Back On The Wagon!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Dont Quote The Raven

I have finally found the time to run again!  I don't regret my decision to take a break towards the end of the semester.  I basically spent all day every day reading and writing so I know I didn't waste that extra time.

Of course now I'm back home and I have to find a way to supplement my beautiful run around the Liffey with a run around my suburban neighborhood.

I didn't realize that we had the AC on inside so, while I thought it was the perfect temperature for a run,  after stepping outside I quickly realized that I was wrong.  It's amazing to think that it's still about 15 degrees cooler here than it was for most of the summer.  I don't know if I would have done any running this year if that was the case in Dublin.  I didn't go out with any expectations since I haven't run in almost three weeks at this point, but I managed a good loop around the neighborhood (about 1.5 miles).   It was hot and I struggled a bit but I figured it was ok because I have a treadmill at my house so I could use that for my runs from now on.

Yesterday I tried the treadmill and about 30 seconds in I remembered why I used to so passionately hate running.  I could not believe how instantly bored I was.  I think I only managed to run for 6 minutes before I had to get off.  I'm going to give it another shot today but I don't think I will be using the treadmill unless it's hurricaning or blizzarding outside from now on.

Aside from the heat, I also found my run around the neighborhood to not be that exciting.  I think I'm going to have to drive somewhere to run eventually. I would almost prefer running around the high school track where I can at least be entertained by other people.  Too bad I don't have a car to drive any where!

I did something exciting this morning!  I stepped on a scale for the first time in months!!  I don't really know how I feel about sharing weight stories but I don't think it would hurt anyone but me so I'll share anyway.

When I was home in May I stepped on the scale and was terrified.  It was the most I had ever weighed in my life.  The only time I had been that close was when I came home from studying abroad in Russia (notice the I-eat-a-lot-when-I-travel trend?)  Anyway, it was shortly after that I returned to Dublin and started my running.

So today, about 3 months from that weigh-in, I'm down 7 lbs.  I'd also like to point out that I haven't been running for the past three weeks and have been doing a lot of "I'm leaving, let's celebrate!" eating followed by even more "I'm home, let's celebrate!" eating.  I have a feeling that a week or two ago I was probably down 10 lbs.  Just more motivation to get back into the running again asap!

Back in the USA!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

I'm back home!!

I've been running around like crazy seeing friends and family so I haven't had much time to sit down and write.  I also have so much unpacking and organizing to do so that might keep me busy for a while.  Luckily I love cleaning and organizing... unfortunately I'm also a borderline hoarder.  So conflicting.

Back in May I showed you all pictures of my newly painted room that I had moved into.  I neglected to show you the mountain of stuff sitting in my mud room waiting to be sorted and put into said room.  I looked at some of it briefly and I realized that I never really unpack from undergrad so I refuse to put anything back into my room until it has been fully purged.
Not including anything I just brought home from Dublin
I'm going camping on Friday which I am so excited for.  I usually go at least twice a year with my family but because I've been in Dublin I haven't gone with them in well over a year now!  If nothing else at least the need to pack for camping will motivate me to unpack a bit from Dublin!

I've been applying to jobs like a madman since coming home.  I think I've applied to 9 over the past 24 hours so hopefully I'll hear something from someone soon.

Anyway, I'll leave you with some adorable pictures of my niece since she's way cooler than her 24 year old unemployed aunt who still lives with her parents!


On Being "Irish"-American

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

This is a post that I've wanted to write for a while now but I've waited to make sure I could really formulate it the way I wanted to.  It is something that has bothered me for a long time until I finally just decided that I had to look at it as cultural differences.

The "it" I'm referring to is the distinction between nationality and ethnicity that we have in the United States that doesn't seem to be understood here in Ireland.  If anyone in the U.S. asked me 'what I was' I would know that they were talking about my heritage and I would answer Irish.  It's a concept that I just grew up with and I can remember having lessons on it in elementary school.  We are all American, but we are made up of other things.

