Thursday, March 31, 2011

Kilmainham Gaol

I've been wicked fail at blogging lately, and it's awful. I mean, I still have to write about Cork! And that was ages ago! And just so many other things have happened, even though I can't blog about all of them. So, pretty much, expect a post about most of that soon. Tomorrow, hopefully!

Anyway, I have a story for now. It's sort of about the famine, so if you're in a really wicked awesome mood and want it to stay that way, you might not want to read it just right now.


She would shiver, but she forgot how to do that a lifetime ago. Or maybe it was several lifetimes ago. She didn’t know what time was, anymore. She didn’t think, anymore. Couldn’t think. If you asked her what her name was, she wouldn’t be able to tell you, because the person with that name was gone. The person who laughingly sang and danced and whispered and passionately screamed was missing, or else dead. She was a skeleton now, and her smile fled from her face so long ago, to find food elsewhere.

She would say she missed that one happy lifetime, but she’d forgotten how to do that, too.

So, she leaned, hunched against the freezing stone wall of the gaol. Even the hundreds or dozens of bodies didn’t warm the cell. They were far too close to death to emit any sort of heat. And they were all just angles, anyway, all shells of former people. Their limbs were like paper, and they had no fat or strength to block out the frigid air. The winter wind would rush in and have no problem blowing through their brittle, fast disappearing, bodies.

Once upon a time, she came to the gaol to survive. She’d thought that the gaol, with its regular meals, would save her. But then the meals weren’t regular. But then she forgot what living was. And then she forgot what death was, so she had no reason to fear it.

She saw the ghosts of the dead sometimes. The ashen, unblinking faces she’d once known and once watched grow stiff. Their ghosts were the same as their bodies, saying nothing except in their eyes. Because their eyes told their stories, told of potatoes blackening and laughter falling thousands of feet off a sea cliff, finally shattering. Told of babies growing cold under mounds of soft blankets, songs they tried to sing but ended up not even being able to whisper, the roads they built that went nowhere, just like their weakening, faltering bodies.

Her thoughts had stopped forming words ages ago, but she knew—their eyes told her— life wouldn’t last much longer. She wasn’t sure whether or not to be grateful, so she just wasn’t anything.

But she took her last bit of strength and let herself listen to the creakings around her. A child cried, a thin, devastated wail. The emancipated leftovers of a person collapsed to the ground nearly soundlessly, and tried to suck in the dirt floor for food. Another body, one of the few strong enough, rocked back and forth on skin stretched thin and bones, and hummed the same four notes of the same familiar song, over and over again.

She heard all of this, and then she shut her ears, and shut her eyes.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

And then my camera went into a coma.

Cork? Was awesome. Except for the fact that my camera kind of broke. Except I think it's actually working again, now, which is weird. I'll take it, though, after four days of seeing beautiful, beautiful places and not being able to keep any of them. Because as awful as it is to say, my memory isn't nearly enough.

Really, what did people do before cameras? I mean, I know that people traveled loads less back in the day, but there were still those who sailed to different continents and stuff. And yeah, some of them painted what they saw, but not everyone has, um, artistic talent. I could try to draw Cork for you guys, but I can't promise that it would a actually look like Cork. Or anywhere in Ireland. Or anywhere in anywhere. You know.

So, I'm picturing explorers coming back from the sea to their homes, their family, and their friends, and trying to describe it all.

"Aw, man, dude, it was wicked, like, just legit, you know? There was, like, grass and stuff, and it was really long, right? Like really long, and there were trees and they were really tall! And then, there were these weird fucking animals, dude, with these crazy beard things. Oh, and one of them ate Paul. Yeah, sorry about that. He tried to pet it. His bad. But, like, other than that, it was like one big party, you know?"

See? It doesn't work. Especially if you're on opium, like that dude apparently was.

Anyhoo, I'll have more on Cork later. Including pictures from when my camera was actually cooperating!

(Technology really, really doesn't like me, does it?)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

What it's like right now

Remember that last day of school when you were little? How everyone was so excited for the never ending sleepovers and tag and ice cream for breakfast and beaches that the teachers didn't even try to settle you down?

(Aw, nostalgia again.)

