31 December 2011

my butch feminist transformation is complete

for those of you who are squeamish about feminist issues or body hair on women, don't read. But know that you're being silly and misogynist. XD

--

EDIT -- just a note to say that I tried the armpit hair thing, dealt with it okay... ultimately didn't like it. off it goes next time I'm in the shower. I honestly never noticed a B.O. difference; it's just itchy.



Those of you who know me fairly well may know that I stopped shaving my legs just before my senior year of high school. I was in my grandparents' house for the summer, shaving in the shower, when I realised that I HATED shaving. I was sitting there with the shaving cream and razor and just going, "I hate this so much." Then WHY was I DOING it?

I hated how much time it took. I hated the inescapable razor burn, due to my extremely sensitive skin. I hated the ingrown hairs. I hated having spiky stubble the very next morning. And I hated being self-conscious if I went without shaving for more than two days and a fine brown pelt could be seen growing there, a testament to my "laziness."

So I stopped. And I haven't shaved my legs since. My parents gave me a lot of flak for it, along with other friends and family trying to talk me out of it. Yes, my legs are just as hairy "as a man's". My dad is half Neanderthal and half gorilla--it's in my genes. That's actually part of what made shaving so terrible. The hair was thick and if I shaved in the morning, I could get a five o'clock shadow of stubble. The hair on my legs is now long, curly, and soft. It's not spiky and itchy and bumpy like it would be if I regularly shaved it.

My parents said I would never have a boyfriend if I didn't shave. I've had two since, one who thought it was awesome that I didn't shave, and one that didn't really care or think about it too much. My parents said I would have a hard time making new friends in college if I didn't conform to certain beauty standards--that I wouldn't make a "good impression" with folks. Well, I met one of my best friends ever at a pre-college summer camp where I was wearing shorts every day (SARAH I LOVE YOU BY THE WAY). I would wear long pants or skirts to church or formal occasions, and one of my cousins requested that I wear long pants when visiting her so I complied. But for the most part my legs were just my legs, and I wore shorts in the heat or to gym (badminton!) class, and that was that.

I have experienced some nastiness from strangers when they see my unshaven legs. Mostly just looks of disgust. But those who are truly my friends don't really care. And those who do care? Aren't my friends. It's that simple.

I do find it interesting, tho', that at times when I would "confess" that I don't shave my legs, people would experience visible relief when I said that I do shave my pits, however. A lot of people frame pit-shaving in terms of sanitation. I tho't the same, to be honest--it was more sanitary, less B.O., etc. But if that were the case, why don't MEN shave their pits? Since they supposedly sweat more, wouldn't it be more necessary for sanitation for men?

I actually haven't seen what my armpit hair looks like, fully grown, since I've shaved them every two days since I was about 11 or so. As an experiment, I'm letting it grow now. So far it feels uncomfortable, a bit itchy, strange because I'm not used to it. I haven't noticed a massive increase in B.O. In fact, the hair can capture my deodorant and hold it close to the skin for longer. I've actually started using a weaker deodorant from LUSH, made from baking soda, herbs, and essential oils--chemical and aluminium salt free--and as long as I apply it daily, I'm fine. The baking soda gets trapped in the hairs and can soak up sweat for longer than if my pit was clean.

I'm waiting until the hairs are at their longest, and I'll give it a week or so to see what I think. So far I'm not the biggest fan of how it feels, and may go back to shaving them. But I want to make a fully informed choice, a personal choice, not a choice foisted upon me by the media and by ad campaigns for ladies' razors.

I mean, I'm cool if people like the feel of smooth legs or whatever. But it's NOT disgusting or unsanitary to let your body remain in its natural state. ESPECIALLY not when there is a male/female double standard, where what is perfectly sanitary for men suddenly becomes the pit of disease and infection for women.

and don't even get me STARTED on women feeling pressure to shave all their pubic hair due to the influence of pornography.


So, yeah, I've done that, and now I've gotten tired of the hair on my head so I have buzzed it short, like Sinead O'Connor or Natalie Portman. If I started wearing my flannel and combat boots again, I would be perceived as quite butch. But, to be honest, I love my body, my female-ness. I just don't conform to a lot of traditional expectations of femininity. I think true femininity is much deeper and more basic than shite like long hair, dresses (altho' I love me some flowing, ankle-length skirts), make-up, jewellery, the colour pink...

And I don't give a flyin' flip what strangers think of me, or how people who don't know me yet perceive me. Besides, my face is actually rather feminine, and one of my favourite things about this haircut is it allows me to showcase all my awesome earrings (I love me some dangly, shiny earrings). So I'm not really worried about being seen as male or whatever. but even if I was, WHO CARES?

Thanks, Daddy, for teaching me not to give a crap what other people think, but only what I think is good, and right. Even when that means I don't care what YOU think, haha. Thank you for being concerned over my health and strength rather than my body conforming to irrational model-standards.

Thanks, Mama, for never making me feel like I had to wear daily make-up to be beautiful, even tho' I know you used to think that about yourself (which was silly of you :P). Thank you for affirming my personal decisions, and always coming to my support and encouragement when I am confused or hurt.

Also, thanks everyone who has complimented me on my new haircut! It just goes to show that some things in society are changing.

I really am feminist at heart. I know there is a backlash against feminists nowadays for some reason, with people railing on and on about "feminazis" and whatever. But feminism is still needed in today's society. Misogyny hasn't disappeared, people, just like racism or classism hasn't disappeared.

UTERUS. MENSTRUATION. VAGINA. CERVIX. VULVA. CLITORIS.

if you're shuddering now but make a lot of dick jokes, then shame on you XD

pax.

25 December 2011

Christmas dinner

Am I tipsy posting this?! Maybe. Maybe. you'll never know. There is an empty bottle of Captain Morgan's in my house right now, tho'. Just sayin. But there's two of us and we've been working on it all day.


Some Christmas recipes for you. Gluten-free doesn't mean nasty, ok? ok. It means awesome.


My Christmas dinner with Skylar:

- Mashed spuds (white potatoes, extra garlic, rice milk, olive oil)

- Roasted vegetables (carrots and parsnips) with salt, rosemary, and mixed herbs, in the lamb drippings

- leg of lamb from local butcher, roasted in oven with olive oil, salt, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, basil, and oregano (SO GOOD OMG. TENDER AND LOVELY. YOU ARE JEALOUS.)

- flourless peanut butter cookies:

(300-400 g ( ~1 cup) Peanut Butter chunky or creamy
225 g  ( ~ 1 cup) Packed light or dark brown sugar
1 Large Egg, slightly beaten
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla!

