Sunday, September 26, 2010

NC

Here I am.

Today it finally rained and the temperature is in the low 70s (about time). I am enjoying the rain. It suits me. I am enjoying the feeling of summer being over finally and autumn hitting. It appears that this week the temperature will linger in the mid 70s. I’ll take it! Finally has reached a comfortable level, although I’ll be truly happy when it’s in the 60s and the leaves start to change color. So much really does indeed depend on the weather.

Much like the temperature, one could say that I too, am approaching a comfortable level here in North Carolina.

The morning before the movers arrived I sat in an empty apartment waiting for them to arrive. There really are a million things one can do in an empty apartment: make snow angel patterns in the carpet; count the number of paces from one wall to the next; turn various light switches on and off, etc. When they finished unloading the very sweet Foreman asked me if I needed anything else. I told him no, and he and said to his partner “Okay, let’s wrap it up and get back up to Brooklyn.” That’s when a sick feeling entered my stomach. Reality had hit: I would not be going back with them. *This* is my home now.

By Day 3 all bets were off. I gave up unpacking and went to the pool instead. I couldn't find my bottle opener, so I bought cans of Mike's Hard Lemonade and proceeded to drink every last one. My friend Douglas came over after work. I don't think he expected me to find me still in my bathing suit, slightly (okay more like *extremely*) tipsy, hair a mess, surrounded by mounds of unpacked boxes. Sweet Doug tolerated my inebriated behavior and after a long day I woke up around 2 AM on my sofa- Doug had covered me with the green blanket that my sister-in-law knit for me. I went into the kitchen and discovered that it was all unpacked for me. Dishes in cupboards. Bottle opener in a drawer. Magnets on the refrigerator. Pots and pans in the cabinets under the counters. Doug is my North Carolina angel.

But not everyone here moves at a pace like Doug. I am adjusting to the people and the much slower pace of North Carolina. It is going to take awhile for me to get used to this. I found it hilarious that my credit card company contacted me about some “suspected fraudulent charges”. I can use it in Ireland and Brazil and Namibia with no problem, but use that credit card at Art & Mo’s Filling Station in “Hicksville, Virginia” and it sends a red-alert. And I had to call them back and tell them it is ME! Me! I am the one who is making “questionable charges”.

The new job is great. I am very satisfied with that aspect of the move. I enjoy my new colleagues, my new level of responsibility that came with this promotion, the students, and the campus. I am learning to address conduct issues, process and make decisions about criminal records on admissions applications, navigate the archaic DOS-based database that we use, and learn how to "forecast" and how that differs from "the plan". I feel very grateful to be working in this setting. American Tobacco Campus is a beautiful venue. I find it mildly amusing that it is smoke-free there. The campus is in a corporate office facility, which is a former warehouse where Lucky Strikes were once manufactured. There are businesses, restaurants, and the campus contained in this structure. If you live in New York, you could compare the “gutted warehouse” architecture to Chelsea Market. If you live in northeast Ohio, think Quaker Square. I am really enjoying the loft-style buildings, the history behind the old warehouse environment, and the exposed brick walls.

My apartment is beautiful and spacious. I love the crown molding, the kitchen, the French doors, the walk-in closet, the washer/dryer, the dishwasher, the pool, the amenities, and the grounds, but I am running into some complications with the management which are too long and boring to post here in this forum. I am addressing them as I type this.

I bought a car. Hyundai Sonata. I enjoy it, as well. May re-finance for a better rate and also curious about my insurance rate. May do some shopping around for that too. It is somewhat complicated to do so from my office. My phone has not yet been set up in my office (come on, really? It’s been a week!) and my cell phone doesn’t get reception in my office, so I can’t get much done.

As you can see, it feels as though I’ve got a lot of loose ends. I hope to tie them up with a pretty ribbon and get into a pattern and really feel comfortable here. I once took a class and the instructor taught us to roll with the current instead of swimming against it and fighting it. The sea lends itself to many metaphors, which are perfectly adaptable to most life-scenarios. I have come to recognize that you have to roll with the waves instead of swimming against them. Otherwise you drown. I don't plan on drowning in Durham.

