Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Snowy Armageddon hits Scotland!

And I thought the PNW was unprepared for inclement weather.

It has been snowing for a good week and a half now -- a lovely Saturday morning surprise turned epic icy failure to grit roads and sidewalks.  The snow stopped, partially thawed, refroze, and recommenced, so now we have that lovely packed, slick, no-possible-traction kind of surface that cars and pedestrians both love, and what is the Scottish government doing about it?  Nothing, apparently.

Now, I know it's hard when you're not ready for it.  I grew up in Vancouver, Washington.  I know what happens to a rainy, temperate climate when the temperature dips below freezing.  But this is normal weather here.  It's early, yes, but normal.  Pull yourself together, United Kingdom!

I was the only one who showed up to work in my department today.  I walk and take the underground (which has been jam-packed, due to it being the only reliable source of transportation), so I don't have a problem.  We closed early yesterday and it took one lady nine hours to get home.  Two of those hours were spent crossing a bridge.  Buses have been canceled for days.  People have been stuck in traffic for over 24 hours.  To save gas and stay warm, people are piling into each other's cars and running the heaters.  Cars have been abandoned on the motorways.  Does this not all sound a little bit absurd?  A bit Day After Tomorrow-ish?

Minnesota can do it.  Norway can do it.  Most of Canada does it every year.  Deal.  With.  The.  Snow.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

When the plumber don't come, sh!t gets Elizabethan

It all began two weeks ago, when I joined the bf in our new flat in Glasgow.  I suppose it began before my arrival, but I was blissfully unaware of the trouble that lay ahead.  An old Scottish house turned into apartments, you say?  Servants' quarters becoming living quarters, a great room now comprising a studio.  Delightful, I say, Positively charming!  And it is, our apartment, with its vaulted ceiling and myriad retro and antique lamps, collected by the landlady.  With an old house, however, comes an old infrastructure, and sneaky little problems, easily overlooked by an enthusiastic couple, looking for a cheap place to stay.

Who would have thought to check the water pressure in the shower, for instance?  Or the spare bedroom for draughty windows?  Not us!  We'll take it!

And so here we are, a month into the lease, without a functioning shower.  What began as a simple request to replace the shower head has turned into a saga of disconnected pipes, an absentee landlady, and the futility of baths.

Prior to my arrival, an electrician came to replace the shower head.  That's funny, you may be thinking, wouldn't a plumber be the more logical hire for this job?  I might have thought the same, but this new shower head would be more efficient! would heat water only as it was needed! would require an electrician for installation! would prove to be the beginning of the end of bathing as we knew it!

The combination water-heater/shower head was installed, but the electrician soon discovered not one, but two problems: the water pressure was still disastrously low, and the heating function was not working at all.  Yes, our temperamental, sometimes scalding, sometimes freezing, unenthusiastic stream of a shower had become a cold trickle.  The landlady was contacted (pre-absentia), and her suggestion given: to take the new unit off until she could buy a new one to replace it.  This would have meant cutting off the entire water supply to the apartment, and luckily the bf foresaw a near future of bedpans and latrines quickly enough to forbid such an action.  Thus, we were not made toiletless, but our shower remained unusable.

The story to present is a sad one, and probably too whiny and redundant to relate in its entirety.  I will be brief.  The landlady disappeared on two weeks of holiday; a plumber was promised and never showed (did I mention the electrician -- in his initial cutting off of water supply -- disconnected our washing machine and then forgot to reconnect it before leaving?); the shower head company was contacted by the bf when promises of such contact by the electrician never came to fruition; the problem was diagnosed as most certainly a plumbing issue, and the landlady sent a second electrician to install a new shower head, (without explanation or contact with us) who confirmed that this was, indeed, a plumbing issue; the landlady returned from holiday and left (again without explanation) a third new shower unit outside our door.  When the bf finally got her on the phone after leaving numerous voicemails and texts explaining the situation, she claimed this was the first she had heard of the plumbing issue!  And so here we are.  Whining complete.

The situation has, if nothing else, elicited a certain amount of creativity around the issue of hygiene in our apartment.  Baths were the first logical endeavor.  We cannot shower, but we can bathe (thanks to the separate nature of the bath faucets from the shower source)!  The (obvious) problem with baths -- other than the extreme waste of water -- is that they are time-consuming and not particularly effective.  Showering is usually a five- to ten-minute task for me, an easy fit into a somewhat rushed morning.  A bath I have to plan, to set aside time for.  After the tub is filled and my necessary cleaning attended to, I am left in a pool of soap and shampoo and the things that I presumably washed off of myself and, on shaving days, little floating bits of stubble.  I don't feel clean, and so I try to hold my head or shoulders or knees or toes under the running tap, but the cold and hot water run out of separate faucets, and I am alternatively burning and freezing myself in the effort, sometimes cupping a mixture of the two temperatures in my hands and throwing the contents over my shoulder and onto my back.  I feel like an ape, a desperate, soap-scummy ape, and then I think Eureka!  A bucket!

