Sunday, August 28, 2011


Abrasion [noun] (uh brah zuhn)
  1. The process of wearing down or rubbing away by means of friction.

Irene has transformed into an abrasion on my soul.

I was set to settle into my Sunday, lounge and eat and read and (check work e-mails) and enjoy this day of rest the way I usually do.  I was set to fill up my tank with 5-cent off gas and maybe, just maybe take my car to get washed. I was set to let the hurricane-hype roll off my back like water on a hurricane-battered window. 

I bought extra batteries yesterday. 

Foolish, I know. I like to think of myself as fairly independent in my decision making – don’t wait for me to follow the trend, you’ll be waiting a long , long time – and yet, here I was on a Saturday, waiting in line with my mom at Lowe’s to buy a 10-pack of D batteries “just in case.”  Foolish is a kind way to describe my actions.

I’d like to blame herd mentality, media swarming, and well-over a week of consistent water cooler chatter about Irene and the Chaos She Will Bring.  Of course, even I can’t believe my actions are completely devoid of personal fault.  I was there, after all.  The aforementioned list of perpetrators succeeded in getting under my skin and festering in the one area that my reptilian brain loves to loathe: fear.  In the battle between fight and flight, the latter was never an option and former would be silly (“Hey, Irene! Put up your dukes, put ‘em up!!!”). 

But I could do something in between – something small and seemingly insignificant, but still something.   I could go out and prepare to power my radio in the event that we lose power.  I could do that. 

Still, the purchase was foolish.  I have batteries at home: AA, AAA, C… but no Ds and my radio needs Ds.  To be specific, that radio needs Ds.  I’m sure I could dig through the closet and find a radio that runs on AAAs in the event of an emergency, but I had it set in my mind that this large blue boombox with a broken CD player from ’99 needed to be powered.  It needed it. 

Or maybe I did.  Just in case. 

As I reflect on my jaunt to find portable power at Lowe’s, the wind is wailing and the trees (thankfully flexible and resilient) are swaying like dancers warming up.  The batteries are upstairs in the office cabinet and I have settled back into my Sunday, typing, lounging, and channel surfing for a good movie.

I suppose if a little bit of a foolish, impulsive, societal-pressure of an action can give me back my Sunday routine, it couldn’t have been that foolish.  Not really.  

Sunday, August 21, 2011


Contrite [adj] (kuhn triet)
  1. Deeply sorrowful and repentant for a wrong

Irish yogurt.  An unappreciated breakfast item.
I love yogurt.  Creamy. Tangy.  Smooth.  It's a constant companion in the form of a small, nourishing, dairy-laden snack.  The curious thing about yogurt is that no matter where I've been, it remains a simple, tasty treat that simultaneously reminds me of home and gives me a sense of where I am.

China?  Yak-milk yogurt – heavy-bodied, silky, sweet!

Home? Light and Fit – fruity, smooth, 80 calories! 

Ireland.  Er, yes, Ireland.  That does throw a wrench in my theory.  Irish yogurt proved to be a cross between sour cream and cream cheese.  Thick, rich, and sour with a distinctive aftertaste that can only be described as cloying.  The only saving grace of this breakfast item was that it came with granola to mix in.  Of course, the so-called fruit syrup at the bottom of the cup almost made the granola's pretense null and void. 

If that yogurt could speak, I have no doubt it would have been quite contrite.

Saturday, August 13, 2011


Soak [verb] (se ow keh)
  1. To make thoroughly wet or saturated by or as if by placing in liquid.
  2. To take in or accept mentally, especially eagerly and easily

It happened in a pub.

The musty booth was obtained.  The fish and chips were ordered.  The music was picking up.  The crowd soaked in Guinness from the inside out.  All was well.  And then the people in booth next to us – to my completely shock and horror - started talking to us.  Animatedly.  Interestedly.  Without pause.

My reaction: What the heck do you want? 

O'Shea's!  Packed with chatty tourist and locals alike.
In public, friendliness is a smile, a shared joke about poor service, a “don’t worry about it” if you have to move your chair for someone to walk by.  I believe that general concept is well understood in the States.  If not that exact wording, at least the sentiment of privacy even in crowded spaces.

Not here, not in the pubs of Ireland.

It happen almost every night.  In Dublin, in Doolin, and Westport, too.  Complete strangers would strike up a conversation with you out of the blue.  One moment you'd be sitting by the bar, nursing your diet Coke (okay, stop your judging), and listening to the music, and the next you've been swept up into a conversation by locals who you could have sworn were not there a moment ago.

I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t off-putting, that it didn’t make me feel uncomfortable and want to go back to my quiet, question-free room and lock the door.  The first time, I may have done just that.  But (and there's always a but when there's something to be learned), by the time I boarded the plane for Boston, I was more open to the giving people the benefit of the doubt.  Don't be mislead: Never did I turn into Sally Social  – that would have been devastating to my introvert credit.  However, in the end it seemed like people were motivated to ask questions at the bar because, well, they had a question.  Curiosity was the motivator most of the time.  A desire to show thankfulness another.  Or, my favorite, visible opportunity to show commonality – Obama did just leave Ireland the week before we arrived and it was a chance to talk about something we both understood.
The very first batch of Irish fish and chips. And mushy peas.

On that night in Dublin, with old men singing and fish and chips and our chatty booth mates,  I learned not only that mushy peas are really, really mushy, but also that our neighbors were all siblings, regulars to this pub, loved the piper (who was only 16!) to pieces, and had no idea where Vermont was in the States ("By Montreal.  Just in the States and with more confusion about health care.").  

And it all happened in a pub.

Sunday, August 7, 2011


Obdurate [adj] (ahb duhr uht)
  1. Hardened in feeling
  2. Resistant to persuasion

I'm completely obdurate on the issue and you cannot convince me otherwise:

Traveling is enjoyable. Sorting through travel photos is not.

I took over 600 photos on my trip to Ireland.  While that means I have over 600 memories captured in film, er -- zeros and ones (?),  it also means that I have over 600 memories to sort, label, compile, edit, delete, regret deleting, and share.  This kind of activity requires a fair amount of momentum, typically granted by the glow of the trip upon one's return.  I rode that wave - showed my family all 600, unedited images, posted two days worth of photo albums online with captions, set my desktop background as a vista from the Cliffs of Mohr.

And then Wednesday came around.

Wednesday was the day I went back to work.  Wednesday was the day I attacked 700 unanswered e-mails.  Wednesday was the day reality trumped memories.

To say the least, my wave of momentum evaporated.

Nonetheless, a loss of momentum isn't completely to blame.  There's also cognitive dissonance.  I look at a photo of our trip to the Joyce County Sheepdog demonstration - look at Sweep fly around, herding those sheep (or more likely, staring them down)!  I captured that moment, but know, from memory, that the better shot would have been of someone in our group petting Roy, another sheepdog.  The reality of what I have captured is countered by what I know I could have captured, if I'd only known.  Opportunity cost meets cognitive dissonance.

The trip itself was lovely: green, hot, sunny, energetic, filling.  I wouldn't trade the experience.  The need to sort through my photos?  Now that experience I'd trade.  Thank goodness for travel-mates that love to point, shoot, edit, and share.