Monday, December 20, 2010

Part III: The Nostos

Keeping with the James Joyce tradition here the Nostos as the final chapter in my journey seems to be the most logical title. Let me explain. The first part of Ulysses, the Telemachiad, is where Leopold Bloom begins his journey throughout Dublin. Evidently, the final chapter of both Bloom’s, and my, adventure will be the Nostos. As the Greek word for ‘homecoming,’ the Nostos is the part of both of our journeys where we will return home.

Also, just a side note, if it has I have no idea why the font changed. It’s completely beyond me.

But first, I must catch you all up on the events of the past weekend. Following my kleptomania episode on Friday, left from Insomnia and headed over to the Pearse DART Station to meet Mark. We caught the train over to Sandymount and then walked up the road to the Royal Dublin Society... sounds fancy. Well the RDS is really just a convention centre complete with concert halls and conference rooms... and an ice rink. When we got to the 7up Christmas on Ice venue (it’s really called that), no one else was there. So we waited. And waited. Then we called Kev to make sure we weren’t there for the wrong time. But then we waited some more. After about forty minutes in the cold, all of a sudden everyone showed up. So we picked up our tickets and they gave us these green wristbands, I’m still wearing mine, and we headed out to the ice. Now I haven’t skated in a really long time. So I was quite nervous that I’d be falling all over the ice. Much to my surprise though, and Max’s disappointment, no one in our group fell at all! That’s not to say, however, that we didn’t see some nasty falls. There was one kid who was on the ground half the time. And there were plenty of times when you’d see two people go down together and they’d end up all tangled on the ice. But all in all, good times indeed. Also just one riddle that came about from the night: two sisters were born on the same day, same time, same biological parents, but they are not twins. How?

From the rink we headed up and down the streets of Sandymount trying to find some place to eat, under the impression that there was Gourmet Burger Kitchen somewhere nearby. But we were wrong, and settled for Italian. Dinner was quite uneventful. It was great and all but nothing noteworthy really happened. Jokes were told, fun times were had, but no stand out moments. Although there was a clear division between the north and south of the Liffey, it was not really acknowledged by the south side. Following dinner, we walked further down the street to begin the ‘pub crawl.’ This crawl consisted of two pubs. And we didn’t even crawl... we took the DART between pubs. Not very impressive. But it was the same story at both of the pubs, no real stand out moments. Just good times and good craic. When we were leaving the Porterhouse, the second and final pub of the night, I had to say goodbye to a bunch of people. It’s not fun at all. At a stroke of chance we also ran into Ross Condy while leaving. Ross was one of the three instructors that came over with Max that first summer, but he wanted to fly planes, not sail ships, so he left after one year to go to train to be a pilot. So we got the DART back with him and the topic of the weather came up. Thinking he was being all witty Ross says ‘yeah Harry don’t you wish you moved to California?’ My response... ‘well I kinda did Ross.’ Few too many pints Ross? Perhaps?

Saturday morning I ran into town to finish a bit more Christmas shopping. Think I’ve covered everyone. Yeah I did. But when I got back to Howth, Max and I got in the car and we drove down to Wexford for Amy’s Bantermas. After a not so long two hour drive, we arrived at the party. Shockingly, we were the first there. But as the night continued on, more people filtered in and it just became an amazing night as your traditional house party. Again there really were no stand out moments, except for one. You know how if you’re holding a bottle of beer, and someone taps their beer on top of yours, and then, well, you gotta chug? That happened quite a few times throughout the whole night. Until close to the end of the night. Someone tapped my beer, it slipped right through my fingers, and then plummeted to the kitchen floor. Not good. But, we cleaned it up and the night went on. From that night alone, I have learned so many new drinking games. The following morning, as we loaded up our car to head back up north, I had to say goodbye to more people. Again, not fun. Thankfully, we got back home before MORE SNOW CAME!! The roads were fine until we got of the M-50 and then when we realized that we usually should be able to see Howth Hill, we concluded that a storm was coming. And it was coming fast.

