Friday, October 30, 2009

Domestic Bliss - Read: Existential Crisis

I feel so peacefully domestic.  Almost uncomfortably so.  Surrounded by the stuff of a day well spent without traveling more than three blocks from home.

There are those days that I wake up and am a domestic goddess, or rather a domestic squirrel - darting here and there doing all those little household tasks we all put off for weeks.  This is all supremely out of character.  Emptied recycling, also emptied incredibly small bathroom wastebasket that is always more of a goal than an actual destination for various debris.

The most reliable symptom of this mood is the rearranging of the living space.  When I still lived at home, I would rearrange my room into bizarre layouts maybe three, four times a year.  Always bizarre, because there is only so much you can do with a tenxten room with one window.

And let's face it; when you are in the midst of the somehow simultaneously monotonous and terrifying days of high school, moving your twin to the exact center of the room can give you a new lease on life.

I always tend to exaggerate the horrifying experience that was high school to a stereotypical degree.  I actually had quite a good time, despite the inevitable heartbreak and embarrassment. I think I just don't want to admit that I still like moving furniture around for no good reason. It has nothing to do with feng shui - although my boy Guo Pu might disagree -  It makes me feel like I have something new to look forward to - a new spot.

And what is a new spot really but a new perspective on life? No - literally - you see things from new angles.  Seriously! You are seeing sides of things you've never seen before!

No, but for real - just keeps things fresh.  And it makes you question your daily routine.  If you have to plunk your butt down in a new corner of the room to watch those five episodes of Glee in a row, you might think twice and pick up a book.

My new spot is much more conducive to reading.  Without no effort, I read for close to three hours instead of using the internet - something I've found difficult to do once I discovered how to use Megavideo. 

This move I cultivated the perfect spot for me and my butt.  With two roommates, there seems to be a natural claiming of spots.  I put my computer on the seat.  Primal, maybe, but come on - who's going to sit on a computer?

That kind of thinking has lost me about four to five expensive pieces of electronics in the past two years. 

So, for now I'm camping out.  Window sill to my left, fireplace to my right.  Book on chest. 

Jesus, I even bought flowers!

It's me, God. Marga-- FUCK.  Who am I?!

Next stop: candles and a throw rug (vintage?)

Ch- ch- ch- ch- ch- ch- check it out: Dublin Flea Market

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Felice Brothers

This past Sunday, my friend Chris used a family connection to score a spot for himself +1 on the guest list of the Felice Brothers show in Dublin.  The venue was a club called Whelans that has no real philosophy in terms of booking bands as far as I can tell, seeing that the last time we went there we danced to an electro-pop DJ.  I had never heard of the band before Chris started insisting that these dudes were the next Dylan, and had been for months.  From my observation, it seems that the person or persons Chris deems as the "Next Dylan" seem to fluctuate rather frequently.  Therefore it seemed it meant something that he had been holding this conviction for a couple of months.

I started by listening just to their recently released album "Yonder is the Clock", and to be honest, I wasn't bowled over in excitement.  It was great music to be sure, but it didn't hit me in the aural sweet spot.

Their gig at Whelans this past Sunday is ranked in my top three favorite concerts I've ever been to in my life.  The community that the Felice Brothers managed to create in that venue within two hours was awesome.  The main singer (although most "brothers" had one song that they sang) Ian Felice is almost painfully serious about the lyrics he sings - this is a band meant to be seen live.

Maybe it was the spirit of Dublin that was permeating the air and making everyone giddy, but I for one couldn't keep the smile off my face.  I even stood in five-inch-heels for the whole concert and followed when Farley Felice (the washboard and fiddle player) pulled some people up on the stage.  This is from someone who pooped out half-way through Lollapalooza last year, and went home with a friend to take a nap and watch television.

There is something extremely adorable about the group that the Felice Brothers have created.  Although only two of them are actually brothers (there used to be three, but the drummer brother moved on to other projects), each band member has adopted the stage name of his own last name plus the surname Felice.  I just can't get over how adorable it was to watch a group of brothers getting silly and playing music together with such fierce energy and love.

In conclusion, I wish I could play the Harmonica.

P.S. Check out Farley Felice on the far left.  The night we saw them at Whelans he was wearing a New York Yankees fitted, a bandana and a white tee.  His favorite artist is Jay-Z, and he is the Felice Brothers resident rapper and hype man.  But most of the time he plays the fiddle and washboard.  Uh. Swoon much?

Egads, le cough.

Everyone I know is sick, and it makes me nervous.  Extremely nervous.  I am of the sort that will feel absolutely peachy, but as soon as someone in my general vicinity starts to feel sick, I start feeling my glands.  I also tend to "test-cough", i.e. cough to see if it feels like you're sick.

My roommate Erin has the kind of illness that, as she put it, "makes you feel like you are wading through water at all times".  So, basically debilitating H1N1.

We're all going to die.

In other news, I'm heading off this weekend to the beautiful country of Scotland.  It's just a short, (more expensive than I thought it would be) flight across the pond, but I am super psyched because everytime I visit my cousin, wherever she happens to be at the time, it tends to be a throw-down of epic proportions.  In other words, I am spending the morning of my arrival in Edinburgh, before departing for her University in St. Andrews, otherwise I won't get any sightseeing done whatsoever.

