Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Welcome me back

So I've been away for awhile, okay a long while! No reflection on you, my scattered but wonderful readers and virtual co-adventurers. I just got busy and was actually enjoying having a life away from the computer. That's all over now :-) Not really, but I've been missing you all, so here I am!

Lots to tell about the past couple of months, but I decided to try filling you in as if I'd actually sat down and completed all the aborted posts I'd started. So here are a selection of vignettes from my Christmas and New Year adventures in pseudo-chronological order.

Shenanigans In the Real World (12/17/07): it's true, I have met Beth. How totally cool is that?! Think about it - you find a blog online written by someone who seems totally cool, you make a couple of comments on their blog and start chatting back and forth. Soon you're exchanging emails, then the occasional phone call, and a friendship is born. After having my guest room given away by Larry a few times (really, what's going on here Lars?), I finally managed to snag a visit this past weekend in The Big City. All I can say was I had a great time, and only partly because I got 95% of my Christmas shopping done :-) I just think it's amazing when someone you've never actually met turns out to be as fun and as much of a kindred spirit in real life as you imagined them to be. And Lars turned out to be OK too :-)

Battle of the Bulge (12/21/07): I just arrived in Miami a couple of days ago and already I'm in culture shock. My Lord, Americans are fat!

The True Meaning of Christmas (12/25/07): Without meaning to, and against all our efforts, we seem to have become trapped by the rampant consumerism of the season. Not the adults so much, but the children. How did this happen? My sister and husband work hard to set good boundaries and clear limits for their children. In fact my niece and nephew are the only kids, except for the children of my other Jamaican friends who grew up under the same kind of regime :-) and a select few others, whose childrearing I fully approve of. But still, Christmas had a small tinge of a nightmare. Gifts, stuff, coming out of the woodwork. My 2 year old nephew (who admittedly doesn't know any better), was like a wrapping opening machine, going from one package to the other ripping it open, then shoving it aside and moving on to the next one. He ended up trying to open his sister's and parents' gifts when he ran out of his own. And that took awhile because there was just so much darn stuff! My sister and brother-in-law finally had to end up choosing a selection to get stored away in the attic or outright donated somewhere else.

I now officially feel like an old fogey because all I could think of was how much my sister and I loved Christmas "in the old days". It had nothing to do with Santa (we weren't brought up to believe in Old St. Nick) and only about 60% to do with getting gifts :-) The whole season was special because of it's spiritual meaning and religious traditions, get-togethers with family and friends, and the ritual of Christmas morning - first early morning church service (6 am!), then breakfast, then opening gifts in rotation from person to person. We loved it. Even if we only got a handful of gifts each. I hope we're able to transmit something of the same experience to my niece and nephew, I really do.

The Surreal Life (12/28/07): spending a holiday at my sister's jungle cottage/amazingly landscaped house in Miami always makes me feel like I've left the real world behind. There's just something about not having any deadlines and living your days centered around the needs of the 2 amazing manifestations of my sister's (and my) DNA that just takes you out of your life. I have no responsibilities here except to engage in lengthy explorations of the backyard sandbox, take spontaneous trips to the zoo or the beach, or pretend I'm a soccer mom (or is that gymnastics aunt?) for a day. Nine days have passed since I dragged my whipped butt off the last connecting flight from Cork and it feels like I just got here yesterday. I can't wait till they come visiting in June! I wonder if they'll bring the same surreal world to Ireland with them?

Battle of the Bulge - II (12/29/07): Now I remember why it's so hard to keep the weight off here. I went to Macaroni Grill last night with my cousin and her beautiful and frighteningly athletic daughter and ordered one of my favorite pasta, cheese, and shrimp (not prawns) dishes. It smelled amazing and tasted even better, but it was so heavy and there was just so darn much of it that I could only eat about a quarter. The rest I brought back in a doggy bag. Has my stomach really shrunk that much? I'd like to think so :-) I have to admit though that a big part is just not having access to as much choice in Ireland. I'm overwhelmed now going into Tar-gay, or even just Eckerd Pharmacy, by just how much candy and sugared sodas and various crap calories packaged in pretty colors there are at the check-out counter and scattered everywhere. In fact, I'm overwhelmed just by the amount of choice in general!

