Saturday, February 26, 2011

paint it black

the cadavos @ headline bar-lower clanbrassil street, dublin 7

g-l-o-r-i-a, gloria

i see a red door and i want it painted black

Another Saturday night at the Headline Bar with hubby's band. I recently discovered they have a name: The Cadavos. It was fun because Dylan's little sister came along. She is about to graduate high school. We spent the night discussing cross-cultural exchange and the effect American media has on moral values across Western civilization. We talked about Teen Mom all night. We agreed that Amber is cra-cra, Tyler and Caitlynn are tortured, and Macy is a 'good' mom.

my new friend yazmine

She explained to me that Spicers are basically mini-Rod Stewart emo types (kids that wear skinny jeans, heavy makeup, and have really spiky or back-combed rat's nest type hair with lots of colors). I told her in Chile that these people are called Pokemon. She asked why all the young mothers in Teen Mom have southern accents and I explained that there is a place called the Bible Belt that doesn't believe in birth control. It was an enlightening night all around.

I used to wonder how anyone outside the U.S. knew about American TV shows. My cousins in Chile love Arrested Development and The Office. I just couldn't figure out how they'd even heard of these shows, much less seen them. Now I know there are websites that post shows within minutes of them airing in the states. The legality of these sites are questionable--every once in awhile they get shut down and replaced by large, foreboding FCC warnings--but we still watch most of our TV on the computer this way. 

I wish I had known about TV on the internet back in Minnesota when I was waiting for Netflix to release the new season of Curb Your Enthusiasm and Hulu didn't carry HBO programs. The important, life-changing things you learn abroad!

teddy bear hospital

the dollstore-George's Street, Dublin 2

I know what you are thinking. Who took that amazing photograph? If you knew that I took the picture whilst riding my bike down the opposite side of the street, you would be pretty impressed. Well I didn't because I don't own a bicycle. Just get over it.

I took this picture because The Dollstore is an amazing place and I've never heard of anything like it before in the world. Most people know it as the 'teddy bear hospital'. You can't possibly make it out through the blur, but the sign says "The Dolls Hospital & The Teddy Bears Clinic". You can take your old teddy bears there and they will refurbish them with new eyes and limbs and stuffing! Isn't that adorable? 

Yeah I thought so too until I went to their website. I have learned that apart from repairing normal childhood toys like teddy bears and dolls, they sell these creepy things. I once saw a documentary about people like that. Right? RIGHT?!

Friday, February 25, 2011

no romance

my social life is full of sophisticated and classy outings

Thanks to my fake job, I had free tickets to see the Nancy Harris play No Romance at the Abbey Theatre. Hubs and I went, as you might have gathered from this picture. I was supposed to write about it for a friend who manages a blog in California but I basically took over a week to finish so I think that ship has sailed. Still, we enjoyed the show. The play was a poignant commentary juxtaposing an individual's right to privacy versus the perils of keeping secrets from those we love. It was about how the internet is making us all techno-maniac freaks and this drives little old ladies to hole up in their cottages and write sexual fantasy blogs. Highly recommended.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

about town

Dublin Castle-Dublin 2

After five months in the beautiful city of Dublin, I am getting to the point where things look normal. I don't even notice the gorgeous buildings or the rustic cobblestone streets anymore. A castle with structure originating in the 1100s looks completely typical to me because I walk by it so often! I want to appreciate the beauty that surrounds me. I want to notice the art, architecture, and history embedded in every block of Dublin city. I am trying to be extremely hippie practice active consciousness so I have decided to take random pictures as I walk around town. Obviously, here are two.

kid on a bicycle successfully chatting up a female guard outside parliament

Monday, February 21, 2011


just 3 friends eating brunch

Brunch is my favorite meal of all time because it involves things like eggs, potatoes, and hollandaise sauce. Eggs florentine, home fry skillets, mushroom omelettes, scramble + smoked salmon, egg + bean burritos, and even french toast. Mmm...I just love brunch!

