Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Yesterday marked one year since I touched down in Dublin with two bags each easily twice the size of myself (and I mean that), plus my bike and my cat Gypsy. I arrived at about 5a.m. then promptly went to sleep. On the plane over, it took me a good hour to stop crying. To be honest, the emotions I felt when I left made me wonder if I was doing the right thing by leaving my friends and family behind to go to a place I didn't know anything about.

The first few months were not easy. Sure, if you read my blog it looks pretty rosy, but I can tell you I felt homesick; discouraged by running out of money and not being able to find work; hemmed in by the rainy, windy weather; at times depressed because I didn't have any friends; frustrated at getting lost and having to look at maps, not to mention trying to negotiate the buses; isolated from people back home whenever bad news struck -- you name it, I felt it. Some days I would just log onto my gmail and wait for people in the US to wake up so I could talk to them, and then would do little else all day.

But slowly things started to turn around. I began to make friends. I got used to being broke! The weather got a bit warmer and drier. I started to realize that there are places in Dublin to have fun without spending a ton of money. I started being better at exploring the city. I started getting back to the things I used to enjoy doing, and found some new hobbies too. I set up a work table for myself. Basically, I got myself out of my rut.

So looking back on the past year, I feel satisfied. Did I accomplish everything I would have liked to this year? Hell, no. But was it a happy year? It definitely was. And for the first time in many, many years, I'm going to have a couple of New Year's resolutions!

However, the weather over the past few days does remind me of what I encountered when I first got to Ireland. I'll take a snowstorm any day over this wind and rain. All I can think of to do is stay inside as much as possible, safe in my little hovel! It's so easy to hole yourself away when it's like this and decide not to come out until Spring. But sadly, spring won't be much better! Living in Ireland means coming to terms with the crap weather. So I'm going to make an effort to go out and do fun things rather than stay in with tea (ok, whiskey) and TV just to stay warm and dry. But I gotta tell ya, it ain't gonna be easy.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Just a note to say HI! I'm still alive! We "moved house" yesterday, and it's been sort of nuts. First, there was having to pack all of our stuff. Considering that apartments come furnished, we had a surprising amount of stuff. We managed to get help from a new friend of ours who has a small van, but it took three trips!

However, our new cool, homey place wasn't exactly what we planned on. Our landlord didn't have time to really do anything to the apartment since the guy before us moved out (the day before, admittedly), but also the guy left a TON of stuff behind. And nearly all of it junk, too.

Additionally, he apparently didn't use the front bedroom, and had shut the radiator off. So there's a bit of a "damp" problem in there. Today we shuffled stuff around all day, trying to clean mildewy spots and move furniture to where it needed to be, which was no small feat considering all the extra crap in here. When we moved the nicer wardrobe from the front room into our bedroom, we realized the extent of the damp problem in that room. It wasn't actually "damp," but "wet." Half the wall was actually wet. However the landlord luckily supplied a dehumidifier for us, and it's working away. My hope is that with some heat and a dehumidifier, cleaning, and a bit of paint, we can say good-bye to the damp and mildew.

But seriously I'd like to punch the previous tenant in the mouth. The filter on the washer/dryer unit appears to never have been cleaned out. The inside of the microwave is RUSTED (yes, the microwave is rusted -- you read that right) -- because the dude never took the plastic off the vent on it, so the moisture has never escaped. It's literally the dirtiest microwave I've ever seen. Every nook and cranny seems to contain some new horror.

HOWEVER, having said that...I think this place has amazing potential. The kitchen is adorable. We've been cleaning it and re-arranging things to get it work-able. The livingroom will be spectacular with a coat of paint and some nice things on the walls. It's just not as much space as we'd hoped. Actually I take that back -- it's just that we have too much STUFF. But it will all fit nicely with some planning (and maybe help from Ikea). We are going to get rid of the bed in the front room, move the small futon from the living room into there, and then snag one of Mark's uncle's extra arm chairs for its place. The landlord said she would pay for paint, so all we have to do is pick some colors and do it. I'm thinking a nice simple caramel for the living room.

But the biggest thing is cleaning. The guy who lived here before clearly never cleaned once while he lived here. The shower is downright disgusting. The only thing to do is re-grout the tiles. But despite all the work that needs doing, when I look around I see a vision of it in my head and I can't wait to execute it!

Tomorrow we start cooking, and won't stop until Friday afternoon. Then it's back to home improvement. Merry Christmas, everyone!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I will never be a bag lady.

