Home Sweet Home?

It feels so strange to be back.

Back home. Back in Boston. Back in my apartment. (But not back in my room, which is still being inhabited by the current sublet)

I’m sitting in my favorite chair in our living room, just watching cars drive up the street, trying to adjust to the humidity and temperature of Boston. Everything feels so familiar of course, but it is as if I don’t remember how I got here. Over the past two weeks, I left my apartment in Dublin to travel to a few different places, never staying any where long enough to feel comfortable again. I missed my pretend room in Dublin, the place I had some how made into my home for two months, yet I knew I should be looking forward to returning to my real apartment and my real home in Boston. And now that I’m here again, Ireland is fading into a strange dream I made up. It could have been something I made up, except for the fact that I have a lot less money than I did three months ago and tons and tons of laundry to do.

I am back in my real world, yet even here I can’t seamlessly return to normal. Our apartment seems the same, but also too crowded. My roommates are the same, except for their new jobs or new haircuts. There is someone sleeping in my bed, using my room, a room that doesn’t look familiar to me anymore. I have no right to it, nor to anything in the apartment for the next ten days. I have no food to grab from the fridge or snacks to munch on while I try to figure out my next moves.

I feel out of place in the apartment that I help to decorate and fill with my things. Little things have changed and I didn’t receive the memos. I don’t know whose bag of chips are whose or if I’m allowed to complain about the stupid toilet paper being used in the bathroom. (I guess I just did).

I was out of place in Ireland and now I’m out of place at home.

I took a leave of absence from my restaurant job to go to Ireland, thinking that it would be smarter to have somewhere to go back to, rather than quitting all the way. Even though that is what I should’ve done. I worked at the restaurant for over a year and it had sucked me in so much that despite any ambitions I had for other career paths, I couldn’t seem to tear away from it.  Though I did love working at the restaurant, I needed a push to get out and my internship in Ireland was my chance to break free. After the first few weeks at my internship, I decided that I couldn’t go back to working at the restaurant. That I would have to find something different, something closer to what I wanted to do. Even if I have no idea what that something is.

Now that I am back sitting in the humidity of Boston air, I can feel myself weakening. All my strong motivations to find the perfect job are being dried out of me. I know I need to tell the restaurant that I can’t come back, but I don’t yet have another job to use as my reasoning. I also don’t have much money to keep me firmly against returning to the restaurant. My problem is I want to find the perfect job now. I am afraid of finding just any other job, because then maybe I should’ve have just stayed with my current restaurant one.

I miss the energy and motivation that the restaurant forced me to give. I miss feeling like part of a team and working with people who might have also been stuck in limbo, but they were doing their best within the situation.

Yet working in Ireland gave me the option of doing something different. Of having a job that doesn’t involve standing on my feet for hours on end, only be tipped out 20$. It showed me that I could possibly be paid to use the skills I learned in school that I am confident about, rather than the ones I was taught in two weeks of training from my restaurant handbook.

I don’t know what this job is or where to find it. I’m back home with actual job experience and this is my chance to change things for myself. I am not ready to hit the ground running, but I can already feel myself sinking, so I guess I have to.

Is it possible to hit the ground jogging? Or at a brisk walk? Can I do that instead?

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Feckin Eejit

If you have read my last post about Irish-isms you will understand what my title means. For those who didn’t read it, I will help you, it describes me about two hours ago: a fuckin idiot.

Around 8pm tonight, I gathered up a bunch of food supplies from my room and headed out the door towards the kitchen to make my dinner. With my arms full, I could only use part of my left arm to pull the door slightly closed behind me. I was moving too fast and slammed my elbow on the door frame, causing my arm to jerk forward, slamming the door shut. With my keys on the other side.

Profanities followed.

Of course I go two months without this happening, but in my last week of living here I lock myself out. (?!?!?!?!)

Image[This story will now be added to my first epic lock out story about two years ago which involved kids selling candy, an Indian grandma, and awkward tea and biscuits.]

 

After double checking that the door was indeed locked, I pathetically made my way to the kitchen to tell French Girl and French Guy what I had done. French Guy, having made this mistake before, tried to help my by using his credit card to open the door, unfortunately to no avail.

ImageAfter trying multiple other tactics I was forced to call the Emergency number for Eazy Dublin (with French Guy’s phone), only to find out that I was expected to go down to the middle of the city to the Eazy Dublin office and get the key myself. No, they were not going to come rescue me.

Let me paint you a little picture of my current situation at that time. I had just gotten out of the shower so my hair is dripping wet. I am wearing a tank top (and a bra thank god) and pajama-like shorty shorts. No shoes.

The Italian Landlord Lady on the phone tells me that I have to get on a bus or get a cab and go to city center to meet her, but not for an hour because she can’t be there till 9pm. Oh and call her when I get there.

