Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Moving On

It's going on eight months now that I'm home. I’m getting back to being me, I missed some of the old me. I’m singing in the shower more, and dancing to the music in my room and singing while I cook. I haven’t done that in a while, I missed that girl, I’m glad she's starting to come back. At the same time there are parts of her that will never be back, and I’m learning to make my peace with that.  There are cracks and chinks and dings in my armor, but I’m not broken. I’m patching new holes and I’m filling old ones, and smoothing over some of my rough edges, and sharpening some of my softer ones.  And I’m not taking any more abuse sitting down. 


Things with Glasgow are moving along, slowly but surely. There's still details to iron out, but we're working on it. If it all works out I'll be on a plane in 24 days. However, it's prompted me to realize that this blog has no room to grow. I've moved to a new blog. You can come with me, or you can stay here and remember the ol' times with fondness. It's your choice, I won't begrudge you either way. In the meantime, you can find me here: http://jerseyandabroad.blogspot.com/ .  Until next time, do things I wouldn't do.  ;)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Home...for now...

One week from today marks the end of two full months since I’ve been home. Are you wondering how I’m adjusting? So am I. No, really, I’m okay with the ways I’ve changed, but does it pose problems for others? I don’t really know. (Hint, hint, if you know, please tell me.)

So classes started about five weeks ago here. I’m not really as enthusiastic about this semester as I was for last semester, but some of the classes are interesting. I particularly like when one of my professors acts out the behaviors some animals exhibit or clips of babies crying or screaming…to help us better understand he says….I think he’s just trying to make sure we’re still up.

I’ve changed…but so have things here. Some of it’s minor, but some of it still makes me pause and wonder. What am I talking about you ask? Well, I’ll tell you. The bakery up the street from us, where we’ve bought bread, and sweets from since I was a kid, has officially closed…something about the owner trying to kill his wife again or something….I’m not really sure, I just know it’s closed. The Sam’s Club where we usually shop moved farther away, and I can’t find anything in it anymore.

The group of friends I made that I thought would be here when I got back has drifted apart. Not intentionally, but it happens. I’ve come back and I know they’ve drifted but I don’t know what to do about it. I can feel that there’s something missing, but I don’t know how to react to it. Couples I’ve known have broken up, and others have formed. There are new people around old friends that I have to adjust to. My nephew forgot my name, and had to be reminded of it on Christmas. My cats were seriously depressed, and I’ve been trying to snap them out of it, but I think they’ve relapsed. My mother adopted another cat. His name is Toby, and he’s adorable, much to Midnight’s displeasure. :-/

Then there’s the other kinds of adjustments I’m trying to make. The ones that I wonder sometimes how the f*** I reached that point, how to go back, and even more importantly, do I want to? Don’t look at me like that, if you only knew….well I’ll tell you so you do know J

I picked up words while I was in Ireland. If you’ve heard me talk, it’s a bit obvious. I’ve noticed that the longer I’m home, the less I use the words. Which words you ask? Grand. Cheers. Wrecked. Mum. Da. F***’s sake. Bits and bobs. Part and parcel.  Some of the words just sound different. Fine sounds more like fin. Can’t sounds more like cont. I can actually pronounce some of the place names in Ireland, that I couldn’t before, like Dun Laoghaire (Dun Lee[h]ry) or Iarnród Éireann (Earrinro[n]d Erin, it’s the rail line). And some others that I can’t explain well. I’ve picked up a few of their word order mannerisms. They say things a bit different like, if you catch my drift like. 

Some of the self confidence I had before I left has shifted. It's not gone, I just have more confidence that I can survive a complete nightmare living situation on my own. I can feed myself and sorta budget money...ya know, like an adult type person thing.. but I've realized that some of the things I used to do I have a hard time doing anymore. I dance when I'm alone or with friends, something I didn't used to do often...but I don't sing in the shower much anymore. And I stop singing when someone comes within hearing distance. I think its part of having learned to make myself as small and invisible as possible around certain people. It was a defense mechanism that I've developed, more to prevent having to deal with things, than being afraid of what people think, if that makes any sense...And to be honest, I missed composing things to say to you guys out there..my what, two (?) readers. I'm coming to terms with it, but I still find myself composing blog posts in my head to try to show or tell you guys something. 