Well, today was almost like that. I mean, not totally, and not really even until my last class, but the energy was the same. The window was open, with wind pouring in at a million miles an hour. And the rain was staying out. And it was golden sunny. And we were (are) about to be free-er than we'll probably be ever again.

Spring Break. In Europe. No responsibilities. No homework, even. In Europe. Yes.

Our professor let us out early, because she's awesome like that.

Oh, and PS, I officially know what I'm doing for break! Sort of! I'm going to Cork on Saturday, and staying for five nights, or maybe more (but probably not), and it's gonna be amazing. I booked my hostel and everything, just a few hours ago. (And I'm pretty sure I didn't mess it up at all, either! But, I have my fingers crossed, just in case.) I'm not bringing my laptop, so I'll probably not have access to internet or anything, but I'm prettttyyyy sure I won't care.

I'll have more details tomorrow. And then? I'm gone! :)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Last Year

Jess, Ryan, Me, Meg

It's my favorite Megan's 21st birthday today. For the past two months, a lot of my favorite people have been getting older. Without me. As much as I adore it here, sometimes I wish I could jump back to New England to celebrate with them. And to play in their eighty kajillion feet of snow. But mostly, just to be with them. I haven't seen them in ages.

Last year, sophomore year, was one of my favorite years ever. Except for a couple bits of drama, which'll always happen, anyway, it was like a never ending laugh.

It was that year we started to say, "toes," instead of, "totally," and saying "'n shit," at the end of everything. Oh, and, "a shit ton of ketchup," after Velvet asked for exactly that one late night, ordering food over the phone. Oh, and then Velvet, with her mad New York axing powers, taught us this rhyme about killing Crypts and watching your favorite color drip, and it was pretty legit. We said it all the time when she was around, just to (lovingly) torture her, of course. It's what any good friends would do.

Me and Velvet. She pretty much taught me how to be a Gangsta.

We almost died a couple of times (well, I did, especially), and we completely trashed kitchens making cupcakes with extra chocolate chips and no mixer. We discovered Bo Burnham and played him loudly in public until the neighbors yelled at us to turn it off, even though I'm pretty sure they couldn't actually hear the lyrics. Their revenge was to knock on our door with brownies that were so bad, we couldn't even find any boys willing to eat them.

We hid from horror movies and mirrors, and decided that the dorm was haunted. (Though, who knows? It might have been. Our TV was sketchy, at least.)

Yeah, we were watching Ghost Adventures. That's what cool people do, you know.

We heard that NASA was going to bomb the moon, and reacted. According to the depths of my facebook, we reacted by, "running to Champlain Farms and getting fun dip, and then running back to the dorm singing, "It's My Life," and making posters about being sad about the moon being blown up. " Oh, and, funny story, we also got stopped by the police that night, because we were being so loud, but we didn't actually get into trouble. I can't believe I only just remembered that. It was a pretty fun night.

It was a pretty fun year.

Easter Grass Fight!

I could go on and on, but really what I'm trying to say is that, everyone back home? I miss you guys! But, all that stuff? It's not over, yet. This summer is going to be the most lovely and ridiculous yet. Life should only ever get better, so that's what I'm gonna make it do. <3


It seems like every so often, everyone's laptop will blow up and die. Well, minus the blowing up part. Hopefully.

The keyboard of my beloved Macbook has decided that working's for losers. Really, it was only a matter of time before my laptop called it quits, considering that it has, um, holes in it, around the thing you plug your charger in. Okay, so time hasn't been too kind to my laptop. (Sort of like how that flight of stairs it tripped down freshman year, or that day last year it tumbled off my bed twice in a row, or that time my little brother spilled a glass of water on it haven't been particularly kind to it, either.) But, still, I was kind of surprised when I got up for a second to grab some food, and when I came back, the 'z' key wouldn't work. And then five minutes later, when all I could type was, "vvvvvvvvvvvvvvivteevvvvvtvpeevvtig5vvv," because by then almost none of the keys were working, except for the 'v' which wouldn't stop working. And then when none of them worked.

Maybe I'd have been more surprised if my laptop was the only one with suicidal tendencies. But in the past two weeks alone, half of everyone has had something tragic happen to their computer. And even though that's an exaggeration, it's not as big of one as you'd think.

