Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Can't Stop Dancing

I just can't stay away from the flashmobs it seems! How weird is it that I've done two in just a couple of months? :-)

Don't things come in threes? I wonder what's next.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Tis Finally The Season

I've been putting off getting too involved in the Christmas mania till now, not so much for any deep-seated trauma or drama... I'm just a procrastinator. There, the truth is out!

Combine my little personal foibles and the dread of dealing with the Cork Christmas shopping nightmare or braving the post office, and that means 3 weeks before Christmas was the first shopping foray.

I'm keeping things simple this year - largely because I'm plumb out of ideas - so I'm actually delegating much of the shopping handiwork to my mother and sister in Miami. I've dredged up some ideas and I'm leaving it up to them to drive to the Miami shopping malls to carry out their appointed missions. Cowardly, I know, but this year I'm embracing my spinelessness without a hint of shame :-)

If this all works out the way I hope, I'll stop procrastinating even further by finishing this post, then doing the wrapping and the boxing in preparation for the P.O. run tomorrow. Wish me luck!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Cork Island

The Grand Parade in Cork early this morning.

I live just a 30 sec walk away. How my street avoided the flooding, I don't know!

Let Mr. Blue Sky In - Flashmob Cork

This was so, so much fun to do! Hundreds of people did it. The view you see is only one of 8 stations along Patrick Street.

A bit of an anti-climax though after all the practice. And so typically Cork in that it wasn't at all a surprise (like a flashmob should be!) because it seemed everybody had heard about it beforehand! Believe me, even Patrick Street during Christmas shopping season isn't usually this crowded. People were set up with cameras waiting for it to start :-)

Still, LOADS of fun. And I met new friends, so even better :-)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Unlike the A-Team, I can't seem to make this plan come together

I love birthdays. I think it’s a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the lives of others… and to be celebrated of course. Everyone needs to feel special at least one day of the year.

Historically, I’ve had a close group of women friends who made it a point to get together to mark each other’s special occasion with dinner, drinks, funny cards, and great camaraderie. Then, as each of us reached our 40th, we would get a special ring. Not all of the group have reached that milestone yet but, once we do, I’m planning to nominate we change our unofficial name from the Friday Night Girls to the Fellowship of the Ring :-)  I know, I’m a geek.

Reaching even further back beyond what feels like half a lifetime of the FNG fellowship, there’s the unique bond I’ve always shared with my sister (aka C.B.). Our family is weird. For many reasons, but one of the best is that she and I have the same birthday a year apart. (My mother’s is the day after… I know, weird). All my life I’ve shared birthday celebrations with my sister. If it made for fewer gifts for each of us, I don’t think either of us ever cared even when we were young and selfish. We’ve always felt like odd sort of twins, despite my being the older sister and taking massive pride (and advantage) of that fact, and have hung on to our family birthday traditions as much as we can as we’ve aged and moved away… and away… and away.

So, birthdays have always been a good time for me. Well, almost always. I can only remember one year that I hated it. Ahhh, 27. Drama, emotional angst, wallowing in self-pity. Picture this dear reader: me lying flat on my back on my living room carpet with a huge glass of red wine in my hand and music blasting from the stereo loud enough to bring my upstairs neighbor down to bang on my door.

Why the patheticness? It had hit me that The Plan was shot. Girls, you know the plan! Most of us had something just like it. I was to have met Prince Charming sometime in the my early 20’s (despite the distractions of grad school and establishing myself professionally), married Mr. Right, and had a couple of years luxuriating in our marital bliss before proceeding to have our 2-3 children all before I turned 30. This was so all the kiddies would be grown and gone before I got “too old”.

Hitting 27 with no man in sight crushed that plan like a ton of bricks – a growing career, supportive family, great women friends and a couple of good male friends as well to feed my need didn’t count. It was clear that I would have to re-imagine my future, my goals, my self-image. Thus the pity party.

Thankfully I was able to scrape myself together well enough that future birthdays were again causes for celebration rather than self-pity. And, as my new picture of myself solidified, my confidence grew. So much that I hit 40 last year with a freight train’s worth of satisfaction and conviction that the 40’s were going to be My Decade. After all, hadn’t I made a new life for myself? I’d left my job, my home, my friends and family and hauled myself all the way overseas in search of adventure. I was high on a sense of accomplishment.

Now with a month left till 41, I find myself with the urge to pour a large tumbler of something alcoholic and play Linkin Park as loud as I can. Not so much out of self-pity as of sober realization that no matter how young I feel inside or look on the outside, I’m about to fall over the crest into the second half of my life. Right now that feels more like a downhill slide – single, alone, making a new life for myself at a time when it feels like everyone else… isn’t.

Ok, so there’s some self-pity there. The truth is 41 is the suck. I think I’m just going to have to wallow here for a bit before strapping on my boots, sucking it up, and coming up with The Plan 3.0.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Last Minute Panic

What is it with guys? Or maybe it's just Irish guys.

Barely a whisper of interest at the (salsa) club all night and I leave demoralized by the lack of dancing. Then 2:00 am hits and the minute the lights go on I'm getting random lines thrown at me left and right. The whole walk home is an exercise in keeping a straight face while getting hit on by the drunk and the unlucky.

Should I just be pleased that I'm getting any interest at all or insulted that it all seems to be prompted by last minute desperation?