I do miss New York like crazy. I don’t know how a divorce feels, but I imagine it must feel somewhat like this. You grasp onto memories, but can’t quite keep ahold of them in a tangible way. I am nostalgic for autumn nights and walks through Central Park with auburn leaves crunching under my feet. I am nostalgic for my friends at my old job and drinks after work in Tribeca. I am nostalgic for the smell of coffee from the many carts throughout the city served in the Egyptian coffee cups. I am nostalgic for the straight-forwardness of the people. I am nostalgic for everything being closely contained and the corner bodega and pizzeria, and not having to hop in a car to get something. I am nostalgic for the Indian ladies who thread my eyebrows for $6. I am nostalgic for lunchtime walks along the Hudson River. I am nostalgic for the energy. I am nostalgic for listening to my ipod on the 6 train each morning and sharing my hilarious subway encounters with my friends on facebook every day. I know I’ll be back there again to live one day.

Listen, my goal here is not to complain about this place, nor sound negative but I don’t sugarcoat things either. Do I believe I’ll get used to some of the quirks and differences? Absolutely. Do I enjoy my new job? Definitely. Do I believe that I will soon dismiss and forget New York and my lifestyle there? Not a chance.

Okay, that's all I have to report. Now I'm going to go and try to assimilate and fit in. Maybe I'll even go have a glass of sweet-tea.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Craic

Craic: (pronounced "crack") A Gaelic term for the lively, witty, relaxed conviviality, gossip and talk that makes life worth living.

Just experienced a week's worth of craic in Ireland. Although I was a bit nervous about going because of some snags in the moving process (maybe another blog to describe those snags), I decided not to back out of this trip, and that a break away quite possibly could be just what the doctor ordered. Now, THIS is the place for me. It is dreary and rainy and overcast all the time, and temperature in the 60s- perfect weather for a jacket and jeans. I've been ready for some autumnal weather for quite some time and beautiful, dreary, green and most of all- wet Ireland quenched my thirst.

My best friend from high school, JoAnn is a flight attendant and the two of us had originally planned to go together. Actually- Dara and I had talked about going last year, but it just didn't work out with our schedules. So the plan was that Dara would meet JoAnn and I there. Then poor JoAnn got a reserve schedule this month, which basically means she is at the beckon call of her airline. Although I was sad she couldn't go, JoAnn encouraged me to go without her and we will plan another trip together at another time.

So off I went! And in First Class, no less. I was so grateful. Here was the menu on my flight:

To begin: warm roasted nuts and white wine
Hot Appetizer Cart: a demitasse of fresh shellfish soup with bay scallops accompanied by wild mushroom and vegetable purse (a "purse" is a satchel-shaped puff pastry)
Salad and Warm breads: hearts of romaine with cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives, and Parmesan Reggiano cheese
Main Course: Grilled Sterling sirloin steak with garlic and herb butter, Delmonico's original steak sauce and creamed spinach, onion has brown potatoes and fresh asparagus spears
Fruit and Cheese cart: assorted imported cheeses, grapes, and port wine
Dessert Cart: Vanilla a ice cream and choice of toppings and freshly brewed Emilio Cafe' Italian Expresso

And then there was this television with 40 different movies, games, tv shows, and music. You could create a "jukebox" with a play-list of your favorite songs. But after all the wine, all I really wanted to do was just fall asleep. Every time I would start to doze off, another course would come at me!

Ireland was off to a great start. Once I landed in Dublin I was greeted by the most friendly Customs & Immigration Officer ever and upon seeing my address on my landing card, he told me I was staying "right in the heart of it all" and to enjoy his country. We stayed in the Temple Bar district, which is touristy, but very convenient and very fun. Dara had arrived two days prior to me, and I arrived on a red-eye, around 7 AM as her "wake up call". We took a short nap and then we went to Explore Dublin. And to drink Guinness. A note about the Guinness in Dublin: it is creamy and frothy and tastes so smooth. It goes down like root beer and it is easy to lose track of how many pints you've had. Easy to understand why the Irish love their drink!

