Where is all the time going? I have been in Ireland for five months and have just recently entered into the merry month of may. Almost half of my time here is gone. I admit I find that fact to be a little depressing because a) I really have not traveled outside much from Galway and b) I haven’t traveled much in Europe. There’s still plenty of time obviously but I better get my rear into to gear and explore before I run out of time.

In my last blog I discussed how numerous adventures had detained me from consistently blogging. One of those adventures was moving into my new apartment, but before I begin with that story I feel that we should first begin with my apartment searching in December.

I was living in a hostel out of my backpack. A hostel is not exactly a place you could call home for there are always people around. There is nowhere to be alone in a designated place to call one’s own. Plus my clothes had a distinct backpack-airplane smell which I am sure meant that I smelled quite interesting. When we first arrived it was difficult to know what we should start looking for first: a job or an apartment.

We did both simultaneously which is not something I would recommend for those who are prone to anxiety attacks. Everyday we were attached to out laptops inquiring after jobs and apartments, trying to boost each other’s spirits, taking advice from our friends and trying to entertain ourselves in the mean time. I felt like I was doing very little yet my days always felt very full.

My expectations of apartment searching were that we would find a place, both move in together and stay in that same apartment for the duration of my stay. The reality of course was much different.

Two bedroom apartments are very hard to come by and if they are available they are often expensive. Even if the rent seems affordable you still have to take in account the cost of electricity, internet/TV and trash bins. All of these added up to equal one thing: expensive! Not to mention that neither of us was employed which made the search all the more difficult.

Our perky optimism was shrinking into a monster of panicked delirium. Neither Michelle nor I were going to admit how we were secretly freaking out on the inside and kept hopeful smiles on our faces at all times. It didn’t help that Christmas was fast approaching and the hostel we were living in was closing down for the holiday. This was also the first time in my life that I had to look for a place to live. I am a homebody who spent most of my college career at my parent’s house, content to remain in the realm of the familiar. Deciding to live a year away from my family, my hometown, my comfort zone is actually completely out of character for me. I was probably depending a little too much on Michelle adding extra pressure on her shoulders to find us a place to live. Finally she came to a decision: we were going to have to split up. 

There were a lot more single bedrooms available and while I really did not want to split up I didn’t really see any other option. Michelle was the first to move out. It was to a house out in Salthill living with 5 other girls who were all Freshmen in College. It was about a 20 minute walk from City Centre and her room had a beautiful view of the ocean.

We then spent time looking for a place for me to live in. The apartments that I looked at for the next couple of days were either breeding grounds for black mold or far away from the city centre and even farther away from Michelle. Then I interviewed with Charlotte and Aine. Two PhD students who were living in a three bedroom apartment. Their roommate was moving out and they were trying to replace her.

It was a single bed, with a window facing the docks. It was a bit on the cozy side, but I didn’t mind I fell in love with it! My favorite part was my bedroom window which was a circle making the room feel quite nautical. It helped that it overlooked the docks where one could see huge boats come in and out of the docks. Of course I was interviewed for the room so I had no idea if I got the room or not. Later that day I got the phone call from Charlotte the happy news that they decided that I would be their next roommate. I was delighted!

From December to April my home was the docks. I loved waking up every morning to look outside and see if a new boat came in the middle of the night. Sometimes it was fishermen in from a day of fishing unloading crates of their catch of the day. Aine and I would go grocery shopping. Charlotte once skyped with my parents for over 45 minutes while I washed dishes. Sometimes we would just hangout in the living room and talk while the TV glowed and flickered in the background. Of course things never stay the same. Charlotte ended up moving out. It was not because of any feelings of animosity or drama which can become common in any living situation. Rather she had means to buy her own place.  Her leaving us meant that Aine and I had to interview for a new roommate. That is how I became friends with Edel. She was the second person that Aine and I interviewed and was instantly liked. She has a very energetic friendly personality which makes it easy to love her. Aine and I both consider each other to also be of the friendly sort so we did not see why we should not ask Edel to immediately move in with us.

