Tuesday, January 13, 2009

It Certainly Took Me Long Enough...

Greetings from America!

I'm sorry this took me so long --- I couldn't really bear to conclude the blog while I was still in Dublin. Even if I had, it would have been difficult to make clear everything that I've recognized during the fall semester abroad.

The last week was insanity (both good and bad chaos, but just that). Somehow, we all got onto our separate flights and made our way back across the ocean. It was wonderful to get home, to see the low gas prices and to be able to drive on the right side of the road, and to have as many pillows and as few potatoes as I wanted. But it didn't really seem as if we had been gone.

Christmas came in a flash --- a sweet, humble, quiet one at that --- and suddenly it was 2009. Writing the family Christmas letter, it certainly seems as if a lot got done during 2008. There's a lot to be proud of, and a lot to remember, and I'm surprised we managed it all in one year.

I'm writing now from my little dorm room in Manhattan. Classes don't start for another week, and I haven't said a word out loud for hours now...it's quiet and cold, but I'm hoping all of my good habits from Dublin and from home came with me to the city. Please cross your fingers for me that this spring semester goes as well as the fall semester away did. And even if it doesn't, I'm going to keep an open and determined mind to get as much as I can out of it.

Thank you all so much for reading this. It was such a comfort to me to be able to update you all on the goings-on in Dublin. But we're (pretty much) all in the same time zone now, aren't we? So let's keep in touch.

Slan go foil and goodbye for now,

Saturday, December 6, 2008

One More Week!

A few weeks ago I took a little field trip to the National Museum of Ireland --- it's just down the road on Kildare Street, and it makes a nice free afternoon-filler. I'm sure for some people it would be really amazing, room after room of old stone bowls and iron spears. Don't get me wrong, it was all fascinating, but I was there for one reason: bog bodies.

I'm telling you about this not to give you the willies, but to give you all an idea about what we might look like when we come back from Dublin. I feel like a bog body, anyway. All tired and leathery and my hair a disaster. One week left, and then my parents will pick me up at Dulles Airport and not recognize me.

That being said, don't worry! I'm doing my part to keep holiday spirit in my heart --- Nia and I are watching Dukes of Hazzards with a tray of homemade cinnamon buns between us. It's all part of getting ready to come home. We're in the cleaning-out-the-fridge phase. The two things we have to use up: butter and brown sugar. What else are we supposed to do?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Sunday, November 30, 2008

"Is My iPhone Communicating With the Dead?" and other FAQ

Tonight, rather than work on our screenplays and music videos...

....we photocopied our faces.
....we summoned spirits with a Ouija board.
....we had a competition to see who could hold their breath the longest.

Q: When do you come home, Monica?
A: December 14th!

Q: That's only two weeks away! Are you excited to come back?

Q: Are you getting lots done in Dublin?
A: Normally, yes. This morning was obscenely productive. Right now, not so much.

Q: Do you miss us?
A: Are you KIDDING?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

I Get Top Bunk!!

Thanksgiving came at the perfect time for all of us here in Dublin. The twelve kids in the music video program and the twelve screenwriters have been working feverishly (with all of the delirium and hilarity that comes with any fever), and it all came to a head this past week. Pretty much everyone has been working on the music video shoots this week, running around Dublin with camera equipment and giant dice and knitted trees and paint-filled water balloons.

In case you were worried, the bear heads came out just fine. And the last-minute bear paws look great. If I never see another bear again I will be a happy, happy person.

Here's my theory on sets, though, and I think it'll help everyone not familiar with film shoots understand what it's like: being on a shoot is like going to summer camp. Except you're both the counselor and the camper.

You've got to be mature enough to keep chaos at bay, but irresponsible enough to throw any dignity in the garbage and make a fool of yourself. You hardly ever sleep, you get weird rashes, you eat nothing but peanut butter and chips for weeks at a time, and everyone smells funny. If you aren't keeping the campers from drowning in the lake, you're earning badges in bridge-painting or knot-tying or stiff upper-lip-keeping. There are rival cabins, and homesick bunkmates, and lots of secrets and gossip. After the week, you have a whole host of new memories and scars and friends. Sometimes you say never again, you'll never spend another summer locked away with such nutjobs, but then you remember about the time Joe got his sleeve stuck in the electric saw or Ellen accidentally knocked over the whole set trying to get apple slices to the actor, and you know you'll beg your parents to send you back. That's my two cents, anyway.

Also, if you're ever in Ireland and wondering what flavor of Disco Chips to buy: BBQ Beef Flava makes everything smell like cat food. Keep the morale up, and stick to Salt n' Vinegar.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Tanksgiving!

Okay, okay, Dublin, you did it again...enough with the holiday magic.

It's just too perfect that when we're rushing around the apartment cooking Thanksgiving dinner with a turkey that barely fits in the oven and rolls that won't rise, you've thrown a Christmas party outside our window. We're getting teary and sentimental and so happy to be cooking together and there's a brass band literally below our balcony playing "Adeste Fidelis" and "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" while people are flocking around the Temple Bar Christmas tree. Free mince pies and cups of mulled wine? You're killing me.

What are you trying to do? We're poor Americans making the best pies we can, all of us calling home in terror because the jelly won't gel, and Irish breadcrumbs are beyond our comprehension, and only mothers can calm us and tell us how to wash the turkey cavity properly. And you're outside, being beautiful and putting holiday cheer back in our hearts.

Ack! Now "Jingle Bells!" You've got the mayor outside, schoolchildren with French horns and trumpets, and everyone making merry. It's too much, you guys. What's next? Sending elves to hang mistletoe over my bed while I'm sleeping? Putting gingerbread in my pockets when I'm cold and stomping my way through the wind?

Fine, I'm thankful for you, and I'm so sorry to be leaving you in two weeks. But enough is enough! This is too nice for kids like us --- we're getting coal in our stockings, and you're convincing us otherwise.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Fixing the Mean Reds, Dublin-Style

“ ‘Listen. You know those days when you’ve got the mean reds?’

‘Same as the blues?’

‘No,’ she said slowly. ‘No, the blues are because you’re getting fat or maybe it’s been raining too long. You’re sad, that’s all. But the mean reds are horrible. You’re afraid and you sweat like hell, bu you don’t know what you’re afraid of. Except something bad is going to happen, only you don’t know what it is. You’ve had that feeling?’

‘Quite often. Some people call it angst.’

‘All right. Angst. But what do you do about it?’ ”

Not ten minutes after I posted that last gloomy entry (thank you for putting up with me), the other sweet barista here brought by a hot chocolate with mounds of whipped cream and caramel and nutmeg and cinnamon. She leaned over and put the mug on my table, saying with her cute Polish accent the three best words a broke American student abroad can hear: "it's for free!" I nearly cried again. It was wonderful hot chocolate and healed pretty much everything that was troubling me.

Wrote more, sipped more, bought some Diet Coke and went back to my apartment. Then Dublin did something wonderful. It sent the good yellow-vested workers of the City Council (or fairies, or elves) out to put this outside my window:

A Christmas tree of my own. Perfect.

And that's my window where I am right now, warmish and drinking my tea. It's not necessarily Holly Golightly's answer to fixing the mean reds, and I don't know if there's even a Tiffany's to have breakfast at in Dublin, but I'm pretty happy with it all.

Nineteen days left! Ready for me to come back?