The bucket is a useful addition to the bath, allowing for more thorough rinsing as well as fresh-water wasting, but more and more I've turned away from bathing altogether.  On days that I go to the gym, I can use the showers there.  I have never been so excited to stand under 30 continuous seconds of running water, nor so unbothered by the notion of having to push a little button again so I can enjoy another 30 seconds of beautiful, high-pressure, hot, streaming water.  I can have as many 30 seconds of water as I want!  And I don't even want that many!

On days that I don't work out, I've taken to the Elizabethan trend of creating elaborate hairdos and applying additional makeup and perfumes to mask the fact that I have not bathed.  I find this kind of trickery a little too exciting.  What color eyeshadow shall I wear today to distract from my oily complexion?  If I slick my greasy locks into an elaborate updo, will no one notice my smell?

So far, I've met with no discernible room clearings, no audible gasps of horror, no out-and-out retching at the scent of me.  Perhaps this is a good thing.  Perhaps I have been liberated from the tedious routine of hygiene, cleaning myself each day only to find myself dirty again the next.  Maybe the Elizabethans had it right!

Or maybe I just need a shower.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Employment and a dearth of creativity

That's right, I said dearth.  I may be gainfully employed and neglectful of my blog, my I remember one or two words from the SATs.

My SAT scores came up again recently.  Now that I've settled into New York life -- that's right, she's the mistress that skillfully seduced me away from you, my reader(s) -- I'm going to uproot myself once again and head down what will *hopefully* be a path to a career, a steady income, and stability.  In the U.K.

Why couldn't I just stay here in New York, you might ask, keep the rather fun job I already have, and actually wake from my creativity coma?  It's New York.  I could be out at open mics, writing for blogs, and generally promoting myself at least as much as I do Broadway Shows for a living.  I could stop making excuses about this being a temporary situation -- which it is.

And that's where the SAT scores come in.  I submitted them -- along with three generations of birth certificates, three months of bank statements, my resume, repeated pleas for mercy and assurances of my employability -- to the British Consulate General of New York.  The SAT scores were a bit over the top, but they did ask for "Evidence of any English language ability or qualifications," and although I taught English is France for a year, I never had to take the TOEFL exam, so my Verbal scores in the 91st percentile from 8 years ago will just have to do.

The only thing to do now is wait.  It is excruciating.  The direction of the next 2 to 5 five years of my life is in the hands of one person or several people, none of whom know anything about me, other than what I look like on paper.  According to estimated processing times (5 to 10 business days), I should hear a decision about the visa by Thursday, and according to the plane ticket I have already purchased, I should be flying to London on Saturday.  Cutting it a bit fine, am I?

In this last week of mild panic, as my work hours wind down to nothing and I am left with one final paycheck and as many superstitious rituals as I can possibly prescribe to, I turn to you, blog.  I miss writing.  I liked writing before I moved to New York (for the summer) and became obsessed with work and hours and saving enough to support my next move.  This summer has been fun and fruitful.  I did save enough to show those visa folks I'll be okay until I get a job, I have generous friends who have put me up at little to no cost, and most importantly, I've had the opportunity to spend time with good friends that I hadn't seen in years.  In the chaos of it all, I allowed myself to stop writing, to stop auditioning, and to allow my creativity to be swallowed up in my job and my admiration for the accomplishments of others.

So: this post is an exercise and a challenge to myself.  Get back on the horse.  Blog when you have time, don't just watch T.V. (I knew there was a reason I hadn't had one of those things in years).  Go to open mics.  Get back onstage.  Get an agent.  Work hard.  Have something to show for it.  Don't spend every waking moment panicking over whether or not The Powers That Be will grant you a visa.  Worrying will not affect the outcome.  Write new mantras.

The longer I am away from my blog, the harder it is to return.  Should I tell them about how I went to Melbourne for my boyfriend's brother's wedding and then to his home country of New Zealand and that his family is awesome and that I'm in love and even though we had to be apart for 7 weeks, together for 6, and then apart for 5 more I think it's all going to be okay?  Or should I just start off here, forget what I neglected, and dive in?

Dive in.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Morning Blogging, Take One: I like to be in America

I am so unemployed.  Like, it's not even funny.  But unlike the dilemma of forced unemployment in Ireland (no work permit), my American unemployment can be solved.  And I'm totally on it.  In the meantime, I've managed to get down to my local HRA for the food stampies, and I've found myself with a lot of time to just hang out... an all too familiar feeling.

