Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Last night, for a little change of pace, we went to see a fashion show! I had to buy tickets to the show, which made me wince a little, but I guess considering that they served complimentary drinks, it was actually not a bad "value" at all. I got to see some really nice local fashion, see a new venue, and also we hung out with a new acquaintance, we'll call her A2, a very nice woman we met at Seomra Spraoi on Sunday who moved to Ireland a month ago from South Africa. So really, many good things all rolled into one event!

I am going to write a more extensive review on what I thought of the actual fashion in the show on my fashion-related blog, but there were some really beautiful pieces in the show, and you know what? Even the ones I wasn't so hot for were inspiring! I would love to get involved with some kind of show like this, but I first need to get a lot more practice in, and invest some dollars into some good fabric for a collection (as opposed to the yard sale fabric I am currently working with haha). I've started on the pattern for my next piece, and it's going ok, but I realized how long it's been since I have worked "on the flat," and how much I never really enjoyed it! I much prefer to drape on the dress form. However, this is really good for me! Because I will learn a LOT by having to do something I don't enjoy so much, and I will have to learn how to flat pattern something I would have previously slapped on the dress form and draped.

I did get a couple of shots in, though as you can see my camera is ancient and the models in motion came out blurry. Still, you get the feel for the space inside the show. I forgot to take a photo of the reception area, which was a large warehouse studio space -- very bright, and gigantic. I wondered how they use the space regularly when there aren't events there.

After we walked A2 to her bus, we grabbed a couple of pints at my favorite bar, the Welcome Inn. It was, as usual, completely dead inside and smelled like the vaults at Saint Michan's where they keep the mummies, but I just really love it in there because aside from the music, it's like walking into a time warp when you go in. Mark and I debated our usual topics of capitalism, ideology, and cultural identity, and then caught the bus home.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

So things are moving right along, and getting better here. I don't have crippling homesickness like I was having back in March, which is a huge relief. The weather is improved, but man if it isn't still raining a LOT. It puts a damper on things, like oh, being OUTSIDE, but at least it's not massively cold and rainy like it was when I got here.

The job thing though...I just don't think it's going to happen for me any time soon. I know of two Americans that have come here since I've been here and they've both gotten jobs. The first is a girl who is here on a student visa. She coincidentally got a job in the Hostel she is living in. The other guy is a dude who came here with his wife who got relocated for her job (she's American too). He applied to like hundreds of jobs before he started to get any nibbles, but the thing about this dude is that he has tons and tons of restaurant manager experience. He has opened restaurants and managed big places like Legal Seafoods. He has tons of wait staff experience (of course), hospitality, all that jazz. So he's really marketable in terms of work because when it comes to food service, the one with the most experience usually gets the job. He ended up taking a job that was way beneath him, but it seems to pay decently and he says it's easy enough. Still, even in the relatively cut and dry world of hospitality and food service, he spent literally hours every single day applying for jobs for over three months to get that one offer.

But for me - my experience is so specific to certain environments. I have a hard enough time finding jobs that aren't teaching jobs when I'm in the US and the economy is good, let alone in a foreign country whose economy is shitting the bed (no economic stimulus package here, that's for sure!) And the anti-immigrant attitude here is very very strong right now. I honestly feel that I have a disadvantage because I am an immigrant, or non-national, if you will. So each week I look at the job listings and apply for jobs I know I could do. But I don't treat applying for jobs as my job. Last week the convenience store, Londis (sort of like 7-11 or Store 24 back home), held open interviews for positions in their stores. Over 500 people were lined up around the block. This is emblematic of our times here.

I know I have a strong CV and a strong cover letter. I have great work experience and a Master's degree. But I never hear anything back. And I don't think I will for some time. Instead of spending hours and hours every day combing sites for more listings only to apply to more jobs and get the same rejection, I've decided to actually cut back on my job hunting time and instead invest my time into creating my new career, so that when the economic shade does lift, I can more easily enter the workforce in the Industry of my choice. I'm using part of my dole money to invest in fabric and notions with which I am making clothes for my etsy shop. I don't know if I'll sell anything on it, but that's not the point. I am doing something worthwhile with my time instead of walking a maze that leads nowhere.

