Trail of Crumbs

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I know I owe you a few stories out of Sydney, but I absolutely have to tell you about something that happened to me – TWICE – in Paris. We’ll get back to Sydney later this week. I promise.

The first time this scam was attempted, I wasn’t far from here.

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Remember the movie The Matrix?

Please, please say that you do, and that you weren’t, like, in the womb when the movie premiered, okay? Because I recently had an exchange with the lovely girlfriend of a friend (both of whom are slightly younger than us) and even though I consider us contemporaries, I realized that I saw Jurassic Park in the movie theater as a teenager when she was 2 years old.

I dealt with this revelation in the mature manner, adding a couple of tablespoons of metamucil to my vodka soda and whispering something about how the music was too loud.

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The sink in our hotel in Australia. SPOILER: the water went straight down.

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I have some disappointing news.

Are you sitting down? You should probably sit down. You aren’t going to like what I have to say. This piece of news is up there with learning that Santa and professional wrestling are not real (if I just broke the news about either of those things to you just now, then I am very, very sorry. Life is easier when you believe that men come down your chimney armed with presents, and that karmic piledrivers do happen to bad people).

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Doorway at Robben Island, where numerous political prisoners were held during apartheid.

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After we returned to Cape Town, Rand and I took a township tour. I think, without hyperbole, it may have been one of the most significant experiences of my life. I very much want to tell you about it, but it’s impossible to talk about the townships without first talking about apartheid in South Africa first, and its miserable legacy.

And that is going to take this entire post, at the very least. The recap of the township tour will have to wait until next week.

As with my coverage of Irish history, I’d like to note a couple of things: I know relatively nothing about South Africa’s past. I’ve done a bit of research, and I’ve put it down here as best as I could. I have no doubts that I’ve gotten plenty of stuff wrong, accidentally omitted a great deal, and may have missed the point entirely a few times. This was obviously not my intention. If you find a glaring error in the post, I will kindly ask that you make your corrections in the comments section below, along with a source pointing to the correct information.

With all of those caveats in place, I’d like to tell you about apartheid. At least, as best as I understand it.

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“Um … you have something on your face.”

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I have some shocking news for you.

SHOCKING.

Are you sitting down? Have you cleared all breakable objects from your immediate proximity? (Because you are going to wail and fling about when you hear what I have to say. Seriously). Also, if you have a beverage, I sincerely suggest that you swallow your current sip before reading my news, unless you wish to do a spit-take all over your monitor.

Okay, all good? Here goes:

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I love the internet.

I suppose that’s not the most revelatory statement I’ve ever made. It’s probably up there with “I like cupcakes” and ” OMG TRAVEL IS NEAT-O.”

But cupcakes existed long before I did, and travel has been around since the day that a caveman went for a long walk and thought, “Grog grunga tok.” Which, in this little vignette I’ve created, roughly translates to: “OMG TRAVEL IS NEAT-O.”

But the internet? It hasn’t been around all that long. I clearly remember a time before it. I won’t call it the Dark Ages, mostly because that phrase is already used to describe the cultural and economic deterioration that supposedly occurred in Europe following the decline of the Roman Empire (source: THE INTERNET!) But things before its existence were indeed less enlightened than they are now.

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Sometimes, I take for granted how much my husband puts up with.

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Indeed, that might be the understatement of the year. If my beloved is reading this, he’s probably done a spit take all over his computer while sputtering, “YOU THINK?”

My poor, maligned love. He puts up with a lot. From me. And during the holidays, from his in-laws, too. Which I argue is his fault.

I mean, I was born into them. I had no choice. He walked right into this situation, mostly sober. THE FOOL.

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If you are just popping into my blog, welcome! I am currently in the midst of trying to recap Irish history from, oh, about the 1600s until modern day. It is making my head spin (seriously. I feel like the kid from The Exorcist, but with worse hair). I understand if you’d like to come back next week, when I talk Milwaukee beers and the Green Bay Packers. If you are inclined to stay (thanks, by the way) I suggest you read my posts about Irish history and how the country came to be and how the Troubles first began.

Political murals in Belfast.

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Can I tell you something about myself? I need to admit it, because I think it’s significant, especially as it pertains to the topic of Irish history.

When I was a teenager, in the mid to late 90s, I was petrified of the IRA.

Looking back, this fear seems kind of irrational. After all – Ireland was a long way off from Seattle. (Incidentally, I also had a huge fear of cholera. Just in general.)

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Stained glass window at Stormont.

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After my tome about Irish history, I’ve managed to avoid serious discussion or mention of Irish politics for two whole weeks (I consider this an achievement of sorts. Instead, I talked about Halloween costumes and candy). But the hour has arrived. It is time to talk about the Troubles.

Please note that all caveats expressed last time hold true for this post. Parts of it will be biased, and parts of it will be inaccurate. I am not a historian. I didn’t even do that well in history class in school. I’m struggling to understand most of this myself.

And with that disclaimer, here we go, once again …

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