And by that I mean I will never be one of those people who gives a bunch of presents in gift bags. One thing about living in a different country is that you discover your customs are foreign in ways you never expected. For example: in my house, when you give a gift that's soft, like clothing, you wrap it in a box. Usually, the store will give you said box for free. Maybe this is why they call America the land of plenty -- all you gotta do is say, "Can I get a box with that?" and there you go, FREE BOX for your wrapping pleasure. I quickly realized that gift boxes aren't really a "thing" here, but I thought no problemo, I'll just buy gift boxes somewhere. Because at home you can buy them at any pharmacy, stationery store, or department store. Well, let me just say I've been to a LOT of shops in Dublin this week, and there are no gift boxes to be had. I mean, Easons had these really small fancy things that looked like pre-wrapped boxes, but not clothing gift boxes. Just gift bags. Everywhere.

Mark insisted that his family wraps soft items as-is, and that it was "the way it's done," but I actually did not believe him. But then I talked to a friend about it and she corroborated his testimony. Not only that, but she didn't get what I even meant, that's how foreign the concept of gift boxes for clothing was. She also said that half the fun of Christmas was feeling the presents and trying to guess what they were. After a brief pause, I said, "Yeah...we tried to guess by shaking the boxes."

The idea of wrapping an irregularly shaped object is horrifying to me. Everything must be in a box!!! Is that weird? Even if it is, I still think it's better than handing someone a gift bag

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A Study in Irish Politics. (Language not suitable for Children.)

You know, he sure would have sounded a lot less crazy if he hadn't apologized in the next breath. If you have the guts to yell F*** you in the Dail, then I don't see why you should take it back.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

A strange thing happened the other day. I was on the 123 bus, headed home, getting off at the next stop. I stood a couple of feet back from the driver, behind the line, facing a row of seats, waiting to get off, when the woman across from me leaned over, touched my hand that gripped the pole, and said, "Dear....Would you say a prayer for me?" I said, "Sure!" As soon as I said that, we passed a church, and everyone around me crossed themselves.

It was a truly surreal moment. The poor woman probably chose the only atheist on the bus to say a prayer for her. But I did it just the same.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Remember Gary Numan? If you grew up in the 80s or were an adult in the 80s, you do. Maybe you were even a "Numanoid" back in the day! Well, can you believe that his album "Pleasure Principle" came out THIRTY years ago? I know, right? Here, you can reminisce over the video for one of his biggest hits, "Cars."

I've never seen someone look so cool while playing the tambourine. (I tried to find a youtube of his performance of it on Urgh! A Music War, but to no avail.)

Anyhoo - the show was at Tripod (you may remember me complaining about their stingy whiskey pouring a few weeks ago), which is a pretty good-sized venue (maybe a third bigger than the Paradise in Boston), and I had honestly wondered if maybe it would be half empty, not knowing if anyone would remember him after all this time, and especially after that industrial phase he went through in the 90s. But when we showed up during the opening act, the place was already quite full. And the crowd was enthusiastic!! Which was good because it was a pretty elaborate setup compared to the shows I generally go to. Lots of lights!

(photo by Barry Delaney)
Of course, since this was the "Pleasure Principle Tour 2009" he started off with a bunch of old hits, which the crowd went wild for. At the start, I rolled up a napkin and shoved the rolls into my ears, like I always do (I really need to start buying earplugs!), because I am fiercely protective of my hearing. But then halfway through the first song I thought, "You know what? I'm going to live a little. This isn't so loud. I can take it." He had four synthesizers, a bass player, and a drummer. The sound was big. I thought to myself, if he keeps this up, it will be amazing! But then, out went two of the synthesizers and in came two guitars. Time for the new stuff. I thought people would be rude about it, but as I looked around, the crowd was still very supportive. There wasn't the loose excitement in the air as with the old songs, but that could have also been because of the nature of the new songs, which are extremely heavy. For those songs, I put the makeshift earplugs back in!

But it made me think of something. Here's Gary Numan, he had all those hit songs when he was young. Then the years went on. He explored other musical avenues -- he evolved. He isn't the same person or the same musician as he was back then. But the love for his older music lives on, and let's face it, he has never had a hit like those old songs. He moved on, but his fans, overall, have not. It must be such a pain. I wonder if he resents his earlier music.

Here's what Gary had to say on his website about last night's show: "So, just finished the show in Dublin. Great crowd. We had a fairly catastrophic failure of one of the keyboard computers during Pure (we are using three this time for various duties) which took a few minutes to sort out. Luckily the crowd were very understanding. Our trusty back-up system failed at its first challenge. That idea obviously needs a rethink. Apart from that, the tour has been amazing so far. I'm playing keyboards on most of the Pleasure Principle songs which is a lot of fun for me and I'm really enjoying myself. The PP songs sound far stronger than I thought they would, the newer songs in the second half seem to work really well, the lights (when we can fit them all in) look absolutely stunning. I'm very happy."

