Saturday, October 30, 2010


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


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


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


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


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


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.