Last night was a relaxing night. We stayed home. We recovered. And we prepped for tonight. It’s my final night in Dublin and I know it is going to be a crazy night.

So this is the part of my entry that sounds like an Oscar acceptance speech. Firstly, above all, I cannot thank Max and the Van de Poll’s enough. They brought me in for the semester and I legitimately felt like a part of their family. It is going to be really hard to leave all of them because I’ve had such good times with them throughout the entire semester. Also a huge thanks to all of the friends I made here in Ireland. You guys really made this semester what it was and it wouldn’t be the same without any of you. I will be back, not sure when, but it will happen. Finally, I have to thank my family. This would have been impossible without my Dad and I am so thankful for being able to go on this adventure.

I was talking to Pam the other day and we were discussing the strange situation I’m in. This summer, as you know, was probably the hardest summer I will ever experience in my life. I hope. But then it has been contrasted with this amazing semester that I will never forget. I’m not saying that it’s a funny juxtaposition or anything of the sort; we just thought that it’s interesting how the world works. As hard as the summer was, I knew that this was something that I had to continue on with in her memory. She was so excited for me to come to Dublin and, as Kerry said, I’ve been living this experience for two people. With that being said, this blog and semester-long adventure is completely dedicated to Hilary M. Shontz. I know she would love every story that I have to tell from it. Now as hard as it is for me to leave, I must get going to finish packing everything up. Thank you all so much for following me while I was abroad and I will see you all soon!!

I love you Mom, and I always will.
For Mama Shontz

Friday, December 17, 2010

Kleptomania, Pt. 2

Mission Accomplished.



Once again, I'm in Insomnia. And, once again, I'm eating a Lemon White Chocolate Muffin. But thats not what todays entry is about. As I sit here in the cafe, pondering my getaway plan with my super awesome Insomnia mug, I still can't get over the fact that I'm actually done. I wrote a total of 19000 words this semester, and 14000 of them were written in the last week. So now, I really don't know what to do with myself. Apparently the obvious answer is go get coffee. But now what do I do?

Before I continue on with being all reflective...allow me to discuss the events of the past few days. I wrote papers. And, I wrote papers. There were some classes involved there too.

Ok moving right along, I only have four more days left in Ireland. Its so hard to wrap your head around something like that. I've been here for more than three months now and I've gotten used to the culture, made tons of new friends and have had an amazing time. But it's just going to end on Tuesday. Well enough of me being melodramatic. Let me move on to what I think is going to happen over the next few days. Whether or not they actually do, and the crazy stories that come from them, will come later. I will also just take this time to give the heads up that my entries will now shift to the "yesterday format". This is primarily because I will not be in any state at all to write a blog entry each night after the events that this weekend is set to hold. That being said, I may attempt to do so. But that will be followed by a sober translation the following morning.

Tonight is badminton on ice. Its not an actual show, and we're not playing badminton on ice. But that would be pretty cool to watch, not play. So the badminton team is going ice skating. Obviously, we're going out after. I've heard talk of the Pav or the Porterhouse. Because there's no entry fee. That's what usually governs where people go out here. How much does it cost to get in. The worst I've seen is ten euro to get in...but those are usually worth it. Usually. Tomorrow night is sleepover time. We're all headed down to Amy's house in Wexford (I think?) for her annual Bantermas party. Should be a good time. But its a ways away so people aren't going to even bother finding a way home. Perfect. As for my last two nights in Ireland, stay tuned. I probably won't even know what's happening until after it actually happens.

I'm gonna sign off for now, gotta start thinking about how I'm getting all my stuff back home to the states. Thats going to be an interesting process. But for now, I will see you all very soon and in the words of the Irish... Sláinte!!


