure due to the lack of potent substances. Kevin Spacey came back in the end to save the day and save Jeff's back. So, I say it now...I would have been SO MUCH BETTER than she was.

I hope you've enjoyed the blog, and the obligatory tourist dad pictures interspersed throughout. These were my idea, of course.