Brunch is also my favorite meal to eat out. Thanks to years as a weekend brunch cook in California and Minnesota, I like it best when other people cook my brunch for me. They call it 'breakfast' but I am here to tell you that they are serving brunch. What I am trying to explain is that 'brunch' is an American word and this all leads into my Irish vocab lesson of the day:

"brunch" = an American word for breakfast foods
"rasher" = one strip of bacon
"pudding" = Irish blood sausage, comes in a white & black variety
"full Irish" = hang on let me catch my breath...
...2 rashers, 2 sausages, 1 slice each white & black pudding, 2 fried eggs...
...sautéed mushrooms, stewed tomato, baked beans, and 2 pieces of toast
"half Irish" = just 1 of each of the above

For your viewing pleasure, a few brunches found in Dublin:
Sourdough Almond Bacon Pancakes, Mermaid Cafe-Temple Bar, Dublin 2

Vegetarian Breakfast at The Larder-Temple Bar, Dublin 2

Smoked Salmon Benedict at Odessa-Temple Bar, Dublin 2

Salmon Scramble + Ham Omelette at Foam Gallery-Millenium Walkway, Dublin 1

Friday, February 18, 2011

the sitch

I just read this article in the Irish Times about Irish people returning to Ireland despite high unemployment. I think this means I have more competition for jobs than ever before? Awesome. Anyway, I thought the profile stories in the second half were interesting to read because they aren't just about Ireland.

They are about living abroad in general and the readjustment that must take place when people return. Anybody that has studied abroad or traveled for an extended period of time can relate to the disorientation, the glorified longing for 'home', and all the changes that happen when you live in a different culture. Basically, here are different people's attempt to define where they belong: Irish Emigrants Return.

Life is crazy these days!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

happy heart day

hubs and i all gussied up

Call me crazy, but I love Valentine's Day. I like all the typical things: getting dressed up, going out for dinner, drinking champagne with chocolate, sappy greeting cards...the whole deal. I have no problem with the cliché of it all. If Hallmark made up this holiday, then good for them. I think they did a fine job.

As for hubs & I, we really enjoyed our first Valentine's Day in Ireland. I even found out that Saint Valentine lives in Dublin. I mean he is dead...but his bones are here in Dublin at a church on Whitefriar Street near Temple Bar. Maybe I should visit him and tell him thanks?

a bottle of cava, strawberry creme caterpillars, a red rose, + chocolate hearts

handsome hubs

nummies at Pearl Brasserie-Upper Merrion St, Dublin 2

fish tanks in the wall! i ate Cousin Salmon right in front of them. HA!

our attempt at self-portrait

Sunday, February 13, 2011

we have friends

pretty ladiezzz

For those of you who have expressed worry about my loneliness, I am happy to report that hubs and I actually have friends. A few of them, even! And we are pretty sure they like us. I guess I forgot to follow up on this point, but I am no longer pouncing on strangers or harassing my neighbors. Thank you for your concern. Here, I present proof; a few of the people who have chosen to hang out with us in public.

translation: "no scumbags" Fibbers Rock Bar-Upper Ormond Quay, Dublin 1

yes people like us

brotherly love

the band's drummer said 'thank you, ladies' for our applause. you're welcome, sir.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

chop chop

so pretty the face

I got a haircut at House of Colour near our flat. They have a special where they only charge €10 for one of their students to practice on you. I can say, from experience, this was better than any student haircut I've ever experienced before (ahem...Aveda Institute of Minneapolis). 

I dedicate this haircut to my semester abroad in Madrid circa 2004. The female mullet was a revered and glorious species that roamed the streets of Spain freely at the time but I simply did not have the guts to attempt it myself. Six years later, I have followed through on a personal goal. Welcome to Ireland, beloved fe-mullet. May you live long and prosper.

election time

the prize for coolest poster goes to...

