It's been a while...
I've been meaning to jot a few things down in here... and well, I don't really have any excuses as for the delay. Because I'm tired, I'm going to pull out the old bullet list and avoid coherence. Bear with me.

  • I got an A- on my last history paper and recieved a $2600 scholarship from BC to study abroad. These may seem unrelated, but they are both solid steps towards getting on that plane to Cork in August. (I need to keep my GPA up and earn monies to afford to go, long story short).
  • I was thinking about my writing history topic and my experience in Dublin... people seemed unreceptive towards our service... or at least very confused by us wanting to spend a week helping instead of partying... and, well, that is just hard to reconcile with the image my history class/other experiences have created. I mean, volunteerism played such a huge role in both the revolution and the civil war (the IRA, the GAA). Eenteresting.
  • I don't really have a topic narrowed down for my paper. I'm thinking somewhere along the lines of militarism/tactics... comparing and contrasting the methods, support (both public approval and material donations). I know that's kind of all over the place. I'm also thinking about tying in how much of a young person's affair it was... and how that might have effected the outcome... Point is, I'm not sure. And I have.. oh, a little over a month.
  • My birthday is in two weeks and I'm really excited. Sarah, Kelsey and I are going to see Demetri Martin on April 10th and staying the night in a shmancy hotel in Boston, which'll be a total blast. Shout out to M&D for that one ;)
  • Going on an "interfaith day of service" tomorrow, through Laura's internship. Should be nice, I kinda dig that sort of stuff.
  • There are 25 days of classes left, YIKES.
I think that might be everything I intended on saying. I am mighty tired.
Happy birthday James Madison
For once I feel particularly helpful here at work... a student just came in, freaking out about the 1098T form for her taxes. When everybody else stared blankly at her and "uhhhhmmmmm"ed, I was able to jump in and help her. Woo, go me. I'm not completely useless as a secretary-type!

In other news, I sort of like the way my paper is progressing. I'm writing about the link between the shift in the American Dream and the growth of the suburbs. It's a short paper, strict 1000 word limit, which I don't really like. I prefer a little room to ramble, get my thoughts out. It's probably better this way, though. More succinct.

This week is shaping up to be pretty action-packed. Essay due tomorrow, Paul Rusesabagina is giving a talk on Wednesday to which I would really like to go, I have a midterm on Friday... then all of the other things that take up time, like class, 10:02, Haley House, work... Oh well, I'd rather be busy than bored.
I can't remember if I've mentioned this here before, but I've recently been reminded of ... well, reminders.

I constantly feel like my life is going by so quickly, especially my college life. It seems like it was just yesterday when I was narrowing down my choices, deciding between Fordham and BC... Or orientation last summer... It all just seems to have gone by so quickly and here I am almost halfway done with my undergrad years.

Anyway, my point (and I suppose the point of any sort of journaling/blogging) is that I keep remembering all of these little parts of my life that I completely forgot had happened... and when I do remember them I am sort of shocked that I ever forgot about them.

For example, a discussion I had with my volunteer supervisor, Doug, at Haley House the other day instantly brought to mind a bet I made with the ceramics teacher at Open Arts Studio in my senior year of high school. The radio was playing classic rock- 95.7 or 102.5, I can't remember, but a version of The Who's 5:15 (I think) came on, except the voice was totally wrong. I swore up and down it was Eddie Vedder doing a cover whereas Ty (the ceramics teacher) swore it was the original version by The Who. Now, anyone who knows me will agree that I will not let a situation like this lie... so I did what anyone equally obsessed with music and being right would do and emailed the radio station. I remember that three DJs emailed me back, all saying my co-worker was nuts and that I should rub my victory in his face.

Of course I didn't need telling twice.
What jetlag?
I managed to catch a cold while in Ireland. This turned out to be a plus for me seeing as I slept from 8:30 PM to 7:00 AM, my body forgetting to consider the five hour time difference it had just flown through. Pretty sweet.

Anyway, the trip.
I feel like a goof because I keep saying this to anyone who asks, but it was simply amazing. Everyone on the trip (well, most everyone) were great people and I got to see/do most of the things I had gone over wanting to see/do. I slacked off on my journaling for most of the trip, I was just plum-tuckered out most nights, but I'll transcribe what I did write down. Be warned: it's pretty stupid and wordy, but whatever.

"Feb. 27. Logan Airport
The flight was supposed to leave at 6.... that didn't happen. First, they tried to put us on an earlier flight, which would leave at 5, but then they realized we wouldn't make the transfer. After sending our (mine & kelsey's) luggage down to the carousel by mistake and making us wait forever to retrieve it, they told us our group would have to split up and take two aer lingus flights directly to Dublin. (Turned out that only one was direct. The other stopped in Shannon). The first left around 6:20, ours leaves at 7:20, putting us into Dublin early tomorrow morning. Not too shabby.
12:07 AM EST
Still awake, still in flight. Kelsey and I are sharing my iPod & book, Nick Hornby's (and others') collection of short stories called Speaking With The Angel, which is truly great. I'm powering through it, so I let her read a few stories.
They have shown nothing but bad TV so far (aside from an episode of FOTC)... the movie was Nights in Rodanthe or some BS... needless to say, I didn't watch. Kelsey, Ben and I played cards, chatted and avoided the (at best) dodgy food. So its been 20 hours of wakefulness and I've had raspberry chocolate chip pancakes, coffee, nasty Sbarro pizza and dr pepper. Yum. I'm going to be exhausted today/tomorrow but I can't sleep for numerous reasons.
  1. I'm on a plane (not a boat, mothaucka)
  2. I've consumed the aforementioned caffeinated beverages
  3. I'm beyond excited, one of my life dreams is coming true as we speak (well, as I write)
  4. I'm on a plane and don't you E'ER forget it!
This woman today at the soup kitchen during our post meal/cleanup reflection said something that kind of confused/upset me. The reflection question was something like "What do you want your impact on the world to be?" and she said... (not exactly of course, but along the lines of...) "Well I think there are many ways to impact... me for example, I don't want to just make people happy (both Danny and I had said making people happy was one of our goals) because you can't just make people happy. It takes more than just giving them stuff. See, what I do is I try not to react. Nothing really matters anyway so why should I react to anything?"