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Snow Days

So once again I have neglected my blog. I have good reason for it though. I still have 9000 words to write before Thursday. But I just wanted to give a quick update on all things Irish. The day my Dad left, it snowed. And it snowed. And then it snowed some more. Of course, we made a snowman. I thought all was good for the next week, and thats the way things started. But then, it snowed again. And again. So much (it wasn't that much) that school was canceled on Thursday and Friday. In all honesty I think we got about eight inches. No reason to cancel school. I'm happy that lectures were canceled and all, but when the Irish see snowflakes, they go crazy. And the country shuts down.

That weekend people from Cork came up to Dublin so that was a great time showing them around and all. We ventured around the city centre and they even got out to Howth! So that was quite exciting. This past week was all about the essays. As this next week will be as well. One term paper down, three more to go. Welcome to hell week.

Last night, however, I did take a break from all my researching and theorizing and procrastinating to go on the Twelve Pubs of Christmas Pub Crawl. I would call it a pretty successful night, except Max and I were late into town so we only got to ten of the twelve... Oh well. But it was a really great night out with the badminton team. I think I came away from the night with two more pint glasses, and a bunch of beer mats. Win?

So I must be getting back to the papers. And because of the workload, I probably won't get on to posting an entry until after everything is all turned in. But, in all honesty, that will not make a difference considering my track record in the past month!! It is getting down to the wire now but I'll see you all very soon!!


Thursday, December 2, 2010


So things have been really crazy the past few weeks, then I just realized that its been about two weeks since I posted. Oops... Oh well, I will attempt to sum up the whirlwind of events that have blown by in that time period.

Previously on An American Ulysses, I was in a coffee shop. The next day, I found myself on a bus down to Cork to see the Harry Potter showing. I was meeting friends down there, well actually seeing friends, but it was going to be a party. So Thursday night we went out to the Franciscan Well, a really cool in Cork. They brew all their own beer and its some pretty good stuff. I attempted to teach the group the game 21s, but was a bit unsuccessful. Friday night was, obviously, Harry Potter night. Friday day, however, we all made some pretty epic Dumbledore's Army t-shirts. We were the only ones who were dressed up. Super cool guys. In all honesty, I was pretty pleased with the movie. They left some key stuff out, but all in all it was pretty good. Saturday was an interesting day. It was my last day in Cork so I got breakfast with Jessie and Kelsie, but the bus was quite an interesting ride. About a half hour into the ride I realized that the girl sitting next to me basically had a candy shop and liquor cabinet in her bag. Soon after that I realized that her, her friends, and the guy across from her, were all from New York. The bus then became the party bus. Six New Yorkers on a bus and a fair amount of alcohol. Enough said.

Saturday night was a night out at Copper Face Jacks. Always a good night at Coppers. The place is always packed and the music is always good. But, its always frickin' expensive. Its ten euro... just to get in. But as always, good night at Coppers. Sunday, Monday and Tuesday were all pretty dull days for me. I needed to get stuff done.

On Wednesday morning, Papa Shontz arrived. Max and I were out the door before 8am to pick him up from Dublin airport. Not too bad at all. We got there and forked over four euro to park... only to see him waiting for us right outside. But we drove into the city centre and Max dropped us off at my Dad's hotel. I had already planned on bailing out on developmental psych that day. So we got breakfast at a pub. Awesome. Perfect way to adjust to Irish culture. After breakfast I brought him to the Book of Kells and then he passed out in the hotel room as I went off to the rest of my classes. The next day was Thanksgiving. I was extremely excited. After classes (on Thanksgiving?) we got the DART back out to Howth and proceeded to prepare the epic meal. Everyone arrived and it all went smoothly... thankfully. As the American, Pam asked me to put together a few words on the story of Thanksgiving. So I wrote notes down on my place card. Easy cheat sheet.

