Friday, July 31, 2009

I'm shaken, then I'm still. When your eyes meet mine I lose simple skills, like to tell you, all I want is now.

The Ugly Truth.

Well here it is. The new Gerard Butler film comes out on August 5th in Ireland and makes me incredibly anxious. I'm leaving on the 5th and all over town - buses and bus stops, on street posters plastered everywhere - Katherine Heigl is beaming down at me as IN CINEMAS AUGUST 5th burns into my eyeballs in red and white block letters. I dread the arrival of that film as much as I dread the expiration date on the milk in my fridge: AUG 5. NO GODDAMMIT!! I can't escape it anymore, that miserable bitch called reality is well on her way to yank me out of my Irish oasis.

I'm thriving over here. I'm scared of going home and leaving the person I've become in Ireland. I don't want things to change. I account for the fact that I am romanticizing a bit now that it is all coming to a close. In fairness Dublin wasn't always a paradise, I had a span of days (ironically during the nicest stretch of weather I've seen here) where I was in a horrible funk, like treading in quicksand and I couldn't get out. But like all things, it passed, and life here elevated back to its normal level: ALWAYS AWESOME. (or LEGEN-wait for it-DARY!)

It's hard to find words to express my feelings about leaving. I'm thrilled at the prospect of seeing my family and friends, I'm super excited to go back to Rutgers and live with the G-UNIT ladies. I'm so lucky to have such a fantastic group of people to return home to, it makes leaving much easier. At the same time, I feel like I am literally being torn away from my home in having to leave. I'm scared that I won't ever be as happy as I was here, that I will only look back nostalgically and think "those were the days." In truth I fear this so much that I am in my mind already subconsciously engineering some framework where I can come back here after graduation. Who knows.

In my last few days, my mind and heart are overwhelmed in the effort of trying to tie up the loose ends of my life here as much as I can. I hope I can get some closure in this (probably futile) effort to soften the blow of leaving. If I sit still too long, or look out on the Liffey, or read in Merrion Sq Park, or sit outside a cafe on the Quays, or any dozen other things that I love doing here, I become overcome with the fact that I have to leave. I've been keeping active, distracted, going out, being exhausted at night, because in slowing things down and taking it in, a lump forms in my throat and I get upset and panicky at once.


Now.

I'm having a staring contest with my empty suitcases and I just blinked out a tear. Time to start packing.


On a less melodramatic note, there's been a swine flu outbreak in my uni and 7 foreign exchange students are being quarantined in the residences right next to me. I've been trying to figure out which one out of curiosity, and there is a building right near my own that has been blasting dance music for a few hours. I think it's that one. Definitely the most exclusive party on campus at the moment. Swine time!!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Longest Week Of My Life...still going strong

Am I the first person to wear an ankle brace to a bar?

I've somehow managed to bruise my foot in new ways since I've started limping around on it and attempting to go about my business. It has been 8 days, and I only began awkwardly limping around on Monday. I feel like I've been bed-ridden for at least a month. As much as I want to prolong my time here in Dublin, I'd almost trade going home tomorrow with a healthy ankle then be forced to live another week like this past one: a prisoner in my apartment, watching the calendar like a time bomb as my precious final days expire and I remain unchanged. I have been trying my damnedest to re-hab my foot, (outside of the whole walking on it and going out thing). I sleep with my foot on top of a suitcase, I have ice packs, 2 different ankle braces, crutches would be ideal but they don't have any at my Uni Health Center (WTF!) Being that my health insurance expired in May when I was supposed to go home, I have been reluctant to go to the hospital. Also there really is no need, I don't need an X-Ray or anything, and all they would do is prod me then tell me to RICE it. (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation). Crutches though, would help. Or would have. I don't know. I've been walking on it so I don't need crutches but at the same time I know I am prolonging my recovery time because I've been walking around.

It is the oddest injury as well, my ankle has full mobility, but the bruising around it and all over my foot is so fierce that whenever I try and walk I feel pressure and pain. Plus I recently realized there is a dark bruise the size of my thumb on the bottom of my foot. Ouch. I can't win.

It's also clear that in my frustration I prematurely began walking on it. I would love to post pictures of the progression of "healing" of my ankle and foot (a.k.a. new bruises arbitrarily appearing everyday) but I neglected to mention that along with my ankle and dignity, my camera was also smashed to bits last week on that same night.

