look, ruins!!

americans are obsessed with ruins. particularly the ruins of castles or churches or cemeteries, but really the ruins of anything will do. i discovered this over the weekend, when i rented a car with my crazy irish friend, ann marie, and our crazy american friend lamika. although it wasn’t my first time driving through ireland, there was an air of freshness about this trip.

there are ruins dotted across ireland, so you can’t really change gears without coming across some sort of delapidated castle or rotted out church. i find this to be a lovely and novel phenomenon and apparently i am not the only one. lamika, too, was fascinated by the ruins, much too ann marie’s chagrin. she pointed out that americans are obsessed with ruins and that even her american cousins went nuts over them during their visit. americans lack the sense of historical grounding in our culture that other nationalities take for granted, which probably explains why we are so interested in things like ruins and old buildings and architecture that is more than 100 years old. the irish certainly take their ruins for granted.

the trip to galway was a not-altogether-impromptu girls weekend away – a much needed break from dublin and the chance to get out on the “open road” (aka small 2 lane highway with roundabouts every few kilometres) with some good tunes and lovely scenery. spending saturday winding about the tiny backwater byways of connemara only further confirmed what i have long suspected – connemara is my favourite place on earth. the silence and wind and bareness are striking in a warm way and, although you never feel particularly welcome in connemara, there is a still a lingering sense of belonging. along the way, we got sidetracked from the “main” tiny backwater byway which served as a lovely detour. stopping into the only grocery we’d seen for ages, we heard nothing but irish being spoken by the patrons and proprietor. a few minutes later, we halted the car on the roadside for the perfect sheep photo-op (an ireland must-do). the sheep must have thought lamika was christ returned because they came stampeding across the field toward her at top speed, barely stopping short of the low stone wall (which they could easily have jumped) and bah’ing at her with ears pricked.

the whole affair has got me wanting to learn irish. all public signs (including road signage) in ireland are bilingual in english and irish, so places (and people) all have two names. as the weekend wore on, i annoyed ann marie with a constant string of “how do you say that?” or trying my hand at pronunciation and failing miserably. it’s a fairly fucked up language, but i am hooked.

other tidbits from my life of late:

– singing on stage in costume at dublin’s largest gay club with my friend who does an alter-ego singing act called mr. moneypenny. i was liberty dollar. we were sandwiched between an ongoing bingo game and a drag show, so we had to change costumes and makeup with the drag queens bitching about their corsets.

– booking a holiday to spain (with a night in germany). i couldn’t stand the idea of being in dublin for st. patrick’s day madness (read: drunkeness, tourists, vomit, tourists, chip bags, parade, vomit). so, off i am to barcelona & madrid for 6 days during reading week.

– work on school projects (definitely a lesser part of my life hah), including a group project analysing how irish pub culture might be an important key for new immigrants to feel more cross-culturally adapted in ireland. aka, a reason to go out and drink guinness!

– work on chinese newspaper stuff, including some limited success selling advertisements (which i have fondly taken to calling adverts, it’s just so english when you say it that way).

i think that is all for now, folks. check back next week for spain stuff. (SPAIN!)

february 2008

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