I’ve realized also that I miss actually hearing the voices of the friends I made there. Have you ever had a friend, who you could hear their voice when you read their writing? Some of the people I keep in touch with from Ireland are like that, but the longer I go without hearing their voice, the harder it is to recall properly.
Eventually I’ll settle back into daily life, and Dublin will be a wonderful memory. I’ll hopefully still keep in touch with the friends I made, and remember the things I’ve done and seen. The pictures and emails help of course J.   I’ve started reading Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series…I’ve unfortunately picked up some of her habits too, like cake or cold pizza for breakfast in a pinch. They remind me of the things I love about Jersey. When I leave, for whatever reason, I know they’ll get put on my kindle, a device that’s saved my sanity many times over, and I’ll read them from time to time.

I’ve learned that eventually I’ll end up living somewhere other than Jersey when I ‘grow up’. I don’t know where, but somewhere where I have things in common with the people, things like a love of country or folk music and a fondness for a bit of small town life. Where the middle finger isn’t considered a driving necessity, college girls wear something other than tights, ugg boots, and North Face jackets…like everyday, big hair is for special events not everyday life, and where a person who says, “Mother f****** son of a b****. I f****** hate you! Go jump of a f******* cliff and die you mother f******* a*******!” is not automatically assumed to have Tourettes, but is likely having a bad day….or hanging out with friends.

Now that’s not to say I don’t love Jersey. Jersey will forever be my home, I’ve just come to the realization that while anybody can fit in in Jersey, (that is after all the essence of Jersey, and in the words of Ms. Plum, “I didn’t see any crazy people . . . but then, I’m from Jersey. I’m used to crazy.”)  it might be easier for me to be somewhere else. Somewhere where you know your neighbors, and I’m not immediately branded as ‘not right’ for listening to something other than rap, hip-hop, or whatever’s on the radio. Perhaps I can find somewhere where I’m just another person, or maybe as I learned in Ireland, sometimes I’m just too Jersey for my own good. And the gods know I’d miss Tastykakes something fierce.

But then again, I’m half way through the application for Glasgow, Scotland’s Study Abroad program. After all, “If you’re born in Jersey, you know how to rise to a challenge. Bring on the Mob. Bring on bad air. Bring on taxes and obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and macaroni at every meal. Nothing defeats us in Jersey.”

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Clicking my Ruby Red Slippers.

So it's been a few days since the last post. I'm still alive, and as most of you in my everyday life know, I've almost reached my limits for stress. My flight is scheduled to leave tomorrow morning, at 9am. In ten and a half hours. That's assuming the snow doesn't cause problems. I'm hoping and hoping and hoping, and praying to the gods that I can get to the airport, get on the plane, take off, and land in Newark and get home with as few problems as possible. I have a back up plan if that doesn't happen. Either way, I'm on a bus at five am tomorrow.

I want to go home. That's been in the back of my mind since mum and nan went home last month. I want to go home. I love Ireland. There's so much that I'm going to miss. Such wonderful people that I'll be thinking of on a regular basis for months to come. I'll be doing something, and I'll have a random thought like, "So and So would love that." Or I'll come across something that only so and so would understand. I'll have great news, and the first person I'll want to tell will be here, in Ireland.

For a few seconds I'll be happy, and I won't be able to wait to tell whoever it was whatever it was. And then reality will sink back in, and there will be a sense of something missing, and I'll feel lonely and remind myself to email them or send them a message on facebook. But it's not the same as telling them in person. It never is. I can email them all I want, send a million messages and maybe even a phone call or two, but it's just not the same. Nothing beats face to face. Nothing beats telling them some stupid joke, and watching them laugh with you. So you try to tell someone else, and they just don't get it. The person you tell instead is not lacking, you're just connected to them differently.

For instance, I could tell you a story about something random like...about the lip gloss I bought while I was here. Go ahead an roll your eyes, but anyone who's tried to help me pick out lip gloss or lipstick knows that I'm really really picky when it comes to a color. To the friend who switched colors with me, you're gonna love it. To the woman who helped me pick a color before I left, this one's a bit more muted. And to the friends who have watched me pine over the same lipstick but not want to spend the money on it, I bought it. Yup, that's right, I caved and bought it. To the rest of you, I'm sure you don't care, but you see my point.

So many times when I first got here that I walked past something in a store or on the street and thought, "Now that's something ________ would love to hear about!" and been unable to share it with them properly. So I turned my thoughts to the friends I have here, and filed away the info for when I get home. Now I'm going home, and I have to switch back. But I know every time I walk past a girl in really tall designer boots, or see the movie Braveheart, or make something with hot peppers, or hear some really lewd joke, or have a gin and tonic, I'll be reminded of different people. Maybe someday I won't, but I'm not looking forward to that day at all.