I think I'm choosing Door #2.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A friend posted this on Facebook and it was too amazing not to share. Enjoy!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Even the smart ones have their spazzy moments

It all stems from . . .  a Japanese MapleImage by Creativity+ Timothy K Hamilton via Flickr

Yesterday over lunch (paraphrased):
Coworker #1: I'm really unhappy because my Japanese Maple tree at home is dying.

Coworker #2: What's wrong with it?

Coworker #1: All the leaves are shriveling and dropping off.

Coworker #2: I think that's called Autumn.

Coworker #1: Oh... yeah!
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Monday, October 5, 2009

One story of an American's fight with the healthcare system

Most of the time I end up ignoring Move's emails, largely because they end up requiring just a little too much real activism on my part. I like my politics kept somewhat at a distance. Yes, I'm kind of a hypocrite.

But, Dawn's story as relates to the fight for healthcare reform in the U.S. really hit me and I realized that I actually can do something about getting her story out there, just by doing something as easy as posting it here on my blog. So, here goes. Take a look at her story in the Huffington Post and keep up with her fight against the bureaucratic juggernaut of the private healthcare system via her blog.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Sun Holiday - Cheap and Cheerful!

I love Portugal. Love it, LOVE IT!

Sigh... this is actually kind of a hard admission for me to make because Portugal has been my travel bugbear for years. The one western european country I'd never been to. Ever since - gulp, I'll admit it - I was kicked out of there years ago.

Yes, I was expelled from a foreign country! Sigh again, I can hear my friends shrieking with laughter right now. This is an old story, one they've heard before.

Short story, sweet... 19 year old girl enjoying semester abroad in Scotland makes plans for Spring Break with friends in Portugal. Neither she nor travel agent (this was *shudder* decades ago... remember travel agents?) think to check on whether someone traveling on a Jamaican passport would need a visa. The border agents at the Portugal airport were happy to enlighten me and not at all dismayed by my buckets of tears.

But, all things work together for good. Because I was deported back to London, I got to meet cousins who'd been estranged from the family and triggered a cascade of family reunions. Now it's just a funny story from my college days and a cautionary tale to always, always check the details!

Anyway, enough with the distractions. Here's what you're really here for. Pictures! I just got back a week ago from 7 days in Lisbon and the Algarve coast (Lagos and Faro) where I took over 300 of the darned things. There was a bounty of really great ones to choose from, but I chose only a handful of the best to subject you to. You can thank me later.

One of Lisbon's main squares - Rossio aka Praca Dom Pedro IV

Approaching one of Lisbon's main scenic lookouts, the Miradoura Santa Luzia

Amazing tile work in the Palacio Nacional da Sintra. Sintra was the summer retreat of Portugal's kings and aristocracy. Gorgeous architecture and colors, like a Disney fairytale town.

Fonte Mourisca (Arab Fountain) on the outskirts of Sintra, where many of the locals come for fresh spring drinking water

Church of Santa Maria on the long uphill hike to the Castelo dos Mouros that overlooks Sintra

Inside the church at the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos in Belem, a suburb of Lisbon

Sentry outpost at the Torre de Belem, an offshore fortress built in the 1500's

One of Lisbon's trams climbing the hill from the Baixa to the Bairro Alto neighborhoods

Street art along the tram line - too beautiful to just call it graffiti

Street in Lagos, a town in the Algarve coastal region

Huh?? Art installation in the entryway to Lagos' fortress museum

House detail in Lagos

Cliff detail at the Ponta da Piedade cliffs outside Lagos

These trees are all over the place. I wonder what they are?

Cliff detail at the Punta da Piedade beach outside Lagos. Beautiful place!

Punta da Piedade beach

Faro is usually only a quick stop for people flying into the Algarve and then moving on somewhere else, but it's worth a day's look in it's own right. This was a beautiful little corner inside the walls of the Cidade Velha (historic old town)

Almost tropical scene on the walk around the city walls of the Cidade Velha of Faro

More views along the walls of the Cidade Velha

They certainly know how to set the stage here. Who could resist taking a picture of this scene?

Just inside the main gate (Arco da Vila) of the Cidade Velha

Street scene in the center of Faro

Did I mention that I fell in love with all the colors? Oh, and the music. And the amazing (and amazingly cheap) food! I almost overdosed on fresh seafood. Not to mention the port wine. This place is definitely on my "must return" list.
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

U2 - Irie!

I'm a big fan of U2. HUGE. Longstanding. Committed and not deterred by the "pooh pooh the native son" attitude that seems present so much over here. If I hear one more person say that their "friend" has a "friend" who kinda knows Bono and thinks he's an arrogant langer, I'll get violent.

Anyway, that was just to set the stage. You all know :-) that I'm originally from Jamaica and quite proud of my heritage. Living in Ireland has raised interesting parallels to life and culture over there, so in some ways adjusting to life here hasn't been quite as strange as it could have been.

OK, stage fully set. Well, except to tell you that, along with my U2 fan-buddy from the states (we first got into the band together in college oh so many decades ago!), I went to see them for 2 of their shows in Dublin this summer. Woohoo!!!!

U2 has just opened the U.S. leg of their tour (and, yes, my friend also has tickets to see a show over there as well!) and gave an interview with Chris Cuomo of ABC News.

