Wednesday, April 18, 2007

My Big Irish Update

So far, so good, people. This place is greener, the Guinness fresher, and Steve more nauseatingly perfect for me than I could possibly have hoped for.

For the first ten days of my trip, Steve took off work, so we puttered around together and had the first trial of our previously Skype-based relationship: could we stand each other 24-7 or would I be paying an unscheduled visit to my London friends to get the hell out of here? I am delighted to report we’ve been getting along famously. For some reason, it feel like we’ve been together for a very long time, and we are so easy and comfortable with each other. I could bust out my New York hard-core makeup and clothes, but he seems to like me just fine with splotchy skin, old jeans, and curly air-dried hair.

Steve lives not far from Lough Erne, which is this giant massive lake with a crap ton of fish in it. Steve, his friend John, and John’s son James have taken me fishing twice, and both times I’ve caught brown trout!

Let me be the first to tell you, the actual catching of the fish requires no skill at all. The tying of the hooks on the rods, and driving the boat around to where the fish are, and sitting on a wooden seat in chilly misty rain for hours on end is where the skill set comes in. The hauling in of a hapless fish is this crazy adrenaline rush. The second time we were out, this 1.5 pound monster managed to hook itself on my line, and reeling it in was like hauling in a bloody bus. One dispatches the fish by thwacking its head on the side of the boat’s seats, and so far, I have left this delicate duty to Steve. I can catch the things, sure, but clubbing them to their death is something else entirely. The first fish I caught was a Terminator Fish, and refused to die. When it finally did, after repeated beatings by Steve and young James (who got his chocolate Easter egg snack covered in droplets of fish blood in the process) I had to grip its sad little corpse in my hands while Steve took a picture of it (note James’s ‘hark at the stupid American’ smirk in the background.) Fishing is not for the squeamish.

Steve lives in Ballinamallard, which is right on the border of Northern Ireland and the South. As soon as you cross over, all the signs are in Gaelic, and the currency switches from the pound to the Euro. My wallet is now filled with equally pointless money, and I’ve handed shopkeepers the wrong weird coin too many times to count. They just kind of roll their eyes, acknowledge my accent, and move on.

We drove down to the South near Kilkenny for a few days to visit Steve’s uncle Robin and his girlfriend Avril who are fixing up a house to be a B & B. Avril and her kids are horsey people, so Avril arranged for us to go on a ride. Steve is decidedly not a horsey person, and I haven’t ridden in years, but I got to do some jumping, and Steve gained about a million points in my book for being a great sport about the whole thing.

Things I have driven, the speed at which they were driven, and why it matters: A horse, at a canter, because I love horses and riding and it was a special treat. Steve’s speedboat, at 40 miles per hour, because I was scared shitless of driving into a rock or something but it was really fun, and because the boy has way more faith in me than he should. Steve’s car, at 15 miles per hour in a parking lot, because driving a diesel stick shift is totally different than driving an unleaded one, and because having the steering wheel on the wrong side of the car is a lovely spatial challenge for a girl who nearly failed Geometry.

Wrong side of the road driving and roundabouts are certainly something to think about. A friend of Steve’s has lent me her bike, so I’ve been venturing out on little excursions. I need to keep telling myself which side of the road I need to be on, and when I hit a roundabout, to take deep breaths, not panic, and hope to god no one hits me as I noodle my way through it.

Enniskillen, the largest nearby town, is about 7 miles away. I was a little freaked out when we first hit Ballinamallard, Steve’s town, since it’s one main street with a post office, a grocery, two bars, and mostly just farmland after that. But Enniskillen is pretty cosmopolitan, with good shopping, cute little shops and boutiques, and apparent stuff to do. It’s not exactly Times Square on a Friday night, but I’m not in Summerteethville either.

So, that’s it from here, for now. I have to go make sure Terminator Fish has defrosted, as I’m making him for dinner.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Une Petite Freakout

One of these days I’ll grow up to be a rational, logical, cool-headed decision-maker. This is not that day.

I am, for better or worse, in the habit of making big impulsive choices and then sitting back in a cloud of nuclear fall-out waiting for my third eye to sprout.

My schedule for what remains for the week:
Wednesday: Leave job
Thursday: Leave country

I love, love, love my job, but as they’ve decided to move my office to New Jersey, I’ve decided I really don’t need to do that commute. I commuted from Princeton to Wall Street every day for two years, and it literally made me a crazy woman. And that was with the availability of public transit. With our new NJ office, we are totally reliant on van service to get there, as even public transit seems to realize no one actually wants to be in Englewood Cliffs and would never voluntarily go there. The move is now rumored to be happening in December or later, but I found what I hope is a fantastic job at a new place, where I can have a lot of impact doing what I do best, where the pay is a lot better, and which is blessedly in New York, with little chance of a bull-shitty office move to an inhospitable environment. So I took that job, and I start in a month.

In the mean time, I’ll be in Ireland with Mr. One Night Stand Who Actually Turned Out to Be Totally Awesome. He wasn’t what I was expecting, and I certainly wasn’t planning to float off to the Emerald Isle for a month, but I’m so damn sick of New York right now I could scream, and I want to see if Mr. ONSWATOTBTA and I are as compatible as we seem to think we are. So off I go on what could either be an amazing, life-changing, heart-expanding trip, or a total miscalculation, in which case . . .meh. I figure you only go ‘round once, so you should try to squeeze as many experiences out of life while you can.

Now I’m just in the ‘change is scary!’ phase, where I have slight cold feet and am second guessing everything from ‘did I really need the other, more massive suitcase?’ to ‘why can’t I lick my own elbow? It totally seems like it should be physiologically possible.’

It’s just a little mini freak-out, and I trust it will pass, but in the mean time, if I’m hyperventilating in the corner, just tell me it’s charming and keep moving.

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