Entries tagged with “Drogheda”.
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Tue 8 Feb 2011
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.
Wed 19 Jan 2011
Today I went into a big-box sports shop in town looking for a pair of running shoes. I saw a few pair I liked and stood near them, waiting patiently for one of the two sales clerks who loitered nearby to assist me. After a few minutes of being stared at, I did a little hand up gesture, the polite and non-verbal “oi” to let them know I needed help. No reaction. One of them, a young woman, walked over to me (or so I thought) but then passed and started arranging shoes on the very shelf I was standing next to. “Excuse me,” I said. She turned, pretended not to hear me (there was just no way she didn’t unless she was legally deaf) and walked away. She then strolled over to a boy, no more than 10-years-old who stood about 5 feet away from me and asked him, “You doin’ all right there?” She then turned again and started to walk toward me, and again I said, “Hi, excuse me…” but my words hung in the air like one of those cartoon bubbles of text as she passed me by, again ignoring me.
I’ve touched briefly on customer service (or the lack, thereof) in Ireland before, but I think it’s time for a full-blown rant. To be frank: I’m fed up. Even after over 10 months of living in Ireland, I’m still taken aback by the blatant disregard for customers around here. For a country in the depths of a dismal recession, I’m surprised that businesses are still ignoring the need for better customer service. The big-box stores are especially guilty of this. Almost every time I’m in the check-out line at Dunnes, I’m standing there, waiting while two register clerks exchange weekend gossip, completely ignoring the fact that there are numerous customers waiting to get on with their lives. Thankfully Tesco offers a self-checkout line, which I always use as I am over the slow and often rude service there.
Thu 13 Jan 2011
I used to be afraid to say the words, “I don’t know.” One of my biggest fears was admitting I didn’t know something, whether it was how to scuba dive or where St. Charles was located or how to properly light barbeque charcoals. For a long time I got away with a confident nod and a smile, which would deceive people into thinking I knew what I was talking about when in fact, I had no idea.
There was a particular period in my life where this whole charade became utterly exhausting and more trouble than it was worth. It was shortly after I graduated from college and I was living with roommates in a very hip part of San Francisco called Hayes Valley. Within a few months of living there I befriended a number of people in the neighborhood and became good friends with a couple of guys who lived down the street. Both exuded this almost tangible sense of cool; one had a very exotic and odd Finnish name, even though neither he nor his parents (or grandparents, for that matter) were from Finland. The other was tall and lanky and played guitar and spun records on his Technics 1200s in his spare time. Together they were the hipster poster boys for our stylish little ‘hood: all vintage threads, Swedish minimalism and wispy indifference. All the hipster girls in the neighborhood vied for their attention.
Mon 10 Jan 2011
There are some things so precious you want to keep them all to yourself, safely tucked away from prying eyes and inevitable opinions and questions. There’s safety in keeping something secret; it’s a preservation method, a way to keep something protected and allow space for growth without influence or distraction.
But this is a blog about my life here in Ireland, and it would be unfair to readers and downright untruthful to hold back on something as significant as this any longer. While I did slip in a little mention a couple of posts back, I have yet to elaborate. So here goes [*takes deep breath*]: I’m in love with an Irish man.
Wed 5 Jan 2011
Apologies for the lack of posts. I was away for nearly two weeks on Christmas holiday back to my hometown of Los Angeles and have been sick with a bad cold ever since returning. I promise a real post in the coming days but for now, enjoy some foodie pics from my LA trip!
*Sushi at Z’s: Straight from the airport to my sister’s for a shower and then right on to Z’s Sushi, my family’s favorite sushi spot in LA. Best salmon sushi I’ve ever had (the secret is the little slice of clear seaweed that tops each piece of salmon).
*Dinner at my sister’s: My dad and sister worked together to make these delicious oxtail ravioli, which was served in a very simple sauce and topped with good parmesan. NOM!
Wed 10 Nov 2010
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Though the Irish tend to wax ad nauseum about the weather, they don’t let it get them down. They don’t avoid going outside when it’s freezing cold or when it’s raining because if they did, they’d never leave the house. Irish people just put on a bigger coat, whip out the umbrella and get on with their lives.
Strangely enough, I’ve noticed as the temperature goes down people seem to get more chipper around here. In Dublin last weekend it was probably about 4 degrees Celsius (that’s 39 degrees Fahrenheit for all my American friends) and I witnessed the most cheerful exchange between a visibly shivering elderly man and a store clerk. The clerk asked, “How’s it going?” and while the old man could’ve gotten away with a smarmy remark he answered, “Ah, not a bother at all! Not a bother!” complete with a huge grin and a boisterous cackle. I think I was in the middle of whining about how cold I was when I caught that little burst of positivity. Then I passed the guy whose sole job is to stand in the driveway of the car park and wave cars in and out. For hours, he stands out there in the freezing cold, sporting his high-vis jacket and a genuine smile.