All I can say is, you've got to watch the video in it's entirety to truly get why I now love them even more :-) Great minds do think alike!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Cat Fancy

Psycho Serial Killer CatImage by Harshad Sharma via Flickr
I had one of those wonderfully random conversations during tea break today.  Somehow, one of my coworkers got onto the topic of how much she hates cats.  For oh so many reasons including: their tendency to slink around your feet, brush you with their tails, and how they'll quietly sneak up on you (like a little furry, evil serial killer).  Not to mention the "fact" that the minute their loving humans breathe their last breath, the little carnivores immediately start munching on their owner's meaty parts. 

This was said in such a tone of horrified distaste and atavistic terror that the cat lovers at the table passed right by insult and dissolved into hysterical laughter.

But the best visual came when she recounted a recent news story she'd seen in which an American woman (it's always an American in these stories) was filmed breast feeding her cat!  EWWWWW!

All I can say is, she has a lot of trust in our maturity if she doesn't expect months of teasing and taking the piss to come out of this.  You can only give people so much material before they have to use it against you :-)

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Friday, August 28, 2009

Close Call

I love living in the center of town because of how close I am to all my haunts. For example, it only takes me 5 minutes to walk from my apartment to my gym. I take the same route every time.

Luckily, this happened 90 minutes before I would have been taking my familiar evening trek.

Otherwise, that would have been me under that building and not just a car that looks eerily like mine.

I guess the moral of this story is don't attach heavy scaffolding to the shell of dilapidated buildings with inadequate bracing. Or, maybe, don't park next to buildings under renovation? Or even, make life more interesting and vary your route sometimes!

Balance, Rhetoric and Talking about Race in America

Always a sensitive issue, it can be hard sometimes to find a relatively fair analysis of what happened at Harvard and the fall-out in the media.  Luckily, Hal Crowther who writes for the Independent Weekly newspaper in Chapel Hill, NC, is pretty good at just that kind of thing. 

Lessons from the Henry Louis Gates case: Black, white and shades of gray

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Why The NHS Isn't An Evil Socialist Hellhole

Luckily, I'm protected by distance here in Ireland from the at times vicious nature of the debate in the U.S. over proposed health reform. Public option? Non-profit co-op? Small business decimated by unrealistic coverage rules? Public option equals socialism? All these and more have been argued over, screamed about, and prompted threats ad nauseum.

The British NHS, as an example of a health care system that covers everyone, has been particularly vilified as a horrible example of what Obama is trying to turn the U.S. into. Now, I myself have not been altogether happy with the vagaries of a public health system, as I've experienced it here in Ireland, but that's not to say I don't think the U.S. system needs a drastic overhaul and that a public option is probably just the injection that sick system needs. That or something that makes a real effort to cover the 46 million Americans who have no health coverage now at all.

Today's New York Times article describing an American expat's experience with both health systems was particularly enlightening for me about this issue - "Health Care in Britain: Expat Goes for a Checkup".

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Just My Luck

I finally got in to see my new "female doctor" on Monday, after waiting for five months for an appointment. No, don't turn away! You're wrong, this is NOT another whiney post about the ups and downs of the medical system here in Ireland. It's a whiney post about the ridiculousness of my life.

What do I find when I get in there? My doctor is gorgeous, young (about my age), SINGLE (at least no ring), and has a beautiful British accent.

The perfect man turns out to be my GYN. Why does the universe hate me?!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Speaking of Sci-Fi

Check out this very funny post from NPR's pop culture blog Monkey See - Five Ways Movie Governments Could Respond More Effectively To Alien Invasions.

I think they are all good guidelines that I hope our governments will pay close attention to. Last thing we need is for them to act as stupidly when the real thing comes a-knockin' as they always seem to do in the movies!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Future Affect

Just watched the final episode of The Dollhouse. Well done, but sad. Sad and pessimistic.

I'm a longstanding lover of scifi, so it's no real surprise coming face to face with the world ending themes that seem to dominate so much of the genre. But, I still get bummed by it. Especially As brought to life on TV.
NCC-1701Image via Wikipedia

Remember Star Trek? Now Gene Roddenbury knew how to meld a good story with an optimistic worldview. Where's the G.R. for this new generation?

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Still Alive And Well

I came across two news stories today that made it clear how flawed our society still is, how the old prejudices continue to taint our reactions, however subtly.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr., a prominent scholar and Harvard chaired professor was arrested last Thursday by a police officer at his own home a few blocks off the Harvard campus. The scary thing isn't that a woman called 911 to report 2 black males trying to break into a house. They were. Of course, it was his own house and he and his driver (he was coming home from a trip to China to film a PBS documentary) were having to force the jammed front door open, but you can understand why it may have looked suspicious.

The sad part was that when it came to the verbal confrontation between he and the police officer, even after Professor Gates showed photo identity proving who he was, he was still judged to be out of line. I wonder how the officer would have reacted to an angry, non-black man yelling at him for being assumed to be breaking into his own house. He might have gotten angry himself, but would he have arrested that almost 60 year old man, a Harvard professor, on his own front porch?

The second article's headline by the New York Times says it all - "New Jersey G.O.P. Candidate Picks Woman as His No. 2". Really? Still? We may have a black man as President, but the idea of a woman in a position of power is still surprising enough to warrant this kind of headline? I'm giving the NYT the benefit of the doubt because... well, because it's the New York Times! As my BIL would probably say, the bastion of liberal propaganda. That's why I love it! All humor aside though, it still got my goat... it just felt condescending.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Invitation Accepted

So, yes, I finally did turn in the guest post kindly requested by another fave blogger of mine, Niamh Griffin of Writer on the Way Home, and I even beat my deadline! :-)

I'm kind of giddy about the whole thing. It's just so cool that someone likes my writing enough to want more than what I naturally sputter out on my own site.

