Thursday, July 31, 2008

A Pat On The Back

A completely self-serving shout out to myself. I was just reviewing the standard reference text for one of the core personality tests we psychologists use and came across a citation to an article I was 2nd author on in grad school. Woohoo! That is TOTALLY cool!!!

Ok, disclaimer: I'm not an academic, so aside from my dissertation, this is my only other publication. But, it still counts right? I'm still counting it.

Can't stop smiling even if I'm the only one who cares :-)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Ten Random Things You Never Knew About Me

I try to keep a balance between enough self-disclosure to keep readers interested and not so much that strangers can figure out who I am. Is it weird to want privacy as you blare your personal business in a public space?

Anyways, in the interest of letting you all (ye) know a little bit more about myself, here's the beginning of a list of semi-odd things about me. I'm not truly strange, just a bit quirky. But, in a totally funny and sexy way of course! :-)
  1. When I start laughing really hard, my arms stop working. Strange, but true! I can do large movements like wipe up the table, but fine motor tasks like writing are totally beyond me. An undiagnosed nerve problem?
  2. I'm a total night owl, but love my sleep and can sleep anywhere. Once, in college, I fell asleep in a crowded bar at the table with all my friends. And no, the fact that I'd used a fake ID to get in had nothing to do with it. Although, having all black people look alike does work in our favor sometimes :-)
  3. I'm a recovering nail biter. Nothing makes a teenager feel even stronger in her self-esteem than to always be worrying at a finger stuck in her mouth and then have "well-meaning" adults in her life ask if she's feeling anxious. Heck yes I'm feeling anxious! I'm 14, sure I'm a total social misfit but that everyone else is totally comfortable in themselves, and am convinced that any minute now somebody's going to figure out that I'm really not as smart and "mature for my age" as everyone keeps saying I am. Lay off and just let me just read my book in peace, will ya?!
  4. I'm a total sap. I cry every time I hear the American Anthem sung. I cry at Hallmark commercials, Extreme Home Makeover episodes, and sappy TV movies of the week. I almost never cry for myself.
  5. I'm a not-so closeted Trekkie and Battlestar Galactica fanatic. I was also a HUGE fan of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel, and pretty much all Joss Whedon projects. I am a geek.
  6. Every birthday, Christmas and Valentine's card I've ever gotten are stored away safely. I would NEVER throw them out. That would be like totally rude and mean!
  7. I've been kicked out of a foreign country AND off a NATO base. Not my fault. Plus, I was only 20, it doesn't count.
  8. My niece and nephew have a special name for me, Ti-ti, from when my niece couldn't pronounce the "Auntie" or "Tia" we were trying to make her learn. Every time I hear them use it my heart swells just a little bit.
  9. Going to my 10th high school reunion was a total mistake. I'd had a lot of nostalgia about high school and this totally killed it. The 25th is coming up next year, I wonder if it's still too soon?
  10. I hate litterers. Hate them, Hate Them, HATE THEM! It's all about consideration for others and the environment people! Why is that so hard to keep in mind? Were you raised by animals? And yes, cigarettes DO COUNT as trash when you flick them out your car window or as you're walking along.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

True Bredren: Jamaican-Irish Links

Hah, it's not all my imagination after all! Awhile ago, I wrote about my own reasons for thinking that Ireland reminds me of Jamaica. It seems that other, more scholarly folks have similar ideas as well.

I know Wiki has to be taken with a grain of salt sometimes, but look here to read about the history of the Irish in Jamaica and here for thoughts about the similarities in accents and pronunciation. also has a couple of pieces about the links between our two countries.

The Real Thing

How do I know Loray's a true friend? I get included on her email invitation to one of her classic get-togethers out in the North Carolina countryside with kids and dogs and friends chowing down on pork ribs and deviled eggs and banana pudding. Not to mention the bourbon.

Then, when I call to whine about how I'm missing out on all the goodies, she responds not with sympathy but by making a point of chewing really loudly and smacking her mouth at how good everything tastes.