The grass is always greener, right?  I mean, when I did have a full-time job (now a million years ago), all I wanted was a week or seven off.  I was sure if I just had time I would accomplish so much!  It turns out I don't do so well with the self-motivation thing when I don't have any obligations.  But I'm trying to be better.  Like in writing this post.

I did give myself a theme song, which is kind of like finding employment.  Okay, so it's not at all, but I have a lot of time on my hands.

I was wandering through Manhattan, enjoying a lovely summer day and minding my business when suddenly the line, "I like the island Manhattan!" popped into my head.  Before I knew it, America from West Side Story was playing on repeat in my head.  And now I will do the same for you.

I love Rita Moreno.  If anyone is going to sing my theme song, let it be her.  Did you know she's an EGOT?  I did not until I read it on her Wikipedia page.  I am not surprised, though, as she is overall awesome, and especially so in sketches like this

So, that's it!  New inspiration! I'm not just going to find part-time work, I'm going to EGOT!  And I'm racing Tracy Jordan to the punch.  I have two months.  Go!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

So it turns out I didn't miss America that much.

After 11 hours of sleepless trans-Pacific travel yesterday, I arrived at LAX only to be greeted by a barrage of American unfriendless and impatience. 

It was 6am, but my brain thought it was 1am tomorrow, so I was in a fog.  When I got to Passport Control, all of the lines I saw said "Visitors."  Note: In every other country I've been to in the past two years, there have been two lines at Passport Control.  EU and Non-EU, Australia/New Zealand and everywhere else; you get the idea.  To my mind, asking whether it was the right line was not an absurd action.

When I approached the woman in charge of directing people and asked her whether these were the lines for citizens, she yelled in my face, "Do you see all these lines!  Get in a line!  Look at all the lines!  Just get in any line where there's no other people!"  Literally, screamed at me.

I was so taken aback that I said (calmly), "Yes, I see the empty lines, but they say 'Visitors.'  You didn't answer my question.  Are they also for citizens?"

To this she screamed, "Do you see them?!  Do you see all the lines?  Look, there's no one at half of them!"  So, again, she didn't answer my question. 

I responded (still calmly -- I was impressed with myself), "You still have not answered my question.  I don't understand why you're so upset."  I walked away while she ripped into me again.

After the ease of check-in and security on my New Zealand domestic flights (you only have to get to the airport 30 minutes in advance -- it hearkened back to the days when non-passengers were allowed to accompany loved ones through security or meet family members at the gate), I was a bit floored by the intensity of security at LAX.

First of all, I had already gone through security TWICE before boarding my flight to the U.S.  That's right, I had to go through (not-laid-back international) New Zealand security, which included a routine pat-down with a wand and taking a sample from my bag.  THEN, I had to go through extra security at my gate due to U.S. policy.  This was extra annoying because Dr. BF had come to the airport early with me so we could have a nice (well, airport nice) meal together before parting ways, but 30 minutes before my boarding call the departure screen listed my flight as in its 'Final Call.'

As a result, I rushed to the gate in a panic, had to say goodbye to my bf in a real hurry, went through stupid second security, and then sat at the gate for another 20 minutes while they delayed boarding.  Effing 'Final Call' bullshit.

So then I get to LA, and I have to do it all over again.  After the mean lady and Passport Control yelled at me and I picked up my bag and dropped it off again, I stood in line for at least 30 minutes to get through security.  Several people cut in front of me because they had flights leaving soon.  I didn't mind this, I wasn't in a hurry.  I let one man in front of me and gave him some space to take off his shoes (I had already unpacked my stuff into the buckets).  I thought this was reasonable.  The man behind me didn't.  "Ma'am," he said, "Ma'am, go.  You can go."  The words weren't forceful, but the tone and attitude were.

I guess I hadn't noticed how stressed out people are here until I left and came back.  I have to admit, that's ofter how I feel at airports, like my flight is the most important and why should I have to wait in line?  But I've kind of gotten over it.  And I certainly don't voice it. 

There are a lot of things to whine about in other countries, but I have to say, people generally aren't in such a hurry.  And I'll miss that.

Oh no oh no oh no

Is this for real?

does not a storyline constitute.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me!

It's my birthday!  Well, it is in New Zealand, where I am.  It's still yesterday where most of  you are.

I'm 25 today.  I don't usually talk about my age because I always seem to be running with a crowd much older or younger than myself, but 25 seems significant.  A quarter of a century!   And I'm in Wellington,  which is pretty exciting.  No Conchord sightings yet.

The trip to Aussieland and NZ has been whizzing by, and I can't believe I'll be in New York on Monday.  We were in Melbourne for almost a week, but it was hard to wrap my head around the fact that I was in Australia as we were kind of constantly on the move. 