I Feel The Need For Speed (12/29/07): How have I lived for 5 months without driving?! Since I still have not found someone to take over the lease on my beautiful Passat, it's been sitting in my cousin's garage in Raleigh patiently waiting for me to come back and give it some loving. And what a loving! I actually did get in some driving while with the family in Miami, but driving someone else's minivan around with a toddler and a talkative 5 yr old didn't give me quite the same rush as stepping into my own dream machine. The rush was totally unexpected but ohhh, so nice! The power beneath my feet, the authority of maneuvering a vehicle around vs. the innate helplessness of relying on my own 2 feet and the vicissitudes of public transportation, the sheer pleasure I got blasting the radio as loud as I could stand it with the sunroof open and putting the pedal-to-the-metal, driving way too fast down a straight, wide (4 lanes each way!) highway. There's nothing to beat it. Yeah, traffic was a bear and I rediscovered my inner impatient, angry cynic (there's nothing quite like road rage), but that first rush was totally worth it.

Worship (12/30/07): I love my church, I really really do! I knew I missed it. The small little Baptist fellowship I attend in Cork is great, but there's nothing like being around people who you've known for years (literally almost half my life now), in a fun setting that you're completely familiar and comfortable with, and knowing that your contributions were valued and are missed. I miss just knowing the rhythm of the place, including exactly how fast to sing the songs :-) Is it a Baptist thing where everything gets sung just a couple of beats too slow?

The message was great too, and only partly because it was given by the most recent minister I helped recruit :-) God wants us to enjoy life! We never seem to remember that part of the Good News. Dave also repeated a great rabbinical saying that I'm now taking as a personal challenge: God will call you to account for every permitted pleasure you refuse. I love that. I've got to get moving, there's a whole list of stuff I need to catch up on!

Kitty Love (12/31/07): Ah, there's nothing like the scorn of a high maintenance (possibly slightly spoiled?) cat who's been forced to live with a stranger (i.e., paid cat sitter and extremely patient professional) and several other animals for 5 months, without her owner around to provide the proper kowtowing and service! I was snubbed by my newly chubby sweetie today when I went by to see her. If only she knew how much money (lots!) and effort and angst I've put into finding her a good place to stay and preparing for her transfer overseas. Nahhh, she wouldn't give a hoot, she thinks it's her just due :-)

Overload (1/1/08): In contrast to my almost dreamy time in Miami over Christmas, my 4 days here at home in Raleigh have been crammed full! I've shopped to my heart's content, and my wallet's despair, and visited virtually every good friend I could find in town, some of them more than once! :-) I've loved it! Now I just have to find a way to cram everything into the previously empty suitcase and wrangle it back to Ireland. Remember my earlier smug complaints about rampant consumerism? Just call me Ms. Hypocrite.

Wheels! (1/27/08): It's small, cute, (relatively) cheap, and it's all mine. Yes! I am soooo ready to be mobile again. Walking everywhere may have been good for my waistline, but otherwise it was for the birds. Yesterday, for the first time, I had the freedom to go off exploring and, in some ways, I finally started to feel like I was in Ireland. My aussie friend, her 2 kids, and I meandered our way to Garryvoe Beach, Ballycotton, and several other very Irish sounding villages scattered across southeast Cork and the coast. We had a great time and I have the sand on my floorboards to prove it :-)

P.S. The picture is just a stock one, not my actual baby, but you get the idea.


Steph said...

The car is cute! What kind is it?

furz said...

Welcome back!

Anywho, you don't know me, but I've been following your blog for quite a while, and read up all previous entries, after facing a move to Cork myself and being desperate for all kinds of first-hand info on the place.

So, anyway, I'm glad to see you back blogging. Make sure your keep it up. :) For me, personally ,your blog has been of value both as to being informative and being quite entertaining, so I hope you get a chance for an update every now and then at least.

Sirmelja said...

Steph, it's French baby! Peugeot. Confused about how to pronounce it? Just put your lips together and blow the air out in as aristocratic and artificial a way as possible! Now, now folks, no berating. I too love the French language, I have 4 years and a statewide high school-level award for reciting Victor Hugo to prove it. But you have to admit it's the truth!

Sirmelja said...

Furz, thanks so much for writing. Keep it up! It's incredibly motivating to hear from people who actually find me interesting. OK, you said "entertaining", which could mean so many things, but I'm keeping a positive attitude :-)

Sooo? Did you make the move?

furz said...

Haha, no worries, I meant entertaining in a purely positive matter in this case. It's just the stories, the freak accidents, the weirdnesses of being in a whole new country, which are obviously entertaining to hear.

And I can testament to that since, yes, indeed, I did make the move. On Corkonian ground for about 2 months now, yet the whole thing still feels surreal sometimes.

Sirmelja said...

Good for you! It's actually reassuring to know there are other newbies here besides me :-) Surreal is definitely the word.

Would love to here about your own experiences sometime, so don't be a stranger.