No more pictures for my last few weeks here. I'm not too bummed. I've taken plenty over the last 7 months, and I need a new camera anyway. No way I'm going to purchase one in euros over here though, just going to wait til I get home. Plus, having a camera around can become a bit of a burden. You end up fixating upon "capturing" the moment without actually living in it.


Craftiest Crackhead Award

This happened weeks ago and I forgot to write about it. By now you all know I am super paranoid when I'm out and about in town. Recall how my sister had her wallet stolen on Grafton St. while we were sitting eating lunch back in March by one tricky bitch (she was caught weeks later and the Garda called me, but my sister still lost all her stuff). Also recall the incident with that old creeper in Galway back in February, and my general derangement from too many episodes of 24.

So I was walking around "enjoying the sunshine" as my friend had advised me so wholeheartedly to do ( ;) ...Alyson). I was on Grafton St. in the middle of the day. Grafton was in full swing - sun, musicians, toursits galore, laughter, "Free hugs", ice cream, everyone strolling and enjoying the afternoon. I was wandering aimlessly as per usual and was planning to pick up some post cards then sit at a cafe and write and watch people. I tucked into a Newstand on the street and began browsing the postcards. Nothing new or exciting, all the postcards looked like they were from the 80s. I turned to leave. As I did so, I was startled by a woman that had suddenly appeared within close proximity to me, standing directly behind me. I smiled apologetically and began to turn to exit. As I did, this complete stranger shouted at me, pointing her finger only inches away from my face "WHY DO YOU CALL OTHER WOMEN SLUTS?!?!?" (I'm serious.)

I really am very well trained by now. Without any reaction or hesitation I tightened my grip around my purse and bolted out onto the busy street, weaving in and out of the gleeful shoppers. Despite the general buzz of voices and laughter I continued to hear this woman yelling after me. "WHY DO YOU CALL OTHER WOMEN SLUTS!? LOOK AT YOURSELF!" and other such nonsense. Unreal! However I would bet that this woman was impressed with how quickly I sped away from her. Pretty startling to be approached in such a manner and literally screamed at by a total stranger. People surrounding me must have thought I was some horrible homewrecker, as she was making quite a scene. Fair play to you, crazy crackhead - but you don't know who you're dealing with. If I weren't already unbelievably paranoid, you might have had me. I'm convicned of course that she was trying to steal from me, or cause a scene, distract me, maybe had some other crackhead accomplice watching, maybe she just wanted to fight me...I don't know, not trying to get inside the mind of a crazy woman anyway...my own is neurotic enough. Still, that wins the crazy award so far.


Now.

After some rain, the sky has cleared. It's gorgeous out. I'm sitting with my leg up icing it and robotically taking ibuprofen as I have been over the last few days. Recovery sucks, but it does make me appreciate everything more instead of just going through life in a desensitized, elated blur of pints, friends, music, and cafes. When I walk now, despite the limp, I feel more alive. When I took a bus into town for the first time in a week, I felt the excitement and pace of the city that I had become all too accustomed to. It was refreshing. I can only hope that this feeling persists and that I don't take my legs or anything for granted as I have in the past. Maybe this was a good thing in the long run. We'll have to wait and see.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Top 3

Welp, Tuesday was one of the most hazardous nights here in Dublin so far. Hazardous is the best word I could think of - maybe notorious as well. It makes the top 3, sandwiched between Shag-Tag Wednesday when Kelly was here in early May, and an unforgettable night on the second Sunday in February that started watching United vs. West Ham in town and ended in Meath 10 hours later.

"Hazardous" for different reasons:
Shag Tag night because it was the most drunk I had ever been in Dublin and I woke up sitting on a windowsill in the bathroom of the nunnery...Classy. All in all, things could have been much worse that night but it still sticks with me.

That afternoon-turned-night in February because it changed my life here for the next 5 months - for good? For good. It changed me but I didn't know it at the time. It's crazy to think about little things, coincidences, circumstances that align or collide - however you want to see it - and end up changing your life. It's currently filed away as "hazardous" in my mind but was once labeled under far better things like "captivating" and "hilarious" and "embarrassing" even. Perhaps I will re-label it again eventually. Who knows. That was the day I went out with CiarĂ¡n for the first time.

