Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Next Life

It is hard for me to believe that is was just a few short weeks ago that I was walking down the cobblestones of Dame Lane, knocking over men's pints and being forgiven because I'm a woman.

Necessarily, it seems like a lifetime ago now. That's how it is with transitions. I'm living in converted barn which used to house migrant workers when the cherries were in season. This small town of Fish Creek is so definitively "American" it hurts my eyes sometimes. My eyes that were adjusted to the overcast beat-upon nature of Dublin.

Now all of this may seem somewhat flowery and hard to pin down, but it gets very real. I was diagnosed with a Vitamin D deficiency a couple of days ago, meaning that my very chemistry was changed by my sojourn above the 45th parallel.


This is all by way of saying, I had very good intentions to write about my week stranded in France and Germany at the hands of the Eyjafjallaj√∂kull Volcano (yes, I copied and pasted the name from Google), and my trip to the northern coast of County Donegal. However, I'm finding it difficult to submerge myself back in that universe and write a monster post about either of those things, so I have decided to reminisce anecdotally, which will be far more interesting for everybody involved. 


My cop-out takes the form of some pretty pictures: 









Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Just sayin'

No, that last post didn't make sense to me either. Forgive me, english language. I am at your mercy.

The New Frontier Sucks

At some point during your preparation to study abroad, you are handed a piece of photocopied paper on which was a graph demonstrating the rise and fall of your hate/love for your new country. Typically, there is a honeymoon period, followed by hatred and frustration, then gradual acceptance and appreciation(Cobblestones are frickin' adorable, ouch cobblestones, cobblestones just old-fashioned cement).

The point is, right now, I'm in the "hatred and frustration" phase of my re-entry to 'Merica. It might have soemthing to do with the fact that my severe jetlag is coupled with a sinus infection, but I choose to believe that America simply SUCKS right now. Except for my friends and family, homecooked meals and water pressure.

My accidental vegetarianism is very confusing for me when I grew up eating steak and potatoes every night in this house. BBQ chicken just smells like heaven, but then I saw my brother ripping is apart with his hands and gnashing the flesh with his metal-reinforced teeth and I found my veggie-legs.

On the plus side, I can't really remember anything for longer than about thirty seconds, due to my brain automatically rewiring to think "Ow, my face hurts", so this entry will mercifully end now. Going to go buy some Bocaburgers at the Jewel, which I don't think I have ever done before. They will be all like, what Alice you're a vegetarian now, and I'll be like hell yeah I am, animals are people. But mostly I just really like bread.

This blog will be ending soon (Sorry, Mom), to be replaced my something else which will basically consist of hilarious anecdotes about annoying children at work who smash pizza dough into the table with incredible super-toddler strength.

Still need to write blog posts, however short, about my trip to Donegal(which was nothing short of amazing - in my top three of favorite all-time trips, and not just because I met a King and had nothing to say to him), and my epic journey home from Berlin via France and ferry.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Thoughts on a Sinking Ship

To start this off, I just observed a pair of tourists taking pictures of the front of my building. It was too cute, and also appropriate timing as I was having a moment of appreciative fondness for the cuteness that is Dublin.

On my way to get coffee today, my bus passed by the European Union offices on Dawson St., just down the street from Trinity. There was a pretty sizable demonstration going on outside protesting the bank bailouts in Greece. My taxi driver last night had some pretty strong opinions as well. He was saying, and I'm not informed enough about this to judge his opinion, that while Greece was being bailed out by the EU, Ireland had to save its own banks, and the working class people were taking on the brunt of the burden. He was also saying that its a double-standard to bail out the banks while there are thousands of homeowners drowning in debt from the mortgage crisis, and there was no effort to bail them out. He feels the Irish Dail is prioritizing the corporations over the working people.

One thing that I have noticed about Ireland, at least in Dublin as that is all I can speak to, is that everyone, from your barman to your taxi driver, is somewhat well-informed, and has an opinion, about what's going on in their government. I'd go as far to say that there is a far bigger tradition here of political engagement than there is in the US. Everyone has an opinion, however philosophical or out of touch with the realities of governing it might be. I find it refreshing.

Anywho, I seem to be finding myself at a point of transition. I'm leaving this gorgeous country in 13 days, which seems completely unfathomable. I've been coasting/racing through these past three weeks of exams, just wanting to get to a place where I can enjoy Ireland without stressing over political philosophy and Freudian determinism, that I am just realizing that after I take my last exam (Saturday), I'll have just over a week left here.

