Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Relaxing In The Country

Well geez, I guess there's not really much to say. That's why I haven't updated in, what, a week? We've been having some weird weather out here on the Island. There was a huge warm front that moved in off the Atlantic ocean over the last few days. While everyone else in North America was getting pounded by snow, we just had some rain, high winds, and very warm temperatures. The thermometer is starting to drop back into seasonal temperatures, though, so I guess that's a good thing. Unseasonable weather always makes me kind of nervous.

So I've just been running around getting errands done and that sort of thing. I submitted my thesis proposal to my prof on Saturday morning - the first draft - and I have yet to hear back from him. I'm a little nervous, because I didn't think it was very good but I couldn't figure out how to make it better, which is why I sent it to him, but he's usually hyper-quick about getting back to me, so I don't know if he's in exams or just can't figure out where to start with the comments on my paper. Eek! So I'm a little anxious. But I'd really rather just get this out of the way so that I can get going on the writing process.

And I got to ride a horse on Saturday. My sister goes riding to exercise a couple of fat horses most weekends. But one of them has bad eyesight, so my sister likes to lead the horse around the field a few times before she gets on her, that way the horse is less nervous and easier to handle. So after the first walk around I asked if I could just sit on the horse while my sister led her. So I did. I can't ride horses properly - I'm a little scared of them, and I don't have the magic touch that my sister has because she's been around horses her whole life, plus if I sit on a horse for too long my hips and knees start to hurt. But it was nice to be up there getting led around at a gentle walking pace. I'll have to go back again sometime.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Back-a-lack.

This is a brief post, because I'm in the library desperately trying to make myself finish my thesis proposal so I can get it in ASAP. But I am back in Canada, and not a day too soon. I did manage to lose my awesome book in the JFK airport in New York on the way here (the same place I lost my McGill hoodie on the way there), and I miss my awesome roommates. But I am glad to be home, even though I've never really lived here, and to see my family and sleep in my comfortable bed, and cuddle the cats even though they make me sick, and enjoy the peace and quiet and slow pace. I'm going to have to see how this little plan of mine goes - I do have the option of going back to Montreal for the winter and spring to finish up what I need to do, but if I can make it work I'd rather stay here. At least, that's how I feel now. Maybe I'll feel differently in a month. But I'd really like to give living here a shot, and if I can do it without being under pressure to find a job, all the better. Summer vacation doesn't count.

And the best part? There is no snow or ice on the ground yet! Yippee!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Boarding School

Oh man, we are in so much trouble!

We came back more than an hour and a half past curfew. In fairness, we thought we were okay, because the numerary (lady who works in the house) who was supposed to lock up tonight was with us, so even though we hadn't asked for a "late night" (which is what you are allowed to do, as a group, once a week, if you ask) we thought we were fine. So we got back and the door was bolted. I thought the numerary was going to shit her pants, she was so scared. We called our friend (who had left early and was totally sleeping) to let us in, but we hadn't realized that the door being bolted from the inside also meant the door being locked, with a key (that we couldn't locate), from the inside. We were so screwed.

So, we got someone to unlock the downstairs window, and we climbed in. The only other alternative was to go back to town (by taxi? the buses aren't running this late) and get a hotel room.

We totally climbed in the window.

What am I, sixteen?

I never did shit like this when I was sixteen.

On the same note, when I was a kid, I always wanted to go to boarding school. Part of the allure was that I could have adventures with comrades-in-cahoots - like this. Who knew I would be having to behave like this at age 24?

Whatever, I'm leaving this whole mess behind in 30 hours. (!)

And they still don't know that I have internet in my room. =D

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Enough's Enough

It has been snowing for six days straight now. Since overnight Friday, there have been intermittent yet constant heavy snowstorms, complete with the occasional very close lighting and very loud thunder. Oh, and gangs of punk guys-who-are-totally-too-old-for-this-nonsense targeting passers-by unawares with dozens of snowballs as they walk down the street.

I want the snow to stop. I had planned to spend this week outside enjoying Dublin, since I spent the whole semester inside and working so hard. Now, when it gets rights down to it I'm still glad that that's how I spent my time, because It's really nice not to be feeling rushed during my last week. But between the buses barely running, the icy sidewalks, and having to walk around like a hunted animal because you never know when you're going to get pelted with hard wet snowballs thrown by some guy from his second-floor window or roof, it makes going out really unpleasant and difficult. I've already seen quite a bit of what I wanted to see though, so it's not like I'm missing very much. It's just at times like these that I really wish our rez was downtown and not in the 'burbs. Then I could just go out for an hour, do something, and come back when I got cold or hungry rather than having to plan out my entire day around whether I will be here or not here.

Tonight my roommate and I are going to see the Palestrina Choir from the Pro-Cathedral give their annual Christmas concert downtown at the National Concert Hall, and we'll have to go out for dinner beforehand. So that, at least, is something. And tomorrow I'll probably just go out anyway, maybe go see a museum or something. I'm getting bored hanging out in my room, which is the only moderately warm place in the house - the heating is broken and/or the windows are large and drafty everywhere else, so you can't hang out in the sitting room or anything without a blanket and a hat.

Grump, grump, grump. I'm really excited about going home on Monday morning. Dublin has been lots of fun, but I really just need to go home now. Soon! Yay!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Today's Optimism Update Is Brought To You By The Letter "S"

I woke up this morning and saw this. Please enjoy.


Beauty.


Beauty.


Palm tree in snow.


Steve the Snowman.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Study in Time Management


This is a picture that I took last night of my desk. It says so many things about me and my time in Ireland. Let's explore, shall we?

Spread throughout the frame are highlighted photocopies of articles and book chapters, all within easy reach of my right and left hands. There are also several books, one of which is open as I so diligently perused it, looking for the perfect quotation. The red folders are part of a color-coding system that I use for the printouts of my primary documents that I brought with me from Canada. Immediately at my right hand you can see a variety of highlighters, different colored pens, pencils, and post-it notes, all waiting to be used to assist in my research and paper-writing. A half-finished mug of tea sees me through the wee hours. (Remember that it gets dark at 4:30pm, so the "wee hours" start at about 11:00.) And poking out from behind my computer screen is the ticket for next week's choir concert, quietly reminding me that there is life beyond the seventeenth century, but not to the point of distracting me from my task. And finally, the center of it all, my best buddy and constant companion, my computer. Right in the center of everything, where it should be as I bang out my 20 page methodology paper. On its lovingly glowing screen you can see the fruits of my hours of labour at my desk.

That's right, Harry Potter film trailers.

We'll see how well my plan to have these papers done by Saturday morning bears up. And I'll let you know if I find any awesome-looking movies along the way.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Small Story

Once upon a time, there was a girl who had just gone through an unexpected breakup and who was feeling really down. But she loved dancing, especially contra dancing, and especially especially the waltzes. It always felt so great to have a guy leading her across the floor and twirling her around like a queen. One day just a few weeks after the nasty surprise she went to a dance and wore a brand-new hot-pink dress that flared out like a giant pink flower when she twirled. She received many compliments on that dress throughout the night, which really boosted her spirits. She was really having a great time. But one moment stuck with her longer than any other. There was a geeky guy there, with bony shoulders and longish hair, who would occasionally ask her to dance. He knew what he was doing, and though he was not one of the very best she never minded dancing with him. The night she wore the pink dress and was feeling down, he asked her to waltz. As she expected, he was not the greatest waltzer, but he had rhythm and was clearly thrilled that she had accepted his offer to dance. Partway through the dance, he gazed down at her and said, in a shy voice, "You really stand out in that dress. I mean, not that you don't stand out all the time ..." And she smiled. And she smiled and smiled, because it was one of the nicest things a perfect stranger could have said. And she smiled that he had worked up the nerve to say it. And while that was probably the only time he had ever talked to her, and possibly even the last time they danced together, she still remembers that one small shy comment that one geeky guy with bony shoulders and longish hair had worked up such a nerve to say to her once as he tried his best to twirl her around the floor. And sometimes, when she is waiting for the bus, or walking to college, or trying to decide which earrings to wear, she suddenly and unexpectedly remembers what he said and how he said it. And she smiles and smiles all over again, just as much as she had the first time.

That geeky guy will never know just how much happiness he has brought into her life by that one sentence and a half. But she knows, and she smiles.

Thank you, geeky guy, for making me happy so many times over the past year.

The end.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

I'm Now A Real Grad Student

I had my first graduate student identity crisis earlier this week. Everyone has to go through it at least once; in fact, some of my friends spent their entire Master's program in one long extended identity crisis. For those of you who haven't had the unqiue joy of being a grad student, the identity crisis goes something like this:

OH NO there's a huge hole in my logic/my results didn't come out right/I've worked for 12 straight hours at this paragraph and it still doesn't makes sense/etc. etc. WHAT AM I DOING? What was I thinking going into grad school? I don't even LIKE theology/engineering/anthropology/political science. And I hate writing! I should just give it up now, before I get in any deeper. In fact, I'm going to move to northern Alberta and go to trade school/take up farming/become a miner, and never go near the printed word again. And rename myself Ralph Withers Gerrymander. And eat soup and cry myself to sleep every night BUT AT LEAST I WON'T HAVE TO WRITE THIS THESIS!!!

Etc. Etc.

This can come on quite suddenly, and often for no apparent reason. It may stay for a few hours or several months, and it may come and go in waves, like that cold that you get at the end of September that doesn't go away until mid-June. Symptoms include, but are not limited to, dizziness, tears, churning stomach, and difficulty sleeping.