Heat oven to 175 deg.C -- 350 F. cook 15 min-ish or until brown and puffy/soft. Let cool 20 min or more. makes delicious chewy cookie
)

- bottle of captain morgan's rum mixed with club orange and mango juice

- Christmas pudding, from this recipe here:

http://www.dovesfarm.co.uk/recipes/gluten-free-christmas-pudding/  

but with a few edits, so here's what I actually did:

Ingredients


125 gRaisins
125 g          Sultanas
75 gCurrants
50 gMixed Peel
100 gBrown Rice Flour
100 gDark Brown Sugar
2 tspsMixed Spice
50 mlbrandy
100 gmixed nuts (pecans, walnuts, almonds, etc)
1 Orange's Juice
50 gmelted Coconut Oil
1 Lemon's Juice
1 T vanilla extract
1 pudding basin

Method

  1. Mix together the raisins, sultanas, currants, mixed peel, mixed nuts, orange & lemon juice, and brandy. Soak overnight.
  2. Add flour, sugar and mixed spice.
  3. Mix in the melted coconut oil.
  4. Stir well.
  5. Grease the sides of a pudding basin (I forgot to do this. But don't!).
  6. Stir the mixture again then press the mixture into the pudding basin.
  7. Spread tin foil over the top of the pudding basin tucking it in well around the outer rim (or just use lid if you have).
  8. Place the pudding basin in saucepan then fill with water until it is half way up basin.
  9. Put the lid on the saucepan and boil for 5 hours.
  10. Carefully remove the pudding and cool without removing the foil/lid.
  11. Store the pudding in fridge until required.
  12. Place the pudding basin in saucepan then fill with water until it is half way up basin.
  13. Steam for a further two hours.
  14. Put a plate on top of the pudding bowl and carefully invert the pudding.
  15. Serve warm. If you like, add a ginger and sugar drink to the final product. Or maybe some rum or brandy?! or vanilla ice cream, if you can do dairy (or a coconut milk equivalent)
** VERY SWEET ** cut sweetness with unsweetened cream if possible


Temperature & cooking time: 
Simmer on hob for 5 hours then for 2 hours right before serving. during first five hours, go get drinks in local Irish pub and get proposed to by a 52 year old man with a moustache. Meet sweet Irish people who call your friend beautiful (because she is). Sing Christmas carols for applause. Get free drinks from kind strangers, including a Galway fisherman.
Dietary status:
Without Gluten , Without Soya, Without Wheat. also, no eggs and a lot of other things. you'll know you own allergies, like. whatevs. Pay attention.


Lovely Christmas! Maybe I will post more on it later!

pax,
Jam

20 December 2011

road raaaaage ~

Taxi. drivers. are. the. worst.

Today I cycled up to someone's house so that I could buy some legit panniers from her--found 'em on the Irish craigslist (gumtree.ie). The panniers are epic: grey paisley design, little lizard logo decals, tons of pockets, waterproofing, and a plastic "skeleton" so the pockets keep their shape when empty. They were 100 euro in Germany when new, and are still basically new but I got them for 40. A steal, and they're so cuuuuuuuuuute ~ plus the lady I bought them from was really sweet, talked to me for a long time. Apparently the panniers belonged to her sister who moved to America. With these, I'm definitely not going to lose anything off the side of my bike--no sir. I will have to take them off the bike whenever I park and shop or whatever, and they are awkward to carry, but I'll devise a system. For what they are, it's more worth it to me to have the drawbacks and the benefits than no benefits at all. Plus, I'm planning on taking them back to the states with me, whereas if I just got a basket or something it wouldn't be worth returning with.

long tangent aside... I was cycling up Drumcondra Road/Swords Road/the N1, and most of it doesn't have cycle lanes, so I was on the left-hand side of bus lanes. Taxi after taxi would pass me INSIDE the lane--so close it was scary. So I moved to the middle and took the entire lane for myself, since cyclists are allowed to use bus lanes. Taxis would still try to get in-between me and the cars in the next lane if they could. One taxi even honked at me in traffic for having the nerve to be a cyclist on the road--and the funny thing is, he honked at me but I was travelling the SAME SPEED as the car ahead of me, since traffic was thick and slow at that point. I turned around and pointed to the car ahead of me so the guy could see it was RIGHT THERE. Sheesh, people.

I don't mind if they pass me when I'm on the left,  as long as they give me about half the lane to exist in. But some drivers would give me less than a foot of space. That's not safe. I'm happy to get out of their way whenever possible, but if they insist on being assholes I will do what it takes to be safe--which involves taking a lane for myself, in the absence of cycle lanes (or when the cycle lanes are a joke, covered in parked cars or buses that start and stop every ten feet, forcing you to turn left when you wanna go straight or straight when you wanna turn right, randomly appearing and disappearing, covered in broken glass or potholes, etc.).

anyway. I LOVE the panniers. They are my payday treat, along with a pair of synthetic trouser underlayers since I ripped a hole in my other pair when I took a spill the other day. I mean, I can still use the ones with a hole (and probably will), but they're ones my dad gave me so they bag and sag and it's nice to have a pair now that fit against my skin and don't have a penis hole in them.

Yeah, payday... My first paycheck of my SALARY. I am a salaried office worker now. Wtf? Does that mean I'm a grownup? I lost my heels and suitjacket when I lost my purse, but still. I have a work email address. I am an office administrator who fills in spreadsheets and emails people all day. And does endless sums. MATHS ARGH.


Can't wait for the first leisurecycling.ie training meet in the end of January...

pax

18 December 2011

first rothar accident

yay so I had my first bicycle accident today! (worst outcome: skinned knee)

I was cycling up past Finglas toward Belfast (i.e. north) because there's a pretty decent hill thataway and I'm wanting to train myself up for cycling in Wicklow and other hillier areas of Ireland. And the only way to get better at going up hills is to go up hills regularly.

Anyway, I got to a flat place and was just aimlessly cycling in a straight line, since I like to cycle out from my house for about an hour then turn around and come home. (I think I did 20+ km today but I didn't find a proper landmark in order to look it up and know for sure).

Then there were huge rocks on the side of the road that I didn't see. Rothar hit one, and careened into the kerb. I can report that the accident legitimately happened in slow motion. I was just like, "oh shit!" and watched Rothar flip out and the kerb come up to meet me. An impartial observer also affirmed that it happened in slow motion. After I fell, then scraped myself off the road onto the (pedestrian) pavement, a dude came out of his car to see if I was okay and offered me a ride somewhere if I wasn't. But I was okay. All I could see was a hole in my thermal trouser base layer (it is underneath my cycle shorts and a knee-high sock, so it's the only layer over my knee) and a tiny bit of blood. Rothar was fine except one of the brake handles and the gear handles got twisted to a new spot.

The knee is now covered in blood that has soaked into the trousers and the top of my sock. I'll see the extent of the damage when I shower, but it feels like just a surface wound.

I feel nice 'n' sore from the ride. It was a good one. I had, like, three different instances of "cyclist's high" on it. Next week I won't get out much because I have to work evenings in LUSH every day coming up to Christmas.

In other news, I joined the leisurecycling.ie cycling club and ordered their jersey and cycling bib shorts as well. So I can look like a legit cyclist and all. They'll be having training sessions for the Wicklow 200 about once a month or so till June, as well as joining other cycling events, like for charity and stuff, around Ireland. It'll be cool to meet and hang out with Irish cyclists, and have company and sort of guided trips out into Irish countryside.

also I won't be alone for Christmas! a friend and I are planning dinner! I'm so excited! plus Church in the morning, of course, and all my friends there :)



my camera is lost and/or stolen, so no more new pictures, but after Christmas and busyness is gone I can start to post the ones I did get to take before the camera vanished. stay tuned? idk.

pax

p.s. -- for the curious, "rothar" is pronounced kinda like "ruh-hurr"

15 December 2011

I hate myself so effing much right now

Halfway home today, I check on the bag that is on the back of my bike and it is gone.

It is a black mary kay bag made out of cloth. Inside it was a pair of nice shoes from Marks and Spencer, my suitjacket, my grey fleece vest with the broken zip, and the denim purse that my sister hand-made for me out of overalls.

Inside the purse was my American Passport, my sony camera and two memory cards/batteries w/ a swiss army carrying case, three USB keys with varying amounts of data on them (things like backups of my art, backups of my IDs and passport, which is stupid; why did I keep them in the same place?! fuck), a map of Dublin and some other paperwork including a jotter pad with all my to-do lists on it--AND a few passwords and bank details written down (but not enough to be used, I don't think), pens, pencils, erasers, and my wallet.