Well not too soon after Edel and Aine signed the new lease, resulting in a raise in out rent but also the introduction of a tumble dryer, that we were informed that the landlord wanted the property back and we were to move out within the month. Leave my apartment? Well I couldn’t believe it! Leave my little room with the circle window, our spacious living room, our patio, our view that overlooked the docks! I had to say goodbye to it all. Yes I am being hopelessly sentimental but this was my first home in Galway. It was hard to not get attached.

Aine and I began looking for a new place to live. Since Edel has a real job with grown up person hours we took my camera to our apartment viewings so we could take pictuers and then report back our findings. We found a place that was the next street over. 3 bedroom with 4 beds and all rooms had their own personal bathroom. If there were two people that could stand to live in the same room we would be in luck. Luckily for everyone Michelle and I are able to do just that. Michelle had moved from her house in Salthill and had been sharing an apartment with two other girls since January. The rent would be less expensive in the new place and she had a sneaky suspicion that there might have been some mold growing in her bedroom.

Over Easter weekend we moved. Since the new place was not far away from our old apartment it was a quick job. While I lost my circle window with a view of the docks, my room in the new place is bigger. I am still living with friends and am slowly making the new place a home. Change is good. It makes you appreciate what you had. It also reminds you what is important. It is not always the place you live but the people that you live with that makes a place a home. And I am very lucky to be living with my 3 friends.

An American Working in Ireland at a Mexican Restaurant

Oh my goodness! Where has all the time gone? Sincerest apologies my gentle readers I did not mean to abandon you, rather a series of quite wonderful events has kept my attention otherwise occupied. In the span since my last post I have: become employed, had a new roommate move it, had a very special visitor for ten days, and was rather abruptly told to leave my apartment (by our landlord. Not by my darling roommates).

Let us not waste any more time talking about how much I have to talk about. I’l just jump right in.

Job searching has probably been one of the most depressing things that I have had to experience in Ireland. The first day I hit the road to apply for jobs I was ready. I had about 30 copies of my CV (basically a resume) in a plastic folder in my hand at the ready. I had rehearsed my lines as to who I was and why I think I would be good for the company. It was something along the lines of: “Hello, may I please speak to the manager? I am an American who is here on a working holiday Visa. I have 5 years of experience in the food service industry. I am quick on my feet, an excellent problem solver and very adaptable to any working situation.” I was also dressed to impress in black fleece lined tights, black flats, my black dress (everyone in food service wears black), with my hair done and make-up on. I was ready to conquer Galway. I was filled to the brim with confidence and hoped it would impress the managers. Of course the day I decided to go look for a job it began to rain. Sideways. I went from a confident woman to a drowned little kid whose hair constantly stuck to the side of her face. I had a hood on but somehow the rain got in anyway! Rain here is very sneaky sometimes. I walked slowly back to my hostel, albeit in a very interesting way for my tights became water logged and kept falling down with every step that I took. It was a humbling experience, but it did not deter my enthusiasm.

I did this for about two weeks before Christmas and when it was clear that nobody wanted me I took a break from applying to jobs for the sake of my own sanity. During this process I had also moved into  my new (now old) apartment so I used my self declared time off as a moment to settle into my new living situation and become acquainted with my new roommates. After New Years and recovering from the flu I went out again passing out CVs to any business that had a “staff wanted” sign. I was getting a lot closer in January then I was in December. A few people even read my CV. The jackpot came in February. I finally landed an interview. I was eating in a restaurant with some friends of mine and I happened to have my CV when there was that glorious “staff wanted” sign. I waited until business died down a bit and then walked up to the front to hand in my CV. Luckily I was directed to the assistant manager. Now I was not dressed in my best. In fact I was wearing a huge wool sweater with moose on it with my grungy jeans and dirty running shoes, however the environment of the restaurant is casual so I hoped that they wouldn’t hold it against me.  They didn’t. An interview, working interview and exactly one week later I was hired. I was hired at a Mexican burrito restaurant where I would be making burritos for all the residents of Galway (mostly college students).