If I had been forced to return the states after last semester, I think I would have felt like I hadn't accomplished much, or hadn't taken advantage of my time here. I don't feel that way now. I've worked hard, played hard, and I'm kind of itching to move on to the next thing.

While I love Dublin, and Ireland, I feel like I'm just kind of waiting for my next adventure at this point. Namely, that would be moving to Door County and starting to waitress again. This year has been amazing, but I am happy to go home and spend time with family and friends before my last year at SLC (AHHH).

That said, I had an amazing day on Tuesday. I visited the Hugh Lane Gallery across the river, which has on display, in a very creepy orange-tinted side room, a reconstruction of Francis Bacon's studio. This is bizarre on many levels. I really do like Francis Bacon, but they made a lot of hay out of the fact that his studio had been gifted to them by his sole heir. This would have been cool if the studio has any special significance, other than what they seem to have concocted. On the walls were all these quotes from Bacon about how he couldn't paint anywhere else other than his studio, and that its filth made him feel creative. If anyone has ever had an artist friend, or visited a studio, this is a pretty common thing. The artistic mess? The studio itself was moved and rebuilt inside the gallery, with the visitor being able to stand inside this little three-walled glass box that was recessed into the room. There were also the original windows that could be seen through, and one could walk over the staircase (yes, over, it was covered in plexi-glass) - the gallery made a very big deal about the steepness of the staircase, and that it had a rope in place of a banister...cool? I, although it may just be me, just couldn't see what the big deal was. Inside the room was just a bunch of junk - old photos, hundreds of paintbrushes, and an old rusty circular mirror that, oh jeez, might have been designed by Bacon himself, given that circles were a big theme in his furniture designer days. How revolutionary.

Anyway, it seemed to be just a tourist attraction. Just a gimmick, which I think ended up making Bacon look very silly. Perhaps he was as self-involved as the juxtaposition of the quotes with a reconstruction of his junk piles made him out to be, but I'm sure that wasn't his intention when he bequeathed the space to his heir.

This has been a theme with many of the Irish art galleries I have visited - painfully overselling their mediocre collections, which just serves to make it awkwardly obvious that they don't have a lot to work with.

All this being said, I always love Jack Yeats, in any gallery, anywhere.

After this painful exercise of pretending I know what I'm talking about (Political Philosophy exam on the books for Saturday), I'm off to Donegal to take advantage of my last change to immerse myself in the breathtaking beauty of this place. One day will be spent climbing the Slieve League, which are supposedly the highest sea cliffs in Europe. Hopefully, I won't get blown off. Although, this seems to be a possibility as they warn against climbing the thing in misty conditions or if you have vertigo. I assume they warn against the trek if you are overly in-touch with your Freudian death-drive, as well. Har har
har.

Good afternoon, and good luck to me.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Promise

I have to take six exams and write a paper, so I'm not doing this now, but I must write some sort of epic poem about my journey from Berlin to Dublin at the mercy of the volcanic ash cloud.

Recommence anxiety attack.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

If You Are Sane, DNR (Do Not Read)

Once I've bought the Redbull and consigned myself to a night of work (and perhaps the next morning, too), all motivation for my task goes out the window. Perhaps said motivation is given wings, as the Redbull commercial advertises?

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. I remember this time a couple of terms ago, I wrote my 45 page conference paper in two nights (without any prescribed assistance, I might add). Now I find myself dreading the commencement of a simple seven page exercise in regurgitation.

Seven pages! I balk! Child's play, I say.

Hopefully, once these dreadful assignments are behind me, I shall be able to ruminate here on topics other than my procrastination and the loathing that it spawns. For now, however, my mother will just have to get a real time update on how her tuition money is being squandered.

My overall feeling of the day is that I hate the internet. As my main outlet for procrastinating, I have delved further into you, ye devil of technology, than I had ever wished to. You have stunted the sense of humour of our youth. No, I do not LOL, nor do I ROFL. Rather, I WFH (weep for humanity).

With the utmost hypocrisy, I challenge you to RAFB (read a fucking book).

That's enough for now.