I'm sitting here in my room dreading schlepping the suitcases down to the bus to go to the airport in the snow. Why in gods name did I buy two suite cases on wheels? They're hard to handle at the same time. But getting home will be worth the stress, lack of sleep, broke nails, and sore muscles. I'll get to see my mom and dad and brothers and cats and the rest of the family in the next few days, and I can't wait.

I'll get to sleep in my own bed, and hear the house creak when the wind blows and the rain in the gutter and the cats fighting and I'll be home. I'll be happy and I'll feel calmer and safer than I have in months. The little every day stresses of being in a foreign country will melt away, and I'll have to deal with the family stresses. I'll look back on my time in Ireland and miss it dearly, want so very much to come back. I don't know when or how, but hopefully one day not to far away, I'll be back. This isn't goodbye Ireland, rather I'll see you later, and I'm looking forward to it. For now, I'm clicking my shoes together and saying, "There's no place like home. There's no place like home" and looking forward to being there.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Food for thought...

So those of you who know me know this: I. Love. Food. Now, that doesn't mean that I'm really adventurous with food, too many allergies for it really, but that doesn't mean that I'm never up for something new. I love to cook, and I love to go out to eat. I love finding food that I well...love Lol.

So today's topic: Comfort Food. More specifically, take-out/away. No, really. I just finished making dinner, and I sat here eating it thinking, 'This isn't good...sooo not what I actually want...' (not something that happens often). Which of course prompted me to think about what I wanted instead. Would you like to know what I came up with? Why might be the more important question though, something I'd like to know myself.

A Fat Sandwich. With chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks, french fries, and honey mustard sauce. Yeeaaaahhhh.....I've had my cravings for food from home before, but this very quickly went from whimpering and craving to a full blown obsession. It's all I've been able to think about for the past half hour. When can I get one? Can I find one here? Do I have to wait till I get home to get one? Does this mean I'm going food shopping tomorrow and buying what I need to make one? Well, the sooner the better, I don't really know, I really really really hope not, and it looks like it...

Now, I've had some odd cravings before. There's the desire for chips/crisps with nothing on them but salt, or regular potato chips, as I like to call them. I can't find them here, unless I pretend that 'lightly salted' are the same, which as we all know, they're not. All the chips/crisps here come with some kind of flavoring. I like mine plain. As in slice the potato, fry it in oil and cover it in salt. I'll eat those ones with flavour, but nothing beats a bag of Grandma UTZ's hand cooked chips. Nothing. Not Pringles or Cheeto's, or even Doritos. NOTHING.

While we're on the topic of 'chips', Englishtown Fries and Lemonade. From that little mom and pop stall in the first or second building from the entrance by the parking lot. Fries that are piping hot and salted and/or Limeade, Lemonade, or Orangeade that is mixed in front of you. Divine. If you go to Englishtown, you must, absolutely must stop for these before you leave. They'll be closed when I get home, so they'll have to wait a while, but they are SO on my list of things to do when I get home. Who's up for a trip with me????

Stuff Yer Face 'Bolis. Yup Yup. I miss those too. 'Bolis need no explanation. You either know what they are, or you don't. Check the site if you're confused.

Chicken patties and Spicy Beef patties. I blame a certain friend for this, and he knows who he is. They're sold in this little Jamaican place on Easton Ave, and they're like $1.50 each or something. Cheap and amazing. Word of advice, they can be eaten while walking in the rain, but it's not 100% advisable. Yes, I have tried it. They've got good plantains and roti too, I'm just more of a chicken/beef patty girl.

Pizza. This deserves a whole post to itself, but not now lol. Mum, Nan and I went to Italy last month. There were pizza shops all over Rome. I'm not sure whether I expected it or not, but they were there. You couldn't walk more than a block or two without passing one. It fell a bit like being home. Pizza is huge in NJ. Everybody has they're favorite place to get it too. At home, we have two places we regularly go to for pizza. There's the place down Main Street that has good Jersey pizza, it's everything you'd expect it to be, we just like it better than the...I don't know four or five pizza places we pass between there and home. Hey, it's Jersey, when I say everyone has their favorite pizza place, I mean it. Oh, and we call them 'pizza places', not  'pizzerias'. Then there's Gerlanda's. It's on campus, and has great gourmet pizza. There's Margarita, Chicken Parm, St. Peter's, Hawaiian, and my personal favorite, Chicago-Style Spinach. What I wouldn't do for a slice of Chicago-Style Spinach. When I call to order, it's just a given that's what I want. It never lasts the night in our house...well maybe once...

Ugh. This isn't helping. At least I'll be home in eight days. That's a week from tomorrow...