And what's more, instead of walking around with the feelings of despair and hopelessness that spending hours applying for jobs I know I won't get brings, I walk around with hope that what I'm doing will lead to the fulfillment of my dreams. Maybe it's not the American dream, but an American's dream in Ireland.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

So in Massachusetts, there's a screen law. Landlords are required by law to put screens on all windows. Well, I sure wish they had that law here! Even though this is actually the nicest place I've probably ever lived in, none of our windows have screens. Right now I can count about six flies buzzing around our kitchen/livingroom. And our windows are such that we can't go out and buy screens and put them in ourselves -- these windows are un-screenable! I'm not sure what to do because it's...a problem. I'm about to go to the hardware store and buy some fly repellent doo-dads. But I think they are probably a bunch of malarkey.
To celebrate the completion of Paper One of Three for Mark's second semester of school, we went into town for some middle-eastern food and a couple drinks. We went to this little place on Parliament Street we'd been to a couple of times before, but we realized sort of quickly that the other times we went we were kind of maybe not-so-sober, and so our recollection of the food was, let's just say, not quite accurate. But it wasn't terrible.

Then, craving some decent draught beer, but not wanting to go anywhere particularly crowded or far away because we were on foot and it was raining, we decided to go to The Bull and Castle, which really feels like kind of a tourist trap in a way, because of its location and the way it's decorated, but they have a bunch of really good beer, so our need for quality drinking won out. BUT, as it turned out, it was quite pleasant in there! It wasn't too crowded, and the people in there seemed rather laid back -- our only complaint was that the music was a hair too loud, which made talking a little more challenging. It kind of reminded me of how the music in Bukowskis is always too loud. After we had our fill, we of course dropped into Spars (the local equivalent of Store-24) and bought snacks, but somehow decided that it was a good idea to buy a small pizza at Apache (a crappy pizza chain) too! But you know what, it wasn't so bad. We then went home so we could stuff our faces with it all and watch late night TV.

Today there's a big game next door at Tolka Stadium. I might get new batteries for my camera and try to take some photos!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Well after MUCH futzing, I have some good news on the making stuff front! My Etsy shop is back up and running with one item up for sale (though I couldn't figure out how to make it run on Euros, I figure it doesn't actually matter since I still have two US bank accounts and a US Paypal account) and my fashion blog up and running too! Of *course* there are still minor changes I would like to make, but I need to leave it be for the moment.

So here it is! The unveiling of MY ETSY SHOP



Now I am really excited to design my next item!

Friday, April 17, 2009

No pretty pictures or links to post today, I'm afraid! This morning when I woke up, I felt really motivated! So I got online, and I ordered Gypsy a fresh supply of Swedish cat food. (Reindeer was one of the flavors, and I will feel like I'm serving up Rudolph every time I feed it to her.) Then I went and ordered myself a TABLE for my sewing machine! No more sewing at our round, glass kitchen table that I keep thinking is going to shatter every time I sew fast! And I think I got a pretty good deal: 66 euro, including VAT and delivery. I can't wait to have a separate work space again. I would have liked to wait until July, when the new IKEA is opening, but man, I just couldn't wait until then. Sewing is so miserable in this little nook. And this table should be for eating, not used as my desk! Next thing I need to do is get my dress form shipped to me, and I will have most of my former studio here in Ireland.

So then I decided to get some sewing supplies in town. But wouldn't you know it, not thirty seconds into my shower and I came down with a migraine. I waited until the visuals were mostly over, and then I headed out. I picked up some snaps and knitting needles at the Trimmings store, and then decided to venture into town to this store called Hickey's which is sort of like the equivalent to Joann's fabric, the US fabric store chain, I guess, but much smaller and a little more boutiquey. They have one floor that is mostly bridal, and one floor that is mostly curtains and upholstery. Then the apparel fabrics But not only that, they are SO SO SO EXPENSIVE.

