|Megan and I take our lives in our hands, swinging above Vienna City, March 2012.|
So we've returned ... kind of! Ciara has shown signs of life as she heads into the final few weeks of her degree. That is indeed a terrifying thought but one I'm SURE you will take as it comes. No better woman to be fair. It takes a lot to get you pulsed. I can't believe you're nearly a teacher! It literally seems like yesterday when we were all at our school graduation, singing "Alright" by Supergrass. Some tune! Now where's Megan's post...?
This post is born out of love for the blog and all our friends who haven't a clue what we are up to. That's what it should be. Alas, it's really just a terribly poor concealment of my impressive procrastination. Dee and I have a thesis due on the 26th. I have just received my first piece of feedback from my supervisor which has basically told me to rethink the whole direction of the project. Just dandy. So did I sit down, really scratch my head and use all my brainpower to come up with a new plan? Not at all. I made dinner, watched Jonathan Ross (which included a frightening picture of Simon Cowell as a teenager) and logged on here for the first update in jaysus, nearly 3 months.
|Frightening, isn't it?|
Have I made the right decision? Yes. Will this help me in graduating and getting my degree? Absolutely not.
Let's get to it so.
I went home for one week in December. I hadn't originally planned to do this when I left Ireland in September but at that stage, the idea of spending Christmas alone in my room, turkey-less, was just too depressing. And I missed my mummy. Obviously. In order to travel the 1,111 miles (exact) from Vienna to my home-town, I had to take an U-Bahn about 500 million stops (slight exaggeration), hop on a bus to Slovakia (you could go your life without visiting there, ehrlich gesagt) and get on a plane to Dublin. Easy, right?
Well, it was until I was going in through security and they stopped me. They opened my meticulously packed backpack and proceeded to dump some presents that I had bought for my mother right in front of me. Apparently things like jam and jars of olives count as "liquids". Psssssssssh. Scrooges.
A hop, skip and some air turbulence later, I landed in Dublin. The feeling I had flying in over Dublin Bay and Howth was just pure excitement. The fun part started when I landed. I landed at 7.20pm. The last train home to Cork was at 9. It took one hour for the bus to get through Dublin City Centre. I had to get to the train station at 8.45pm. Meaning, I needed to find the bus before 7.45pm. Thus I had about 20 minutes to disembark the plane, run through the labyrinth that is Terminal 2 and find the Airbus stop. Of course being 4 days before Christmas, it was jammers AND it would so happen to be my luck that a New Zealand Under 21's rugby team had just arrived and were going through security at the same time. I didn't even have time to appreciate their battered faces and mangled cauliflower ears. More's the pity.
I ran through the Arrivals gate, feeling quite melancholy and woebegone as I saw all the families eagerly awaiting loved ones with big banners. Mine obviously weren't there. To add to the bittersweet moment of arrival on Irish soil, there was a brass band playing beautiful Christmas carols to my left. Still, I dashed onwards as I frantically checked the time. 7: 32pm. I looked left. I looked right. And there it was. Right across the road, the luggage doors closing. There was no pedastrian crossing and a long barrier stood there, blocking a clear path to the bus door. Did that stop me? No siree.
I had a Forrest Gump moment and literally legged it across the road, dodging traffic and lunged over the barrier. I clambered onto the bus, paid my six euro and scurried upstairs to a find a seat and recuperate. Which I did. For the next 5 minutes. As the bus waited there.
Finally, we got underway and I found that I wasn't the only one returning home after a substantial period of time. There were two lads in front of me, exhausted from a full 30 hours of travelling. Based on the size of their backpacks and their plans to sit home and do nothing for the next 2 months except watch GAA and eat Taytos, I gathered that they had been in Asia. Driving through the inner city, Dame Street, O'Connell Street, Westmoreland Street, was just the best welcome home I could have asked for. All the Christmas lights were up and the view from a double decker bus is quite a different thing altogether from the view down below. There was a buzz which hadn't been present in Vienna. I arrived into Heuston Station at 8.40pm and even had time to indulge in the great Irish tradition of .... Supermac's. Oh yes. Now Supermac's isn't Maccy D's, nor is it Burger King. It's just Supermac's. If you want a good greasy burger and a curry cheese chip (or garlic cheese chip if you're from the country), look no further.
Yet, when I was queueing I noticed something unusual. I saw to my left a woman and her son and from the way that they were signing to each other, it was clear that they were deaf. Whenever I see someone with a clear disability such as deafness or blindness, I always have the utmost respect for them and try and place myself in their shoes for a few minutes. I always think about how much more complicated the simple task I may be doing and have taken for granted, is for that person and how it presents a unique variety of difficulties. So I was there, wondering how the lady was going to order her food in a very busy fast food restaurant. Maybe she would write it down. Maybe she could say it. I was furiously thinking how I would do it. And out of nowhere came a worker in Supermac's who saw the woman signing to her son, asking him his order, and then the employee began signing at her. For two minutes, I watched amazed. I had never seen anything like it. It was lovely to see and has made me determined to learn to sign in the future. What a skill to have and helps make other people's day that bit easier.
Finally on the train, I was sitting with three other girls my own age and we were all knackered. It was the final leg of the journey for most people. Half way down the country, near Portlaoise I think, I struck up a conversation with the girls who were sisters just back for Christmas from London. What caught my interest is that they were intermittently speaking Irish in amongst the flow of English. Speaking the odd cúpla focal here and there isn't weird but they were really able to speak it. I found out that they were Gaelgóirs, people whose first language is Irish, from Kerry. What followed was an hour long conversation about the state of affairs in Ireland and why everyone is leaving. One of the girls was about to leave everything behind and head to Australia. Her sister wasn't going to be long after her. Add to this, the actual train conductor sitting down for a chat and by 11:50pm that evening, he and I were the only two people left in my carriage. I nearly hopped off the train with glee but of course, no family were to be seen.