P.S. An Irishman referred to "nite" as the "American spelling". Way to go, USA. We suck.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Dublin Bucket List

I have yet to accomplish many of the things that have been on my Dublin To-See List since the very beginning. So, I preface this list with this: Yes, it is embarrassing that I have been here for so long and have yet to do these things, but I was caught up with other things like school... and drinking. Up until a short time ago, my time here seemed infinite - May was miles away. Well, now it's April. Bucket List Time.

1. Phoenix Park
2. Hugh Lane Gallery
3. Bray
4. Howth


This will obviously be added to in the coming days - Just had an itch to get this thing down on internet-paper.

To Berlin on Tuesday to see the fabulous Amanda Faraone. She is a blessed creature with whom I look forward to consuming viele Bieren.  Hopefully she'll be kind about my Deutsch.  And, come to think of it, my English.

Oh, I should probably work now. (Anybody up for some online Boggle?)


Update: Restaurants
Gruel
Queen of Tarts
That Burrito Joint That's Supposed to be "Legit" on Baggot St. 

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Update From Your Resident Demons

Dudes, I'm pretty sure that President Obama watches The West Wing, and is just trying to be Jed Bartlet. I mean, that'd be my strategy.
And You Thought Health Care Was a Doozy?

In other news, an avalanche of new music has invaded my otherwise perfectly diligent work ethic. Ha.

I received a postcard from a friend in Wisconsin yesterday, containing updates on her life and happy wishes for spring. Also included was a little update on what the news had been obsessing about lately in the States (Health Care). I found it really adorable that she would think to include an update about the news in the States, like I can't or don't check it everyday over here.

But then I realize that I really don't get that kind of exposure, the saturation of the media in your surroundings and the obsessive nature of the coverage. I.E. watching local news, reading local papers, etc. I can't say I necessarily miss the media-party (I could really give a patoot about Tiger Woods, as a golfer or as a sex addict), but it was a nice reminder that I perhaps check my local news site a bit more often.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Useless Realization

I really never should have taken a Senior Sophister seminar. Although fascinating, nobody in the department thought to tell the visiting student that the mandatory exams test nothing specific, but rather a general ability to discourse on philosophical topics. Which you should have after you have spent the past four years doing nothing but studying philosophy, and the past five months writing a 100 plus page philosophical thesis.

I think I might just have to be okay with failing this particular class. Or at least with doing very poorly. So, I'll cry about this tonight, and move on. Nothing to be done. Maybe this means that instead of stressing out for the next six weeks, I'll actually be able to enjoy my remaining time here.

Sorry, Mom, I don't think your daughter is going to be a philosopher. Professional worrier, maybe? Professional setting-the-bar-too-high-so-I-always-fail-Person?

I need to be done with a school for a while. Say, about three months. Ah, how convenient - Door County, embrace me, please.

Dublin Still Surprises

On a cab ride from Kilmainham to Ranelagh, I looked out the window to see two small boys riding ponies bareback through the streets. I turned to the person next to me for an explanation, but apparently its an, if not common, unsurprising sight in Dublin.

This city blends rural and urban life in a way that I've never seen in an American city. I don't know if its because there is such a large separation between the rural and urban cultures in America, or something else, but it is worth mentioning that almost everyone I meet has a family member who owns a farm.

Young working class children will buy the ponies and ride them bareback around their neighborhood and the outskirts of the city. Apparently,  the Smithfield Market is one of the oldest traditions in Dublin, where working class youths go to trade horses and ponies for cheap. For 300 years, and still today, you can go to Smithfield on the first Sunday of every month, buy a horse, get the horse shoes fitted by a blacksmith, and ride away with no questions asked. In a capital city of Western Europe.

Nothing very deep or blog-worthy to say, just an image to remember. I like getting to know "old Dublin", pre-tiger and all that noise. Just reminds me that the US is just a teenager, compared to wizened Europe. Wizened, not wise. Just sayin'.

Wish I could find a picture to post, but they are all protected online. Might have to go myself with my camera...

Anyway - off to find truth (or more likely a lot of crap I will make up to reach a word count).

Saturday, April 3, 2010

This is what I think about when I ride the bus.

On the bus today, a mustachioed woman sat next to me and, very craftily, somehow wound her way from discussing the moral-deficiency of bus drivers to her own suffering under the employment of a nun. She bristled (ha!) at the thought of a sinful nun demanding clerical work of her. However, all was well in the end because the priest of the order told the bearded lady that the nun in question had committed mortal sin. Thus, the fuzzy female was confident that her nemesis will meet her justice in the the end.