Let me give you some perspective on how expensive. At Joann's you can get cotton knit from about 1.99 to 6.99 US dollars per yard, which is about 1.53 to 5.36 Euro. But don't forget that it's yards, not meters, and keep in mind (for later) that a yard is .9144 meters.

At Hickey Fabrics, I found a knit fabric. It was a plain periwinkle color -- nothing to write home about (get it? irony!) -- just a plain cotton knit (it might have even been a cotton/poly blend). The price tag? 12.95 euro per meter! What the??? WHY? This fabric would cost me two US dollars per yard back home, why on earth would it be 12.95 euro, or 16.89 USD per meter, which comes out to $18.34 a yard. Can you believe that? I just could not pay that amount. You can buy a finished top for that much money! And then there's the expense of any notions, like buttons or zippers, or ribbons, etc. No one could possibly shop at these places for business. So I have to find another option. The cheapest fabric in there was this gaudy brown and gold knit for five euro a meter -- still too much, and not the look I am going for at all.

I miss Building 19!! So, for the moment I have some silk that I bought at a yard sale (it was 3 euro, and now I know what a fantastic deal that was!) and some striped cotton knit that I brought with me from home (bought at Building 19 for, yes, two USD per yard), and once that is used up, hopefully I'll have sourced out good, inexpensive fabric I can use to make garments to sell. I have some good ideas ready to go, and I don't want to be held up by not having material!

Speaking of which, I finally think I am finished with a dress I started literally three years ago. It was supposed to be a top for a school project at FIT, and I ran out of time to include it in my Term Garment project. But since the fabric was 55-dollars-a -yard silk (bought at the famous Mood Fabric - god that place is a rip-off) I hung onto it. I committed a big fabric no-no by making it into a dress by using what I had left of the fabric -- the big no-no was using the fabric cross-grain! I will never do that again, because it truly makes a huge difference -- the skirt and the bodice actually look like two different colors even though it's the same fabric. The dress is not my size, but would fit someone a little larger in the waist. I will take photos of it, as well as another great little dress I made a couple of weeks ago, and post them very soon!

Monday, April 13, 2009

We once had a landlord that looked like a serial killer just escaped from prison who said something quite profound about himself that I definitely identify with. In his Wolfman Jack-possessed-by-a-demon voice, he said, "If there's shit, I'll step in it." Not surprisingly, we took that landlord to small claims court. The judge ruled in my favor, but let's just say that no one won.

Today was one of those days when we definitely had to quote our former Landlord. The weekend weather was beautiful -- sunny skies, comparably warm, just really nice weather. But did we do anything adventurous? Oh, no. We decided that on Monday we'd go to Bray.

This morning it did seem a bit cloudy when we woke up. I looked up the weather report: 50F, 50% chance of rain in the afternoon. No worries! We took off at 2pm. It was spitting rain, but we weren't too concerned. But an hour later when we reached the seaside town of Bray, it was pouring rain. Not pleasant!

Since the Monday after Easter is considered a holiday here (Easter Monday, who woulda thunk?) most things were closed, and we were quickly getting soaked and cold, so we popped into The Porterhouse for something to eat and to dry off. We were ignored by most of the wait staff, sat ourselves, but got a nice seat by a fire, then finally put in an order, but their vegetarian options were extremely limited, and the only vegan item they had were french fries. They did have some nice beer though, and I thoroughly enjoyed the Temple Brau that I drank.

A little aside about the beer in Ireland. Americans think that great beer is coming out of the faucets here or something. They also seem to thing that Guinness is cheaper. Before I came over, when expressing worry over finding a job, I can't tell you how many people said things like, "Well, at least you can drink Guinness all the time!" You know, they don't give it out free at the dole office. In fact, a pint of Guinness is more expensive here than it is back home. In fact, I think pretty much all beer is more expensive here than back home, and that's not just because of the weak dollar. Secondly, in 85% of the bars here, the beer selection is utter crap, and the same ten beers. I really, really miss those wonderful craft beers, the micro-brews, and the myriad local beers from all over the place. These things can be found here, for sure, but you have to seek them out is all.