This was not the type of establishment that I expected to work in. I thought I would end up in a pub or hotel in the back kitchen peeling potatoes for eight hours a day. I never expected to come over an ocean farther away from Mexico only to end up making “Mexican” food (I use quotation marks because I have been told burritos are more of an American thing and is not part of the Mexican cuisine). However, now that I have been working there for about a month now I wouldn’t want to work anywhere else.

The hours aren’t horrible. I never have to get up at the ass crack of dawn or have to drag my tired body home at ridiculous o’clock in the evening. My co-workers are my friends. Never have I worked somewhere with so many genuinely decent people. I like hanging out with them. Sometimes I will have multiple days off from work and I find that I miss my co-workers. That has never happened for me before. I don’t think it happens for a lot of people which makes the event even more incredible. And while working in front of house with multiple customers can be overwhelming at times when we are busy, I don’t mind the customers. The regulars have become my friends in a way and I find myself getting excited every time one of them walks in. Now I am still in the honeymoon stages of this job. I will have my bad days because they exist with every job no matter where you end up working. However this job far exceeded my expectations. There are so many times in life where things don’t work out as planned but the wonderful thing is sometimes the end result is better than what was planned. This is one of those moments. Call it God’s plan, the universe, irony, fate, call it whatever you want, but I sure am glad that things didn’t go the way that I planned.

“Why is everything here so difficult?”

Apologies to my avid readers for not posting sooner. I have been extremely lazy when it comes to writing. I also seem to have creativity vomit where all my ideas come to me at once. It can be most detrimental to the creative process when you are trying to focus on one thing and other ideas are beginning to distract you. The world is full of enough distractions as it is but when your own brain is distracting you it is almost impossible to get anything done.

I have been in Ireland for about 81 days. I am finally employed and my boyfriend is coming to visit me in about 2 weeks. Everything is starting to look up for me, but I didn’t always feel that way during the few months that I have been here. Don’t get me wrong I love Ireland, but there were times where I felt like everything was just way too difficult.

For example: when Michelle and I first arrived we knew that we needed to get a job. In order to get paid for our job we needed PPS number (basically a social security number). In order to get a PPS number we needed to have a permanent address. However, in order to get an apartment we needed a job. Everything was connected. Whenever Michelle or I would go out to try to get something like a library card, a bank account, register with the garda etc. we would discover that there was always some paper work that was required that we didn’t have. Michelle once said to me on the phone after coming from the bank “Why is everything here so difficult?” It was like a web of paper work that was imposible to insert ourselves into. Any part missing and the web would fall apart. I feared that I would end up homeless in a hostel, unemployed, and out drinking every night at the local pubs. Fortunately this did not happen. I live in an apartment with wonderful roommates. I am employed. The only time I go out to the pubs is with friends, not alone to drink my sorrows away.

While I was sitting in my room one day in a miserable pit of self pity and frustration over my current situation I finally realized something: it is supposed to be this difficult.

I am not a citizen of Ireland! Why would things be any easier for me?! I am sure people immigrating to America also experience the same frustrations that I was having. How completely self-centered of me to think that I would be more deserving of  job than anyone else or that the process of getting a PPS number should be any simpler. Basically I experienced life. A real, honest moment that will soon repeat itself as I enter the strange and unexplored land of adulthood. A place that I have attempted to evade ever since I turned 18, but it snuck up on me.  When I return to the U.S.A. job searching is not going to be easier and I am sure I will encounter more rejection. I have more tasks ahead of me such as buying a car, moving out of my parents’ house and finding a career all of which will probably entail several headaches and potentially a few break downs. So really my particular experience feels more difficult than anything else I have had to deal with in the past, but that is mostly because up until December I was still working my college job, at home waiting for life to start.

However, there are still things about Ireland that are  difficult that I have to deal with on a daily basis. These doesn’t mean that I love Ireland any less or that I want to go back home anytime soon. These things are just reminders of things that I took for granted back home.