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Snow Kidding!

Yeah yeah, bad pun, but I couldn't think of a better title. You'll have to forgive me, I'm tired and my brain is so fried it's turning to charcoal.

The snow's still on the ground. They still haven't cleared it. In they're minds, they're doing the proper thing, and I don't fault them for that. But I'm so sick of watching every step I take when I open the front door. It's just solid ice. They throw rock salt on it, and when the ice starts to melt, the water and slush doesn't go anywhere, so it freezes over the rock salt, defeating the purpose.

People here walk around like it's not that big of a deal, but I have this theory that as someone who's grown up with Jersey winters (and remembers that big storm from like eight and a half years ago) is intimately acquainted with what slipping on ice and falling feels like. Or maybe it's just my very real (and justified) fear of falling. I hate falling. Messes up the whole damned day afterwards.

The buses are a bit temperamental in this weather, but I did manage to do a bit of sightseeing despite the snow. I wandered into St. Stephen's Green. I walked around a bit back in September, but I thought I might try it again in the snow. A lot less people, a lot less walkway space, and an amazing sense of peace. There's something about snow that just makes me feel peaceful sometimes.

Have you ever walked around in a flurry, not when it first starts, but when it's starting to really get going, before it turns into a full snow storm? After the excitement and thoughts of "SNOW!" fade away, but before the loathing and thoughts of "Oh crap, where did I leave that stupid shovel??" Or even just right after it all stops. When there's almost no movement, and even the animals found somewhere warm to hide. Theres a few moments of peace and quiet, when all I want to do is put on warm clothing and fling myself backward into the pile and stare at the sky and contemplate things.

That moment, I can't explain how much I love it. There's just this amazing feeling of being, where there's no good or bad, there just is. It's peace. It's quiet. It's remembrance. It's hope. I didn't get to really have it this time because of the on and off snow flurries, and the ice issues, but walking around St Stephen's Green, and later Phoenix Park, I got pretty damn close.

I've been wound up all day and I still don't know why, but remembering that moment, I'm calm now. I think I can finally sleep. I posted pictures of St. Stephen's Green and Phoenix Park on both Picasa and Facebook in the Dublin albums. I've reached a moment of zen for me. You can find the links on the link page. I'm feeling to lazy now.

Night all, sláinte.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Well it's about time!

So how about a real post? Not one done really quickly on the bus, or one done just to say 'Hey! I'm still alive!", but a real I-actually-sat-down-and-thought-about-what-to-say post. Well...sorta thought about what to say...

First things first, I apologize for my negligent behavior. While I can't promise that it won't happen again, I can promise that I will work harder to make sure it does not happen again. I am after all a student, and you know how we get, constantly wander off and needing supervision and all that.

Quick re-cap of the major (at least photographically) events of the last two months, with some smaller things thrown in for fun. October - Connemara, Culture Night, Maynooth, and Trim. November - Rome, Florance, Cliffs of Moher, Newgrange. December - SNOW. For the record though, the snow started in November. No really, it did. Also in the last two weeks-ish, I've added another page. This one is called the 'Links for Pictures' page. Guess what it has. Links for picture albums on Picasa! You're right! How did you know? I'll probably update it more than this, simply because it's quicker, and easier around 3 am. It will also provide you with one place to find all the links gathered instead of searching through posts.

I've also updated some of the other pages. Here's a brief highlight:
Things I miss from Home: Thanksgiving. Not having to leave the building to do laundry.
Things I've learned: a trip to a goal can be profound. So can a trip to a whiskey distillery.

Run down of picture albums, links for which can be found on the afore mentioned 'Links for Pictures' page (link above).  Dublin is the new album for random pictures, it includes things like small mini trips like Kilmainham, or a few pictures of our snow days. Yes, I said snow days, but I'll explain later. Cliffs of Moher Trip is everything that happened on the bus ride to the Cliffs of Moher EXCEPT for the Cliffs of Moher. Those can be found in a separate album called, you guessed it, Cliffs of Moher. Newgrange has it's own album. I've also made a whole album for the Castles I've seen, but Trim and Maynooth have their own albums as well. Florance is in an album by itself. My trip to Rome is broken up into two albums. Area Sacra and Rome.

I just finished writing my last paper of the semester...five and a half hours ago. I'm not entirely sure when my first exam is, they rescheduled it, but I'm thinking they might have to do so yet again...if not, well no biggie. Why did they reschedule it you ask, well because of the snow of course! Didn't I mention that? I thought I did...Oh well, I might as well tell it again.