Meanwhile, on another planet, I decided I don't like coleslaw on sandwiches. Older women on buses require very little encouragement, so I had sometime for my own thoughts.

I hope I never grow a beard. I'm currently writing an essay on Ronald Dworkin's theory of rights, in which rights are trumps to the concept of liberty (blargh, blah, bullshit). Parallel thought: beards are trumps to women's beauty, unless you like that sort of thing.

I remember when I was small my friend Chris would always ask his mom if she would still love him if he were a worm. Mom, would you still love me if I had a beard? Be honest.

HALT. Fleet Foxes just came on in Starbucks. That'll do, pig.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Vergions

A couple of days ago, I went to the Ruby Sessions at Doyle's, a pub across the street from Trinity College frequented by students and normal human beings alike. The Ruby Sessions consist of four acts (this past Tuesday only three, alas), in a quiet, jazzy setting with candles and couches and couples.

It's the perfect place for a date, really - low lighting, booze and something to talk about built into the setting. I was pretty miserable. I had just started antibiotics to shove out this sinus infection that has been ravaging my face and chest for the past month. That, companied with a complete inability to take any of the performers seriously, had me in quite a state. Although, it proves that I was on a date with the right person, because we were both equally miserable.

I don't think I could really bear to describe the scene in any detail, so just a few words:

Spoken-word poetry. Love songs...about dead people.

"Could you make the guitar more oceanic?", says the musician to the sound man.

Let it suffice to say - the biggest sin in my book is taking yourself too seriously. Sinners, all.


In other news, I spent St. Patrick's day asleep. Saw the crowds from afar, sea of green. Maybe it was the drugs, or the sickness, but I was completely uninterested. It was all the craziness you would expect, in a completely dull way. Big crowds, lots of beer, yelling, skipping, puking. Facepaint on babies, on trashy girls, fat men. Blah.

Currently, exiled to the living room, due to my flatmate's night going exceptionally well. Love you, Julia!

Headed off into the day to learn about Trinity's sculpture collection, and hopefully regain some of my will to live.

Though, despite my miserable state, I am dreading leaving this city. Where will I get a proper pint?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Avoidance

So, I'm still up. I'm writing an essay about freedom and self-realization. Isaiah Berlin believed that its an infringement on one's freedom to have another person make a decision for you in your best interest.

I'm pretty sure that I would be okay with that right now. If I were smart, and didn't like the night as much as I do, I would write this paper right now, instead of typing this, and therefore be able to sleep for a decent amount of time. Tomorrow, I would awaken, eat an apple instead of drinking coffee, and also take a shower.

Funny thing is, when I actually do start working on the essay, the word count just keeps climbing effortlessly. However, I'm so appalled by the writing and utter lack of scholarship that I retreat back into my procrastinating shell to avoid self-inflicted shame and admonishment.

But guess what? Whenever this essay is done, in an hour or five, once I've emailed it to myself, I'll probably never think about it again. And the stress leaves just as easily.

Yet another reason I will never be an academic. Also, I hate tweed.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Black Hole of Academic Self-Loathing

Why am I so incapable of starting to my work? The closer the due date looms, the more entranced I get with the game of how long I can wait before it all hits critical mass and I have to remain hunched over my computer for 18 hours straight so I don't get myself booted out of this fine institution. So, in addition to stress levels verging on a full on panic attack (with the creditors still calling me about paying for my last emergency room visit - 100 euros to have some 24 year old med student tell me to breathe into a paper bag? I'll splurge on the brown bags for next time) I am left crippled with my neck twisted so far out of alignment that I have to drink my celebratory pint through a straw. 


This would all be fine and well worth it if I was even remotely interested in the paper topics handed down to me. Last semester I loved this time, just throwing myself into the phenomenology of faith and the outer-horizons of cups, but in all honesty, do I really give a flying flip about Rawls' Theory of Justice or the digression in Plato's Theaetetus? Not in the least. 


It's a good lesson, in a way. I'm finding my niche in philosophy. The stuff that makes my head explode, but in a pleasant way. This stuff, however, is pure chinese water torture. 