Inside my wallet was my Texas drivers' license, my GNIB card (which, iirc, costs 250 euro to replace), my two American credit cards, my Irish debit card, my membership cards to various shops, my glasses cleaning cloth, my library card, my proof of insurance card, a few notes and people's business cards. There was no paper cash in it, but probably five to ten euro worth of coins in the zipper pocket.

I don't know if the bag fell off the bike or if it was swiped off the bike when I was stopped at lights. I reported it to the guardai and they gave me a form that said it was a loss. They have my phone number and address, along with a description of the items inside, so if anybody turns it in, the bag will find me again.

I have a feeling that if the bag turns up, then it fell off the bike. If it never turns up, it was probably stolen from the bike.

All this happened because I was too lazy to tie the handles of the bag into a real knot. "oh, it's never fallen off before, and I'm just going home, which isn't far." I'm a fucking idiot and I hate myself for being too lazy to tie a fucking double knot in order to protect all my shit on my way home. The bike has a little spring-clasp thing which is all I used.

I don't care about most of the stuff, but the purse my sister made me? hell yes. My fucking CAMERA? Also I don't have 250 euro to buy another fucking GNIB card without dipping into my savings. I also want the data on those USB keys, and my PASSPORT. On top of all this, I was planning on going grocery shopping today but I have no access to any of my money because my cards are all gone (I'm about to cancel the American ones; I'll cancel the Irish one tomorrow. it requires a PIN to use tho so I'm not too worried about it). Which means the only food I can pick from is lentils, brussels sprouts, white rice, and protein powder.

Thank God my keys and my cell phone were in my pockets. And that my bicycle was under my ass. I am really tempted to hurt myself right now in order to "punish" myself for being so stupid.

Today was a really bad day. I woke up two hours later than normal, which meant I had ten minutes to get ready for work and I was STILL gonna be late. I skipped breakfast, hoofed it, and then got pulled over by a guard for running a red light (it was only for pedestrians and none were coming and I was running late). He took my ID then gave me a stern warning. Work was really nice about it--the working hours are flexible anyway--but all I had to eat was a nut'n'puffed rice bar and a cup of tea. then later I hit myself in the face with the bathroom door and put a permanent scratch on the left lens of my glasses, right in the middle where it can interfere with my vision if I look at it wrong.

I cried so much in public today, and I HATE doing that.

Please pray that my bag really did just fall off, and that whoever saw it fall is a decent human being who will turn it in to the guards. Please, God, let my faith in humanity be affirmed or restored.

What do I do? How long should I wait before I start replacing the things that I lost? And how can I even DO that without access to my money?

12 December 2011

tour of my flat

I know I said I would post this a long time ago, but here it finally is!

first of all, you go thru the wrought-iron gate under the brick arch...


then you go thru the door, which has a doorknob right in the middle like any good hobbit house ^_^
past the cute little garden where you can dry your clothes (when it doesn't rain, which... isn't often). It has a little tool shed and tonnes of ivy and a little box of adorable flowers. The bike shed for rothar is out of the frame on the left --


into the main hallway with its antique furnishings


up the stairs



 and into the flat! Here is my tiny kitchen (sink, fridge up to my waist topped with a microwave, and tiny-tiny oven--seriously, I don't know if a thanksgiving turkey would fit in it--with four little burners on top), and my adorable bed (with Hersha my little stuffed lion keeping it warm for me), and my wardrobe (filled with... very little since I am relentlessly utilitarian when it comes to clothes).

These are pictures I took when I first moved all my stuff in. The only decoration I've added, tho, is an old icon of the Theotokos and holy child above my kitchen table.

The flat's all nice and clean in these pictures, but lately I've become a bit of an... ehm... bachelor. I reallyreally need to vacuum (I'll do it this week! I swear!) and wipe down the hob and the sink. I also have a mound of dishes to wash (altho' I am forced to wash them when I need to use them since I have very little, so it doesn't get *too* bad) and clothes hanging all over the chairs, tables, and doors. The clothes are clean, but there's only a washer and no dryer, so I just drape them over things in my room to dry rather than risk the garden where they'll get rained on more often than not. Then, once they're dry, I can't be bothered to put them all away >_<;

And here is the fistful of keys that I require in order to live in this country:


The grey thing is the computer chip that gets me into the office for work. Then there's a bike lock key, a bathroom key, a key to the garden, a key to the flat, a key to the main door... and most of them are legit skeleton keys, which is awesome. I also have some membership card things to Tesco (English wal*mart, basically, which I avoid when possible; I prefer shopping Irish) and Holland and Barrett, the health food store.

 I'm sorting thru my mounds and mounds of pictures now. More will come.

pax.





08 December 2011

rothar related

...couldn't take another day of freezing cold fingertips, so I just bought me summa these -- lobster gloves. I like the look of them; now I can feel like Ludo from the Labyrinth. Didn't get the huge-ass bulky ones because it doesn't really go below 0 degrees C here, not really. I still need some good liners, tho. I admit the sailing gloves were an impulse buy; they were just SO COOL! But they make a better fall/spring cycling glove, or better yet a gardening glove. Or, you know, a sailing glove...

You can't have too many gloves, base layers, or socks, imho.

Some pictures of rothar for y'all's enjoyment.


suicide gears (little levers in the centre)

the man himself! plus the superduper 40 euro lock I got for him.

those are my keys hanging above him in the bike shed door. Skeleton keys for everything except my flat door and the little computer chip beeper thing for NTI.

I promise to go to the library and upload more pictures sometime soon! This is all my internet can handle for now.

pax.


01 December 2011

Christmas wishlist and randomness

Jam's Christmas wishlist:

1) Letters and cards from people! Send me a quick email or note on facebook and I will reply with my Irish address. I have a list of people to whom I'm already sending postcards; but, even if you're not on that list, I promise that if you do send me a card or a letter, I will reciprocate with an Irish postcard chosen specifically for you :3. I'm having a terrible time remembering who all I should send a note to, plus I don't have everyone's addresses! So either send me a card w/ a return address on it, or note me your address if you want one!

aaaaand... that's pretty much it. I already have acquired too much "stuff" since coming here and am feeling, after only three months, a terrible urge to whittle my posessions down to the bare essentials again. Except that all I have IS the bare essentials...! There's nothing I can think of in my house that I don't use regularly except perhaps a couple pairs of shoes (which are summer shoes anyhow).

If anyone did want to give me some kind of object for Christmas, here are things that I need and would use. (I am mostly posting this because I know my parents read this blog. Just fyi.)

a) Cute woolen or synthetic socks, both normal pairs and knee-highs (for cycling!). The more colourful and brilliant the design, the better. NO COTTON or hemp, as I'm phasing out those socks at the moment in favour of wool for cold weather and thin synthetics for warm weather. My feet are pretty small...

b) Silk or synthetic glove liners. Thin is best. Water resistant is a bonus. My hands are usually small, extra small, or junior sized (in fact, I bought some sailing gloves for cycling and bought extra-small instead of junior so I could fit liners under them...)

c) Cute handkerchiefs with fun designs or colours on them! To be used for my cold, runny nose, and the other wonderful things handkerchiefs can be used for. They're something I would use constantly, but for some reason refuse to buy for myself.


That's about it, unless something cycling-related came my way somehow. (like a bell or toe clips or something small?)



In other news... Jam! What did you do yesterday?!

I... I cycled to Blanchardstown shopping centre...

And??

went to all the sports stores...

