Sunday, May 27, 2012

Anyone who knows me will know how excited I can get by small coincidences.  Even the slightest thing will make me stupidly giddy and I won't be able to stop thinking or talking about it for quite a while.   I don't know if it's just that I'm easily impressed or if it's that others don't get the same excitement from coincidences that I do.  I guess it's most likely a combination of both, but today I experienced one that even Kat agreed was pretty crazy (I think her word was 'creepy' but I like crazy better).

Since today is my last day before classes start for third semester, I allowed myself to sleep in.  The weather is still amazing so I decided to take a walk down to the Iveagh Gardens since it is quickly becoming one of my favorite places in Dublin.  On my way I cut through St. Stephen's Green.  While walking through I heard the faint sounds of a band.  As a former high school band geek, I have a hard time passing up a good concert so I followed the sound.  The band was playing a song that I loved.  Every time I hear it I think, "I love this song!" but then as soon as it's over I forget what it is.  I thought to myself "I'm going to remember it this time, I swear!" But of course I didn't.

So after a wonderful day listening to a few different bands and making it to the gardens for a bit, I returned home to search for that song.  I couldn't remember the name, the tune, or any of the words.  As I'm sure you have all experienced, this is one of the most aggravating feelings in the world.  I resorted to googling all sorts of things and even scouring youtube in hopes that someone may have posted a video of the concert.  Finally I checked twitter for 'st. stephen's green' in hopes that something might come up.  I never found the song but the first tweet that appeared was a picture... of me.

Granted it was just a picture of the crowd enjoying the concert but I was closest to the camera and you would assume it was taken by a friend or something.  It's amazingly strange but it thrills me to think of how small the world really is and how many crazy coincidences happen every day.  If I didn't care about that song (or if I had finally remember which one it was!) I would never have checked twitter and I would have never found that random picture of myself.  It turns out that the person who tweeted it happens to be a producer for RTÉ and has over 2500 followers which makes it even more strange.

It really is so easy to make my day.

Just enjoying myself in the park! (source)

... And Sometimes Those Who Are Lost Just Wander

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Today I think I lived up to my name (my blog name, that is.)  It was Alanna's last day visiting us in Dublin and I felt bad that we had done almost nothing touristy in her time here.  A lot of the bigger sites (Cliffs of Moher, Giants Causeway, etc.) can be fairly expensive and require 3+ hours of driving in a bus.  Luckily Alanna is amazingly easy going and seemed to enjoy the more simple trips we took that allowed us to minimize our spending and maximize our sun time.

I did, however, want to take her somewhere and one of the few places I had left on my "places to see in Ireland" list was Newgrange.  Newgrange is a Neolithic tomb that dates back to 3200 BC.  It is older than both Stonehenge and the Pyramids of Giza.  As you may have seen in some of my older posts, I am a huge history geek and, although I couldn't tell if my friends were actually eager to go, they agreed to join me.

To get to Newgrange you must take a bus to Drogheda and then a second bus to the visitor's centre.  I was very diligent in checking how frequently the busses traveled to and from Drogheda however I neglected to check the frequency of the busses to and from the visitor's centre.  Apparently there are only two a day.  We had missed the first and if we took the second there would be no bus to bring us back.  The man at the bus station was so helpful and even made several phone calls to the centre and to a taxi company to see if we could get some type of deal.

Instead, we decided to do what we do best: wander.

Instead of a day trip to Newgrange it became a day trip of Drogheda which is a surprisingly historical town.  We found a cute little cafe for lunch, checked out some historical sites, and people watched from a church's steps before making our way back into Dublin for our goodbye dinner with Alanna.


Millmount Fort (which we decided was close enough to Newgrange)

Back in Dublin at the Liffey

Dublin Custom House

Dun Laoghaire

Friday, May 25, 2012

Although Thursday was another absolutely beautiful day in Dublin, I still had yet to finish my reading for my exam Friday, nor had I started studying.  Besides for a quick escape to lay in the grass at Trinity for a half an hour, most of yesterday was spent inside.

Today, after my exam, Alanna met me at the Blackrock DART station where we joined several of my classmates for lunch.  From there my amazing friend Ciarán (happy with the shoutout?)  drove us down to Dun Laoghaire.  I had never been before but it was amazing to see on such a beautiful day.  There is a massive pier that juts out into the ocean and if you got tired of looking at the sailboats moored in the harbor there is plenty of people watching that could keep you occupied.

After ice cream at the end of the pier and the walk back, Ciarán took us on a drive to Dalkey and Killiney.  I was honestly unaware any part of Ireland was that amazing and on a few occasions I had to remind myself that I hadn't left the country.  We drove on Sorrento Road, and it was clear where the inspiration for the name came from.  It would have been much easier to believe we were in Italy instead of Ireland.  There was an amazing view from almost every point of the drive and I don't think there are many people living in that area that don't live in a castle.  One of the more well know residents of that area is Bono if that gives you an image of what the area might look like.