My particular episode came in three waves, starting on Sunday night.

Wave 1: I realized, after coming across yet another book that deals EXACTLY with my thesis topic - how did I not find these before? - that I was never going to get all of the appropriate reading done. The more you know, the more you know you don't know. Begin panicking, especially when I realize that I have 3 weeks left to do as much research as possible while still writing 2 papers. Realize also that "new sources" include primary source material that I may or may not need when I get back to Canada, and which are held in collections with very restricted hours, and some of which are in Latin.

Wave 2: The next morning, after letting this churn about in my head all night, I somehow became convinced that this meant I was going to have to move back to Montreal full-time in the winter. Now, my plan had been to spend quite a lot of time in PEI with my parents, to take advantage of the peace and quiet (and lack of rent) for a few months to just get the damn thesis written. I have been looking forward to this - mainly the "not living in Montreal anymore" bit - for, literally, years. The thought of moving back again and having to find a place and probably another roommate almost reduced me to tears. Continue panicking, increase intensity.

Wave 3: That afternoon, as I was just trying to plow ahead and get my work done, I started thinking about my outline. Then I started thinking about potential questions about and objections to very specific things in my outline. (Note: Never do this!) I then started trying to rework my outline, which turned into me questioning the sources I had already planned to used, which turned into me actually shifting my thesis topic yet again, therefore negating work I had already done. The more I tinkered, the more I realized that, methodologically, my thesis just did not hold up. At all. Let any one person ask any intelligent question, and the whole thing would come falling down. This was tied into my being terrified of people judging my work and me having a hard time thinking on my feet when challenged: I was mainly panicking about possible scenarios that could happen at my thesis defense, which is definitely not for at least another 6 months. Panic, panic, panic, and go through bursts of identity crisis, as outlined above.

Long story short, I emailed my supervisor, who basically just wrote back saying, "You're a master's student, just chill out and get your paper written, it doesn't need to be at a PhD level of discovery, I've been tracking your reading reports and you're doing all the right things."

I emailed and talked to friends who are either going through a master's program or have recently done so. They all commiserated and made me feel better, and told me not to worry and just keep plugging on.

I called my parents. That always helps anyways.

Then I went back and wrote down all the objections I could possibly think of to anything. Then I let myself come up with answers and write them down as they came to me. Then I saved it. Then I felt much, much better.

Crisis averted. For the moment.

Good Lord, I cannot wait until I'm in PEI.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

An Unexpected Surprise

Today I went to Mass at the Pro-Cathedral again. The music and liturgy were excellent as ever, and even more so today because it was the Feast of St. Laurence O'Toole, the patron saint of the Archdiocese of Dublin. One thing that I will miss about Dublin is the availability of beautiful music and reverent liturgies. PEI is a wonderful place, but there's only so much happy-clappy 1960s nonsense that I can take. Maybe I can start a schola this spring.

At Mass this morning, there was good news and bad news. The good news was that Cardinal Seán from Boston was visiting. (Read his blog here; he updates on Fridays.) I was seated next to the center aisle, so he walked right by me in the entrance procession. I saw him in my peripheral vision and thought, "Gosh, he sure does look like Cardinal Seán!" Then when he got to the altar and bowed, I could see his brown Franciscan hood hanging down his back, and I realized that it was him, after all! I mean, how many Franciscans in cardinal's hats and big white beards are running around, really? What a small world, eh?

But, the bad news was that Cardinal Seán was visiting. You see, he's a lovely guy, and has a great blog (yes, my priorities are in order). He has a special care for pro-life ministry, young people, and immigrant communities. In fact, if anyone is in the Boston area, I know he has Theology on Tap and various dinners and things for college students and twenty-somethings on a regular basis. You should check it out. However, he's like Nanny McPhee - he's there when you don't want him, but you need him; and when you want him but don't need him, he leaves. He has a reputation for cleaning up messes, like financial or sexual abuse scandals. And not just sweeping things under the rug, either - I mean real clean-up. He was sent to Boston in 2003 or 2004 to deal with the sex abuse scandals that started breaking in 2002. One of the first things he did was to sell most of the Cardinal's property, which brought in millions - he only kept one building for his living and working space. As a Franciscan, he knows how to live in poverty. Of course, his reforms also meant closing a lot of parishes in order to more efficiently use the resources of the diocese. That meant that in Lowell, my hometown, we went from 13 parishes to 6 in the summer of 2004. Thankfully, my own church was allowed to remain open, but the church of my grade school, and the also the one from my siblings' school, was closed. (The French community grumbled - loudly - that this Irishman had come in specifically to close the French parishes. The only people who can hold a grudge longer than the Irish are the French, let me tell you.)

So he's in Dublin right now doing a visitation, helping the Dublin Archdiocese clean up their own mess from the scandals that have rocked the Irish church in the last couple of years. I bet this life - a cardinal, the go-to man for dealing with sex abuse scandals - was not the life that he envisioned when he took up his Franciscan vocation.

So that was the good news and the bad news. Though hopefully, the bad news will turn into good news soon, with faith and hard work.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Thing About The Weather


The thing about the weather in Ireland is that it's not that bad. Unless it's bad. Then it's really bad. Like, the first 10 days of November consisted of non-stop, downpouring, hurricane-like winds and rain. For 10 days straight.

But even on the days when it's otherwise nice, there are surprise rainshowers. And this is the thing about the weather: the clouds run in long, thin lines. So sometimes, if the wind is right, you will get a cloud running sideways over you. Then you get a surprise rainshower, but only for 5-10 minutes, and then the sun comes out again. The disadvantage to this is that there's hardly ever just one, so if the clouds are moving sideways, you'll probably be dealing with many short rainshowers throughout the day.

Sometimes, though, you get hit with a cloud moving longways. Then it's bad. Because a longways cloud means pouring rain for, often, hours. And to add insult to injury, you can often see blue sky on either side of you. The worst, though, is when this happens just as you step out the door, particularly if you have forgotten your umbrella (at a pub on Saturday night, ahem) or you're about to bike home (ahem-hem). There is nothing that makes you feel like either, a) Eeyore, see above or b) God is laughing at you. Maybe that's why the Irish are the way they are: they have constant weather that makes them feel like God is laughing at them. And maybe he is. I would, if I were him, anyway. But I digress.

So that is today's update from the sequestered, hunch-backed, tunnel-visioned graduate student. Papers are due in just under 3 weeks, and I am leaving in just over 3 weeks. I will miss my judo club, but not the long rainclouds. The end.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Journalism: The Coolest Career

I have decided that I officially lucked out big time with my roommate. She's doing an internship in Dublin for an online newspaper that covers news for the French expat community in Ireland. We get along really well (she being the one I went to Galway with) and we both have rather solitary work, so each of us is usually game for getting out of the house to try a new pub or explore a new corner of the city. In my case, even when I have papers due in just a few weeks and really should be heading to the library in the evenings. Ahem.

Well this afternoon, I was in the library when I got a text from her asking if I wanted to come along to a new restaurant that is opening in the shopping center about a half-hour's walk from where we live. This is one of those perks of being a journalist: she gets free passes to go to all sorts of things that I would never even hear about. Remember the horse races? That was her, as well.

Actually, I nearly said no to tonight's outing. I was comfortably entrenched in one library, with plans to head to another for the evening. These papers are bearing down on me and, knowing how much I hate writing, I have to give myself a wide berth around the due date to make sure that I can get them done well. It doesn't help that I'm leaving literally 2 days later. But anyway. I digress.

I said yes, despite my misgivings about time and work, and headed home to glam up a bit. We walked down to the place, and boy, was it fabulous! It's a Spanish tapas restaurant that just opened at the big mall, a franchise of two that are already downtown. It's located in a former cottage, so the walls are all exposed brick. Full wine bottles line the walls and ceiling, and as far as I could tell, the only lights were from the myriad candles that were placed on tables, on shelves, on bricks poking out of the walls, and even in the otherwise-unused fireplace. The wine was flowing, the flamenco dancers were twirling, the tapas were appearing out of nowhere, and the guitarist looked like he was having the time of his life.

We were seated at a table in the corner, one of the only ones left by the time we arrived. And a good thing, too: within about a half-hour the place was so full you could barely get to the bathroom! A lady and her daughter joined us for lack of space, and once we got over the initial talking-to-strangers-awkwardness (thanks to several glasses of wine), we had a great time! She works for a magazine and both she and her daughter were great at making small talk and looking interested at our responses. I envy people who have that skill. The wine kept flowing and the food kept coming, and then. And then. The manager showed up.

Let me pause for a minute to reflect on the beauty of this fine specimen of man who strode over to our table, wine glass in hand.

Thank you.

He was quite young, probably about 30, and a French guy to boot. He's been in Ireland for four years, so he has that fantastic part-Irish-part-foreign accent that is so interesting to listen to. A super engaging personality, too - he was just so happy to see his restaurant opening, and his enthusiasm was infectious. My roommate has to interview him for her newspaper. Lucky duck. I told her to bring a bottle of wine. She said she couldn't date a guy who lived in Ireland. I said I didn't mind, so could I have him? She said no. I sulked and ate some cheese with jam.

Long story short, we had a fantastic time (of course!), and the lady from the magazine even gave us a ride home at the end. Now I am tired, full, and very happy. I'm going to bed the earliest I have in weeks, and I will even read beforehand. A book book, not a research book. And I'm almost kicking myself for changing my tickets to go home early.