We were there for Dr. bf's brother's wedding, which was in Mornington, just south of Melbourne.  The wedding and reception were good, and I busted some awesome moves on the dance floor, earning me the John Travolta Saturday Night Fever Award.  Yes, this was a real thing, and I did win it.  And it wasn't fixed!  A friend of the bride's (no acquaintance of mine) judged the competition, and we didn't even know it was happnening at the time.

We've been in New Zealand for the last week and a half.  The GD and I stayed with his lovely mum in Christchurch for several days before heading off on a brief roadtrip around the South Island.  We went to Dunedin (where he went to university), Te Anau (beutiful lake and trails for hiking), and Milford Sound, which is part of Fiordland (not a typo, just a silly spelling choice) National Park, where we kayaked with a guided group on the sound. 

We also spent a good deal of time with the GD's sister and hubby and their three adorable boys.  Needless to say, his family is awesome and we had a great time.

We got into Wellington two nights ago, and it looks like it's shaping up to be a slightly sunnier day than yesterday, so some exploration into town is in order.  We stayed with friends of Mark just outside the city last night and were treated to delicious (birthday) French toast for breakfast. 

We've done so much in the past two and a half weeks, and I can't possibly cover even a fracture of it in this short post, but I wanted to check in.  One more night here, then it's up to Auckland for two nights, then off to NYC!  I can't believe how quickly it's all gone, but that's the way with vacation.  More detailed accounts of adventures to follow.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Expensive Mistakes

Adventure!  We (the GD and self) and in the Hong Kong airport on a short layover.  In a few minutes we'll be boarding our second (super long) flight to Melbourne.

So, did you know you needed a visa to go to Australia?  I didn't!  The good news is they're free and you can apply online.  The bad news is if you are ignorant of this policy and your boyfriend is from New Zealand (the only country exempt from the policy) and no one tells you until you are checking in at the Qantas counter, you will have to pay £25!  And that is like a million US Dollars!

Expensive lesson learned.  Btw, Qantas is an awesome airline that serves many kinds of food (including Twix ice cream bars!) and has movies on demand.  So far I've watched It's Complicated (adorable -- Meryl Streep stoned is the best) and Avatar -- slightly less impressive on a 6-inch screen). 

It is sometime in the morning now, but my brain doesn't know that, so I'll probably be sleeping as soon as we get on board.  And then eating some more delicious food.  And watching more movies.

Also, Hong Kong airport is probably one of the best-organized airports places I've ever been.  Friendly people with perfect English and informative signs press color-coded stickers to your lapel (on, you know, shirt) as you get off the plane and direct you to your connection.  It feels a little like kindergarten, but this is comforting in an unfamiliar place and without a real sense of what time it is. 

They're starting to board now!  Got to go!

Friday, April 23, 2010

The ephemeral art (of acting)

I hope to (someday) be the kind of working actor who goes straight from one project into another, the opening week of one play overlapping with the first reading of another.  Of course, this would require me to somehow reconcile my desire to travel and live in a new place every year or so with my desire to establish myself as an artist in one particular place.  Or figure out how to be a better traveling performer.  Maybe I should learn to lift heavy weights.  Or grow a beard.

Saturday was the closing night of a one-week run of Twelfth Night.  I played Viola, which was a great challenge and pleasure.  I worked for five weeks to memorize lines, discover how my character moved and spoke, and then give my lines new energy and meaning for each performance; and now it's all done.  It's an ephemeral art, and I think that's the hardest thing for me to embrace.  Months of auditions finally end in a casting; weeks of rehearsals end in a (series of) performance(s); and that's it. 

The show may be revived in the summer, but I'm leaving Ireland is less than two weeks.  It pains me to think of someone else taking over role.  Not Viola -- it would take too much energy to be pained by everyone else who had ever played her -- buy my Viola; the place I took in that production.  And yet, I have to move on.  I am moving on, literally.  I could have more work based on this show, but I'm leaving.  As is my wont.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Islandic [sic] volcanoes and why I should be employed as a translator.

For anyone who isn't up to date on the latest geological news, a volcanic eruption in Iceland has created a massive cloud of ash over the U.K., Ireland and Scandanavia, grounding all flights in those countries.  Just to be clear, I can't discern any kind of a cloud here (in Dublin), but ash has started to fall in parts of Northern Britain, causing concern for the health and safety of residents.

In an originally unrelated story, I was working on an article for the tourism blog I write for today, specifically on how to get to and from the Beauvais airport in Paris.  Much to my chagrin, when I opened my draft, I discovered the latest changes I had made yesterday had not been saved, so I had to go back through, rewrite, and recreate the links I had used.  One of them was for the Beauvais Airport website, specifically the bus timetables provided.  When I went to the site, however, this was all that appeared:
ATTENTION fermeture de l'aéroport

En raison d'un vaste nuage de cendre provenant d'une eruption volcanique en Islande, le trafic aérien en provenance et à destination de la scandinavie et du Royaume Uni est actuellement très fortement perturbé.