I sadly didn't get any pictures of the drive but here are some from Dun Laoghaire! (Also I've been using my cell phone camera these past few days since my luggage is off traversing the world on its own adventure and contains my regular camera so I apologize if the quality isn't that great!)


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Just a short DART trip up the coast from Dublin gets you to Howth.  Kat, Alanna (our friend visiting from home) and I took a trip there on Wednesday since it was such a beautiful day.  We followed a narrow road that brought us to a dirt path that had rolling hills of plants and flowers on one side, and the ocean on the other.  There are paths of various lengths that you can take depending on how long and how intense of a walk you want, but we chose to do a short loop around the area.  From there we returned to the dock area where we got some delicious fish and chips at Beshoff's and then spent several hours sitting in the grass, soaking up the sun, and watching all those around us do the same.  

The Apartment Complex

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Today has been a beautiful day in Dublin.  I'm currently on my couch trying to finish up reading for an exam on Friday, but I'm greatly enjoying my apartment complex right now.

Beautiful jazz music is coming from the apartment next to me.  I can hear the quiet but rapid chatter of a foreign language on the balcony above mine while a few kids run around outside enjoying the last few hours of sun.

There is a breeze coming in the door that has brought with it the scent of someone's delicious dinner being cooked and, if I don't focus too hard, I can pretend the cars driving by outside are the sounds of waves crashing on a sandy beach.

Although I'm currently living in a foreign country, I can still imagine living in another.  I feel that if I walked onto my balcony I would be looking down onto an old, winding, cobbled street with clothing lines hanging from window to window while children play below.  

In reality I looked out onto a parking lot and my upstairs neighbors are probably flicking their cigarette butts down on to my balcony while the neighbor who was playing jazz music has now pulled out his guitar to show off his less than rudimentary skills and the kids playing outside are probably waiting to egg the first person to walk by (it has happened!),  but I'm still enjoying it all nevertheless!

My Zen Zone and The Power of A Smile

Monday, May 21, 2012

I have a pretty short temper and get stressed out often and easily.  Crowds, traffic, loud noises... I wish I had something to blame it on but I really don't know where it all comes from.  I do know however that the one the place I rarely feel agitated is at the airport.  I think this is the place where most people experience the peaks of stress, but for some reason the airport is somewhat of a zen zone for me.   Although an airport seems like a place of chaos to many people, I've come to realize that there is a very high level of order in airports that I think I find comforting.  I don't know if that is what it is about them that keeps me calm but even in the most stressful situations I find myself uncharacteristically serene.

I'm currently en route from Boston back to Dublin right now.  I was originally supposed to fly from Boston to Philly and then transfer on to Dublin.  I had about an hour and a half lay over in Philadelphia but due to crazy fog in Boston the flight was delayed.  After the first delay I thought, "This is ok. I can still make it." After it was delay another half hour I knew I wasn't going to make that connection.  I had already checked online and saw that there was only one flight from Philly to Dublin a day at 9 pm, which means that if I missed the connection I'd be waiting about 22 hours in the airport.  Even after waiting 30 minutes in line at the counter I still felt calm.  I was basically told what I had already recognized, "you're not making that flight."  From there I was sent back out of security to the ticket counter.
There is a city somewhere behind those clouds...
When I reached the check-in counter (for the second time that day) there were two women next to me yelling at their attendant. Anyone who looked out the window could see that the fog was a serious problem but instead they yelled at the woman as if she had personally cancelled their flight.  I smiled at the man helping me and said that I would really like to make it to Dublin tonight but if it wasn't possible that I'd rather go home than be stuck in the Philly.  He smiled back and said "I wish everyone was that smart."  After typing away he looked up and said "since I know you're so smart I thought I could try to help you out here.  I might be able to get you on an AerLingus flight leaving tonight. I just have to get permission."

I honestly believe that if I had approached that counter angry and aggressive like those around me that he would have told me "sorry we'll see you tomorrow."  Instead he essentially gave up the revenue they were going to make off of me and gave it to AerLingus just to help me out.  He was an extremely nice man and it just goes to show how far a smile can get you.

So, after a sprint to the baggage claim, a bus ride to the new terminal, and another trip through security, I'm now nestled outside of my new gate, not in the least bit frazzled or angry just in one of the few places in the world where I feel calm, cool, and collected.

Home Improvements

Sunday, May 20, 2012

One of my big projects while being home during this break was to swap rooms with my sister.  The room I was in was decently bigger so I figured that she could use that extra space for the baby when it comes.  Like I said before,  I was willing to switch rooms but not before her old room was painted.  As you can see it was a pretty scary place to be.  Hot pink and lime green would be fine if I were 16 but those days are far behind me.   Because it's a small room I decided to go with a light cream or beige color.  My sister was disgusted that I would cover up her work with such a boring color but now that it's done I still firmly stand by my decision!

