Monday, December 20, 2010

The most stressful day of my life.

I waited out in the Cork aiport for the full ten hours, but I never did get to Heathrow. My flight got the go ahead at 4 0'clock, but I had no connecting flights afterward, and I would have been stranded with thousands of other passengers until Christmas day just to get home. My Dad, bless his heart, went online and bought me a new plan ticket for Thursday out of Dublin. The battle is still not over, because it's supposed to snow all week and Dublin is not missing out on all the fun. I just pray that it will work out and I make it home for Christmas.

Ya know what? I almost wish I had made a 10 hour airport blog! Eventually another American student came over and asked to share the table/plug in, and I was all for it. We both sat there, letting the other person rant all they wanted and just giving each other support. The highlight of the day was when a man came over and asked if we could watch his bags. I said sure, and so he dropped off a bag and walked off. I called after him, but he ignored me. I started panicking like crazy! You don't do that in an airport, for heaven sakes, it could have been a terrorist dropping off an explosive. The situation was completely unusual, and so I called down an employee, who acted as if it was no big deal whatsoever. If it had been in America, there would of been police all over that thing! In the end, the guy came over and started laughing (my new friend went after him and asked about the bag). I had to explain to him that "where I come from, you don't do that." After it was all cleared up, I sat down again to wait for news about my flight.

After it was confirmed that I would not be going home until Thursday, I took it upon myself to find a B&B. Then I remembered the ones right across the street from UCC, so that's where I went. However, the journey was excruciating. My bus stopped at Parnell Place, and at first I had this notion that I could walk all the way over to Washington Street, but I wasn't even 1/3rd of the way there before I just wanted to break down from all the stress on my shoulders and arm. I had to pull a huge luggage bag, and a smaller one that wasn't light, either. Eventually I made it to Grand Parade, where all the Taxi drivers sit to wait for customers. I was so exhausted to the point where I couldn't even pull my luggage up to the curb. The cab driver had to get out and walk all the way around the car just so he could get them into the trunk. I probably made at least twenty short stops along the way, because it felt like I was trying to break my shoulders off, and carrying the little suitcase with one arm wasn't working out. Yeah, I'm making this all long and drawn out, but it really was a mess, especially since the streets were crowded, and I had previously bruised my upper leg while trying to get my larger bag into the storage bin under the side of the bus (it opens up like a hatch back, only on the side).

So that was my long and probably one of the worst days of my life. I really hope it only gets better from here on out now. I passed out once I hit the bed and turned on the TV. It's nice to be in Cork again, and not having to travel elsewhere just to make a flight until Wednesday night/Thursday early morning.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


I'm chilling out at the Cork Airport for about another 8 and a half hours. That is if my flight goes through at all. My 7:30am was canceled (I would be taking off by now!), and the next airplane won't be until 3:20pm. I'm very tempted to make a blog titled "Ten Hours at the Airport," and each entry would be listing some interesting sight seeing, odd gifts in the shop, and anyone who tries to steal my luggage. Oh, and all the tasty goodies I've stuffed into my mouth over the course of those ten hours. However, I'm too tired, and too lazy, and uncreative at this stage. So that idea is pretty much out.

I was lucky enough to find more money in my bank account than previously thought! I was also able to keep 5 of the 20 euro I had saved for the taxi, which helped paid for my subway. When my computer died, I meandered over to the Subway counter and found plug ins, so now I can use my laptop again. The airport computers cost euro, which I find rather ridiculous. Nothing, not one thing is free in Ireland. It always has a price tag on it. Want to eat in at a fast food restaurant? They charge you almost a full euro extra!