It wasn't until coming to Ireland that I realized how unique making this distinction is.  I cannot speak for all Irish, but many of them hate it when Americans call themselves Irish.  I've lost count of the number of eye rolls I've received, the "oh yeah because like everyone in America thinks they're Irish", and the one person who actually thought we called ourselves Irish because we thought it "sounded cooler" than saying we're American.  While I have spent a lot of time being annoyed by it, I've realized that it is just something that we may never see the same way.

In fact, I think there are very few groups of people around the world that would be able to understand where we are coming from.  I think Canada and Australia might understand this sentiment, but unless living in a country built entirely by immigrants I can understand why the concept doesn't make sense to some people.  I'm also not sure if Italians or Germans or other groups of Europeans feel the same way about American's associating themselves with their country but I could understand why it would be difficult for them to understand, too.  I think what makes those of Irish descent stand out more than others is that they are extremely proud (which seems to have been passed on genetically) and they tend to reproduce a lot and quickly.

The thing is, few people in America are "American." Unless you are Native American, your family came from somewhere else.  I can't speak for the entire country because I know that some families have been here for hundreds of years and consider themselves nothing but American, but in the case of the Irish wave of immigration, many of them came over just a few decades ago (and many are still coming).

The thing about America is that people don't just hop on a boat (or plane today) and suddenly become "American."  They bring with them their languages and music and food and culture.  I grew up listening to celtic music and eating far too many potatoes.  My skin still hates the sunlight and alcoholism unfortunately didn't get lost over the Atlantic.

I can also understand the sentiment of the Irish.  They have the passports and the accents so they are the Irish.  What you "are" in America just has very little do to with a passport and it has so much more to do with what foods are passed around the dinner table and the traditions your family share during holidays.

I think people also need to take into account the fact that when the hundreds of thousands of Irish came over to America, most of them transplanted entire communities that just continued to grow as if they were still in the homeland.  The Irish didn't assimilate to America, America assimilated to the Irish.  Anyone who has been to Boston will be able to recognize the Irish culture that still exists today.  Boston doesn't have over 100 Irish pubs because we really like Guinness, we have them because that is our culture, too. After only a few days of living in Dublin, I could safely say that I felt more at home in Dublin than I would in Atlanta, Georgia and probably throughout a majority of other US cities.

And yes, of course the culture has adapted since the Irish came to America.  Irish-American's eat corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick's Day.  The Irish will be the first to say "that's not even Irish," while the Irish-Americans recognize it as their ancestors way of celebrating survival of the famine and the end of starvation.  And, yes, my name is "Erin" which is almost never used in Ireland because it literally means Ireland, but what better way could my parents have paid homage to the place that their families came from? So, while the two cultures may not be the same today, they both stemmed from the same place and have not veered too far off from one another.

Of course there will someday be a time when the culture has been diluted and is no longer as strong as it once was and perhaps the number of people associating themselves with Ireland will diminish, but I feel that that time is still a ways off.

So, while I am a citizen of the United States, I am still Irish by blood. (you know... with a little Scottish and Swedish in there, too!)

P.S. Just to drive home my point, check out "What Being Irish Really Means - Top 10 You Know Your Irish If..." Anyone who knows me will know that I 100% fit the bill without question.

P.P.S.  You don't get to call "dibs" on Obama and then tell me I'm not Irish!

P.P.P.S I would love to hear the opinions of any one who is Irish, Irish-American, or from any other country that may have a lot of immigration and/or emigration! The distinction between heritage and nationality fascinates me so I'd love to see how others perceive it!

Of Travelers and Tourist

Monday, August 20, 2012

I recognize how lucky I am to not only have been able to travel so much, but to have gotten the opportunity to live in another country and really become a part of it.  I love the fact that I do not consider myself a tourist here anymore, however I know that there are many well traveled people who look down on tourist.  Many of these people want to distance themselves from the sneaker-clad, fanny pack wearing, camera toting people clogging the sidewalks.