Slainte'!!!!


To summarize my trip, here are the basic highlights day by day:
Day 1 Visited Kilmainhaim Jail- learned a great overview of Dublin's history, especially the potato famine in 1845 (when many people were imprisoned for begging in the streets, including children) and the Irish revolution in 1916 when the country became free.

Went on a ghost tour. Visited the Brazen Head pub, which is the oldest in Ireland. http://www.brazenhead.com/ Enjoyed many pints of Guinness. Chatted with our tour guide (who happens to be a historian) and our tour guide told me about the surname "McVay", which is my grandma's maiden name. They are from northern Ireland he believes. **Note: once I get this move over with, I plan to do my full-blown ancestry research. I would love for my next trips to be Italy and Slovakia.

I just adore the way Irish people talk. Our historian/tour guide asked us to follow him "oop da stars" to see a part of the pub on an upper floor that is allegedly haunted. (Dara likes to make fun of me trying to speak in an Irish voice- and she believes I sound more like the "Swedish Chef" from the Muppets.)

Day 2 Saw a rainbow (it's faint, but you can see it in the photo below). Got a tour of Trinity College by the cutest tour guide ever, Ceiran and wandered around Dublin





Oh dear- I'm afraid that I appear sideways in the rainbow photo above. I guess that's what all these pints of Guinness have done to me- I can't seem to stand up straight. For some reason I am having a lot of trouble uploading my photos to this blog in general. There were so many more that I wanted to add to this blog. Seriously, being that I've been back for over 24 hours, I am fairly certain all the Guinness is now out of my system.... Go figure. Oh well- I guess I will just keep writing and go ahead and blame it on the Leprechauns like the Irish do.

Day 3 Day trip to Limerick, Galway, Bunratty Castle http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g212526-d214758-Reviews-Bunratty_Castle_and_Folk_Park-Bunratty_County_Clare.html and Cliffs of Moher


Day 4 Leprechaun Museum (a bit kitschy, but really fun). Here I am leprechaun size:

The day ended with an evening visit to O'Donoghues which allegedly has "the best pint of Guinness" in Dublin. Met some cute Australian ex-pats who have lived in Dublin for about ten years. Shared many pints and experienced much laughter and craic. Our sweet Aussie friend walked us back to the hotel at 2 AM and I had to get up to go back to the airport around 5 AM.

On Day 5 I flew back to New York. DUB is such an efficient airport. Security moves fast and they have people helping get you and your items through the ex-ray machines. It is not necessary to remove your shoes. But for some reason they wanted to open and examine my umbrella. They did that with several people. Anyone know why this is?

Fortunately, I got First Class again. This time it was a lie-flat seat. Continental has upgraded half of their fleet with these seats. Another wonderful meal selection (this time I had the lamb), but I was too tired to eat anything else after that course, so I went to sleep and I was completely comfortable. This is what the pod looks like in its upright position:

Thank you, Continental! I love you!

Although I was happy to be flying home in such comfort, I was feeling a little melancholy, as well. Right now I have a bit of a heavy heart. As much as I loved Ireland and greatly appreciated the craic, I don't think it would be appropriate if I didn't end my blog today with a token of my appreciation and my condolences. The date yesterday: September 11, 2010. I landed in Newark airport yesterday, on a morning with weather not dissimilar from the weather 9 years ago in New York city on that tragic morning that so many of us remember so vividly, as it was yesterday. I looked out the window to see the New York City skyline (absent of two tall towers), and as I listened as landing gear go down I said a silent prayer of thanks for my own well-being, and a prayer of remembrance for those unsuspecting folks who died this very morning nine years ago. They boarded a plane just like I did, expecting to land safely just like I did. But their fate was quite different. I am so grateful for the people who work hard to make this world a peaceful and better place. Thank you to all of our military, every single airline employee, and deepest condolences to all of those who worked in the Twin Towers, those on the hijacked flights, and those who had loved ones who died that morning. God rest your souls 9/11/01.