Anyhoo - We hoped that once we were done eating it might have stopped raining, but no such luck. So we walked around just long enough to get soaked again, and then headed back to the train and went home, vowing to return on the next non-rainy day!

Here are two photos that I took. Shoe in the foreground:

And a final word: if you're a regular reader, feel free to send me an email or a comment! This blog was created for friends and family but I love to hear from any other readers that I've got. Especially if you're in Dublin and you have similar interests!

Friday, April 10, 2009

On Wednesday, our lovely friend A. got us into a special screening of the new film that is being released on April 17th called In the Loop (link is to the trailer).

"Britain and America; friends and allies as far back as anyone can remember. Both the US President and UK Prime Minister fancy a war but not everyone agrees including US Assistant Secretary for Diplomacy, US Army General (James Gandolfini) and a floundering British Minister Simon Foster (Tom Hollander). When Foster accidentally announces on national TV that war is unforeseeable, the British government is sent into a spiral of chaos and spin propagated by verbosely aggressive Director of Communications, Malcom Tucker (Peter Capaldi). Foster attempts to neutralise his unforeseeable comment by telling the British public to prepare to climb the mountain of conflict but soon finds himself bundled off to Washington on a fact-finder where he becomes both a pawn for the secret war committee and a poster-boy for the General and the Assistant Secretary for Diplomacy's anti-war campaign."

When we went into the theatre, we actually didn't know anything about the film we were about to see -- the title, the genre, nothing. But I admit that I laughed quite a bit throughout the entire movie, despite not being in the best mood when we sat down. It was really funny! The dialogue is razor sharp and moves at the speed of light. It never gets too heavy-handed; it's just a funny parody. If you're looking for a movie to see that is going to get your mind off your troubles and make you laugh for a while, but not be overly taxing in the ethos/pathos department, then I recommend In the Loop.
We live down the road from All Hallows College, part of Dublin City University (DCU). It used to be a missionary seminary, and its curriculum still seems to have a very theological bent. But the campus is nice for a little walk, and I like to look at the statues that are scattered around the grounds. Yesterday, as an excuse to get out, I went and took some photos of All Hallows. Since it's Good Friday, it's only fitting that I post them now:
Statue of the Virgin Mary:

Jesus Christ:

Detail of Jesus Christ statue:

Backside of St. Patrick, with buildings:

Close-up of burned-out looking building:

Virgin and Child:

Thursday, April 9, 2009

So I guess I touched a nerve with my last post about farting. It was re-posted to an Irish messageboard, with pretty hilarious results -- mostly people bragging about their farting exploits and talking about how happy they are that they aren't American. To each his own. Please note, Irish readers, that I never said that Americans don't fart! Anyways, it is funny how serious people can get over such a lighthearted subject, and it did make me a little sad to be called names and denigrated over a simple observation, one that you could actually put a positive spin on, but c'est la vie.

Farting: It's what people are talking about.

Beats the new budget, doesn't it?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Let's talk about farts.

When I first got to Ireland, the first couple of pubs I walked into, my first thought was, "Yeesh! Yikes! It kinda smells like farts in here!" I thought it was a coincidence, like maybe it just happened that the few places I went into happened to have plumbing problems.

However, now that I've been here over three months, I can say, *WITH CONFIDENCE* that Ireland has a farting issue. It's not the plumbing. People let their business out here all over the place. In the pub, as the night progresses, it just gets stronger. And it's not just the pubs. Today in the movie theater, before the movie started, you could hear someone farting. And then by the time the film was over, you could smell the smell of gas so strong, we couldn't wait to get the hell out of there

Today we went to see the documentary Waveriders. I enjoyed the film very much, but part of me was just so happy to see a film in a movie theatre that it wouldn't have mattered what the movie was. I honestly can't remember the last time I saw a movie on the big screen -- I think it was Juno, believe it or not, and that movie was awful.