So, as of this past Friday, yes, Black Friday for the US, it's been snowing on and off. My friends have informed me that this kind of weather is completely unheard of for them. Ireland does not know how to deal with it the same way we would at home. While I'm sitting here going, it's just snow guys, the news casters have been throwing phrases such as 'state of emergency' and 'severe weather conditions' around since Saturday. How much snow you ask? Ummm...somewhere between 2-5 inches around campus. Yes I said inches, not feet. I know that some places have more, but I'm not sure how much.  They really don't know how to deal with it. No, really, there aren't any snow plows and I doubt they have shovels or ice choppers like we have at home. It's kinda really pretty though, look at the pictures...just not in front of any little kids.

I've officially survived taking classes in a foreign country. I still have to hand in the last paper, and take the exams, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I'm not sure I'm ready to start walking towards it yet, but I've already done some small things to prepare. There's a box sitting in my room packed and taped to be mailed home, and another that's half full. I've started a list of things to leave with a friend in the event that I can come back (I'm very very very very hopeful).

I love catching the bus into town and just wandering around. I love walking past the guy by St. Stephen's Green Mall who sings and plays the spoons. Spoons! He plays spoons for instruments for gods' sake! There's a guy near Marks & Spensers who made a guitar out of an oil can. And there's the old man with his bundle of sand who shapes it into a dog named Sandy. There's the guy who dragged this organ like thing into the middle of Grafton Street. And the guy on Henry Street who plays the violin absolutely beautifully. And the random groups of teens who sing or play instruments. There's the dog in the sidewalk in Temple Bar and the golden eye like thing. There's the mosaic by Kilkenny Design, and the bullet holes in the Daniel O'Connell monument. The Molly Malone Statue and the Dublin Spire. The Ha'Penny bridge and the Meeting Square market. There's the food market and the used book market. The ice cream shop and the store with jewelery from around the world. There's just so much to see and take in, even without the shopping. Some days I just love to walk around for hours. Up and down the same streets, feeling it in the air.

My mum and gran came to visit in the beginning of November, and I'm so very glad they were here and I got to see and spend time with them, but when they left, I wanted very much to go with them. I love Ireland, really I do...but as much as it finally feels a bit like home, I want to go home. I want to sleep in my own bed, and see my nephews, and drink with my cousins and pet my cats, and fight with my mom, and bitch about my brothers and yell to my gran (not at, she's really just very very hard of hearing).And I wanna do it in person. While wearing clothes other than the one's I've been wearing for the last four months. I want to wear my favorite jeans and my purple sweater with the hole in the shoulder. I want to wear those brown boots I bought before I left and still have to break in. I want to not have to think about food in terms of how much I can make and have enough to save for later but still be small enough to fit in the fridge I'm sharing with five people. I want to make a pitcher of margaritas and watch my mother get seriously tipsy (sorry ma, it's true and you know it). I want to talk food with my dad without subconsciously thinking about how long I'm on the phone. I want to walk into a supermarket and be able to find things. Like evaporated milk. Without having to ask someone.

These past three months, and the next three weeks have been and will be absolutely amazing, and I wouldn't trade them for the world. I'll remember them for the rest of my life, but I'm starting to look forward to going home and having people understand me and me understand them like 85% of the time. It'll be nice not to have to think whether people will understand the things I say. Not that I'm complaining, that's part of the adventure. I'm just ready for a lack of stress for a while. And I know that within a few hours of being home all I'll wanna do is come back. Mum and I already have a bet that we'll be fighting on the car ride home. Neither of us doubt it, it'll absolutely happen. And then I'll walk in the side door, and get bitched out by one cat, then the other, then scare the shit out of the new cat, then fall asleep in the bed. And then, when I wake up completely disoriented and confused and see my wall and bookshelves and desk and dressers and John, then, and most likely only then, will I feel like I'm home. At which point I'll probably go pick another fight with my mother...or maybe my brother. Yeah, it might be my brother's turn....

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Temple Bar Wall


It's been forever, and I wonder if you still remember me, but I haven't forgotten you. Even if it seems that way. I have one or two posts to retroactively post that I wrote on a bus and just haven't found time to post. They're coming soon, no really they are.

I found this this weekend, yesterday more specifically on a wall in Temple Bar here in Dublin. I had to take a picture of it.

There are over 1,000 pictures from Italy and traveling with my mother and grandmother. I'm working on picking out the best ones and gathering them in a common location. They'll show up randomly. There's a link somewhere for the pictures from Connemara....I'll find it for you....

Till next time, Sláinte.
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