Poor Gary though. He is wearing the worst rug I've ever seen. It looks like a crow died on his head. I guess we all have to age. Here's another shot from the show last night

(photo by Barry Delaney)

I really enjoyed the show overall, but towards the end I was disturbed by some of the images he used as his backdrop were not cool for me -- they were images of women looking like cadavers, clearly alive, but dripping in blood and looking like they'd been dug up alive. First off, that really isn't an original motif. It's like yeah, yeah, we know you're heading into goth territory, we get it. But maybe throw some bloody guys in there, too? I didn't like the sort of sexualisation of bloody dismembered women. It wasn't cool. Or frightening. It was just lame.

But I am still very happy that we went! After the show we grabbed a pint at Anseo, which I had never been to. I liked the atmosphere. It might be a little too packed on a weekend night, but for a Tuesday night it was perfect. But having skipped dinner, I was starving, so we grabbed a couple of Falafel sandwiches and then headed home!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Today's Irish Times featured two articles about immigration/emigration. While I wasn't surprised at all by what the articles said, the story they tell is no less annoying in my mind.

The first article, "Poll shows hardening of attitude toward migrants" says that according to the newspaper's poll, "the vast majority (72 per cent) of people want to see a reduction in the number of non-Irish immigrants living here." They go on to say that young people (ages 18 to 24) feel this most strongly. YET, the article goes on to say that the poll also showed that "some 40 per cent of those in the 18-24 age group say they are likely to emigrate" -- the highest of all the groups. So many of the same people who want to get rid of immigrants also want to become immigrants themselves. That's sort of hypocritical, don't you think?

The sad part, to me: "People in rural areas and those from less well-off backgrounds are also more likely to support a reduction in the number of foreign workers based here." That is, people who are most exploited by the government and capitalist system are least likely to blame the actual problems causing them to have lowered access to work rather than the scapegoat of the immigrant.

The other related article was called, "Lack of jobs brings change in attitudes to migration." The article seems to justify people's misguided fears, saying, "With mounting job losses and increased competition for scarce posts, it is little surprise to see enthusiasm for immigration has cooled significantly." Sure, it's not surprising. But it's also frightening. With these attitudes come action. Violence against immigrants has risen by a third over the past two years. I have personally seen people with dark skin on the street get yelled at by Irish nationals on more than one occasion. (Three, to be exact.) And yet the Irish are literally sprinkled around the globe. The proclivity for the Irish to migrate is a well known fact. So why this attitude? Maybe those who have chosen to stay and tough it out feel they have more rights than other people. I've heard people say that Irish-born have more of a right than non-nationals to get State financial aid. But what makes one human being more deserving of food, water, shelter, and health care than another one? It's an attitude I cannot get my head around. People who emigrate do so in search of something better for themselves, just as the Irish themselves have been doing for hundreds of years. We are all the world's citizens. I don't understand why we can't try to take care of each other.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Last weekend, Mark and I wanted to do something a little different. We biked over to South William Street to a place called Spy, which Mark had read reviews of. When we walked in, the music was very promising. We grabbed a drink upstairs, and I figured we'd enjoy some dancing there. However, we search up and down for a dance floor, and there wasn't one! All the ladies looked like they just came from Penny's (that would be like Rave to you US folks). I had put together what I thought was a very cool and fashionable outfit, but I definitely didn't fit the crowd. We agreed to try somewhere else where we could get our dance on.

We chose the Button Factory. When we walked in, no one was dancing, but there was some good people watching. Neither of us recognized any of the music, which isn't really a big thing -- I like to hear music that I've never heard before -- but none of it made me want to get up and dance. It wasn't until rather late that people started to move onto the dance floor. They sort of trickled in -- the first was a drunken couple doing a sort of sloppy lambada.

Anyways, it was an ok night out, but I don't think I'll go back to either of those places looking for dancing!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

When I told people I was moving to Ireland, some people said, "Oooh! Free healthcare!" Well, on the one hand, it's pretty cool to have a medical card and not have to pay for medical care. On the other hand, here's how that plays out. Remember my rant about the new Irish policy about pap smears (aka smear test)? Well I figured I should run out and get one before the policy was implemented, so I did.

Several weeks later, I received a letter from the Health Service Executive (HSE) to call my doctor for the results. Admittedly, I put this off. So a few weeks ago, when Mark was in our doctor's office, she told him to tell me to give her a call. I called. And called. And called. And...called. Finally, I got in touch with the doctor, who told me that my test came back abnormal and that she would refer me to have a colposcopy.

Let's compare to how this went down in the US five years ago when I had a bad pap: A couple weeks after my appointment, my doctor called me personally to tell me the results, and referred me for a colposcopy, which I was able to get within a week or two.

Ok, so back to the here and now. So when I talked to the doctor on Friday, she mentioned that I would need to pick up a referral letter from her office...on Tuesday. Okey doke. On Tuesday I show up, get the letter, and I'm not sure what to do with it, but I call the Rotunda and the dude on the phone tells me that I have to physically bring the referral letter, which contains the lab results, to the Colposcopy Clinic, at which time my results will be evaluated and scored in terms of how severe it is. The people who do the lab test triage (only two doctors) only do so on Wednesdays and Thursdays. In two weeks, I'll get a letter saying that I've been put into the list to get an appointment.