Almost.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Bend In The Road

I think most of you reading this blog would have heard this already, but I did not get accepted for the Rhodes scholarship interview. It's a little bittersweet. It would have been nice to go to Oxford and get paid for it, and know what I was doing for the next few years, but on the other hand I now have all sorts of flexibility for future planning that I wouldn't have if I was going to Oxford in 11 months. I know, I know; let me enjoy it now before it sinks in a bit and the mandatory PANIC! What am I doing with my life?! sets in.

Let's make a list, shall we?

Reasons I'm bummed about not getting the scholarship:
* I won't go to Oxford next year
* I won't get paid to go to Oxford
* I won't get to retreat from the world by going to live for 3 years in the strange little universe called Oxford
* Now I have to make actual decisions about what I will do next year
* I was quite sure that if I got granted the interview, I would have been able to get the actual scholarship in the end
* I'm kind of on a roll with my research and it would be cool to keep the momentum going

Reasons I'm not as bummed as I could be:
* It's a super competitive scholarship, and the selection is totally subjective, so I know it's not a reflection on me or my abilities
* I won't have to deal with the scholarships lady at Concordia anymore
* I won't have to spend a lot of money to fly back for the interview for one day and buy appropriate clothes
* I don't have regular transatlantic flights in my immediate future
* I'm under less time pressure to get my thesis done as quickly as possible so I can have as long a break as possible before moving to England
* I don't have to move to England and deal with student visas and everything yet again
* I can take a nice long break (a year or two?) from studying
* I can pay off my student loans so that when I go back to school I'll have that extra $200-$300 a month to live on
* I can go live in the country for a while
* I can apply for a bunch of programs for next year and try to find an awesome program + awesome funding
* I can relax a little, for now
* My chances of meeting a handsome, strapping cowboy are exponentially higher just about anywhere else than Oxford =D

Feel free to add your own reasons to my list.

For now, I'm back to the grindstone. I'm trying to decide if it's worth it to dart over to the UCD library right now, in between rainstorms. I think I am too lazy. Maybe this afternoon.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Rain

It's been raining all week. Rain is exhausting.

It's very bizarre weather, actually - for several days we had very, very strong winds with showers and drizzle. It was like having a hurricane raging outside, but with driving drizzle instead of driving rain. I liked listening to the wind batter the roof, but not so much when it made the fan in my bathroom click just loud enough to keep me awake at night.

I've gotten very little done these last few days. Thursday I didn't do anything; I was just so exhausted that I stayed in bed most of the day. But then that evening my two roommates and I went here for an early birthday dinner for me. It's a very cool place - a renovated church that has been turned into a swank bar downstairs, a fancy restaurant on the upstairs gallery, and a club in the basement. In fact, it's the church where Arthur Guinness was married. I don't know the story behind turning it into a restaurant, though. It still has the organ up in the loft, and some remnants (plaques on the wall, etc.) from its church days. Odd, but fun. I had quite a selection of brightly colored, delightful drinks, and fresh veggies via an enormous salad.

I crave vegetables here. Europeans eat so much meat and starch, with only a small amount of cooked veggies on the side at dinner. I, on the other hand, am used to a nearly meatless, often raw diet of many vegetables all the time. I'll be so happy when I get home and I can eat what I want, when I want. And do my own laundry. I never thought I'd say that, but it's true. I will miss having my own bathroom, though. That rocks my socks.

Now it's really raining, a real proper rainstorm. At least it's not drizzle.

I worked yesterday morning, but then in the afternoon two of my roommates and I walked to the mall to do a bit of shopping. I bought some huge earrings, and we just kind of hung out and enjoyed being out of the house. Then today I was exhausted again and spent the morning in bed. I'm just going to read a book this afternoon. Whatever, it's Saturday. Then tonight my french roommate was talking about going out after dinner, so maybe we can find a chill pub with good beer and good music (and no tourists).

I've always liked listening to the rain and wind on the roof. I suppose that comes from sleeping under the eaves in the attic for half my life. It's so wild, yet you're so protected from it. And I have such a variety of roofs just outside my window because of where my room is located.

I have such a great little room. I will miss it, a little.

Monday, November 1, 2010

HOORAY!

I HAVE INTERNET IN MY ROOM!!!!!!!!!!!

Pretending to be French

We have internet again. It's actually better than before, though I think this was an unintended effect and perhaps the head people don't even know about it. But right now, I'm in the study, using fast wireless. There aren't supposed to be computers in the study. There isn't supposed to be internet in the study. And there certainly isn't supposed to be wireless internet anywhere except for one room downstairs.

I'm not telling.

I've decided to go home a bit early, on Dec. 6th instead of the 20th. Have I mentioned this already? Basically, I really and truly realized that I don't like travelling. So I won't. I'll go home instead.

My French roommate's parents came to Dublin this past weekend. Initially the plan was that I was supposed to meet them when they came to visit the residence on Sunday afternoon, but I actually ended up spending the entire day downtown with them. Saturday night was when we changed our clocks (a week before North America, right?), and some cell phones automatically reset, while others don't. Mine, for instance, didn't; and so the 8:30am alarm went off at what was actually 7:30. The one day of the year when you get a free hour of sleep, blown. Oh well. I'm a grad student, and I make my own schedule. Boo yah.

My roommate had reset her phone, however, and then it reset itself, resulting in her waking up actually 2 hours late. So we ended up going downtown to Mass together, at St Mary's Pro Cathedral. The music was the Mass by Vittoria, sung by the "gentlemen of the Palestrina choir" (the boys being on midterm break). It was perfect - so much like a recording it was almost disappointing. Almost. And, interestingly, the Mass was a novus ordo in Latin! It turned out great for my roommie's parents, who not only prefer Latin, but were having a hard time understanding the English being spoken during the readings and homily (I was too, in fact, due to mumbling, unfamiliar accents, and awkward microphones). Her parents actually spoke much better English than I had expected, so we were able to have a quite bilingual day out. They reassured me that my French was very good, but they were just being polite, I'm sure. I was able to make myself understood, but it seemed like the more I tried to speak, the less able I was to remember basic vocab and grammar. Guh.

After Mass we went to the National Gallery to see the art. Like everything in Dublin, it was nice, and small, which meant that it was possible to see pretty much everything and not be exhausted by the end. We had lunch in the cafe there, which is basically a glassed-over courtyard, and then headed back to the residence to show them around and have tea with the director. I totally crashed that tea party. Whatever, I cleaned up afterwards.

All in all, her parents are just too cute. I hope I'm able to stay in touch with my roommate after we aren't roommates anymore - maybe one day I will have occasion to visit the south of France, even! But for now, I will head to bed. I have another long day of reading primary source material tomorrow.

Guh.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Reflections

Tomorrow is Halloween.

In 8 days, I will turn 24. It seems so much older than 23.

In 373 days, I will tun 25. I try not to think about that, though.

The leaves are still beautiful.

Today after lunch, I will bike to the beach. I feel restless, and being near moving water always helps.

Actually, my bike riding has improved considerably. The first several times I went to judo, I would spend most of the time in 3rd gear, and I always had to stop somewhere along the hill (okay, the "very slight incline that you don't notice unless you're on a bike") on the way home. And when I got home, I would be dog-tired. But last night, despite being so tired and hungry after practice that I was shaking, I rode all the way home in 5th gear, even up the hill, and was not even out of breath when I got to the house. I've also become a lot more comfortable with things like changing lanes, riding with one hand while I signal, turning right (remember that we drive on the left side of the road here) while moving with the traffic, etc. One sad thing about going back to PEI is that I won't be able to ride my bike anymore. The other sad thing is that I won't have an awesome judo club anymore. But that's it for the sad things. I'm going home in 6 weeks and I can't wait!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Random List

1. The internet's down in the house again. If it's not fixed soon, there's going to be a mutiny.

2. It is absolutely glorious lately - about 17 degrees, generally sunny (though not today), and the leaves have finally started to turn brilliant colors.

3. I finally sent the bike to be fixed, because I got out this morning and the tire was flat, again. So I brought it to the shop for the two most urgent things: tire puncture and front brake pads. The guy started mentioning how I need new treads, etc., and I just told him I need new everything; that really the bike should just be set on fire. He gave me a discount on the work.

4. I really love bike riding, but I hate hills.

5. After practice at a new club on Wednesday, my legs are now hurting me in ways they never have before: all the way up the back. Achilles, calves, hamstring, everything, and I don't know why.

6. I'm chomping at the bit to write my thesis. I'm tired of researching; there's alway more secondary source material to be read, and it's so, so hard to call it a day. I just need to pick apart the primary sources and get going.

7. #6 will be easier to do once we have internet again. See #1.

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Day At The Races

I'm back from Galway, got in last night after a full weekend of touring beautiful places like the Connemara and Kylemore Abbey on Saturday, and the Burren and the Cliffs of Moher on Sunday. But I'll write about that later, when I have more time.

Today, rather than work, my roommate and I went to the horse races. Yes, there is a racetrack just outside of Dublin, and the tram takes us right there. A friend of hers works for a TV company, so we got in for free as members of the "TV crew". It would have only cost 7 euro for students anyway, but hey, free is free.

It was really neat, and I've never been to the races before. First they parade the horses around the ring with the grooms, and the horses are very thin and very high-spirited. I'm used to fat little minis, and I've never seen a racehorse in racing condition before. Then the jockeys come out, and they are tiny little men! Really, actually, where do they get so many men who are so small, so fit, and so into horses that they can be professional jockeys? Can anyone answer this very important question for me? Where do jockeys come from? Do they breed them on a special farm like the racehorses? I must know.