This most recent Tuesday makes this notorious list because I twisted my ankle on a curb circa 3 am and had to literally hobble to a cab. It hurt immediately and that's how I knew it was bad, as I was also severely intoxicated at this time. Having a ruckus night out at the Purty Kitchen (Durty Purty) with Andrew Mann (<-- Amazing.) and then later the Mezz (Mess), it was just a typical fantastic Tuesday...that happened to go incredibly wrong. Anyway, the pain in my foot sobered me right up. After getting out of the cab and hopping on one foot back to my apartment, I bumped into two Irish guys that were so kind and carried me into my apartment and bedroom. I spent the night falling in and out of sleep, at moments shuddering, feeling cold and literally shaking in pain like Harry Potter having one of his crazy dreams. (Had to throw in some HP love...sooo anticipating the film once I can walk again...Jizzpecto-patronum! - SEAN <3). I sobered up and my ankle began to swell and change a dark and mystic shade of purpley-blue...Brilliant contrast with my pale-as-hell skin and I do enjoy looking at it but my fascination ends in frustration after a minute or so as I hobble around my apartment and the world outside goes on without me.

I'm getting better, but the last few days have sucked. I rely so much on walking here. It's also one of my favorite things as I've mentioned before. I feel trapped but have also gained some clarity and appreciation about how I should spend my last 3 weeks here once I'm healed. I'm hoping to be back on my feet by Saturday, and my foot is much improved from what it was on Wednesday. I'll write when I'm back on my feet.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Why not to talk to strangers:

Jesus & U BFFaeaeae

So, on Bloomsday last month when I missed the last bus home and took it upon myself to walk home, I neglected to mention one thing. When I was strolling the streets in my own little world, a woman asked me for the time. We started talking and walking in the same direction....I'm clearly intoxicated, she asks for my number, and mentions something about religion that I don't remember, wasn't paying attention at all. Nothing could dampen my spirits so I gave this crazy my number and left her at the LUAS station.

Well, I have been getting periodic texts from this girl every few days and it has been fucking hilarious!!!! Normally I just delete them after laughing, but today's was too good:

" Belovd hope U'r havin a glorious day. Nomata d chalenges u may encounta, remember; U were raisd 2getha wit Christ.U'r a victor in Christ Jesus!God has calld U in2 a life of rest & glory. Discova & walk in His purpose 4 U as U feloship wit us 6:30 tonite. "

Imagine being woken up at 9 am by this text. I can make fun of this from so many different angles I don't know where to begin.

Got to run now though, Durty Purty Tuesdays await!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Nothing worth anything ever goes down easy.


Manchester.


This is long overdue, but if I don't write about it now, I never will. I went to Manchester two weeks ago. Short and lovely (as "lovely" as Ryanair can be) flight. Really beautiful flying out of Dublin in the early morning.


Buzzwords:


I always have a small notebook with me in my purse, wherever I go. I'm writing all the time. These are some of my reactions and observations to Manchester upon my arrival:

- gritty, badass, pollution, industry, red-brick, rugged,
- old-bald-cat-calling construction workers...imported from NYC??
- "Don't drink and drugs" (sign in the bathroom of a bar)
- scary homeless people ON THE MOVE (!)
- ghost town in the AM
- every other vehicle is a truck
- CO-ED bathrooms in Gay Village
- HOT gay men...goddammit
- unorthodox, alternative youth, hip, swanky - Canal St.
- Velvet, Queer - outdoor bars/cafes compliment the canal, within the backdrop of old industrial buildings,
- not as fun to get lost here as in Dublin...scary!
- hot music scene
- is everyone horny in this town?!
- extreme hair colors not the exception - bright, unorthodox hair on both sexes.

Modern industry began here and now it looks like an ancient dirty memory. Hard to believe that these same brick buildings - many with shattered windows, fields growing wildly around them - once exemplified the cutting edge of technology and began an industrial revolution that changed culture, social factors, politics, and economics forever- both within Britain and eventually globally.


Manchester: Old vs. New

Manchester is a killer town. I wish I could have stayed there for more than two days. What I enjoyed about Manc as a city is the interesting juxtaposition of two colliding worlds: the rugged exterior of buildings from the industrial revolution vs. the new side: swanky clubs and bars along the canal, a developed cultural scene with free entry into modern museums like the Urbis, the heavy population of students - all factors in transitioning Manc into a post-industrial city. This young, hip, swanky lifestyle has infiltrated into the rugged surroundings constructed a century before.

I was just struck by the distinct dichotomy that Manchester offered (old, rugged, industrial vs. posh, alternative, young, swanky).


Old Trafford <3

Obviously, I came to Manchester for one reason.


Theatre of Dreams.