When I brought the referral letter to the clinic, I was told that if my lab results are as bad as they can be, the soonest appointment I'll get will be in FEBRUARY. So I could have cancer and I wouldn't find out for three months, basically. Luckily, I looked at the labs and I know that I only have a slight abnormality, and I'm not overly concerned for myself. But if I were actually ill, I would be majorly screwed. Still, I won't get an appointment until March or April, most likely.

Know what's crazy though? The guy at the clinic said that the clinic has only been swamped like this since Jade Goody died. So essentially her death caused loads of women to get smear tests. And those who had abnormalities probably never would have gotten them checked out and would be walking around not getting treatment. I know that a lot of people thought it was lame how public she made her death, but actually it seems like doing it that way has done some good in educating people.

I don't want friends and family reading this to be worried -- I'm sure it's nothing at all, and even if I have dysplasia, there are treatments to take care of it. So I'm not worried, and neither should you be! However I wanted to make this post because I think people should know that "free" medical care isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I just realized that I never blogged about Halloween! I guess it's a bit late, but better than never! Mark and I went to a Zombie party at Seomra Spraoi. Boy, zombie costumes are easy to get together. First off, for my outfit I used clothing that Mark's mom had given me. (I think she thinks I don't dress girly enough!) And then for Mark's outfit we went to "the Hill" aka an outdoor flea market area where he picked up a shirt and some jeans for a couple of bucks. Then we shredded them all up and I used red watercolors that I had in my art supplies for blood, some talcum powder, and eyeshadow. The effect was nice! Though I'm only going to post small versions of the photos:

The party was a whole lot of fun, and we danced a bit, which is always good. But it's funny, I've seen hundreds of photos from the party, and in those, not one is of me and/or Mark! Oh well!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Ripped from the headlines!

Supreme Court confirms golf club's right to exclude women

I find this to be a bummer, but it isn't surprising at all. It was only a few years ago that women were even allowed in bars here. See, most pubs are set up in a manner I don't think I had ever seen in the US: you've got the Bar section, which was traditionally only for men to bro down, and then you've got the Lounge section, which is for men and women. Even though it's been a few years since it became illegal to refuse to serve women in the Bars, still many Bars are predominately male.

A few months ago, Mark and I went to this pub called the Hut in Phibsboro, and we decided to sit at the bar. There was an old dude sitting next to me, ranting about something or other. I didn't really pay him much attention, and then after a drink or two Mark said he wanted to leave. When we got outside, he said to me, "How about that guy next to you, huh? Going on and on about women in bars!" Then I thought back to what the man had been saying. He was talking about how bars used to be so great, but now they are crap because they aren't all men anymore. He was ranting about a pub in Fairview that refused to serve a woman, so she sued them, and ("Can you believe it?") she won! Yes, the whole world is going to hell in a hand basket.

So I guess that dude from the Hut must be feeling pretty smug today.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Well I have a lot of catching up again, as usual! After today I will make a concerted effort to be more regular with my updates. I've been procrastination city lately!

So, after months of hard work, RAG finally produced the fourth issue of their magazine,"The Rag." And if I do say so, it looks pretty amazing. Here I am, holding my brand new copy fresh from the printer:

The magazine was printed just in time for the London Anarchist Book fair and our magazine launch party at Housmans Book Shop.

I really lucked out because I was informed about this Anarchist Seminar that was taking place in London the day before the launch party, and they were offering travel funding for participants. So I applied, and they actually paid for my travel to and from London! Otherwise I would not have been able to go. It only cost about 71 euro (105 USD) to get there and back, but that's 71 euro I really didn't have.

I further lucked out because one of the London anarcha-feminists agreed to put us up at her place, so I also didn't have to pay for accommodation. With free travel and a free place to stay, all I had to pay for was getting around on the bus and tube (a 20 pound Oyster card lasted me four days), and my food -- and I actually managed to get some extremely cheap food while I was there, so to be honest, I probably spent less on my trip to London than I would have if I'd stayed home!

Anyhoo - I had a fantastic time. Here's a rundown of my trip.
Thursday: My friend and fellow ragster, Holly, and I did the sail and rail, which entailed taking a DART (that's like the commuter rail to my Boston friends) to Dún Laoghaire, then we went to the grocery store to stock up on cheap eats for the trip and beyond because the prices for food along our journey were going to be ridiculous, not to mention the nutritional value. Then we hopped on the Ferry. I don't know WHY - but I was expecting something a lot smaller and a lot skimpier -- more like the ferry that takes you to Staten Island or the ferry that takes you to Burano and Murano in Venice. But this was much bigger and flashier, complete with a "casino room" that had electronic slot machines in it. I took a photo just to give an idea of the interior:

The ferry was about two hours, which was plenty for me because there were a lot of swells and I was feeling quite green by the time we got to Wales. From there, we got three trains into London. I actually have no idea how long that took -- over three hours, I think. By the time we got to Euston Station in London, I was pretty freaking tired. But then I said good-bye to Holly, who was staying with a friend, and hopped on a bus to a neighborhood called Stoke Newington. A very nice woman, my host for the weekend, named Sue, was waiting for me when I got off the bus.