Then the jockeys have to get up on these horses that are 3 times taller then they are; and they do this while the horse is still walking around the ring. It's funny: they grab the saddle, start bouncing alongside the horse, and then the groom gives them a leg up (literally lifts them onto the horse by one of their shins) so they can arrange themselves on the saddle.

Then they go out to the racecourse, way at the far side from the stands, and get put into stalls (easier said than done with many of these horses), and you have to watch the lineup and the start from the jumbotron screen because they are so far away. They start racing, and they look like matchbox cars heading around the far side of the ring, because all you can see over the fence are the different colored jockeys, and they keep themselves perfectly level atop the horse as it careens around the track. And they go wicked fast. It's actually very exciting -- we watched several races, and only in the second one did the favorite win, and in none of them did the one who had the lead for most of the time end up winning. One horse, or a few, would always overtake in the last stretch, and sometimes even be overtaken by someone else before they hit the finish. Then everyone headed back to the parade ring to see them come in and collect the trophies, before the whole thing started all over again for the next race. In total, everything took about 20 minutes.

Also, I tried to get a mint julep, but the bar didn't make cocktails, so I had to settle for a cognac. *Le sigh* I wanted to do something that seemed fitting for a horse race, since I don't bet and I don't follow horse-anything. I don't even know how to bet. It's all jargon that is totally foreign to me.

It was fun. I would go to a race again. I can see how people can spend the whole day at the races, meeting friends, socializing, wandering around, and spending money. It's like going to a ballgame -- only half of it is for the sport.

But next time, I want that mint julep.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Galway

Am I a Galway girl? Well, I suppose not, but my dad's mother's mother was one, so I guess that's close enough.

Also, I'm in Galway. Extra points?

It's good. My roommate and I are here for the weekend, just to check it out. It's nice to be out of the "big" city for a bit. We took the bus very early today, sat in the back away from everyone, and prepared to spend 3 hours on the bus sleeping ... until a dozen loud Italian tourists got on the bus and took up all the seats in the 3rows directly behind us. And while many of them slept, the guy closest to us was on his phone the ENTIRE time, calling probably every friend he had in Europe to tell them that he was going to Galway. Yeesh.

So we got in, dropped our stuff at the residence, and headed out for the afternoon. It was raining off and on, so we walked around the ... old city? tourist area? downtown? for a while, before stopping into a cafe to have tea and a light lunch, and watch people walking by on the sidewalk. We went out again, but it was really too windy and rainy to do much outside. So, we went to the free City Museum, which turned out to be excellent - a small but interesting collection of exhibits, and it took us just as long as it took the weather to stop being so disgusting. So after soaking up a bit of Galway's history, we were able to take a walk down a couple of the long piers, and walk along the beach, look at the world's largest congregation of seagulls, and take 239,820,986,419 pictures. Then one pub for dinner, which for me was some excellent Indian food, and which also included a free bottle of German beer; and another pub for post-dinner drinks and a live music session.

Montrealers, listen up: if you want the authentic west-Ireland pub experience, go to O'Reagans on Bishop St below Ste Cat's on Wednesdays 8-10:30pm. (Actually, I think the music people have moved to Hurley's temporarily, in the same time slot, while O'Reagan's undergoes some renovations. But check it out. For realz.) Take it from someone who can now speak from experience. And also, if you are an old man and slightly drunk, be sure to hit on the old ladies in the bar. That's also part of the hilarity/authentic Irish experience.

Tomorrow we're taking a bus tour to the Cliffs of Mohor, which are supposed to be spectacular; and hopefully Sunday the weather will be nice for a trip out to the Burren and Connemara areas. Then back to Dublin on Sunday night. It will be a good weekend, though full.

11 million more photos to come.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Sickness and Delays

Okay, so I haven't updated in a whole week. So sue me.

Yes, a full-on cold developed just as I got home from Oxford. I was in bed all day Monday and much of Tuesday - seriously, I didn't know it was possible to simply lie still in bed for hours and hours on end like that. It was a good thing though, because for the most part it's over, except that I kept myself awake coughing last night, and I still feel a bit run-down. At least I wasn't sick in Oxford. THAT would have been a tragedy.

Tomorrow I'm going to Galway for the weekend with one of my roommates. It should be fun: we're catching the bus very early tomorrow and getting to Galway around 10:30am. We'll probably spend Friday walking around the city, then Saturday, if the weather is nice, we can go to the Cliffs of Mohor, which are supposed to be absolutely stunning. That will depend on the weather, though. Then Sunday we'll do whatever we didn't do on Friday and Saturday, then catch the 7:30pm bus back home, and get in nice and late. Neither of us knew that Monday is in fact a Bank Holiday (socialist jargon for "we want at least one vacation day a month but we're too lazy to think up an excuse"), otherwise we would have just come back on Monday. But that's fine with me. I fell rather behind on work while I was sick, and it'll be nice to have an extra day to take it easy after what I expect will be a packed (with fun) weekend.

In other news, as a result of my time in Oxford, I have changed thesis topics again. Well, I've actually gone back to my original idea that had just never really taken off. So instead of covering one debate over the state of the Real Presence in the Eucharist, I'll be covering a broader time period and more sources on the question of whether the Pope is Antichrist. Anyone want to take a crack at this one? Maybe your insights will end up enshrined in my thesis! You know you want it!

I feel good about the shift though. It essentially negates the work I was doing for the last 6 weeks, but it was hardly a waste because I did get a lot of contextual information from it, plus it was just plain interesting. But my new topic is more focused, narrower (the Eucharist one was so large as to be quite unwieldy), and it allows me to cover a longer time period and more sources, which means that over the next several months it will hopefully be more interesting to analyze than simply sticking to one text and trying to beat the truth out of it. Or something. Is thesis writing supposed to be this violent?

And finally, I'm considering spending a week in Pairs and a week in Vienna in December, to look at Christmas lights and go to Christmas markets and visit museums and just generally be cultured. Suggestions welcome; updates to come.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Update

Back in Dublin, and sick with a cold, and kind of missing Oxford. Updates to come later when I feel like like crap.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I'm Naked!

Just kidding.

I asked my landlady this morning where I could do my wash. She said she could do it here, for the same price as bringing it to a laundromat, and to just bring it right down. So I did. And now I have no clothes. Because they have not yet made it up to my room, and I have no idea where in this tiny house she resides. Certainly not in any of the four bedrooms. So I left a note on the toilet in what appears to be her bathroom asking her to let me know when she got in so I could pick up my laundry. Except I think she was probably already in. So back to square one: I don't know where she lives in the house or how to reach her. And I have absolutely zero clothes in my possession besides the ones that I am currently wearing, and have been wearing all day.

And tomorrow I have to go to the library again before meeting up with two of the kilt-clad Scottish-dancing guys that I met last night and subsequently got a ride home with.

Back to my place. Not theirs. Either of theirs. Because if they lived together, that would have been even weirder. And then they went home. Not to my place.

In kilts.

The end.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Right Now, I Am ...

... sitting in my pajamas.
... in my cozy little own room.
... in a B&B.
... in a B&B, in Oxford, England.
... in my own room. Did I say that?
... drinking cider right from the bottle.
... eating a 70% dark chocolate bar.
... eating a 70% dark chocolate bar that has dried cherries in it.
... reading back-installments of The Pioneer Woman.
... by myself. In my quiet, cozy, own attic room. In Oxford.

The End.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Harry Potter Land

Oh Oxford. What to say about Oxford? If I didn't want to go to school here before, I sure do now. Actually, before I was more on the "yes" side of "not sure". But whatever.

I did have to go buy earplugs today. My little B&B is lovely, and I had my first hot breakfast in 6 weeks (this from someone who used to have a hot breakfast every single day). However, aside from the fact that I'm a light sleeper, and especially in a new place where the new sounds tend to keep me awake, there's also a grandfather clock in the downstairs hallway that strikes the hour, every hour, all night long, followed abut 30 seconds later by a much larger clock doing the same thing somewhere outside.

Oh earplugs, you magical things.

But it's so nice to have my own room and a nice hot, ample breakfast in the morning. Also not having to use a communal shower (the bathrooms are shared, but at least they're one person at a time) is great.

I met up with a friend from McGill today, whom I hadn't seen in over 2 years. It was great - the weather seemed to be threatening rain this morning, but by the time we finished Mass and the lunch that followed it was warm and sunny. So we walked around all afternoon, and she took me in some of the colleges just to give me an idea of what they were like, and we talked a lot about people we used to know, other things in our lives, and what it's like living and studying at Oxford. It was really lovely - besides seeing an old friend and being able to catch up, it was nice to have someone to walk around with on my first day. I feel much more situated now, and I can associate things on the map with things in real life.

Though, as happened in Iowa, I have completely lost my sense of direction. It's because I have changed my relative position to the magnetic north pole, I'm convinced. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. At least in Dublin the wind is always blowing from the west!

The architecture is striking - I feel half the time like I'm wandering through a movie set or fantasy land. I haven't gotten used to this whole idea of Europe having thousands of years of preserved history yet. It's not like we can randomly walk through 1,000 year old Iroquois longhouses at home.