Nothing says love more than some judicious taunting at just the right moment :-)

Still hungry though.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Things That Make You Go Hmmm....

The longer I’m here the more I get used to the strangeness of things. Then something happens to remind me that I’m in a foreign country and I have to go “Huh?” Here are just a few that have come up lately.

  1. Different standards re what counts as private information: listen to any news broadcast and you’ll hear it; when talking about the criminal of the day, the reporter will come right out and give the poor schmuck’s full address. No glossing around with just the name of the town or the general neighbourhood. Nuh uh. House number and everything. I’m not sure if it’s about shaming him in front of the whole country or what. I guess nobody’s afraid of being sued over here.
  2. At the last minute I found out that my Certificate of Registration from the Gardai was about to expire. What does this mean? I have to go stand in another queue, show the same papers I showed a year ago, and pay another €100. Why can’t they issue this thing for the full period I’m allowed to be here on my work permit instead of shaking me down for cash every year?
  3. It took me awhile to figure out, but there’s no such thing as prepaid credit cards in Ireland (I wanted one because I’m tired of having to use my US credit card when shopping online). Why not? Because the government tacks on a €40 tax per year for each card! This means no combo debit and Visa/MC cards either. Aaargh!!
  4. Another financial thing that gets my goat is the weird rules about savings accounts over here. No such thing as an account that you can sock money away in whenever the urge strikes. You have to set up a regular/monthly account debit and even then most of them have strict rules about how often and how much you can withdraw, and with how much notice. I’m not sure if this helps make the Irish better or worse savers than the U.S.
  5. One thing I do like about the financial/banking system here vs. the U.S. is how easily you can electronically transfer money to accounts not your own. All you need to do to send money to somebody (e.g., pay rent) is to have their branch’s Sort Code and the account number and you’re good to go. No charge either!
  6. Another cool thing? VAT included in all prices. This means no frantic calculating and guesstimating in your head about the total price of an item or how much your whole shopping cart is going to be. What you see is what you get.

Back To The Drawing Board

So, having taken the Driver Theory Test (barely squeaking through due to very little studying) and queueing forever at the Motor Tax Office, Ireland now deigns to officially consider me a learner driver. Which means: publicly labelling myself as a dork by driving around with big red and white stickers on the front and back windshields of my car, no driving alone, no driving after dark, no driving on motorways (what few there are), and practice, practice, practice for the next 6 months.

This after 18 years of driving America’s highways and byways, averaging hundreds of miles a week, plus 6 months of driving in Ireland on my American license.

Even criminals get consideration for time served!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

What Your Taste in Music Says About You

Your musical tastes are energetic and rhythmic.

You are full of energy and can be quite talkative.

You are forward thinking and open minded.

You despise conservatism of any sort.

You are intense, detail oriented, and motivated.

You are an ambitious person, though your ambition is anything but conventional.

All Is Not Lost

As a way to make up for my mini-meltdown rant last time, I thought I’d bring us back to a happy place. After all, I’m in Ireland darn it! What's not to feel good about? :-)

A list is always a good way to go. Here are some cool things that have happened in the past couple of weeks.
  1. Spent last Saturday evening hanging out by the waterfront (Lee-side at the Clarion Hotel) with L&L, their new baby, and their assorted family and friends, some of who had just taken part in the Lee Swim, a 2000 meter (1.2 mile) race in murky and mildly icky water. Had a great hamburger, my first in a year! Got to hog the baby for most of the evening when he wasn’t at momma’s breasticles. That child can eat! For awhile, my shoulder served as a good substitute for his pacifier. Having reminded L&L that “once you go black, you never go back”, I now have a bet with myself on just how brown his first girlfriend is going to be :-)
  2. Heard from two women who’d first contacted me as a result of this blog, one who’s visiting Dublin on a reconnaissance mission and one who’s actually now moved to Cork. Am hanging out with N. on Saturday and hopefully meeting up with A. sometime soon. Can’t wait!
  3. Jamaicans in Ireland! Who knew? Got an email from L-A, another reader who, it turns out, has been living here with her family for some time. She told me of a planned Independence celebration in a couple of weeks. Nice! Now I just have to get up the energy to drive up and back to Dublin this August Bank Holiday.
  4. Sunday dinner with friends from church. Great food and fun games afterward. I think the Americans there may have done a leeetle too much reminiscing for the Irish contingent, but you know how it is when expats get together. We just can't help it!
  5. The iPhone came out! Sadly, I have yet to get one because of the worldwide shortage. And why did I not know to pre-order? But, hopefully, my name on the waiting list will come up soon. Maybe this Friday? Please O2, be merciful!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Blue Tsunami

