Sunday, December 16, 2012

And Then I Neglected to Update My Blog

So, overview of life between Scotland and now.

After Edinburgh, I got on a choo choo train and peaced out of Scotland to go to London. I disembarked at Kings Cross, because, I mean, Harry Potter. Went through Platform 9 3/4. It was pretty much the best. Then a taxi took me to my hostel. The hostel was pretty lame and had poor wifi.

Next day, I went and wandered around London. I saw some stuff. I was like, "Oh, hey, Big Ben. What's up?" Big Ben didn't reply, because it's a clock. Westminster Abbey was there, but I didn't go in. I wandered around until I found Buckingham Palace. There were a lot of people standing around. I didn't know why, but I had nothing better to do with my life, so I joined them. I think that it was for the changing of the guards. There were horses. And a marching band. That's all I know. The palace has nice gates.

OH OH OH. And then. And then, I found a park. And it was a lovely park. But it was even lovelier when I found the squirrels. I found them in the park, and they touched me. I was touched by two squirrels. I don't think you understand how the best thing in life is being touched by a squirrel. I mean, squirrels.

Then, I finally got to ride my ferris wheel. I've been trying all year to ride a ferris wheel. So, I paid nine million dollars to go up in the London Eye. On a scale of one to ten, it was mediocre.

I found an arcade and played some arcade games. I had no one with whom to play air hockey, so it was a sad day. And, of course, I found a phone booth in London and dialed 62442.

Then, on the next day, I got on a bus and went to Stonehenge. So, that happened. Then that tour bus took me to Bath, England, where I ate a croque madame. And it was faaaaaaaabulous. Oh, and there was a guy there painted like a statue. He had bird food, and all the pigeons were chilling with him. He handed me a handful of bird food, and I got to hold a one footed pigeon. It was pretty much my favorite part of life.

Oh! And the next day, I figured out how to work the London Underground. It goes directly to Heathrow Airport and is probably the most convenient public transportation system ever. So then I flew back to Dublin, hooray.

So, I went to Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland. It was cold and windy, but I would rate the experience as worth it.

Then I went to Killarney on a choo choo train. I met up with my 'Mericans and we went to a wine and art festival. By "wine and art festival," I mean "pay 20 euro to drink all the wine and eat all the cheese festival." So, we did that. I ate a lot of cheese. Drank a lot of wine. Bought a painting. Drew a picture of a Christmas tree and won a basket of foodstuffs. AAAAAAAAAAWW YEAH.

And we also went on a hike in nature and found a castle. So, that was pretty cool.

Then it was the Christmas outing for the staff at my school. We went to some French restaurant. I still haven't decided if I liked it or not. The secretary kept trying to force me to drink wine the entire dinner. Then everyone was buying me drinks afterwards at the pub. Then they took me to a nightclub. I simultaneously enjoyed and hated it. There were too many people and they kept pushing. But there were some songs that you just haaaave to dance to, and I mean, you can't be hateful when you're dancing. I think that's a contradiction of terms. What I learned is that while in 'Merica, you could potentially be dismissed from a teaching job if news got around that you were being publicly intoxicated, in Ireland, you go out with the staff from your school to get publicly intoxicated.

Now, children, I'll be home in a hot second.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Once Upon a Time, It Was Midterm Break: Part Deux

So, then, this one time, I was walking through Edinburgh, and I saw this sign that said "Loch Ness Tours."

So I was like, "A'ight."


And, let me tell you: The Scottish highlands are Skyrim. Let me show you.

Every time I was near water, I was looking out for Mudcrabs. So, it's my newest theory that the Loch Ness monster is really a dragon. MAYBE NESSIE IS PAARTHURNAX.

Or, maybe Nessie is actually just some sort of waterfowl:


But I also did capture the traditional version of Nessie on camera:

Woah, look at that plesiosaur go.

On a scale of 1 to awesome, I would give the Scottish Highlands a rating of over 9000.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Once Upon a Time, It Was Midterm Break

And I did some stuff.

I started by getting on an airplane. And I was like, "Peace out, Ireland; I've got grown-up things to do."

(I don't know what exactly made the things I was doing grown-up, but that's what I told Ireland as I peaced out.)

Then my airplane landed in a magical place called Edinburgh. I got off that airplane like the royalty I am, and I demanded that a bus take me to some bridge. Then the bus driver, who was a lovely, helpful, old man, gave me directions to my hostel. But I'm 'Merican. I don't need no stinking directions. (Or, rather, I'm really bad at following them. And maps are hard.) So instead of arriving at the hostel, which was a 5 minute walk away, I ended up walking around Edinburgh for an hour at 9 p.m. It was wet. My toes were soaked through. But, son, Edinburgh is beautiful, so I was a'ight with that. Then I found the hostel. And I demanded that they provide me with a bed. The poor hostel workers were powerless against my imperius curse and submitted to my demands. (Or I had already booked a bed, and I gave them some money. But this is my story.) So then I found my bed, and there were some 'Mericans in there. They were studying nursing or something somewhere in England. Whatever. The important thing is that they were able to direct me to a Subway (EAT FRESH) that was still open.

