Tag Archives: Ireland

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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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Our lunch at Queen of Tarts. Notice the conspicuous absence of actual tarts.

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After my brain surgery, I had trouble accepting that I was unchanged.

“Do I seem different?” I would ask Rand, time and again.

“No,” he’d reply. “Baby, you are exactly the same.”

And I’d stare at my reflection in the mirror, at my steroid-induced moonface, and say, “But I look different.”

“It’s not how you look,” he’d remind me. “It’s what’s on the inside that counts.”

“BUT MY INSIDES FEEL DIFFERENT,” I’d yell.

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The entrance to Kilmainham Gaol, Dublin.

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I was talking recently with some friends, and they were telling me about a new phenomenon in the processing of coffee beans. The fad involved coffee cherries that are passed through the digestive track of a civet cat (mammals native to the islands of Java and Sumatra). The cats can’t process the beans themselves, so those are excreted whole, and then gathered by coffee connoisseurs, who claim that the fermentation process that occurred inside the animals digestive track makes the beans taste better. The result, they maintain, is a superior cup of coffee.

In short, people are using coffee beans that cats have pooped out.

If you are anything like me, hearing this news on an early and crisp January morning is more than enough to cause you to bid adieu to mankind as a whole, return your bed, and weep for the future of our species. Because, and I can’t believe I really need to say this, WE SHOULD NOT BE INGESTING THINGS WE FIND IN CAT POOP.

It also makes me wonder if maybe we’ve all gone a little bit soft. If, for many of us, life has gotten just a little too good, a little too easy, that we can devote our time to such excesses.

For those of us living in a world of pooped-out coffee, My Super Sweet 16, and vajazzling (if you are at work, do yourself a huge favor and DO NOT CLICK ON THAT LINK), I feel like reality checks are necessary every now and then.

My most recent one came courtesy of Kilmainham Jail (or Gaol, as we often saw it spelled), in Dublin.

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I was recently talking to someone close to me about marriage.

She told me about Buddhism, and her husband, and their shared views on infidelity – and how the damage it does is like throwing a stone in a pond. The stone causes a splash on impact, but it also causes ripples to form, which extend outward, eventually touching every aspect of your life.

In short, if you want a happy life, and a happy marriage, don’t cause ripples in your pond.

I really liked the analogy. Seriously, can you think of a more poetic way of saying “don’t go around banging random peeps”?

And with that in mind, I would like to start 2013 with a confession of sorts.

Oh, relax. It’s not that interesting.

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The easily missed facade of Skinflint.

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I’d never heard the term “skinflint” before visiting Dublin.

Truth be told, it sounds rather dirty. Like, “Did you hear about Janine? She caught skinflint while riding on the subway.” Or, “I’ve heard he’s done a lot of things in the past that he’s not proud of. Like, you know … skinflint.” Or, “Be sure to scrub between your genitals and your leg.”

I realize I forgot to use “skinflint” in that last sentence. But I left it there, because it’s just sound advice.

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Walking down a crowded street on a rainy night in Dublin, we heard the distinct sounds of people watching an outdoor movie.

I can’t specifically say what the noises were – it’s strange how despite the thousands of films in existence, and the myriad of soundtracks and dialogues and moods expressed therein, they all start to sound alike when played through outdoor speakers.

It doesn’t matter if you are watching The Princess Bride or The Exorcist (for my sake, I hope it is the former.) 90% of them have scratchy ambient sound, a bit of heavy-handed dialogue, and a soundtrack by John Williams.

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Some of the fowl offerings at Crackbird.

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I walked into Crackbird with a bit of trepidation.

It’s an immensely popular restaurant in Dublin, and they specialize in fried chicken – as well as grilled and roasted – but fried is their signature, and the name of the restaurant is a play on its apparently addictive qualities.

They want you to describe the birds they cook as being like crack. And, frankly, that’s not how I would put it.

Despite my family’s European roots, I grew up on fried chicken. It wasn’t that we ate it all that often, and it was rarely store bought (though occasionally, on days when my mother had class, or my grandparents had to be driven to doctor’s appointments, or when no one could be bothered, it was). My mom would while away an afternoon dredging and battering chicken, and gingerly placing it into a cast-iron pot filled with oil.

The stove top would bubble and foam and splatter, eventually yielding gorgeous, golden-brown pieces of chicken.

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Interior courtyard at Dublin castle.

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Are you tired of hearing about Ireland? Truth be told, I thought I’d be done by now. But damn, a lot happened in Ireland. (I realize I could be referring to both our trip, and to the country’s rich history. Since both would be accurate statements, I am leaving that sentence intentionally vague).  Every time I think I’m ready to move on to Milwaukee or Portsmouth, I remember some detail I’ve forgotten to write about.

Like, you know, the entire city of Dublin.

That seems like a pretty big omission, wouldn’t you say? You’d think I’d have noticed something like that. It’s like that time in high school that I pulled on jeans from the day before, and went to TWO DIFFERENT class periods before realizing that there was a dirty pair of underwear stuck in my pant leg.

Ahem. Hypothetically speaking, I mean. That didn’t really happen (looks around nervously).

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