We now take an unscheduled break from the usual reflections on the pleasures of life in Cork for some lamentably (and possibly soon-to-be regretted) uncensored and disjointed ranting. Ya'll are just going to have to bear with me....

Today felt like a tidal wave of emotion just rose up, crashed through my wall of defenses, leaving it in soggy ruins, and sucked me under. I'm struggling to breathe the best way I know how by doing what I do best, self-analyzing the heck out of myself. (And, since you're my "captive" audience, you're stuck listening to me!) Intellectualization.... Jonathan, my old therapist, as well as some of you other "privileged" ones will recognize that as my stock in trade. But hey, at least I'm doing something rather than curled in the a fetal ball of soggy distress the way I really wish I could be.

Here's the truth: I'm sick. Tired. In withdrawal after so much family time. Worried to moderately panicked. Missing you all so much I could scream. And so pissed off at myself for so many reasons, including being totally ineffectual at work the last could of days, I can't breathe!

It all came to a head during spinning class today. 45 mins of pure physical activity that, while clearing enough head space so I could start listening to myself, also wasn't enough to let me escape from myself. The brain would just not shut off. No matter what tried and true self-hypnosis or breathing technique I used, could just not find the zone. The result? I totally phoned it in. No endorphins. No sense of accomplishment. Just me going round and round in circles in my head, lambasting myself and mentally yelling at GG. Until the perfect song came on! This is either an example of perfect, universe-imposed synchronicity or I made it all up. But I could swear (hah!) the electronic dance mix went like this: Melody = "F--- the F--- of It"; Chorus = "F--- This". That's it. The Whole Song. Perfect.

Just to make it a little less perfect though, as I'm driving home, desperately trying to pay attention to the road and not mess up big-time before my Driver Theory Test exam tomorrow morning, who should try calling(!!) me? GG. I didn't pick up and, since I was driving (and pissed off as hell at him), I let it go to voicemail. Haven't listened to it yet. Is there any reason to? Is ignoring him all during class and being the first one out the door the only way to get him to step up? Really? Is he really that lame?

I need a drink. Several drinks. Or a massage. A massage while drinking? No, really all I need is for someone who gives a hoot about me to give me a hug and let me calm down long enough to squeeze out a few tears and start venting. But no, I had to move eons away from everyone who cares about me. Why am I over here? So far away from my friends we all feel reluctant to pick up the phone and "bother" each other.

Almost the capper: I'm diverted via the hell that is the new Douglas roundabout construction fiasco and, as I'm rounding the other roundabout (45 secs from home), I pull out in front of a motorcycle Garda, who proceeds to put on his indicator and follow me to the gates of my apartment complex before going merrily on his little way. Now that would have been the perfect end to a perfect day.

Disclaimer: Don't worry mom, sis, other concerned readers, I'm really not as despondent as I sound here. I'm actually doing well. I'm blessed in so many ways, I know that. This is just the closest to therapy and immediate access venting to you all as I can get right now. If I had the $25 per person you all deserve for listening to me here ($150 per therapy hour; I figure it took you 5-10 mins), I'd definitely send it to you. Sublimation, thy name is blogging!