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.


Muttertag or: Under Toe

I tried taking pictures, but they were so mediocre. I guess every girl goes through a photography phase. You know, horses… taking pictures of your feet.

– Charlotte, Lost in Translation

Here is a picture of my foot.

Hello. Here’s a picture of my foot.

No, I am not auditioning for the female lead in the next Tarantino film. (Although… Quentin, you can give me a call if you like what you see.) I want to share the story of that little speck of green polish on my big toe nail.

For my Mom’s birthday in August, she and I drove to Galveston for an overnight stay. She blagged our way into a fancy hotel, I ran a 5k on the beach, and we got pedicures at a little walk-in nail shop. I was reading Artemis Fowl: The Last Guardian at the time, so the story of that pedicure can be found in my book review over at Goodreads (this is not required reading, but it illustrates that I have written about this particular pedicure before).

Here is a photo of my Mom's feet. This is from the balcony of our room in Galveston, and is one of my all-time favorite photos.

Here is a photo of my Mom’s feet. This is from the balcony of our room in Galveston back in August of 2012, and is one of my all-time favorite photos.

The polish I chose for the pedicure in Galveston was called Mermaid’s Tears. I don’t know about you, but I usually base my lipstick/nailpolish/wallpaint decisions on the poetry of the name rather than actual appearance of the color. In fact, I wouldn’t mind a career in cosmetic nomenclature.

Anyway, because my toes have not seen the light of day the entire time I have been in Ireland, I have neglected to beautify my feet in any significant way beyond toenail trimming. I never used nail polish remover on my toes, and essentially let the Mermaid’s Tears grow out naturally. So when my Mom came to visit last month, that tiny speck of green still remained on one toe. All in all, it was a damn good pedicure.


Our feet at Barceloneta Beach.

While my mom was here, we visited Barcelona and its beautiful beaches. Even though the Mediterranean was still “a little frosty” (my sister’s words), we managed to dip our toes in for a moment. (Actually, it was more than a moment, and more than just a dip. Our shoes almost got swept away by a wave that came out of nowhere, and our pant legs got drenched. Also, my sister was there for a few of the “under toe” photos, but she ran away. Like a cat.)

Look, Mermaid's Tears!

Look, Mermaid’s Tears!

So now that I’ve seen my Mom again for the first time in eight months, and the weather is getting nicer, maybe it’s time for a new pedicure.

Especially after seeing these in the window at Brown Thomas Galway:

Hello, gorgeous.

Hello, gorgeous.

Happy Muttertag, Mom! Thanks for everything you do, for everyone around you!


ROPES launched last night:

 Me, begging someone to buy our book, with two of our poets standing nearby.

Me, begging someone to buy our book, with two of our poets standing nearby.

The book is available online at WordPress and Facebook… and now at the Charlie Byrne’s pop-up shop in the Town Hall Theatre!

 On the shelves at the Charlie Byrne's Cúirt Bookshop.

On the shelves at the Charlie Byrne’s Cúirt Bookshop. Once the festival is over, we should be stocked in most Galway bookstores.

When the launch ended, we might have continued with something of an after party, where I got to experience a Galway tradition I’ve never tried before…. What happens at the Spanish Arch stays at the Spanish Arch, but of course there are photos:

Winos at the Spanish Arch, a Galway rite of passage.

Winos at the Spanish Arch, a Galway rite of passage. We have a similar ritual in Texas, only it involves pastures, tailgates, and Boone’s Farm.

Shoulda Coulda Woulda

I turned in my 3500-word* Travel Literature essay on Friday night at 11:59pm. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this, but I wrote about Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise / Before Sunset / Before Midnight cycle of films… have you heard of them?

I know it looks like I turned the paper in at the last second, but that was editing and shaping of the argument (always the hardest part for me). I’ve been researching and writing this thing for weeks (months?), so I was pretty happy with it.

Still, writing is a recursive process and it is tough to turn in off, even after you’ve met your deadline. All weekend, I’ve been having those little attacks of the shoulda-coulda-wouldas. They’ve mostly been mild, though there was one moment when I panicked that I might have left some snarky “I’ll come back and smooth over this” placeholder text in the middle, but that turned out to be a false alarm.

About 10 minutes ago, it occurred to me that I omitted something fairly obvious. See, my whole premise had to do with the space-time continuum; how these movies are travel narratives with temporal limits (the titles). And I have a very fitting literary quote about that sitting right here in the About Me section of my blog:

“The past is a foreign country:
they do things differently there.”
L.P. Hartley, The Go-Between

It’s fine. It is. I really don’t know what I would have done with that. But I think I’m picking up on a larger theme here – not a literary theme, but a life theme.

*I had originally posted that it was a 5,000-word essay. Actually, it was two essays: the Before Sunrise/Sunset academic paper and a 3,000-word creative piece.

Long time, no blog.

I am trying to blog. I really am… but I am having a tough time.

My mom and sister flew out this morning (in fact, I think they just touched down in Chicago for their eight-hour layover). I have that hollow feeling you get after visitors leave, when you see them off at the train station and come home to cry in an empty flat.

Except my flat isn’t empty. It is full of plumbers. I have a leak in my bathroom ceiling, so I have had plumbers in and out of my apartment all day. I had to walk to campus to use the loo this morning, and I still have not had a shower.

So, I am trying to start blogging again, but it may not be until tomorrow. To tide you over, here is an awesome article about plumbers that one of my classmates shared on Facebook (everyone’s favorite eight-bit Italian plumber brothers, to be exact).

This ‘Spring Break’ of which you speak…?

This morning was absolutely gorgeous. I went for a run, strolled through the farmer’s market, and stayed out in the sunshine for as long as I could. I shopped healthy and even broke out the TOMS for the first time in six months. No more SAD for this girl!

I was supposed to write a paper today, but instead I stretched out on the couch with the balcony door open and read the young-love passages of Save Me the Waltz. I should have felt guilty, but it was bliss. After that long, cold, lonely winter, I had almost forgotten why I wanted to be here in Galway.


Good thing I enjoyed it when I did. Within hours, the temperature had dropped and the newspapers started calling for frost and snow next week. My mood plummeted and I face-planted into a red velvet cupcake with butter cream frosting (remember how I was supposed to give up dairy for Lent?). Oh, well. I needed to do some homework anyway.

Inbox Poetry

I’ve been reading all day, so words are starting to swim, and I’m highly amused by these adjacent emails in my Hotmail inbox (one is from my boyfriend, and the other is from my Travel Literature professor):


Confession Time

On top of neglecting my blog and drinking more Starbucks than I should, I did something very bad this past week.

For the first time since I’ve been in grad school… I slept through a class.

Right now, my 20-year-old self is howling with laughter: “What, one class? All year? Try almost failing your Tuesday/Thursday Women’s Studies course because you never showed up on Tuesdays.”

But I feel horrible. It ties in with the whole “making sure I get my money’s worth” out of this programme. One of my fellow students calculated that each class meeting is worth €200.

To be fair, I overslept because I was up late reading. I’m still struggling to pin down a routine with this two-books-a-week course load. Plus, there is so much extracurricular reading I want to do right now. (Thanks, Mom!)