I'm eager to purchase a drink somewhere. I'm dying of thirst, and I have a sinus infection to boot. Coughing is not my favorite hobby. :/

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Little last tidbits and snipets

Five days to go, almost four. The past few have been decent/disappointing. Monday I was out for 7 hours walking around while buying those last few Christmas presents with a friend, and ending my night at Boole 2 to watch Miracle on 34th Street. Yesterday I went to bed in dull aching pain that persisted for most of yesterday until I found out that Aleeve makes that sort of burning sensation go away. It's weird that it wasn't just a working out/sore muscle feeling, but as if my whole body had caught on fire. I was miserable, and it didn't help that I should of started on my four essays. :/

Today I was feeling a lot better, and this morning I started reading Sherlock Holmes for my Victorian paper. I'm hoping to get three essays out of the way by Saturday, but it's going to take a lot of effort and possibly an all nighter to get the job done. I plan on staying up pretty late tonight, sleeping at a decent hour tomorrow, and then staying up late again Friday night/Saturday morning.

My roommate Jayme is going home Friday around 4am. Then I'll be heading to the airport around 4:30am on Monday, and Jillian will be the last leave around 1pm. It'll be a bittersweet departure, but in all honesty, I am very looking forward to having my own room and a quiet house again. That is for one day, because 24 hours after I arrive in KC, I'll be heading to Utah, and I know deep down that it will be a rowdy, but fun reunion. :)

Some interesting Cork facts:
1. It's common for most teenagers and young adults to add "like" and "so" to the end of their sentences. Example: "That's grand like" or "Are we going to the store so?"
2. Grand is used a lot as well. It's very Irish!
3. Crepes are really popular. I just got one for the last time at the crepe/doughnut/ice cream stand in the mall. Lemon, sugar, and butter are a favorite, as well as nutella.
4. Jaywalking is illegal, but no one in the city upholds this rule. In fact, I've seen Garda (policeman in Irish) crossing the street before the light turned green.
5. Lots of street vendors full of food and crafts pop up every friday through Sunday in December to try and bank in on the holiday season.
6. It's not uncommon for dogs to walk around without a leash. Many of them are well behaved and stick to their owners!
7. Bacon is called rashers. An Irish breakfast is called a full fry-up.
8. Irish sharp mature cheddar. Oh so good. Go buy some!
9. There are trucks around here, but not as big as the ones at home.
10. College transcripts aren't delivered until February. :/

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A real goodbye.

Outside of skirts made of green,
inside, the heart of cities muff-
collide in shades of brown, yellow, and rose.

Hard pavement walkways,
tender footed sandy beaches,
seagulls call all snowy white,
and so it ends-for me.

I breath-look-ponder to stare,
blurred lines stir themselves even,
while the loud daily man echos "decO!"
He no longer reeks of annoyance.

Butter tender as the cows themselves
Cadbury's swirling chocolates wrapped in ecstasy
fried, salted bacon. Egg yolks turned to fluff.
Mmm....the dream of a lost American.

Shamrocks do not phase me,
leprechauns do not stir here.
This isn't any stereotype that I can imagine,
save what's left of the beer. Or stout.

Feisty winds of stinging pleasure,
winter's cold is doused with good measure,
and I hate it-and love it-and embrace it all the more!

Saluting ye off to a depressing start,
and onwards on, only time will tell.
So goodbye, dear Cork. Thanks ever so. Thanks a million.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Paris part deux

I totally forgot to finish my story about Paris. What a dork-ack.

So the next morning, Sarah and I got up for breakfast downstairs. We had crunchy/flaky/moist bread with butter and jam. It was so so good! Before we're about to leave, Ben calls us to say he was already at Notre Dame, which surprised me because it was only 9:30am. It turns out that I had set our alarm via Cork time, and Sarah and I were running an hour late (the time was really 10:30am). So rush rush rush we went!

We started off in the right direction, and kept on walking until I started to doubt our route. I called Ben again at one of the many street corners, and he said to look for an M, which just so happened to be right in front of us! Down the steps, ticket in the machine, and to the train we ran. Then we waited...and waited. Finally, 5-10 minutes later, it came, and so we hopped on. For a split second that is.

Sarah asked for the map, and then said: "What if if this isn't the right direction?!" I then yelled: "Ok then! Let's get off!" I jumped. Her hands were nearly out as the door tried to slam shut. She pulled back, looked at me with a "oh well" before the train rode off. Crap.

