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December 10th, 2008

12:28 pm - Polar shift
Isn't it amazing how you can go from the shittiest day to one where you bounce down the street? Welcome to the last 36 hours of my life.

Yesterday sucked. I woke up to an e-mail that had me questioning whether or not I'd be able to graduate on time. For those of you who know me well, how many times is this??? I felt a bit like I was dangling on the hook of a crane, a crane controlled by Manchester College. Over the past 5 years this crane has yanked me up high above all I was comfortable with and has slowly been lowering me back down, getting ready to release me and let me run free. The crane likes to shake up my life. This was not to be an easy descent, but a jerky, scary, stressful ride (that definitely had its great moments). I thought, in going to Ireland, that I was home free...that the short drop to the ground would happen gracefully and I'd stroll away from the hook with a smile and a thank you. Nope. Hell no. That'd be too easy. The crane just had to shake me up one more time before letting go. And while at this moment I still don't know the answers to my questions, I know the answers are coming, and I have a plan, and feel confident that I will indeed graduate in December.
Yesterday was so awful that, after having blood pounding in my ears and being so upset I could not get work done, I laid on my bed for 30 minutes, doing deep breathing exercises taught to me by Andrew and dreaming of running away to Vietnam. That afternoon my class had talked about "home" and how marriage works best when your partner is your home, the place where you can go and completely be yourself with no fears of not being accepted. Home may challenge you, but it will always be done with love and the intention of helping you grow. Home will always say "Yes" (this one took me a while to get), never "no" and "maybe" is like a "no". To me this means that home always supports you, it's always "yes" how can I help you reach x, contemplate x, become x. Home doesn't shoot you down or turn you away. Andrew is my home. (and, my Mr. Darcy) and so I cried and contemplated and was generally sad and angry.

Then came the POLAR SHIFT. (no, this isn't some old fashioned dress made from polar bear fur) I awoke to a beautiful Irish sky, blue and sunny (a rare thing). I left for the day hopeful and positive. I gave a presentation that went well, and then got back my Irish history essay. I'm not normally one to brag about my academic achievements. But this was responsible for my polar shift. I, in a senior level Irish history course, with students writing their dissertations, got an A, an Excellent, on our big important paper. Before handing them back they talked about how bad some of them were, not up to senior level work, horrible citations, etc, etc, etc. And I began to get scared. Because I was writing for an Irish professor, and the other day discovered they don't do papers with a specific thesis statement like the US system beat into us. And I had never used footnotes before, or written anything not in MLA format. But I did well. Very well. Better than most of the class. Oh happy day!
I bounced home. I was singing "yeah baby, she's got it" under my breath. For the entire 15 minute walk.
So I'm happy. And I feel confident I can write a good paper tonight (again for this class) and pack and go out to dinner with friends and get everything done, because today, I can do anything. Today I am sunny and bright where yesterday I was dark and moody.
Current Location: Derry, UK
Current Mood: chipperchipper
Current Music: loud Irish birds

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December 9th, 2008

12:29 am - Eoghan Quigg
I'm not sure how many of you are familiar with British tv, but they have a show called X-Factor, which I believe is quite similar to American Idol. Eoghan Quigg is a 16 year old from Dungiven, Northern Ireland, just outside of Derry. He's made it to the top 3. He's got a baby-face and sweet voice, and Ireland is hoping he'll win next Saturday. Today he gave a free open-air concert in Derry at the Guildhall as a way to say thanks to his fans for supporting him this far (they use text and phone voting from viewers). I went in part to see him (having heard he's quite good) and mostly to experience some Derry culture. They say Derry has never seen anything quite like this. The Guildhall square was packed full of people, at least 3,000 so they closed that off and the rest of us were left to huddle in Waterloo Square and other places to watch on screens or just hear it all. He sang three songs, then popped back to sing O Holy Night unaccompanied. (Which always makes me think of the Duffys at Westminster Christmas Eve service, but anyway....) It was a unique experience to see so many from the town and the area show up for this kid. Teenage girls were screaming and being quite ridiculous, but there were also some sweet moments. I saw so many dads out with their young daughters up on their shoulders watching together. On my walk home I saw a Dad skipping with his young son and daughter. There is a sense of family and togetherness here that I don't often feel in the states anymore. I like it.
After the concert I went back and had dinner with some dear friends. Then we watched Love Actually. always a good time. I'm sad we haven't been doing these fun things the whole semester, so we're really packing it in this week. Another movie night tomorrow! And I have to pack, and write a 3000 word essay, throw together a short presentation, and then I'm free. The end is coming far too quickly.
Current Location: Derry, UK