Now I have to get some work done. My original plan had been to do some reading when I got home at 5, but I ended up sleeping until 8:15pm (right through the clocks chiming, I might add). But I do have to sound intelligent when I head to the Bodleian Library tomorrow and then meet with a professor who I hope to eventually work with, so I'll be hitting the books for the next little while. And also looking forward to tomorrow's breakfast. =)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Oxford

I made it! I left home at 12:30pm and got to the B&B at 8:40pm, after getting a little lost in downtown Oxford (which is amazing!). It's a cute old house, with me in a tiny room on the third floor, and the closest bathroom on the landing between the first and second floors. It reminds me very much of The Burrow, and the woman who runs it is like Mrs. Weasley with grey hair. She has two friendly little dogs, so I'll have to be careful to wash my hands all the time (which I just realized I didn't do before touching my keyboard).

I'm meeting a friend from McGill tomorrow morning for the first chaplaincy Mass of the year, followed by a community lunch, and then we'll get to walk around a bit. I had thought, until Thursday morning, that i was getting in on Sunday night. I'm glad I didn't do that though, because now I have all day Sunday to walk around and see things, and just kind of get myself situated.

I love Oxford already. It's amazing - bustling with people and life and fun times, but not in an overwhelming, middle of the big city kind of way.

And on an end note, I flew RyanAir to get here, because the tickets are so goldang cheap. I only took a backpack, because to check a bag would have cost as much as the flight itself, so I'm going to have to do laundry halfway through the week. It was quit an adventure getting everything to fit in the backpack. Oh RyanAir - picture an airborne Greyhound bus, and you'll get it exactly right. Good grief.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Museums

You know, it's a good thing that I realized that October 9th, the day I go to Oxford, is in fact Saturday, and not Sunday, as I had thought until about 10 o'clock this morning.

Yesterday I played hooky from the library and went to the National History and Archeology Museum instead. It was super interesting. I was able to do the whole first floor, which included all the prehistory stuff, plus the Treasury and an exhibit on kingship and human sacrifice. Prehistory, in Ireland, basically includes everything before the Norman invasion in 1169, and certainly everything before Saint Patrick in 431. So all of the Gaelic culture even at its most developed is included in that.

It was really cool, and very well laid out. There was an exhibit on goldwork, one on excavations on the Hill of Tara, some stuff on the various types of living and burial conditions, and other stuff. The treasury room has some amazing metal work, mostly late medieval religious items (bell covers, chalices, crosses). But I think the coolest thing of all was in the Kingship exhibit - I actually got to see, in real life, the naturally preserved partial remains of guys who had died or been killed and then tossed into peat bogs. The peat preserved their tissues and leatherized the skin, so that their fingernails, organs, hair, skin, clothes, everything are all still quite recognizable. It was really neat.

I had to stop after the first floor though, because my back was hurting too much from standing on the marble floor. So I walked down to Merrion Square, which is a lovely park, and which contains the single most hideous piece of art in known existence: a colored statue of Oscar Wilde reclining on a rock. I headed back to the museum after about an hour to try the Viking and Medieval exhibit on the upper level, but my back was still hurting too much so I ended up going home. Though, I also realized that I was being a total moron sticking myself inside on a lovely sunny day, so I'll have to go back on a crappy rainy day to finish the museum. It's free, so I can take as much time to see it as I want.

October so far has been as fabulous, weather-wise, as September was terrible. Let's hope it keeps up.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

TCD EPB

You know, I'm really going to miss the Early Printed Books reading room at Trinity, once my day pass runs out at the end of this week. Sitting here for hours on end, every single day, poring over my book, has really defined my Ireland experience so far. It's a small room where everyone knows everyone. In just a few weeks I've found my favorite seat and my favorite spot for my backpack. I know all the librarians and they know me; they have my book out and waiting for me when I come off the elevator and go to put away my stuff. I can leave my things spread out all over the table when I go for lunch, because they know what's mine, and it's not like spots are hard to come by in here anyway. I'm especially going to miss the little jolly librarian man, who always has a big smile and something to chat about when I come in in the morning. When is Hug A Librarian Day? Because I really want to hug this dude.

Coming back on Tuesday evenings and the occasional Saturday just won't be the same; it will be like visiting high school after you graduate.

Seriously, can I be so geeky that I'm blogging about how much I'm going to miss spending hours every day in a little library room, when I'm in Ireland and supposed to be out and about and having a good time?

Yes, apparently so.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

God's Country


We went to Howth today, three of my roommates and I. Howth (pronounced Hoath, with a long "o") is what appears to be a large island at the northern tip of Dublin Bay, but it's actually a very round peninsula. It's gorgeous. Really, I have no words to describe it.

And, miracle of miracles, we had the most perfect day today, weather-wise.

We were supposed to go tomorrow, but decided to push it back a day since we had already planned to go downtown for Mass and we could just hop on the train afterwards. Thank goodness, too, because yesterday was miserable and it just poured all day, and today was like taking a walk in the Garden of Eden. Easily the best day we've had since I arrived: warm, bright, golden sunshine all day long. Not only did I not need my sweatshirt, but I ended up taking off my outer shirt as well to walk around in my t-shirt. I haven't worn only a t-shirt since I was in Canada last month. In fact, the sun was so bright and golden that many of my pictures don't capture the colors, the intense greens, blues, teals, and even browns.

Can brown be an intense color? It was today.

We walked around the northern side of Howth, along the cliff walk. It was hundreds of miles above the sea, and if you tripped off the trail there was absolutely nothing to break your fall between the trail and the ocean. The land went steeply up and down on both sides. It was a bit muddy, and my sneakers are pretty wrecked, but it was so worth it. I have to get new sneakers anyway. The view were breathtaking; I can't even describe them. And the photos can't capture the dramatic drops of looking hundreds of feet down into the water below.

There was also a cute little town where the train arrived, with a pier where we ate lunch, and a zillion sailing boats in the harbor. Between the palm trees (which are everywhere here), the aqua sea, and the style of the villas, I had to keep reminding myself that I was in Ireland and not the Greek Islands somewhere.

Oh my goodness, what a glorious day.

One side of my face is sunburned from walking all in the same direction, and my legs are killing me from walking over 3 hours today. But it was such a wonderful day. And I can go happily back to the library tomorrow.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Wine, Cheese, and Song

I haven't updated in a while because there hasn't been a whole heck of a lot going on that's out of the ordinary. I go to Trinity from 10-5 to work on my book most days, and yesterday I gave myself a bit of a day off since I had to go to UCD for my class in the afternoon anyway. It turns out that we have a reading week at the end of October; if I had known that, I would have scheduled my Oxford trip for then.

Last night I biked out to judo only to find that the gym won't give us the Thursday time slot (which we had reserved). So now judo is tonight from 7-9, which means I'll have to eat a late dinner. I hate these meal plans. Once I found out it was cancelled I called up my friends who were down at a wine and cheese party at Trinity put on by the music society (they have "societies" here, not "clubs"). So I hopped on the bus that was right outside, not thinking that I could just bike into town since I was halfway there already, and got to Trinity in about 10 minutes.

It was so cool. Of course it was chock-full of undergrad hipster Europeans (think Montreal Plateau types, but cleaner), and it was in some sitting room or common room in one of the front buildings, that no one seemed to know what this room was for. It had 20ft ceilings, a large fireplace, old-fashioned couches, and huge windows. Think Gryffindor common room, but smaller, and stuffed with people. So for 3 euro you got 2 glasses of wine and a plate with six pieces of cheese labelled 1 to 6, and every few minutes someone would read off a description of one of the cheeses ("Now we're going to taste cheese number three. This cheese has a slight aroma of decay and burnt mushrooms, and is considered a delicacy that is only manufactured in southern France" etc etc). Some of them were pretty hilarious. And then in between these descriptions, a group of students were singing madrigals. Just for fun. It was hard to hear them over the rest of the people in the room.

When you think of being a student in Europe, you think of that. My friends, I have now experienced such an evening for myself. It was a bit surreal, and lots of fun.

Of course, then I realized that I had no idea where to catch the bus back to the judo club to pick up my bike. So I walked along the same street that it had come in on, which apparently was very much the wrong way. I ended up hoofing it back to Rathmines, which took a good half-hour going at a pretty fast clip, and then biked home from there. I left Trinity at 9:35 and got home at exactly 10:30. And now my legs feel like noodles.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Transportation

This will be a short post.

I biked to judo last night. Aside from giving my legs a nice warm-up on the way, it took me all of 15 minutes to get there. Taking the bus and then walking used to take 45 minutes, never mind the wait.

Then today I barely had to wait for the bus downtown to get home from Trinity. I was on the sidewalk about 5 minutes when the bus showed up. Then the bus ride itself, from the time I got on till the time I got off, was 50 minutes. Normally it's 25. All thanks to traffic. If I had been on the bike, it would have taken 25 minutes.

As soon as I get used to negotiating traffic around these parts, I'm going to start biking downtown.

50 minutes. Gah.

Trim, Tara, Town


At 10:30 on Friday night, completely on a whim, I called one of the day tour companies that operate out of Dublin to find out about available trips for the following day. I was exhausted, my back was killing me, and I had skipped Dublin's Culture Night, when everything is open for free for a few hours, because my back was hurting so much. But I called anyway, and ended up taking a lovely little tour on Saturday up north to County Meath (about an hour from the city center) to visit Trim Castle and the Hill of Tara.