AND?

spent 25 euros on a merino underlayer TT_TT

Which means! You spent ALL YOUR TAX BACK ON SPORTS STUFF. (waterproof shell jacket, two underlayers, sailing gloves, bike shorts)

But the merino was HALF PRICE! How often does that happen?



It is good though, because now I have two thermal longsleeve underlayers (one merino, one synthetic) and two all-weather shortsleeve underlayers (one merino, one synthetic). I was actually looking for glove liners, but I haven't found anything I like, and I don't want to buy big bulky snow gloves. I just want something to put under my sailing gloves to make 'em warmer. Everything I'm finding, tho, is either WAY TOO BIG for my tiny child's hands, or not what I'm looking for, or much too expensive. For now I use my wool wristwarmers and let my fingertips just, be cold.

but I know no one wants to hear about my strange shopping addictions! I will leave you with one final thought.

You never feel your mortality more vividly than when passed, on both sides, by double-decker Dublin buses leaving just a tiny little corridor for you to exist in.


pax.

25 November 2011

addendum

just a little addition to my last post...


1) I didn't even learn how to ride a bicycle until I was 10 years old. I never got the hang of the balancing part, so once I got too big for training wheels I gave up on it. By the time I was 10 my sister couldn't stand it anymore so she dragged me up hills and made me ride down them till I fell. Then came the magical moment when I didn't fall. I rode all day until I was stiff as a board. Today I rode until my calves started to cramp.

2) I am pretty sure that the blinking lights I bought for my bike have already saved my life. Probably more than once.







on a very unrelated note:

D. F. -- Rest in peace, and memory eternal.

bits and bobs

bits

Would you believe that I've been living in Ireland for almost three months and I only just now bought a waterproof jacket?

Yeah...

Well, I got my tax back today, which I wasn't expecting and which essentially doubled this week's paycheck. So I bought stuff.

First thing I did was eat a huge meal at Cornucopia, which is the only restaurant in Dublin that I will actually get food from--and it's SO GOOD! They cater amazingly well to food allergy people, and every dish and combination there is pure imagination. I got a fruit salad to take home, then ate a pear, hazelnut, and vinegar salad along with a huge serving of spicy vegetables/chickpeas over rice. Then I went to a little market next door and got the first of my Christmas presents for people! (besides postcards, which I've slowly been collecting.)

After that I went to an outdoorsy store called Port West, which I'm pretty sure originated in Ireland. Everything was on sale to some degree. I got a purple waterproof shell jacket (30 euro), a short-sleeve underlayer for cycling (25 euro), and a pair of bike shorts with the pads in 'em for bony arses like mine (15 euro). I was like a kid in a candy store at that place. Even tho 70 euro is a lot to spend on, like, three things, I've seen padded bike shorts on sale for 50-70 euro in bike shops, underlayers on sale for 40-50 euro each in other outdoorsy stores, and similar jackets for twice as much. I'm very pleased.

Then I went to the Catholic bookstore everythingstore Veritas and got me some advent candles. I only have a single candle stand, tho, so I'll have to burn them one at a time, rather than all at once. But that's okay; I'll just make sure I use the right colours in the right weeks, and if I still have purple candles left over after Christmas I can save them until Lent.

Also, I started buying meats at Irish butcher shops, and I can't believe I was wasting money on Tesco meat... shopping at Tesco is basically like shopping at Wal-Mart in the States, it's propping up a huge industrial machine that is slowly eating up small businesses, and supports the UK economy much more than the Irish one. I tho't the meat there was extra cheap so I was buying it, but man... I got a huge ham hock today for 3 euro--I swear it weighs like five pounds--and the other day I got three lambs' livers for a quid and a half. I can also get half a trout at the fish stop on Phibsborough road for 3 euro, which makes 2.5 meals with rice.

I'm gonna make a cabbage and ham stew with bean sprouts and chunks of rutabaga. I should probably simmer my stock tonight and make it in the morning. I won't be hungry again after all that food in Cornucopia... *clutches stomach*


--

bobs

My two new hobbies: cycling and collecting churches. By "collecting churches" I mean taking pictures of as many as I can. A lot of the churches in Ireland are open to the public during the day, all week, so I take pictures of the outsides and then the insides if I can. There is so much amazing architecture  here, it blows my mind... so many gorgeous Catholic churches... too bad the corruption of the clergy here has had to mar it and empty so many of them out. I like to pray in the empty buildings, but I don't go to Mass in them anymore. It's unfortunate, but the Masses tend to be very shallow and ill-suited to the majestic buildings they inhabit... I prefer to pray and imagine in peace.

I don't only take pictures of Catholic churches, of course. Any churches that catch my eye as being particularly interesting or pretty.

As for cycling... I feel more alive than I have in forever. I'm shite at riding up hills, but I'm getting better. I love my suicide gears and my hybrid frame and wheels. I bought some blinking lights for riding at night, too--red for the rear, white for the front. Apparently the blinking helps cars gauge how fast you're coming at 'em. I didn't know that before.

that's all for now. thanks fer readin'.

pax.

21 November 2011

rothar -- my new best friend

I just got my bike from the nonprofit recycle bike place today. It is a blue ladies' hybrid, most parts recycled, a tad rusty but in perfect working condition. It has suicide gears, which I am new to but already love. I am the happiest person right now.

I named him Rothar, which is the name of the bike shop and basically means bicycle in Irish (pronounced ˈrohər according to wiktionary, but I just say "rahthar" 'cause I'm a dumb American). 

He's a very good bike. I bought a 45 euro lock for him, already have a helmet, and just got a high-visibility vest from this abandoned plant that I found a few weeks ago (funnily enough, I got the vest with permission from the guy who is only just now letting the property... I first found it whilst trespassing, haha. Didn't tell him that, tho. And he invited me back to their grand opening night on Dec 1st!). The vest is in the wash right now. Used to belong to a construction worker. Might be decades old... no way of telling.

I just rode to work and back, trying to get a feel for the route, and even while getting lost a few times (having to follow the flow of traffic, with all its one-way streets, rather than footpaths), I did about 8-10 km in the hour that it normally takes me to walk 4.5-5 km. I'm SO ready to start riding this bike 10+ km a day on top of my work commute. Dublin traffic may kill me, but there's a lot of cyclists and we're travelling pretty much the same speeds as the cars in most cases, traffic is so slow. Bike lanes in Dublin are a joke unless you're travelling in a straight line beside a waterway (the Liffey or one of the canals). I'm getting used to being on the left side of the road, too. And dodging buses. Taxis are worse than buses, but buses are SO BIG.

Yes, Mama, I always wear my helmet, and always will. (NOTE FROM 2013: actually I stopped wearing my helmet in Dublin traffic a few months after this post, haha)

--

I've been having a lot of digestive issues lately, due to coeliac or damage from coeliac. Basically my chest has been aching like I got shot with a shotgun for a week or so, my acid reflux is so bad. I was so worried for a while there that I'd have to go back to the States to get hiatal hernia surgery. Well, I don't care if my stomach literally catches fire, you're not taking me away from Dublin and Ireland and my Rothar until my year is friggin' up.