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December 6th, 2008

09:30 pm - Castlerock is Heaven
Why do I wait until the last weekend to realize how truly wonderful my friends Lacey, Hannah, and Sarah are? What a fabulous day...we met at 8:15am to walk to the train station to go to Sconeland. The morning was crisp and clouds. Gorgeous. We walked along the river and decided to catch the bus across the bridge so we wouldn't miss the train. The bus didn't leave til 9:15, and we thought the train left at 9:15, so we grabbed a cab instead. 4 POUNDS to drive the 4 of us across the bridge to the train station...he totally ripped us off. Was a crazy guy...thought we were Australians (maybe a joke?), had been to all sorts of places in the states, very chatty. We got to the station with plenty of time, since the train didn't leave til 9:30. If you wait til 10 minutes before, they sell the tickets for 1/3 the cost. In fact, they don't seem willing to sell them to you before at 9:20 there is a huge line and the train is there and so many people still needed seems quite silly and not at all efficient.
We grabbed a table and started singing songs from White Christmas (though we were not in the dining car). The train ride is about 45 minutes, and it's really great. The tracks run along the river Foyle and the view is just amazing. The train stops briefly in Bellarena (pronounced like ballerina) and then took us to Castlerock.
Straight off the train you just go out of the station and turn right and walk about 20 steps to the best little coffee shop with fabulous tea and SCONES. This is why we call this the trip to Sconeland. When we got there, we didn't see any scones in the display, so Hannah asked. "Oh yes, they just came out of the oven. We have fruit, toffee apple, and plain." We all just let out this excited giggle/sigh. We settled in to these nice couches and took lots of pictures (i'll post them later tonight) and enjoyed tea or coffee and scones. I just had a plain one with strawberry preserves and it was amazing. I can't wait to be home and start playing in the kitchen trying to recreate these. The tea was loose leaf, so I got to pour through a strainer into my cup. So cool! (Though, it kind of reminded me of kidney stones. yuck) When we were all done, we headed back past the train station down to the beach. Castlerock is on the ocean. It was amazing. And in my mind it fits that we saw lots of dead things. Dead things go to heaven. We saw a dead fish, a dead crab...i think that was it. But yeah, funny pictures. We walked along the beach and out on one of the piers. Waves and big bodies of water are so calming to me. It was a great morning. We caught the train back to Derry, which seemed to be a shorter ride. As we were getting off the train, this man backed into me/sat on me. "Did you just touch me there?!" he jokingly says. I just mumble "sorry" and get off the train as fast as possible. His friends say to my friends "keep an eye on that one" (again, jokingly). As the man gets off and walks by me he says "Nice to meet you!" Very odd and awkward. What fun. We all stood around waiting for the bus to take us back to the other side, but they tell us that the police have closed the roads and the bus won't be coming. So we walked, which was really nice. The police closing the roads was not a surprise, as today was a big parade and the burning of an effigy of Lundy the Traitor, the Governor of the city during the siege in 1689. We went through town and saw the december market and I got tea so I can have tea and scones at home :)
Tonight we're getting together for dinner (mac & cheese!) and then I need to work on my papers.
Current Location: Derry, UK
Current Music: random christmas music

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09:25 pm - too funny to wait
In 2008, pligetandeeyore resolves to...
Volunteer to spend time with sit-on-top kayaks.
Eat more animals.
Be nicer to treydn1.
Apply for a new nature.
Cut down to ten books a day.
Get back in contact with some old dolphins.
Get your own New Year's Resolutions:

Current Location: Derry, UK
Current Music: random christmas music

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December 3rd, 2008

01:36 pm - Strange beginnings...
I went to bed early last night.  That's how this all started.  I went to bed at 11pm because I was tired and decided to listen to my body and put it to bed.  So I awoke, bright and shiny at 7:30 am and hopped in the shower and was ready early enough to go get a bagel sandwich before class (toastee).  So off I went, bundled up against the -3C temperatures, carefully making my way across the ice.  Then, out of the corner of my eye I saw him.  Wearing his neon yellow jacket (the meaning of which I am not quite certain...I think it's a civil servant thing because cops and firefighters and road workers and garbage men and journalists wear them), I caught a glimpse of him from the corner of my eye. he...NO!  Realization hit and my head dropped down, hastily appearing to be studying the pavement for ice, I did a little shuffle (not enough to actually fall) and continued on my way with my head down.  Don't make eye contact!  Yes, I had just walked past a man urinating by the trash cans in the student village.  Sure, I was a little ahead of the rush to 9:15 classes, but honestly dude, you were seen from student's's not exactly a private place...
Yeah, strange beginnings.
Then I went to Anthony's class...where we watched this video about the portrayal of Northern Ireland in film and fiction.  Then clips from the 5,000 fingers of Dr. T, a Dr. Seuss movie from the 50s.  Freaky, but I want to watch the whole thing now.  And then a brief clip from Darby O'Gill...where he pointed out quite a fallacy which just makes the beginning awkward now.  *sigh*
Current Location: Derry, UK
Current Music: random christmas music

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December 2nd, 2008

03:56 pm - There be snow on them thar hills!
Walking back from a very perplexing class, I stopped to cross the crazy road to get to the student village.  Upon standing there waiting for traffic to clear, I noticed the hills of Donegal (the Republic) in the distance, covered in snow!!!  What a beautiful sight.  Snow that sticks is rather uncommon here, and especially as my home has been receiving plenty of it, it was nice to be able to see a little taste of home.

I fly home December 12.  That date is fast approaching, and while I'm much more ready for it than I was months ago, a part of me still wishes I never had to leave.  But I do.  So I'm trying to balance my remaining days between school work (2 essays must be turned in before I leave and 2 more are due by mid January) and fun-there is still so much of Derry to explore and soak up!  I think I'm managing a good mix.  I've got books and movies to take notes on for papers, but then I've got plans for things around town as well.

Friday night Jim is having us over for our last dinner.  That is VERY sad, but I know it will be a fantastic and fun evening...and maybe I can weasel the Jim Skelley Cookbook out of him :)  So Cori and I are going to spend Friday afternoon shopping around Derry before heading over to Jim's.  Thursday (yes I know this isn't in chronological order-sorry, my brain isn't working that way right now) is knitting night!  So before hand Cori, Ellen and I are dining at Badgers one last time  (It's very depressing to put the phrase "one last time" in front of all these events, but I can't seem to stop).  Saturday there is a Christmas Market in Derry which we're going to explore and I can hopefully finish up some Christmas shopping.  Sometime in there I hope to take the train with friends to Sconeland, our name for a town that has fantastic scones and a beach along the coast.  That trip would fulfil 3 items on my to do list:  ride the train, see the coast again, eat scones. is an interesting site that sometimes just annoys me as a place for whining about chronic illnesses, they do have some funny stuff.  Example today was finding: "My disabling chronic illness is more real than your imaginary medical expertise" as t-shirts and buttons and such.  I can think of quite a few people I would have loved to say this to over the years...

I mentioned my class we discussed the question "what does it mean to me to be human?"  This was in my Irish Folklore and Heritage Studies class, where the professor puts a lot of emphasis on clarifying (not defining) your terms/ my opinion sometimes (often) to the point of stiffeling conversation yeah, it was deep, heavy stuff.  (Reminded me of Dr. Planer starting class by getting in someone's face and asking about the meaning of life)  we threw out some ideas and talked about them a bit, and he wants us to come to class tomorrow with an answer.  He recognizes that everyone will have a different answer since we're thinking for us and not speaking for the I'm going to spend some time with my bca journal (that so far has a Kopparberg label in the front and nothing actually written) and see what I can come up with.