I'm lucky, though, because my mom actually made me bring her old laptop over with me, because she knew mine was bound to die here, what with its holes and all. Of course, I'm totally brilliant and completely forgot about it until yesterday, but it's nice to be able to post on facebook again.

Oh, and complete change of subject, but spring break is next week! I'm still not sure what I'm going to do-- pretty much everyone else is leaving Ireland, but I don't have the money, so I'm staying. I'm definitely going to travel around Ireland, though. I just need to figure out how to get away from Dublin and book hostels and stuff. I'm wicked stoked. I've never traveled alone before in my life, but it's going to be absolutely amazing, I know.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


I love that Ireland has ruins.

The first time I saw any sort of ruins, I was about eight. I fell in love right away. All it was was this chimney on top a little mountain in Vermont. It was surrounded by four big rocks, each with its own ancient, fraying chain attached to it. My dad joked that back in the day, they were used to tie up bad kids, but I didn't pay him any attention. He was always trying to be funny, and, anyway, the fireplace was what really held my attention. I knew that a fireplace meant that a house must have been there once, and I had to wonder what it must have been like. I wondered what had turned the house into ruins.

Was it some sort of disaster- a fire? Or could it have been the people? Maybe they’d been such an integral part, that once they were gone, the house just couldn’t continue. Whatever the story really was, I decided that it must have been tragic. I pictured plague and running footsteps. Babies crying and wolves howling at nothing. The house falling apart. So, I guess I was kind of morbid. But, I was sure that there was magic in this place.

I remember wondering if maybe the people who had lived there once upon a time where still there, in their house, by their fireplace. I thought of them sitting at a big worn wooden table, made from the trees, probably, that stood just feet away, eating their bread and Vermont cheddar cheese, and looking out at the window that must have once been. They would watch the fog slowly drift off the valley below, revealing white houses, church steeples, and multi-colored trees. Maybe they had seen us, as we walked up the mountain into their world. I pictured them quickly demolishing their window, taking away the wooden table, the bread and cheese, and putting out the fire, making all of it disappear except for the four corner stones and the one fire place.

I wonder what I would have thought if, at that age, I saw Dunluce castle, or any ruined Irish castle. If I'd been able to run through the destroyed rooms. If I was able to peer through the windows at what is still there.

Ruins still feel magical to me. I think they always will, no matter how old I get.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Northern Ireland!!

I'm pretty sure that Northern Ireland is the most beautiful place I've even been to, and that's saying a lot. It was so incredibly amazingly lovely that, on the bus ride home, I was actually disappointed that we were going back to Dublin. Really.

We went to Belfast first. In some ways, Belfast seemed more city like than Dublin-- its buildings were higher, at least-- but there were less people around, and the people who were there, seemed friendlier. They smiled more, and seemed happier to see the people around them. Even with their murals and memorials and Peace Wall, it didn't really feel like like a city that had been paralyzed by what was basically civil war just decades earlier. I think that might just have been me, though. I still have a hard time imagining that something like that could have happened to such a developed country not that long ago. I mean, I was alive during some of it! Not that I had any idea of it, I was only a kid. But, I'd never even heard of The Troubles until college! I signed the Peace Wall, anyway. Because peace is awesome.

Then, I took pictures of things that made me smile.

There were a lot.

But, when we got out to the country? That was my favorite. I'm not used to living in cities, and I've missed nature desperately. As we drove north, it was just so exciting, because there were trees! I adore trees, and Dublin just doesn't have enough. We drove for a while, and didn't stop until we got to Ballintoy, at the tip of Northern Ireland.

It was beautiful. So beautiful. It was already starting to get dark but, as soon as we got out things into the hostel, and few friends and I set out to explore.

We found a playground! Complete with a creepy bear trashcan. One of the things that I don't understand about Ireland is how you never see college kids on playgrounds. Actually, you don't really see many people on them at all. It's kind of sad. We played the hell out of that playground, though. It needed it.

The next day was a mix of sheep, running around rocks and ruins and climbing everything in sight. We almost died a couple of times.

Like when we went on the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge.

