Archive for June, 2011
So karma has come back to bite me in the ass. We have a small gravelled courtyard in front of the house that is meant for parking. Our giant piece of Peugeot barely fits in parallel. Now, last entry I bragged about how I had gotten the hang of driving like an Irishman. No, not drunk. On the left, with 3 mm of clearance on either side. Then the trash happened. Since the Litter Police will come lock me up in a cardboard box if I leave any trash outside of the can (and the can is the size of shoebox), we had to hire what’s called a skip bin. It’s the metal open bin that is used a lot at construction sites. They have them in lots of sizes. So, we hired a small one to toss all the packaging from our move. I wasn’t home when they dropped off the bin, so they left it right in front of where you pull in, forcing you to park at an angle. Getting in is not so bad, but getting out is a bitch. On the way to drop the kids off at rugby camp, I was pulling out backwards into traffic and was so busy watching the cars and yelling at the kids to be quiet so Mommy could drive, that I drove the right side mirror right into the gate and snapped it off. I also snapped one of the sensors off the automatic gate. So, we had to pay to fix the mirror and to fix the gate. The worst was telling John. He didn’t care about the cost as much as he cared that he was going to have to tell the car rental people that he was the dummy who ran into something.
Bon Jovi is in town and playing the RDS Rugby stadium which is literally next door to us. I enjoyed seeing all the Irish in their best hair band gear, as they lined up to lip synch to Livin’ On A Prayer. It made me want to put on some ripped jeans, hairspray my hair to within an inch of its life, and ROCK ON. Maybe tonight. They are here for two nights. There was so much going on around the ‘hood that even Lincoln was aware. “Is that Bon Joeby playing??” , he kept asking. The weather has been beautiful for it. 60 and clear. It also stays light until almost 11 at night, so that makes everyone a little giddy. I wasn’t into Bon Jovi growing up, but it still makes me feel a little nostalgic. I was actually a Duran Duran girl. Speaking of, they were on the t.v. recently doing a behind the music kind of show. Sadly, time has not been kind. Nor has HDTV. Yikes.
I still haven’t met many people. There is an American Women’s Club Happy Hour tomorrow night that I am going to hit. It feels like I am a desperate single woman hitting the Regal Beagle from Three’s Company, so see if there are any “foxes” out. Ugh. But I am trying to be hopeful. As a good friend put it “You will meet people, wonderful drunk people who will become lifelong friends until they lose their teeth and die of cirrhosis. You will speak Gaelic and river dance. You will kiss the Blarney Stone.”
From her mouth to God’s ears. Except for that last part…..I heard the Irish pee on the Blarney Stone. Maybe I’ll skip that part. But the river dancing sounds nice….
One of the biggest adjustments has been the driving. We have a piece of Peugot that we have rented for a while until we decide on a car. It’s HUGE by European standards, a 7-seater. But it’s about the size of a Honda Civic. We look like a clown car unpacking whenever we arrive. It took me a few weeks to get confident driving and to not have to constantly remind myself to stay to the left. It was stressful to drive on the other side, while sitting on the other side of the car, while driving a stick, while trying to look at the GPS. There was a lot of “recalculating” from the GPS, because I would miss my turn. It says it in a sort of superior British voice too, so that’s just insult to injury. It’s like having that “You ARE the weakest link” lady being a back seat driver. There is also a lot of “recalculating” because the street signs are ridiculous. They are not posted anywhere useful to a driver. They are posted at about 3 feet high on the sides of buildings. So unless you are a leprechaun traveling on foot, you’re not going to see them. Maybe it makes the Irish feel taller. I’m not sure.
On the upside, Irish drivers are extremely polite. No one honks, which is amazing, given how often I am in the wrong lane, etc. Although the lanes do seem to be more like suggestions than hard fast rules. There is no warning for turn lanes, for example. Your lane can just turn into a turn lane and you’re screwed. Luckily, the nice Irish just let you over.
I think Jersey Shore must be a hit over here too. There is a LOT of bad Snookie hair going on with the 12-18 crowd. I know bad Snookie hair seems redundant, but there really are levels that you can take it to. More teasing, more gel. Also a big hit is black hose with jean shorts. My take is that if cold enough for tights, it’s too cold for jean shorts. But what do I know? I have boring old BumpIt-less hair.
The economy is so bad that everyone who meets us asks, “WHY would you come here??”. They are all leaving for the U.K. or Australia for work.
I had to go to the Irish Immigration office to declare my intent to stay here as John’s spouse. Talk about huddled masses yearning to be Irish. You took a number and then waited several hours to be called up to one of ten little windows. I had a couple of hours to observe that most people, once called to a little window, were there for 20 minutes or so trying to talk their way in. Unless you were of a lighter skin persuasion. So, once John and I got called up, we were at the window for 60 seconds. I kid you not. I have to go back with a copy of our marriage certificate, but even then they told me “don’t take a number, don’t wait in line. Just come up to a free window and ask for a supervisor.” Maybe they were under the misguided impression that we would be hiring some Irish while we are here, thereby improving the economy. On news radio, they report new job numbers in the tens. Like “On the economic front, this month, in County Cork, BigCo will be adding 30 jobs by creating a new line of leprechaun-made road signs”. If we hire a nanny and a maid, it would probably at least make the print press.
So I have been here almost a month and can reflect on some of the things that seem different from home, aside from the most obvious ones, like an accent. The people are very friendly, once you approach them. They will almost always go out of their way to help you. But on the surface, you wouldn’t think so, because they are not a very facially friendly lot. They don’t smile without a damn good reason. Apparently, they even accuse us Americans of “smiling too much”. I think this is hilarious. There are a lot of things I wouldn’t want to be accused of, but smiling too much is not one of them.
The weather can be bad, but not nearly as bad as the Irish make it out to be when you talk to them. It seems like they want to manage your expectations. Also, their definition of hot weather and mine differ by about 25 degrees. Fahrenheit that is.
Things take a LONG time to get set up compared to at home, like cable, internet etc. Apparently we are spoiled. Here it takes several weeks to get a land line for your home. Which you are required to have before you can even ORDER cable service. They are not connected from a workability standpoint, so I am not sure of the logic behind it. But one Irishman told me not to complain…it used to take 9 months to get a phone. So, things are improving.
Another interesting thing was that before I came over, someone told me that the Irish are bad about littering and that Dublin is covered in trash. This person has dual citizenship and has spent lots of time in the U.S. I have to say, Dublin is one of the cleanest cities I’ve been in. I hardly ever see trash on the ground and the take their trash disposal very seriously. Case in point: there are three separate bins to put out curb side: trash, recycling, and yard/compost. Today was our recycling day. Since we have bought a lot of new crap (especially from Ikea) there was a LOT of cardboard going on. Our landlord actually pulled it all out of our garage last night and stuffed the tiny can full and then left all the extra around the can on the sidewalk. I thought that since he did this, it must be ok. In Atlanta, the garbage guys are great about taking whatever you leave out. And you can have it out there for several days. Today, the cardboard was not out there for two hours when I got a knock on the door. Dublin City Litter Police. Kid you not. A grumpy Irishman in a yellow vest proceeded to fuss at me about the cardboard and make me take anything not in the can back into the house. It couldn’t even be in the front courtyard, because apparently people can see it when they walk by and we are on “a public walkway”, aka there’s a sidewalk in front of our house. And people walk on it. This was also about an hour before the stuff was to be picked up. He was in official City of Dublin vehicle, aka a sewing machine with wheels, so I am sure he doubled back to make sure I did it. The most awesome part was the stuff had been completely rained on, to trying to move it was like trying to scoop up wet toilet paper.