I will admit, I have gotten frustrated with tourists on more than one occasion. When you're in a rush or trying to get somewhere, tourists are terrible.  Walking slowly, stopping to take pictures every ten feet... it is definitely annoying.

But today while taking one of my last walks down Grafton Street, I realized how beautiful tourists can be.  They are often almost child-like in a lot of ways.  I don't mean that as an insult... more that they are innocent and unafraid to express themselves.  For many of them this single walk down Grafton Street may be their first and only chance to do so in their lives.  You can see the awe in their faces as they soak in the architecture and listen to the street performers.  Who wouldn't want to walk slowly and stop frequently to take pictures?

So, while I love being able to immerse myself in a culture,  I also think I need to more frequently recognize the beauty in those who may not have as much time to do the same but still find a way to unabashedly fall in love with a city when they only have a few days to do so.

That being said -  tourist, get out of my way when I'm late to the bus!!!

Grafton Street

The End Is Near...

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Apologies for my lack of posting and the lack of posting to come in the next week or so.  I finished finals and jumped straight into my last class.  I couldn't be more excited to finish this class however there is so much to get done before then.  Unlike most of my other classes here in Ireland, this one has a participation component of the grade.  This means that I have to read and fully understand everything before each class (which I may not have been as stringent about in most of my other classes.)

On top of that, I have a group and individual assignment that I just realized I have to get done in the next 9 days.  I've known this time was coming but all of a sudden the end is near!  Last Friday I was complaining about how I was stressing about my running and how I felt like I was making excuses about the time I had. I only had three hours of classes that would truly prevent me from getting my runs in but after thinking about it for a while, I realized that even if I worked on everything needed to all day for the next week I still probably wouldn't have enough time to finish it all.  Because of this I'm taking a break from the running until I get this stuff done.  Once it's done I can get back to my running and better blogging but right now I have a very limited amount of time to get a lot done!  So again, I'm sorry if I don't respond to comments, etc. in a reasonable fashion!  I swear I'll be back before you know it :-)

I did, of course, give myself Saturday afternoon off to celebrate the birth of my niece!  (Thank you all for the wonderful comments, by the way!)  I was suppose to go to see Shakespeare's Tempest in the Iveagh Gardens, but the baby decided that it was going to show me who's boss already so instead I spent the morning sitting at the computer eagerly awaiting the phone call.  After I did get the call that everyone was doing well, I met up with Claire and Inna for dinner and drinks in town followed by drinks at a rooftop bar.  If I couldn't be home to celebrate with my family I guess this was the next best thing!
Two of the people I may miss most when I leave!

I Am An Aunt!!!!!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Weighting in at 8 lbs. 4 oz. please meet my beautiful niece and goddaughter Nevaeh Rose!!

Weekly Running Recap #6

Friday, August 10, 2012

This was one of those fall-off-the-wagon kind of weeks.  I guess looking back I didn't truly fall off the wagon.  I got in my runs but I just wasn't feeling them... at all.  I don't know what it was.  I've finally reached the 5k distance and I think because I focused for the last two months on reaching that goal, I'm just unsure of where to go from here.  Obviously, I need to work on getting better and faster but I just could not find the motivation to push myself this week.  I can blame it on a number of things but whatever it is, it is still just an excuse.  I can't tell myself that I don't have the time... Class, commuting and group work would not amount to more than 5 hours of my day.  The run itself wouldn't be more than 40 minutes. There really should be no excuses.  I'm hoping next week I'm feeling a little refreshed. 

Saturday: 3.1 mile run. This was my first run at the full 5k distance.  I wasn't loving the run but I did it.

Sunday: 3 mile run.   Today I just felt bored.  I know I can do the distance and my body is fine.  It's my mind that tends to ruin my runs.  There wasn't anything particular that was preventing me from enjoying this run but there also wasn't anything to push me during it.

