Thanksgiving Leftovers

I put a leftover turkey carcass in my backyard for Thanksgiving this year.

Because, when you think about it, Thanksgiving is more about leftovers than anything else, really. Leftover turkey. Leftover cranberry sauce. Leftover stuffing. Growing up, every breakfast I had for a week after the holiday was leftover pumpkin pie.

In terms of the turkey carcass, though, this year was the first that I hosted Thanksgiving myself and, in the end, I was surprised with the task of having to dispose with the rather unglorious leftovers of what was once turkey in recognizable form. According to one of my guests, the remains of this bird—that travelled all the way from the US to stare me down with the question of his meaty skeleton—are good for making soup stock.

However, being in Europe and all, my fridge simply wasn’t big enough to accommodate all the leftovers that my bountiful Thanksgiving harvest produced, and the promise of future soup didn’t warrant the space the big guy would take. Instead, my fella and I somehow came to (the completely sober) conclusion that the best thing to do with him was simply to put him in the backyard for any Dublin wildlife that wanted him.

Things have since gotten a little out of hand though.

See, the turkey wanted to go home. He was, apparently, very indignant in the first place when he was sacrificed to the Thanksgiving gods and shipped off to Ireland back in October. He wasn’t upset at the dying (not everybody can be like Drumstick and Wishbone, who were always insufferably pretentious anyway) because at least he knew that it was going to be for Thanksgiving rather than some weird, like, springtime thing where you just end up saran-wrapped in a sandwich in some grocery store in (probably) Minnesota. He was going to be the center piece of a good, American family’s dinner table. The hero of a Norman Rockwell painting.

But, somehow, he ended up in the Irish-bound batch, cooked by my novice hands, and tucked into some corner of counter space so that (only) two Americans, an Austrian, a Spaniard, and an Irishman could carry him over to a kitchen table barely able to accommodate five plates alone. When he didn’t even make it to leftover-status soup stock, but unceremoniously left out in the cold for a dumb American’s idea of a Helpful Vulture Figure Carrying him away into the night, the turkey reached his limit.

Almost needless to say, he hopped my fence and has since joined both a pack of Dublin pigeons and seagulls. He’s a double agent for the two warring groups (all dating back to the infamous Supermacs Garlic Cheese Fry Incident of 1997), just trying to see who can hook him up with the cargo loader of an American-bound ship first. I hear he’s a real killer: five pigeons and six seagulls thus far. Someone told me he even got a cat, but I’m not completely convinced. This is all, of course, in addition to the countless amount of food he’s stolen from children in Saint Stephen’s Green, number of tourists he’s shit on along the Liffey, and statues’ heads he’s looking menacingly down upon the world from. His favorite is old man O’Connell on O’Connell Street from which, I hear, he actually writes some excellent confessional memoir poetry and love sonnets for the (probably now) leftover soup stock back home who he used to share a good gobble with at the farm.

I’m sure you’ve seen the headlines, and this is all means by which I hope to say sorry for letting this monster out on the city. To say I’m sorry I didn’t give my leftovers their due respect.

Thanksgiving after all, and this year especially, is all about the leftovers. Respecting the ceremonious, continuous consumption of our food ad infinitum: leftover turkey and leftover cranberries and leftover potatoes and leftover pie and leftover stock. Don’t forget the stock; I know I never will again. Leftover plates we’ve emptied too. Leftover scents hanging around the kitchen. Leftover wine spit onto the floor from laughing and then forgotten, growing hard and sticky for later.

Leftovers from our past. Leftovers from creating a holiday. Leftovers from 19th-century attempts to make the mythological base for a young country’s exceptionalism. Leftovers from a history commencing at white invasion. Leftovers from the memory of foods native to America before they met the British recipe. Leftovers from forgetting. Leftovers from writing forgetfulness as heroism. Leftovers from learning heroism in such innocent tasks as popsicle pilgrims and tiny handprinted turkeys. Leftovers still stuck in crafting paste. Leftovers of a sense of home lost to so much time adrift.