1) Grocery Shopping. Part of the reason why grocery shopping in Ireland is so difficult for me is that I do not have a car to put all my groceries in. I have to walk to the store and the journey home is always arduous with 3 full grocery bags hanging off your hands. You also must remember to bring enough grocery bags because otherwise you will have to buy more plastic ones. No freebies here. Be prepared to apologize a lot because the aisles are narrow and rarely fit two people at the same time. I often will have my backpacking backpack to carry my stuff home which means I am even wider than normal. I have been known to knock down a few displays at the local Lidl. Also the store may not have what you are looking for so you might have to venture to other stores. I know that my sister goes to multiple stores when she is buying her groceries for the week, but personally I love just being able to walk into Meijer and finding everything that I need. Also finding things that I didn’t even know I needed. Going to multiple stores just seems like a waste of time so often I just do without whatever food item or product I was missing. This is a goo thing because I am realizing I don’t need to buy a lot of food to survive.

2) Laundry. Laundry is difficult because we have no tumble dryer. I am beginning to discover that tumble dryers in Ireland is a real luxury. There are those rare apartments that have a washer/dryer combo, but it takes about 3 hours just for one load and the clothes still come out damp which means that you basically steamed your clothes for about an hour. Therefore I wait for as long as I can to do laundry because it takes about 3 days to do it. 1 day to wash and 2 to let air dry either in our dinning room or on a rack in our storage closet. I also do this thing with all my underwear where I turn on my space heater,  lay my underwear on top of my bed in front of the heater, and fluff it around every minute or so. This cuts the drying time for this item down to about a day. I can wait for my jeans to dry but underwear is a necessity that I can’t wait for.

3) Trying to navigate the city. I am better at finding my way around Galway than I was in the beginning, but I still have no idea what most of the names of the streets are. This is because they are often unmarked. This is in Dublin as well, which is a city that I got lost in this weekend. The worst part is, the locals also don’t seem to know the names of the streets. On more than one occasion I had to ask a perfect stranger for directions and most of them never knew the names of streets. Once I described where I wanted to go, then they were loads of help but all their directions lacked street names. Honestly that is the best kind of directions for because back at home that is the only way I could get around the city. However, when all you have in front of you to go off of is a street name that no one is heard of, chances are you are not going to find that place.

4) Showering. There is always the chance that you will have no hot water which means you have to turn on the immersion. Some places have just the immersion to heat the water for the shower which means about 2 minutes of scalding hot water followed by ice cold water for the duration of your shower. There is also the water pressure problem which means that it is non existent. The best you get is a trickle of water like somebody is holding a watering can over you. Now it could be worse. I could have no shower, stink like yesterday’s garbage which would then hinder any future friendships that I intend to make so things could always be worse.

Honestly though that is only 4 things that I find difficult here. Things could be a lot worse.

The first couple of months here were difficult, but luckily I had my friends here to distract me and keep me busy. It was hard to be unemployed but that also opened up more time for me to go on adventures. It was frustrating to try to get all my paperwork for my PPS number but now that is all done and I can get paid for doing work now! I am over the hump of uncertainty and loose ends and now feel free to start planning trips to Paris, Rome, Spain and possibly Germany. Every adventure is worth it! Even the frustrations!

Super Bowl Review

I am not a particularly sporty person. Tom Brady is the only football player that I could name last night. However, I felt that is was my patriotic duty to watch the Superbowl game.

My entire body was protesting my leaving the warm imprint that my body had created in our couch. I had gone out with friends the night before. My head was not fully recovered from the bottom of a pint glass. I went out anyway.

We were joining our friends at a bar called The Stock Exchange. I knew it from my walks around the city. I never actually knew that name of the bar except that there was the word “coyotes” in big letters on the windows of the second floor. This floor of the building is American themed with our flag tacked to the ceiling and waitresses dressed in cheer leading costumes who during the evening get up and dance on the bar. This is not my type of bar. This is where we watched the game.

Entering the building we hit the typical wall of heat that too many human bodies packed into a pub produce. Our friends Jonny and Siobhan were in the back closest to the screen where the game was being projected. We wove our way through a labyrinth  of elbows, fists full of pint glasses and the occasional female whose sympathetic head tilt to the side communicated that she felt the same way I did. That we were rare in this environment and we were not native. Welcome to the jungle.