Day 1:  Cleaning and sanding
Day 2: All primed up
Day 3: Painted and furniture moved!
It took two solid coats of primer and two coats of paint to cover up the pink.  It took me three days to do by myself but I feel like I really accomplished something and got a full body workout in the process!  The finished paint color was a slightly pinkish beige but it reminds me of the beach which gives me some good ideas for a theme for decorating.  I still haven't started the decorating and the trim and doors still need paint but that will be my first big project when I return home in September I think. 


Friday, May 18, 2012

A few days ago one of my favorite Ghost Hunters tweeted a quote (yes, I watch Ghost Hunters, yes, I have favorites, and yes, I follow them on twitter);

 "A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it." - George Moore

I instantly fell in love with this quote.  I think this statement essentially sums up what I've been coming to realize over the past few months.  I keep traveling around the world in search of something.  I'm not even sure what it is I'm looking for but every day I spend searching I begin to realize more and more that everything I need I already have.  Of course I've gain so much from traveling but I think the most important thing I've gotten from it all is an appreciation of home and family.

Not only was I amazed at how perfectly this quote spoke to me, but I was even more surprised to find out that George Moore was Irish.  Even better was that he spent ten years living in Dublin just a few blocks from where my apartment currently sits!  What a small amazing world we live in.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

 The car that I've been driving for the past eight years just hit 150,000 miles.  I was driving it yesterday and it stalled on me about 8 times within a mile of my house, but after a quick trip to the mechanic it seems to be functioning again to the best of its ability.  It's a '97 Ford Escort so I really don't expect much from it these days.  When my friends used to complain that their cars didn't have cd players I just told them mine didn't even have a tape player.  Now that I think about it... they probably don't make cars with tape players anymore.  Does that mean my car was just advanced for its day?  No.  It doesn't.  But we'll pretend.

 I gave the car to my mom before leaving for Dublin which sounds generous but really giving someone that car is kind of like giving a child a plastic bag.  It's dangerous and most likely just a liability.  We've had our ups and downs over the year but the car has been good to me since I was 16.  I think I need to start accepting the fact that even if it is still around when I return from Dublin my mom will most likely still be using it and I'll have to look into getting a new one.

The list of things I need to buy when I get home is quickly piling up.  My US cell phone barely holds a charge anymore, my computer was called "vintage" at the Apple store yesterday, and in the same week my two favorite pairs of jeans both developed holes that make them a little less than appropriate to wear in public anymore.  I really need to start the job search.
Still chugging along.
I guess this is like a birthday for my car...

The Map

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Our apartment in Dublin has a map.  It is a very large map and takes up most of one wall.  Myself, my roommate, and a friend each took small pieces of different colored post-it notes and placed them over the cities we have traveled.  While we really just did this as a decoration for our awkwardly shaped living room, I've come to find that it is a constant source of conversation and entertainment for us.  Any guest that comes over analyzes it and very few miss the fact that Greenland is massive and that Antarctica was forgotten.  Either way it is a pretty cool map.

Every time I look at our map, however, I notice how little I've traveled in my own hemisphere.  My road trip to Alaska covered a lot and I've done a few random trips up and down the east coast, however there is so much more I realized I wanted to  see.  As a European History major in undergrad, Europe was basically all I thought about.  While I've loved every bit of Europe that I've seen, I find a very strong growing desire to go out and see more of North and South America.  I would love to see the Grand Canyon and Redwood Forest and all of those other amazing sites just sitting around in my own country waiting to be explored.  If it ever becomes affordable again I would love to do a road trip across the states.  I think wanting to do these things has had a strong influence on my decision on what to do next year.  Just because I plan on staying home doesn't mean I can't travel anymore. I'll just have the ability to see and do more things close to home.

Although it is even farther than Europe is from home, it has also been a life long goal to visit Machu Picchu which I think if I start saving up now I could make a reality at some point.

If anyone finds Antarctica let me know....

I Can't

Monday, May 14, 2012

For some reason I've been thinking about the phrase "I can't" a lot lately.  I realized that people use it all the time in situations that they shouldn't, and it was only recently that I noticed how much it bothered me.  There are many things people can't do.  I, for example, cannot be tall.  Unless you count standing on a chair,  I do not have the capability to physically change my stature.  There are people who, even after surgery, cannot see.  There are many chemical reactions that, once done, cannot be undone.

There are however, so many instances in which people say they "can't" do things but what they actually mean is that they just don't know how to yet.  I've talked to people who say they can't swim, or can't swallow pills, or can't speak a foreign language.  The thing is though, they can.  They just have to learn how.  People once adamantly believed that you could not sail around the world because it was flat and you would fall off the edge if you tried.  This was obviously proved wrong by the person who believed that maybe they can and actually did it.