You know what is cool? Getting off a bus in a foreign country, meeting up with a complete stranger, having a nice chat, and staying over her house, knowing that you are safe and taken care of. The anarcha-feminist community is such a small and supportive network -- I feel blessed to be part of it. So I fell asleep, and in the morning Sue gave me keys to her place so I could come and go as I pleased.

Friday: I set off in search of the seminar. It was called a "Drifting Seminar," and you were supposed to figure out where it was taking place by following Twitter posts. This was a challenge, as I don't have internet on my phone, and I didn't have my computer, but I managed to figure it where it was (luckily in Hackney, not far from where I was staying), and Holly and I spent the morning sitting in a circle in a park with about 15 other people talking about all different sorts of things. I wasn't sure I would have anything to say, but as it turns out, I did make a couple of comments that added to/ sparked an interesting discussion, so I didn't feel useless.

Then we broke for lunch, and everyone walked up the road to Pogo Cafe for a nice vegan meal. I had a "punk burger" which was delicious. Everyone started mingling and chatting each other up and getting acquainted. Here we are after lunch, waiting to make our next move:

Then we all hopped on a bus and went to the London Action Resource Centre, or LARC for short, which is kind of like a small Seomra Spraoi (and if you're a Boston friend, I have no analogy to make). We were joined by a few more and continued our conversation, which didn't flow as naturally as before, but was productive nonetheless. But then Holly and I had to bag out because we had to go to our magazine launch party!! YAY!

Clare, Ariel, Shonagh, and Sheila were all coming from Dublin on Friday, so we kind of expected that they'd all beat us there, with piles of magazines in hand, but we were a little surprised and dismayed to arrive at 7:05pm, five minutes late, and be the first RAG people to arrive. But all was saved when the others arrived shortly thereafter! The book store provided wine and chairs, and we presented our magazine and our individual articles, and took many questions from the attendees. Here's what it looked like from my perspective at the back of the store:

And here's what it looked like from the front of the store, facing towards me:

The launch was so successful. We sold about 40 copies of the magazine, and left a bunch more. The respect given to RAG was impressive -- this group has been going strong for over four years now, and is well known in its little circle. I think a lot of groups like ours would really like to produce a magazine as well, and so we got a lot of questions about our process and about some of the nuts and bolts of production. I felt like we were sharing valuable information and ideas. I wish everyone in the group could have been there.

After the launch, a large group of people went to a pub to continue celebrating. I couldn't believe how inexpensive the alcohol was compared to Dublin. I got a shot of Knob Creek whiskey (KC - how I missed you!) for like two pounds -- I couldn't believe it. Luckily, we didn't stay out too too late, because I was tired! Here's a photo outside the pub of Sheila and Sue (left), the woman I stayed with:

This captures the jovial mood we were all in.

Saturday: The day of the Anarchist Book Fair! Held at Queen Mary College (part of London University, I think) his thing was pretty huge. I think there were three big rooms full of tables with vendors. You could get all manner of items: t-shirts, patches, books, posters, art prints, magazines, fanzines, DVDs, and more. People think of anarchism as a term to mean chaos, or even nihilism, and so it can be a little confusing for those who think of anarchy as only a punk thing. It's not. People of all ages and styles and races are anarchists. This was my first anarchist book fair, and so it was fun for me to see so many people there. And there were workshops being held in different rooms throughout the day.

Here's a photo collage to give an idea of what the room we were in was like. It was actually much more crowded at times than in this photo:

There was also really tasty vegan food there that you could feast on for merely a donation. YUM.

Here's our table, which we shared with a fantastic RAG friend from Finland, with her lovely patches and things, and our distro stuff. That's the lovely Clare on the right:

I guess it's customary to go to this one gigantic bar down the street after the fair each year, so of course we had to do that. Then we were off to a party at the anarchist book store called Freedom Bookshop:

But then everyone I was with wanted to go to a squat party. I went along, but felt really uneasy once we got there because there was a mob out on the sidewalk and the police were there. When the police started to multiply, I started to get more nervous. However, I think I was the only one! Here's what it looked like from across the street (sorry that it's so dark):

I was trying to go with the flow, but then when they announced that they wanted to get everyone inside as quickly as possible and to "get your five pounds ready" I was like NO WAY. I just had to admit to myself that I wasn't comfortable going inside to a place that I envisioned as being really crowded. I realized that I officially am not punk, and maybe have turned into an old fart, but I was like "I gotta go!" and gave everyone a hug and took off. It wasn't the best neighborhood and I had literally NO idea which direction Sue's apartment was (though I did know that it wasn't that far away), but I managed to hail a cab and get home for only ten pounds -- much cheaper than paying to get into the party and buying drinks all night. When I walked into Sue's, the relief I felt to be in for the night told me that I'd made the right decision.

