Tangled Up in Blue

My baby blue Biscuit turned 6 today.

In November 2007, she showed up at our door about an hour before I had to go to work. I had to leave her alone for 8+ hours, so this is how she bonded with her new family:


We assumed she was about six weeks old when we got her, so we gave her an early October birthday. October 1, to be precise… the same birthday as my boyfriend.


To this day, he swears that her eyes were as blue as his when she was a baby, which is clearly a lie, as evidenced by the photo below:


Happy Birthday to you both, my blue-eyed boy and my beloved blue heeler. In your honor, I’ve gone and dyed a blue streak in my hair. Maybe now I can fit in with the two of you!

Happy Birthday to Me?

In a world where I am sending resumes into the void with barely a courtesy reply, putting in hours of work for exciting but unpaid internships, and getting turned down for a volunteer gig (seems no one even wants me to work for free now), it has gotten fairly difficult to avoid going negative on this blog. Hence the past month of not posting.

This is a very disheartening time to be writing/publishing/selling books for a living, and I am not going to lie – it is getting to me.

There are some bright spots. My boyfriend is here, I cranked out 12,500 words for my thesis, and the gorgeous weather is back. I also have a birthday coming up… which could be a good thing, because it turns out that I need money to keep running this blog.

Picture 1

All these things can be bundled for $99, but all I really need is the $26 domain name. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

Make it Rain


It’s cold and rainy in Galway again! Yeah, I did that. You’re welcome.

So the big news today is that Mr. Spock is coming back to Galway. Zachary Quinto apparently lived in Galway for a summer during college, and the Galway Film Fleadh lured him back to teach an actor’s masterclass next month. The Film Fleadh is drawing some big names, and it is really cool because they are one of our ROPES advertisers. I am hoping to volunteer with them, if I can get my summer schedule locked down and don’t have any more giant thesis-related meltdowns (yeah, that happened today).

I’ve posted here before about The Belfast Train – the Enterprise – and my Star Trek themed weekend in Dublin. I’m really only an amateur geek when it comes to trekkiness, but I saw the new movie as soon as I got back to Galway, and it made me laugh and feel and contemplate the nature of evil, so I am looking forward to Spock beaming into Galway.

A couple nights ago, back when the weather was nice and the sky was clear, I watched the International Space Station zoom past Galway. Apparently, it took this photo:


United Kingdom and Ireland as seen from ISS by European Space Agency (http://www.flickr.com/photos/europeanspaceagency/5297084051/)

Here is another one from last year:


This image was taken on March 28, 2012. Image Credit: NASA

And, my personal favourite, Galway from space at night:


*This photo is not actually taken from space! It’s just the window in my flat.
*It’s not even the window in my flat! It’s a poster on my wall, taken from the couch.


Carpe Lux Solis


The weather in Galway over the past week has been something to behold. It’s so beautiful, I want to make out with it. And I really love how the Irish go nuts soaking in the sunshine.

Sunset is around 10:30 pm, which makes for these wonderful summer nights of booze and music and sidewalk cafes. Everyone sits outside, and because it’s such a small little city, we all know each other. The other day while carrying my laundry detergent capsules through town, I heard someone call my name, went over to say hello, sampled some Stella Artois Cidre, wished them well, and went on about my merry way.

Whenever I’m home, I’ve got my balcony door open and live music floats in all afternoon and well into the evening. I’ve heard some damn good originals, some fairly decent covers, and the worst rendition of La Bamba ever performed by a native Spanish speaker.

Tourist season is in full effect, and the double-decker tour buses glide past my balcony. There’s even this annoying little tourist train that does the loop around town, which is going to make for one exciting incident of public intoxication sometime in my near future.


Galway at 10:30 pm tonight.

I’m working on practicing patience with the tourists, starting with the raspy-voiced, bikini-clad American sisters in Charlie Byrne’s the other day, screaming to each other across the store about The Aeneid. I let an Italian kid – named, no kidding, Massimo – practice his English on me for a full half-hour today. I’m even getting used to the frat boys. I had forgotten that Galway is on the frat-daddy trail; I must have blocked it out from last time I was here, freshly graduated from a university experience not unlike Season Three of Veronica Mars. But now that I am approaching cougar age, and have enjoyed the television show Greek, I find the daily meat market in the Latin Quarter somewhat amusing.

Thanks to all the running in Berlin, I am now able to run the 10k from the Spanish Arch to Blackrock and back, made all the more enjoyable by the fact that I don’t have to wear my Under Armour. Then there are the walks on the beach, looking for pretty shells while the washed-up seaweed whispers to me and the gulls either laugh or call out warnings, I’m not sure which.

Picture 1

Apparently, there is a tradition in Ireland of Leaving Cert Weather, which dictates that the week when high-school-aged students are taking their big final exams is predictably the best weather all year. And I love it, I do. I’ve even gotten a little overheated at times, which is something I never thought I would say about Ireland.

But I need I break.