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I have Nothing. I have no money, no bus pass, no cell phone… NO SHOES..?!!

She is not phased by any of this information. She says to take these things from my housemates and meet her in an hour.

Astonished and frustrated I hang up the phone. I hesitantly ask French Girl (who doesn’t like me, let alone understand me) if I can borrow shoes from her. She takes me up to her room where, thankfully, her American roommate is there on her bed. French Girl quickly passes me off onto American Girl (lolz), who saves my night by giving me a pair of lace Tom’s, a green over sized rain jacket, and her unlimited bus pass. SCORE.

So then, I go back to the kitchen to make the dinner out of the items that caused this whole mess in the first place. I can barely eat it though because I am too frustrated by the whole situation and nervous that I wont make it to city center in time to meet Italian Landlord Lady and then she will leave and I will never get my key. I hastily eat a few things, put things away, grab my 7% beer and take it with me out to the bus stop. I figured I would have to wait awhile for the bus and I wanted the beer… Surprisingly a bus came right away so I kind of had to chug the beer before getting on, but that made my ride seem to go by faster, so it’s all good.

ImageAfter meeting Italian Landlord Lady, climbing 5 flights of stairs, getting the keys, and booking it out of the office, it was surprisingly only 9:15!

Of course then I had to walk back several one way streets to a street going in the direction I needed, only to miss two buses I could’ve taken. I then had to wait for 20 more minutes as literally every single bus besides any of the 5 buses I could take, passed by me. Some of them I swear passed me twice, before one came that was headed to Phibsborough.

So two hours later I am finally back in my room. Enough adventures for the night. And by adventures I mean, pointless trips into town wearing minimal clothing in someone else’s shoes.

NOT TODAY COACH. NOT TODAY.

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“Ohh yeah sure, give it a tink”

Most of my conversations with Irish people are somewhat difficult. I have definitely improved in my understanding over the past two months, but I still find that I only catch about 50 to 75% of what they are actually saying. Irish people love to talk. They will keep talking, even after they ask you questions; this does not stop them from talking while you are trying to answer. And then they will talk to you about how you don’t really talk much.

Listening to Irish people talk makes me feel like I have slight brain damage. I can hear words, some of them even sound like words I know. But most of it sounds like a foreign language or maybe even gibberish. Despite the gibberish that I hear, the people around me are all understanding each other perfectly, even though their words are delivered in incredibly quick bursts of mumbles and slurs. And I’m talking about sober Irish people here.

I do not mean this to come off as offensive, in fact I feel stupid for not understanding  Irish people as they speak; I am incredibly impressed by them all for understanding each other so well. Its like they are speaking in code and I am not quick enough to follow it.

During most conversations, I either desperately try  to follow a strain of conversation based on some word that I didn’t hear correctly or could not even pronounce because to my ears, it is not a real word, OR I just daze off for a bit during the conversation until I realize someone is asking me what I think or if I want one or did I go there too? My response to these situations is usually always: “whaa?”

The following is a short list of Irish-isms that I have painstakingly pieced together. These are words or phrases that are very Irish. Some of them are not real words, as I have been trying to claim, yet I keep getting overruled.

Craic – very very common Irish word for fun. Pronounced “crack”. It is used in so many different ways I am not even sure if it only just a noun.
eejit – fun way they pronounce idiot
header (or sometimes nutter) – crazy person
jeaysus – my assumed spelling of Irish pronunciation of Jesus, usually used in exclamation
murder – used to describe something that is hard/difficult/a pain to do. I have heard this term a lot referring to someone’s work in the office
out the door“- really busy (I am unsure if this is a definite phrase but in the context of the conversation, this phrase was used instead of really busy..
over” – this word isn’t different in Ireland, but it is used a lot in reference to people, most likely celebrities, who are visiting/in Ireland.  “Oh did you know that Obama was over?” (He was in Ireland recently)
hamper– gift basket  (this was very confusing to me when my editor asked me to take a picture of the one in the office.)
indicators – blinkers/turn signals in a car. I have heard this yelled a lot, which is funny because its a weird word to yell.

fascinator below is a picture of a fascinator. I learned this today when the mother of the bride (who’s wedding I was helping take pictures at) could not find her fascinator and urged me to help her look for it.

Imagesuch a gas“– I’m not really sure how to describe this, but I think it is a good thing. Like Oh that’s such a gas! Like that’s funny?

deadly – cool  (I guess I get this one, but it is used in such strange ways, to describe ordinary things like purses or shoes.. I mean I guess if they were really high heels, you could say they were deadly… but thats not what they mean!)