It's up today, so head on over and check it out. And tell me what you think - comments are a blogger's best friend!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Aww, shucks!

Yesterday I got this totally unexpected and wonderful email from telling me that I'd won an award! How cool is that?!

It seemed they scoured (scratched?) the web for travel-related blogs and somehow came across mine.

I didn't win, but I was a finalist for the Expat Blog category.

Amazing! Thanks so much. I guess this thing does get read after all! :-)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Agh, the pressure!

I've been invited to be a guest blogger on my blog-friend's site where she writes about life as a returned expat back home to Ireland - Writer On The Way Home. What an honor! Really, it makes me very impressed with myself :-)

Except, I've had this on my To Do list for weeks now and have not written word one! It's due tomorrow.


Sunday, July 5, 2009

Anniversary Reflections

We're now officially in July and you know what that means?! It's now just 2 weeks shy of two years since I started this mad adventure. Shock and awe!!

I could go on and on about what this experience has meant to me - actually I have, ad nauseum via this blog :-) But maybe the quickest way to capture how much I've been changed is through a look at how my language has changed. It may seem superficial on the surface, but language (grammar, spelling, usage) has always been an integral and deliberate part of how I present myself to the world. And changes therein have always represented core shifts in how I see myself and feel about who I've become.

Coat of arms of Jamaica.
I remember moving to Miami from Jamaica when I was nine. How strange everything was - flat, wide open, covered in tarmac. But, the greatest point of friction was the differences in language. I was a native English-speaker, but Jamaican English and it's Patois counterpart were not the same as American English. And, of course, as the outsider, my way was the wrong way. Not only did I sound strange with my Jamaican accent - it would be several years before I got the benefit of sounding "exotic" once I moved away from Florida - but the King's English that I spoke and wrote actually got me in trouble. It took several months for me to start getting the A's on spelling tests that I always strove for (and deserved!) because I would refuse or forget to spell words without the "u". Humor, color, flavor, etc.

Then I moved here to Ireland, and I started getting noticed for the weirdest thing! Suddenly, my language and accent started identifying me to others as American!! And, again, I was exotic. Ahh, how I'd missed it :-)

Now I found myself going through a strangely familiar experience. Holding on to my "normal" way of saying things while feeling acutely aware of sticking out by sounding different. The local way of saying things sounded both strange and fascinating. If I'd found myself somewhere that spoke a foreign language, I'd have been eager to try it out and show my respect by trying to make myself understood in the local lingua franca. But, because it was still (technically) English, I was resistant to the idea of making a fool of myself by trying to sound Irish. Plus, why give up being "exotic" again? I like being different. I was unique again.

Ah, but time moves on and before you know it you've been infected! First it was the little lilt at the end of every sentence. Then, it was substituting the gentle inquiry-style sentence for the brash, direct American one ("Will we go to the pub?" vs. "Let's go get a drink"). Now? Now, I'm stuck. I hear myself choosing to use the Irish vocabulary automatically, but it's too late, I've already said it - "That's grand", "Ring me", "Your new car's boot is tiny!", "Take the lift to the 3rd floor", "Where's your toilet" or "I've got to go to the loo".

The truth is I've almost stopped wincing every time I hear myself. The next step will be to not even notice what I'm saying. I've already found myself searching for the American term for certain words and concepts - how do you say "tailback" in American again? The process is well on it's way and clearly there's nothing I can do about it outside of abandoning my new life here and going back to the States.

Nah, I'll just live with it. Happily.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Saturday, July 4, 2009


Fireworks #1Image by Camera Slayer via Flickr

Happy, Happy Fourth of July everyone! 

Here's to kicking some British butt and defeating the invading aliens at the very last minute.  Oh... wait, that last part was fictional, wasn't it?  Oh well, I say anything that involves Will Smith deserves celebrating.

Enjoy your grilled burgers (well done with cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles and ketchup), bucket of beer, and lazing around in the sun.  Now, if only I had some sparklers!
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Fine, Truly Fine

You know it when you have one of those days. Before, you were languishing in the doldrums of "sorta okay" and "grand". Nothing too drastically out of place. Except for the persistent doubts about "do I truly know what I'm doing?" and "am I really helping anybody?"

One of the major perils of being a psychologist, I guess any similar health profession, is the self-questioning, the self-doubt. And the comparing. Even when you know the TV and the literary and the memoir psychologists don't reflect the reality of the day in, day out drudgery that can be your professional life, it's still hard to convince yourself a lot of the times that somebody else, anybody else, couldn't do a heck of a lot better.

And even though you know, after almost 15 years doing this, that this is just part of the rhythm of the ups and downs of what you do, you still get caught up in it.

People come to you in pain, expecting that you have all the answers, and get pissed or sad or hopeless when you don't spoon feed the miracle cure to them. You know this is how things work. You know it.

Then, when you least expect it, you have that day. When all the floundering you've been doing, trying to figure out what the heck your next step is, resolves into something resembling clarity and you remember that there actually is some substance to the facade you play out every day. The day that client walks in and you have that session where, even though you're only at the start of things, magic happens. You click. He or she connects. You're riding the flow of the emotional energy between you and you can almost see them lifted up. And it's a beautiful thing - enlightening, emotional, spiritual even.