We are in the midst of political upheaval here in Ireland! I wish I understood more about the political system but here is what's going on--as far as I can understand:
  1. Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Brian Cowen stepped down as party leader
  2. He had lunch with some friends who worked for failing bank AIB
  3. PM Cowen survived a parliament's 'vote of confidence' (impeachment?)
  4. Cowen is out, but will remain in power until a new government forms
  5. The parliament has been dissolved
  6. A general election will be held
  7. Nominations for the election just closed
  8. Election posters in Ireland are exponentially more attractive than in the US
Well I bet the internets can explain the basics of the setup: "The Houses of the Oireachtas (National Parliament) consists of the President and two Houses: Dáil Éireann (the House of Representatives) and Seanad Éireann (the Senate)." Ummm...ok.

What else can I possibly say? I know the President is a woman. I've been told she doesn't do much and that PM is the most powerful position in the country. I also hear that Irish people get to rank their votes and can vote for up to 4 candidates, who then receive a proportional percentage based on their ranking.

On Halloween two nice boys dressed as Dr. Who attempted to explain Ireland's political system to me in the pub. I guess it didn't a person who can't vote in this country, I am less inclined to listen to the political ruckus. What I do like? It seems people here are less combative. At my fake job, we talked politics in a civilized manner. People said what party they were voting for in the election without any confrontation or even the slightest uneasy feeling in the room. Just acceptance. That was certainly new to me!

I am trying to learn about the main political parties and what their platforms are. In the meantime, the election posters have gone up. From a purely aesthetic position, hubs and I have fallen in love with Mannix Flynn from the New Independent Party. Any candidate that takes a portrait straight out of the 1950s and combines it with a tomato red, avocado green, and turquoise color palette is fine by me. There is no patriotic blabber, no faux down-to-earth slogan, and no pretense; we merely see a face, a party, and a number one. Very clean, Mr. Fynn.

Irish vocab:
"Taoiseach" = prime minister in the Irish language, say tea-shock
"TD" or "Teachta Dála" = member of parliament, translated as Deputy to the Dáil
"giving out" to somebody = scolding or yelling at them for something
"down the pub" = down AT the pub

Monday, February 7, 2011

stroll on a sunday

crazy door #1-Temple Bar, Dublin 2

Today was a rather gloomy day but hubs and I kept our Sunday tradition: brunch and a stroll. We did some window shopping and noticed some crazy doors. The Urban Outfitters near us has two books for sale that I want. One is about street art in general and the other is a book of Dublin street artists, complete with biographies and locations of their work. I kind of like finding street art by serendipity but it might be nice to know who the artists are.

gloomy day for a walk

hum drum bum

crazy door #2-Abbey Street, Dublin 1

Saturday, February 5, 2011

the tap

band playing music-The Tap, Dublin 7

Hubs has been looking for a band since we got to Ireland. Thus far...nothing. There was the John Mayer/Jason Mraz-style group that stalked him for awhile but he eventually gave them the slip. It's been tough for him as a musician coming from Minneapolis with a well-oiled local music scene and years of connections to Dublin where most bands play cover songs and original music doesn't get support. I am hoping that hubs found a happy medium after playing his first gig at The Tap last night. This band plays rock covers to make money and writes their own stuff on the side. I don't even know if they have a name. I guess when they have enough money from gigs they plan to start recording. They seem to be a good group of guys with talent and a passion for entertaining.

Imagine a tiny triangle-shaped pub that seats about forty. The band is in the corner booth and the pub is packed. Everybody knows each other (except me) and it seems they all come on Friday nights for the music. I felt a little anxious at being the odd one out but pretty soon they've all introduced themselves. At the first song I knew this would be a true experience. I've never been to a show were absolutely everybody in the pub sings along...and I do mean everybody

The entire band is singing mains, backup, and harmony. The footballers in the corner are bellowing, the lady in front of me is singing at the top of her lungs with her eyes closed, the guy at the bar is putting his two cents in between drinks, the guitarist's dad is belting out the chorus, and the 72-year-old next to me has grabbed the tambourine and is shaking up a storm. It was a crazy wonderful hootenanny! It wasn't too long before I was hollering along and--I know this sounds hokey--but I think I became friends with every person in that pub! It was the whole reckless abandon vibe; people shouted requests and we sang all favorite Dylan, Rolling Stones, and Kinks songs. I particularly liked hearing Elton John's Daniel because one woman demanded it repeatedly and we all knew it was coming. I had a magical time and I hope, for my own sake, that hubs really likes this group. Tonight he is playing with them again at a place called the Headline Bar and I will definitely be going along!