This woman is studying Buddhism, after what I assume to be a midlife crisis (totally speculation here, but she sold her successful dance studio, moved into volunteer housing above a soup kitchen... she wears a wedding ring but you'd think her spouse would come along, too?? Whatevs) Anyway, for whatever reason, she strikes me as a little crabby and her comment about "not reacting" was kind of frustrating. She went on to say that "the people" need to be involved in government... which I agree with, but then she was like "our" community needs to be reorganized... we have to take authority away from businesses and politicians and regreen the country!!!
What happened to not reacting? Also, let me clarify: I don't mean to imply that I think this woman is dumb... I just think in her attempt to "not react" and be 'enlightened', she's throwing around the same old shtick. Who is going to organize the community if we aren't allowed to react?!?!

Okay, rant over. A term I would like to work into my daily vocab: TTPUYL. Things that Pants Up Your Life, courtesy of Colin Firth."

"March 1st, 2009
At least, I think its March first. Good news is, I'm not jet lagged. Bad es is I've just had my first sleep in 35 hours. Yikes.
Yesterday was great fun even though I don't feel like I'm in Ireland... more like Canada.
We sat in a pub for most of the evening, the Ireland v. England rugby match was on and there were people EVERYWHERE. It was fun but crowded, obviously not too many open tables and everyone was gathered around various big screens. Sarah Kelsey and myself were content to sit in the corner at a table that was miraculously empty and we sipped our Guinness as we listened to the match.
Afterwards, we went back to BC Ireland and talked with a woman from the north... I feel bad about it, but at that point I was running on about 34, 35 hours without sleep... and her voice was so soothing... I nodded off a few times. We had pizza and fries (???) for dinner. Kinda bizarre. But oh so tasty. The coke here is funny, though.

We bought lunch at a convenience store type place yesterday and the guy ringing me up said "You're not from Dublin, are you?" Good to know I look awkward and out of place.

We also went on a double Decker tourist trap tour, which was really fun. I took about a million pictures and stayed on top of the bus the whole time, despite the wind. Aside from me, Ben & Kelsey, everyone else went down below.

Last night, long after we had gone to bed (8:30 PM, woohoo) I woke up to hear yelling in the street. There was a guy and a girl out there, having some argument and it was just so tragically hilarious, loaded with F bombs, naturally.
"It's effing three AM and you're out yelling in the street!"
"You don't understand, Darren! I LOVE YOU!"
"You're drunk. That's the alcohol."
Absolutely the worst chinese food today. Wanted to gag and die."

"March 5th, 2009 (maybe the 6th)
So I've been really bad about keeping track of my thoughts during the trip, but I've honestly been super tired every night. So I'll do my best to remember things tonight.
My placement turned out to be at the Dominick Street Community Center. Ends up SlĂ­ Eile is just the name of the organization and not an actual place at which to volunteer. So, Sarah and I went to Dominick Street where we met the director, Derek, an employee, Phil, and a volunteer, Peter, as well as a few others, including the housing rep Gerry, who asked us our opinion on "the Indian"...
The first day was hopeful. We hung out, drank tea and played video games. Some background info: the center is located on Dominick St behind rows of rundown apartments. The goal is to provide a stable, safe type place for kids, teens & adults who live within the community. They have several programs and "clubs" for the younger kids.

Anyway, the placement was okay at first. We ended up playing Wii and other video games with each other and sometimes Irish kids would play with us. It was more exciting after school hours when the youngsters would come in. They gave us some cool fleece jackets that say "Dublin City / Baile Atha Cliath / Community Development" We gave the guys BC Ireland t-shirts. We got to know some of the little kids a bit, but not much... the center seems to be more of a way for them to get away from home life stuff, so they weren't too chatty about that. In the end it just sort of felt like the directors didn't really know why we were there and didn't have anything for us to do.

So all of that meant that Sarah and I got a lot of down time and got to know each other fairly well. We walked ALL over Dublin (including what turned out to be super dangerous no-go zones...). We got to see Croke Park on our own, which rocked so much. I wanted to buy a hurling jersey but I couldn't bring myself to shell out the 60 euro for one.. so I just looked. The museum was really cool, and really cheap, and we had it to ourselves at we got there as it opened.

I've had a really awesome time on the trip but I feel like things were very poorly organized. The leaders are both very nice people but I don't really understand their point. We all have spent every day at our placements then we come back to BC Ireland for dinner (always vegetarian...) then hear a talk from some person or another who don't really seem to know why they are talking to us. And people are always making assumptions about the similarities between the US and Ireland... I just feel like most people on this trip have no experience in working with people in poverty in the US or any of the other issues we have seen here, so they assume the problems are unique... which is obviously not true. And kind of an issue I have with service trips."

Okay, if you made it through that, super props. If not, you aren't reading this either. I posted pictures on my flickr account (name: ksgilbert07) so check those out, there are more to come :)