That was today. It wasn't the first time and it won't be the last, but I needed it... to remind me why I do this and that it's okay to keep on doing this. Today was beautiful even in the midst of its flaws. A fine blessing indeed.
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Great quote of the day

... from this Op-Ed article in the New York Times, titled "You Be Obama", about how he's handling the political wrangle over health care reform.
You are daunted by the challenges in front of you until you remember that by some great act of fortune, you happen to be Barack Obama. This calms you down.
Heehee, love it! :-)

*Thanks to cousin Sekou for pointing this one out.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Stir Crazy and Blocked

10 weeks. Ten weeks! That's how long it's been since I last had internet access at home. I'm shocked (and appalled) every time I actually try to comprehend the reality of it. Who in their right mind, having enjoyed the "benefits" of technology, would willingly put themselves in the position of being cut off from such a big part of their world?

Not me!! All I wanted to do was move to a (geographically and economically) better apartment. Who knew I would get caught up in the toils of what really feels like a third world telephony infrastructure?! Who knew I would become, among my friends and acquaintances, the poster-girl for the perils of "the Irish way" of doing things?

Finally today, after multiple false starts and outright misinformation from the various phone/broadband companies over the last several weeks, I found the one, single, discrete, UNO technical support person apparently in all Ireland who figured out where they had gone wrong and helped me find my way into the datastream again.

So, thank you Mr. Technical Support Man at Imagine! Thank you for actually returning my call after going off to figure out what the problem was. (The last guy never did). Thank you for picking up on the incomprehensible error your company had made. Thank you for saving my sanity!!

Now, if you could just help me recall all the wonderful ideas I had for posts to this blog over the past 2 months, I'd really appreciate it.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Maybe not quite so American anymore

I watched the Eurovision song contest tonight from start to finish and snarkily enjoyed every minute of it. Especially the hotness of Mr. Denmark and Mr. Greece :-)

In the last month I've also gotten semi-hooked on Britain's Got Talent. I don't even like the American version!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Paradise Found

Sunshine filtering through the trees, splashing on the redwood deck. Hanging baskets of orchids and poinsettias in tubs beneath palm and fruit trees swaying in the breeze. Water trickling musically in the new fountain off the front deck while the wind coaxes impromptu melodies from hidden chimes. Dog snoozing on the newly cleaned carpets, back legs twitching in happy dreams. Niece and nephew cuddling with me on the couch, manic grin on T's face, A's curly braids jiggling as she happily tells the story of her day. Sis and BIL snogging in the kitchen. Me soaking it all in.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Home Again

I don't think I told you (my lack of Internet is still getting in the way of anything but the most basic blogging - this update is via iPhone), but I just arrived home to the Triangle (NC) for a friend's wedding and general having of fun. I'm looking forward to seeing loads of friends (I've had to resort to writing out my schedule 'cause it's packed full!), a quick jaunt to Miami to see family, and taking care of a few errands.

I got here Friday afternoon and the wedding was yesterday at Fearrington House in Chapel Hill. It was beautiful, but relaxed and fun. A total success! Weeell, except for the grooms's aunt tripping and dislocating her shoulder, but aside from that....!

Today I get to see my church family at CHBC and lounge around at Weaver Street in Carrboro, before meeting up with my cousin and her daughter later this evening.

I LOVE vacation! :-)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Out of context

Ok, I was mad. Wait, I'm still mad. I'm so freakin' angry I could spit! But (because I don't have access to the web much... and whose fault is that?!), my Eircom rant went out without me having had a chance to blog earlier about all the cool things that have happened lately.

In the space of a week at the beginning of April, three great events occurred which made me very pleased with life. First, I passed my Irish driving test with flying colo(u)rs. Woohoo!! Then, the next day, I moved into my new apartment. Not quite enough space for my clothes (or my shoes), but it did prompt me to give away all the stuff that doesn't fit anymore, which is probably also a good thing. It's a great apartment and, despite the above mentioned drama, I'm glad I did it. I'm now right in the city and can walk to the gym, salsa classes, shopping (that I don't have space for), the English Market, etc.

Third, on Monday the 6th, the UNC-Chapel Hill Tar Heels male college basketball team showed why they're a DYNASTY and won the NCAA national championship. GO HEELS!!!!!

All in all, loads of good things happening lately. Including an upcoming trip home to the states for a friend's wedding and general having of fun :-)

Doesn't mean I'm not still pissed though.

A little late, but still funny

I wish I'd seen this prior to the election, but it still makes me laugh.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Unbelievable.... and not in a good way

What kind of ridiculous third world infrastructure do they have in this country?!

As you can tell I'm pretty pissed off at the moment. Sadly, I haven't had access to either the internet or Sky TV for 3 weeks now, ever since I moved into my new apartment. That's a really loooong time to be cut off from the world. No email, no websurfing, no Skype, no blogging(!) except for what little I can get done on my iPhone (which, amazing as it is, is NOT a longterm substitute for a full-size computer). And why? Because the waiting period for hooking up my phone line with Eircom is ridiculously and inexplicably long.

But I tolerated it because they gave me a specific date that it would be turned on. They lie!! When I called today to find out why the technician never came, I get some sorry ass story about it being a new building and the date they gave me was only an early estimate. Hah! That's not what you told me both times I called to verify my order!

The actual truth is that it could take up to JUNE before they get their apparently single technician for the whole damn country to saunter on by!!!

What am I supposed to do till then? Are they serious? Even Jamaica does better than this.