But as it happened, while I'm too much of a wimp to surf myself, especially since a friend of mine nearly lost his eyeball recently taking up the sport (though I must say, he kept at it, so that's the testament to the enjoyment of surfing), being a pisces, I do love all things to do with the sea, so while some reviews of this film found the footage to be "repetitive," I found it to be beautiful and relaxing to watch the waves breaking and the surfers riding. If this movie plays anywhere near you, I recommend you see it!

Monday, April 6, 2009

There are so many things about how the government in Ireland works that I simply DO NOT GET. Like, for example, this news story about Brian Cowan wanting to cut the number of junior ministers. Now, ok, that's fine. But what doesn't make sense is that he's asking them to *all* voluntarily step down so that he can re-hire only *some* of them. What a load of crap that is. Just cut the BS and fire the people you want to fire for chrissakes. I do NOT get it.

Friday, April 3, 2009

I convinced my father-in-law to accompany me to The Abbey Theatre to redeem my tickets to see Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare. Mark's father, we'll call him "Bill," is 82 years old, worked as a mover until the age of 70, when he retired and took up windsurfing for a few years. A voracious reader, he is fascinated by World War two ("Hitler's War"), and while he doesn't read much fiction, he adores Shakespeare. He speaks passionately about Othello and the brilliance of Iago as a character. So when I won tickets from to see Comedy of Errors, I knew I had to take him with me. And luckily, he agreed!

Comedy of Errors is, of course, not one of Shakespeare's most played comedies. It's not as magical as A Midsummer Night's Dream, and not as sexy as As You Like It. It's not as easily adaptable to political topics as Measure for Measure, and not as bawdy as The Taming of the Shrew. But it's certainly not as convoluted as All's Well That Ends Well, nor as emotionally loaded as The Tempest. However the play was a good choice in that the plot really isn't terribly complex, and includes a lot of physical comedy, so that a person having trouble following the language could still understand the basic premise. The actors delivered the jokes very well, proving why we still read and watch Shakespeare all these years later -- because it still makes people laugh, especially his insults!

Cute directorial details that I particularly enjoyed were the big tough-guy Officer with the pip-squeak voice, and the plot signifiers such as disco dancing and the bell used repetitively throughout the play. And they used the set space very well, utilizing scaffolding towers on wheels, which they re-configured between scenes, and even mid-scene, to great effect. It proves that you don't need realism to bring an audience to another place because if the performance is good, the audience is more than ready to make that leap with you.

So we found it enjoyable. But were we overwhelmed? Well, no. But I think it's partly because Comedy of Errors isn't one of Shakespeare's best plays, and you can only do so much with it. Bill, quoting George Bernard Shaw, called it a "Potboiler." Still, there's nothing like that feeling of satisfaction when walking out of a theatre, having just seen a live performance.

Then we headed over to a pub on O'Connell Street called Madigan's. I thought it had some nice details inside, but there was a guy playing a guitar and singing through an amp, and he was about ten times louder than he needed to be, so it was a bit distracting trying to shout over it. We had one drink there and then decided to move on.

We wandered down to Brannigan's Bar, which, with it's flashing neon "BAR" sign, made me a little wary of what we'd find inside, but we walked in to discover a pleasant atmosphere and the quiet we sought for a bit of conversation. While Bill went up to get us a couple of pints, I called Mark on my mobile. He was up at the pub near our house, and was having trouble hearing me. "We're at Brannigan's," I said, "BRANNIGAN'S!" But it seemed sort of futile so we agreed to meet up later at home and hung up.

About a half hour later or so, Mark walks in, a little flustered, "Here you are!!" he says, "I was just about to give up! I called you ten times, why didn't you answer your phone?"
"Well, I told you where we were," I responded, confused.
"I thought you said Flanagan's!" he said. Apparently he went to Flanigan's first, then stopped into Madigan's, to see if we were there. And then just when he thought he would give up, he looked down the street and saw Brannigan's. I was pretty amused. There are so many bars and pubs that end in "igan" that you can get really mixed up over them!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Shameless self-promotion...