Finally we were able to muscle our way through to the front to our friends. Jonny was the one who invited us out. He plays American football here in Ireland. The patriots are his favorite team. He would go gay for Tom Brady. My seat was a short stool that faced out in the crowd. I had to tilt my head back and to the left to get a proper look at the screen. It was being projected so our arm movements were limited. Arms stretched in an upward direction would interfere with the picture. Instead we would raise our arms no higher than our shoulders as if we were doing an impression of a robot clapping out front.

We got there during the tail ends of the pre-game show. I do not understand the reason why there is a pre-game show. As far as I could tell nobody was paying attention and the biggest cheer that I heard that night was when the channel was accidentally changed to an episode of Family Guy. Of course I ended up not staying for the entire game. Perhaps there was more raucous cheering after we left. Perhaps the loudest cheer occurred when we left. I guess I will never know.

Then came time for the America’s theme songs. First was John Legend with America the Beautiful. This song always reminds me of the movie The Sandlot and the scene where he kids are playing baseball on the 4th of July. Then it was Idina Menzel to sing national anthem. Both singers are incredible at their art. Of course I didn’t get to hear any of the songs. When the music began, this prompted a particularly loud bunch of Irish men to stand up and begin singing the Irish national anthem at the top of their lungs. At least I think it was the national anthem. They were either singing in Gaelic or were extremely drunk and therefore incoherent. One song prompted another and then soon another requiring clapping and stamping of the feet. I just held my delicate head in my hands marveling on how one expression of a different nationality, like the American national anthem, reminds one of how faithful they are to their own.

Finally the game began. I cannot give a very educated commentary on the game for I have a very basic knowledge of the game. Guy throws ball to runner. Runner tries to out run other team without getting tackled. Points are made. Somebody gets hurt. Somebody wins. The End. Mostly I just saw a bunch of men constantly pile on top of each other into a huge cuddle. I did cheer when the Sea Hawks intercepted the football the first time because even though I was hoping the Patriots would win, I was impressed with such a beautiful catch.  I really spent most of my time talking to our newly made friend Joe. He. Michelle, and I made up stories about the girls whose pictures were on the wall behind the projector screen. There were two of them, giving the crowd their smoldering bedroom eyes from beneath the screen. We were probably a very sorry sight to see.

Exhaustion was getting the best of me and we decided that after the half-time show we would leave. It was enjoyable. I am not the biggest fan of Katy Perry but the spectacle of her show was impressive. Finally it was time for us to leave. The level of intoxication of the crowd was moving from buzzed to inebriated and my tolerance for asshole shenanigans was tapped out.

We were secretly removed from the building. The bouncer had to first poke his head out the door and look both ways to make sure the cost was clear before giving us the all clear. Apparently the bar was not supposed to still be open that late. The interaction made me feel like we were doing something shady.

Collapsing in my bed, I texted my boyfriend to tell me who won the game. At 3:05 AM I was told that the patriots won. I was told it was an amazing game. Though I was sad that I did not get to witness any of the commercials. Apparently they don’t show them in Ireland. How extremely disappointing.

The Irish Cowboys

I can’t get away from America. We are too big! I can not help but feel frustrated in my endeavor to leave America for a taste of a different culture only to have it follow me. Granted if I really wanted difference from America I probably should have gone somewhere further east and where the people don’t speak English. I guess I didn’t try that hard. One of the ways that America has followed me into Ireland is through line dancing. Country line dancing all dressed up in cowboy boots, hats and the whoop of a “yee haw” coming out from the center of the group.

I was very ignorant of the Line Dancing craze occurring in Ireland. Perhaps it is a craze everywhere and I am just ignorant of current dancing fashions. If you ever get invited to go line dancing with Irish people go! It is great craic!

I have done some line dancing back in the states. My Dad taught me how to do the Hustle at my brother’s wedding, there is the infamous cha cha slide for people who have no idea how to dance needing a DJ to dictate steps to them and of course the cupid shuffle which is as basic as you can get as far as line dances go. What I saw this past Saturday was impressive.