L'aéroport sera totalement fermé aujourd'hui au minimum jusqu'à 20h00.

Pour plus d'information, merci de bien vouloir consulter le site de votre compagnie aérienne.

WARNING disrupted traffic

Due to a large ash cloud coming from an islandic volcanic eruption, the air traffic from and to scandinavia and the UK is actually heavily perturbated.

The airport will be totally closed today at least until 20h00.

For more information, please visit your airline website

Okay, so first of all, the heading in French reads "fermeture de l'aéroport" -- "airport closure" -- so why does the translation read, "disrupted traffic"?  That's a bit of a mixed message, isn't it?  (Yes, this is going to be a gripe about grammar and translation, so stop now if you don't care.)

In the English version, "islandic" and "scandinavia" are improperly un-capitalized (never mind the fact that in English it's spelled "Icelandic" and not "Islandic").  There is often some confusion between French and English due to rules of capitalization (days of the week, months of the year, and nationalities all begin with lower-case letters in French), but the names of countries are capitalized in both languages!  They even effed up in the French version, forgetting to capitalize "scandinavie."

Also, "pertubated"?  That is so not a word.  Even "perturbed" would not have suited this context.  The verb "pertuber" should be translated as "disrupted" in when it refers to anything other than a person.

Another translational blunder?  "Actuellement" does not mean "actually," in English; it means "currently." And tisk for not ending the final sentence with a period!

I am also annoyed that I can't access any of the normal pages of the site, because now I'll have to wait for this whole volcanic ash cloud thing to clear up before I can reincorporate those links into my post!  And writing for that website is how I earn my monies!

So, website editors of Aéroport Paris Beauvais Tillé, if you're listening, your annoying translation and inexplicable closure of all web pages are pissing me off.  Also, if you're interested in hiring a better translator, I'm available.  And anal about grammar.  Rant complete.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Fame follows me to Ireland.

I once made the paper while living in France, and now, I've done it again!


What?  You don't see it?  No, I'm not the one in the hat and glasses (though I would be impressed with myself for growing such a fetching little chin-beard).  That's me there, to the left, down, down, there!

Super high qual pic, right? Can't you tell that blurry white thing is my forlorn face?  And that the brown smudge is me, disguised as a boy?  With no hope of winning the love of the man standing just behind me?

There, that's better.  No exclusive interview, this time.  I guess that was the perk of being the only American in a small town in France.

Also, come see Twelfth Night!  It's on all this week at the Teachers' Club, 8pm.  That's in Dublin.  So, for the two of my three followers who don't live in Ireland, I'm sorry to say you'll be missing out at this juncture.

I need some levity!

And so, who better to turn to than Bret and Jemaine?

Oh man, I love Jemaine's sparkly pants! Also that the scrawny guy from Boom is featured in this video.

Here's another one for your viewing pleasure.

I really want to dance with that bouncer/sunglass-wearing fellow.

That's right, gentlemen, feminists can also enjoy humor about man bits!  I've been so engaged in feminist debate over that past couple of days that I forgot about the funny!  I know my good friend blogging Molly understands this.  Let's all be smart and considerate, but can we still maintain a sense of humor?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Is feminism misandrous?

Whew!  I just spent the last several hours writing this response to my good friend Molly's insightful (and apparently controversial) piece entitled The misguided, embarrassing war against feminism rages on.

Mine is a lengthy response, but please read it, along with Molly's post and the comments she's received.  If you care about feminism (one way or another) please join in the discussion/debate!  You can leave comments here, on The Ladies of Science page, or on the original post at True/Slant.

What do you think of the reaction she has invoked?  The apparent need for males studies?

Friday, April 09, 2010

One thing leads to another.

Why is it that, when I stop writing one thing, I stop writing everything?  I stop blogging, and so I stop writing new comedy, short stories and I just generally stop writing at all.  Maybe because writing has suddenly become my job in the form of lessons about France.  I do enjoy writing them (and getting paid for it), but after an afternoon of research, voice recording and blogging for profit, I'm much less likely to stay glued to my computer to write a post of my own. 

And I'm rehearsing for a play (which is awesome), but it means I've taken on odd hours of rehearsing until 10 or 10:30, and then coming home and staying up until 1 or 2 for no particular reason, which (in turn) means I get up at 10 or 10:30, putter around the flat, and around this time (12:30, as my blog has stopped using a time stamp) I think, Hmm, maybe I should shower.  And I do eventually, then I do some work, run through my lines, and it's time for rehearsal again.

This is what I've wanted for so long: to be in a play, to be making some kind of money at writing.  Now that I'm here, however, I've grown complacent.  I haven't done a stand-up gig in weeks.  I've stopped writing and editing my own work.  I haven't thought much at all about the fact that I will be in New York for two months this summer and I want to make something of that time.  I'll be in New York, for god's sake, I need to be thinking about theater and writing and performance and where will I rehearse? and who with? and what kind of time frame will I have?

