Beauty’s Where You Find It


I realize it’s already October and the October issue has been on stands for at least, um, two weeks, but the September issue of American Vogue did not arrive in Ireland until… September. Imagine that.

I ponied up €9.65 for the issue, as it contained:

1) an Irish fashion shoot set in County Kerry featuring the guy from Girls with a model not wearing makeup, and

2) an article on Wendy Davis, possible future governor of Texas and protagonist of this summer’s abortion filibuster, and

3) I had a third justification for buying the magazine, but can no longer remember what it was. We’ll assume it was all the sustainable fashion (there was a lot, and this was the first time I pinned while reading a magazine).

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.

Date a girl who reads…

I’ve been doing a lot of online sleuthing lately for school and internships, but sometimes (okay, a lot of the times) I get swept up in the moment and blur the line between sleuthing and stalking. Over the past few days I’ve found some stuff on the internet that I was probably better off not seeing – an engagement photo here, the name of an expected baby there – and it’s all the type of news that makes you feel like you’ve been punched in the ovaries. It doesn’t help that everyone in Berlin is pregnant.

It’s not that I envy their lives; I envy their happiness. I don’t want marriage, motherhood, or a mortgage anytime soon, but the fact that these people do want those things and they are getting them makes me wonder why the hell I can’t have the things I want. My demands are small: a good job in a meaningful field. Maybe some money to travel. And I’d like to stop wearing thrift shop clothes, if for no other reason than there is a song about it now.

To feel better about my life choices, I went looking for this quote that has been falsely attributed to Robert Pattinson (guilty). It’s actually credited to blogger Rosemarie Urquico. The quote in its entirety (which, oddly enough, disses Twilight) just keeps getting better, except for the part about the lying… I’m not okay with the lying. Never okay with the lying. But I need this right now, so I’m posting it here, with the hope that it will remind the superfly specimen of manhood who has stuck by me through all this craziness that someday, it will be worth it.

Date a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes. She has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve.

Find a girl who reads. You’ll know that she does because she will always have an unread book in her bag.She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out when she finds the book she wants. You see the weird chick sniffing the pages of an old book in a second hand book shop? That’s the reader. They can never resist smelling the pages, especially when they are yellow.

She’s the girl reading while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If you take a peek at her mug, the non-dairy creamer is floating on top because she’s kind of engrossed already. Lost in a world of the author’s making. Sit down. She might give you a glare, as most girls who read do not like to be interrupted. Ask her if she likes the book.

Buy her another cup of coffee.

Let her know what you really think of Murakami. See if she got through the first chapter of Fellowship. Understand that if she says she understood James Joyce’s Ulysses she’s just saying that to sound intelligent.  Ask her if she loves Alice or she would like to be Alice.

It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, for Christmas and for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry, in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, Cummings. Let her know that you understand that words are love. Understand that she knows the difference between books and reality but by god, she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite book. It will never be your fault if she does.

She has to give it a shot somehow.

Lie to her. If she understands syntax, she will understand your need to lie. Behind words are other things: motivation, value, nuance, dialogue. It will not be the end of the world.

Fail her. Because a girl who reads knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Because girls who understand that all things will come to end. That you can always write a sequel. That you can begin again and again and still be the hero. That life is meant to have a villain or two.

Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who read understand that people, like characters, develop. Except in the Twilightseries.

If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are.

You will propose on a hot air balloon. Or during a rock concert. Or very casually next time she’s sick. Over Skype.

You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet. You will write the story of your lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She will introduce your children to the Cat in the Hat and Aslan, maybe in the same day. You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will recite Keats under her breath while you shake the snow off your boots.

Date a girl who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colorful life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads.

Or better yet, date a girl who writes.

– Rosemarie Urquico

Booky Wooks

Lots of booky goodness going on today (that’ll happen when it gets to be 10pm and you realize you haven’t left your apartment all day – part of an effort to save money this week). So I’m just going to do a little round-up of sorts:

1) ROPES arrived from the printer yesterday. I keep referring to the books as “babies,” and I don’t know if that offends people who actually, you know, have children, but I think it is a pretty standard book/magazine industry term, especially for those new(ish) to publishing who get really excited about boxes from the printer. Anyway, now that they’ve arrived…


2) ROPES pre-sales are happening now. I fiddled with PayPal buttons for longer than I care to admit, but they are now installed on both the ROPES WordPress blog and the ROPES Facebook page, which makes it extremely easy to just pop over and purchase a copy or two. The very first pre-sale went to my mom. It’s for a good cause! Go on, go on, go on…


3) There was a Gizmodo article floating around for a while, and it touched on a topic I’ve tried to cover here before: namely, that e-books are in an incunabula stage and are likely to develop away from the codex and not rely on things like pages and covers. It was a nice article and I’m glad I finally got around to reading it because it made me excited about my thesis again (right now, that is nothing short of a miracle), but then I made the mistake of reading the comments section and my brain exploded and I had to start all over again. Moral of the story: don’t read the comments sections of the interwebs. Just don’t do it. (Notice this blog doesn’t allow comments? There’s a reason for that. Mean people suck.)


4) On a brighter note, I finally finished reading the whole programme for the Cúirt International Festival of Literature. The programme launched last month (see below), but I’ve only been dipping in and out of the programme as needed. I finally just made myself sit down and read the whole thing from cover to cover, and there were many delightful little surprises inside. Por ejemplo, there was a quote from the Kirkus Reviews/Austin American-Statesman review of The Blinded Man, the first book from Swedish crime writer Arne Dahl’s Intercrime series to be translated into English. Also, one of our Publishers on Publishing speakers hinted at an Irish mythology comic project a few weeks ago, and it turns out the artist will be attending Cúirt as part of the young people’s programme.