Food terms you want to know:

crisps – potato chips (most likely Tayto’s) (also most likely cheese and onion flavored)

Imagechips – fries
aubergine – eggplant
courgette – zucchini

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blaa – a doughy white bread roll that is soft and usually sprinkled with white flour. Apparently you can only get a real blaa in Waterford, Ireland.

bap – is a small, individual round loaf of bread

I was apart of a ridiculous conversation about these two, after listening to two Irish people pronounce blaa and bap over and over again and finally having to ask what the hell they were talking about. The girl I was talking to, swears that a blaa is different than a bap and also not just a roll! Do you see a drastic difference between these two??

Random Words or Phrases That Should Be Explained:

“How ya gettin on?” – basically hear this every single day. When I first heard it, my immediate reaction of course was “whaa?”. In my head I quickly tried to break down this phrase: gettin on? What am I getting on? I got on the train this morning… I did that pretty successfully.. Is that what they want to know? Are we going somewhere and they want to know how I’m getting there? None of these work. This actually just means, “how are you” or “how are you doing with (insert task/job/life here)”.

“How do ya find it?”  –  again this one caught me off guard the first few times too. How do I find what? Is something missing? Usually I was asked this after I mentioned traveling to a certain city in Ireland. This is how it would go:

Me: “Yeah I went to Cork over the weekend.”

Irish person: “Oh grand, and how did you find it?”

Me: “Oh I just googled it and then took a bus there…”

This is not what they wanted to know. They are really asking me what I thought of something/the place or if I liked it.

(are you getting a sense of the painful awkwardness of my conversations thus far?)

Your man” – this expression was explained to me before I had experienced it myself, but the warning did not prepare me to recognize or understand it once it finally did happen. It is confusing to explain so bear with me. Irish people will say the expression “your man” to refer to a random male person. THAT GUY. This person could have no affiliation with you at all, yet they still pose it as “yours”.

I was taking pictures at one of the train stops along the DART last week when a random guy came up to me and said: “Did ya get a shot of your man out there?” Of course I had to have him repeat himself, which only resulted in further confusion for me. He also added something like: “That’s the shot you want ya know. Train’s gonna be commin. Like a suicide story, couldn’t it be..?”

It wasn’t until he actually pointed where to look, did I see a man walking on the actual train tracks, and I finally understood what he was saying to me. This man on the tracks looked like he worked for the train station and was in no real danger, nor was he in any way “my man”. Needless to say that conversation was also added to the painfully awkward list.

“Are you goin’ out, or are you goin’ out out”?? – To understand this phrase, think back to a middle school phrase we all have used: “Do you like him or do you like like him?” As far as I can understand, going “out out” would entail some sort of party/more heavy drinking than just going out for say only one drink or just a meal.

It’s only a tenner.” – This is referring to ten Euros. A fiver is also used…. (5 Euros)

Half three” – 3:30 (pm or am)

“It’s gonna start pissing!“- in reference to the weather, specifically foretelling heavy rain.

“The sun is splitting the stones” – this is a fun one you might not hear often, because it refers to a very sunny day. On Friday while I was on the train home from work, I heard someone on the phone say that the sun was splitting the stones out here in Greystones. When she hung up the phone, she informed us that it was “absolutely pissing in Dublin”.

Everyday Words and Phrases:

“biscuits?”
“feckin mad”
“didjya?”
“did ya now?”
“a little doat!”
“we’ll say nothing more of it”
“well isn’t that gorgeous”
“God, it’s a grand day for it, isn’t it? (what it is exactly, we will never know)

“you would, would ya? you would yeeeahh!”
“I will, yeah!”
(this is a entire conversation that I have heard many times)

This link below shows a video that might add to my explanations:

http://www.thesun.ie/irishsol/homepage/news/4802991/Irish-slang-and-phrases-helpfully-translated-for-visitors.html

KIND OF A BIG DEAL

The September issue of Easy Food magazine is finally out! I was lucky enough to add several random photographs to the magazine, as well as a full spread for their section called Reader Recipes. I’ve been freaking out about this for a little while now but I wanted to wait until the magazine was actually on sale and in public before posting these.

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This is the cover. The idea was to find something that represented September, but was still somewhat summer-y, because Ireland only gets to enjoy so much of the summer sun. This is a Victoria Sponge Cake, which is layered with, of course, two staples of Irish cuisine: jam and cream.

(That’s my picture of a sandwich on the left!)

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This is the layout I designed for the Digital Edition advertisement for Easy Food. By designed, I mean I picked the background picture off of a stock website, did minor photoshop edits to place an iPad template in the middle, and moved already existing text around to fit the space, as well as change the fonts. Oh and those little orange arrows, I found and edited from a stock site online. I didn’t know the design was going to be used though, because at the time It was just an opportunity for me to fool around with inDesign and spruce up the existing template. So it was pretty cool to see they decided to use it!

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THESE are my photos! Caroline cooked these reader recipes and I photographed them. It was somewhat intimidating going into this shoot, because I knew beforehand that if they were good enough, they would put them in the magazine.