I have so much reading and writing to do. This is not thesis weather, this is sit on the grass and split a bottle of wine with friends weather. It is killing me. In Texas, we take this kind of thing for granted, but in Ireland, you have to enjoy it when you can. Carpe lux solis… just not right now.

So I am asking the weather gods for one week of rain and drizzle. That’s all I need. Just seven to ten days of stay-indoors, reading, writing, tea-drinking weather so I can get ahead on my thesis. Plus, I have all these broody new eye make-up tricks that don’t fly when everyone is outside and smiling. Not to mention all the summer movies and episodes of Modern Family that I missed while I was in Germany.

I am a little sorry for the tourist who might arrive during the next week; but hey, you don’t come to Ireland for a sun holiday. Just one week. I’ll work as fast as my little fingers can type and as well as my little brain can comprehend the research, and I should be in pretty good shape, thesis-wise, by then. I can already see the clouds gathering. Send the sun back out on June 18, and I promise I’ll be ready to enjoy every moment of it.


The Devil Made Me Do It

Part of the reason I spent the month of May in Berlin had to do with my internship at a literary magazine, Spolia, the new sister publication of Bookslut. The internship is based online, but I had a chance for an apartment swap in Berlin, so I went.

The DevilAs a Spolia intern, one of my first duties was to locate the Devil card in a Tarot deck, run it through the scanner, and send the JPG on for the designer to use as the cover for Issue Two. I have had quite a few internships in my illustrious career, and never before have I explicitly been asked to find the Devil.

In doing so, it meant that I had a hand in the production of Issue Two of Spolia, the Black Magic issue, which is available now.

Spolia is also running a special for the Black Magic issue, which invites readers to have their star charts and/or tarot cards read by the editor-in-chief, Jessa Crispin, aka the Bookslut.

I had mine done, opting for the Creative Flow reading to answer some questions about my thesis. It was very insightful, and helped me to focus my ideas and plan a writing schedule for the next three months. We even delved into my relationships in the last five minutes, because one of my cards so clearly represented another part of my life blocking my flow.

I would recommend it, especially if you’re a writer who is stuck on a project and you need someone to shake you loose. It is a reading by the Bookslut, after all.

You may go over to Spolia to check it out, and decide the cost is a bit prohibitive. That’s okay… it makes the $5 for an issue of Spolia look like chump change, doesn’t it? Ah, go on go on go on. Then you can just let these zodiac cats decipher your horoscope for you.

Bookish Berlin


I was very tempted to call this post ‘Goodbye to Berlin,’ but the truth is I have been back in Galway since late Friday night. Also, I have never read that book.

But Berlin was a trip. It really does appear to be the hippest city on the planet. Glad I got to spend a month there.

My travel philosophy as of late seems to involve following the bibliophile trail. And for some reason, I am in the foulest mood and really do not want to write tonight, so let’s see if the pictures can lead us through one more blog post.

First, some German-language books that caught my eye.


1) A bilingual edition of The Great Gatsby, which I found in a bookshop called Jokers or Jesters or something; it looked like a chain. The book was wrapped in plastic, so I’ll never know if it had facing bilingual pages, which would be ideal for learning a new language but difficult from a production stand-point (a friend I met in Berlin is a graphic designer; he said translations are a nightmare because the size of the text box varies so much from English to German). I was intrigued by this book and almost bought it, but am so glad I didn’t. I saw the movie in English while I was in Berlin, and I was so horrified in the first two minutes by the framing device imposed on Fitzgerald’s story that I sat through the rest of the screening simply shell-shocked. (From this day forward, high school English teachers will trip up their students with trick questions about Nick Carraway’s time in the sanitarium. Seriously. A f*cking sanitarium? That’s your improvement on the great American novel? And I won’t even get into the new dialogue – at least Romeo + Juliet stuck to the script.)

2) The Bloggess’s book in German. I actually have this book on my Kindle, and though I don’t read the blog with any degree of regularity, one of the posts I do remember is about seeing her book translated into German. That must be such a cool feeling. Even just browsing the bookstores, I was always thrilled to see a book I knew in its German edition.

3) A book of photographs by Efraim Habermann. I met him at the Literaturhaus one rainy afternoon. He invited me over to chat and see his photos while he had coffee and I uncouthly scarfed down spargel with hollandaise sauce, baby potatoes, and some sort of rhubarb concoction for dessert. A friend of his showed up, and they conversed in English for my benefit, all the while apologizing because their mastery of the language was not up to snuff. It was actually quite good, and I was sitting there with absolutely no German, fairly certain I was mispronouncing Danke. Anyway, the book contains a photo of Bruno Ganz, star of Der Himmel Über Berlin (Wings of Desire). I was thrilled to recognize him, trying to explain how I knew him from “that movie with Columbo and the angels.” So sophisticated.


Above, random book art on the sidewalk. This was outside a curio shop, located somewhere between Ron Telesky’s Canadian Pizza and the U-bahn stop where I screamed because I saw a rat run across the sidewalk in broad daylight. I guess I’m just a country mouse… can’t take me anywhere.