I stood there in panic, wondering what Sarah was going to do. The next train came along, so I got on and looked about at each of the next three stops to see if she decided to wait for me there. I was finally at Place D'Italie, and not knowing if the train went to or near Notre Dame, I got off and started towards the next metro. It was pouring down snow, and the wind was terrible. I tried calling Ben, but at this point I had no phone minutes left, and I couldn't add anymore with my credit card. So onto the next metro stop I went, using the second to last my train tickets. I walked all around looking at my map and then at the signs, but none of the destinations matched up, and there was only one ticket left in my purse. Since the chances of my getting on the wrong train and winding up lost were high, I decided to go back to the B&B, call Ben and wait to see what would happen.

It took me 15 minutes to find the right train back to Kremlin Bicetre. Once I had made my way down a pair of stairs where an old woman sat with a basket. She spoke to me in an extremely low, battered- almost smoker like voice that sent chills down my spine. I kept on walking in a daze, trying to figure out where I was going. At one point I realized that I was about to hop on the wrong train, and turned around to find that the old woman had followed me! I waited for her to bend over to where she had been sitting before sprinting up the stairs just as a crowd of people walked on by.

Here's the deal. The train that goes to Kremlin Bicetre doesn't always go that way, for it also has another direction to go to every other time (basically there's two tracks that split off). I found the train, but I didn't know how to check which direction it was going to go. So I just hopped on it anyway, and as we were riding out, a man pointed to the map above the interior of the glass doors, running his finger from where we were to Kremlin Bicetre. You should of seen my face light up like a Christmas tree! I swear, Jesus did it. He told that man to show me the way- or maybe not, but seriously, it was a miracle.

So I got back to the B&B frozen stiff, but grateful none the less, and called Ben with Pellay's telephone. He decided to wait at Notre Dame and he would call me back when she got there. 20 minutes, and Pellay said I had a phone message that "she was safe." I called back, and then waited an hour for their return to come and pick me up.

So that was my Saturday morning. The rest of the day couldn't have been better. Sarah and Ben showed up, and we headed to the Musee D'orsay. I got to see Van Gough and Monet, sculptures, and all kinds of surrealism type art. The best part was seeing Van Gough's portrait of himself. I just wanted to stare at it all day! His artwork is so cool, and fresh-it somewhat reminds me of the colorful and happy things that I enjoy drawing myself. The only disappointment was that half of Monet's collection had been taken to another exhibit- in London I think-, including his work of the woman and her parasol (my favorite). Oh, and we also had a snack at Cafe' du Lion! They have the best hot chocolate ever. It was sooo good. Nom nom nom.

Afterward, we went to the Champs Elysees- which is probably like New York, in that it's a huge long street just filled to the brimful of giant shops and tiny cafes and bakeries. At the end is the Arc de Triomphe, which I took pictures of in the middle of the street! Then we crossed, and headed over to a small bakery known for their tasty macaroons (tiny oreos made with flaky pastry dough, and filled with wonderful things). Oh it was splendid!

Ben left us to go do homework, and Sarah and I went to the Eiffel Tower. Can I not say just how great-grand-stupendous-amazing-insightful-adorable-it was?! I bought our tickets to go to the very top, but the stop was on the second floor. We rode in a cart that travels up the left side of the tower, got off, and just looked down. It was heaven! The whole city of Paris just lit up with beautiful colors. I could see Notre Dame from far away, and all the other great monuments that littered the city. The cold kept us uneasy, so up to the top we went (you have to get on another cart to go there), and it turned out that it was warm and cozy (it was enclosed with heaters). That's one thing I didn't like about Paris- a lot of places do not have heat, including parts of the airport! It was 20 degrees, and I had to freeze inside half the time I was there.

Anyways, I loved it so much, and I'm so glad I went! The tourist in me was fulfilled, especially after purchasing a beret and a new hand bag. We were running late to see Ben, so there wasn't much time to stop for crepes as we had originally planned. So back to the train station we went!

