Blogversary

WordPress wished me happy birthday today, making this terrible toddler three years old now.

I remember I started this blog as a New Year’s resolution in 2016 when I was nearing graduation from my undergrad and had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my adult life, but figured I might as well document the way there.

Three years later, I am back in the same place, but without even having a job offer or not on the Spring horizon to give me a hint. Or, as in 2017’s case, a place in a masters course or not. I got the job; I’m currently getting the masters (in (marketable) literature), but Spring 2018 has no answers in sight. I’ll have to wait until right up until the end of this course in the summer to know what my next steps are. Where I’m going. What country I’ll live in. What I’ll be doing. Who I’ll know. If I’m—for once—staying put.

It is that time of year spent reflecting on the past, and I’m curious how a deeply strange 2017 will inform a 2018 and beyond.

I started 2017 in Paris, but was living in the small French town Pézenas near Montpellier teaching English as a foreign language.

Then I moved back to Flagstaff for three weeks of training to mentor youth on environmental work with the Arizona Conservation Corps, ending up eventually assigned to a full summer in the hellishly hot Verde Valley.

Then I moved to Dublin, started my masters, lived in a hostel, lived in a six-person two-bedroom apartment in Temple Bar, lived in an adorable cottage next to the biggest metropolitan park in Europe, Tindered way too hard for a little too long, started seeing someone, started tutoring writing online, started barista-ing at Starbucks, joined a community choir, also joined a chapel choir. In short, 2017 ended overbooked, and so 2018 starts.

Working on this fancy MPhil in literature and all (it comes with a lace border hand-stitched by Long Room elves, whereas MAs normally only get a lace-it-yourself kit, and BAs, of course, get a slap in the face), I accidentally confuse real life for literature all the time. Right now, light deprived in Northern Europe, I can’t help but feel like I’m in some kind of nighttime limbo between 2017’s day (France and Arizona were so sunny) and 2018’s. I may not be able to see what’s coming in the dark, but it is a sleep full of vivid dreams. Hopefully, at least one of them will turn out a premonition for tomorrow.

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The Libraries at Trinity

I’ve always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.

Jorge Luis Borges

 

It’s not every day you live in a country whose list of main tourist attractions include a library. It’s not every day you attend the university in possession of that library. It is everyday, though, if you are a student at that school, that you can go to said library for free.

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It is never the day that you need to go to said library for any useful book-purposes. That day was built for the Berkley, the Ussher, the Lecky. Cement. Computers. Colorful rows of books whose smell is still bound between their covers rather than leaking into the atmosphere of heavy-handed old wood.

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Librarians who think their profession is to earn the library its ethos through making you feel inferior. Don’t ask them for help. Whisper, dammit. Memorize the Dewey Decimal System. Their spines don’t smell like old leather, but, rest assured, they are trying.

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Every day, they go to the tanning salons along the Liffey that most tourists look at and wonder, “Really? In Dublin? Who is sustaining this?” The tourists swim their way upstream through a river of fish-bellied Irishmen, and the librarians slip, quietly, always quietly, into sustaining this out-of-place practice.

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They want the Long Room. They want to bind themselves in leather. Stamp their faces in golden Latin. Climb a ladder nearer to Paradise. They stare at students with computers and phones and magnetized student identification cards, and cast out their days to sand melted into cement walls. They harden, every day, into cement themselves: sculpted busts like they knew they were always meant to be. Cold furniture along the edge of a living bookshelf.

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You go to school. You read. You wander into the Long Room. You do not look to the busts for anything.

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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.