Trim Castle was very interesting. It's the ruins of a twelfth-century Norman castle, the oldest surviving one in Ireland. The Normans invaded in 1169, bringing Ireland under English rule, at least in name. They are the ones who intermarried with the Gaels and became some of the big names in Ireland, the great Anglo-Irish earls. That's where we get names like Fitzgerald and Fitzsimmons - the Normans spoke French, of course, and "fitz" is the old way of pronouncing "fils" (son).

The castle, which was also used for filming Braveheart, was surprisingly small. I suppose we're conditioned to think of castles as being these huge expanses, but it was really not very large. We got to wander the grounds a bit and look at the ruins, and then we got a private guided tour through the castle itself and right up to the roof. It was very interesting to learn about all the functions that the various designs of the building had; for instance hanging the clothes over the latrine so that the ammonia from the waste would fumigate the lice from the clothes, or the fact that the north tower has crumbled away completely because it was the cooking area and fire will make rock brittle. Also the reason for clockwise spiral staircases, the placement of the bedrooms, and the design of the doors that were all for defensive purposes. It must have been a very dangerous time, indeed, if your entire daily existence was based around the idea that someone could come along any minute and kill you.

Then we drove up to the Hill of Tara. There were some people there, but since it was cold and windy it wasn't crowded at all. It was actually quite peaceful. It's where the pagans worshipped and the high kings of Ireland (at least in that area; Ireland was swarming with kings right up until Brian Boru) ruled from, because it is the highest point in the area and you can see for many miles in every direction. One of the features of this place was that a bonfire was lit there once a year, and no other bonfires were allowed to be lit to compete with the holy fire, or else the gods would strike the offender dead. Saint Patrick then decided to light the Paschal fire on the hill, which of course was seen for miles around, and to the astonishment of the druids, he survived the night. Convinced that his God was in fact stronger than theirs, they and the kings converted on the spot, and began to convert their people as well. Hence Tara is a Celtic place, a royal place, and a holy place. The distinguishing mark of Tara are the concentric circles that are built into the landscape; they don't look like much unless you see an aerial view. The kings would build their own mound once they were elected in order to make a mark of their reign, but they incorporated the mounds of the previous kings to show continuity as well.

Finally, before heading back into the city, we went to a pub out in the middle of nowhere that was built in the late 1500s and has served various functions. But the food was excellent and not expensive, and they let me pull my own pint of Guinness, and we even got a demo for making Irish coffee that resulted in the best-tasting Irish coffee I have ever had, hands down. It tasted like hot chocolate with a kick.

Then today I headed into town with one of my roommates to go to a church with a professional choir, one of two in the city. And it was so nice out that we went for a walk along the river and looked at the Famine memorials (they are all over the city) before running into two other girls we knew, and then heading home.

Today was nice and relaxing. Now if only my back will simmer down a bit, because I have to be back in the library tomorrow, and I can't read while reclining in the library.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Biking

First bike trip to UCD: successful.
Biking with one hand so I can make turning signals with the other: difficult.
Trying to do this while balancing my backpack with books and laptop on my back and riding astride a seat that's just a tad too low and can't be raised: even more difficult.
Biking in drizzly rain with glasses on: also difficult.
Getting to the library in less than five minutes: totally worth it.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

EEBO and EPB, and other news

I haven't updated in a couple of days, but I've been working pretty hard. I was really killing myself to get all that work done in the Early Printed Books section of Trinity's Library, but today I discovered that there are copies of what I need at the NLI (my new favorite place in the world), and also that Trinity is going to give me two extra weeks of day access to the EPB, bringing me right up to the day I leave for Oxford. Perfect!

So now I have to find somewhere to stay in Oxford. I was just looking up B&Bs and hostels. Hopefully I can find somewhere nice - B&Bs are more expensive but you get a private room and they're nicer, but the hostel seems to be a good deal, with the only exception that it's all mixed rooms. That weirds me out a bit; and the one with an available all-female room for the nights that I'll be there only got a 50% rating for cleanliness. Oh well. I can book tomorrow or the next day, it's not like people will be descending on Oxford for the middle of October (well, who aren't students).

So I did end up moving rooms this weekend; about a half hour I wrote the last post, actually. I like my new room. It's not any quieter than the old one because of all the hallway noise that comes through the door, but it's not like it's a regular dorm where you have people coming in and out at all hours, either, so it's fine. It's tucked away behind the stairs and looks out over the roofs instead of the courtyard, so it's nice and private, and I really like that. The roofs are actually more interesting to look at than the courtyard, because there are 4 different kinds plus a tree, and it's especially neat when it rains. My bathroom doesn't have a skylight or a counter, but I have lots of extra bookshelf space. Plus it's better if someone staying for the whole year gets the bigger room, since they'll need more space than me. I like my little cozy room.

On Sunday morning a couple of us went downtown for Mass, because it was the day of the beatification of John Henry Newman and we wanted to go to the church that he founded in Dublin while he was here for a few years. It's a gorgeous little church, tucked away between two buildings at St. Stephen's Green, and I had actually chanced upon it just a few days earlier. The Mass was packed, of course, and the liturgy was much more formal than the picnic at UCD last week. There was a visiting choir for the occasion, and they were stupendous! It was music that enhanced the Mass, rather than being a distraction. And the best thing was, for the most part, no one sang (again, because the music was not provided) so you could really enjoy the beauty of both the words and the sound instead of being annoyed by the person behind you singing too loud, or trying to figure out what the tune is or whatever. And while it is now a parish church, there seemed to be a lot of young people as well, though that may have just been for Newman's Mass. But I think I will go again next week and see how it is. The tram goes just to the corner, so it would be easier enough to get there on Sundays.

Then Sunday afternoon a few of us girls went out to Temple Bar and I finally made it out to a pub. Temple Bar is a total tourist trap: it was interesting to see once, and I have no intention of ever going back. But it was fun and nice to do something like that for a change.

I'll be spending tons of time at the library this week for sure, and for the next couple of weeks as well - basically I'm chugging right through until I get back from Oxford so I can prepare as much as possible, and then I can relax a bit and work at a normal pace. Good night for now!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Warning: the geek factor in the following post is off the charts. If you don't grok old books, you won't grok this post.

But first a bit of business. I think I'll be moving rooms in the next few days. I like my nice big room, but the one down the hall has much thicker walls (stone ones from the old construction) and the window doesn't overlook the courtyard directly, which means it will be quieter and more private. That way too, someone coming for the whole year can take the room with more storage space. I wish I wasn't such a light sleeper, but once people get up and moving around 6:20 or so in the morning it wakes me right up out of my doze, because the way my bedroom is set up now, the bed is in the corner against the walls to the hallway and the girl next-door's bathroom. So even though I like my pretty room and I've managed to find a place for everything to go, I think it will be a good change.

So: books! I don't think I'll be doing much touring in Ireland, though hopefully I'll have enough sense to see the city of Dublin at least, because I'm going to spend so much time in the library reading old books. And it's great! My reader's pass to Trinity gives me access to their early printed books room, so I can order an old book, someone fetches it for me within the hour, and I get to sit there and read it until the place closes, if I feel like it.

Yesterday I ordered a copy of one of the texts that I'm using for my thesis. It was printed in 1608 as part of a debate between a famous Jesuit missionary and the Protestant Dean of St Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin. The copy that Trinity has is the copy that the Jesuit had delivered to the Dean directly once it was printed, and the Dean wrote in his own comments to the Jesuit's not very charitable accusations about him in this treatise. So I just sat there and leafed through it, trying to discern the handwriting which was partially cut off when the book was rebound in the nineteenth century. Comments like "I said not so!" and other exclamations are scattered throughout. I was so excited to hold this book in my hands that my hands were literally shaking for the first twenty minutes.

Now I'l finally tell you all about what I did on Monday. After straightening things out with the Garda, I wandered over to Trinity to take the tour. It's not a long tour, but it's interesting, just giving a brief general history of some of the more prominent buildings. Their main library is named for the same guy that UCBerkeley is named for, actually. Trinity is amazing - it's right smack in the middle of downtown, like McGill but Dublin is a lot busier than Montreal, but Trinity is basically a fortress, surrounded by high walls and buildings, and you have to enter through little gates, so as soon as you step into the courtyard, you can't hear the traffic and street noise that' happening 50 feet away. It's its own little world. If I don't get into Oxford, Trinity is definitely the top choice for Irish Reformation studies in the world, hands down. I would love to go there. I picked up some admissions info during my wanderings, so I'll have to ponder that.

At the end of the tour we got admission to the Book of Kells, an illuminated (decorated) manuscript of the four Gospels from about the year 800. First there's an interesting exhibition all about how these old books were made, who wrote them, how they made the colors, the symbolism of the designs, etc. The designs are amazing when you see them blown up to wall-sized proportions; the details are incredible. But it's even more amazing when you go in to see the book itself: it's only the size of a textbook, and you can barely see the intricate detail that these monks spent years designing. Why did they do it? How did they do it, in fact? It was pretty incredible.

That's on the first floor of the Old Library, and as part of the exhibition you go upstairs to the first floor of the Old Library to the Long Room. The Long Room is just that: it takes up the entire length of the building and the vaulted ceilings bring it up to two stories high. And it is packed to the gills with old books. The books are arranged by size, not title or author or even subject, so the catalogues for them are these huge handwritten volumes that I had to consult when I wanted to order that book yesterday. The Long Room looks kind of like the library in Beauty and the Beast, but darker - we're talking floor to ceiling books, spindly ladders, busts of famous dead guys, the whole bit. I wanted to move in, I loved it so much. What I didn't know, actually, is that the reading room that I will be using is just in the top corner of this building, so I'll be spending quite a lot of time there, even if the ambience isn't exactly the same.