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Unfortunately the magazine physically prints out slightly yellow and less contrast, but the pictures look good in digital form! Although I guess all of our computers are different so what you see might not be what I’m seeing.. Just pretend they are beautifully color corrected, because they are, I swear.

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Caroline and I have also been doing a lot of “How To’s”, which are step by step shots of simple things people might not know how to make. The above was specifically for kids to make their own bread rolls,which could be used to make pizza sandwiches. Ham, pepperoni, and salami with mozzarella and pesto is not my idea of a good sandwich, but the rolls came out nice.

The step by steps we have been taking will eventually be made into a digital cookbook. Since I am leaving in a week, I doubt I will see the final product but its exciting to know that I am helping them start it.

Caroline stars in the Easy Food “How To” videos that are on youtube. I was able to go to the filming of some of these videos about a month ago. The two cameramen were really great guys and fun to work with. They eventually let me take some of the still shots for the step by steps, so that they didn’t have to stop filming to take the pictures. I’m not credited for these photos because it was their equipment and production company and I was just assisting. But out of the ones the magazine printed, these are the ones I took, so I don’t feel bad about posting them.

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They also used one of my behind the scene shots! It’s of Caroline and the guys laughing (about something hilarious I’m sure, I don’t remember.)

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So that’s all I can claim in the September issue of Easy Food magazine. The fact that photographs I took have been published in a magazine, in my head, seems like a really big deal. But because no one I know is really here to witness it or even able to buy the magazine, it feels kind of lack luster. Also everyone here has been contributing to the magazine for a long time, so they are not as giddy as I am to see their work in print.

It is because of these reasons that I have decided to post these myself, so that

NOW YOU KNOW.

Riding in Ireland

On Sunday, I took the Luas from city centre to Saggart; a town south west of Dublin city. From the stop I walked about a half hour along narrow country roads towards Coolmine Equestrian Center. I was there for an afternoon trail ride. Image

(All these pictures were taking before and after the ride. None are of the actual trail or views from while riding unfortunately)

Coolmine Equestrian Center offers this trial ride at 3pm every Sunday for the regulars at the barn and to other experienced riders who want to join. I knew it was going to be different than the scenic horseback riding expeditions that other sites offered of rides along the beach and through rolling hills. Although those tours do sound awesome and picturesque, I was excited by the idea of a more experienced group of riders. This of course would be my undoing.

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As I write this post on the train on my way to work, I am currently aching from head to toe. I am basically wearing the nicest form of pajamas I could put together because I want nothing more than to be comfy all day, despite the horrible pains I am experiencing all over.

Don’t worry I didn’t fall off the horse or anything. In fact the problem was that I stayed on; that I decided to keep up with the more experienced girls of our group instead of hanging back with the relaxed half.

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Many of the girls either worked at the center or rode their regularly so they had been on this trail many times. Some were new like me or less experienced. We started off in a line of horses making our way up the road, trotting up hills,  or slowing to let cars pass. After not being on a horse for a little over a year, I felt fine when I mounted my horse for the day, Bailey. The road we traveled up, however, had several hills. After trotting up the fifth hill or so I was definitely feeling my body start to question what I had gotten it in to.

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Once in the woods on the trail though we calmly trekked through thick ferns and tall moss covered trees. It was so quiet and cool in the trees, which segmented the view of the surrounding hills and fields. After heading upwards through the woods for a bit we came to a path high up on the hills. A large group of grazing horses came in to view. I had already been lamenting my lack of camera, but at the sight of these horses, the absence of any picture taking device started to physically pain me. The horses were beautiful; wild in comparison to the groomed bunch we were riding. Tiny foals with shaggy manes scattered away from the fence as we passed, however several older ponies came curiously towards us. One particularly shaggy horse actually jumped up onto the ridge near our path and shook his scraggly beard back and forth at us. If you can imagine a hippie-ish/mountain man in horse form, that is what these horses looked like. They had untamed manes and shaggy beards like goats. It was an amazing experience to see them amongst the beautiful Irish scenery, let alone to be riding our own horses by them.

After that scenic bit of the trail, we split into two groups of those who wanted to canter and those who didn’t. I was feeling good about the tour so I of course decided to follow the cantering group.

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The last time I had gone on a long trail ride like this I was about 13 years old at horseback riding camp. That was also the first time I had galloped on a horse, which led to my first time falling off a horse at such high speeds. That memory was fresh in my mind, creating a small edge of panic as we went further down the path. I was determined to fight it though and I convinced myself that we would only be cantering, nothing faster and of course I could handle that.

When I first got to the the riding center they informed me that I would be riding Bailey, who they described as a nice easy Irish cob. Since it was my first time there they wanted to give me an easy horse, so I wouldn’t have to worry on the trail or not be able to handle it. In the indoor ring, Bailey was compliant and like they said, easy.