Ben met us there, and as we reached the top of the stairs and around the corner- there was our restaurant. The menu outside the door had one thing on there that stood out from all the rest- Boeuf Bourguignon. I squealed and danced like a child of 5, and would not for the life of me not let us eat anywhere else. It had to be here! And just as we sat down at our table, taking in our surroundings, the waitress came to announce that tonights special was indeed Boeuf Bourguignon.

This dish is made in the film Julia and Julia, and because it looks so so tasty, I have been wanting to try it for over a year now. This place did not disappoint. Not only did they opt out on using mushrooms (I hate them-yuck!), but the meat itself was perfection, melting in my mouth upon bite after bite, until it ceased to be no more. I couldn't have asked for a better meal if I wanted too. And for desert- chocolate cake with chocolate filling and a scoop of ice cream. Down that went too, and rightfully so.

We said our good nights, parted ways, and headed back to the B&B. I didn't sleep as grand as the night before, but it certainly was a nice rest. The next mourning we met Ben at Notre Dame (this time without any issues- although Sarah nearly didn't make it on the train), and we were able to walk around and take a good look inside. Mass was going on at the same time, and we even got to listen to the soloist perform (it was beautiful). I didn't take any pictures inside, because I just wanted to enjoy it without having to stop and click my camera at an old stained glass window. My favorite thing was the tomb of a long dead Bishop, his body carved out on top of the lid with jewels in his hat, and a curled staff in his closed hands.

We walked to an outdoor crepe restaurant for breakfast, but the wait was too long, so we went inside for some pastries. I bought a chocolate eclair, which was ended up being as good as they say- but my hot chocolate was rather disappointing. Still, I was so glad to finally be able to walk the streets of Paris instead of running around lost under ground. On the way to the train station, we stopped to check out a fountain with winged lions and a man with a double edged sword ready to kill the man that laid underneath his heavy foot. The water was turned off, but the masterpiece was still grand to see none the less. This was the last thing I saw before going back to the underground and aways away to the airport.

Aside from all the hustle and bustle that was to be while catching my airplane, there was one last thing on the list- An issue of Paris Vogue. I tried getting one in Paris, but the newspaper stand didn't have one. Well here it was, for the shocking price of 26 euro! I couldn't believe it until I got a closer look at the cover: Spring 2011 Fashion spread!! I couldn't be more happier with my prize. A magazine with over three hundred pages of the newest fashions that just hit the runway! I couldn't have arrived in Paris at a better time. Perfect.

The ride back home wasn't fun- I got really motion sick, but it was nothing I couldn't handle. The best part about the plane ride back was right as I stepped on to hear the Irish flight attendant say: "Hello." ENGLISH. I love my language, I love it so. To hear those words and not "bonjour" was a blessing. It's not that I don't like French, I actually want to learn more of it, but after a long and stressful transition, "hello" was all I really wanted to hear at that point. And when I sat down in my chair, I almost wanted to cry. Not because I was leaving Paris, but because I was going to miss Ireland.

Contemplation-new doors-exhalation

As I wondered down the slippery sidewalk across from UCC, I realized how everything I took for granted day in and day out now started to pour onto me like it was new again, bringing in a sense of unhappiness, because I yearned to stay and I wanted to keep on living things just the same for as long as I could.

Suddenly I began to think strangely, and when I walked by a dirty old pigeon, I couldn't help to think: "someone loves you. I love you," and before I knew it, every little bird and gliding seagull was receiving a small piece of my heart without even knowing it. And all those worn out buildings from centuries ago, the sidewalks and the lights- I couldn't stop for them, to take a ganger and just stand there until every little detail was etched into my brain, but I wanted too. I wanted to hold onto them.

So I walked into the art store to buy some paper and colored pencils for the last time. This part didn't phase me as much as when I took another trip to Mark and Spencers, only to find that my favorite raviolis were not in stock, nor was the mac n' cheese. I found a chicken and pasta dish, which ended up being amazing- and it made me feel the gloomy concept of never eating another freshly prepared, microwavable meal again.