After that I ate some lunch, bought a couple of Guinness-related things, and then headed down to the National Library of Ireland to check that out. It's just around the corner from Trinity, and it was surprisingly easy to get a pass; I just had to register at the computer, and it was free. So I did that, and then I headed up to the reading room. One of the first volumes that caught my eye was a printed collection of State Papers for Ireland from 1570-1575. I nearly started hyperventilating, I was so excited about these books. There's lots of great reference works there, so whatever I can't find or can't take out from the universities because I'm only on a reader's pass, I can get from the NLI. Lots of my secondary sources reference stuff from the NLI all the time, so it will be great to go check them out for myself.

Seriously, even if I do nothing else here, the libraries are making this whole trip worth it. I worked really hard yesterday, so I think I'll just do a bit of reading at home today, plus going to buy a bike pump, and everything (including university libraries) is closed in Sunday anyways, so I won't be doing too much. But tomorrow is the celebration of the beatification of John Henry Newman, so while the Pope is doing that in England, lots of churches are having special Masses tomorrow to mark it. So I might head downtown to the old university chapel downtown that Newman established while he was here for the Mass tomorrow.

Notice: if you are in Montreal, Brother André will be canonized in October by the Pope at the Olympic Stadium. Tickets are $5 but there is a huge demand, so make so you get one!

And on one last cultural note, one of the Spanish girls popped in as I was writing this post to ask if she could put on some music. So now I'm being serenaded by frantic flamenco songs drifting in from the hallway.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Class: Fail

My first class was to be today. The small group of us (only four students) waited outside for about 15 minutes, before one of the professors called us into the office to explain that they had cancelled today's class and we'll only begin next week, but apparently no one had gotten the message. So they chatted with us for about 15 minutes to explain how things will go; it looks like most of the interesting stuff is going to happen this term, which is great news for me. Also, the book is in the library, so I don't have to buy it. The course is heavy on historical methodology (the course and book both being called "Writing Irish History"), which is excellent because I'm supposed to be doing a reading course on methodology and reading courses are quite hard to get started in if you don't really know what you're doing. So I expect taking this course will be a great help for the stuff I'm doing in Canada, on top of just being interesting. The professors also seem very nice; the one I had been emailing is much younger than I had thought. Of course I pictured the crazy-shock-of-white-hair absent-minded professor type (think Narnia or Back to the Future) but he's actually a lovely rotund little gentleman who looks to be in maybe his mid-to-late forties.

I'm a bit relieved that class was cancelled, actually, since I spent the whole morning sleeping (again), and now I can go to the library for a few hours after eating my lunch and get a bit of work done.

Also, I received a letter and a postcard yesterday. Thanks guys! I love getting mail! I bought some paper and postcards today too so hopefully I'll be sending stuff out in the next few days.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Long Day

Well, I guess I never got around to rewriting that brilliant post that y'all didn't get to see. Curse you, Safari.

I'm in UCD library after a very long day. I had judo last night, which was interesting. I was the only girl of 16 people in a tiny room with mats on linoleum floors. I'm surprised my insides didn't get turned inside out like they used to during the Bay State Games; but again, I didn't work out very hard. The guys there, for the most part, aren't very good, though there are a couple of exceptions, and everyone is very friendly. They're used to fighting with guys, first all of, which means trying to out-gorilla each other. But they can't really do that with me, since I already know that they're stronger and I have no desire to get hurt. The club is moving to a new location in a couple of weeks, so there will be a wood floor and three times the mat space, and hopefully more people will show up, which means more people for me to choose from. Working out with dudes makes me so nervous, especially when I can't be sure that the black and brown belts will actually have any idea what they're doing. It's a competition-focused club, not a technique-focused one like the one I went to in Montreal, so I just have to readjust, I guess. I really got spoiled at the Shidokan. The club here reminds me a lot of the one I started out in in Massachusetts, actually. I'll give it a few weeks.

On a related note, I hate the busses here. They suck. One of the girls in the house has a bike that she doesn't use, so hopefully I will start biking ASAP. Biking on roads terrifies me, but the cyclists here seem less stupid than the ones in Montreal, and the drivers much less homicidal, so I think it should be okay. I'm a little nervous about the whole "driving on the left side of the road" thing. It's hard enough for me to remember which side of the road to catch the bus on, and which way to look when I jaywalk. I hope I don't lose concentration for a second and turn right into oncoming traffic! But it will be better than waiting for the bus. There's no way to tell when the bus will come; the timetables only give the times that the bus leaves each terminus, so unless you know how far away that is and how much traffic it's likely to hit before it gets to you, you can't judge at all when the bus will come. I have yet to wait less than 15 minutes for a bus. I bought a pass, and the bus to the downtown stops just outside the house, but it runs very infrequently and I hate watching people zip by on their bikes while I stew for 20 minutes. 20 minutes wait plus 25 minutes ride thanks to traffic means a whole hour out of my day commuting each way. Not fun. Also the fact that I get off the bus and still have a 20 minute walk to judo at night doesn't exactly make for a fun evening. It's okay now, but in the rain, and once it starts getting cold, I am not going to be happy with this situation.

So today I woke up nice and early, 6:20am to be exact, because the girl in the room next door turned on the fan in her bathroom which is right next to the wall next to my head when I'm in bed. It's not like there's anything to be done about that, though. So I went back to bed for a couple of hours after breakfast. Then I hopped over to UCD to pay their exorbitant fee and pick up my reader's pass to the library, since Trinity will only let me in in the evenings and on Saturdays once term starts in 10 days. It's a pretty good library at UCD, actually, better than I expected, and open until 11pm. I think I'm going to spend quite a bit of time here. The religion section is as far away from anything as you can possibly get, though, which means it will be nice and quiet to study in, hopefully.

I cursed the internet, and brought it to the IT department so I could get back on the UCD network. After I had spent yesterday fiddling with the Glenard network, I managed to kick myself off the UCD network. So then the guys fixed it for me, but when I went downtown afterwards I found out that I couldn't get on any other network. *sigh* At least UCD is close.

So I went downtown to try to place a phone call (unsuccessfully) to a lady at Concordia, and to pick up my Trinity library card. So I can use their library during the day until the 26th, and after that only weekend and Saturdays. But it does give me access to the Early Printed Books collection, which is excellent, and I plan to use gluttonously. Yes, gluttonously. I will get more into my old-book gluttony at a later time. That was the main gist of the previous ghost-post, actually, and I'm too tired to rehash it now.

Book Glutton.

So now my library access is fairly complete, between UCD, TCD, and the NLI (explanations to come). I hopped over to the library after dinner to try to get some work done, but I'm tired and I've had a long and aggravating day, and I have my first class tomorrow afternoon, before which I hope to get some stuff done in the library. So I'm going to head home and try to get some sleep. Hah. Updates to come as regularly as I can provide them.

Curse you, internet gods.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I had a big long post about all the stuff I did yesterday all typed up and ready to go, when Safari crashed on me before I could get it up.

If I have time tonight I'll try to rewrite it.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Lazy Sunday

Well, the internet situation in the house has reached a desperate peak. *cue dramatic music* Right now the only way to connect is by cable in the front office, so I'm sitting on the floor and another girl is at the desk to use the internet for a few brief moments. When I have a lot to do it's easier to go to campus, but it's a 20 minute walk and it gets dark at 8pm here, so by the time dinner is over at 7 it's really too late to go.

We had tea this evening instead of dinner. It was cute - basically breakfast, as far as I'm concerned. Eggs, sausage and ham, tea, toast with butter and jam, and fruit. Now that I'm using my cell phone as an alarm, I also plan to make it to breakfast on time tomorrow for the first time since I arrived.

Tomorrow I'm going into the city again. I got so spoiled living on Cote-des-Neiges with all of the busses going by; the bus that stops outside the residence goes right through the center of town but comes very sporadically and not very often. A group of us wanted to go downtown after lunch today, so we waited for 45 minutes before I decided to just go home and get some work done (which ended up meaning taking a nice long nap). Of course, the bus came about 3 minutes after I left. I knew it would, too. I'm just taking one for the team and all that.

I went to Mass on campus today. It was rather odd. There was a lot more kneeling, from the beginning of the Eucharistic prayer right till the end, and also at the final blessing. The music was good, a student was playing the small organ, and the girl who sang looked about 19 but had a huge operatic voice. The problem was, they had her stand in front of the microphone, which is very sensitive. So even though she stood about 2 1/2 feet back, and was obviously trying to sing as quietly as she could, it was still much too loud. And everyone sang at the gloria and Alleluia, since they knew them, but there were no songbooks or anything for the regular hymns. It was the opposite of North America - usually the church will bend over backwards to get people to sing, handing out songsheets or books and announcing the hymn and having a songleader, but no one will open their mouths to sing. Here, people sang when they could, but they had no lyrics or anything to help them. Also, it was at least half made up of very old people. Why they would come all the way down to campus when there's a perfectly good church just around the block, I have no idea. It kind of killed the student atmosphere though. And the priest is one of those post-Vatican II showmen, who referred to God as "she" at one point (I couldn't help rolling my eyes), but he otherwise seems nice. I might try to student-only Saturday evening Mass next weekend.