Walking is to being abroad as driving is to being home. I love it, it clears my head, I need it. That's why I decided to navigate myself to Old Trafford on foot from the Deansgate Train station, over two miles away. I managed without a map, using my common sense (oh dear). Ok, it was mostly the street signs that helped, along with my nonchalance about getting lost if I were to take a wrong turn, but I would like to attribute some of it to the magnetic pull radiating from Old Trafford that only United fans can sense. Heh. Once I saw the stadium in the distance I was giddy with anticipation. Naturally, I ignored the sign demanding pedestrians take an alternate, longer route to the stadium and I instead walked along a (very) narrow median for the last quarter mile in the middle of a highway, cars and trucks streaming by on both sides, some of them beeping. Sue me. Then I was on Sir Matt Busby Way, and I had arrived. (!!!!!)

I had some time to kill before my tour (having been early for something for the first time in my life) so I wandered about. They were streaming MUTV (United TV) in the posh Red Cafe on the second floor of the stadium, where I sat and had a latte. It was during this downtime before the tour that everything came full circle. At the moment, MUTV was streaming highlights from a recent United/Chelsea match, and I knew from the goals that I had seen it before. Any United/Chelsea matchup is noteworthy, but in this condensed version of the match, I started to piece together the time and place. Goals by Vidic, Rooney, and Berbatov...Berbie's goal - a lightening volley off a corner kick - then I realized what match it was: the meeting from January 11, 2009. The day before I left for Dublin. It was the headline from that match from which I struck up conversation with my taxi man from the airport. I still remember the initial thrill of seeing Berbatov's ecstatic face on the FRONT PAGE of a newspaper as I jetted through the streets of Dublin before daybreak. It felt like I had travelled in time - I had just watched the match in my house, and once I arrived in Dublin the newspapers were already out. That is my earliest memory of Dublin. Weird, thought-provoking, refreshing to actually be sitting in Old Trafford 6 months later and watching that same match. I feel like so much has happened, and that I have changed so much since the last time I watched the match in my living room, with suitcases and clothing in disarray during my final hours in the states.

Bursting my nostalgic bubble, the bartender at the cafe asked if I wanted to get a drink with him later, which I politely declined. (This is foreshadowing of creepers to come). He gave me a souvenir of some posh United napkins from the restaurant...peculiar. I left shortly after, and went into the United Museum, waiting for the tour to start. Here, as I was browsing/salivating in the Ronaldo Room (cringe thinking about it now - I think he was technically still on the squad when I visited!) some creeper started taking a video of me. I was literally just standing there. Then his other creeper friend comes out of no where and tries to hug me. They are speaking a different language to each other and I try to smile while twisting out of his abrupt and awkward display of affection. Fucking creepers. Of course we end up on the same tour.

The tour itself was fantastic, and I felt like a kid in a toy store. Walking all through the stands, into the players' locker room, the players' tunnel before the pitch, sitting in the players' dugout - I even adjusted Fergie's seat although I'm sure hundred have before, and will continue to do so after me. We were even in the room where Becks first laid eyes on Posh...(not on TV) omg TRUE LOVE! It was class. The weather was bright and sunny - it was grand.

Back to the creepers - it turns out they live in Dublin, and were even on the same flight as me. One of them was pretty nice - too bad I had already told them my fake name. It was fun though. I had never had to actually respond to my fake name for a few hours, and they asked for my surname too! (Rachel Walker..."of course I have facebook!"). It was even more hilarious as they took videos throughout the tour - there's plenty of "Say Hi Rachel!" and "Rachel stalked us on the plane over here" I totally fucked up though and was talking to a Swiss guy during the tour and told him my name was Nicole....I realized as soon as I said it...so it was more like, "I'm Nicol-FUCK-Call me Rachel!" I told him the story and he was laughing and said "how do I know you just don't think I'm a weirdo and Nicole is your fake name?" Ahh international WB. (REEEN!!) He probably thought I was a fucking weirdo. But I am. Anyway, the creepers tracked Rachel down in the Megastore after the tour finished, and they cornered her for her number. Ugh...unfortunately Rachel doesn't have her own mobile...yet.


- is everyone horny in this town?

I took a bus from Old Trafford into Manchester City Centre. Got a bit lost, naturally, but eventually found my way. I ducked into a Cafe/Bar because I was shattered from traveling (I had to catch the 4 am aircoach to make my flight). I sat in this bar for two hours at least, had lunch, and was writing and people watching. The bartender that had been on shift this entire time came up to me and asked me if I needed anything else. I said I was fine, thanks...We started talking, he asked where I'm from, why I'm here, where I'm staying...general chit-chat. I told him how knackered I was from getting up so early and walking around and getting lost. (I honestly had a horrible headache). Danny the bartender had a pink streak in his hair. He told me he hadn't slept in 36 hours, that it was staff night out last night, that he was still drunk, and that he had a daughter. Well OK then!