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But apparently they forgot to mention that once out in the wild on the trail, Bailey is no longer a compliant easy horse. He was a determinedly stubborn being whose only goals were to eat and run. As soon as we started cantering, he took off, basically at a gallop. I desperately increased my death grip on the reins trying to slow Bailey’s pace down, yet he did not heed my request, let alone seem to remember that I was still on his back. Thankfully I was in the back of the line of cantering horses, on a narrow trail, so Bailey could not pass the horse in front of me, despite his attempts. The first path we cantered on was a narrow trail in the forest. It was like being in a leafy tunnel of green which turned into leafy green blur as we barreled down it. I had to use every ounce of my riding abilities to stay on that horse.

I have cantered on horses many times in the past. But cantering in a ring is very different than in a straight line. In a ring, the horse can’t really go incredibly fast, because they have to turn at corners, and turning at high speeds for horses is not really possible. So I am more used to that kind of controlled, graceful cantering. Not the full speed, give no fucks, lay it all out there cantering that a horse will break into when given the space and distance.

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It is in moments like that when the intense speed will make you so fearful of falling that you will either loose concentration and slip, or you force yourself to block out that feeling and only focus on the things you can control, like your hold of the reins and the tight grip of your legs around the saddle, while you try to remember to breathe and possibly begin to enjoy it.

After I succeeded at not dying the first time we cantered, I felt relieved but also wary, because I now knew what kind of horse I was dealing with: one that I would not be able to control, when he was presented with the option to full out run. Our next canter was thankfully going up hill. This sounds strange that I would prefer that , especially since it was a rocky, dirt path uphill, but cantering uphill meant that Bailey was unable to go as fast as he would normally on a flat plain. It was still definitely a fast canter, but no longer boarder line galloping.

The third opportunity for cantering was definitely my favorite. We finally left the crowded trees and were on a path in an open field, on which there were a couple small fallen trees we were able to jump. Bailey was still traveling at his one high speed setting, and because we weren’t on a confined path in the woods, he tried and finally succeeded at passing the horses in front of us, until I was finally able to pull him back into a abrupt stop, almost flying out of the saddle in the process. BUT I STUCK THAT LANDING.

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All in all it was definitely a great experience and despite the mini panic attacks I endured I still enjoyed myself immensely. I was also proud of myself for doing something I set out to do, even though I was alone. I don’t have any pictures of the actual ride to show, but it was something I was doing for myself and I know I won’t forget everything I saw and experienced.

Ring Around the Kerry, We All Fall Asleep

Sunday, July 13th. Waking up in our hostel. 7:15 am.

After a night of several rounds of drinks and cover band songs, our group is in varying degrees of hungover-ness. Some didn’t drink, some drank enough, and some drank more than they should’ve, later than they meant to.
I push myself up in the bottom bunk  and look around at the sleeping state of my companions. We have all stripped down as far as we dare, suffering in the oppressive heat of the small room. 7 of us, plus one nice stranger from Canada.
I could have easily slept forever but the need to pee, the horrible heat, and my pounding headache forced me to vacate the room.

Almost an hour later we have all assembled downstairs ready to go.

Well we are there.. Ready is a relative term.

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Once we were on the Happy Tours bus, we set off on the hour plus drive to Killarney. Commence sleeping….
(If you have read my previous post about our tour bus, you will need no further explanation).

Our first stop was at the Gap of Dunloe, Dún Lóich, meaning “Lóich’s stronghold”, which is a passage between the Macgillycuddy’s Reeks and Purple Mountain, along the Ring of Kerry. At the start of the walk we passed an array of carts and horses with their owners, waiting for tourists to use their services to travel down the path.
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We walked the 20 mins up the mountain pass to the Wishing Bridge. The walk was, incredible to say the least. The weather that day was mercifully cooler than the day before and a light gray fog sat over the tops of the mountains. To me it was perfect, because my camera was getting tired of blazing sunlight and dark shadowed scenery. The even gray light touched everything so softly, details were rich and clear.

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We were surprised by a few sheep grazing very close to the edges of the path!

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After many group photos and detail shots, we headed back down the path to the bus. I lagged behind a lot taking more photos. I also made some horse friends at the end.

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Back on the bus, our next stop was near Killarney center where we boarded our jaunty carts for a ride into the Killarney national parklands. Our group scored a cart just to ourselves and our tour guide, Troy eventually joined us as well.

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The ride was very cool. We passed open fields scattered with velvety black Kerry cows, before entering thicker trees. Our jaunty carts took us to a clearing where a small castle stood.

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After our horse cart ride we were taken into Killarney center for lunch. We decided to try the Failte Hotel restaurant. Lunch was really good, a step above average pub fair, despite being ambushed by several Irish men out on a stag. (Bachelor party) They were enjoying their drinks a little too much for 1pm in the afternoon, but it was a celebration so understandable.