Leftovers trying to get back home no matter what it takes.

Leftovers asking if home is a place from the top of O’Connell’s head.

Leftovers asking if it’s, instead, the simple sentiment that home can be found at the dinner table.

Leftovers implying meals to come. Leftovers asking how you will build your home from the bits and pieces of any culture that you (somehow) still have left.


Black and White and Gray All Over

I got a roll of black and white film.

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I fell in love with a roll of black and white film.

And at first, I was caught up in a deep internal conflict, thinking to myself, “but, black and white film and I have only known each other for so long. This is too fast. Lizzy, you’re not in love; this is only a strong, fleeting crush.”

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But then they sat me down one evening– in a room filled with a thousand candles (I was worried about the fire hazard, but when I voiced my concerns they told me to quiet down. Ireland had plenty of rain, and they had something important and Romantic to tell me, and that I was ruining it, as I do with these sorts of things) and rose petals and such–and took me by the hands and told me they were in love with me.

And I told them I loved them back before I knew what words were coming out of my mouth.

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We got married last weekend.

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In a very tasteful ceremony attended by our closest friends and relatives, except for Aunt Sarah, of course, because you know how militant she feels about the patriarchal institution of marriage and how she wouldn’t be caught dead in a room with people construing “oppressive law for love.”

We bought a cottage in the countryside, because it was too difficult to find a place for a young married couple in Dublin. We’ve adopted a basset hound mix from the local pound. His name is Rupert.

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The First Week in Dublin

First of all, thank you to the overwhelming support I got from real-world humans after my last post, and I PROMISE I’m okay! Y’all’s hearts are too sweet.

Second, I’ve officially been in Dublin for a week, and it is beyond incredible! If everything that happened leading up to this move was unlucky, it was only balancing the scales for everything that would follow. Due to a missed flight, I didn’t end up getting into Dublin until after midnight last Friday, and I did get a little lost finding my hostel (in what I’ve since been told isn’t a great part of town) and ended up circling the same block three times with about eighty pounds of luggage. Eventually I found it, a man with giant eyes and a vaguely Eastern European accent gave me my key, and I passed out in what I’ve since become convinced was a dirty and currently-in-use bunk.

The next morning, I woke up at 6 am in a panic that all my electronics were dead, I had my first apartment viewing at 11, and I didn’t have the right converter for Ireland. So I set out on the town to find a converter, revive my electronics at a coffee shop, and look up directions to the viewing. I then went and got a phone plan (um, 20 euros a month for unlimited data????) and headed to the viewing. It was a studio apartment, and I knew I had no chance of getting it in Dublin’s absolutely insane renting world, but I thought I’d try. Instead, I ended up meeting a really cool French woman in the same situation as me, and we exchanged contact information to get together later.

I wandered. I went to the National Gallery. Within twenty-four hours of being in Dublin, I was sipping Irish whisky on a park bench with a ginger Irishman in Saint Stephen’s Green and staying up until 4 am with the city.

Every time something has started to go wrong in this country it has fixed itself. Was supposed to make an appointment with immigration ten weeks in advance, but can instead try gambling on something sooner at 2:30 every day? How about noon next Monday. The hostel seems to come from the pits of hell (i.e. a chain smoker who didn’t stop smoking in the room from the moment he moved into when he was kicked out the next day; a large, fat man on the bed above you who amps himself up to get to the top bunk in his underwear next to your face around 4 am every night; a man flat out sleeping naked there)? Let it make you bond with the other international students  that the French woman introduces you to, and have them hook you up with a spot at their accommodation in the middle of downtown.  Find a surprise negative charge on your Trinity account that seems to have come out of nowhere? Oh no, that’s just because red and in the negative somehow means that the school owes you that number and then gives you everything you need to open an Irish bank account to give it to you. Are fifty cents short for a bus ride? Just get on anyway.

One of my best friends from when I studied abroad in Denmark came to visit and we got drunk at the Guinness Storehouse (a kind of Disneyland meets a museum meets alcoholism fiasco), watched a full rainbow fall over the city, and sunbathed over vegetarian food in Merrion Square.