And so the questions pile up and I shut down again.  Easier to leave the questions unanswered than tackle them all at once.  And in the meantime, I'm broke.  Or as close to broke as possible when my boyfriend provides most to all living expenses and I just halfheartedly chase dreams and hope that something will come up. 

Monday, March 29, 2010

I broke my blog. UPDATE: Fixed it!

So, silly me, all I had to do was click "Revert widget templates to default" on my edit HTML page.  Not sure how I messed them up in the first place, but it was only after hours of scouring my HTML and reading tutorials (to no avail) that I figured this out.  Sheesh.

Does anyone know how to fix it?

So, I have a pretty rudimentary understanding of html, and in the recent process of toying with the appearance of my blog (mostly using copy and paste templates), I somehow lost the date on each of my posts, and instead of having a "comments" section, it now just says "read more" at the bottom of each post (even though there is nothing more to read).

Does anyone know wtf I did?

I will look into this further.

Respectfully yours,


P.S. - I have already tried the obvious things like checking the date and comment settings.  That is all.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

St. Paddy's Day in Dublin

I had the great privilege nutty experience of being in Dublin on Ireland's big day last week.  I decided it would be fun to describe the day through photos. 

11 a.m. (ish): Pedestrians head over the Millenium Bridge to line the parade route; surfers row by on their boards.

12:20 p.m: O'Connell Street is packed beyond hope.  We are not sure where the parade goes next, so we settle in and resign ourselves to the fact that we will not be able to see. 

The kid on the sign has the right idea.

Climbing is a popular tactic.

Kids on shoulders definitely had the best seats in the house...

... and provided the highest levels of adorable Irish pride.

Some grown-ups got in on it, too....

... including myself.

From this vantage point, I was finally able to catch some parade highlights:

Like this giant chicken!

And more adorable children.

Awesome, tall puppets.

Lady in the sky.


Not sure... but I like it!

So, as it turns out, the St. Patrick's Day Parade had little to do with Ireland.  Oh yes, the crowds were out in all their green and face-painted glory, but the floats themselves seemed to be a bit... random.  Don't get me wrong, I love giant papier-maché insects and puppets that hover high enough over the crowd to be seen by all, but there wasn't anything that particularly bespoke Ireland.  Or maybe I just couldn't see.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Giant Cadbury Egg Not, In Fact, Filled With Creme*

When the GD brought one of these home from work, I was truly excited:

Why, it's a giant Cadbury Egg! It will be filled with so much creamy goodness!

When I went to crack it, it crumbled into its hollow shell. No cream. Not so much as a prize. I know it's no Kinder Surprise, but a girl can hope.

I guess it would be kind of an unwieldy process, cracking open an egg of that size and trying to consume it in one go. You might need several friends around to aid in the process. Some might find ostrich-egg-sized yolk to be alarming; I know there was always something a bit off-putting to me about the standard-issue Cadbury egg filling (I always preferred the caramel). I was also unnerved by the idea of bunnies laying eggs at all.

That aside, what makes a Cadbury Cream Egg is its cream filling, and though the giant one is not explicitly marked as such, I wanted reality, on this front, to live up to my imagination.

If Philip Morris is behind this egregious skimping on filling, I'm gonna be pissed. Kraft already attempted to close down a factory during negotiations over the sale and began discussing job cuts soon after the acquisition; this is the next logical step, no?


Apparently, the GD brought home the wrong egg.  Further research/google image searches yielded this beauty:

Either that's a normal-sized egg in excessive packaging (quite possible), or that's the one I had in mind.

*As spelled on packaging.  That was totally an accidental spelling on my part, but I guess that's how they roll over in the U.K.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

International Women's Day

... was yesterday. But it's not too late to celebrate! My friend, Molly, wrote a great post on True/Slant in recognition of some awesome woman-ness this year.

I first became aware of International Women's Day was while I was living in Cameroon in 2006. It was a huge deal and there was an enormous parade through Yaoundé with President Paul Biya and his crazy-haired wife, Chantal, in attendance.

(I have pictures of this somewhere in the internet universe. I must track them down.)

 UPDATE: Found 'em!

We (the visiting white students) bought traditional muumuus, dressed up with our host mothers and marched in the parade!

 I forgot about all the guns.  Also, love that he's checking his phone.

It was amazing. There were thousands of women out and, as there had been two colors that year for the traditional Women's Day fabric--turquoise and pink--we were divided into groups by color. Only, as soon as we were spotted, we were forced to the front of the line (that is to say, further divided along color lines), as if to say, "Look! We've got foreigners in our parade! They are both white and able to look ridiculous in muumuus!"