But then I remembered my family, and my friends. I left because I wanted to start over, I didn't feel like I fit anywhere- I just wanted to get away and live my own life without the realization that I didn't have what everyone else did. And now I know just how much I love them all,- how I couldn't live without them even if I tried. I don't care anymore that my dad isn't related to me, or that my mom is ill, or that my best friend isn't a young college student like me. Who cares if I have a relationship with two different families, despite our never having a single drop of blood to tie us together? It's so obvious how much more love and kindness I get than your average kid, and even though I feel alone and uncertain about things, I just need to keep telling myself that I have a rock, a foundation that will always be there for me, no matter what.

Coming to Cork was the second best decision I have ever made in my life. It may not have solved my problems of what I want to do in the long run, but I've come to terms with who I am as a person, and the people who have shaped me into what I am today. I love my family, more than anything in the world, and I'm so happy that I can finally say that. I've traveled over the English channel, got lost in Paris, rode my first train into a little beach town, saw my first Irish cow, walked the hide tide of Bantry, pushed my way through the streets of Dublin, burnt my tongue on my first droplets of apple cider, and ate pigs hooves all in three months. If that didn't change my life, then I might as well be shot.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Paris, Half and Half

My journey was rather scary, and stressful. I had no clue that the city was so large that most, if not everyone there takes hundreds of underground trains on a daily basis to get to wherever it is they're going. It's no wonder that a trip to Paris should be for at least a week, because you end up spending half the day through dark tunnels in unstable railway carts.

Upon my arrival in Cork Airport, an announcer informed my friend and I that the flight would be delayed for about 10 minutes. No biggie. Slowly as time passed by, there would be another announcement to say that the flight would be delayed another 10 minutes. This continued until the airplane was an hour late. After a sigh of relief (it may have been canceled due to all the snow happening around us), we finally boarded for gay Paris!

The first French I heard was on the plane, which prompted me even more to want to scream up and down that I was finally seeing a historical city, filled with art, music, and amazing food. After 1 hour and 40 minutes, we landed. Getting off the plane was hard at first, because I was somewhat motion sick. Soon after I hit land, there awaited me some slanted escalators surrounded in clear, plastic tubes. To be honest, I don't know how I didn't throw up after the 3rd or 4th one that I had to ride, but eventually I made it out of there.

Charles de Gaulle Airport is a tricky one to figure out. After meandering around for a good 15 minutes, I finally got the guts to go up to the information desk. "Je ne parle pas Francais. Parlez vous anglais?" The lady there smiled and said: "oui." Then I got cracking down to business, asked her how to get to Le Kremlin Bicetre, and she gave me a map to follow. My friend and I stopped at terminal 3, bought a ticket, and then got on the train to terminal 2. We ended up in the wrong part of the station, and one of the workers at the airport was kind enough to point us in the right direction.

Eventually we got off at Denfert Rochereau, which was marked on our map. Sarah and I had to walk from there to Place d'Itale, but since neither of us knew where we were going, I decided to call her friend Ben. We ended up waiting thirty minutes before he called us back to say he was there. So we went outside to try and find him, but without any luck. After frolicking about for 20 minutes out in the freezing cold, Ben told us to look for the lion statue, which we spotted and made our way towards with happy results.

Ben had no clue as to where we were staying. Then he found out that the B&B was right outside Paris, in Le Kremlin Bicetre and he didn't know how to get us there. So we asked for directions in a nearby hotel. After waiting for a good 25 minutes (the receptionist kept getting distracted with phone calls), we were able to get a move on towards our destination.

Time was running out. I had told our hostess that we would arrive between 4pm and 6pm, and by the time we were finished getting directions, it was just past 7. On top of that, the couple that runs the B&B was leaving for the theatre at 8pm, and I wasn't sure if they spoke English (other wise I would of called them). About 5 minutes from the B&B, I got a phone call from our hostess, who did speak English, and I tried asking her if they were at home, but she couldn't understand me. She finally realized what I was saying, and said that they "we're not at the home." In the background, I heard her husband shout: "HOUSE!" and she repeated with: "We're not at the house." It was really cute.