I got to meet an Irish friend I’ve had online for almost a year now in person.

Got a beautiful apartment with beautiful roommates. Got a hand from a beautiful friend in the move.

Have somehow wandered into every scene from a bad Irish romance novel several times over.

I seriously just can’t believe how happy and at ease I feel in this city.  I can be a pretty shy person, but I genuinely feel like I want to talk to/befriend/get to know every single person that I see here. There is nothing that a city can give a person more than the simple sense of belonging, and I have never felt this more than I do in Dublin. I absolutely cannot wait for the year to come.

The First Couple Weeks Back in Europe

…have been really fucking intense. Like, Jesus Christ, has it always been this bad? No cheeky tongue-in-said-cheek artsy-ass way to convolute it: the past few weeks have just been an adventure.

My original plan coming back to Europe before starting school in Dublin on September 11 was to go and WWOOF (organic farm labor in exchange for food and housing) near Paris for about a week and a half, move to Dublin, get a phone/housing/bank account/etc etc, and start school. I found an orchard just a train ride out of Paris that looked quite lovely, and the host and I set up the ten-day arrangement for mid-August.

Starting at the Chicago Airport on my way to Paris, things already went awry when I had paid for two checked bags that somehow didn’t show up on my ticket (calling Kiwi did nothing, by the way), and I dealt with it simply by weeping at the check-in lady until she let both on the plane.

Then, at the orchard, I was (somehow) surprised to find that the host was a single old man retired from a career as a lawyer. Without thinking, I had just assumed it would be like the last three times I had WWOOFed where it had always been a family with at least one other WWOOFer. A little nervous about this set-up, I went along with it for four days that, I found, just got creepier and creepier. The man complimented me consistently on everything from my French to my personality to (especially) my looks. One night, I couldn’t get away from him to go to sleep because he wanted to talk to me about how a smile like mine was a gift to the world for fifteen minutes straight. I had read his reviews on the WWOOFing website and they had all been very positive, so I stayed thinking that it was probably just me being overly sensitive. However, one day, he took me with him to the grocery store, and, when he asked me if there was anything French I particularly missed, and I said the Trésor cereal, he bought it and said I could maybe thank him with a kiss. When I recoiled a little, not sure what to say, he said “no, maybe not here” and then gave me a big speech in the car ride home about how it was more important to give than to receive. Upon talking to the boy I had dated in France this past year—who now lives in Brussels—about it, he told me I needed to leave, and that I was welcome at his for the next seven days before I left for Dublin.

I booked the bus. Unsure of what to tell my WWOOFing host, I said I was going to Brussels for the weekend and just needed to take all of my things with me because I owed my friend a lot of books and instruments. He believed me for a few hours, but then got suspicious and demanded over and over that I tell him the truth. When eventually I said I was going to Brussels for good, he yelled at me that I was a coward and a liar all the way from packing up my things to carrying them all the way across his gravel driveway in the pouring rain to the gate out of his property. It was insane. If you are thinking of WWOOFing, it is absolutely wonderful (usually), but BE CAREFUL and make sure you will not be alone!

This past week in Brussels was nice, but certainly intense in its own way due to spending more time with my ex-boyfriend than we probably ever did while we were actually dating. I had nothing to do (why I had wanted to use this time for WWOOFing in the first place) and picked fights. Alcohol is cheap in Belgium, and we probably drank a little too much. Then, two days ago, the Fella got in a bike accident that sent him over the handles of his bike and into the street. Although he did not go to the doctor and says he’s getting better, he’s been in pain and unable to move his right arm since.

I almost fell for a housing scam in Dublin yesterday.

Currently, I am sitting in the Paris Beauvais Airport for the next nine hours after having already been travelling for eleven hours straight because, due to a string of unfortunate events, I missed my flight to Dublin by fourteen minutes.