On my way to that Subway, I noticed a beautiful, red-fronted building. It wasn't beautiful because it was red. You know how I feel about the color red. It's stupid and angry and I don't want it polluting my life. But, nonetheless, it was beautiful. Why? Because of a sign displayed in the lower window. Folks, I had stumbled upon the Holy Grail. The place that brought meaning to my pathetic human existence. Because the building that I encountered was none other than The Elephant House - a cafe/restaurant in which the mighty one, J.K. Rowling, spent copious amounts of time penning the novel that started it all. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.

So, the next morning, when I awakened from my slumber, I put on my big girl pants (figuratively; er'body knows that I don't wear pants) and rolled down the street to The Elephant House. (I might have walked rather than rolled. But I think that you'll enjoy this story more if you imagine me rolling down the street in Edinburgh.) I walked in the door. And, ERMAHGERD I nearly cried. Because I was IN THE PLACE WHERE HARRY POTTER BEGAN. Then I ate banana, peanut butter, and honey on toast.

Upon leaving the sacred cafe, I found myself staring at Greyfriars Bobby's Bar. The name rang a bell in the back of my mind, so I examined it. And it detailed the story of the dog who stayed on his owner's grave for over a decade. Behind the bar, I discovered a cemetery (Greyfriars Kirkyard). And er'body knows how I like really old cemeteries. So I explored. This cemetery had headstones dating back to the 1600s that were still vaguely legible. I vaguely wondered if I might be able to find names connected to Harry Potter in that cemetery, so when I got back to the hostel, I asked my bff, Google, what cemetery had the Tom Riddle grave. Turns out I had been in the right place all along. So, I went back and wandered. While wandering, I noticed a few Americans who were also closely examining the ancient grave markers. One gasped, but then said, "It's not Potter related." These kindly ladies directed me to that which I was searching for, and I discovered the grave of Thomas Riddell.

Then I did some other stuff. It's not important. What is important is that I went on some ghostyghost tours. With one tour group, I went into the Edinburgh Vaults - the underground city of Edinburgh that laid largely forgotten for over a hundred years. I got to play with an EMF detector on that tour, and it went wild and craycray in Mr. Boots' room.

I did another tour with a different tour group that went to Greyfriars Kirkyard (the cemetery mentioned above). I actually went with them twice (one went into a different section of the vaults and then to the cemetery, the other was just the cemetery). In the cemetery, there's a section that is gated off. It's known as the Covenanters' Prison. I am not going to history lesson in my blog (mainly because I'm lazy), so if you're interested to know the atrocities that were committed there nine million years ago, let me acquaint you with my bff Google. The moral of the story is that it's locked off because of unexplained happenstances which center mainly on one tomb. People feel cold spots, pass out, and develop unexplained bruises and burn marks on their bodies. There is a story that goes behind it with the Mackenzie Poultergeist (again, you can google it). The moral of the story is that I took nine million pictures in there, and I caught a lot of dust or a lot of orbs on camera.

Oh, also there were kilts and bagpipes in Edinburgh. And everyone knows that my husband is a Scottish, bagpipe playing, kilt wearing, bearded marine biologist.

So, let me review Edinburgh for you. On a scale of 1 to awesome, I would say that it was Scottish. And if you've met me, you know how I feel about Scottish.

Friday, October 19, 2012

When in Ireland

Some of you might be thinking, "I'd like to be an awesome world traveler like you! You're so awesome."

And, yes, I am awesome.

But you're probably also thinking, "Man, I am too American to travel to non-English speaking countries. Learning languages takes too much work, and I'd like to pretend that I can't do it because I'm a grown up. I think I'll meander to Ireland!"

Well, American, you're in luck. The primary spoken language in Ireland is good ol' English.

But if you choose to meander to Ireland, there are some critical differences in the language.

Imagine for a moment that you are wandering the streets of Dublin/Cork/Limerick/Ireland. You meet a stranger and begin to talk. Your conversation goes like this:

  • You: "Words words words, ramble ramble ramble, words words words, I'm American!"
  • Irish person: "Words in an Irish accent!"
  • You: "I'm looking for something to do, good sir. What can you recommend?"
  • Irish person: "You can go to the place over yonder for some good crack."

At this point, you're probably thinking, "Did this Irish man-woman just suggest that I go get some crack-cocaine?"

The answer is no. Well, probably not, anyway.

The Irish man-woman-child was most likely just letting you know that the place over yonder is good craic. Craic, while pronounced "crack," is the Irish word for "fun." So, in Ireland, the craic is safe. Though you might still want to avoid the crack.


  • You: "Oh, that's just awesome. I am always looking for some good craic."
  • Irish person: "I saw a film the other day that was good craic. It had your man, what's his name, in it."

You might be confused about who your man is. Don't worry; the Irish man-woman-child-cat was not suggesting that you are in a homosexual/heterosexual/bisexual/multisexual/velociraptorsexual relationship with "your man."

"Your man" is simply the equivalent of the American phrase, "that guy."

Another thing that you might notice during your sojourn to Ireland is the use of the word "like."