It will get done, I know. I've been in school too long to not know that. But it is precisely this conundrum that I face - I know it will get done, but I just can't seem to force myself to do it anymore. So, then, how will it get done? If, after years of school, its been drilled into my head that work just has to get done, I know longer panic about getting said work done, how will it? 


At least, at Sarah Lawrence, everybody is just as irresponsible about work as me - the countless nights in the library of Heimbold spent dry sobbing over your conference work, only to look over and see your own agonized facial expression mirrored in the face of your closest friends? Nothing beats that camaraderie. 


It's a sunny day in Dublin - the rays are taunting me through the gross victorian curtains hung in the window of our ornate living room. Give me the industrial austerity of Heimbold any day over the lonely purgatory hell of my fully-furnished front room. 


Oh, feck it. I guess I'll just keep typing. Socrates, you're a real ****. 

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Caffeinated Crackdown

Q: What are you doing for the Haitian children?
A: Poppin’ champagne, oh ho.  
Monday of Reading Week has come and almost gone, thus my procrastination has reached its saturation point. I have discovered most concretely something that I have subconciously known about myself for a long time now - I am completely incapable of keeping to a healthy work timetable. I know this is true of most students, but its more than that I am unable to wrap my mind around the fact that my stress levels would be more bearable if I just started my work earlier and proceeded slowly forward in small increments of dedicated study time. I find it actually much more enjoyable to not think about school at all for weeks on end, and then seclude myself in the library for days on end on some kind of masochistic study binge. 
There is just something so satisfying about jacking yourself up on coffee and having a days long academic bender. I’m sickly looking forward to this week of all out hellish work ethic and seclusion. I love letting my whole world revolve around the inner workings of one nine page paper. Staring at the horrible fake wood table having a slight panic attack about the phenomenology of faith or whatever ridiculously self-indulgent topic the philosopher kings at Trinity set us off on. 
Side note: Somebody in the library is wearing a vintage Chicago Blackhawks shirt - what are the chances that he’s actually a fan, and didn’t purchase the shirt at some ridiculously marked up price because its got that soft, worn, vintage thing going on? Sadly, slim to none. 
Then again, I’ve never seen a Chicago Blackhawks game in my life, so who am I to judge. 
Anyway, point is - In the library, too jacked up on coffee to even start to contemplate the differences between Rawls and Cohen’s theories of justice. At some point I’ll start the slow process of slipping into my self-induced coma of academia and saturate myself with this nonsense, but there is no forcing it. Therefore, I’ll write up my weekend. 
I decided a week or two ago that I needed to get out of Dublin, and have some girl time with my cousin Patsy, my sister in this world, because, and I’m not exaggerating when I say this - besides my wonderful roommate Julia, all my friends in Dublin are men. This is not that different from my life in the States, but it is almost without exception here. Given the ratio at SLC, I have way more than my fair share of male friends, but I also have an amazing group of ladies that I just could not live without . 
For some reason, and this has been true for my entire life, I just find it much easier to become friends with men than with women. I’ll spare anybody reading this an attempt to delve into the psychology of such a pattern, but suffice it to say that the friendships I have with my women friends have been the product of years of intense community in small high school environments and the X-chromosome ridden campus of SLC. 
Trinity is the opposite of such an environment, being the sprawling, socially diluted experience that I have found it to be - Thus, all my friends are guys. Which I have never had a problem with, but when it is to such extreme levels as it is here, I found myself craving time to just bitch about life and embarrassments and bowel movements.  And so it was had!
I flew Ryanair (a hellish experience that every student in Europe is bound to have at some point, involving a cornucopia of elbows and smells and big jackets and luggage restrictions and hair that isn’t yours - also the feeling that you are flying in a coffin to your premature death) to Edinburgh. 
This being my third trip to visit my cousin at St. Andrew’s, and having yet to really spend any time in Edinburgh, when my flight arrived at 7:30 AM I was determined to stick out the day in the city visiting castles and little pubs and shops. But, it was raining, and I had gotten up at 3:30 that morning and seriously, what is there to do in a city at 8AM besides drink too much coffee and hate yourself for being awake - so I accepted my personal failures and fell asleep on the train out to Leuchars (LOOH-CHers, I’ve learned).  
The big event for the semester at St. Andrews is the FS:X Charity Fashion Show. It’s completely student-run, with student models and student designers in addition to the fairly big name labels that they get to sponsor the event. Coming from SLC, I was complete bowled over by the lavishness of the thing. The venue was this old paper mill warehouse that was scheduled to be demolished the next week, so the whole thing had a very edgy/we’re-freezing-to-death-in-a-warehouse-for-fashion-feel to it. 
I’m having trouble deciding how to accurately represent the sheer ridiculously lavish nature of this event. For a staggeringly high price-per-head, a group of friends could secure a table decked out with “free” champagne, vodka, red bull and vitamin water, and gift-bags filled with free D+G perfume and designer condoms.  Suffice it to say, I was completely out of my element. My crippling five-inch heels weren’t helping, but I found that whiskey helped dull the intensity of the situation a bit. 
When I was thinking about the guests of the event on my way home, I just thought “trollops”. I have no idea what that word means in any specific way, but that’s exactly the kind of girls that were stumbling around me. For having obviously put a lot of effort into their attire and general look, these girls just looked, well, messy. Their profanely-expensive dresses sliding off their malnourished shoulders, they were a gaggle of tottering trollops. Tottering trollops. I don’t really understand this trend of looking like you are hanging onto life by shoestrings. It’s not just the skinniness, that’s been around for forever, and not worth commenting on. It’s this look of morning-after chic. All my cousin’s friends looked classy and beautiful, put-together and having a great time, without looking like they were falling apart at their thousand-dollar seams. 
I guess the word I am looking for here is reckless. This has nothing to do with the liquor or drugs that were being consumed with urgency throughout the night by everyone and their Mom (literally. Fifty and having a 20-year-old help you vomit in a portapotty is not a good look), it had more to do with the money being almost quite literally thrown around. There was an auction in the middle of the event that had students dropping money that rivaled in quantity the amount I paid to go to Trinity this semester. Guys were buying champagne for 35 pounds a bottle, and popping it in the middle of the show, spraying everybody within 30 feet (thanks to Jay-Z, or whoever that was, for making “poppin’ champagne” a symbol of status). 
One of the most hilarious moments of the night came, when we were standing next to probably the most insane looking woman I’ve ever seen in real life. She was a caricature of one of the assistants in that movie The Devil Wears Prada. She was wearing this long black cape/jacket thing, with elbow length gloves, and the most severe, blonde bangs I’d ever experienced. She had this reporters notebook that she was writing in with this pencil that was just slightly overly sized.  She turned to my cousin, who was wearing this fabulous black and white blazer, and asked her “who she was wearing”. My cousin answered her, and then she went back to watching the show like she was analyzing the incoming stock prices from the Japan Market or something. The tone she used to ask who made my cousins blazer was pretty much the same tone somebody would use to ask, “what are you doing for the Haitian children”? 
Despite the incredibly self-indulgent nature of the scene, I had a great time just getting rowdy and dancing to electronica . It was fun to, if not be a part of, but experience that kind of lavish social scene without having any concern for my own place in it. 