Luckily, taking digestive enzymes with betaine HCl seems to be helping me out, as does laying off fats, which I don't think I'm digesting properly. I think I may have low stomach acid--hypochloridia. I've been talking to other coeliacs online and it seems to be common among us, along with a lazy pancreas that doesn't produce enough digestive enzymes. I just got super-duper enzymes with 600 mg HCl and 90 mg ox bile, so I will try those with some full meals tomorrow and see if they help or not. I've also been taking slippery elm bark, which is a wonderful supplement that coats the throat, stomach, and intestines to soothe inflammation. Taking it is basically drinking slime, but you do what you have to, ya know? I do plan on seeing a doctor eventually but I want to find the right one, given that I'll be paying 50-75 euro for the privilege. I don't want one that will just prescribe nexium et al. after a five minute conversation, because I tried taking over-the-counter ppi pantoprazole and it seemed to make things worse. Like, my stomach stopped emptying out after meals and I stopped getting hungry at all. I only made it about six days into the 14-day course of it.

But I still can't eat normal portion sizes, and since I have to lay off calorie-dense foods like nuts and seeds because of the high fat content, I got myself some hemp protein powder to mix into things in order to build myself some good biking muscles. I will also start eating a lot more fish and lean meats. I'm not sure how well I tolerate eggs. And I def. can't eat dairy, like butter and ice cream and stuff, or any candies or anything. Hopefully finding the right dosage of HCl will allow me more fats etc. so that I can build my body back up! 

I want to be strong and active, not weak and pale, sitting on my ass in an office all day. That's why I've been walking to work instead of taking the bus. Now I can go so many places. In a few weeks I will attempt to bike to Howth lighthouse--about a 20 km journey one way.

yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaahh!

12 November 2011

imagery Jam likes

Here's a short list of things that I like to see, and that I tend to take pictures of. No particular order or reasoning. Once I start uploading the pictures I've been taking (I will eventually, I promise...) you'll start seeing this stuff a lot.

1. Stone churches. Catholic churches are the best for this, but any old churches will do it. I especially like taking pictures of Catholic churches at night, or pictures of them in interesting lighting. I love stone crosses with moss or ivy on them. I love seeing crosses contrasted against the sky or lit up by the moon.

2. Graffiti. I think a huge part of the personality of a city is expressed in its graffiti.

3. Lanes and roads stretching into the distance. I love to go on walks in the city, wandering down streets just to see where they go. I love trees and architecture. I love doors, arches, and gates--portals to other places, full of untold stories. I do take pictures of lanes all the time, lanes I wish I could walk down, or lanes that really lead nowhere in particular. But the pictures can't quite catch the essence of what it is like to walk past a road or lane and wonder about where it would lead you.

4. Interesting textures and shapes.

5. Urban decay. Especially abandoned buildings, or decaying structures juxtaposed against brand-new ones or construction. Buildings being swallowed by ivy are also fun.

6. Trees and water. Horizons. General nature-y stuff--the kind that ends up on postcards. You know the drill.

I've already filled up a 2G memory card with pictures and need to sort thru them and post some. I went on a day tour to Wicklow today and ended up with another gig or so of pictures (altho lots are duplicates that will be whittled down). Saw three lakes, went on a forested walk, wandered around monastic ruins and a 500 y/o graveyard. I'm proud of myself for leaving Dublin for the first time since I got here! Even if it was only for one day, on a silly tour that barely lasted as long as it should've. Next weekend I'm going to Galway :3

03 November 2011

wheels

Just paid a 50 euro deposit at Rothar for a hybrid/road bike they are going to rebuild for me. Frame is rusty and old but the rest of it will be fine and in working order. Cost: 165 euro, plus a 45 euro lock to keep it from getting stolen--total of 210 euro.

Pricey, for me. but you know what? I want a bike, and I want a decent bike for the first time in my life, rather than a stupid cheap wal*mart mountain bike or a 1-speed cruiser that I have to walk up hills. I could wait indefinitely for someone to sell a decent bike on gumtree (Irish craigslist) for cheap, or I can support a cool nonprofit bike shop in town and have a bike in 10 days. A bike that I know works and has a month of guaranteed servicing on it.

I've decided that I'm going to start biking out into greater Dublin on a regular basis, especially out to the sea. And I may take the bike on the bus eirann (for a little extra fee) so that I can explore other parts of Ireland on my bike as well. More of the country will be accessible to me this way, and it means less time spent walking from site to site if I take a day/weekend trip out anywhere.

Besides, as far as my health goes, the only time I truly and remarkably feel WELL is when I'm out walking. I don't feel the fatigue and headaches that settle in when I'm sitting still. So I walk for hours. Why not ride for hours and see more of the city and the country while I am at it?

I'm going to work myself up to a 17 km ride out to Howth light house. Then, who knows.

Next order of business is to buy a helmet, which I can get in a bike shop on parnell street, he said. Then a high-visibility vest (I know where I can get one for free).

I'm kinda excited now. Next Thursday I'll call them back ~



(plus, this is all gonna be paid for just from my paychecks since I got here. I haven't been able to rebuild my savings yet, but I haven't been spending from my savings since I got my first paycheck--except for medical supplements from time to time.)


29 October 2011

loneliness v. solitude (2011)

I can see why Andy stayed. I miss everyone.

Writer Henri Nouwen wrote that everyone exists on a series of continua, one of which is the continuum between solitude and loneliness. Every human being is, essentially, alone. We're locked up in our skulls and in our ribcages, where no other human being can ever truly reach us. I can tell you what I am thinking, but you cannot read my mind--and I can never know what it is like to be you, what it is like to suffer the way you suffer, or rejoice the way you rejoice. Every human being's sphere of raw experience and consciousness is entirely unique.

When I am experiencing mostly solitude, I am content no matter what my circumstances. I enjoy my long and sometimes aimless walks, picking out the little things, the untold stories, signs of life and death and everything in-between, with open eyes and curious mind. I write, or draw, or sit in my one-room flat drinking tea and reading books. I don't need other people to make me feel better or more in touch with things. I am happy to exist.

When I am experiencing mostly loneliness, I miss all the people I have been blessed to know in my unsettled life. I miss the company of dear friends whom I have had to bid farewell, and may never see again--or at least not for many years. I want to travel back in time:

back to ASIJ, where I will act again in plays, enjoy my challenging classes, socialise with my diverse and ever-entertaining group of friends (who took to me for reasons I still cannot fathom)

back to A&M, where I will walk and bike and sweat in the heat, where I will talk about liturgy and music with my Catholic friends and go to Mass and pray and experience God deeply for the first time in many years--where I will beat back my depression so that it never comes and I will not wantonly scarify myself and lash out at friends who want nothing more than to help

back to Alaska, where I will pray and grow closer to my Godparents and friends, where I will socialise with people my age on a regular basis, where I will climb mountains and breathe deeply of unpolluted air, where I will grow closer to people whom I kept at a distance due to my complicated relationship with Eli at the time, where I will not spend a single second worrying about romance, where I will do better at my daycare job and bond with the children more and act in such a way that no amount of oestrogen-fuelled drama can reach me from my coworkers when there's so much joy to be had in the world and can't they see it when they walk out the front doors and the snowy mountains spread out before them on the horizon

back to Franciscan University, where I will take back my health from ignorance and have the energy to do the things I always wanted to do, where I will break up with Eli before ever going over so that I can enjoy the school and his company as a friend without so much angst and heartbreak--where I will take things slower, work harder in my classes so that I will learn more and do better work, spend more time with the wonderful people that I came to know too late, arrange my schedule properly so that I do end up with a Sacred Music minor and not a wimpy almost-minor, talk and interact with people and professors I was too shy to approach until it was time to leave

and on the feelings go.

I am very glad that I came to Dublin. Even though I have not left the city yet, what I have experienced already has made the trip and the money I have spent completely worth it. And I am not even two months into my twelve month stay.