walking to the pub it was brolly vs. the wind...and the wind won

my own instance of public brolly abandonment

new friend TJ lovin' that Star Trek jumper!

new friend Tania whose brother is in the band

appreciating ireland

I hope with posts like my discussion on communication breakdowns between Americans and the Irish that I don't give the impression that I dislike Ireland or its people. As anybody who has traveled abroad or lived in a foreign culture should know, there is no such thing as better/worse or right/wrong.

Each country--sometimes each region--operates under a distinct set of cultural mores, folkways, and norms. Each culture has developed its values with influences based on unique historic, religious, ethnic, political, and socio-economic circumstances. The only things I can objectively talk about are differences between the cultures I have studied and experienced. Why do you think academics use the term 'empty universals'? My research consists of observation and asking questions and I can speak with certainty about learned societal reactions with respect to my own upbringing. I fully realize how easy it is to comment on a society that I did not grow up in and don't have personal attachment to--much the same way that people the world over comment on the United States. This doesn't mean I should stop making observations.

I am interested in culture to my very core. I am the product of an international, inter-racial, inter-faith marriage. I grew up with two distinct cultures and need two languages to speak to my family. I was born in a country built by immigrants where cultural diversity is at the constant forefront of current events. I travel because I know that the mere presence of foreign culture is an invaluable experience. I'm not critical of Ireland, I am learning.

In Spain, I noticed that the masters students had a sense of humor about it. When asked why people in the street bump into you without apology, why servers refuse to put mayonnaise on a jamon iberico sandwich when you ask, or why Spanish people would sell their furniture for money rather than get rid of a pricey fur coat, the answer was the same: "Espain ess deeferent." The answer jokingly means there is no explanation-- except that it's the way things are done in Spain. It makes sense to the Spanish, so does it matter if it makes sense to anyone else? I think it's the perfect answer and captures all the weird/funny/confusing/frustrating aspects of cultural idiosyncrasy.

That said, I continue making my observations. The most recent thing I have come to enjoy is Ireland's close connection to the arts. Dubliners typically make reference to Ireland's noteworthy authors, playwrights, filmmakers, and artists in everyday conversation. Brendan Behan this. Conor McPherson that. In  the US this might be seen as pretension, but in Ireland it is knowledge and genuine pride. The surprising part is that it's not just the academics who name drop...the general population is well-read about Ireland's literary and artistic contributions. Since arriving only five months ago, I may know more about Irish authors than I do about American writers and I've certainly gotten more interested in theatre than ever before. To be fair, hubs is studying literature in college but I must say I enjoy the second-hand learning.

In a city where the first statue I saw was James Joyce in his floppy hat and the first marked residence was that of (George) Bernard Shaw, the connection to literature is profound. My friend Meagan posted a link to a great article that illustrates this phenomenon and explains a bit of the history: UNESCO City of Literature - Dublin Today.

Friday, February 4, 2011

my fake job

While I am on the job hunt, I have begun to volunteer for the Abbey Theatre. I found out about the Abbey after my friend Meagan invited me to a production called B for Baby back in November. She was planning on interviewing for a position in their marketing department and decided to see what was showing. To make a long story short, she got the job and recommended joining their volunteer program to ease my boredom. Was it my constant complaint of being stuck in the house...?

Anyway, before new productions they call me in and I help them stuff envelopes and organize marketing materials. Usually I work with about 6 other volunteers but the pool might be anywhere from 15-30. After being in the office a few times I am starting to recognize people and remember names. It's actually very pleasant--sitting in a conference room and chatting the day away. The group is an interesting bunch spanning from about ages 23-70 and all different nationalities. We talk mostly about cultural differences and in such an informal setting, we end up with hot-button questions and surprisingly honest answers. Nobody blinked an eye at the in-depth explanation to a Korean volunteer of what the title of upcoming production Perve means in English. We stayed cool and collected as an Irish woman asked myself and another American, "Just what is going on with those Tea Partiers?" It is refreshing to be in such open-minded and diverse company and definitely the biggest perk of the job by far.