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Philosopher Kings

Last Tuesday, I finally got around to attending a lecture with the Metaphysical Society (The Metafizz).  I don’t know quite what I was expecting, having been in Dublin too long to expect anything stodgy, but it turned out to be quite the drunken socratic dialogue.

The professor giving the talk is the newly appointed head of the School of Philosophy and Sociology at University College Cork.  He had just moved back to Europe after 40 years teaching in the US, and was more than excited to tell us what he experienced. Actually, I think the verb he used was “weathered”.  I believe that was the first time in my stay in Ireland that I was actually slightly offended by somebody’s views of America. Almost everyone else I have talked to about the US has been quick to seperate their views of our government and their views of Americans, or at least emphasize how much they love Chicago. But this man was relentless in his generalizations of the American public.  Apparently we are ignorant by choice because we can’t handle reality. And I get it. 60% of the American public still believe that Sadaam Hussein was linked to the Taliban. But, sweeping generalizations about millons peoples motivations for being undereducated is just slightly offensive to me. Breathe!

So, the great thing about the Metafizz is, usually the person presenting is using the Society as a means for a dry-run of some material they plan to use elsewhere, be it in their thesis, or in this case the inaugural lecture of his post in Cork - So, he read from some notes, paused to ask us whether this bit or that bit would be better here or there.  And the topic was interesting enough - “How Philosophy Can Save the Earth”.  It was not so much a lecture for us as a workshop for him.