But I can see why my friend Andy stayed in Steubenville even after his graduation, and now that certain things are happening back at my alma mater (which I will write about later, I am sure), I find myself wishing I had stayed. Just for a little while longer. Just so that I could hug Francine one more time, stay up all night again talking to my Nan, lean on Dr. Smith's paternal care, grin as Dr. Weber sweeps into class with all his delightfully eccentric energy and starts teaching us how to perceive music's skeleton. I would like to work harder on my thesis with Dr. Craig, converse more with Dr. Sunyoger to bridge the gap between the verbal and nonverbal, enjoy the rambling lectures of a certain Dr. Holmes. I'd like to be a punkass kid with Scott and Eric and David again. Make tribbles with MK. Play soprano sax in the pep band because God knows I wouldn't touch my instrument otherwise.

But everything comes to and end, and that is that. When I am moved toward solitude again, I will start living in the now, which is the best and only place to be.

pax.

20 October 2011

information assembly line

copy, paste, search, accept?, clear

copy, paste, search, accept?, clear

copy, paste, search, accept?, clear

copy, paste, search, accept?, clear

copy, paste, search--refer?!--decision details, override, accept: new spec phone, OK, clear

purple text in the excel spreadsheet (JAM WAS HERE DAMMIT), green green green green above it

copy, paste, search, accept?, clear

copy, paste, search, accept?, clear

copy, paste, search, cancelled! ...oh. red text.

copy, paste, search, accept?, clear

copy, paste, search, accept?, clear

copy, paste, search--refer?!--decision details, override, accept: NO NOT accept + alternate, the system will freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeze

AUGH little running phone man, I hate you

copy, paste, search--refer?! OK OK.

Why are all these 50-75 year olds buying iPhones? My world...

haha what do 17 year olds want with insurance and why do they think we'll give it to them?? DECLINED and red text

copy, paste, search, accept?, clear

copy, paste, search, accept?, clear

copy, paste, search, accept?, clear

copy, paste, search, accept?, clear

and report back to J---- when you're done.


10 October 2011

jibs and jobs

Okay, so I don't have a walking tour of my apt yet, because I need to resize files of pictures I took and am being--lazy? busy? one of the two.

Just wanted to let you guys know that I am now employed! I work at a technology insurance company double-checking pdf files to make sure they have the right names, addresses, prices, etc. on them. The job is very tedious and nearly unnecessary as I've been assured that 99% of the time everything is correct. But there is that 1% to deal with, which is where I come in. The people at the office are really nice--I like them already--and the job will be pretty sweet for as long as it lasts, as it's 20 hours-ish a week and pays a good bit above minimum wage. I hope it does stay 4 hours a day... if I finish quicker it may be less... or it may be more... depending. I dress in a suit-jacket with cool brown-and-black heels that I bought (omg heels. on me. I know. but they are small heels...) on sale at Marks and Spencer, and I have my own desk! This is the first time I've had my own desk! I always shared before. Such an official and professional, corporate, job. I will try to make them proud.

I also double-checked with LUSH today, since I hadn't heard back from them about my trial shift. Turns out I got the Christmas temping job! But the position does not start until November, so I will need to check back with them about it around the 25th-ish of this month if they haven't contacted me first. The office job's hours will be rather flexible and there aren't any on weekends so it will be easy to work both that and LUSH. I'm really excited about LUSH, too! There's all these cool Christmas things in that I have to stop myself from buying, new seasonal soaps and whatnot... I will get a really hefty employee discount once I start work there, so I need to hold off until I start and then BUY ALL THE THINGS. Which I will TOTALLY do. The ingredients are pure, simple, and essentially guilt-free, and while the products are expensive, they are very good quality and totally worth it. Plus I haven't seen anything there with gluten or soya (except one shower gel with wheatgrass I think). yaaaay

Speaking of food... I am currently fighting depression concerning/caused by food. Yesterday I was having terrible symptoms and wanted to kick down every sign with bread on it--run into grocery stores and upturn shelves and shelves of things that are poisonous to me. Of course I would never do such things but I was feeling really horrible. I will write an entry about food later, perhaps. I want this entry to be the good news, and not the emo news. Suffice to say I hate food and if I could stop eating tomorrow without slowly starving to death, I would--happily; it would be an immense relief.

That's all for now. Jam is going to get paid soon! Then I can start exploring the countryside, or at least start going to cool museums and things in Dublin. Yay~

pax.






22 September 2011

update

I am totally in love with my new flat.

I hardly have anything in it--had to buy everything fresh. Three bowls, five spoons, two mugs, three tupperware, two pots and one pan (with one handle between them), three wooden spoon-spatulas, one whistling kettle, a handful of hangers. It's doing me all right so far. Just bought an iron as well for 14 euro--dunno if it works yet. Hey, can you use your bed as an ironing board??

I need to go through and edit my pictures of it, but I will post a walking tour in a few days.

As far as internet goes, the girl downstairs has not gotten back to me about sharing cost, so for now I either use the internet at USIT (which is available at half ten to five, Monday thru Friday) or at the library down the street from my flat (which has different opening hours every day, and is closed on Sunday). The internet is slow and ragged, but it works. I hope to be a bit more creatively productive during quiet evenings at home, since I won't be online. We'll see how that goes.

I'm not feeling terribly well today, so I'm not applying to jobs, just having a lazy day in, with a bit of shopping to furnish my flat better. I did call a 2nd temping agency which may be promising as far as my jobhunt goes. They have a breakfast temping program where you stay in their office and eat breakfast/hang out from 0800 to 1030, and have first pick of any jobs that come up that day. If no jobs come up, you go home, but are at the top of the call list for the rest of the day. As soon as I can get registered and interviewed by them (they *should* call me back tomorrow). I plan on doing that every day I can. Applying in shops and restaurants has been useless thus far, because I don't have any real experience in any of those fields, so no one is biting.

I did get an interesting call back just now from a proofreading company that I applied to recently. It seems like a one-lady business, but she said if she gets too much (which she does sometimes) she will forward me the 1st page of something, and if I proof it properly I can get the whole thing and set my own fee for proofing it. I'm still going to try and break into the copyediting field even whilst here... probably should brush up on the myriad differences between American and British English, eheh... I mean, I know a lot of it, but I'm sure I don't know everything. We'll see how that goes as well.

My dream would be to work in an Irish pub or restaurant, or in a butcher's or some nearby shop where locals stream in and out constantly and I can get a feel for what it is like to live and work in IRELAND as opposed to anywhere else in the world. But, work is work, and I will take whatever I can get. I still will get to live here and explore from my "home base" of this wonderful Dublin bedsit.

I can't wait to get a job so that I can start exploring Ireland on my days off. I need the security of a job to feel stable while romping around the countryside--it's a thing about me; I hate being unemployed. But my deadline of one month till job ifallgoesaccordingtoplan hasn't passed yet, so I'm not going to activate worry-mode yet.

I'm not being particularly interesting right now, so I will cut this short. Walking tour of my apartment is next in the queue.

pax.


10 September 2011

seagulls

I love seagulls. I don't know why... I s'pose it's because seagulls mean you're by the sea, and I like to be by the sea. Sure, they're effectively pigeons, but they're a lot more attractive than pigeons.

I have spent most of my life in Japan, Hawaii, Alaska... it was so weird to be inland in Colorado and see a blue horizon and think it was the sea but it wasn't. I'm not a huge fan of boats and swimming at beaches, and I don't fish or surf or scuba-dive or do anything particularly related to the sea,  but I love seafood and I love talking walks on docks and along the shore. There's something free and open and wild about the sea that I love.