This week we've been handling the promotions for a production called No Romance that will play in February and Raoul, a one-man show by Charlie Chaplin's grandson James Thiérrée (see video). I have to say I enjoy  having a place to go during the day and an activity that feels productive. 

I've always known that being unemployed wasn't ideal but I truly believed it could be enjoyed in a certain lazy way. Wrong. 
The truth is I feel useless--as if I am not using my brain and perhaps getting dumber by the day. Thank goodness for volunteer work. In fact, to make myself feel better, I have begun referring to it as my job. I tell hubs that I "am going to work", how I'll call him "when I get out of work", and that "a funny thing happened at work today". Maybe that is pathetic but I am really grateful for my fake job.

Bonus: Volunteers get free tickets to preview shows so I will definitely be checking out No Romance and a few other shows coming up on the calender. Unfortunately Raoul is only playing for seven nights and wont have previews. Also, 'at work' they give us coffee and biscuits to boost our morale, so that is also awesome.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

job search update

remember when? consulting with a client at NDC last year

No job yet. 
With a personal minimum of 2 job applications per weekday I have reached over 160 applications since arriving in Dublin--although realistically the number is much higher considering the days I complete ten applications. So far 2 interviews, 2 call-backs resulting in cancelled interviews due to my immigrant status, 1 disaster of a career fair, and a whole lot of advice.

At the moment I am concentrating on applying for marketing positions that require social media skills. Thanks to working as a software instructor and running a digital inclusion program  for a non-profit in Minneapolis, I am more than qualified for most of the jobs I find. Most recently I have stopped applying through recruitment agencies after being told by recruiters that they dont have the HR to handle my hiring paperwork. The companies would have to prove to the State that they had the posting up on the FAS (the Irish National Training & Employment Authority) job board for a certain amount of time and that I had better qualifications than all the Irish citizens that applied along with me. In some cases that puts me up against 200 other applicants. The company has to submit actual paperwork proving this is the case and to be honest, I understand why most places are avoiding the extra work. It isn't something I can take care of for them, even though I would fill out my own paperwork for the work permit and pay my own fee for the process.

What's more, over the past two months, most job descriptions have begun to include a clause that applicants must be enrolled in certain FAS programs to be considered. I've come to find out that Ireland is cracking down on its own citizens who have been living on the dole (unemployment) and requiring that recruiters only hire applicants who have been unemployed and receiving state benefits. In my estimation about 75% of marketing job vacancies through recruiters now include this stipulation where previously there were none. I've had two companies ask if I could enroll in the FAS unemployment programs just so they can hire me for a position. Unfortunately as a non-citizen in the country for less than two years, I dont qualify for unemployment.

My current focus is to apply directly to multinational companies who have a dedicated HR department. I'm hoping they are used to hiring non-EEA citizens and wouldn't think twice about adding my paperwork to the pile. This means IBM, Monster, Yahoo, Facebook, Ebay, Dell, Microsoft, Google, etc.

After working with Neighborhood Development Center in the non-profit field for years, part of me feels like a sell-out. Every once in awhile I go back to ActiveLink, the online job board for non-profit organizations--who certainly don't have dedicated HR departments--and peruse the kind of job I wold feel good about doing for 35+ hours a week. Today was one of those days...I applied to a program officer position with the Irish Association of Non-Governmental Development Organisations Dóchas as well as a program coordinator position with Habitat for Humanity Ireland. I know they probably wont hire me but I feel good about it anyway.

words I watch out for on application forms, cover letters, and my CV:
resource centre
"vacancy" is used more than 'job' to mean the available position
"post" instead of 'position'
not to use 'post' as a verb describing the online job board
"one-to-one" instead of 'one-on-one'
"CV" or "curriculum vitae" instead of 'resume' 
"migrant" instead of 'immigrant'
"NGO" is used more than 'NPO'
"social services sector" instead of 'non-profit field'