So then we went to a little French restaurant right across the street from where we were staying. There wasn't a whole lot of cuisine on the menu, so Sarah and I split a pig tray that had about 6-8 different meats from one single pig! There was also a sausage that had hooves in it, which was rather bland. Ham was also on the platter, very thinly sliced with lots of salt, which I didn't care for, either. Some of the stuff tasted like beef jerky, and it was alright. The best part of the meal was the French bread, which was simply perfect. Before ordering the meal, the chief came out to help us out. He spoke some English, which was very helpful in the end. I tried asking for Coke, but he misunderstood it as wine, and asked if I wanted red or white. I couldn't help but laugh, and look dumbfounded at Ben. He finally told the Chief that I wanted "Coca." So there you have it: Coke = Coca in France. :)

Ben left, and Sarah and I made our way to the apartment on our own. I stood outside trying to figure out how to get in. I rang a bell, but no one answered. Then someone called my phone, and I picked up to hear Pellay (that's our hostess) saying they were back now and we could come at anytime. I told her we were outside, and the next thing I know, this garage door starts opening up and there she is!

The house was amazing. The garage was small, and the walls were lined with books on shelves. Pellay opened up a very long glass door into the house. The walls were either covered in books or paintings that were created by her husband and other various artists. On the ground floor was the kitchen and livingroom (it was all in the same space), bathroom, toliet (it had it's own separate, connecting room), and a small alcove underneath the stairs with even more wall covered books and an office area. Upstairs was another area with computers and a sewing machine. This branched off into two rooms, our bedroom and theirs.

Our room was the best place I have ever stayed in my entire life. Every square inch of wall spouted fairy tales, art, history, and beyond. An oil painting held up by thin boards on the ceiling hung over our heads as we laid to rest in our feathery soft bed. Next to where we were sleeping was an early 1900s sewing machine, and an old squeaky horn. I slept so well that night, that when I woke, I had no clue where I was and how I got there!

That's part one of my story. I'm so exhausted and tired from my trip, that I will have to tell more later. :)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

O' tidings of comfort and joy!

Two days later, and I'll be on that airplane towards good ol' Paris. I'm hoping my clothes that I just washed last night dry in time for either late night Thursday or early morning Friday packing. I swear, the washer in this house is on 24/7. Other wise I would of have washed them earlier in the week.

I finally received my Victorian Literature and 19th Century America Literature essays. I didn't do so well on the Victorian paper, and ended up with 3rd year honours (D+ or C-, I think)? The English board that grades them (not just the professor, but several), said my writing was weak and had lots of errors. It didn't phase me much, because in all seriousness, I am not trained enough to write in class essays. Give me an hour, and I do poorly, but hand me an essay with at least seven hours to complete, and the final piece will be wonderfully done.

On a better note, my 19th century paper earned me second class honours, which I would say is either an A- or a high B+. Their grading scale has different "honors", so it's difficult to compare to the American scale. First year honours is the most sought after and is very challenging to obtain. Anyhow, my paper was missing some sub-thesis points, but overall it was sound. So take that 3rd year Victorian paper. I CAN do better than that!

By the way, here's a link to the grading system, as well as other information for visiting students:

I'm almost broke, but only because I just withdrew all my money for the trip. I looked at my bank account and thought: "Oh goodness. That's scary looking." But then I had to remind myself that I'm only here for two more weeks there after, and I have plenty of food left to eat. It's been nice living on my own and having to balance how much I spend. I normally end up going over, but this time around I've been able to keep myself financially stable and not spend euro on everything I see and want. It's especially hard when living in the city, and all around you there is nothing but windows packed with luxury items glaring at you with every step. It's as almost as if I'm preparing myself for the real world.