So, to get on with it, the moment this professor walked into the room, he was offered a glass of wine, which he gladly accepted. I characterized this later as a sort of “verbal handshake” in Ireland - the offering and accepting of a drink. The drinking did not let up for a good five and half hours later when we were all at the pub down the street having a laugh about tonic wine made by Benedictine Monks (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/04/world/europe/04scotland.html).  

The scene in that pub was probably what many people fantasize about when they come to study at Trinity, or really any big University in Europe - sitting around with a group of classmates and professors, letting your true opinions about democracy come to the fore after your third pint of Guinness (let it be noted that the Professor in question was pacing us kids).  It reminded me of Sarah Lawrence, in that your professors don’t treat you so much as a student, but rather a kind of co-pilot on this academic adventure.  There is a real joy when a professor forty years your senior gets into an argument with you about the nature of democracy, and he actually puts an effort into the discussion.  It's a sign that they believe you to be a worthy adversary.

Now that we were at the pub, as the professor noted, he could reveal his true opinions in this more congenial setting (I think what he meant was if it backfired or offended, he could maintain it was all for a laugh). In lieu of democracy, he advocates the crowning of a Philosopher King, and by the way he nominates himself. Now, it could be assumed (although riskily) that he was joking about the second part, but let it be know that this well-respected Professor of Philsophy advocates a mandatory test for all people who wish to vote.

This is a prime example of the ego of academia, and one of the main reasons, besides not having the brain for it, that I will, at some point, jump the ship from this philosophical undergraduate journey and get a real job.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Galway ( Or In Favor of Slow Travel)


Yesterday, I got home from a four day leg in Galway and the Connemara Mountains. Exhausted from sensory overload and living out of my backpack, I put off any writing or processing of the experience.  Today, as I was feigning alertness in my Ancient Philosophy lecture (who has time to read the Theatetus when there are still pubs to check off the list?), I started to experience a quite distinct feeling of panicky nervousness, seemingly without cause. I soon realized that this didn't have anything to do with the course work I had yet to complete, but rather was solely caused by a fear of losing the experience I had just had if I didn't write it down, if I didn't transfer it somehow into something tangible, pocketable. It was almost as if I felt if I didn't somehow capture the experience in a reliable medium, it would somehow become diluted over time.
 
However, I soon realized, like I always do when I get this feeling about travel experiences, that one of the main reasons the past weekend had been so full an experience was my complete lack of motivation to document it. My camera wasn't charged when I left fo the bus, so I left it behind. Without a camera, I was free to absorb the city and mountains at my own pace, without being able to hide behind the security of a camera. When I have had a camera on trips, I feel it has almost acted as a security blanket of sorts. I have found myself thinking, I have taken a photograph of it, I have processed it, I have captured this experience, now I am free to move on to the next sight. Its sort of an automatic way to say you have experienced something. But if you are without camera, as I was, it is much more of a process to experience a sight.  A much more rewarding one, too. 
 
For the leg of the trip that we spent in the Connemara mountains, we traveled with the Galway Tour Company out to our hostel on one of their tours of the Connemara mountains, and then they picked us up the next day and we got to see the rest of the tour. It was a great deal, and also let us see some of the sights, while getting in our hiking time. However, it is tours like these that make the camera-experienced-travel so necessary. In one day, this company shuttles you to maybe ten or twelve various sights of interest, with maybe a ten minute stop at most, and because you dont' want to run around the whole place for ten minutes and attempt to panickily process it, one falls back on their camera to experience the Abbey or old Fairy Fort, and can go back on the bus and look at their pictures while the Connemara Mountains pass by on all sides.
 
This isn't some sort of unforgiving commentary on the modern tourist. If I were on one of those day-tours I would be inclined to do the exact same thing, because it would be impossible to process all that beauty and history in such a short period of time. When we went on a hike through the hills, I found myself tripping every few minutes because I wouldn't let myself look at the path as I walked because I was so eager to absorb the scenery. It truly was so beautiful that I could not look away without feeling like a wastrel.  Needless to say my boots were covered in their fair share of sheep shit by the time we got back to our hostel.
 
Galway City in itself also really caters to this kind of slow-fermenting travel. The Galway city "sights" themselves only take up maybe half a day or less, while the real magic of that city is the streetlife. The buskers, trad music, pubs and walking to be done - those are the real attractions of the city. 
 