Below, the back room at Shakespeare and Sons, home of Tuesday Night Writing Club.


This is the Bebelplatz, site of the 1933 Nazi book burning. The big pretty building is the old library of Humboldt University, and in the plaza itself lies the underground library, which is a room of empty white bookshelves, lit from above. It’s very moving. I’m sorry the photos don’t do it justice; it was rainy and muddy. But I don’t think any of the photos I’ve seen convey the depth of the monument. It really was powerful, and I’m glad I went to see it.

IMG_1786IMG_1772     IMG_1771 IMG_1770IMG_1777IMG_1779IMG_1781

And finally, the Book Forest Library in Prenzlauer Berg. I had seen this on Pinterest and Galleycat, and was thrilled to find it was in the neighborhood where I was staying.


Also, nevermind why, but the apartment I was staying in came complete with a pile of giveaway books.


That’s my stack on the left. I had to halve it, halve it again, and halve it one more time before I left Berlin, in order to fit everything in my suitcase. See, on my way to Berlin, I got popped with a Ryan Air gate check fee, which is what happens when your carry-on is too heavy (or, in my case, simply too big structurally). The baggage fee ends up costing more than your flight ticket. It’s the budget traveler’s equivalent to the Cone of Shame.


One thing I thought I might do, though, to improve my travel karma, was to drop off some books in the tree library. I wound up leaving both of my Anna Funder books (including a copy of Stasiland with the €4 Charlie Byrne’s sticker still attached) and a current bestseller (and Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction contender) that I pilfered from the giveaway pile.


So, there it is. If you’re in Berlin, drop by the tree library and see if my books are still there. I need all the good karma I can get right now.IMG_1761

Gutenberg Museum

For my master’s program, we were supposed to do some sort of presentation about our theses at the end of May. The presentation, in a way, was designed to help us better understand our topic by explaining it to others, and it probably would have been beneficial. On some level.

Everyone was kind of freaking out about the presentations, including me, because 1) I’m in Germany right now, which makes it kind of hard to do a presentation in Ireland, 2) I hate public speaking, and 3) I am still really confused about the focus of my thesis.

Honestly, what I had planned to do was play on the print culture angle and present my research from the Gutenberg Museum… essentially, making my classmates watch a slide show of my vacation photos.

You know what I found when I got to Mainz? There is no photography allowed in the museum. None, flash or otherwise. And there are some very stern-looking German museum guards dedicated to making sure no sassy-pants Texan grad students decide to bend the rules, even if it is in the name of research.

Luckily, the presentations proved logistically impossible and were cancelled, so I don’t have to provide any insight into my Gutenberg pilgrimage after all. I still don’t know where I am going with this thesis idea, but here’s my Trip to Mainz photo gallery, just for kicks.

Mauer Park


One of the reasons I tend to travel alone is that I prefer to discover places organically. I try not to carry guidebooks, and rarely do much pre-arrival research. Many, many people find this annoying; a few find it delightful, and I hold them dear to my heart. But right now, it’s me against the world, and the book Stasiland was pretty much the only preparation I had for my visit to Berlin.


When I got here, I emailed a friend of a friend as my only contact in Berlin, and mentioned that I was staying near Schönhauser Allee. She responded that my area was called Prenzlauer Berg and that I should check out the flea market in Mauer Park on Sundays. I did so, and it was like finding a little slice of Austin in Germany (imagine if Eeyore’s Birthday had a flea market – that’s Mauer Park on Sundays).


Since it was so close to the apartment I’m staying in, I also started jogging in Mauer Park. Two laps around Mauer Park and the adjacent sports complex equals a 5K. Four laps makes a 10k, which is where I needed to be. There is enough scenery to keep me interested, and a monster hill that has to be tackled on at least one of the laps.


While out jogging in Mauer Park, I also noticed a lot of graffiti. In fact, at the top of the hill, the entire wall on the backside of the soccer stadium was covered with a veritable gallery of spraypaint masterpieces, which were constantly refurbished before my very eyes.


Do you see where I’m going with this?


Graffiti is huge in Berlin, so you can’t assume that every wall covered in graffiti is THE wall. I’ve made that mistake before. But I knew the Berlin Wall once ran near my neighborhood, and I eventually downloaded an app that showed me the exact location overlaid with a current street map of Berlin… which included some of the surviving portions.


At this point, I was also watching a lot of movies about Berlin, and The Lives of Others includes a scene where someone listening to the radio at work hears that the wall has come down. He tells his co-workers. Of course, he doesn’t tell them in English. He tells them in German. And in German, it’s not called The Berlin Wall. It’s Die Berliner Mauer.


Mauer. Yep.


I am never going to admit how long that was rattling around in my brain before it all connected. Let’s just say it happened in time for me to appreciate jogging in the Death Strip of the Berlin Wall, and that’s soon enough. Now, here are some bonus photos of the East Side Gallery, which is not an actual gallery, but another remainder of the Berlin Wall.

photo(1) photo(2) photo(3) photo(4) photo(5) image(2) image(3)