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Our next stop after lunch was to the Torc Waterfall in Killarney National Parklands. The bus parked in the dirt lot at the base of a trail and we started to walk up the trail into the trees. After walking only two minutes or so we were enveloped in forest. I immediately felt at home, it reminded me so much of the woods in New Hampshire and Vermont.

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Just like that, I was 12 again, hiking along a stream up to a rocky waterfall with my family. The trees were covered in a deliciously light green moss and ferns and other plants carpeted the rocks and ground around them. It was dim within the trees, only thin strips of hazy sunlight slipped through the branch fingers; the kind of light you only see in the forest.

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Being there, I finally felt like the beautiful scenery I was experiencing was real. The endless fields of green and rolling mountains thus far had been incredible, but they have seemed to good to be true; they felt more like a glamorized movie, not actual places. Killarney National Parklands was familiar to me, from the first moment. I knew this kind of nature and I fit in it. It was like a little part of my home, hidden away and intensified by Ireland’s charm.

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I could’ve have stayed there for hours, but we were soon leaving, and I found myself alone on a path, having not realized everyone was already back on the bus. Hopefully the photographs I took with my film camera will make my tardiness worth it.                                                  

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Our final stop of the day was to the Muckross House and Gardens. Muckross house is a mansion that was built in 1843 for Henry Herbert, a Member of Parliament for Kerry. The estate and land was eventually given to the town, on the condition that it be open to the pubic to enjoy. And enjoy it we did. We didn’t tour the mansion because it was currently under renovations, but the outside of it and the land surrounding it was definitely impressive enough. We all just wandered around the gardens and down to the lake, enjoying the sun for a little while. It was all quite beautiful, and a very peaceful way to end our tour.

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After that we journeyed the hour and a half back to Cork, where we quickly walked to the bus station to get on yet another bus to travel three hours back to Dublin. I think I can speak for all of us when I say I was really sick of sitting on buses by then. Despite the confusion and heat of Saturday, I consider the weekend to be a success and I’m very glad we went.

Ring, Ring, Ring, BANANA PHONE

Life Cycle of a Banana

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Over the last week or so I have been taking pictures of this banana as it ripened, to re create an original add for a client of Easy Food.

This is the original: (hopefully its ok that I posted this?)

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In theory this is not hard to create at all, but unfortunately I had to dissemble my light box setup, lights, and camera each day. Because of this, I was not able to take each picture of the different stages from the same distance or angle every time.

But its ok, because I know how to use Photoshop! In my head I like to say each tool in a deep powerful voice as I use them: 

         TRANSFORM         CLONE STAMP        ROTATE          MASK          BRUSH TOOL 

IMAGE SIZE…… SAVE FILE… ok not those ones, I’m getting carried away.

Eventually, I was able to make all the stages match up. Text will be added to explain each stage of the banana’s ripening process and different ways to use the banana at the various points in its life.

I’m not sure if they will even use this for the magazine or not, but it was fun mini project to do!

The Hangover meets Road Trip

Hangovers and bus tours do not go well together.

Last night you consumed an exorbitant amount of alcohol, stayed up too late, and barely slept in a boiling hot hostel room surrounded by 7 other snoring people in bunk beds. Headache, nausea, and lack of sleep. How ’bout some bright sunshine with that headache? Hot bumpy bus ride for your nausea, and long periods of walking and standing for your lack of sleep??

ImageOr so I imagine a hungover bus tour to be like. I was only hungover for about twenty minutes Sunday morning, until I consumed several pieces of magical toast.

Even if you manage to evade the hangover though, your downfall will ultimately be the lack of sleep. Outside of the bus in the sun you are able to push away the drowsiness with unbelievable scenery of constant greens and inspiring historical buildings. Our group started out slow and grumbling, but soon we gained momentum as the day passed and the beautiful sights began to multiply.

ImageWe merrily jaunted along! Skipped… Spiritedly strolled…

We dragged our bodies forward.

At least we were moving.

We were functioning. We were people.

ImageBut back on the bus we were transformed into infants; babies in the back seat of a car, being lulled to sleep by their parents driving around the block.

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Our heads titled at strange angles, mouths gaped open, necks scrunched into the walls of the bus.

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ImageWe were zombies. Trapped in a world of delirium, somewhere in between the sleeping and the awake.

Sometimes we would only be on the bus for a short bit of time, just traveling from one stop to the next. Yet even in those short times, we would still succumb under the weight of sleep.

ImageUsually, I am the one who stays awake on these tours. I am the silent observer of all things green; the dutiful counter of the many, many sheep and cows we pass. But on Sunday, I was no different than than the others. I too was helpless under the bus’s spell. I would jolt awake at the sudden stopping of the bus and wonder at what point I had fallen asleep, hating the growing pain in my crooked neck. The tour guide would come over the speaker with interesting facts about the surroundings and I would struggle to open my eyes and pay attention, only to loose that endeavor as well.