I was contacted by my Aunt’s cousin (who is technically not related to me) by e-mail informing me of her existence, her wish that we will meet soon and about an upcoming line dancing event occurring in Galway city. Unfortunately we would not get to meet each other  at the event because she would be in Kilkenny at another line dancing event.

Being in the mentality to always try new things my response was “Of course I will go!” and dutifully wrote the event down, in pen so I could not cancel it.

Michelle ended up not being able to go with me so I brought along my roommate Aine. The event was called Line Dancing Workshop & Social. The workshop taught you new dances and the during the social is when you got to show off how wonderfully you dance. I was not aware of this workshop. I approached the event with a bit trepidation. I was in Salthill hotel (never been there before) with a new group of people doing a new sort of activity. Thank goodness I had Aine with me or I may not have gone.

The crowd at first was sparse, but soon the dance floor was packed. Aine and I made friends quickly with Louise, Sandra and the DJ Gary who were more than accommodating when teaching us dances. The music was primarily country western, there was a sea of cowboy boots tapping to the beat  and the occasional shirt with the American flag printed on it. In case I forgot what country I was in, pints of Guinness stood scattered across the table tops, proudly standing salute to Ireland.

I made three new friends, Aine won a bottle of wine during the raffle and we now have a new activity. While it was doing something that to me felt extremely American, there was a support system of new found friends that I am now coming to associate with Ireland.

The cure for homesickness

Sincere apologies my avid readers (Emily and my mom) for not posting four days in a row! Shall not make a habit of being so slow to post.

I have been experiencing homesickness this week. It was to be expected. I am not surprised by this fact. It is not a sobbing-in-the-shower-so-nobody-can-hear-or-see-me type sadness, but rather a “I wish I could see [insert P.O.I.] and have them give me a hug.” There are a few reasons probably why this is. One of them being that the whirlwind of activity that occurs during the holiday season is now over which means that I have more time to myself which means more time to think about the people that I miss back home. The other is that the weather has been very cold which leaves me to turtle up back into my bed where I am alone and thinking far too much about the people that I miss back home.

I have been homesick before. In fact I experienced a brief moment of it the day after we landed. I have, however, discovered ways to handle this momentary emotion.

1) Watch Ze Frank’s Youtube video called “Chase that Happy.” I was introduced to this video by an ex-boyfriend of mine and it never ceases to make me feel better. It reminds me that I am in control of my own happiness. Now there times in people’s lives when you are allowed to just wallow in a stew of misery. When a loved one dies, your boyfriend breaks up with, or you have graduated and are stuck in between the world of being an adult and a teenager than by all means: wallow. Homesickness, however, is a fleeting emotion. Just as suddenly as it comes I have it within my power to get rid of it by as Ze Frank phrased it “chasing that happy.”

Ze Frank’s video on chasing happiness

2) Exercise. I am not referring to the whole “exercise releases endorphins” mumbo jumbo. I always feel happier exercising because I often do it with another person and it results in me being able to clear my head. On Monday I was bundled in my bed, reading Unbroken (I was reading probably the most depressing chapter which did not help) when my friend Michelle texted me asking if I wanted to go on a run/walk. Even though I felt like puttering around like a miserable old lady all day complaining about the cold weather, I agreed. Yes it was cold and I may have been experiencing some numbness in my legs,  but fresh air does amazing things for your mood. Michelle and I ended up running all the way to one of the local colleges in the city. We were filled with a sense of accomplishment and I took her on a bogus tour.

3) The Bogus Tour. This is also mentioned in Ze Frank’s video as one of the things that makes him happy. I soon discovered that this practice also filled me with a great sense of joy. There were maps of the campus located in the reception office that showed a “culture tour” of campus. Reading from the map out load I informed Michelle of all the cultural things to be found on campus. I also embellished the stories a bit to make them more interesting. By embellish I mean made shit up about everything! By the end Michelle and I were laughing amiably and I completely forgot about my mood from earlier that morning.