As it turns out, the party was not crowded inside, because the place was gigantic, which you couldn't tell from the outside. But judging from the rough shape everyone was in the next day (not to mention stolen items at the party), I never regretted my decision.

Sunday: After a nice late sleep in, Holly and I met Sheila at a feminist networking meeting at LARC. Getting to chat with so many like-minded women made a huge impression on me, and felt comforting in so many ways. We brainstormed ideas of things we'd like to do in the future, and they served a much needed meal to all the attendees.

After the meeting, we had a little time to kill, so Holly, Sheila and I walked around London over to Tower Bridge, which embarrassingly I had never even heard of. It's huge:

I took some silly photos, and then Holly insisted that she take one of me too:

You might notice that I chopped off my hair. I forgot to blog about that!

Another couple shots of the bridge:

And then we all spit off the bridge into the water below, because that's what ladies do:

We went back to Sue's for a nice early night, where one of the other London women was hanging out over some wine. Holly and Sheila made hot whiskeys and we all chatted for a few hours. On Monday, Sheila and I woke up early and caught a bus, five trains, a ferry, and two other buses back to Dublin. Holly stayed on for another day.

The long weekend was one of the best I've ever had, full of positivity, fun, new friends, and incredible kindness. My host, Sue, was generous and kind, and not only that, a real cool lady. I hope she comes to Dublin so I can return the favor! Although I have to say -- I was really, really happy to come home. :)

Monday, October 19, 2009

On Saturday night RAG hosted a film screening at Seomra Spraoi: two documentary films concerning the subject of abortion. The first, "Abortion Democracy: Poland-South Africa" was a comparison of Poland taking away the right to legal abortion and South Africa's granting it. Yet, paradoxically, it is actually easier to obtain an illegal abortion in Poland than it is to get a legal one in South Africa, since the proper infrastructures have not been put in place in South Africa.

The second film, "The Coat Hanger Project" was about what's happening in the US since Roe vs. Wade is now 36 years old. Essentially the Anti-Choice movement has been growing and gaining strength due to people's complacency -- especially since anyone roughly 40 or younger has no memory of the US before legal abortion.

The film makers, Sarah and Angie, were lovely lovely people. We took a group photo after the event:

After the films we all went to a housewarming party at a place quite near our house, which was very convenient. I announced that this was my first real party since coming to Ireland, much to everyone's surprise and dismay! I received many heartfelt apologies, which was very sweet. The wine was flowing and everyone was in a grand old mood. I had a fantastic time, and even danced to a few songs, thus unveiling the "video ho" to my friends here. I also took a short film of people dancing. You can't see much, but I find it incredibly telling of the good time had by all nevertheless:

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Remember that first time I was an extra on my favorite soap opera, Fair City?? Well, the two scenes I was in aired! I didn't think they would be on until Sunday, so naturally I started yelling, "That's me! That's meeee!" when I suddenly appeared on my own television screen.

Then I made dorky animated gifs of myself. (in the background, of course!)

Yesterday we had a nice fun-filled day. First, when we woke up, we did some much needed strength training. As the weather gets a little nippier, my waist is getting a little bigger. I mean, my pants still fit, but they aren't as loose as they were this summer after I came back from Florida, that's for sure! Then we went up to Uncle Billy's house to check on him and help him do some things around the house. After all that was done, we figured we had earned a visit to the Paulaner Oktoberfest that was going on at the IFSC, in the Docklands. Since it was a free event, we figured we should check it out!

Our steins are proportioned to our body size! Inside the big tent:

The band:

Sadly there was no free beer, and even the soft pretzels cost 2 euro each, We still managed to sample the delicious Paulaner on tap for not too much money, and enjoy people watching and the band, which cost nothing. A lot of the long tables were reserved, but we scored a couple of seats on a table right up next to the band, and miraculously we didn't get kicked off either!

I asked a woman next to us to take our photo, but as you can tell from the quality of the picture, she may have had a couple of steins of beer:

I took a little video of the band, for your amusement:

Then we headed over to the Dublin to Gaza benefit gig at Tripod. The idea was that in addition to being a fundraiser, the concert would also be shown live on a large screen in Gaza. However, apparently they were experiencing power outages, so that sadly didn't happen.