Can you tell I'm pissed beyond belief?!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Are you kidding me?

So, following up on my "women's exam" a few weeks ago (see this post), my GP decided to forward me on to a specialist for a GYN consultation. Forget the fact that I saw my GYN as a matter of course yearly back home. Today, I get a letter from said Consultant offering me an appointment... in August!

See dictionary definition of "whiplash" for the double take I did at seeing the date. Five months for a simple consultation? And that's before being kindly informed later on in the letter that if any procedures need to be performed I may have to wait "a considerable time".

Uhhm, are we talking 2009?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Unexpected Compliment of the Month

Driving instructor at end of 1st "lesson": "You're a lovely driver. You should have no problem passing the exam."

Me inside my head: "WOOHOO!!! I'm good, I'm good, I'm so freakin' good! [sung in childish melody]"

**Note: Decided to be smart and take a few lessons before my driving exam next week for my full Irish license (and lower insurance). Of course I had to wait 6 months afer passing the theory test (by the skin of my teeth) to take it. Apparently 20 years of experience driving in the states wasn't enough!

**Extra Note: Passing your driving exam is a HUGE deal here, considering almost 50% of those who take it fail! They even have cards in the shops for congratulating the lucky ones who pass :-)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Am I spoiled?

In preparation for my apartment move in 2 weeks - YEAH! - I popped over to An Post at lunch yesterday to pick up a change of address form.

Imagine my surprise, shock and outright horror at the realization that there's a charge for this service! Really? You need to rip me off for €55 just to transfer my mail for a measly 3 months?!!

I can understand this for businesses, but I may get 4 pieces of mail a week given the wonderful dearth of junk mail here. Why do I need to get charged in the first place?

I hate to resort to the "this doesn't happen in America" mantra, but.... Am I just spoiled? Does this make sense to anybody else?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Oh Happy Day!

A four day holiday weekend centered around catching up on my reading, TV, and snacking.

Salsa dancing and some intense socializing at a great party on the weekend that, best of all, was held just around the corner from me so no lengthy trek home.

An actual date on Friday night that scored a 9 out of 10.

Lots of quality time in my pajamas and with comfort food.

But the ultimate topper was today's easy-peasy presale where I got U2 tickets for the Dublin concerts in the least stressful and most carefree interaction I've ever had with Ticketmaster!

Ahhh, now how else to loaf away my day?

Monday, March 9, 2009

What's A Brainiac To Do?

You know the economy is really tanking when, instead of being a blessed escape from the harsh realities of life, grad school is actively being discouraged as a "career" choice.

This NY Times article , "Doctoral Candidates Anticipate Hard Times" just makes me shudder (mostly in relief that it's not me). The thought of having survived so many years of research minutiae, dissertation writing, teaching bored undergraduates and surviving on noodles and peanut butter, only to not even be able to find a job at the end of it is just terrifying.

. . . . excuse me while I suffer through the flashbacks . . . .

If academia isn't the last, best escape from the working world, what is?!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Girls, what's missing from this picture?

Nothing makes it clear to you that you're in a totally different country, and culture, than getting an inside view into it's healthcare system. And, when you're a woman, the contrasts can be quite stark.

Let me start off by saying that this is not a complaint. In fact I've been relatively happy with the healthcare I've received so far here in Ireland. But, today ladies, I bit the bullet and went in for my "women's exam" and let me tell you, Ireland is a very different place than I'm used to.

I think it would help if I highlighted the differences by phrasing this in terms of what was absent or missing from the usual (i.e., American) picture:
  • No demand to see your insurance card, because there isn't one.
  • No paying up front before you even get in to see the doctor. (Yes, you do have to pay afterwards. This is Ireland, not paradise!)
  • No huge sheaf of papers to sign and disclaimers to approve in the vain hope of avoiding the inevitable lawsuits.
  • No waiting around while your doc rotates between you and 3 other people at the same time. One at a time, baby!
  • No extended contact with the nurse prior to your precious few minutes with the doc. No nurse, the doc does it all!
  • No being forced to wear a ridiculous paper gown that leaves you exposed, shivering and feeling grossly inadequate... because nothing but the most minimal stripping occurred (I was wearing a skirt so only undies went).
  • No privacy during the stripping that did occur. She just turned her back. (Now picture me with dumbfounded look on my face and quite a few seconds delay while it slooowly occurs to me what I'm expected to do).
  • No nurse in the room as the doc's insurance and proof against possible accusations. Ahh, the innocence. The trust!
  • No stirrups!
  • No fancy wipes afterward :-(
What was there was a kind yet authoritative demeanor by a skilled clinician with a fantastic bedside manner. All in all, an interesting but generally positive experience.

Strange but true

I've had a Happy Monday! Strange as it may seem. Let's hope it's an omen for the rest of the week and not the build-up prior to a massive smackdown.

Reason #1: I've been all tied up in knots for the past week after finding a great apartment in the city centre, with parking, but was terrified that they were going to balk at allowing pets. She may be crazy, but Meesha is my crazy cat and, despite snarky suggestions to the contrary from certain family and friends (who I have no choice but to love), she goes where I go. So after some intense supplications to "the man upstairs", I finally broached the topic with the agent today and she was all "that shouldn't be a problem" when I oh-so-casually broached the existence of my feline companion. Despite her annoying dismissiveness of something that's been keeping me awake at night, I'm extremely pleased!