4) Getting/Sending mail. There is nothing more wonderful in the world than receiving mail. Especially when it is a handwritten letter (Thank you Mom!). I have also received packages from my hunky boyfriend and my wonderful sister. In these packages and letters there are always messages of support and wishes that I am enjoying myself. These messages make me reconsider the people that I miss and realize that they wouldn’t want me to sit around in my apartment missing them. They want me to go out and have adventures that I can later tell them all about! I also love sending mail! Sometimes I search through gift shops for darling note cards that I can send to a particular person. This Christmas I sent everyone in my family cards that said “Merry Christmas from Galway.” If I don’t receive mail in the post box then I make sure I responded to all of my most recent letters. Still no mail? Well that’s ok checking the post box just builds the anticipation so that when one finally arrives I am off my head with joy.

5) Singing poorly on purpose. I am sure that there is some scientific research that proves that singing, not matter what the location, improves people’s mood. My mood is improved when I sing badly on purpose. This is best done alone to save the eardrums of any person that might be within earshot. It is also best when it is done in an especially loud manner. My sister and I discovered this joy when we were doing the dishes one summer evening. She kept singing “Cause I only have eyes for you” in an obnoxious tone adding extra vibrato to her voice, smooshing my cheek against hers as we giggled and then I gave it a go. It is best to do this with obnoxious pop songs for the irony. Singing them generally suggests that you enjoy them. Singing them poorly perfectly exemplifies your true feelings for the song. It is a glorious joke that I secretly relish each time I do it.

6) Eating (especially gummy candy). I know that emotional eating is not exactly the healthiest habit to have, but it is something that makes me happy. Whenever I am in a sad mood I love to eat gummy candy. When I broke up with my first boyfriend my best friend and I drove to the best 24/7 grocery store, Meijer, where we selected nothing but the finest food to cure my broken heart. This included a huge bag of gummy candy the I mixed up in their bulk candy aisle. We  sat at a table by the closed Starbucks section of the store where I unloaded all of my misery. In the midst of the conversation I suddenly blurted out “This candy is making me feel so much better about myself.” It did not cure me but it got me over the first hump of the crippling misery that kept me un-showered in my house compulsively cleaning everything. Thank God I stopped doing that! (sorry Mom!)

There are more ways that I beat back the feeling of homesickness, but I feel that these suggestions are at least a start. I just need to remind myself to go outside and chase my happy.

“If all else fails: Pizza”

My roommate Aine said this to me as I continually pounded the backspace key on my laptop, hating every writing idea that came to mind.

It helps that I am also eating pizza which is the greatest food of all time! It’s not my favorite food, but it is definitely in the top five. Here is why: you can fit all food groups on one nifty circle! Think about it. You have the tomato sauce which according to Americans counts as a vegetable, protein in the cheese and pepperoni or whatever meat choice you have, carbohydrates in the crust and then there is the option adding more vegetables making the Pizza healthier! It could be the healthiest thing you had all day!

Gluten allergy? You can now get gluten free crusts! Vegetarian? Just don’t add the meat. Lactose intolerant just add the sauce and toppings it still tastes amazing!  Heck get crazy with it! Add spinach, feta, tomatoes, olives, pesto sauce and grilled chicken for a shout out to Greece. BBQ sauce, bacon, and red onion for a southwestern flavor. Throw some corn on there which I am coming to realize is a very popular ingredient on Pizzas here in Ireland.

Feel lazy? Order one or buy a frozen one. Feel like cooking something fancy? Then make the crust and sauce from scratch and do artistic designs on your Pizza. Go for the rustic feel and serve it on a wooden cutting board. You cannot go wrong!

If your current endeavors fail, Pizza. Yesterday I had a succession of rejection e-mails from establishments that I had applied to. I am a person that has always tried to maintain a positive attitude, but after applying to places for the past four weeks and hearing only “no” I was beginning to feel the early symptoms of dejection.

Not feeling like cooking or really moving much from my couch I made the decision that I was going to get take out.  A take out pepperoni Pizza. All hot and cheesy with a crunchy crust. What comforting bliss! I also ate carrot sticks just to make sure I was still being healthy.

