This place is weird. I guess every place has its moments, but my roommates and I seem to be getting an inordinate amount of weirdness. Ciaran, one of the guys who helps run our study abroad program, said he’s never seen so much happen to a group of people. We’re only getting started. And the weirdest things that have happened to us so far are…
There was that time we ran into a group of track suit-clad teenage boys (seriously they all where matching blue track suits; they’re known as “trackies”) and they called us “feckin’ tourists” and refused to get out of our way while trying to make their hairless faces look intimidating.
There was that time a man with one leg rolled up in his wheelchair to me where I stood at a stoplight, yelling in some language that was not English while smoking a cigarette. I soon deducted that he wanted help across the street, so I pushed him across. When we got to the other side, he demanded to know, “Where are you going?” My friend Courtney and I tried to say we were going all the way across town and in a hurry, but he would have none of it. So I pushed him for about nine blocks over extremely un-wheelchair friendly sidewalk, his body flailing around like a rag doll while he yelled at me to be more gentle and spit on my shoes. Turns out he was probably part of the Irish Republican Army, did something wrong, and got his knee shot out by one of his own men so he’d be marked for life. Explains why he was so bitter.
There’s this little golden dog that frequently takes itself for walks around our apartment. There’s never anyone with him and he always looks both ways before crossing the streets (which are quite large and busy). It’s enough to make you burst out laughing.
And the stupid fire alarms in our apartment kitchen that goes off every time you open the oven door. If it’s not our alarm, it’s someone else’s and we can hear it through the paper-thin walls.
Or that sign we saw on the door of Slattery’s Pub that said “no tracksuits” because the trackies are a well-known and quite-feared (for being teenage boys) menace.
There was that guy who stood drunkenly on the corner of Thomas Street yelling at passerby. Of course, when I walked past him, that was when he decided to take his belt off and start whipping it at people. I’m lucky to be alive.
There was the group of homeless people sheltered from the wind, which isn’t weird in itself. But as we passed I heard a smoky old woman’s voice saying, “I’m not a prostitute Johnny, don’t call me that.” And while this is probably more common than we like to admit it, it made me really sad. Also angry that women can’t do whatever they want with their bodies, but I digress.
They have Skittles cookies here.
That one group of guys who all, in unison, stared us down and undressed us with their eyes? Also frighteningly common, but weird at the same time. They didn’t say a word, just stared as we walked by and they passed us going the other way. They gave me the cobbly-wobblers, as an Irish folk might say.
Or that guy who ran up to us late one night with his arms spread wide asking for a hug and Abbie nearly kicked him in the balls.
Or those annoying guys who threw an open can of Guinness over Jess and Abbie’s heads at their friend, the disgusting brown liquid within pouring straight down into their beautiful hair.
And then there was the time that all three of my roommates were sitting in our living room with me, reading as we always do when we heard a key swipe on our door and the lock flick back, the door creaking open. Courtney peeked around the corner and we heard a guy’s voice that said, “Oh, sorry” and then the door shut again. Because, you know, it’s casual that a strange man could unlock and then walk in our door. No worries there.
The fact that Courtney actually fell for Simon the Australian on the PS I Love You Bridge is still hilarious, as was our tour guide’s reaction of driving away without them.
Or that time I walked past a car with two women screaming at each other, dropping the f-bomb every other word. It sort of sounded like one was the wife and the other was the mistress…an uncomfortable confrontation to be walking by for sure.
There was a bicycle that got hit by a van, and unlike in America, it was totally blamed on the cyclist. While trying to drag his bike out from the guys tire, the van floored it and ran over the bike. Classy.
I’ve almost been hit by a double-decker bus several times now because they don’t stop and they drive practically on the sidewalk. I also get excited about crossing the street and forget to look both ways. The one time I fully walked out in front of a bus, the bus driver’s face was evidently priceless according to my friends.
There was the time when one of our study abroad friends kicked over a homeless guy’s bucket of change, or that time I dumped my entire coin purse onto the grocery store floor. And that time, when asked what my name was by an Irish lad, I said, “My real name?”
The real treat was getting an egg thrown at me. I was walking home from the academic center when my friend and I spotted a group of ten teenage boys. It was none other than…the trackies. We immediately started crossing the street, and as we were rushing away we heard a voice in front of us telling us to watch out. And then we heard the egg splat right at our heels. We didn’t look back, just kept on going hoping they wouldn’t follow. And they didn’t. I nearly shouted some choice words, but I’ve heard stories of hospitalization, so I held my tongue. What gets me here is that they had to buy those eggs, which they used specifically to throw indiscriminately at anyone who walked by (also they were right next to the police station). Then my friend pointed out to me that they probably didn’t buy them. Touche.
Or the fact that I ate a pound of potatoes in one sitting. Plus some local butcher turkey. And a bowl of green beans. You know, do as the Irish do or something like that.
Or watching Irish people try on American accents (and sing bad American country songs about friend chicken while doing the chicken dance).
And that strange reality TV show that we’re still scratching our heads over. Okay, so there’s one guy standing at the front of the stage facing a line of about 30 women, all behind little podiums lit up with neon lights. He asks a question and they answer it, and if he doesn’t like their answer (or the way they look), he can go turn their podium light out, taking them out of the competition. The last girl with her light on gets to go out with the guy. Isn’t that just the worst thing you’ve ever heard of?
Dublin must be allergic to organic white rice because I can’t find it anywhere. So I bought some in bulk online. 55 pounds of it. We can’t send packages to our apartment, so I had to send it to the academic center, which is a forty-minute walk with my short legs. So, when it finally arrives in the mail, I will have to somehow get a 55 pound bag of rice from one side of Dublin to the other. This should be interesting.