Friday and Saturday were tourist days. On Friday morning I made my way into town and we got the on the hop-on/hop-off bus tour. It took us all around Dublin, which was nice. But we hopped off at the Guinness Storehouse  and the Kilmainham Gaol. It had been my third and second times to those sites so I am really starting to feel like a local. Took me long enough. But Friday night we went out to Findlaters, a really nice bar in Howth, to meet with all of the Shore Club instructors that had worked with my Dad in the past three summers. He hadn't seen some of them in a few years so he was pretty excited for that. The next day we woke up to SNOW!! It was great!! It wasn't all that much at all and we still hopped in the car and drove up to Newgrange, a really, really cool tomb. I have still yet to see the inside because when we got there we realized that the buses to the actual tomb from the car park weren't running. We called ahead and they said they were running just fine... I declare lies. But we did get a free tour of the museum because of it! And we were able to see it off in the distance. So that was pretty cool. That night, we all went off to Johnny Foxes, a traditional Irish pub located up in the Wicklow Mountains. We were there for a traditional Hoolie Night. It was complete with Irish music, Irish dancing, and non-Irish food. It was a great night and a great send off for my Dad who had to head home the next morning.

We woke up Sunday morning to MORE SNOW!!! But more on that later, I'll talk to you all (and see you all) soon!!


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Disclaimer: This Post Was Written in a Coffee Shop

Unlike other posts that just reference history, this post has history. It all began about a year ago, on December 17th, 2009. It was a cool Dublin morning, and Carole and I had just gotten off of the plane in Dublin as we were visiting Max the week before Christmas. Later that day, we made our way into town with Max. He went off to his classes and we went off adventuring. We wound up at Insomnia. In my opinion, that is probably the best name for a coffee shop. While we were there, Carole got a White Chocolate Lemon Muffin. She claimed that it was the best thing she'd ever tasted. As a skeptic, I tried it... and it was pretty amazing. So now fast forward to present day. I was talking to Carole on skype and she made me promise here that I would go back to Insomnia, eat that same muffin, and then document it in a blog post. But I couldn't just document the fact that I ate said muffin. She wanted a play by play of every taste. So I literally sat in Insomnia taking notes while I was eating my muffin; jotting down words that described what I was tasting. Now I can see how some would deem this a waste of a post, so for those of you who do not want to read about baked goods please skip to paragraph three.

So now for the play by play. First let me begin by saying that the coffee I had with this muffin was actually quite good. But we're not here to talk about beverages. So as I do with all my muffins (making seem like I'm a muffin expert), I first flipped over the... pastry? The bottom of a muffin is never as good as the top and you've gotta save the best for last. As tore off a chunk of the muffin, I realized that the cake was actually cold. Which was interesting. But the first bite gave a burst of, well, lemon. It was zesty, cool, refreshing, and pretty much every other word associated with lemons. Except sour. That'd be gross. Also, there was an intense, but not overpowering, taste of vanilla. Every now and then, the spongy cake would be accompanied by a crunchy white chocolate chip. Surprisingly, the muffin was extremely good cold. But it wasn't just room temperature, it was actually chilled. It went well with the coolness of the lemon. After I got through the bottom of the muffin, I advanced on to the muffin top. Nobody knows why, but everybody knows that, the muffin top is always better. There's just something about the... texture of the muffin. It really can't be beat.

I was going to start this next section off with the word meanwhile, but that gives the impression that me eating this muffin was a part of a larger scheme, like a plot against the Queen or an assassination attempt. Obviously, it wasn't. So, while I was eating my muffin I witnessed many strange occurrences at the Insomnia Cafe. It could be the loss of sleep... First, I noticed a bunch of old women, gathered around the door peering in through the window. They were obviously jealous of my muffin. Second, I noticed the man next to me. He was sitting alone, but for some reason he had two cups of coffee on his table. For some stranger reason he would alternate drinking from each cup. And for the strangest reason, aside from lifting the cups, he remained entirely motionless and dazed off into space. I don't know what any of those reasons were. But I'm sure that they're there. Third, I saw another student eating a muffin. And he too was writing stuff down. Obviously, he was taking notes for his blog about his not-as-amazing blueberry muffin. In all honestly, its probably really good, but nothing (I repeat: NOTHING) beats white-chocolate lemon.

