Posts Tagged ‘characters’
I haven’t had any crazy person accost me THIS week, unless you count my children. So, I thought I would follow up on some of my past posts. In “Some Differences” I commented that Dublin is one of the cleanest cities I have ever been too and that I was shocked that an Irish person had warned me beforehand about how dirty it is and how the Irish all litter. I just don’t see it. In fact, I was walking downtown the other day during the middle of a busy workday. A guy walking alone, that passed me on the sidewalk, missed the trashcan he was aiming for. The balled up trash landed in the gutter in some brackish water. He says to himself, “oh, I missed,”, stops, and fishes the trash OUT OF THE GUTTER and places it in the can. Can you imagine anyone in NYC doing that? It was dripping wet with gutter juice. I couldn’t believe it. Talk about a commitment to a clean city.
Another thing that is striking is how uncrowded things are. You can find crowds in some places if you really want to seek them out. Like the most touristy areas of Dublin on a weekend, for example. But most things are just flat out roomy. Summer in Ireland is a huge time for festivals and it seems that every little town has its own. Not one of the ones that we have been to had any kind of crazy crowd. We never have to wait for food, a ride, the bathroom, etc. At home when we go to a festival, there is always a line ten deep to get a slice of pizza or use a smelly port-a-potty. Ireland is about the size of West Virginia, with a population of about 4 million. Of that, about 40% live in Dublin.
I still love people telling me that I’m “brilliant” and “grand”, even though I know they throw these phrases around the way we say “awesome” at home. That sandwich was awesome, for example. But still….it gives me a warm fuzzy. The kids are starting to pick up little phrases here and there. The other day John John told me he had to “use the gents”. And I overheard them at the park talking about “you’re on” while they were playing tag, instead of “you’re it”.
Have you ever met someone who looks totally normal, but really is the angel of death? Yeah, me too. Last night. John and I had a date night to go see the last Harry Potter movie, part 27 or whatever it is. It’s just come out, so we chose a weeknight hoping that the crowds would be smaller. The best theatre in Dublin in my opinion is at Dundrum Shopping Center, which is Ireland’s largest mall. That sounds really daunting, until you see it and realize that it’s about the size of Phipps in Atlanta or Manhattan Village in Manhattan Beach, CA. A couple of large department stores, most of the major chains and a small food court. Ireland is only about the size of West Virginia, so it puts it into perspective.
First we ate dinner at this sushi place on the bottom level. It is shaped like an oval and has a conveyor belt running around it, with color-coded plates of sushi on the belt that you just grab off. As you eat, you stack up the plates. At the end, the waitress counts the plates by color and calculates your bill. The good part is you can eat immediately and you can try different things without much commitment: each plate only holds two small pieces. The bad part is that you can really see what a glutton you are. I started to get self-conscious and spread the plates out a little bit, even pushing some over towards my neighbours, so it would look like maybe they ate them.
After the sushi smorgasbord, we headed to the movie theatre. Here in Ireland, they give you assigned seats in the movies. It can be great if you are running late for a popular movie and have already bought your tickets online. It can be fatal if you are stuck next to a nutburger, like I was last night. We sit down in our seats and we are right next to a nice-looking middle-aged women and her teenage daughter. She starts chatting a little bit and I feel immediately friendly to her, because she reminds me of a favourite babysitting client of mine from my youth. Our accents are a dead giveaway, so she asks where we are from. After I answer and she tells me she’s from South Africa, she says, “Why are you here?” When I tell her for John’s job, she says, “No. I understand that. But WHY are you coming HERE? NOW? Anyone of any quality is leaving this place!” and gestures to herself and her daughter. I sort of mumble and say some platitudes about the economy being bad, so of course people are leaving. “You won’t make any friends,” she responded with zero hesitation. I am so stunned and still unaware of how far off the tracks this conversation is going that I plow on with a strained laugh, “oh, no! Don’t say that.” “No, you won’t. I have lived here for 5 years and I don’t have a single friend. The experience of being here with your family will be fine. But you won’t have any friends. Don’t expect to have any friends.”
It was like someone had taken all of my irrational fears and made them incarnate in the body of a middle-aged white South African woman seeing Harry Potter. She goes on, despite my stunned silence…..”The people here are AW-FUL. Awful. They will envy you whatever you have and they only care about what you can do for them.” By the way, during this whole exchange John is in the restroom, having left right after the lady introduced herself. So I have no wingman with this looney tunes. I am looking straight ahead at this point and sort of making hmm-hmm noises in response to whatever she is saying. Then she asks what we are going to do with the kids while we work. I respond that the older kids will be in school for most of the day. She asks what school. When I tell her, she yelps “Oh, God, NO!” and clamps her hand over her mouth. Really??? Really???? I don’t say anything and she continues “They are crazy there. That place is terrible.” Finally her daughter leans up and says “she just has a chip on her shoulder about that place, because she saw two kids walking down the hall holding hands.” I am not even sure what this means, but at this moment John returns from the bathroom and the lights dim for the movie to start. Sweet relief.
Once the movie was over and we were well out of earshot from Crazy Bones, I told John everything that happened. He wasn’t in the least surprised. He just calmly says, “Yeah, I could tell she was crazy from the minute we sat down, so I just sat back in my seat after she introduced herself.” “Well, great. Then why did you leave me there defenceless while you went to the bathroom.” “You’re a big girl. You can handle yourself.” This is true. I can and I am a pretty good judge of character. But John is like a Jedi when it comes to immediately reading people. He has that sixth sense that comes from being moved around a lot as a kid. It’s like learning another language when you are very young. You can still learn it when you are older, but it’s never quite as fluent.
So all night, I kept thinking about what she said. I know it’s not true. But I am only human….sometimes it’s easier to believe the bad stuff. Here’s to hoping that she is dead wrong. Damn nutburger.
While this is not about the England trip, I wanted to address something that everyone seems fascinated with: how much food costs here compared to home. That is the one question I get asked more than any. So, here goes: it’s more. A lot more, not even taking into account the dollar to euro conversion, which also bites. Ireland is essentially a big island, so it’s like living in Hawaii in one way only: almost everything gets flown in. Other than beef, dairy, and bread, everything is more expensive. Fruit is really outrageous. A small contain of berries, let’s say ¼ pint, is about $4. Strawberries are about 4xs as much as at home and not as good. Other berries however, like the blueberries, are the best I have ever tasted. Super sweet! The selection of brands is very close to what we have at home. A big thing here is fresh pre-made food. They have great, freshly made food packaged to go practically everywhere.
Another thing that is strikingly different are the convenience stores. Most of them seem to be a local brand, SPAR. They carry the usual convenience store items….overpriced toilet paper and milk. But they also have freshly made sandwiches, soups and even hot food. I would never eat something “fresh” from the convenience stores back home. But here, it’s really nice. Sometimes, they even have little table and chairs on the sidewalk in front.
In my on-going quest to find my peeps, I crashed a Mommy and New Baby boot camp last week. I had headed up towards the water for a run. Once I got up to the beach area, I noticed a small group of women with buggies working out on the grass. I went up and found out that it was a formal boot camp. The teacher asked if I wanted to try it out. I said sure, so I had an hour of unexpected boot camp. It was great, except that I was reminded that I am a rickety clown. I plan to go back this week. And this time I’ll take baby Noah.