My job applications so far failed! The weather outside failed to be beautiful. Instead it was grey miserable combination of precipitation that has never been seen before outside Ireland. Yet I was still able to end the day with Pizza, a nice warm hug at the end of a failed day. Obviously I don’t think that everybody should eat Pizza everyday, but I felt the need to profess my ever lasting love for this food. It has never failed me yet. The one thing I can depend on (outside of my family) when the rest of my future is uncertain.

Introducing: Dave

Woo Hoo! Due to posting a link to my blog on facebook I now have more readers! Thank You fellow friends and colleagues for your support.

I am sure you have noticed that a certain character keeps appearing in my photographs. He is my other travel companion.

Please, let me introduce Dave the minion.

Dave recently left his place of work with the evil master mind of Gru to pursue his interest in traveling. His primary language remains unknown but he has been known to speak a little Spanish, French, Italian and every once and awhile English.

His favorite food is bananas and his favorite past time is playing ping pong.

He loves to make new friends which include both humans and animals. Currently he has come to enjoy the company of pigeons that he and I encounter on our walks.

While he misses his brothers back in the United States, he does not regret coming to Ireland. Especially since I knit him a scarf to keep him warm.

His tip for traveling? Dave “Bee Doh.”

I don’t know what that means, but keep it in mind when traveling.

I Cook Because I like Eating

“I Cook because I like eating” is what my friend Michelle told me one day this past summer while she was making homemade pizza. I had made some comment about how she was “Quite the chef” but she disagreed. “You’re more of a chef than I am Libby.” Which is not true either, but I do know a bit about cooking.

I was a cook. Back in the states I had the same job for five years. I was trained in 9 different positions and this included being a cook. In fact whenever I talked to someone about creating a blog they would always say “You should blog about cooking,” but there are so many blogs about cooking! How would mine be different from any other one? It wouldn’t! It would be me cruising PInterest, trying recipes and then blogging about how I absolutely failed. As much as I would like a “Julie and Julia” blog that ended up as a novel and then a movie deal, my ignorance would begin to show and most of my posts would be food puns that I thought of while staring at my computer screen.

Now the primary thing that I cooked was soup and I didn’t always do that very well. Sometimes there wouldn’t be enough salt or it wouldn’t be thick enough or I would have cooked the potatoes for too long and they became mush at the bottom of the pot. Today, however, I am thinking of my old job because today I made soup for myself.

I had leftover potatoes in the cupboard from Christmas. Bought rashers (bacon) onions and attempted some type of soup. I also added carrots, celery and peas because why not? It’s soup! The more vegetables the better. Make it a stew. Throw in apple! Yeah you can add fruit to soup! Why the heck wouldn’t you? Garlic too! Two cloves of it. No make it three! I love garlic!

I did get a bit over zealous with the ingredients. In the fever of culinary creativity I perhaps lost sight of the duty at hand: making a simple potato soup, It doesn’t taste bad but I a not sure if I am confident enough to serve it to other people. Sometimes you like the food that you cook because you cooked it. You took all that time effort and energy to create the product so you better enjoy it! Hunger helps too! Everything tastes better when you’re starving or drunk. Let’s all just admit that any food you eat when you’re drunk is THE BEST FOOD EVER!

I also cook because I love eating. Sometimes when I am eating one meal, I spend the entire time planning the next meal that I am going to eat. The time spent commuting from school to work to home was completely absorbed with thinking about what I was going to eat next. Is this an American thing? Is it because I have watched so much TV that the food commercials have convinced me that I need to be eating all the time? Is it because I am the baby of the family and often times got the short end of the stick when it came to food making me even more obsessed with it? Is this a problem? I can’t decide. I guess I do have a certain amount of passion for cooking but it’s mostly because it’s fun. It’s fun to be self-sufficient and play adult for the day as you feed yourself with something that tastes good AND is nutritious! My mom would be so proud (She is the chef that inspires my cooking. It wouldn’t be a blog post without talking about my mom!).