A more specific run-down of my trip will come later, as I steal pictures from friends to supplement the various scrapes we entered into over the four days. Just had to rant a bit.
 
So, Post-Grad plans are:  I'm really going to learn to play the banjo, just so I can go back to Galway and busk with the best of 'em.




Friday, January 15, 2010

My roommate is snoring and doesn't know I'm here yet. Precipice!

My flight arrived in Dublin at 4:35 this morning, an hour early than I had thought it would.  Five thirty is a decent time for a human to be awake. Awaking at five thirty when you are twenty-one means you are productive, albeit freakishly so. Being awake at four-thirty at any age just means you have insomnia.
Dublin is raining, of course. But I love it. This place makes me feel more observant than is natural. In the past five minutes I have noticed the drapes, a fox and some poor soul leaving the apartment above mine (where I am convinced about twelve different people live) for work.
I was supposed to miss snow, but truth be told, I could seriously give a flying fart. I try to rep the midwest and all that goodness, but let’s get serious, shall we? Chicago is like a girl with no self-esteem, except replace jerkfaces with epic low-pressure systems. What a lame metaphor, but I’m pretty sure my loyal fan base will forgive me. Hi, Mom.
I may have a limited social life, a sick addiction to phenomenology and no umbrella, but I just love the observant calm here. It sets me straight. Nothin’ beats raindrops on your head and foxes in your parking lot.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

New Year, New You!

So, it should be quite obvious what one of my New Year’s Resolutions is - to be consistent with this whole blogging thing! I wish I could say that I just was too busy living to blog about it, but in truth, the last couple of months in Ireland were filled with a lot of work, and very little play.
Therefore, with the handy freshness our society has afforded the people at this time of year, I declare myself without fears. I am going back to Dublin, and I’m going to jump into life, instead of trying to understand it, or keep it in check.
I spent New Years 2010 with a hoard of buddies from Door County, WI, one of my favorite places on Earth. When I arrived we realized that we were going to make Camp David (http://www.fishstockmusic.com) our home for another summer. That news made me so excited that I couldn’t stop smiling the entire night. I realized that, in some ways, I was more excited for my summer at Camp D than I was for another semester in Dublin. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that my life in Dublin is ruled by my fears, not by my goals or my passions. I’m too shy to audition for a play and get involved in the theatre. I’m too insecure about my writing to submit a piece to the paper. Meanwhile, I read the paper every week and fiercely critique everything about it!
Although we will always find it impossible to describe that amazing quality that makes us come back to DC year after year, I think part of it resides in the fearless nature of its residents. Living at Camp D, and calling DC home, has taught me that being an active individual is the road to a fulfilled life, or at least a fulfilled day. And I don’t mean active in merely the sense of getting off your butt and biking to work instead of driving (although I did learn that lesson, too), but active in the sense of choosing to do the things you know you want to do, in spite of fears and insecurities holding you back. And that’s another thing. Never, not once, did I feel judged by the people I met there. And that is a fierce feeling. I suspect that that is the heaviest thing most of us carry around with us - our judgements of our selves.
So, in 2010, I’m going to be, I am, done with all that nonsense of self-doubt and anxiety. I mean, I think I’m really awesome - I’m just too freaked out to do anything about it!
Here I go. Resolutions, baby. Yes, everyone does it, and nobody keeps them. But   I’m too young to be that jaded, so here’s to false hope!

Take that writing class at the Irish Writer’s Centre.
Go to Yoga and Boxing (or just sweat at least once a week).
Submit an article to Trinity Publications.
Do something new in Dublin every week! Every day.
Go on trips to the country to hike (Erin Tiernen, are you reading this?!)
Follow through with Dispatches From the Folk (Patsy, are you reading this?!)
No judgments.

New Year’s is also a great time to take a pause, and think of all the people that helped you get through the last year. Here’s a big jug o’ champagne to my Chi-Town Gang, my SLC Lovers, and my Camp D Loves. Sometimes I wonder how its possible that one person is allowed to have this many beautiful people in their lives.

Okay, enough of the sap! I rang in New Year’s with the Blues: http://www.cashboxkings.com/

Thinking About a Guinness?

Thinking About a Guinness?
Always.