Monday, February 28, 2011

Mel Gibson was here. Kind of.

     We visited Kilkenny, and I didn’t meet anyone named Kenny. I think it’s because they’re all dead.  
      In Kilkenny, we climbed up our first round tower. I’m still not sure what the purpose of round towers is yet.  Some say valuables would be stored there or it would serve as a hiding place when Vikings invaded. However, all the Vikings need is a ladder to get in or fire to smoke out those in hiding, and those are two things the Vikings always had in their knapsacks apparently. I think they just wanted to spit bomb the people below for kicks and giggles because they knew they’d get away with it. Is it raining? [It always rains in Ireland.] Oh, ok.
     Kilkenny Castle was a beast of a structure. It was intact and everything. You know the movie Braveheart? It was filmed there. Well, one part of it. When you see the drawbridge being lowered in the film, the audio is from Kilkenny’s Castle. This landmark was almost really cool.
On our way out of Kilkenny, we stopped at the Rock of Cashel and Hore Abbey. St. Patrick’s cross is at the Rock of Cashel. Legend has it that if you hop on one foot nine times around the cross, you’ll get married. Our guide, somewhat bitterly, told us it didn’t work. That’s because the cross tourists are allowed to hop around is a replica and the real cross is inside with a fence around it covered in saran wrap or some other sort of preserving material. Or, perhaps it doesn’t work because you look a bit desperate and quite OCD repeatedly circling a rock on one foot.
                Hore Abbey (put your mind in the gutter and you’ll know how to pronounce it) was just down the lane from Rock of Cashel.  Now, here’s where I’m confused. The word “whore” came into being before 1100. Hore Abbey, a monastery, was erected in 1270. So, whoever named the abbey knew exactly what the name sounded like. The monks ranged in age from 12-35, so I think it must have been the result of a naming compromise between the elder monks and the younger monks.
                Harold: I think we should call it Pretty Abbey. What do you think?
                Cody: I’d like to call it the Saucy Hooker.
                Harold: That’s an abomination! How about Hore Abbey?
Is Hore Abbey in ruins because it's stripping itself down?

     I received a fine taste of Irish humor this week. Our bus driver, Brian Kinger, is 50ish and Irish. He’s the type to chase Guinness with Guinness.  At the pub, I overheard this conversation he was having with my roommate, Emily:
                Brian: So, do you have any kids?
                Emily: No, I’m 20.
                Brian: You’ve been menstruating since you were twelve.
Also, we saw a play in Dublin. I’m not much of a dramatic arts person. My parents took me to see the Nutcracker Ballet when I was about 9, and I didn’t smile for two hours. Those two instances were closely correlated. When Laura and Kyle (our program directors) told us we’d be seeing The Cripple of Inishmaan, I cringed a bit. I thought it was going to be a heavy drama about the cripple, or downfall, of the nation Inishmaan. Actually, it was a play featuring classic dark Irish humor about a guy with a limp and one hand who wants to be an actor in America. This was a huge relief since I’m always up for making fun of the disabled.
Waiting for the cripple to limp out.

     Swan Update:  I have bought both the swan’s and his mate’s allegiance with tasty wheat bread.
The student has beaten the master. So long, sensei.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

I bought a rainbow neck sweatshirt. It's like a crew neck.

It was bound to happen. I just didn’t expect it would be so soon.
After having coffee with the group in Dublin, we all trekked downstairs to the loo. I was admiring the bathroom and dilly dallying as usual. As I exited the stall, I noticed I didn’t recognize anyone in the room.  They left me. At this point in my life, I no longer entertain thoughts like Oh, maybe I beat them all out or They’re probably just waiting close by.  One time, I was in a bathroom so long, some girls started crying because they thought I’d died. [Really, I just didn’t want to go to cross country practice.] I’ve lost my restroom naiveté.  If my dad can leave me in a Fazoli’s bathroom 200 miles from home, a group of acquaintances can easily do the same.  Don’t worry, I made it out ok.  I can’t say the same for the reopened wounds on my heart.

