I just spent 14 hours on campus, so I’m a bit punchy, and also very upset right now. I might regret posting this.

All day, I’ve been watching Facebook as one of my closest friends from college (who I never see anymore but still love like a brother) posted updates on the birth of his first child. In a photo taken at the hospital before labor started, his wife, who didn’t go to school with us, is wearing a hoodie with the name of our college emblazoned across the front.

I spent my evening in the campus chapel, covering a history lecture for the student newspaper and having polite little discussions with the campus Christians. I sometimes forget how pleasant church people can be. One of the chaplains told me: “I don’t know who you are, but you have a real warm, welcoming face. It’s a real asset to you.”

When I got home, my Facebook feed showed my college friend now has a healthy baby boy. I can’t describe what I was feeling, but it was deep and spiritual. My friend and I certainly weren’t among the good religious crowd on campus, but we talked a lot about God and helped each other through some tough times. It was a different type of faith.

The very next post on my Facebook feed was Texas Monthly‘s story about a psychotic prayer group leader who [ed: allegedly] had his 27-year-old wife murdered so she wouldn’t tell her therapist about the drugging and gang rapes he had [ed: allegedly] subjected her to over the course of their brief marriage.

They met at college. My college. Our college.


* I edited this the morning after I wrote it. In light of the Michael Morton case, also recently covered in Texas Monthly, I should be more careful about what I accept as truth. It was Bethany Leidlein Deaton’s “suicide” note that sent me over the edge, but the Michael Morton case also had some horrifying elements, all of which were proven false 25 years after his conviction. I’m leaving this post because I published it and I will stand by that, but I also need to do my part to make sure our justice system functions properly.

Sad Fairy

There are few things sadder than braiding your fairy hair, fixing your fairy makeup, slipping into your fairy dress, debating over your fairy shoes, hooking into your beautiful fairy wings, and walking your fairy self all the way through town only to have the charity trick-or-treat trail called off after an hour due to torrential rain.

“Is this an effect of the Frankenstorm?” I wondered aloud as it started coming in sideways.

“No, this is just a rainy day in Galway.”

Why couldn’t it have been tomorrow, Bank Holiday Monday? I have plans to study all day tomorrow.

Today, I just wanted to play “Guess What’s in the Spooky Box,” give out sweets, and steal the souls of little Irish children. Was that too much to ask?



Sweet Little Angel Babies


Last week was the Baboró International Arts Festival for Children here in Galway.

I got to volunteer for a couple of events over the weekend, including two Visible Fictions performances of Jason and the Argonauts and the Baboró: Environment, Arts, Science and Technology (BEAST) exhibit of projects crafted by local school children.

On Saturday, a tragic accident in Tuam took the lives of two little girls: Kate, who was 2 years old, and Grace, who was just 12 weeks. My heart is breaking for everyone involved.

Tonight, I turned on TG4 and there was a programme called Cogar: Oileán na Marbh (Island of the Dead) about the cillins where unbaptised babies were buried.

A brief portion in English had Christy Kenneally reciting his poem “Dear Parents,” which includes the lines …If you would honour me / Then strive to live in love / For, in that love, I live…

I’m going to Skype my mom now.

Busy Day

Woke up at 5am. Rode across the width of a small European country in a bus. Visited a book publisher, a music magazine, and a print shop. Handled a 300 euro book; bought a different book for 10 euro minus a 25 percent discount. Saw the Yeats exhibit at the National Library. Chatted with my professor on a city bus. Mailed my absentee ballot request from the infamous General Post Office. Finally tracked down the collection a fashion designer from Northern Ireland did for a high street retailer. Ate dinner in a crowded restaurant alone. Attended a theatre performance that involved lots of full-frontal male nudity and a famous actor in a fat suit. Now enjoying the comforts a hotel room can provide – a bathtub, central heating, and WiFi.

More tomorrow.


When in Galway…

You go to the Oyster Festival. At least once.

With the sample dishes from Artisan…

(marinated monkfish and cherry tomato brochettes with fragrant basmati rice and curry aoli)

and West…

(seared local scallops ‘in shell’ with sea lettuce Beurre Blanc and sauteed vegetables)

the cooking demonstrations tent…

the people in funny outfits…

the professional rugby players in the kitchen…

Brett Wilkinson bested Mike McCarthy in an all-Connacht Rugby cooking competition.

the world championship oyster-opening (not shucking; not here) competition…

The professional oyster-openers from the USA (I don’t know which state) and the Czech Republic (the only female in the competition). The eventual champion ended up being locally sourced – Michael Moran, the third-time champion from County Galway. I love their aprons.

the complimentary half-dozen oysters and free pint (not pictured because I went home to take a break, leaving my camera behind so I could enjoy myself; and besides, they were served in plastic and not worth the photo opt, but oh so delicious)…

So here’s a Creative Commons image from [cipher] on PhotoRee.

and the excuse to wear fake pearls in broad daylight…

I’d say it was worth the price of admission. If only to experience it once.

Strong Enough?

One bonus of feeling crummy and having to stay inside most of the weekend: I discovered Fraggle Rock on the Irish language channel.

This totally counts as homework for my Beginners’ Irish course.

I also discovered a teen soap opera in Irish called Aifric that I quite enjoy, although it appears to be reruns. Oh well, plenty of time to catch up (and learn what they are saying).


As for my ongoing struggles to translate Irish-English to American-English:

Today in the cafeteria, I was waiting in line to pay for my cuppa when a woman stepped in behind me and motioned toward the counter.

“Strong enough?” she asked.

“It will be,” I answered, since I had only just made the tea and it hadn’t had time to brew.

“Is it stroganoff?” she asked, pointing not to my cup of tea but to the tray of Beef Stroganoff the man in front of me had just purchased. “I guess that’s not yours.”

Nope, not mine.