"Like" is a word that is frequently abused in all varieties of the English language as far as I can tell. Americans, like, use, like, the word "like" as, like, a filler, and like, um, an adjective, and like, they just like to, like, abuse the word "like."

The Irish use the word "like" at the end of sentences like. And it might confuse Americans into thinking that there's more to the sentence than there is. BUT THERE'S NOT.

Because your man is good craic like.

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Day the Pumpkin Died

Let me tell you.

I am not one for homesickness. In fact, I don't think I've ever been homesick in my life. Peace out; I'm off adventuring.

But there are some things that just make me shed a little tear. (Figuratively, not literally. I've cried while I was here, but that was only because I was reading Deathly Hallows, and if you can get through that book without crying, then you're probably Voldemort. In which case stop reading my blog. No evil wizards allowed.)

Sure, the stores close ridiculously early. The pharmacies that are advertised as "late night" close at 9 on weekdays and 6 on weekends. They clearly missed the memo defining the term "late." But, whatever, I tend to peace out of town by 6 p.m. anyway since 6 is when my dinner is served. And I'm not going out after I eat. Because I stare at the internet for hours upon end after I eat. That's just how the world works.

(For the record, I do more than just stare at the internet while I'm in Ireland. Sometimes I go sit by the seafront and read. Sometimes I sit on the pier and read. Sometimes I sit in People's Park and read. Sometimes it rains and I choose to take pictures of pigeons because that's what normal people do when it rains. Don't judge me. You don't know me.)

(For the other record, I also do things other than read in various locations. On the weekends, I go frolicking about the country. I've been to the National Museum of Archaeology, the National Museum of Natural History, the Sea Life aquarium place, Dublinia which is a museum about Viking and medieval Dublin, the Listowel horse races, Cork, and Kinsale. And maybe other places. It's not my job to remember things.)

And, yeah, all my frands are at home. But they're part of the internet, and since I neglect them while I'm at home in favor of the internet, whatever. And at any rate, the large amount of time I spend alone helps me to not hate people for being people.

And my Big Black Dog is not in Ireland. And he is a handsome man. But, srsly, for the past x number of years, I haven't lived with him. So. Yeah. And sometimes when I'm chilling at the park, dogs walk up to me. They're like, "Hey bro, I'm a dog. Just chillin'. You wanna pet me?" And I'm like, "Totally." Then we pet. It's good times.

The one thing that could force one into homesickness is the lamentable lack of pumpkin products that plagues Ireland.

Has no one thought to can pumpkin here?

This is October. In 'MERICA, one should eat nothing but pumpkin product starting in September and going until at least mid-November.

It's a sad day, really. You say "pumpkin pie," and people are like, "Wait wait wait. You put pumpkin in a pie? That sounds ridiculous."

No, Irish people. Pumpkin belongs in everything.

The only salvation is Starbucks, which, bless its American heart, has that delightful beverage known as the Pumpkin Spice Latte. Pure bliss in a cup.

Oh, and I did find a street vendor selling "pumpkin bread," but I don't think there was any pumpkin in it.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Expectations vs. Reality

So, before you travel abroad, everybody and everybody's mom are like, "THIS IS HOW YOUR LIFE WILL BE BECAUSE THIS IS WHAT EVERYONE EXPERIENCES."

And I'm like, "lol, you forgot to take into consideration how I tend to be the exception to your silly rules of society."

And that's how it went down.

Everybody says that you'll cry at the airport when you leave your family. Not my style, bro. Peace out, I'll be back in four months. This trip has a set limit of time. I have no reservations about being here. I, quite frankly, do not care that I've left my family and friends. (Not that I don't love you all. I do. Here, I got you a less than three: <3.) It would be a different situation if I had come here with no defined end date. Then I might be a bit upset about saying goodbye to everyone. But I have very clear plans of returning home in December. So, excepting the end of the world or death, I'll see everyone next year.

Then everyone says that you'll experience culture shock, even if your host culture is similar to that of your home culture. And I'm like, "lol, culture shock?" Seriously, did I even leave the USA? The most shocking thing thus far has been determining where the road signs are. Really, where are they? Half the time I still can't find them. They're always posted on a fence or a wall or not at all. I suppose I kind of had the honeymooning phase of culture shock, but that was really more of, "DUDE THERE'S A SEA RIGHT HERE I CAN GO LOOK AT THE SEA LOOK IT'S A SEA LET'S LOOK AT IT WATER." Because, you know how I roll: I really like water. It's kind of my jam. But, really, I kind of feel like I've lived here forever. There is no adjustment to this.

The biggest adjustment is my lack of car. And I figured out how to work public transportation after about three seconds. But, still, my car. Public transportation means that I have to plan in advance. That is just far too much work. I don't like having to think ahead. I am impulsive. I like to do things whenever I think of them. But with these buses and trains and what have you, I have to actually think about how I'm going to get to my intended destination. Then I have to follow the public transportation schedule which is a giant bummer.

Oh, and they neglect to tell you that a child will bite your bum while you're teaching. What?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Things I Miss, Part 2

I also miss Nashleton the Lion who is a very handsome man.

Happy, Margaret?