I'll be going into town tomorrow to get a bunch of things done, and especially hopefully getting everything straightened out with the customs office. I'd like to take a walking tour of Trinity College, which ends at the Book of Kells, before all the students start showing up in the next couple of weeks. I also might meet up with one of my housemates for lunch. She's from Spain, and speaks English well enough but speaks French better than English, So I finally have someone to have my lazy trilingual conversations with! I've also booked a very cheap flight to Oxford for a week starting October 9, so I have to figure out where to stay and how to get there from the airport and all that.

I'm signing off for now since I don't know who will need to use the office next. More updates and adventures to follow.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

My Home For Now

I'm staying at the Glenard residence here, which is very nice. They're still doing renovations so things are a bit chaotic, but they've calmed down over the last week, certainly. That's why I don't have internet, for instance, and the landlines have stopped working for the moment.

But the people are very nice, and it's new and clean and open. It's built around a courtyard, with the different wings of the building forming the four sides of a square. My room overlooks the courtyard, with a nice big window. Initially I was concerned about a lack of privacy, since my entire room is in full view of anyone in the kitchen or dining room across the way when my shade is up. But as long as I'm careful about keeping the shade down at night and first thing in the morning, its fine. I like my big window, and my bathroom (private bathroom!) has a skylight, so I rarely have to turn on the lights.

I have a desk with a comfy chair, a comfortable bed with a nice warm duvet, and three sections of a large Ikea wardrobe. I even have carpet in my room. Once we get internet and I get over my jet lag, it will be nice to work either here or in the study room.

The house is huge. It has something like 30 bedrooms, though we will only have 16 students this year, I think. There are the big sitting room where we hang out each night, the small sitting room right next to it, a new sitting room in the refurbished wing, and a sunroom right next to it. Also in the sunroom are two very old goldfish. They are 6 years old, leftovers from a former resident: one is blind, so he sort of sits around most of the time, and the other one has an enormous tumor on his side that looks like an alien brain or something. I'll take pictures when I get the chance. There's a beautiful chapel, all decked out in polished wood and gold fixings, and the altar is green and purple marble. We have a large dining room that opens onto the courtyard, a large industrial sized kitchen (we have staff who make our meals) and a breakfast nook with a microwave and mini fridge that we can use in between meals.

I feel so awkward about using a kitchen that's not my own, because I don't know what things are okay to use or eat or what. Also, being on time for meals is a challenge. I've spent the last six years making my own schedule, so getting down to breakfast before they clean up at 9am is hard (especially with the jet lag, but hopefully it'll be fine soon), and knowing whether I'll be around for lunch at 1:15 or dinner at 6:30 also takes more planning than I usually have to do. I'm sure I'll get used to it soon though.

We eat very well, and at dinner especially I feel like I'm at some sort of finishing school. The table is fully set, we have a starter (so far either prepared fruit or soup), the main meal, and dessert with fruit and coffee. They eat absolutely everything with silverware. Have you ever seen someone eat an orange with a knife and fork? I tried yesterday at lunch and it was ridiculously difficult. But I guess if I ever have dinner with the Queen I'll know what to do. We had burgers and fries last night, and I absolutely would not try that with a knife and fork. Everyone else did, though, at least at the beginning. Also, they only have instant coffee. They serve it out of a sugar bowl. I guess it's easier, so we can have as much or as little as we want and at any time of the day, but I find it kind of funny. When I initially didn't know what it was, they asked what we drank in the States. I told them coffee from a coffee maker, that everyone had one in their house. They seemed really surprised. What I didn't say is that it's almost rude to offer someone instant coffee; that it's something to be done only when there's absolutely nothing else, and even then with apologies and a slight air of shame.

Ah, Europe.

I Made It!

Goodness gracious, I've finally discovered internet!

It turns out that though they restrict access to their libraries, UCD does not lock their internet. So as long as I don't mind the 20 minute trek to campus I can use it all I want. Hopefully we get internet in our residence soon.

This is not a long update, but I am back on the map at last, after a month of web silence. Moving was insane, PEI was lovely and wonderful and I miss it, and Ireland hasn't made much of an impression on my yet because I got in very early on Monday morning and I'm fighting the worst case of jet lag ever. Rather than adjusting, my body has gone back to stressed-out-in-Montreal 4-hours-per-night mode, which is no fun. I spend much of the day in a semi-zombielike state, unable to get work done. But classes don't start until next week so I'm okay until then. I'm glad I gave myself a week for settling in; I hadn't realized how much I would need it.

Proper updates to come soon, but right now it's dark outside so I'm going to get my bum off this damp picnic bench and go home. Catch you on the flipside.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I'm Back

Well, I mad it to PEI. I promise to get my blogging up and going again ASAP. It just got too crazy what with all the packing and visiting and whatnot that I had to do before I left Montreal. But now I'm GONE!! YAY!!! Updates to come.

But first I have to go enjoy the fact that I can sit on the porch or sleep with my window open and not listen to traffic. Not a bit. Not ever. =D

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Random Collection of Thoughts

I have not updated in 3 days. I am so very, very lazy.

Not much to report, really. My worldly belongings are slowly being sucked into a vortex in my living room, which now contains more stuff than my bedroom, which I guess is a good thing because it means that I'm more than halfway done. Yay!

Now I'm going to go cook a massive amount of chili and store it in washed-out yogurt containers, so that I can pack up all of my kitchen stuff. I forgot that, today being Tuesday, that means that tomorrow is Wednesday, and therefore my brother will be arriving the day after in order to take many of my things away, including all the kitchen stuff that isn't yet packed.

And as a closing story, I had a classic Kathryn moment today. I went to judo and was having a super hard time. I didn't feel tired in general, but I was doing the warmups and kept having to stop because I felt like I wasn't getting enough oxygen. So I took my inhaler even though it didn't feel like asthma, and went back to the mat, and just continued pooping out and only completing about 40% of the workout. Things got a little better as the class went on, but I kept having to rest. Mr. Cute Mexican and Mr. Tough French Guy Sensei were both there, and kept asking me if I was alright and wanted to take a break. Of course, besides stroking my own ego, the whole reason I wanted to do well today was to impress both of those dudes, too. Major backfire, when it results in my falling all over the mat, dropping from exhaustion and having to work out with one of the old guys because I can't otherwise keep up.

Well, on my way to the metro after class, it suddenly occurred to me that the reason I was so tired and lacking in oxygen is because I had donated blood just 24 hours earlier, and I was therefore running at only 92% capacity. Der.

But I do dumb stuff like this all the time. One of these days, I'll get used to it.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Scaling New Heights

One of the hardest parts about packing is having to go through everything you own and decide what you will keep and what you will get rid of. In my particular case, I have to decide what can go (don't need), what must come to Ireland with me (immediate need), what needs to be sent to PEI with my parents (will need it when I get back), and what can be sent down to Boston to be stored at my grandparents' house (may not need it in the coming year but will need it in the future).

One thing that has been giving me great pause has been my rock climbing gear. It's just a basic set of harness, shoes, chalk bag, and belaying equipment. I started climbing in January 2007 and was going quite regularly (once or twice a week) for about a year and a half, which then became much more sporadic as my health deteriorated, and finally dropped off altogether. I haven't been on a wall in over a year, I think, and it's something that I miss doing. My equipment should still be good; harnesses ought to be changed only every five years even if you don't use it that often. So I was toying with the idea of selling my stuff online so I would have one less thing to deal with. After all, I haven't used it in ages.

But I couldn't seem to make myself do it. I just really want to get back into climbing, and I don't want to have to buy all new equipment when that time comes. I won't be bringing it to Ireland, certainly, and a quick Google check tells me that there are no rock gyms in PEI. But there is one in Des Moines (as well as a couple of judo clubs in the area), and if I can find a climbing partner and my schedule works out, I'd like to get back into it again. So I think I'll file this under "stuff that can go back to Boston for a while" and then see what happens.

People will say to me, "Wow rock climbing! That sounds so cool, but I'm scared of heights." Guess what: I am too. That's why I started climbing in the first place. I can be kind of bull-headed in terms of attacking problems head-on, but it's partly due to my being a rather indecisive person. Taking the direct route gives you less of a chance to fumble and skirt the problem and back down. My first time on a wall I got about 10 feet up and I froze and started to panic. But I knew that if I went down then, I would probably never try it again. So I kept going, made it to the top, rappelled down slowly, and practically died from nerves once I hot solid ground again. But I did it. And I kept doing it.

The thing with climbing is, while I really like it, it is not something you can just show up to a class to do, like judo. You need your own partner, someone whom you trust, but also someone who you work well with, who doesn't mind the pace at which you climb, and whose schedule matches yours so that you are both free and energetic to climb at the same time. My good friend Steve, whom I introduced to this fine sport, is a very high-energy guy who likes to go climbing at 9am on Saturdays when the gym is empty and who will climb 2 walls in the time it takes me to rest. I like to do slow, easy walls, taking lots of breaks on my way up, and not hitting the gym until the afternoon so my body has time to wake up. I also couldn't go in the evenings because I was always dog-tired after work, and the bus schedules at night meant that I wouldn't get home until 10 or later on a school night. Steve and I, while good friends, were not good climbing partners. A lack of a steady partner was one reason why I dropped off after a while.

But like I said, I would like to get back into it. Judo this year has helped me be able to push my body to the limit while still recognizing that it has limits, and they are different from what they were before. So hopefully I won't be so quick to drop out when I go through a physical rough patch. I will be saving my climbing gear. Maybe this time next year will find me on a wall again.