Unless you are like my cousin and I, who classify touring a city's great pubs and clubs in the same species as visiting the great monuments.

Okay, maybe not.  But it's damn good fun.

Also, some great dude once said that the only way to get to know a civilization is to live among them for a time, i.e. adopt their social habits.  Basically, when in Rome, do as the Romans do.

Blogging is great procrastination.  And with that, I away.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

This ain't history yet.

I could get away with saying that I am a well-traveled person.  Through the long-lasting generosity of my aunt, I have been able to travel through much of Europe, as well as visiting Australia, Mexico, and many destinations in the United States.  
This past weekend changed all that.  I spent two days in the Northern Ireland city of Belfast with a delegation of about a hundred students studying various places in Ireland.  Now I feel as if I haven’t experienced anything except this place.    
The first night we arrived in Belfast, the only organized activity consisted of a dinner at the hostel.  Needless to say, everyone had pretty much the same goal after the bland meal: find pub, buy pint.  
A large group of us went to the first place we saw; a bar across the street from the Belfast International Hostel, called the Royal.  As we walked in, we noticed a confederate flag flying alongside other flags, some of which we recognized and others we didn’t.  We decided that they probably didn’t know what it meant, or put it up for less nasty reasons than we would generally assume.  The American students had soon overrun the bar, but the publican seemed to be enjoying the influx of tourists on a slow night.  
Events of the night included:  
-Backstreet Boys being played back-to-back for about half an hour.  This was accompanied by the typical girl-bopping, and predictable old-man-ogling.  
-A very drunken fellow around the age of forty-five, repeated two things to me about fifteen times; that he was from Northern Ireland, and that his son was fighting in Afghanistan for the British.  And then he kissed my nose.  
-The Publican of the bar allowed not one, but four American boys to go behind the bar and pull their own pints of Guinness.  
-One very enthusiastic man showed us how he could put his leg behind his head and then stand up.  We clapped.  

When we pulled back into the Hostel after a day of hiking the Giant’s Causeway, our guides advised us to patron the pubs that would have people our own age, The Bot and The Eg adjacent to Queen’s University Belfast. We were told to stay clear of the Royal, as it was a bit of a dodgy establishment.  At first I thought our guides were just being too protective of a group of young people for which they were responsible, but then the stories began to pile in.  

That night, a smaller group of Americans went back to the Royal while the rest of us decided to check out the student bars.  A couple of pints in, one of the boys asked the Barman why they flew the confederate flag outside their bar, to which he made it clear, using racist, but yet matter-of-fact language, that this was a bar that favored white supremacy.  The kid looked confused, so the man elaborated, “Do you see any of them here?”

It wasn’t until the next day when I was being told this story, that I looked out the window of the bus as we passed the Royal and noticed the body of a doll hanging from the lamp post outside the front door, an obvious lynching reference.  

Now, all this was disturbing enough.  I felt ignorant and dirty thinking that I had given money to the establishment and not even noticed what was obviously going on around me.  But what made our experience in Belfast that weekend so disturbing wasn’t the fact that we mistakenly patroned the wrong bar, but my peers responses to the experience the morning after.  
This was the majority of the reponses:  
And the kickers: “But they were soooo nice to us!” or “Oh my god, it was so fun though.”

To which I responded, quite loudly: “Yeah, because you are white, dumbasses!”

Talk about a situation that reveals character and morals.  I had one guy say to me that he was glad that he went because the bartender was really nice to him, they had a great conversation, and that “they” are people too.  

Seriously?! This is the reaction we are having to have mistakenly walked into a white-supremicist bar, that also happened to hold the meetings of the Ulster Defence League in its uptairs room?

Yes, most of us have never encountered such blatant racism in our lives, but a scary amount of my peers were talking about the situation as if it was funny, or something they had seen in an exhibit at the Natural History Museum, not a real life experience that should be quite spiritually disturbing.  

Perhaps it sank in a bit more as the day went on, during which we toured the Falls and Shankill areas of Belfast, the Catholic and Protestant communities respectively, which are seperated by a concrete and steel-enforced wall.  Our tour guide described the wall as similar to the Berlin Wall, except for that fact that it isn’t coming down any time soon.  

We toured the area of Shankill to take a look at the hundreds of murals painted by the Loyalists. Their history and significance is too intricate to get into at the moment, but let it be said that one mural we saw commemorated the life of a young Loyalist Militia Commander who had been murdered in 2000.  This is just barely history.  It isn’t the noted and archived history which we learn about in school, but rather something still breathing in the daily life of the residents.  

This mural is about a block and half away from our hostel.

On that same block a little girl came running out of her house, giving us the finger as her parents smiled and laughed.  

I would like to say however, that this hasn’t been my experience in Dublin whatsoever, nor have any other students I’ve talked to reported such blatant, or even subtler racism in the counties they are studying in throughout the Republic.  However, this could be due to the fact that there just isn’t a lot of diversity to begin with, so it might just not be as obvious.  Or we could just not notice, given our horrible blindness we displayed over the weekend.  

These events won’t be leaving my mind any time soon, and for that I am grateful because they deserve a great deal of thought from all of us.  

Thinking About a Guinness?

Thinking About a Guinness?