I hate to believe in luck and, if there is such a thing, I know that I have an obnoxious amount of it. But I still can’t help but wonder if I am momentarily cursed, and when it will lift (I had just gotten in a car accident and, separately, a flat-tire on the freeway the week before coming to Europe).

I keep beating myself up for being here, and, as always, reading about what’s crumbling to pieces at home.

I hope these weeks have not been a reflection of what this year is to hold. I am incredibly, beyond excited to live in one of my favorite cities in the world, but, after all this, I am honestly feeling discouraged and a little out of my depth.

An IUD Perspective

To be completely honest, I feel a little weird writing a blog post about getting an IUD. Not that women should be ashamed of their bodies or anything, but it’s a little strange to broadcast to the world what’s inside my uterus these days. However, I really quickly want to share a bit about my experience getting an IUD this past week, since I know I looked to the experience of others on the internet while getting ready for mine, and many on the internet had experiences that were fairly different than mine and my best friend’s, who had gotten hers a couple months ago and helped me through mine. So here’s what went down from my perspective…

Why I chose to get an IUD
I stared taking the pill when I was fourteen because I had horrendously painful periods (i.e. dripping sweat due to the pain in the middle of class until it would get so bad I’d have to go home), and didn’t stop until this past year when I moved to France and– for some reason that I forget now– didn’t bring enough with me. When I got into a relationship, I started the pill back up and experienced crushing mood swings and depression that I hadn’t felt since puberty. This experience made me question if the depression I felt all throughout high school was entirely a natural byproduct of, well, being a teenager, or actually how my body just deals with hormones. Either way, I had to stop taking the pill, and I’ve felt pretty averse to starting hormones ever again since.

How I chose my IUD
I started by going to my health insurance’s website and seeing which IUDs they covered. I then looked up the three that were covered and decided I wanted Paragard, since it was the copper, non-hormonal, option. The way copper IUDs work is that they kill sperm, while hormonal IUDs do more for making the uterus not suitable for eggs. They are 99% effective at preventing pregnancy and last for TWELVE YEARS! With copper IUDs, they normally make period cramps a lot worse for the first couple months (the doctor discouraged me from this option due to my history of painful periods, but, again, I was trying to avoid hormones). I then researched Planned Parenthoods around me to see which one took my insurance, called them to ask if they had Paragard, and made an appointment.

Getting the IUD

This is where my experience seems to diverge from many. Prior to getting my IUD, I had read that it generally wasn’t that painful, and just felt like period cramps. My mom’s best friend and her daughter had been fine afterward and drove themselves home. The doctor herself said that experiences varied, but most didn’t experience too much pain.

My best friend was visiting me from Albuquerque by chance on this day. This friend is probably the toughest woman I know and is a wildfire firefighter. She had gotten her IUD a few months prior and said it was more painful than breaking bones. When she got hurt in the field this summer, her crew asked her how painful it was from 1 to 10 and what the 10 was. The 10 was getting her IUD. Anyway, she said she would drive me home just in case, since I had been planning to drive myself.

And I am glad she did. I would like to think I have a pretty high pain tolerance: I’ve broken an arm and a leg, I’ve had mono and strep throat at the same time (and didn’t even notice until I went to the doctor for a regular check up), I’ve danced several dance concerts with shin splints. The operation, though, was incredibly painful. There were several points where I thought I was going to have to back out and ask the doctor to stop. I cried. I almost passed out. It was definitely the most pain I had ever felt, and it lasted for a little over two hours. After the two hours, the pass-out-level pain came and went in pretty frequent waves for the next two days. Now, they are coming sporadically at bad-period levels, but, for example, they kept me up for a couple hours last night. I am not out of it yet, but I expect, from what the doctor said, for this phase to last for about two months.

And, again, everybody’s experiences vary. For me, this was definitely the most pain I have ever experienced.

But hey I’m still happy as a clam to have an IUD! I can’t (99% at least) get pregnant for the next twelve years, which is basically the rest of my fertile life! Two months is only .01% of my relationship with this IUD fella, even if it’s pretty awful.

Hope another story was helpful, and I wish you the best with your IUD!