Image(Ok so I still counted the cows & sheep but that probably wasn’t helping me stay awake…)

Only the fresh air and urgency to keep up with fellow passengers would rustle us from our stupor. We were filled with amazement as we struggled to accept the idyllic reality that we found ourselves in. We were walking through and fully experiencing Ireland’s finest; it was a trip of a lifetime. Perfect. The tour comes to an end and we are satisfied and humbled by all we have seen. It was time to return to Dublin, to our small apartments and unpaid internships, yet the trip has given us so much to take back and to ponder on the way home.

Yet back on the warm bus you are vulnerable; as you gaze longingly at the fading scenery, reminiscing your trip, sleep attacks again! And no amount of beautiful scenery or new-found wonderment with the world will keep you from the inevitable: zombie purgatory.

Cue the snores.

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(Big thanks to Pusheen ^ for helping me illustrate my story properly. )

Hot Craic in Cork

Another weekend away:

In my month and a half in Ireland, I have traveled a little South to Kilkenny, a little North to Howth, far West to Galway and the Cliffs of Moher, and way up North to the Giants Causeway and Belfast.

This weekend a group of us traveled very far south to Cork city. Late Saturday morning we arrived in the Ireland’s third city, Corcaigh, which is Irish for marsh; the city center of Cork began as an island in the swampy estuary of the River Lee.

ImageAfter trudging up a few hills with our bags in the unusually high heat, we finally arrived at Sheila’s hostel. I would recommend this hostel for anyone visiting cork. We only paid 16 euros for the night and the staff and accommodations were very friendly and clean.

In search of sustenance, we set off towards city center to visit the famed English Market of Cork’s shopping area. The market is several stalls and counters indoors.

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One could compare it to Faneuil Hall in Boston or more likely to Pike Place Market in Seattle. The English Market offered an incredible array of fresh produce: fruits, vegetables, meats, fish, jams, cordials, pickled items, pastries, as well as many cooked options like paninis or sausages.

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The air was busy and lively, filled with determined regulars pushing their way around gawking tourists such as ourselves. Sweet scents of baked goods pulled at our noses, mingling with the salty twinge of cured meats and olives soaking in oil.
We walked quickly around the market taking in the sites, unfortunately not lingering enough for my taste. My companions were hungry and hung over, a bad combination that could not be swayed by rows of colorful jellies and jams or by the temptingly yellow blocks of cheese.
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After a short lunch at a Italian cafe, we set off towards St. Patrick’s Quay, the supposed destination of the free shuttle to the Jameson distillery. I had researched online that included in our ticket purchase, was a free shuttle that would take us directly from Cork to Midleton, a town slightly outside of Cork. Despite the re-assurance of the front desk man at our hostel, as well as the posted shuttle pick up times online, this shuttle did not seem to exist. The 1:45 pick-up time quickly slipped by as we were forced to accept the shuttle wasn’t coming. A tourist office nearby informed us that that shuttle was no longer in service.
Although I still blame the stupid website for advertising an out of date service, I felt horribly responsible for leading our group to this point and on the wild goose chase that was to follow for next few hours. Sorry guys! :/

After this disappointing discovery we quickly shuffled to the nearest bus station to see if any buses could take us to Midleton. The soonest one was an hour away. So we were forced to find our way to the train station about a 20 min walk from where we were. We had reserved tickets for 2:30 at the distillery. As we trekked to the mysteriously placed train station, the time was around 2:10. The horrible sun and heat of the day left us with little hope, yet as we finally entered the train station, we learned there was a train to Midleton leaving in three minutes. We had made it in time! Or some of us had.. Four of us got onto the train, soon realizing that last three in our party were not right behind us. As the countdown of the closing doors beeped around us we anxiously looked down at the station, expecting to see our friends rushing towards the train. Instead the doors closed and our train began to move away. Oops.
Quickly, one of us called our missing group members, as I called the Jameson distillery to ask of we could go on a later tour. Apparently the tours run every 15 minutes, which is another inconsistency of the website! (Not happy with you jamesonwhiskey.com)

Long story short, about an hour or more later we were all finally in Midleton at the Jameson gates.

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I had heard mixed reviews of the tour of this distillery but being an alcohol enthusiast, I found the tour to be informative and well done. We walked around the many old buildings of the former distillery, learning of the unique process that goes into making Jameson Whiskey.

ImageThis is a view of the building in which the barley is dried. There are many red windows because in the summer months it was possible for the barley to get so hot that it would spontaneously catch fire. Hence the many windows to prevent this from happening.

Jameson Whiskey is distinct for its process of triple distillation. This is why the whiskey has such a smooth taste, comparatively to American or Scottish whiskey, which are only distilled once or twice, respectively.