I bought a book that talks about sex from an female Irish perspective (based on the idea that the legacy of Catholicism has made for a repressive environment). I bought it because I’m curious how other women think and write about sex, but think what you will of my motives. The great part of this is how it showed up on my receipt: “Bare Irish Women’s Sex.” Perfection.
Update: I accidentally bought erotica. Whooopppssss
I also have a rice situation. So, Dublin sucks when it comes to organic white rice. 1 kg here is about 5 euros, which is nearly 6 US dollars. Rice makes up about 70 percent of my diet and I can eat 1 kg easily in 2-3 days. So I went online and after much struggle, found a website with 25 kg of organic white jasmine rice for 130 US dollars. 25 kg is right around 55 pounds. That’s more than 1/3 of my body weight in rice. So of course I immediately bought it. Except the site asked me to verify my social security number because I was using a foreign debit card and I got scared and slammed my laptop shut. I emailed them about it and they responded, telling me to reorder, which I did. They emailed again saying they received the order and it should be with me “by the end of the week.” That was last week. When Wednesday of this new week rolled around and it wasn’t here, I emailed again, trying not to be angry. That’s when they decided it was a good time to inform me that my debit card hadn’t actually gone through (even though they explicitly told me it had in a previous email). They processed it and the charge showed up on my bank’s transaction list. Now it’s supposed to be here “early next week.” I’m seething. This better be a shit-ton of rice and it better taste delicious with butter.
Ryanair tried to eat my plane ticket to Italy. I checked all my email accounts and couldn’t find the reservation number for the flight. I panicked. I booked this flight over a week ago and surely the price went up between then and now. I went to my bank’s website and couldn’t find a transaction list, which further pissed me off. I called Ryanair and they put me on hold forever and a little man voice kept coming on telling me “Sorry for the inconvenience” to which I would yell, “YOU’RE NOT SORRY.” When I checked again my transaction list was conveniently listed under the “transactions” tab, which I swear it hadn’t been earlier. I found the plane ticket on the listing, proving that I had reserved a ticket. The man on the phone was very nice and sent me a new confirmation. And then he asked me if I was American, to which I tentatively said yes (because you just never know how someone will react to that). He said with a slimy purr, “I could tell.” I could feel him smirking through the phone. Ugh.
Another gem of a moment was when I was looking through the fridge for my Tupperware of rice. I found several containers, some of which couldn’t possibly be mine, and I grumbled to my roommates about not being able to tell which rice was mine (because if I eat the wrong rice I pay with physical pains. Fun.). I opened the lid to one, sniffed it, and immediately knew. “Yep this is mine,” I told my roommates. “If it smells like asshole, it’s mine.” They all started laughing and only then did I realize that I found my new catch phrase. I’m currently getting t-shirts made.
Today the wind was angry. There’s talk that apartment 29 – ours – is haunted. I proved for a fact that if maybe not haunted by ghosts, there are certainly spirits in Dublin that don’t like me. Observe: I went to open the back door because it was hot. A minute later, it gently shut itself, probably due to the wind. I got angry and stomped off to the door, shoving it open, yelling something along the lines of (Oh hell no, stay open!) maybe with an expletive or two because they’re fun to say. Before I even had the chance to walk away, the door slammed back at me with such force that it shoved me out of the way and smacked the door frame indignantly. All my roommates were there to watch it. I simply locked the door and said something like, “Guess we’re not going to have the door open.” Other haunted sightings include the time we found our front door wide open for no apparent reason, at which time we found that our hot water was gone and our lights wouldn’t turn on. We were also mysteriously missing a roll of toilet paper. The shower is also very temperamental, at intervals either freezing us out or scalding the skin off our backs. Not haunted you say? Just try cooking in a kitchen with a fire alarm that’s sensitive even to your warm breath.
One of the ways that our program wants us to immerse is by volunteering, which I’m all about. Except, all the volunteering opportunities involve children. Now, I don’t actively hate children. I think they’re quite cute from afar, sort of like ferocious zoo animals: everything is better when they’re behind bars. When I explained this to Ciaran, the man in charge of helping us get involved, he just looked at me and said, “Of course you don’t like children,” to which I laughed because I do come off a bit aggressive and rough to him (just my sense of humor). Then I asked him if maybe he knew of any prisons I could work in, which I was being 100% serious about. He just sort of looked at me. When it was apparent that was a no-go, I asked if there were any incapacitated old men I could work with, to which he said, “You really don’t like children.” Long story short, I go to a meeting on Monday to find out when I will begin working with local children.
We must talk about the night we almost got murdered by laser beams. We generally keep our living room curtains open since we’re a few floors up and we don’t dance around naked as some of the guys in the other apartments might hope. But that proved a near-fatal mistake a few nights ago when suddenly, we were attacked by a green laser beam. At first, we didn’t know what was happening. And then, the flash of green came again and before I knew it, I was on the ground doing the soldier crawl across the floor to hide behind the couch.
Abbie had sunken down on the couch and was covering her head with her hands, tornado drill-style. Courtney kept ducking down, but not effectively because she was never below window-level. Jess was off in our room talking to her beau and missed the whole thing. She didn’t even care that we were screaming our last words. Even when we realized it was just a laser beam, our first thoughts as Americans was that it was a sniper and we were dead. Of course, you have to understand that behind our apartment is an apartment complex that’s government subsidized, which generally (and unfortunately) means that violence is more prevalent there. The laser beam was coming from behind their fence, so we assumed the worse being terrible people. Eventually we realized they were just messing with us and several other apartments, but still, we were terrified. Jess later informed us, when she was kind enough to care about our well-being, that sniper beams are red. Oh well.