I saw the Book of Kells and a Beauty and the Beast library wannabe at Trinity College, and I visited the president of Ireland's house on Saturday. In all of these places, photography was prohibited “due to the nature of the building”. Apparently, Irish buildings are prone to seizures in more ways than one.
We didn’t have to go through security for the tour at the president's house. You could bring in machetes and throwing stars, but NO COFFEE!  Her Luckiness would much rather have a bomb planted in the piano than a drop of drink on her golden baby statues. I can’t really tell you what I learned on that tour because our guide was a liar. She said, “I’m not going to touch this photograph because I knocked it over last time.” Then, she touched it. I’m starting to think this wasn’t even the president’s house at all.

I chased some sheep over mounds of dead people at Tara Hill. I had a brown one cornered and we danced a little dance, but I let the little fellow escape. For now. I want a wool sweater, and I want it for free.  Really, I was mainly just gathering data on how to best capture a sheep.
Discovery: Some sheep have horns, but they point inward.
Note to self:  Avoid sheep running in reverse.

After seeing two sets of ruins I have come to the conclusion that all ruins look pretty much the same. The main difference comes down to which one makes a better playground based on the number of holes in the structure. This one has crypts? Cannonball!
I hear St. Patrick's favorite game was red rover.

There is some influence from the United States trickling in over here. We watched the Super Bowl, and the Lions won! This season, the Lions beat the Packers , and the Packers won the Super Bowl. By the transitive property, the Lions are the Super Bowl champions. I can’t wait until it’s actually them playing in there next year! Also, we had hot dogs and spaghetti o’s for dinner the other day. I felt American, and it felt strangely like obesity.
Walking off spaghetti o's with my ginger friend. Only 78 more miles until we break even!
Playing football with lads. I'm picking daisies on defense.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

You Know Who's Good at Scavenger Hunts? Pigeons.

“It’s like there’s always a twist to make it more awesome.”- Jordan Shepherd, fellow classmate.
 You’ll have an exam… that’s open book
You must complete a 10 page term paper…about your feelings
Your assignment today is to go to two different towns and have coffee…and we’re buying.
School began this week, and I must have spent no more than four total hours in class after sleeping for nine hours each night. If you think I’m living the pampered life, you’re wrong. I have to pour my own cereal in the morning.
                Our first professor is Irish, and his name is Monty. He’s about a foot and a half taller than I expected, so he was at least 6 feet tall. He asked us, “What instruments do you play?” I told him I play piano, and sometimes I can sing so high it sounds like I’m screaming.
There’s a girl in my class who’s quite short. She puts her feet on a stack of books when she sits because she can’t touch the floor (and also fears varicose veins).  I haven’t found her gold yet, but I’ll keep you updated.
I. played. football. with. some. Irish. lads. the. other. day. [I wanted you to read that last sentence slowly so the awesomeness could sink in.]There was one other girl who played, and thus we were chosen as captains. I papered her rock and the bidding began. I knew nothing of the players’ skills so I had to judge based on looks. Should I go for the guy who looks like an American or the lad who has red hair and is named Cormac? “Your name’s Robert? And you don’t go by Bob? Yeah, I’ll take Cormac.”  I actually held my own against them, though. Those three-year-olds can be such pansies when you give ‘em a wee shove. Every time I got a goal I yelled, “FOR THE CATHOLICS!” But I never scored.  
On Saturday, we split into teams and embarked on a scavenger hunt in Dublin. Basically, it was just an excuse to talk to Irish people by asking them for directions. “Where can I find…oh, I can’t read this, it must be Gaelic…a Mac-Dawn-ahlds?”

We read English, not maps.

We found these guys last because hey, they weren't going anywhere.

 I did stumble upon the most awesome guy ever in Stephen’s Green. He was best friends with a swan.
Teach me your ways, sensei.

We almost missed the train on the way back. We darted in as the doors were closing. I am unsure if the doors will bounce open like an elevator’s if there’s a human in its midst, but I didn’t want to wait long enough to chance it. If I come back with one less arm (so just one), you’ll know curiosity got the best of me.