23 April 2008

About meetings and farewells

...Come along with me, look at the sky
I don't see borders in the world.
Farewell is beginning if you hold.
A good adventurer doesn't cry.
Farewells are beginnings you will see
Farewells are beginnings
Believe me!
-Constantin Popov

17 April 2008

The parting glass

Oh, all the money that e'er I had
I spent it in good company
And all the harm that e'er I've done
Alas, it was to none but me
And all I've done for want of wit
To memory now I can't recall
So fill to me the parting glass
Goodnight, and joy be with you all

I knew this was coming the whole semester. I will not be sentimental. I will not be sentimental. I will not be sentimental.


(Cue the saxophones.)

Well, in the words of Anne Sexton, "I am almost someone going home."
This will probably be my last post from over here; nobody should be subjected to the thoughts and emotions I'll be going through during the next couple days. I'd like to think that I'm going to handle this gracefully, but I'm going to say right now that I apologize for being mopey and obnoxious when I come home. Because it's going to happen. Bear with me.
I'm also going to fight the temptation (and believe me, it's a strong one) to get overly reflective and emotional here. If you know me at all, you know already what this place and these months have been to me.
So because I'm unwilling and unable to say goodbye in words, I'm going to try to say it in pictures. Dublin, the final photo shoot.
Some old ones from Killiney, Ireland's own Bay of Naples and home of Bono, Enya, and Van Morrison:

Flea market in Dun Laoghaire (pronounced, believe it or not, Dun Leary):

Devitt's from the oustide. God, I will miss that place.

From the Guinness Storehouse, which I finally, finally made it to:

And my two personal favourites (I only have a few more days to do that!)--click on these to read the text:

The Gravity Bar--complementary pint plus panoramic view of Dublin:

Along Dame Street:

Molly Malone (the Tart with the Cart); I pass her all the time but have never stopped to take her picture:

Grafton Street:

Some terrible pictures from the IES farewell dinner (flash? What flash?). My roommates and me:

An extremely blurry shot of me with the lovely Siobhán Ní Chonchúir--student welfare officer and Irish teacher extraordinaire:

And finally, me (strangely grimacing) with the wonderful Ashley Taggart, head of IES Dublin and my Irish film professor (oh, that flash):

And I honestly, honestly can't think of anything more to say. Which is a rare thing for me.
I don't know.
I guess I'll see you all soon.

Agus Baile Átha Cliath, faid saoil chugat. Go raibh maith agat. Is brea liom tú.

12 April 2008

Sweet home Minnesota, lord I'm coming home to you

In one week and one day I will be in the airplane flying home. I feel almost as disoriented as I felt when I first got here. Everything that I've spent the last 3.5 months seeing and doing suddenly seems novel again, just because I know how little time I have left.
Will you forgive me if I tell you that I'm already looking for ways to come back? (Grad school in Galway?)
Classes are now officially over. For my last Northern Ireland class we had former IRA member and hunger striker Tommy McKearney as a guest speaker. If you're interested, check out his Wiki page; he has quite a story. It was fascinating hearing from someone so intimately connected to the Troubles, but I was sitting in the front row and he kept creeping forward during the course of his presentation, so by the end he was probably a good half foot from me (which is closer than I generally like to be to even the friendliest of former terrorists).
Finals are going quite well for the most part, although I'm scared to begin my Northern Ireland paper. I'm saving it for last partly out of terror and partly out of hope that having something so daunting hanging over my shoulders will keep me grounded for this last week.

For the record:

Sunday, April 20, 2008
Aer Lingus # 125
Dublin (DUB) to Chicago O'Hare International (ORD)
Departure (DUB): April 20, 2:30 PM IST (afternoon)
Arrival (ORD): April 20, 4:30 PM CDT (afternoon)

Sunday, April 20, 2008
American Airlines # 2360
Chicago O'Hare International (ORD) to Minneapolis St Paul Intl (MSP)
Departure (ORD): April 20, 7:30 PM CDT (evening) Arrival (MSP): April 20,
9:00 PM CDT (evening)

Although let me just say that if there's snow on the ground in Minnesota when I get there, I'm turning right around and coming back here.

06 April 2008

As I was going over the far-famed Kerry mountains

This weekend I went on my second (and last) solo trip of the semester, this time to Killarney, County Kerry, a pretty touristy but also incredibly friendly town. I think Kerry folk might even out-nice Minnesotans. Everyone makes eye contact; everyone smiles; everyone greets everyone else. Several old people on the street asked me "How are you today, my darlin'?" And being alone only made it better. The great thing about solo traveling is that you get to test and assert your independence, but you also, at least in this country, find an incredible number of people who are not only open to conversation (I had some great ones with local farmers; I've never heard the word 'tis spoken so much in my life), but who are also genuinely concerned for your welfare. The cynic in me has taken a terrible beating this semester. It's marvelously humbling.
I took the train in Friday and hiked a bit in the evening around the Killarney National Park. Appearances to the contrary, it was a beautiful day--very warm, not too windy, (occasionally) sunny.

Ross Castle:

Around town:

Sometimes I felt a little bit like I was in California:

My hostel. This place was fabulous. Friday night I had a room to myself, and Saturday night I shared it with two of the friendliest, sweetest, loveliest French people I've ever met (even the French are friendly in Killarney!)

Saturday I hopped a bus to do the famous Ring of Kerry tour, which took us around the Iveragh peninsula, by the coast and through the mountains. I think I'll just let the pictures do the talking.

From the lovely town of Sneem:

Shepherd in Moll's Gap:

Ladies View, named after Queen Victoria's ladies-in-waiting, who apparently found it to be scenery "fit for any lady to view":

Sunday morning I rented a bike and explored the nearby hills and more of the National Park. I have not attempted and will not attempt driving over here, but biking on city streets--and through a busy roundabout--was confusing enough.

Muckross House:

Amazing from beginning to end.
Oh, before I forget, last week my Irish language and culture professors took our class out for drinks at an Irish-speaking bar. I can now order a pint in Irish. I feel as though that should have been the first thing we learned.
This is my last week of classes. I can't afford to get too sad yet, as I still have six final papers to write. I'm hoping that stress and frustration will take the edge off my sentimentality. We'll see.