Photo from the Galway City Tribune.

Photo from the Galway City Tribune.

5) Finally, speaking of Cúirt (rhymes with ‘porch’), they have a free app for iPhones that allows you to flick through the programme and create a personalized planner of festival events. I already have mine decided, although I’m sure it will change during the week as the festival unfolds. I do know for a fact that I will be attending the ROPES launch on the Friday at 5pm. It is pretty damn cool that our little student literary journal’s launch party is included in an app. A FREE app, I might add. Go on, go on, go on…



ROPES profile photo by Mom!

ROPES profile photo by Mom!

Hi, are you here because of my ROPES profile? Happy to have you. We’ve all been working very hard on #ROPES2013, and our efforts are about to pay off!

The book should arrive from the printer any day now, and we’ll be doing online pre-sales over at our WordPress blog, ROPESgalway2013. If you’re in Galway, we’ll be having a launch during Cúirt International Festival of Literature, at 5pm on Friday, April 26. And, of course, you can always find us on Twitter and Facebook, if you haven’t already.

ROPES is a literary journal produced by the MA in Literature and Publishing at NUIGalway. In honor of our 21st birthday, the theme is “Coming of Age” and all proceeds will go to Jigsaw Galway. The book will be sold at all fine bookshops in Galway following the launch.

Head, meet Wall.

There are times when I wonder if this is the right path for me. On Friday, I visited Hodges Figgis for the first time, and I started wondering what it would be like to not “be in the industry.” Like, if I were a doctor or lawyer or an office girl and had just decided to browse the bookstore on my lunch break – I wouldn’t be watching the bookstore staff arranging display tables or selecting my titles with quite the same amount of “professional interest.” And, in this alternate universe of mine, I would have had more money because I would have chosen a career in a better-paying industry.

It does occur to me that I don’t truly appreciate literature. Sometimes I think that reading was my self-education, and as high school got dumbed down, I clung to that as my escape route. It’s not that I loved literature, it’s that I had to read or die. I am so bogged down at school right now that reading, even when it’s a book that genuinely interests me, has become a slog. Listening to people talk about books all the time is kind of annoying. I’m in two literature classes right now: in one, I can’t find a toehold in the conversation or gain any traction with the underlying theory, and in the other, I am just flat out wrong in my understanding of the reading. This has been going on every week since January.

So sometimes, yes, I think of jumping ship, or at least getting a book-agnostic job that pays well and frees up time for creative pursuits in a leisurely, non-tortured fashion. I think I would have made a decent accountant. This is part and parcel with the whole “majoring in the humanities at a liberal arts school” strategy – what the hell was I thinking? And at the back of my head, a whispered answer: that someone else was going to pay my way through life.

In a way, grad school at 30 is sort of a last chance, although I know nothing in life is final and I’m obviously too stupid to give up, no matter what the signs are telling me. So I decide not to worry about getting ahead on my essays and instead sit down to read that book for class that had interested me but I didn’t think I could finish before Wednesday (and, in reality, probably won’t), and it’s good and within three pages I’m crying about the old man who has a stroke and sits at the window making chirping noises so the birds come to have conversations with him, and it gets better. Slowly, it gets better.

Hide and Seek

This little copy of Foe by J.M. Coetzee is – mercifully – the shortest book I’ve been assigned this semester. It’s so small, I almost lost it! Isn’t that cute! It’s hiding from me!


It’s also small enough for me to have read it straight through in one night during this past week of sickness and erratic sleeping patterns. At some point, I drew a highly lucid diagram, which was intended to summarize the plot, on the back of the book receipt. I just looked at it again today, and it’s pretty much a series of concentric circles (but three-dimensional!), with the middle circle representing Crusoe’s island. You know, because that’s the one constant in this story.

Clearly, I was not in a state to be reading something so surreal.

The Mad Ones


This bastard and I are having ourselves a little stare-down.

It technically began on Saturday, when I picked him up from the city library; but really, this antagonism has been going on for years.

I don’t like the Beats. There, I said it. Of all the literary generational cliques, this is the one that gets my eyes rolling.

Maybe it’s because I came to the Beats too late; I was already in college by the time I read The Dharma Bums (after a smokin’ hot alum gave me his copy during my semester abroad). I know I read On the Road at some point after that, if for no other reason than I knew I was supposed to, but I wasn’t impressed with any of it and found these guys to be just a little misogynistic.

So we’re reading On the Road for Travel Lit, and I just can’t bring myself to do it. This two-books-a-week nonsense has been going on for a month now, and this is the first one I’m not going to read. NotGonnaDoIt.

The thing is, I’ve already read it once, so this would kind of be a re-read, although the library only had this copy of the original scroll, which leaves the names unchanged and apparently has some gay sex scenes. And I do owe the Beats another chance, seeing how I was kind of a little snot as an undergrad, but I really don’t wanna…

I even poked around online and at the video store for the Kristen Stewart movie (which came out earlier here, for some reason), but it’s not available for another 10 days. Plus, it looks like it bombed in the States.

I don’t know. Maybe I’ll flip through it, or if I can find an Irish supplier of whatever drug Kerouac was on when he wrote it, I’ll take some of that and pull another all-nighter (kidding).

Right now, though, I’m more concerned with cleaning out my fridge and pantry. See, I’ve decided to give up dairy for Lent, so I’m spending my Fat Tuesday* eating all the dairy products in my kitchen, which is more difficult than one might imagine, especially considering I just bought myself a Cadbury’s Milk Tray. Happy Valentine’s Day to me!

*Fat Tuesday is called Pancake Tuesday here. It is endearing to see all of Ireland and the UK obsessing over pancakes, but I find their final fling before Lent a bit lacking in ambition.