Then Vikings drove by. I heard their war cry, and it was kind of scary. But there is an explanation to this. I promise. There's a "Viking Tour" of Dublin city centre. The whole tour group sits on the back of a truck (kind of like the top level of an open-air, double-decker tour bus). They drive you around all the major sights and the truck even swims. The vehicle floats and doubles as a boat as you go on the river for a bit! But the best part, by far, is what actually goes down while on the "bus". For starters, they give you Viking helmets. And as you drive through the not-so-calm city streets: YOU SCREAM!! As loud as you can. Let the inner Viking out!! So while I was enjoying my coffee and muffin, with my back to the door, the Viking party bus drove by. To further magnify their battle cries, someone just happened to open the door at the exact moment that they passed Insomnia. So just incase the coffee wasn't strong enough, the Vikings would wake you up.

So that was probably a typical day in a Dublin coffee shop. I've spent a fair amount of time in them and they're quite the centre for people watching... and muffins.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Surprise Party

Ohhhhhh myyyyyy Godddddddd!!!!

For those of you that caught that reference, kudos. For those of you that didn't, watch more SNL. Now to the actual post. So Thursday night we got back from Lisbon, but I didn't get back home to Howth until about 11 or so. I got home, and went straight to bed. The next day was a lazy day of recovery. Definitely needed. This is where the surprise comes in. That night at dinner I found out from Max that we were going to Leanne's 21st. She was one of the three girls that came over to instruct sailing with Max last year. So I asked him when, to which he quickly replied...tonight! Obviously it wasn't a surprise party for Leanne. She knew all about it, I just found out last minute. Apparently, the 21st birthday is a really big thing in Ireland. Even though you've been legal to drink for three years, its something along the lines of coming of age. Parents usually throw a big party for their kids and its quite a big deal!

So we got ready to head out, and conveniently walked up the road to Leanne's place. We were supposed to be there at 7:30. But at 7:30 Max and I were sitting in his kitchen thinking, yeah we can't leave yet. That's too on time. So the next ten minutes dragged on. And on. And on. Then, finally, at 7:40 we concluded we could make our way up the road...slowly. We got about ten feet away from his front gate and then one of Max's friends just happened be driving up to her party. Crap. Now were only going to be a little bit late. When we got there we joined the massive guest group of...two. I hadn't seen Leanne in a while and it was good to meet Zara and Nico. So the four of us hung around while Leanne continued to greet more guests. As more people trickled in, more drinks were passed around and people got happier. Thankfully, I had the group that had been there from the beginning...because I knew nobody else. But then even more people started to trickle in, and I saw some familiar faces, Gillian and Niamh. They were the other two that were in New York for the summer with Leanne and Max. So it was definitely good to catch up with them all.

At around 11pm or so, we all got on a bus to go in to town. Leanne had about thirty-five friends on the bus, so it was pretty crazy. We got off in the city centre at the Palace night club. I had never been before, but I'd heard that the place is...quote...hoppin'...end quote. Although it may be hoppin', its also frickin' expensive. It was ten euro to get in. Furthermore, a vodka redbull was seven euro. Damn. WHY MUST THERE ALWAYS BE A PROBLEM?!?!? (Seinfeld reference? Kyle and Nicole?) Wow I am just all over these references today. But yeah it was a really great night. Niamh was running around the whole night, snapping pictures without warning. So that made things interesting. There was drinking and dancing and just good craic all around.

At around 4am, the club started to close. So, naturally, we got Chinese. Max, Gillian, Katie, Claire and I made our way across the street to Charlies. Obviously still open for all the drunks. Chicken fried rice made the best finish to a long night of partying. But considering that they all lived in the same general area, we got a taxi back to Howth. Upon getting home, I chugged some water (best pre-hangover remedy) and passed out on my bed.

Woke up on Saturday, no hangover. Awesome. Well have gotta get going, but I hope everyone's doing well!! Talk to you all soon!!