Monday: Rest Day.  After the last two days of not so great runs I decided to take a rest day hoping that it would refresh me.

Tuesday: Rest Day.  I started my last class today!  I only had class for 3 hours but I was exhausted by the time I got home.  I hate using that as an excuse but there was very little that was going to be able to get me up and out of the apartment after class.

Wednesday: 2ish mile run. I didn't get to run until after I got home from class which put me out on the road around 7pm.  While running into the sunset sounds romantic, the melting of my corneas was not so enjoyable.  Then, while running back away from the sun, I had a terrible view of my own shadow flopping around.  I can't really blame my lack of motivation on my shadow but I definitely still wasn't feeling it.  It had been a long day with classes and it's much less enjoyable running after eating a fajita than running after eating oatmeal.  I wasn't expecting to enjoy this run but I really didn't think it would be a good idea to not run three days in a row.  I don't think I accomplished much with this run but I at least forced myself out.

Thursday: 3 mile run.  On the bright side I did my full distance and kept up with the running and stopped myself from walking more than a couple times.  On the down side I did not enjoy it and was only doing it because I felt like I had to.  It's clear to me how easily boredom can kill all motivation to run but I don't have too many options right now.  If I try running anywhere else I'm going to get stuck at a lot of lights or in a lot of foot traffic.  Just two weeks till I'm back home and will hopefully have some more options!

Friday: Rest Day.  I definitely had the time to run today but my sleep schedule has really been messing me up.  The past two weeks that I did not have class got me into the habit of going to bed at 3am and waking up around 11.  Trying to get up at 8am to go to class just really messes everything up.  I know I should work on fixing that but class is only that early once a week so I don't think it's going to happen.  Plus at this rate I won't have an ounce of jet lag going home and my body will just be on a normal person's schedule once back in the US!

Total Miles: 11.1

Well that was a pretty negative post.  I know there will be weeks like this but I'm really hoping to snap out of it.  I do get a little nervous thinking, "if I can't get off the couch after 3 hours of class how will I ever do it after an 8 hour work day."  I then have to remember that it's not JUST three hours of class and it will probably be easier when I don't have limitless amounts of reading to complete and two 3500 word papers to get done in the next two weeks.  Gah.

Pictures Around The Liffey

Sunday, August 5, 2012

It was cold and rainy today so I wore a jacket during my run.  Since I had pockets I decided to bring my phone so I could attempt timing myself.  Instead my run became much more of a walk because I could not stop taking pictures.  I think it's starting to sink in that I'm leaving in less than three weeks so, while I would have liked to get a good run in, taking some pictures of my running route seemed much more important at the time.  While the area can be beautiful when sunny and warm, I think the sky in most of these pictures is a much more accurate representation of Dublin.

Getting creative with the sidewalk.  Just saw this for the first time today.
I guess it's not a bad thing to slow down every once in a while.  
Samuel Beckett Bridge
Beckett Bridge under a dark Dublin sky.
Down the Liffey towards the city center.
A carcass of the Celtic Tiger.  Not seen as frequently in the city center but
empty or half built buildings scatter the outskirts. 
PWC building reflecting in the river
Irish Famine Memorial
I run by this every day but this was the first time I stopped to look closely.
These little metal circles are all over the sidewalk... most of them have
these tiny fake fish.   
"The Linesman" statue along the river

Alright,  that's all I've got for you today!  I finished my last final on Friday so I'm just waiting to start my last class on Tuesday.  I know I'm a little late picking it up, but I've just started watching Breaking Bad.  I now get what all the fuss it about.  I could focus on some good blog posts but I think I'll spend the next few days watching Breaking Bad instead.  Hope you've all had a great weekend!