Reason #2: I heard from my HR manager today that, after sitting on it for a week (surprised anyone?), she'd checked on my work permit situation and confirmed that I am released from the need to renew and will only have to get stamped by the Garda when the time comes. She then casually refers to that being it in terms of the steps needed to continue my employment here. When I question her re forms to be signed, temporary contract vs. permanent employment, etc, etc, she offhandedly says she'll check in with my boss about what she wants to do. What?? Aren't you the HR manager? Don't you make those decisions, or at least know what the parameters are? Argh! Enough with the casual dismissal of issues that are of the utmost importance to my life! The good news? I have a great relationship with my boss, so I'm not worried. And now I know that I will be staying on here after my contract is up this summer.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Color me confused... and craving Mrs. Butterworth syrup

Another reminder today that I still don't completely get everything about life here.

Pancakes. Pancakes? What? Why?

Or, maybe it says more about my not being of the Catholic persuasion that it really didn't hit me till hours into the day, and multiple confusing references to people's need to take in an unusually high amount of pancakes, what day it was on the liturgical calendar.

As a non-high church Protestant, albeit a relatively active one, I don't generally keep up with any but the major dates of the church year. But, given that it is Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras!), that means tomorrow is Ash Wednesday. The start of Lent. The build-up to Easter, the most important day of the Christian church calendar.

Which brings me back to wrestling with semi-obscure references to church traditions of long standing... this isn't the first time I will be giving something up for Lent. There was a very painful abstinence from romance novels a couple of years past that really brought to life the real meaning of "sacrifice".

In that tradition, this year I'll be giving up sugar (as added to tea, cereal, etc). I'm sure I'm not at all prepared for the pain.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Lucky Spaz

To my surprise, on Saturday I found myself attending the Irish Blog Awards, held in Cork. It's not that I didn't know I was going out that night. It's just that I wasn't paying attention to exactly what I'd agreed to attend.

Sabrina Dent, a fellow blogger/American in Cork (and thrower of excellent election parties) invited me to attend a gathering of women bloggers at the Cork International Airport Hotel. I just kind of assumed this was all there was to it. The idea of a blog awards did register, but vaguely, again with assumptions galore (women bloggers? Cork women bloggers?). It wasn't until I heard Rick O'Shea from RTE 2 FM talking about coming down to Cork for the IBA's that it registered that maybe I was missing some vital information. Like the fact that the Ladies Tea Party was actually just a prelude to the grand awards show for all Irish bloggers?

Of course, I hadn't thought to try to get a ticket to the IBA's and, of course, they'd been sold out for quite awhile, but I registered online for the waiting list/standing room tickets and just hoped for the best.

All in all it was a great night! The Ladies Tea Party was filled with 30 really impressive women, who also really know how to put away the wine and cupcakes! And the awards show itself was much more fun than I could have imagined. Let's just say boisterous call-and-response exchanges during the presentations, the appearance of a wedding dress marching down the aisle, toilet paper rolls on the dance floor, and a more than slightly disturbing game of Twister were all part of the festivities!

I came away from it, not only thinking "these bloggers really know how to throw a party!", but also quite intimidated by the quality of really excellent writers of all stripes out there. Journalists, arts, social and pop culture commentators, humorists, business owners, news and current affairs analysts, personal bloggers, etc.

Congrats to the IBA nominees and winners. You all richly deserve the recognition!

Note to self: Must do better!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Perfect Fit

So, you may not know that I reject all disdain by the uninformed and proudly proclaim my allegiance to Buffy The Vampire Slayer as one of the all-time best TV series ever. Ever.

Except for the name, which people who've never seen it assume means cutesy characters and even sillier writing - they could SO not be farther from the truth! - absolutely nothing about this show was cutesy or silly. Even the name was a perfect, sarcastic play on itself. And I'm not even including the musical episode, which was perfection itself.

All this to say that, while I miss many of the characters (and the actors inhabiting them) from Buffy, it's always a thrill to run into one of the actors somewhere else in a different role.

Tonight I gave a little cheer and bounced around like a schoolgirl in my seat when I saw that the new (is he bad, is he good?) guest star on one of my favorite shows, Torchwood, is none other that Spike! How absolutely, freakin' perfect is that?! I hope they have him bite someone :-)

Friday, February 20, 2009


I always wonder how people come across this blog. I generally assume it's just random (unless they're family/friends), but every once in awhile it's made clear to me that there's a rhyme and a reason to at least some of my visitors' finding me.

Unassuming this little blog may be, but this goes to show that you never know what's going to be done with pieces of yourself you put out there in the cybersphere.

I'm taking this Irish Times newspaper mention as a positive review :-)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

"Don't Know Why".... or Magical iPod Insights

You may say it's cheating, but I love these list things! And Facebook is a treasure trove of them right now, which makes keeping up with posts here a lot easier when I'm digging for ideas. I especially like the randomness, and yet not-so-random, of this one.

I won't tag anyone, but feel free to do it yourself and let me know what comes up.

1. Put your MP3 player, iTunes, Windows Media Player, etc. on shuffle.
2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.

Telephone Blues....John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers

"40"....U2 [freakily on target!]

Slow Jamz....Kanye West

Green Into Gold....David Lanz

I'll Be Home For Christmas....The Pilgrim Travelers

Something Left To Say....Roman Candle

Someday (I'm Coming Back)....Whitney Houston (The Bodyguard)

One Part Be My Lover....Bonnie Raitt [a little creepy!]