I don't know why I haven't done it before, but I figure why the heck not... I worked hard on this so I should probably post it in case someone in Fashion or something should happen to come along and read this blog. It's crazy talk, I know.

But, anyhoo. For those just tuning in, I'm an aspiring Fashion Designer. And Here's my portfolio. Just for fun. And now I'm going to get back to sewing!
Last night Mark and I went to see a performance by Lynnee Breedlove, singer from the punk band Tribe8, hosted by Queer Spraoi, a group associated with Seomra Spraoi. The description read, "Lynn Breedlove, frontperson of punk dyke band Tribe8, creator of the novel, short film, and audiobook, Godspeed, brings his One Freak Show to the Dublin, sharp as a new chainsaw blade, turning the specific universal, and making gender politics fun at last. Lynnee Breedlove’s ONE FREAK SHOW is queer, punkrock standup comedy on bodies and "community." His plan for world peace includes gender nesting dolls, cross-dressing stuffed animals, and a new edition of Our Bodies Ourselves for men. A human body quest for compassion, an irreverent look at the interior world of The Other, giving out permission slips to laugh at ourselves, Lynnee Breedlove’s One Freak Show brings activism and laughs through the usual ridiculous antics, this time including eggbeaters and duct tape. Knives and body parts are still part of the show."

The venue, called The Shed, was located down this spooky abandoned-looking industrial alley way -- the sort of place you might be taken to get the crap kicked out of you. But luckily it was well-lit. The space was marked only by a flier on the door, and you had to knock to get in. We brought our bikes inside with us, which was good because there wasn't really a good place to lock them up within a two-block radius of that neighborhood. The Shed is really a warehouse space. When you walk in, there's a little kitchen area to the left, and one of those outdoor screened gazebos, to give you an idea of how large the place is, the outdoor gazebo doesn't even take up a quarter of the indoor space of The Shed. It seemed to be the smoking area. There was a loft up above with several dead-looking computers, and an area with drum kits, guitars and amps below. several lines of chairs had been set up in front of a projection screen for a viewing of the documentary about the band Tribe8. While the movie was on, the kitchen served vegan stew and dessert. We didn't have the entree, but we bought the cupcakes and the brownies, and I have to say that it may have been the best cupcake I've ever eaten in my entire life. Mark had two!

I think Lynnee was used to performing to a large, adoring (American) audience rather than this small, reserved, and rather sober Irish one. The first few jokes fell a little flat and he even said something like, "You know, it's ok to laugh," which I think may be stand-up suicide, but eventually he hit upon a joke that got a laugh, and things did improve. But not all of the jokes translated culturally, and I think there was a little bit of explaining going on to the un-initiated in American ways. There were a couple of cringey moments where he seemed to imply that Ireland was part of the UK, which Americans can do, not realizing that it is a culturally important distinction for citizens of the Irish Republic. (Or maybe I'm just sensitive to this issue, living with a student of post-colonial theory!) Overall, the show was very entertaining -- I mean how can you not be entertained by watching a woman urinate while standing on stage, I ask you? Right now my family is reading this, horrified. That's performance art, folks!

Here are some shots of the performance:

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Mark brought home this flier from school for a pub event:

and loadz party games

"What is a shag tag? You will be given a sticker with a number on entry to disco bar: An 085 txt number will be provided so you can txt in msg's. For example (number 5 thinks number 10 is hot) The msg's are then displayed on the big screen in disco bar Remember the more drink the better the msg's. Men) uneven numbers woman) even numbers"

Apparently you also have to be drunk when you write the pub's promotional material. But seriously, let's think about the premise of this for a second. SHAG TAG PARTY. Get tagged, get shagged. Mark says that it's a brilliant idea. I agree. But we both agree it's brilliant and yet totally disgusting. On the other hand, it's refreshing that it just strips away all pretenses of what a bar really is: a place where people go to get laid. But the tagging reference evokes images of cattle being tagged and bred, like we're all just part of this social experiment for the purpose of mating. But at least these people are making a party out of it! A SHAG TAG PARTY