ImageAfter the three distillations, the result is a clear spirit that is 80%!  In the past, to test the proof of the spirit, the workers would hold it over gunpowder. If there was no reaction, it was underproof. If the flame turned blue it was perfect, and if there was a small explosion, it was over proof. The workers would listen for this sound, because the explosion meant the whiskey could not be used and was therefore given to the workers. Good day for them.ImageThese casks show a progression of the aging process for Jameson Whiskey. The clear spirit starts its aging process in two separate casks, one previously used for bourbon, one for sherry. The two casks are then mixed together to continue aging. Using these recycled casks adds to Jameson’s distinctive flavor with notes of vanilla and oak wood.

ImageIn Ireland whiskey has to be aged for three years for it to be legal. The progression shows whiskey that has been aged for much longer, up to 18 years. The longer the whiskey is aged, the darker it’s color will become, absorbed from the casks it is in. The longer aging process also leads to evaporation and absorption of the liquid, which results in less whiskey. This is why longer aged whiskeys are so much more expensive, because there is much less of it to sell after so many years.

ImageAt the final stop on our tour, the guide (Sarah, who was great), asked for volunteers for the opportunity of a special whiskey tasting. I knew of this opportunity beforehand, but had thought everyone would volunteer and I wouldn’t have a chance to be picked. When Sarah asked for four women to volunteer however, only three did. Even more strangely, when she asked for four men, only two put up their hands. After another pause for volunteers, no one came forward, I though to myself that they were crazy and my hand shot up. As most of the people in my group don’t really drink whiskey, I hadn’t wanted to volunteer and make them wait for me. But the fact that no one else was volunteering for the three empty spots seemed ridiculous to me, so had to do it. Thankfully John from our group , fellow Connect123 intern, volunteered as well.

ImageAt the volunteer table we were able to sample three different whiskeys. Jameson, of course in the middle, a Scotch Whisky to the left and an American whiskey, Jack Daniels to the right. I found the Jameson to be the smoothest and most satisfying taste of the three.
I also really enjoy the smokey quality of the Scotch Whisky. On our tour I learned that the barley used for Scotch Whisky is dried using peat, which is what gives it it’s smokey flavor, whereas Irish whiskey is dried with a smokeless fuel.

After the tasting we were awarded with certificates as qualified Irish Whiskey tasters, as well a complimentary Jameson drink with ginger ale and lime!

ImageLater that night we all went out, sun-burnt and exhausted, to see the Cork night life. We only went to one pub, Oliver Plunckett, but it ended up being a very cool place to drink at. A cover band came on and we were entertained by them, as well as by a ridiculously drunk man who insisted on dancing in front of the band the entire time.

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This was Monday.

I wrote this on Monday morning but was unable to post it till now. So just pretend its still Monday.

Well actually don’t do that because Monday’s are depressing. Just pretend its not Friday.

No, that would be mean to ask you to do that, Fridays are awesome. Ok just read it:

“Back to Reality” is what people say after coming back from vacation. No more sleeping in hotel beds that magically re make themselves, bathing in large tubs and drying off in towels that are also magically refreshed. No more eating at nice restaurants, drinking expensive cocktails, or enjoying three courses.

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(Shannon’s meal and mine at The Winding Stair restaurant. Real good.)

My vacation with my family was (to use another cliche), short but sweet. Two days and two nights of all of the above.

Thank you Nana and Hapa for the great dinners. And thank you Mom and Dad for making this trip happen and coming to see me. And to Shannon for making me feel like myself again. I miss you all already and wish I could’ve gone with you on the rest of your adventures.

It was very strange rushing out of a 5 star hotel this morning to make the 8:30 train to my internship. And now I am walking back to my apartment, thinking about the laundry I have yet to do and wondering what I will eat tonight.

Back to reality.

Does this phrase apply to me if what I have returned to is not my real life? The past two days with my family in Dublin and sleeping in a hotel don’t feel real now, just as my Irish life didn’t feel real when I was with them. Maybe none of this is real. Maybe this is Inception. A really boring Inception. Lets check the facts:

“You’re waiting for a train, (I do wait for trains a lot!)

a train that will take you far away. (Greystones is pretty far away..)

You know where you hope this train will take you, but you don’t know for sure.                       (I am often uncertain about where the trains are going.)

But it doesn’t matter.” (Well it kinda matters because I would be late for work..)

3 out of 4! It’s a dream.

GAHHHGGHHGHGHHHHHHHG

Nope, just stubbed my toe REAL HARD on a crack in the road. DAMNNNITTTT. #(*$^#&(%^@

Do you see what I go through to write these posts??

What??

Yes, I do think its a good idea to type these entries on the notepad on my iPhone while I walk home!

What’s that?

Uh huh.

Yup. Ok.

Sorry about that.

Bye.

Wrong number.