I knew I had about 5 minutes before they would be there so I ran to the bathroom and changed into a Santa outfit we had used in a bar a few weeks previously. Just as I left the bathroom, who did I see but my sister. Then my brothers. And then mummy herself. What was obviously planned as a amorous and poignant welcome home fell apart as they all burst out in laughter. I think it was the beard that did it. Hugs exchanged and a few jokey words, we all piled into the car and home. I literally remember hugging my Dad and the dogs and collapsing into bed. And it felt like I never left. Lady was curled up at my feet, Bart outside my door and everyone went to bed. The next day was the 22nd and I was leaving from Dublin on the 29th. One week to do everything I needed to. I made a mental list. That is a list in my head, not a list that was mental in it's content.
- Help the family prepare for Christmas.
- Buy a Christmas tree and decorate it.
- Catch up with friends.
- Catch up with family.
- Exchange stories.
- Plan St. Stephen's Night (26th December)
- Wrap gifts.
- Eat as much Irish food as I could.
- Get in as many hugs as I could.
Easy peasy?! Except for number 3. The 22nd was spent doing #1 and #2. The 23rd was dedicated to #7, #4, #5, #1 and #6. I knew I would be pushing it trying to see everyone. The 24th, 25th and 26th are considered family days. The 28th was re-packing day. Which left the evening of the 23rd and the 27th. And I love so many people! This includes Megan, Ciara, Dee and oh, you guys know who you all are!
On the 23rd, I had miraciously arranged to have dinner in Cork with 2 of my lovely friends, Sus and Soph. Sus would collect me from my house after a day of Christmas tree decorating and gorging on USA biscuit tins. We'd drive to the city and go to our favourite restaurant Café Mexicana. Except that Sus started acting weird. Verrrrrrrrry weird. Soph was "running late" so we went into Penney's/Primark. I hadn't much money with me. Penney's + No money = Hell. No sooner were we in there, then Sus was dragging me back out so we made our way down Carey's Lane and inside. Up the stairs we went where I expected to see a few couples and Soph sitting in the corner. Oh no. Not at all. That'd be too easy. We only have Sarah in Cork for a few days so let's maximise embarrassment and surprise her with 10 of her nearest and dearest all sitting at a long, ornated table with huge smirks with a belated birthday party. Thanks guys.
I hate attention. I hate getting presents. I go bright red. Which is exactly what happened but hey, after half an hour, I think I managed to restore normal-ish skin tone. Once I got over the initial shock, we all had a big natter. While only short conversations, I did manage to at least get an overview of how everyone was doing and what they were getting up to. Ciara only had an hour to spare but I was delighted to see you! I hope Eilis didn't mind driving up again! We had delicious Mexican food (as always) and headed to the grimy and beloved Bróg for a few pints which turned into more pints and then I ended up seeing even more people I hadn't in nearly years (perils of travelling for uni). While I didn't get to catch up properly with everyone, I appreciated it so much and went home with a huuuuuuuuuuuge smile. Dee brought me home. Thanks Dee. You are a trooper.
Christmas with the family was mighty craic. We did the usual. Watched old movies, Christmas variety shows from the 70's, helped with the desserts, scavenged to find the table cloth, wrapped our pressies, didn't go to Mass (we always seem to miss it), had a day of dancing to Wham! and Shakin' Stevens, ate what felt like a ton of turkey and ham and after dinner, had the gift giving ceremony which is my favourite part. Not because of what I receive but to see the looks on other's faces when they see what I've gotten them. My sister got treated to a load of Forever 21 bits and bobs (There's one in Ireland. I live 100m from one in Vienna). Lovely lovely lovely. Lubbly jubbly even. I'll never get over the sheer excitement of Santa Claus though. Who does really?
St. Stephen's Night came rolling around. Now every year it is a bloodbath trying to get in somewhere for St. Stephen's. People haven't been to a pub in about 2 days, after spending copious amounts of time in close quarters with their loved ones and thus,
want need to go out with their friends. Every year since we turned 18, myself and my home ladies from our town have not gone to the city for fear that it would be totally jammers. Instead, we have always ventured to the one pub in town that caters for younger people. Last year, that turned out to be an absoluttttttte joke. I am talking about queueing in the rain for two hours and just giving up. So for 2011, we threw caution to the wind and hit C-town. And you know what? It turned out to be an absolute laugh! Well, until someone suggested that we have absinthe before we got out of the car. We all know who couldn't handle it, don't we?! Regardless, we battled on to the Bróg until about 11pm and proceeded to Rearden's. And aside from losing one or two people, we had a grand time! Not too packed at all! Good music! Ok-ish priced drinks. Grand job. The hangover the next morning probably wasn't contributory to my well-being the next morning as I had to go to Cork and bid farewell to a good friend who was jetting off to New Zealand. He was in as bad a state as I was so we literally spent 4 hours in a bar/restaurant, moving very slowly and catching up.
And that was it. The next morning I was on the 5am train back to Dublin, to go through the same rigmarole all over again. I finally collapsed onto my bed in my Vienna student accommodation at 8pm that night. I didn't linger over my thoughts of home because I was already missing it and with New Year's Eve only being a day away, I just battled on.
But I've written enough here to give even me a headache but woe, that is the depth of my procrastination and I was determined to bring you all up to speed. I'm knackered now though so I'll tackle the next 3 months during the week when I'll no doubt be staring at my thesis while pondering about sticking needles into my eyes... I jest... I think.
Over and out readers. Hope ye like the new look!
Here's the customary end of post songs. Today we have "Cough Syrup" by Young and the Giant, "Off the Wall" by Yuksek and "Midnight City" covered by The Knocks and Mandy Lee.