Not the biggest fan of gulls this afternoon, though, when I was trying to take a nap (I think jetlag is finally starting to catch up with me. Or maybe it was all that dancing last night). Gull stood right outside my window and made this pitiful gull-noise for like fifteen minutes... I took a little video of him for the last few seconds. Here it is:



I'm slowly getting accustomed to Dublin. Know where the best shopping is and so forth. I applied to 5 jobs yesterday (pathetic, I know) and I have an interview with a temping agency on Monday. I'm going to relax and explore this weekend, take some pictures maybe, and then really get crackin' on job stuff on Monday after my interview. Then, at the end of my first week at the hostel, I'll rebook for another week and spend that week finding a decent apartment since I'll have sorta tested the job waters beforehand. We'll see, we'll see.

All I know is I have to start eating better at some point. Mostly all I eat is breakfast at the hostel (canned fruit and boiled eggs and tea, everything else has gluten in) and cheap fruit that I buy at little stands on Moore street. And rice and canned peas. There is a tesco dwn the street though, with good cheap whole foods so I'll be all right. I'm just too lazy to cook is all.

pax.

07 September 2011

touchdown

I am, at this very moment, in downtown Dublin. Aston Quay, to be specific. I have registered for my orientation tomorrow at 11 o'clock here in the BUNAC office, whose free internet I am using. After the orientation I will register with the immigration Bureau and begin my job- and flat-hunt.

So far my experience of Ireland has been awesome--minus one thing. Daddy convinced me not to take a regular suitcase, just two backpacks--a hiking backpack and his rucksack, and I added a stuff sack to the top of the hiking backpack because I had just a little more stuff to put in. Since I am going to stay here for a YEAR, after all. Total amount of stuff I have brought: 72 lbs. Now, it is very low maintenance to bring less than you weigh in stuff to live somewhere for a year, BUT... the most I should be carrying on my back for any length of time is only about 40 lbs, not freakin' 70. Since I have no wheels, I had to carry it all... on the bus, down the street... my neck and shoulders hate me now. The stuff is now (somewhat) safely stowed at my hostel, which I can check in to at 14:00 (it's 11:00 now), but man it was hard to haul up here.

And I had help. I asked a gentle old man directions to Aston Quay and he walked there with me, warning me about pickpockets and charlatans and telling me about cheap places to buy food and telling me that there were cheaper hostels I could've picked than the one I did. He was really sweet and nice and when we were halfway to my hostel he insisted he take my 30 lb backpack and he seriously carried it all the way to the hostel for me, and left a lot of parting advice. He's gonna be playing Irish music on Grafton Street today and tomorrow, so I'm going to look for him again and try to find him and say hello. And maybe get more advice--it was hard to hear him in the street with his accent and quiet voice so I only got like half of what he said.

I saw some little wheely grocery carry things for €10 on the way down here. idk if I can remember where to find them but at least my stuff sack and a slightly-unpacked rucksack would fit in one. I'll have to remember to buy one after my week in the hostel is over and I move to a new one (if I need to), or when I finally move to a flat somewhere.

...This keyboard is interesting. The quotation marks are above the 2 key and the @ is where the " would be on an American keyboard. And the return key is a little bit sideways to the # key so I hit # instead of enter a lot. Plus £ and € are actually on the keyboard and not in some "special character" box you have to jump thru hoops to access.


I am quite nervous because I would like to be employed within a month max, but my skills are very limited and I am monolingual. I think the whole world is having a bit of a jobs crisis. And I've never written a cover letter before.

We'll see, I s'pose...

pax.

05 September 2011

monasticism in daily life

As I prepare for my journey to Ireland (WHICH IS COMING UP IN TWO DAYS WHATAMIGOINGTODO), I am reflecting on how the monastic ideal touches us lay folk. Me in particular.

Packing up my things is a very interesting experience for me this time around. I am no stranger to it, since I moved every two years of my childhood--sometimes more often, but never less. I have lived in nine different U.S. States (in order, not including repeats: Oklahoma, Virginia, North Carolina, California, Hawai'i, Texas, Alaska, Ohio, and Colorado) and two different cities in Japan (Zama and Tokyo). The number of addresses I have had in my life is staggering: twenty.

Twenty.

I am only twenty-two years old.

I was a bit of a packrat as a small child, but by middle school I had been cured of the habit. Every year, whether we moved or not, we would go through our things and discard or give away what we didn't use or need anymore. I grew to be ruthless in this practice, whittling down my wardrobe only to pieces I wear at least once a month (in their proper season), keeping only the knickknacks with an extra awesome- or nostalgia-factor, tossing instantly anything that I could easily do without. My giant collection of stuffed animals dwindled down only to those creatures with the most memories packed into their threadbare smiles even before I had outgrown playing with them.

By the time I went off to college I no longer had my parents helping me pack and the US Army paying for the shipping of my stuff. I grew even more ruthless. My first year in college I showed up with two large suitcases for the first month, before retrieving some necessities from my grandparents, with whom I had stored everything else that I owned. I easily had less than half the stuff that my roommate had. I accumulated some furniture when I moved out into an apartment, but gave the desk to my parents for keeping and got rid of the rest when I moved to Alaska, taking only--yeah. Two suitcases and my tenor saxophone.

When I moved to Ohio I took... two suitcases and three boxes that I shipped to myself. I used the suitcases as dressers for an entire year.

You'd think that after four years at college I'd have more stuff to show for it, but I actually have LESS stuff than I originally shipped back to the States after graduating high school. All of it EASILY fit into my small SUV for the long haul to Colorado. I have more books, but less net possessions.

What does this have to do with monasticism?

As I prepare to leave for Ireland, my plans are to take only two backpacks--a large hiking backpack with a frame and a small rucksack--and a duffel bag. I'm packing all my other things up for storage in giant Tupperwares and cardboard boxes. I am getting rid of some things, but I've been so ruthless in the past that I hardly have anything to give away. I can't give everything away because someday--in the distant, unseeable future--I may settle down, put down roots somewhere, and I will need these things then. Sheet sets, comforters, dishes, towels, pictures & posters--that kind of thing. Some things are made of memories and irreplaceable (and have no value to anyone besides me), and the others would be too expensive to replace (considering I've done a lot of that in the past--buying blankets, for example, then moving somewhere without them and having to buy them again).

It is really weird, though, to pack things up and realize you're not going to see or use them for an entire year, if not longer. Taking only what is necessary for survival and minimal comfort. This is a semi-monastic ideal--deciding what is necessary to live on and subsisting on that; little more. Having an attitude that leans toward, "yeah, I can do without that."

Rather than staying rooted in one place, however, as monastics do, I am wandering the world. I think I'm a bit restless. It's a pattern I found myself unable to break free from... I tried, I really did, to go to the same college for four years and beat my record of only living in one town for three years (although we did have three separate houses, and I went to two different schools). After a year and a half, I had to leave, and it wasn't anybody's fault... I just wasn't supposed to be at A&M anymore. When I graduated from high school I talked endlessly of settling down, rooting myself somewhere so deep and thoroughly that I would be torn to pieces before I could be shifted yet again.

I don't know if I am capable of that.

I don't know if I ever was. And I don't know if that's what I really want anymore. I want to exist in the present, to discover what it means to be truly human, without hiding behind possessions and habits and preconceived notions. In my case, to do that I have to continue leaving things behind. I cannot be too attached to any thing in this world, any place, any community.

Perhaps this is a preparation for my death--the ultimate voyage. Not that it's coming anytime soon, but this is part of being truly human, after all... dealing with that nagging question of mortality. I probably shouldn't wax too philosophical about it, however. Most of all this is a desire to experience life to the fullest I am capable, and to do that I cannot grow lazy, complacent; too comfortable.

