Archive for February, 2011

glory daze Back in my early college days, my friend Cat and I were recruited to be extras in a movie while having coffee at a neighborhood café in Santa Cruz, California. We were told to be at the beach boardwalk at 5 a.m. the next day and to wear casual attire. We’d be paid $50 for a full day’s work and be fed breakfast and lunch, which we could eat with the cast. To us starving college students, it sounded like a fun way to spend the day.

Being on set with all the cameras and lights and rigs was a thrill and when the actors came out we giggled with excitement. The biggest star of the film was ‘80s child actress Alyssa Milano, who at the time was trying to break her good-girl image. I remember she wore a skimpy outfit and smoked cigarettes and made out with one her male costars in between takes. That male costar was a very wet-behind-the-ears Ben Affleck, sporting a bitchin’ Vanilla Ice hairdo. (It should be noted that many years later, we realized the cast was actually quite impressive: Matt Damon, Matthew McConaughey, Brendan Fraser – all of whom were complete unknowns back then – as well as the late, great Spalding Gray were all in the movie). We soaked in the atmosphere and did everything we could to get an understanding of the storyline, but because we were just extras no one told us anything. We had no idea what the movie was about but we didn’t care. We were just happy to be there.


Japan room

My sister and me in our bedroom in Kamakura, Japan (I can’t tell who’s who in this pic!)

Even though I live thousands of miles away from her, I still forget that most of my friends here in Ireland have never met my sister. For the last several years, we lived fairly close to one another in Los Angeles and shared a good number of friends, so it’s a strange thing that many of my new friends here have little clue about my other half.

I say “other half” because we’re identical twins, a detail that I often forget to mention and which always elicits expressions of shock and awe. I usually refer to her as my sister in conversation as it never occurs to me to specify twin sister. I think for a lot of people it’s hard to grasp that there is another person who looks just like me and who walks and talks a lot like me out there in the world somewhere. It’s essentially telling people that I have a clone, a true, genetic clone. Of course since I’m used to being a twin, I don’t think it’s that big a deal.



In a word, Ireland is scrappy. It’s determined, at times aggressive and definitely rough around the edges. Coming from the shiny, glossy land of perfection that is Los Angeles, it’s a relief to live in a place where being flawed is perfectly acceptable…even on television.

I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes I slag off the Xposé girls for their oft-colorful choices in wardrobe and haphazard-looking makeup ‘dos. But in truth it’s actually refreshing to see normal women on television, especially considering all the big entertainment news shows in the U.S. are hosted by waifish talking heads who spend more time starving themselves than researching stories (on that note, I have to ask: Can Giuliana Rancic get any thinner?). I like that Karen Koster often looks like she did her own hair and makeup, and I don’t mean that in an insulting way. She looks real, like someone I’d actually know – not like the diva with a team of stylists and airbrushers at her beckon call.


clare birthday I recently celebrated my [age not important] birthday here. I spent the first five years of life in Japan, a few in Arkansas and several birthdays in both Los Angeles and San Francisco. This was the first in Ireland, a landmark occasion of sorts. There are days when I still pinch myself…and a few days where I want to punch myself.

I kid, I kid! Even with all the political turmoil and recession depression, I love it here. But I still find myself mired in figuring out the little things. While in some ways I’m quite settled, there are new discoveries almost every day. I’m still trying to distinguish between regional accents that everyone else seems to recognize and I’m struggling to wrap my brain around the culture of Irish Travellers. Whether it’s a type of bread I’ve never heard of (Mountaineering Man recently introduced me to barmbrack – yum!) or political parties (it’s Gaelic but I find it amusing that the main party has the word fail (Fáil) in its name, so appropriate!) it’s trying to understand all the details of daily Irish life that consumes my time.


castle lake

Yesterday as Mountaineering Man and I watched a food and travel program that profiled outdoor dining, he turned to me and said, “We’ve never dined al fresco, have we?” I replied no, we had not, and that the only time I’d ever eaten outdoors in Ireland was on the two gloriously sunny and warm days back in May of last year – before we’d met.

I still remember those two days as if they were last week. I woke up to a ray of light filtering through my curtains and into my bedroom, and I knew that day was different than any other I’d experienced in Ireland. Instead of tiptoeing on my freezing floor toward the well-used heater (a routine most days), I threw the covers off and felt natural warmth…from the sun! Immediately I rang my friends. They, too, were already awake with excitement over this freakishly warm weather. We made plans to meet in town and quickly got ready; we understood that any doddling could result in missing this fleeting phenomenon.