Weekly Running Recap # 5 / 2nd Month Check-In

Friday, August 3, 2012

Yesterday I linked up with Kristen @ All In My Twenties and Raven @ A Momma's Desires and Pacifiers  for the Inspire Me: Healthy link up.  I didn't have time to actually write a post because of my final so I just linked my running page.  I got so many wonderful and supportive comments that I wanted to make sure I still shared the link in case you wanted to join in on the link up, too!
A Mommas Desires And Pacifiers

Two months!  I'm very shocked that I've managed to run consistently for two months.  I really didn't know if I was going to find the motivation to really stick with it but I have and I feel great.  I don't have a scale here in Dublin to see how it has paid off in the weight department but I feel so much better than I was just a few months ago.  Everything feels tighter and smoother and (most importantly) I feel healthy again.  I can't blame it on Dublin but I let myself believe that I was just studying abroad for a semester and ignored the fact that I'm living here and not just on vacation. Thanks to the running I've finally stopped acting like that and it has really made me feel better all around.

When I first started this running challenge I thought "I want to run a 5k" so I went out and ran 3 miles on day 1.  I knew I could physically do it but I was miserable and hated the thought of doing it again.  After a few days of that I started from scratch where I started off alternating walking and running for 30 minutes at a time until I was running more than walking and eventually was just running.  Tomorrow is the week I start at the full 5k distance.  I've taken my time working up to that distance but it is such a different feeling from when I tried doing it two months ago.  I think it was hard for me to accept the fact that just because I know I'm capable of doing something doesn't mean I do it well.  Sure I could run three miles... that didn't make me a runner.  I feel like a runner now though.  I can do the run and I feel good while doing it.

Not only have I been feeling great about the quality of my current runs, but I've started thinking about where I'm going to go from here.  Being happy while running a 5k seemed so impossible that I didn't think I'd consider anything more than that.  Now that I'm about to reach that goal, I can't help but wonder what's next.  I think I'll stick with the 3 mile distance for the next few weeks (mainly because I don't have enough room to run more than that!)  But I have a feeling that I'm not going to be able to stop myself at just 3 miles!


Saturday: 2.75 mile run.  I need to clarify previous statements I've made where I've said that I enjoy running in the rain.  I enjoy running in Dublin rain.  Today when I left for my run it was sunny but about half way through the skies opened up.  This was the type of rain I'm used to in the summer at home.  It was the type of rain where people just had to stop walking and hide under umbrellas because any type of movement would soak you.  I was drenched and ended up having to take shelter under a tree.  I still don't HATE the rain but I think this needs to be a lesson to avoid running in the rain when I'm back in the US because if it's not Dublin rain then it's probably going to be too heavy to run comfortably in it.  Other than that this run was great!  I'm still loving my new playlist... some of my favorite songs on it are Sabotage by the Beastie Boys and How You Like Me Now by the Heavy.

Sunday: 2.75 mile run. Another benefit of weekend running is that I can sing along with my music without bothering other people.  I am also a pretty awesome air-guitarist... even while running!

Monday: Rest Day/Cleaning Day. My landlord called to asked if he could do a final inspection Tuesday morning.  I thought about squeezing in a run but I'm glad I didn't.  I don't know if there is a better workout than frantically cleaning an entire apartment!

Tuesday: 2.75 mile run.  Rain.  This entire run consisted of rain.  It wasn't as heavy as Saturday's rain but it was cold rain.  I think this was the hardest / fastest I've run so far.  It actually felt really good!

Wednesday: 2.75 mile run. Less than stellar run.  I have another final on Friday so my mind was only half on my run.  Even though the run itself wasn't as good as my others this week I was happy that I got out there.  In most cases that is the hardest part so I'm glad I did it anyway!

Thursday & Friday: Rest Days.  I didn't want to do two rest days in a row but I had avoided studying for so long that I needed to really crack down on Thursday and the mental exhaustion from the studying / exam taking has led me to realized that Friday will be dedicated to my couch and the Olympics.  Starting fresh tomorrow though!

Total Miles:  11 miles