There are so many people who go through life with the assumption that if they "can't" do something, then they never will.  I realized that I've lived my life so far with the assumption that there are very few things I can't do.  I like to see something that I am currently incapable of doing as something that I need to learn how to do as quickly as possible.

So I guess the moral of this post is- never believe you can't do something until you at least try to learn how.  Other than some physical in-capabilities there really isn't much you can't do.

KG Knows It! - Anything Is Possible source

Happy Mother's Day!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day to all of the mothers out there!  My mom is the easiest person to find a gift for.  You could honestly buy her anything and she would genuinely love it.  This is great until I'm surrounded by a dozen things that I know she'll like and I can't make up my mind on what to choose.  I've kind of made it a tradition to get her ornaments from different countries. I hadn't planned on being home for Mother's Day while I was in Belgium, but I found a beautiful lace ornament that I had to get for her.  If only the rest of the family was that easy to shop for!
Belgian Lace Ornament
Dad made us all breakfast and we had a relaxing and leisurely morning.  It was beautiful out so my parents and I took a nice drive down to Woburn where we visited both of my grandmothers.  They are both doing well and it was great to be able to catch up with them and other family members that I hadn't seen in a while.

A Beautiful Day In Dracut

Yesterday was my sister's baby shower.  Although the day was crazy and hectic everything went very well and I think everyone had a great time.  After the shower a few of my aunts came back to our house where we sat out on the porch watching the little kids (and my mom) play hide and seek.  The past two days have been so beautiful.  I'm glad I still have more time in Dublin but every nice day we have here makes me dread returning just a little bit.  Hopefully we'll be getting some great weather for a while after I get back!
Baby Shower Cupcake Tree

What Comes Next

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Because I only have four months left in my degree, I've been getting a lot of the "what are you going to do next year" question.  Coming from undergrad I remember dreading hearing this question because I really had no idea what I wanted to do.  I'm still not entirely sure what I want to do at this point, but I've realized that there are so many things I can do and whatever it is I choose to do doesn't necessarily have to be for the rest of my life (which is certainly what it felt like after undergrad).

For a while I strongly considered going to Spain to teach English but because the economy is so bad in Spain the program seems to be falling apart.  I also realized that I really don't want to have to go through the visa process and the apartment hunting/furnishing process again after having just done it in Dublin.

Fortunately this time around I don't feel the need to go out, get an apartment in the city, and "prove myself."  I've learned that I am capable of living on my own and feeding myself while holding up a job.  I'm sure this was never a question in anyone's mind, but I think its something most people coming out of college feel the need to accomplish.

My main issue these days, however, is the amount of money I feel like I'm wasting by renting places.  I hate the thought of spending all of that money every month for little more than a room to sleep in every night.  Of course the independence is great, but I'm now thinking a little further into the future and I realized that I'd sooner, rather than later, be able to stop paying rent and get my own place so that I could start building some equity.  No 24 year old wants to move back home after living on their own but a combination of loans and a desire to buy something in the future has led me to the conclusion that I will probably be moving home at the end of August after finishing my degree in Dublin.  This of course depends on what/where I'll be working.  I also may completely change my mind in a few months but as of now I just see saving money (and getting free meals) as the best option for me.

So once again I have a plan but as anyone regularly reading this blog will know... my plans often change.

Home Again

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Freedom feels so good, even if it is only going to lasts for a few days.  After my family left Dublin I had to get straight into studying.  I wasn't worried about two of my exams but my third was pretty nerve racking.  It will still be a few weeks before I get any grades back but I think I did decently on all of them.  I'm really just ecstatic to have them out of the way.  Saturday, after finishing our last exam, I had some people over my apartment and then we went out for celebratory drinks.  I kept reminding myself that I did not want to fly hungover but my social side got the upper hand.  Waking up at 7am the next morning to begin a day of 10 hours of flying is not something I will ever be repeating.  I'm glad to have made it home in one piece and with all the important documents I needed.

It's great to be home.  I forget how rare the sun is in Dublin until I travel outside of the country and burn as soon as the sun hits my skin.  It was 72 degrees here today while Dublin was 20 degrees cooler.  I feel like I'm catching up on four months lack of vitamin D.  Unfortunately, the forecast tomorrow calls for rain.

It is also pretty unfortunate that, although I just finished my second semester, my third one starts in just a week.  The first few weeks just require me to do 300 pages of reading that  I'll be examined on when I get back to Dublin, but luckily I can prepare for that at home.  I also have a baby shower to prepare for while I'm here.  My sister is expecting a baby in August but since this is the only chance I have to come home before then, we've decided to have it this Saturday.  I'm also planning on swapping rooms in our house so she can have the bigger one but since she painted her room hot pink and lime green it's going to take so work before I'll be willing to sleep in there.