And stood on cliffs.

And ran around the Giant's Causeway like crazy people.

And climbed on things we weren't supposed to. Like castles.

It was magical.

Someday, I'm going back.

Bee Ee Ell Ell Ee

Okay, well, this isn't the story I was talking about the other day. That'll end up being longer, hopefully, and it's nowhere near done. Still, though, if you have any thoughts, that would be lovely and stuff.


Marina held her baby close to her. Her baby. She was never supposed to have her, but she’d loved the baby right away. And when she named her, she knew that whatever name she chose had to shout that. She wanted to name her after the ocean, after flowers and rubies and the sun and the moon. So, she named her Belle, because she found out that it meant, “Beautiful.” Mostly, though, she just called her baby her baby.

Still, she could spell, “Belle.” She couldn’t remember what it looked like on paper, but she remembered the sounds they made when the nurse from the hospital spelt them out loud. Bee ee ell ell ee. She said those sounds to her baby every morning and night, so that her baby would always know what her name was.

Marina shifted in the hard grey folding chair. Her baby didn’t cry. Her baby was being good. She always was. The woman sitting in front of her, behind the grey painted metal desk, didn’t smile, though. “So,” the woman said, tapping her pen against a clipboard, “You want to work here.” She said the words slowly, and looked Marina and the baby up and down.

Marina smiled, so that maybe the woman would smile. The room was so stark, and so was the woman. The woman sat up straight, not slouching at all. Marina knew that was supposed to be a good thing, a healthy thing, but the woman sat as if there was metal-- cold, grey metal-- shooting through her veins. But Marina smiled. “Yes,” she said.

The woman ticked something off on the clipboard. She didn’t smile. “And you are how old?”

“I’m sixteen.” The woman eyed over Marina and her baby a second time.

“Sixteen,” she said, “sixteen.” She raised her eyebrows and her mouth fell into a thin, disapproving line. “We don’t usually hire under-eighteens.”

Marina kept her smile as steady as she could. “Sometimes it feels like I’ve lived a lot longer than just sixteen years,” she offered. She shifted in her seat. It was hard and uncomfortable, but her baby didn’t seem to mind. Her baby was so good.

The woman didn’t care. “But, you haven’t,” she said, still tapping with her pen.

Marina didn’t know what to say. The room was so dark and fluorescent. So metal and grey. It was too big and too concealed. The only pictures anywhere were faced away from Marina. As far as she could tell, maybe they weren't even pictures at all. Just frames. It was nothing like home. Her apartment, the one she shared with her parents and brothers and sisters and grandmother, was tiny but perfect. It was warm and colorful, and there was always laughing. There were never, ever any pens tapping on clipboards.

The woman sighed. “I don’t usually hire anyone under eighteen,” she said, again.

Marina hugged her baby closer to her. “I’m a good worker. Please.”

The woman sighed again, louder this time. “Well,” she said, “Do you have any special skills?”

Marina’s smile faltered before she could stop it. Not really, she didn’t think, but she couldn’t say that. She thought she was good at taking care of her baby, but she knew the woman didn’t care about that. The woman wanted her to say that she was perfect at using the cash register, or counting money, or smiling at customers with rampage in their eyes. So, she said the last one.

“Hmm,” the woman said. She didn’t look impressed. That was probably what everyone said. The woman stopped tapping, though, and rummaged through some papers.

“If you can just fill this out,” she said, “Someone will be able to get back to you in a few days.”

Marina swallowed. She eyed the papers. They had writing on them. She was expected to write on them. The woman put the papers on her lap. Marina stared at the papers, stared at the letters. They were just squiggles and loops and lines. Tiny squiggles and loops and lines. They didn’t mean anything. Couldn’t mean anything.

“Oh,” she said.

The woman looked over.

Marina blinked once. “I can’t read,” she said, but her tongue worked slowly, and it took forever to say.

“You can’t read,” the woman said.

Her baby was so good. She fell asleep on the long walk home. Home. Home was safe. No tapping, no needing to know anything. Marina could just stay home always. With her baby. Hold her, play with her, cook for her, teach her. “Bee ee ell ell ee,” she whispered to her baby. She was so good.