When we first walked in, Liam Ó Maonlaí from the Hothouse Flowers was playing. It wasn't really our thing, so we hung out in the bar area, where I got the tiniest whiskey I've ever had in my life. I actually complained, which I've never done in my 15 years of being legal drinking age. I said to the guy that it was the smallest whiskey I'd ever seen and he said it was a full "Irish measure," holding up a measuring cup, and if I wanted more, I'd "pay more." It seemed so crappy to me that a barman would measure out a shot and not throw in a little extra. Not for 5.50, anyways!! So needless to say I didn't order another drink.

We strolled back into the venue as MC Lowkey was performing. He was really good! It's nice to see rap that isn't all about bling and commercialism.

I took a little video of him rapping down the alphabet:

Then the Irish band Kíla came on. The crowd was really pumped. Kíla definitely have a very Irish sound, using traditional instruments like the Bodhrán, whistle, and fiddle. Apparently last night's show was low-key for them, and usually it's like a gigantic mosh pit with people jumping up and down in excitement. To most of the audience, their music stirred up something old within, but for me the music was exotic, and so the entire experience was fascinating. My eyes flitted back and forth from the performers to the audience, many of whom were jumping up and down with excitement through much of the show.

We biked home, having had a long day full of things to think about!
Well, as you may or may not know, Hillary Clinton was in Ireland recently for a couple of days. Her visit engendered one of the most wacky newspaper headlines I've ever seen, mostly because I have no freaking idea what it means. Here it is:
Hillary does the power trip and then the glad-handing love-in

Without consulting anyone, I just can't fathom what a "glad-handing love-in" means. I hope it's a good thing, though. Because it sounds a little PG-13 if you ask me!
The other day I saw something new. I was at the bus stop, waiting in front of somewhat heavy traffic when an ambulance went by. I noticed that the young woman standing next to me was giving herself the sign of the cross. Then another ambulance went by and she did it again. That's when I looked up and saw a guy in the van on the street in front of me crossing himself too, and then another person in another car too. To me, this is such an emblem of how religious people in Ireland can be. But also, maybe, how superstitious.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

My first autumn in Dublin. It's getting chilly out and the smell of burning peat is in the air (and I'm sure it's no coincidence that my asthma is flaring up too). This is my first autumn in my life away from the Northeast of the US. Now, the leaves are falling here just as they do back home. But oh do I miss the foliage!

Back home the leaves are turning bright yellow, orange, and red. Here they just seem to turn a yellowish brown and fall off. It's kind of a let down! But maybe there is foliage to be found outside of the city. Still, I can't believe it would ever match the spectacular views of New England!
A week ago Monday I had another turn at being on the small screen. This time, I got to work on the outdoor set of Fair City! On the RTE grounds there stands a little fake street in a little fake town called Carrigstown. Apparently they used to film on an actual street, but after a while that became too complicated, so they recreated the street on the RTE grounds. When we stepped on set, the crew wasn't around yet, so naturally I whipped out my camera:

These buildings might look real, but they are all made of some kind of heavy duty plaster or something. When you knock on what you think is a cement block, it sounds hallow or something. Even the houses to the right are fake. I must admit, they got it dead on.

My day was mostly spent strolling up and down this "street" in circles while various scenes were performed. Once I got to walk out of Vinos while a scene was being filmed on the table in front. But my key scene was the courthouse scene. I got to come out of the "courthouse" after the actors and be fake interviewed on the courthouse steps while the actors had a conversation down on stage left. I can't wait to see what that looks like!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Rag are hosting a film screening and discussion in Seomra Spraoi on October 17th, at 8pm.

Two film makers are on tour with films they have made on the subject of abortion. The first one is called The Coat Hanger Project
and the second is Abortion Democracy: Poland/South Africa
The film makers will be there to talk about the films so there should be some great discussion afterward.
Because both of us are out of work, we don't do a whole lot of things that aren't free or nearly free, but we did splurge just a little recently -- Mark surprised me with tickets to see the band Jesus Lizard at the Button Factory. I hadn't seen them play live since before they broke up. They played with Boys vs. Girls in Providence, Rhode Island and the show was incredible. Mark and I actually saw a Jesus Lizard cover band play in Boston two years ago, and even that was fantastic.

When it was time to leave for the show, I wasn't sure if I was in the mood for a show that night, but when we got there I started to get psyched. But then when they played those first few notes, I was screaming like a Beetles fan. I tried to take photos, but without a flash they didn't come out like much.

The crowd was extremely enthusiastic, and people were crowd surfing like it was 1993 all over again. ha ha! Since I may not get the chance to ever see them play live again, I was pretty pumped about having tickets to this show.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

A couple of weeks ago, I really felt like seeing a movie, so Mark and I went to The Lighthouse Cinema over in Smithfield to see the one movie we could agree on. Holy moly, the Lighthouse has got to be the fanciest movie theater I've ever been to. When you walk in, you feel like you're walking into a museum. Then you walk down the stairs to where the movies are, and it's like an Escher drawing. It didn't feel like a movie theater at all. There's even a little museum-style cafe in it. But they do give discounts for people on the dole, so that was cool. And the snacks didn't seem to be any more than at a regular theater.