Sparkling Diamonds....Moulin Rouge

WHAT IS 2 + 2?
Fall Down....Mercy Me

Away In A Manger....Nat King Cole

House of God....Mercy Me

Stories For Boys....U2

My Immortal....Evanescence

Crapped Out Again....Keb' Mo' [lol - not a good omen]

Dive....Steven Curtis Chapman

Notorious....Duran Duran

Hosanna In Excelsis....Andrew Lloyd Webber

Original Of The Species....U2

You've Got Her In Your Pocket....The White Stripes

I Get A Kick Out Of You....Ella Fitgerald (Cole Porter Songbook) [perfect!]

Don't Know Why....Norah Jones

Saturday, January 31, 2009

So Much Easier

Good news! I found out that I won't have to go through the whole, lengthy application process again this year when my 2 year Green Card work permit expires. Instead I get to go ahead and apply for Long-Term Residence. But, since the law to allow LTR is apparently still hung up in the Dail, the government will allow us to get an interim (and highly coveted) Stamp 4 in my passport for a year, which will allow me to work in Ireland without a permit!

This is extremely welcome news since, given what happened last time (see here and here), renewing the Green Card permit was probably going to be a bear. Plus, this way I'm not tied to a specific job, nor am I prevented from taking a 2nd job/private practice if I ever felt like I needed more to do :-)

Green Card permit: 1,000 euro
Stamp 4 in my passport: 150 euro
Regaining some control over my life: Priceless

Monday, January 26, 2009

A Red Letter Day

I actually met someone named "Paddy" today! How cool is that?!

An interesting cultural moment actually, since he and his family were sitting across from a Jamaican-American (that's me, in case you didn't know) and a Nigerian psychiatric resident doctor ("registrar") whose full name nobody can pronounce :-)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Still Quite American

Random evidence from today that I have not yet completely acclimated to the Emerald Isle:
  1. Have had the "Where are you from?" conversation several times today in response to being outed by my accent. From the guy at the food stall at Mahon Point's Thursday Farmer's Market, to the letting agent showing me available apartments (I'm getting tired of of the one I'm in), to 2 friends of friends at the pub tonight. They all have lived in or visited extensively in the States, but none of them could accurately locate North Carolina geographically.
  2. Had another "what the heck is he saying?" moment in response to the pizza delivery guy's strong Cork accent. It still gets me sometimes. But I love hearing "You're a star" added on to the "thanks" at the end of sentences :-)
  3. When my friend texted asking me to meet up with her and her partner* at the bar/restaurant down the road for some "scoops", my first reaction was "I didn't know Barry's served ice cream?!" It literally took me 5 minutes to figure out/vaguely remember that "scoops" is slang for drinks. And, yes, I did end up googling it to verify :-)
* For you Americans: no, "partner" doesn't mean she's gay. It's the generic word here for serious, long-term relationship, legally binding or not.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

New Favorite Movie Moment

The Lake House (Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves) - that moment at the end when they're walking toward each other and they finally meet in the same frame and Sandra says "You waited..."

I love SB, though I usually think of her as a comedic rather than a romantic heroine. And I would usually laugh at the idea of KR as anything close to a romantic hero. But, it works here. He works here. His stiffness and lack of chemistry isn't so much of a factor in this storyline since so much of it is told from their individual perspective and voices, and the medium of letters itself requires a certain amount of distance and looking inward.

The movie's logic/timeline is a little befuddling, but that ending? A sweet and wonderful moment.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

I Hate To Say It...

... but I loved it! The name evokes cult, B-movie patheticness. "Snakes On A Plane". Really? It's like it was designed to be a joke from the start.

But, the sad thing is? It's AMAZING! Good acting by some excellent actors (Samuel L. Jackson and Julianna Margulies) and hysterically funny, even when icky snakes are attacking perfectly innocent movie stereotypes in the grossest and most unlikely ways possible.

I HATE scary movies. I hate gross movies. I hate movies with dead people and unnecessary violence. But it's done so well that I had to laugh. So un-PC. But damn good nonetheless!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Jamaican Food

A wonderful piece on Jamaica's cultural and multicultural history as told through the story of its food. Very nicely done!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

How Amazing Is My Sister?

So, it's the day after I arrive in Miami for the Christmas holiday and my sister has graciously brought me, not just to the hair salon to get my relaxer touched up, but also trekked with me through the shopping mall as I went crazy with all the 50% off sales in my favorite shops.

After driving me to The Falls, for a second round of shopping, we finish our little argument about what to get for lunch and start toward the crepes place at the food court.

I'll boast and say that I was the one who first heard the cries for a doctor and that I did not freak out at all when I found myself holding the woman having the seizure while she jerked and vomited and overall had a very bad day.

But, my little sister was the one who immediately went into medical/work mode (she's a Physician Assistant in an ER), assessing, monitoring and reassuring the poor woman until the EMT's arrived. I have to admit that lil sis was slightly scary in the midst of her impressiveness :-) Clearly this is not a woman to be messed with! She's used to being in control of the situation and does not tolerate unnecessary intrusions or silly/stupid questions when she's doing her job. For goodness sakes onlookers, no yelling multiple questions from the numerous 911 operators you have on your cellphones, and no pseudo-medical advice shouted her way, otherwise you're going to get your heads bitten off! :-)

Once the paramedics got there and she gave her report (just like on ER!) and handed the poor lady off, we just walked off like nothing had happened and went to get our crepes.

Slightly surreal but little sister done good!