25 stupid things I already miss about Ireland

I’m a very sentimental person, especially when it comes to being nostalgic. I could go on for hours about some happy or bittersweet memory, and I have to admit I’m one of those people who tells people present for an event about the event, just because it’s such a great story. And if there’s one place I’ll be sentimentally nostalgic about for a long time (forever), it’s Ireland. After a year and a half in Galway – getting my Master’s in Literature and Publishing, meeting amazing people, exploring one of the most beautiful countries I’ve ever seen – I moved back to the United States last week. On one hand, I’m excited; I have plans to move across the country in the next few months and I’m looking forward to a new adventure. On the other hand, I miss Ireland already. I could make this blog post about all the wonderful people I met and all the amazing places I visited and how much I love Galway even when it rains for two weeks straight. But c’mon, that’s mushy, I’m not going to make ye read that. Instead, here are 25 of the silliest things I already miss about living in Ireland:

  • Getting garlic-cheese chips AND curry-cheese chips after a night out.
  • Cans by the Spanish Arch (or anywhere else)
  • Every sentence containing “Ah,” “sure,” or “be grand”
  • “Ah, sure, be grand” also being a complete sentence in itself
  • That ridiculous Garth Brooks/Croke Park saga

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Looking back (aka obligatory 2014 picture post)

Media and Misc of the Year (aka the obligatory Best of 2014 review post)

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Films

  1. Boyhood, dir. Richard Linklater – Filming over 12 years could have turned out gimmicky, but Boyhood was a moving and beautiful story of family and growing up. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt so emotional while watching a film.
  2. Calvary, dir. John Michael McDonagh – The preview for this Irish film made it out to be a dark comedy, but despite actors such as Dylan Moran, Chris O’Dowd, and even star Brendan Gleeson (in maybe his best ever work), it’s a heartwrenchingly dark film with moments of humour.
  3. The Grand Budapest Hotel, dir. Wes Anderson – I’ve loved every film I’ve seen of Anderson’s, but for some reason hadn’t watched one since The Life Aquatic. This was a good place to start back, with his typical aesthetic and great performances.
  4. Gone Girl, dir. David Fincher – I read the book in one frantic weekend before seeing the film, and the twists and turns and madness of it all still shocked me. Though not as much as it shocked the person sitting behind us who couldn’t stop saying “What the fuck” at the end.
  5. Obvious Child, dir. Gillian Robespierre – A sweet, funny little film about a stand-up comedian who gets pregnant and has an abortion. The characters feel like your friends.

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Music

  1. The Antlers, Familiars – This album is one of those where the sound just fills the room when you listen to it. There are so many layers combining beautifully with strange, sad lyrics.
  2. Alt-J, This is All Yours – Speaking of strange, among other oddities Alt-J’s second album samples Miley Cyrus, and somehow it really works. They also put on one of the top 3 live shows I saw this year (and in fairness, the top 2 are my favourite bands, The National and Arctic Monkeys).
  3. St. Vincent, St. Vincent – I’m declaring this the year of the excellent self-titled album. And St. Vincent’s is the best of them, with an album that is both strange and wonderful.
  4. Hozier, Hozier – You’ve probably been hearing “Take Me to Church” all the time for the past 6 months, unless you’re in Ireland in which case you’ve been hearing it all year. And it hasn’t gotten old yet.
  5. Taylor Swift, 1989 – Part of me can’t believe that Taylor Swift of all people is bumping my forever girl Shakira off my Best Of list, but most of me thinks that “Blank Space” is such a jam I don’t even care.

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Successfully Failing (aka the obligatory navel-gazing 2014 review post)

The most important thing I did this past year was learn how to fail. A brief and probably incomplete list of things I failed at in 2014:

  • I don’t even remember if I made New Year’s resolutions so if I did I’m sure I failed those. Certainly any that had to do with consistent running.
  • My Goodreads 2014 book challenge: I read 39 out of my intended 52 books, although in my defence I was reading plenty of academic texts and articles for my thesis.
  • Update my blog: I think I was aiming for twice a month, which I nearly averaged (22 posts counting this one), but most of those posts came at the start of the year, and there were a few months I didn’t write at all.
  • Getting a job in Galway (I did do some freelancing at least)
  • NaNoWriMo: I did it for 2 years in college, took a year off last year because I was doing my MA, and planned to complete it again this year. I got 20k-some words in and that was the end.

I’m sure there are more 2014 failures that I’m forgetting, but what’s important to me is that I’m okay with it. I mean, I’m not okay with it—I obviously want to do better in 2015—but I don’t regret trying anything just because I wasn’t able to complete it or  be the best at it.

I’ve always been a perfectionist, and I still am, but my fear of failing doesn’t outweigh my fear of trying. When I look at previous years, my regrets come not from failure itself (I learned a long time ago that it’s okay not to be perfect), but from realising that I could have pushed myself further and didn’t, stopping at the level at which I knew I could succeed. A big one that comes to mind was studying abroad in Spain: it’s still one of the best things I’ve ever done, but looking back I wonder if, had I been willing to step further outside of my comfort zone and go into a course that wasn’t all Americans or spend more time conversing with native speakers, would I have gotten even more out of it?

When I compare that to another Spain-related topic from this year—writing my thesis on Francoist oppression of the Basque Country’s publishing industry—I see the difference. I could have written on an easier, more comfortable topic, relating to journalism or even Castilian Spain, and not had to deal with the fact that there was so little information on the subject and that much of that information had to be translated, by me, from Spanish (though luckily not from Basque). I didn’t fail my thesis, of course, but I chose a topic that I knew would give me a harder time and probably not a better grade, because I was willing to take the risk.

I’ve also learned to look at my “failures” positively. I would never have considered myself a “glass half-empty” type of person, but there was a time when I would’ve looked at some of my “failures” above and thought “I failed my reading goal” or “I failed NaNoWriMo” instead of “I read 39 books this year” or “I wrote 22,000 words in under a month.” Far from feeling discouraged about trying again, I’m motivated to push myself to do better next year.

I don’t think I’ll ever be accused of playing it safe by anyone other than myself, but I’m ready to do more without knowing what the future holds. For example, in the past five years I’ve lived in four countries on two continents, but each time I’ve moved has been for school, where there’s a set plan and a fairly predictable outcome. When I go back to the United States in the next few months I’m immediately planning a move across the country—but this time I don’t really have a plan. And I feel good about that.

Killarney, co. Kerry (13 December 2014)

Ever since I arrived in Ireland, I’ve been told that County Kerry, and particularly Killarney, is one of the most beautiful parts of the country. I finally got the chance to see it for myself this weekend and I was definitely not disappointed.

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