I'm going to go with the hand God dealt me and become the nomad I was raised to be.

Don't forget me, though, eh? Relationships are what make this such an awesome life... if it weren't for my rootlessness, I wouldn't know all the wonderful people whom I know, wouldn't have met half as many as I've met and loved. I don't plan on forgetting anyone, at least.

pax.

01 September 2011

Tips on Tipping

Today was my last day of work for Cuisine on the Scene. All-in-all it was a good job, and my boss liked me and I liked him. I only made $60-$80 a week or so, but for an extremely flexible summer job to keep my bank account in the green till moving to Ireland, it wasn't bad. It bought me a new pair of glasses, all of the Digger comic books, gas for the months I spent here (including the $172ish dollars I spent on gas for the job itself), and a few odds and ends.

Since I was working primarily for tips--the delivery fee I got for each order pretty much only covered gas--here are some things I learned about tipping in America.

1. Always tip 20%, if you can, although 15% is okay on larger orders. I know 15% is the accepted norm, but with inflation and so forth, 20% is much better. Plus your driver will love you even more.

2. A delivery driver works just as hard, if not harder, than a normal waiter to get your food to you. AND has to pay for her own gas. Tip 20%.

3. Any tip under $5 is hardly worth it. $5+ is a good tip. If 20% turns out to be three or four dollars, round up a little.

4.  Don't demand exact change on cash orders, even if the tip is included in the bill--tell them to keep the change. But don't expect them to be super-grateful if the change is only ten or twenty cents...

5. Speaking of, "keep the change" doesn't make a good tip automatically. Figure out 15%+ and THEN around up to the next dollar.

6. The to-go people at the restaurants, if you decide to pick the food up yourself, are still working pretty hard. Give them tips too (although they can be smaller, 10%-15%, since they aren't driving themselves to your house as well--but still keep in mind that most people don't tip them so they get stiffed a lot).

7. It is usually not the delivery driver's fault if the food is late. The restaurants can be slow, traffic can be slow, every red light could conspire to slow your food down... don't shoot the messenger and tip poorly if your food is late or cold. Complain to the restaurant, but don't stiff the poor driver.

8. It is also not the driver's fault if you were shorted an item or if an item was wrong. Delivery drivers do not have food handling licenses and are not allowed to open your food or whatever to check and see if it is right. They have to trust the restaurants. So, call and complain, but still tip. (I did hear a story of a guy who used to work for my boss who would eat little side orders of things--bread here, extra shrimp there--and it was quickly noticed that the people were shorted on EVERY order he ran. So he was fired. But don't assume the worst, okay?)

9. Never stiff anyone but an absolute flaming a-hole, unless YOU want to the be a-hole.



My job wasn't so bad because an automatic 15% gratuity was added to every order, making it impossible for people to stiff us. It was wonderful when people tipped over that, but at least I was assured an okay tip (~$3 was the min. since they had to have at least a $20+ order in order to order ...DX). However, my boss didn't always have that rule in place. He HAD to enforce it when his drivers started being stiffed on a very regular basis. So if your bill doesn't have the tip automatically in it, you can probably safely assume that your driver gets stiffed from time to time. Tip 20% to make up for the asshats who don't even round up to the next five bucks.

Now that I've worked for tips, lemme tell you, my tipping practices are definitely going to improve from now on.

29 August 2011

elinguis

Less than two weeks from now, I will be in Dublin, Ireland, with a backpack and a suitcase and a purse--nothing else. I will convert a wad of cash to euros in the airport, then take a bus to downtown Dublin, where I will deposit my suitcase at a hostel on Aston Quay and wander around a bit until it is time to check in to my room.

I will probably scope out the USIT office, first, which is down the street. I will be arriving on Wednesday. On that Friday morning I will have to head down there for an orientation through BUNAC, the people from whom I bought travel insurance, and who helped me sort out my working holiday authorization and gave me a wonderful little booklet of information that will be vital as I start to canvass the city looking for jobs and accommodations and travel and entertainment. In the first week I will need to register with the Immigration Bureau, as well.

I estimate that it will take me two to three weeks to be gainfully employed in Dublin. Even if it takes two months, however, I have money enough to see me through, and won't have lost too much of my 12 working months to idleness. To be honest, I don't care what work I get, as long as it's minimum wage or more and a decent number of hours a week. I'd gut fish six days a week in order to live and travel in Ireland and the rest Europe. I'd sort through rubbish for recycling. I'd sit in an assembly line putting piece B into slot A for hours on end.

I cannot fathom how little time I have left here in America. I didn't graduate from University all that long ago, and I haven't done much since then, unless you count watching British comedy shows and reading comic books. I mean, I have this super-part-time job Delivery Driving for Cuisine on the Scene, which is pretty fun and really flexible, but I'm only getting like $50-$70 a week doing that, only running three or four orders a day, if that. And it took me a month and a half to even get that job.

I hope that Ireland will infuse me with life and energy. Ever since I left university I feel as though I've lost a lot of the articulateness I used to have, and without set deadlines my creativity is flagging, too. I need to write and draw a little every day for the practice, sketches and lines of poetry and paragraphs of story that don't necessarily have to go anywhere. But mostly I watch Top Gear or faff about on the internet.

I'm gonna try to make my time in Ireland different.

16 August 2011

All set to go.

Today I received my working holiday authorization!! I actually received it first on Friday, but they spelled my first name wrong so I had to send it back for correction. But now it's here and it's correct and I have my passport back...! I also have my plane tickets (air canada), and a hostel reservation on Aston Quay for one week. It'll be a dorm-style room, I get one night free thru BUNAC and the rest is only €12 on weekdays and €16 on weekends. I'm paying a little extra for a female-only dorm but I think I'll like that a lot better than a mixed one.

So, basically I'm good to go. I'll get there at 08:30 on Wednesday, September 7th, and I'm set to check into my hostel at 10:00. The last bit of business to take care of once I get there is to check in with the Immigration Bureau and pay their fee and all that. Then I'll have the USIT orientation on Friday morning, and then JOBHUNTING I s'pose. I'm not going to try and get a flat until I have a job first. Staying at a hostel comes out to about the price of rent anyhow. I mean, you have to share the room with 9 other people, but it's economical and flexible and right smack downtown next to the USIT office.

I cannot begin to explain how excited and nervous I am that I will be moving to Dublin, Ireland, in less than three weeks. I just hope I don't forget anything that I need to do before I get there or bring with me when I leave...

03 August 2011

first post

I created this blog so that people who want to (mostly my parents, I would imagine) will be able to keep track of my adventures in Ireland.

As of right now, I leave on 7 September 2011 from Denver to Dublin. Until after I leave there won't be much to post, unless I want to go on about the various things that I'll be doing to prepare for my journey, such as getting an international driver's permit (did that yesterday) or what have you.

I have not yet gotten my working holiday authorization from the Irish Consulate of San Francisco, but it was approved pending the submission of 1) proof of travel insurance and 2) return airline tickets. I mailed both a few weeks ago, but I sent them in the regular mail so I have no idea when I should expect them to return my passport with the visa in it. Soon, hopefully. I may call to check on the progress if I don't get them in the first week of August.

Till then I will continue to work for Cuisine on the Scene here in the Springs and be generally lazy and goodfernuthin. Watch a lot of TV, make some art maybe, write if the mood hits.

Oh, and mama got me a camera for my birthday, so I should get some good pictures. I think I have to sign up for something extra to be able to post them on blogger, tho.