We chatted some more but then I asked for the bill, paid, and went to the bathroom before walking around some more. I stared curiously at the portrait of Josh Hartnett on the door to my bathroom stall and wondered if that was good or bad for his career. I washed my hands and left the bathroom. Danny was standing in the small hallway between the bathroom entrances and the door back to the restaurant. I was a bit surprised but smiled and said, "See you around"... I attempted to walk past him and he put his hand out and cornered me, as I retreated into the wall. He was smiling as he got in my face and tried to kiss me and for the second time that day I had to twist out of a stranger's grasp...smiling all the while, for my own safety, to be honest. I don't even remember what I said besides "No Danny!" but he tugged at my bag playfully and asked me to go for a drink later. To appease him and get out of the situation as quickly as I could, I said "yes, I'd love to." He placed a piece of paper in my hand and as he moved his hand from blocking my path I bolted out the door as fast as I could , through the restaurant and into the sunshine. As soon as I verified he wasn't following me I relaxed. What the FUCK! I was a bit unsettled but no harm done. That situation was harmless, but it could have been much worse. I enjoy traveling alone but at the same time, I can't relax the way I would if I were in a group or had some sort of guide besides my spontaneous and oft ill-informed will, or heart...whatever it is that drives me to explore these places...I think it goes without saying that I didn't call him later.


CouchSurfing.

Is fucking amazing. Nick was the first person to tell me about it, before I even left the states. I forgot about it until a month or so ago. I will write more extensively about it later, but in brief it is a networking site in which people who enjoy traveling can be hosted by other people whom live in whatever city they want to visit. It has been in the news recently over here, as 3 American Couch-Surfers were denied entry into Ireland, and sent abruptly back to the states (Read more). The boys in that article are now being financed by some company - don't remember which- to come back to Ireland, and given 1000 euros in hopes to make amends (also great PR for whatever company it is). In the Dublin CS community, we are thinking of organizing a massive piss up when they arrive. That's the other amazing thing about it - nights out with people from all over the world...basically any day of the week! Anyway, in Manchester I couch-surfed for the first time and stayed with a girl named Amy, who was lovely, and had a view of Old Trafford from her balcony! (10 or so floors up, you could see the stadium in the distance.

I've only been involved with CS for a month or so, and so far it has proved to be an excellent experience. I was at first very cautious of the idea, it requires a huge amount of trust, on both ends. After doing it once though, I am a firm believer in it and I wish that more people had the mentality and kindness to partake in such a basic yet revolutionary idea. This is how it works, in brief: I had never met Amy before in my life. I used the website to get in touch with her. She gave me her address, I went to her apartment as a total stranger. My moment of doubt in the elevator (went something like "What the hell am I doing - I am alone and about to knock on a stranger's door and stay in their apartment...) evaporated as soon as she opened the door and welcomed me in. She was very interesting and easy to talk to. We got along really well, I learned a lot from her - she had studied abroad in the US, and was now a teacher. (Incidentally, she was home from work early because her school had just been "compromised" by the swine flu!) She gave me a map of Manchester and helped me structure out my time and what I should see the next day. It was amazing. I woke up the next day feeling accomplished and really grateful that I had taken this leap from the ordinary. When I awoke, Amy had already gone to work, and had left me a copy of the key to her apartment, in case I wanted to come and go as I please during the day. Amazing.


Homeward bound.

I booked my flight to the states. August 5th. Less than a month. Crazy to consider. I feel like I just got here. Actually as of today I have been here for a full 6 months, to the day. I feel that recently I have turned a corner and have started really immersing myself deeper and deeper into the culture and history, and it is all going to be ripped away. Very bittersweet, although I do have so much to be grateful for and look forward to when I land back in Dirty Jerzy. More talk of this later.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Storms.

There were some wicked thunderstorms here in Dublin last night in the early morning. I actually woke with a start and thought "Shit did I put my windows up?" ...As in, the windows on my car...which is sitting in New Jersey.

It was nice watching the thunder and lightening - really rare here. First big thunderstorm I've seen in over 6 months. The sky was a ominous and glowing red, it was gorgeous. But like all the weather in Ireland it moved very fast and maybe was most intense for a quarter hour.