 A friend with her host-mother and another Cameroonian woman.

This only became more embarrassing when everyone started singing traditional songs that were completely unknown to us. There we were, the white folks right at the front, not singing or gesturing along with the rest of the crowd! So, we basically looked really... white.

 Lady Police Officers!

Despite the nationally-aired humiliation, it was an amazing event. I truly felt a part of something that transcended nationality, age and attire. To see so many women out and dressed in the same fabric--many of them had made their own dresses--and to be one of them, myself, that was a unique moment.

This is one of those things that is awkward when translated from French, so let's veer from the literal: 
"Opportunities for women in high, decision-making spheres (positions/jobs)."

I missed my chance this time around, but I think next year I'll dig my muumuu out of retirement, round up some friends, and parade down whatever street I may be living on at that future point in time. Any excuse for a parade. Especially when the excuse is the awesomeness of women.

Friday, February 19, 2010

You're packed and you're stacked 'specially in the back...

Latest youtube distraction: early- to mid-90s music videos. Okay, so it's a recurring distraction.

I love Salt-N-Pepa. Someday, when I have lots of time on my hands, I want to write a post about how Very Necessary is one of the most important albums for feminism in hip hop of... ever. But, for now, enjoy the awesomeness.

I like how Spinderella is in all the videos, just so we remember she's part of it. Also, Pepa could kick my ass.

On a slightly related note, am I the only one who just now noticed that in TLC's Unpretty video, Lefteye is signing the lyrics? Not singing, signing. Is this because the poor MC has nothing to do?

I would embed the TLC video if I could, but I can't. Watch it. Appreciate the futuristic, zen-powered hovercrafts. Smile as the bulimic girl tears the negative images of women off her wall and puts on a swimsuit! Cheer as Chilli karate-kicks her bf for trying to pressure her into getting a boob job. Did anyone else think she was going to get hit by an ambulance when she fell to the ground in relief outside the clinic?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Am I old at heart? [Updated: 2/19/10]

Or do I just hate things because I'm rational and those things are annoying and loud and not part of normal human etiquette?

I rode the train today. As it turns out, I've been riding the train a lot lately. I come into Dublin about once a week, for classes, gigs, etc., and it can be a very pleasant ride. Three hours long, but nothing to complain about. I write, I read, I doze off to various podcasts. Except....

Teenagers. I. hate. teenagers. And I think I am starting to hate throngs of school-aged children, as well. Teenagers, in my opinion, are bad in any numbers greater than one. They are disrespectful, they destroy any semblance of calm in a room, and I am sure that I was never one, myself.

Okay, yes, I did pass through adolescence, but I maintain that (no matter how angst-y I was at home) I exhibited a certain level of maturity, awareness of my surrounding, and QUIET while out in the world. (Mom, you are not allowed to comment on this assertion.)

I HATE those effing mp3 players that play without headphones, I HATE the effing teenagers who yell over their blasting club remixes in conversation, and most of all I hate the parents (when present) who do nothing to suggest that the volume of their kids' music (let alone their voices) is inappropriately high.

So, yes, I am a cranky old librarian at heart. And that's just fine with me.

[UPDATE: Feb 19, 2010]

It turns out I don't just hate teenagers, I also hate old people--the ones who think that cell phones are just like the landlines of yore, attached to imaginary walls in their imaginary houses and who think that speaking at a volume appropriate for these imaginary settings, not to mention compensating for the onset of deafness, is the norm.

It's a train, people, not your kitchen or living room or parlor. The people all around you? They are real. They are trying to read. They are trying not to throw their books at your head.

Friday, February 12, 2010

I saw Catherine Deneuve!

I swear! And no, I wasn't watching-- well, pretty much any French movie made in the past thirty years. I saw her for realsies! And like a big creep, I took a picture.

Of course, I didn't want to be too creepy, and as a result, you can't really tell it's her at all. Damn my 3x zoom! It's just not enough in these kinds of situations. But anyway, that woman with all the blond hair blowing into her eyes, that's her.

Thanks to Sofia for taking me to Trocadéro; also, for noticing it was Catherine Deneuve being filmed on location. Highlight of this trip to Paris.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Bad-Tempered Ladybird

And other English (U.K.) absurdities.

Wandering through a bookstore in town today, I came across this little wonder:

For any of my (numerous) non-American readers, this must not seem odd at all. Why, this is what the classic Eric Carle book was always called, right? Wrong! Here, for everyone's amusement and enlightenment, is the original (U.S.) cover.

Now, I know that lots of things undergo name changes when traveling across the Atlantic (e.g. The Boat That Rocked [U.K.] becomes Pirate Radio [U.S. and far more awesome/to the point]*), but is the word "grouchy" so unfamiliar to U.K. and Irish audiences that it had to be changed? Because, let's be honest, calling him bad-tempered just takes all the fun out of it. He's not bad by nature, he's just upset because there are not enough aphids to eat and no one ever taught him how to share! But he learns his lesson. It was probably just the food rage getting to him, anyway.