Wed 20 Oct 2010
It seems in Ireland, grannies play a pretty important role in the lives of their grandchildren. For a lot of my Irish friends, their Granny was an integral part of the household, living with them and their parents and helping with everything from cooking to homework. And for a few of my friends here, especially those who were the first-born son, Granny was more a mother to them than their Mammy. She took them into her home and essentially raised them from infancy to adulthood.
Although I didn’t grow up around my grandmother or Obaachan, as I would call her (that’s Japanese for “grandmother”), I have great memories of the brief period I lived in Japan as a child and of the visits we’ve had over the years. I’ve been thinking a lot about her lately as last Saturday she turned 101 years old. It’s really mind-boggling to think of all she’s experienced in that time: her marriage to my grandfather, which lasted for 73 years until his death; giving birth to five children, two of whom she has outlived; witnessing the transformation of her beloved city of Osaka from a quiet town to a bustling, modern city; leaving her house of 50-something years to move into an elderly-care facility and learning, later, that it had been torn down.
Thu 14 Oct 2010
If you would have told my parents a year ago that they’d spend their next vacation visiting me in Ireland, they’d have laughed it off as an amusing but silly joke. To be honest, I probably would have as well. Funny how quickly life can change.
Last week my parents came over and got some insight into my new life here and what it all means. They partook in some of my now-daily routines, like breakfast of sliced McCloskey’s Cottage Brown Bread with a medium-boiled egg served in an egg cup (something not at all popular in the U.S.). They did their laundry in my tiny washing machine/dryer combo, and managed to hang everything properly on my indoor clothes horse and realized it would take approximately 24 hours for those clothes to dry. And after a few searches in the dark, they grasped that the bathroom light switch in Ireland is always, always outside the bathroom! And they experienced all little things that used to drive me crazy, like the nonsensical pricing scheme of Irish Rail tickets (Dad: “How is it 12 euro for one way to Dundalk when it’s 14 euro to go all the way to Dublin and back!?”). It was fun to watch them adjust to all the oddities I struggled with upon my arrival here. It reminded me of just how settled I feel now.
Tue 7 Sep 2010
A while back, I wrote a blog post about What I’ve Learned since moving here to Ireland. Now, on the six-month anniversary of my move here, I’d like to present what I love about Ireland and about living here.
*High visibility jackets: I know you think I’m crazy right about now. OK, I don’t really love the high visibility jacket in and of itself, but I love what it represents. About a month into my relocation, my friend and I took a walk down a country road sometime in the early evening. It was still quite bright outside, but as we walked we were stopped by four separate people asking us why we were not wearing high visibility jackets. These people literally pulled their cars over, rolled down their windows and gave out to us (as they say here).
“You’ll get hit by a car!” said one. “The sun is going down and it’ll be dark soon, what are you thinking?” asked another. Even a week later my friend’s cousin, who was one of the people who’d stopped us, scolded me again saying, “I still can’t believe yous (<– slang for you girls, you guys, you people) were out on the road with no high vis jackets!”
I found all this fretting about high visibility jackets touching, really. Out in rural Ireland it gets really dark at night and therefore everyone who lives there owns one of these jackets. It’s as essential to the country wardrobe as Wellies and rain slickers. Whether you’re walking your dog or changing a flat tire, if it’s anywhere close to dusk you’ll be sporting one. In Los Angeles, the only people wearing high visibility jackets are road crew workers and night-time cyclists. I’ve never owned one (or even uttered the words “high visibility jacket”) my entire life. I remember that was the day I understood I was in a totally different place.
Wed 25 Aug 2010
Nancy (right smack in the middle!) with her siblings at a recent birthday celebration for her brother.
Being from Los Angeles, I have a pretty specific definition of the Independent Woman. She’s single or dating someone (or a few people!), has a successful career, rents a nice apartment or perhaps even owns a condo or house and has a social calendar that involves lots of fabulous restaurants, bars and friends. She not only brings home the bacon (or maybe some organic chorizo), but she can fry it up in a pan, toss it on a bed of farmers’ market vegetables and have it all ready for an impromptu Friday-night dinner party for a few of her closest pals without breaking a sweat.
Suffice it to say, I was that Independent Woman living in Los Angeles. And though now I live in Ireland, I’ve worked hard to maintain that IW lifestyle – though it’s not always easy. I do rent a fabulous apartment and have maintained my writing career but there are not a lot of great restaurants or bars in the town of Drogheda, where I reside. However I still have my dinner parties and nights out and I’ve made some incredibly fabulous friends. But the more time I spend here in Ireland, the more I’m realizing that there is a whole other type of independent woman out there, and she is the polar opposite of me.