We saw this British movie called "Fish Tank." I read the description at home, and once again proved the master of predicting plot lines. Unfortunately, the movie included a kind of disturbing statutory rape scene, which I totally called from the description, but otherwise I thought it was a really good film. But I will definitely try to go back to the Lighthouse Cinema again!
Jeezum I guess it's been a while! I still feel busy, even though of course I haven't gotten a job. I've been doing layout for the annual magazine that RAG puts out, which entailed teaching myself how to use InDesign. If I had known how relatively straightforward it is, I would have taught myself a long time ago and would have probably been able to get a better job back in Boston. Anyhoo - I think it's going to look fantastic, and I hope that the women in my group thinks so too. It's the fourth issue of the magazine, and they seem to get just a little better each time.

So, catching up, back on the 19th, Mark and I went to the art space called The Joinery to see a documentary about Bow Street. I didn't realize it at the time, but it was part of the Fringe Fest. Here's the description of the movie, aptly named Bow Street, by Tadhg O'Sullivan: "Shot and recorded over a month on a narrow Dublin street of bustling barristers, bowed street-drinkers, box-ticking tourists, proud and shamed seekers-of-a-free-lunch at the Capuchin day centre, Bow St. is a film and exhibition that hurries and slows to the criss-crossing paces of a hundred passers-by. The camera traces the movements and pauses of everyday lives; voices drift in and out with personal stories, musings on life and love, fuck ups and forgiveness, holding on and letting go. A unique look past the assumed anonymity of our urban lives."

It was a voyeuristic view of the street, at times funny, but mostly sad. I guess I felt odd watching this documentary in an artist gallery, being all hoity toity while the people on the screen were in such rough shape. I liked the way it didn't have a voice-over the way a traditional documentary does, but at the same time, sometimes they would put captions on the screen to highlight what people were saying, yet they didn't caption every word. This meant that only certain phrases came up on the screen, taken, in some cases, out of context. On one hand, it drew your attention in an interesting way to things you might not have taken notice of, but on the other hand, I sort of resented the fact that my attention was handed to me on a plate like that. Visually, there was never a dull moment in the film.

I had never been to the Joinery before, and I really enjoyed the space. Out front was a photography exhibition, which consisted of stills from the movie along with headphones for each photograph. When you put the headphones on, you felt suddenly like you weren't looking at a still, but a moving picture. The movie was shown in a back room lined with couches and chairs. We brought a couple of beers and drank them while we watched the movie. It was quite comfortable (though maybe would have been more so if we'd have gotten seats!).

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Fringe Festival has been going on in Dublin. This is a performance festival that happens all over the city at various locations, with all kinds of performance. We went to a show called Nurse Me that was held at St. Brendan's Hospital at Grangegorman. St Brendan's Hospital was established in 1814, then known as the Richmond Asylum, and was one of the first Public Hospitals in Ireland designated to treat the mentally ill. Needless to say, not the most traditional setting for a play!

The audience was led into a small, candle lit room, and while the actress told the story, another actress took people, three at a time, into another room. Then we were led into a larger room, where the bulk of the action took place. The rooms were fantastic. Here are some photos, taken by the Fringe Festival photographer (the women in white dresses are obviously the performers):

Monday, September 14, 2009

Yesterday, Mark and I hopped on a 145 bus with our friend Hilary and went to Kilmacanogue to climb the Sugarloaf. It was well over an hour on the bus, which dropped us off at a gas station at the foot of a hill below the Sugarloaf. To get up to where people usually start, we had to walk an hour uphill on this windy road that was lined with nettles and thorns and didn't have much of a breakdown lane, so we had to keep crossing the road at the bends to maximize our visibility. We were yelled at by bikers zooming down the hill! But once we got to the top of the road, where most people drive up to to climb, it was beautiful.
On our way, we passed a few of these little shrines:

Here's a little shack on the road right before we got to the bottom of the Sugarloaf:

Off in the distance, there was the Sugarloaf:

Then, as we approached, there were friendly horses hanging out:

They let people go right up and touch them:

I took this big girl's photo, and then I guess I made the mistake of looking her in the eye too long because suddenly I got a funny feeling, and I said, "I don't like this!" and walked away, but she followed me! Having a horse follow you like a dog is a very bizarre thing! Eventually I was left off the hook.

They were just so beautiful...

It took about twenty minutes to climb to the top, and it was more of a scramble at some points, but the effort was well worth it. Here are our shadows, up at the top:

Of course there's no way to convey the view in its glory, but I still tried:

Click on this image to watch a short video of the view:
From Sugarloaf

And of course, happy feet:

Hanging out on the edge:

And coming down:

We had just enough time to grab a well-deserved pint at the pub next to the gas station, and then we hopped on the bus back to Dublin.