I'm not even going to go into the fact that the animal in question is a bug and not a bird.

I suppose in the land of wheelie bins (rolling garbage cans), rubbish (garbage-- why do we have so much disagreement on this topic?), and prams (strollers-- for babies, this time, not trash), I should simply come to expect this kind of mucky logic. But I'm not going down without a fight.

Further to my point:

This Indian-language (not sure which one) version of the book also features the original title. Just sayin'. Majority rules.

*This, however, is not as bad or inexplicable as the French changing the titles of Step Up 1 & 2 to Sexy Dance 1 & 2. It's still English. I guess the French count themselves more familiar with the term sexy...

Monday, January 11, 2010

Life imitating children's stories

Ireland has run out of salt.

I read a story when I was a child, oddly part of a compilation of Christmas tales, called I Love You More Than Salt. The premise (as I vaguely remember it) was that a widower king (aren't they always wifeless?) asks his three daughters to prove their love by telling him what they could do without if it meant still having him around.*

The first daughter said something along the lines of, "I love you more than silver." Acceptable.

The second followed with, "I love you more than gold." Awesome. King Dad loves this.

Then, daughter number three--the quiet, reflective one--answers, "I love you more than salt."

The King is not pleased. Salt?! When she could have said rubies or diamonds?!

Anyhow, some kind of banishment occurs, blah blah blah, magic spell, kingdom is deprived of salt, everyone is like, "Oh, our already bland medieval food is now even blander!" The King admits his fault and the daughter (along with the salt) is returned.

Moral of the story? Salt is good.

Over in these parts, we're not suffering from that kind of a shortage. Oh no. Our food is as salted (albeit potato-y) as ever; it's the weather that's caused the problem.

Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, I witnessed the routine shutting down of every functioning system and person in town due to inclement weather. The first sighting of a snowflake; the threatened accumulation of up to 1/4 of an inch of snow; the dreaded overnight freeze: any of these things would have schools closing early, opening late or not at all, people holed up in their houses for fear of driving or walking, and newscasters spouting hyperbole about "Arctic Blasts." Of course, in recent years, with climate changes becoming more and more evident, my little hometown has experience some severe winter madness-- and they still don't know how to deal with it.

Ireland is in the same boat.

A small country used to rain, overcast skies, and-- um, rain, Ireland was ill-prepared for the snow and ice that has hit the ground in medium force (maybe 2 to 3 inches) in the last week. In fact, the recent "chill" affecting the region is so unprecedented that the entire country's road grit and salt supply has been exhausted. I kid you not. Apparently, hardware and grocery stores have also come up dry as people have been trying to tackle the problem individually, and that supply is soon to run out.

So, what does this mean for Ireland? And more importantly, what does it mean for me, the average pedestrian? It means that only the main (and I do mean main) roads are free of ice, and only the sidewalks in town centres have been salted. When we had a rental car last week, the GD nearly spun out trying to get up the road to our apartment.

It means that I fell hard on the sidewalk while I was walking into town today, and then nearly fell again in the road while crossing the street. Luckily I'm not aged or frail, because if I was, I'd probably have shattered my knee and be in hospital now, causing crazy work overloads in orthopedics, where the GD is employed at the moment.

So, yes, this weather is unprecedented, Ireland (and World), but guess what? It's not getting any better from here. So take a page from Minnesota's book and invest in some snowplows, and please, for the love of god, bring back the salt!

*The premise sounds really selfish on the king's part, and I'm pretty sure it was, but I think there was also some further point to all of this which I am now forgetting.

In moderation.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Hello, Sligo

The plumber laughed at me when he saw me assembling the new bookcase with a screwdriver: "I'd wager you'll be at dat all day. You need an electric drill for dat!"

Well, it only took me half a day! My right arm got a much-needed workout, and now we have a place to store our books and CDs. In our old apartment, they were stacked on the fireplace. We didn't have room for extra furniture.

We're in Sligo, and it's not even a terrible place. In fact, it's pretty beautiful. We found a gloriously large 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom, 2-story townhouse (staircase!) for less that we were paying in Dublin for our 1-bedroom, 1-bathroom, 1-living room + kitchen-closet apartment. The town is, of course, much smaller than Dublin, but I'm liking that at the moment. The youth are calmer, the centre is quainter, and the junkies are non-existent. I feel safe walking alone at night, and the weather has been unusually cool and crisp (as opposed to dark and rainy) with a sprinkling of snow, which makes me feel like I'm living in an idyllic snowglobe land.

We are settling in with the GD back at work and me trying to make work for myself. Comedy tour pending.