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.