Lastly, I just want to reflect on how important deep friendships are to me.  Being so far from home and all the casual friends that I have on campus (you know the kind I mean, you're friends and see each other around and talk and are nice, but don't actually have much of anything that a friendship is based on) the deep friendships really stand out.  One in particular.  She understands me so well.  And three simple words from her spark in me a deep longing to be with her.  "Breathe for me"  I doubt Robbie knew just how deep of an impact his speech would make on some of us, but that phrase is our code.  It rallies the troops, so to speak.  Those words ask for support and a listening ear, a pep talk or maybe a distraction, good vibes and prayers.  I miss you friend.  I'd love to be able to swoop in and pick you up for a midnight run to Steak N Shake or Hardees and just sit with you a while.  A few more weeks and we'll reach the finish line...or a substantial check point at least!

By the way, I really love Irish music.  I think I need to break down and finally get an ipod. *sigh*

Current Location: Derry, UK
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
Current Music: The Corrs

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November 21st, 2008

04:41 pm - Letterkenny-a 24 hour adventure
Weeks ago when Cori and I went to Donegal town we found a flier advertising shows in Letterkenny. Little Shop of Horrors caught our eye, and we decided to make plans to go to see it. So I bought tickets online for the show and checked out the bus schedule. The show was at 8pm and there was a 10:45pm bus back to Derry, it'd be perfect!
Yesterday Cori and I met at 11 to catch the noon bus to Letterkenny. While waiting at the station a caterpillar bus pulled in! (see photos) These buses just amuse me, because their design makes them look like big white caterpillars. I was knitting on the bench, and we kept getting funny looks from all these cute old irish couples that went tottering by us. What, am I too young to knit? :) Whatever.
There was a cute dog that seemed to want to take the bus with us. He was trying to get on and then stood watching us pull away. The trip to Letterkenny is a fairly short one, maybe 45 minutes (which is way better than the 5 hrs to Galway). We arrived before 1 and set off to see the town. Of course, our first stop was a random thrift store. Cori and I love thrift stores. She got a book and a shirt. We headed on towards the center of town. Suddenly: "Cori, look straight ahead" I whispered out of the side of my mouth. "My God, they're everywhere!" In the intersection ahead of us stood a soldier with his big gun. His buddies were on all 4 sides of the intersection, plus extras posted at the door to what I think was a bank. As we walked by I noticed there were more in a van. Probably a dozen soldiers. Why? We have no idea. But next to the bank they were watching was a Sweater Shop (yarn! knitwear!) so we went in there to browse. When we came out of the store they were gone. We kept walking and browsing and soon saw them again at a bank (maybe this is normal, do banks here use the army as security guards for moving money around?). Throughout the day we noticed long queues at ATMs, so maybe some financial crisis scare was going on. We stopped in The Bagel Bar for some lunch (I had a chicken philly bagel and Cori had nutella on a toasted bagel) Yum! Our next stop was a big toy store. SO MUCH FUN! (If I don't have kids, can I still buy Playmobil toys?) We were generally amused and even found a few things to bring home (possible cake-toppers for the wedding) Then Cori saw a pet store, so in we went...and saw TURTLES! Little turtles swimming around...I knelt down to watch them and discovered tons of turtles all climbing on each other on the "land" in the tank. We even saw two fall into the water because the one climbed on the other and they lost their balance. Cheap entertainment works for Cori and I. We had a blast. I also looked at a tarantula, snakes, frogs, guinea pigs, and rabbits.
We had dinner at this nice bar/pub off a hotel. This place was huge, with multiple levels and sunken areas. Cider and garlic potatoes make a good dinner when you're still satisfied from your lunch bagel. There's always room for garlic potatoes. :) We hung out there as long as we could killing time, then went to pick up our tickets for the show. We hung out in the lobby on comfy couches that you really sink into. The show was not exactly what we expected. It was a community/college show, so not professional work. This was also opening night, and you could tell, as the actors were definitely a little self-conscious and hesitant. But it was great fun! I'd never seen the show, but know the story and love the soundtrack (thanks Andrew). There was a guy in it who looked exactly like a guy from my high school, and that was quite amusing. Their Audrey2 was well done and hearing the show with Irish accents was just cool.
After the show Cori and I headed to the bus station to catch the last bus to Derry. We get there and the station is dark, the doors locked. As I start reading a schedule posted on the door, Cori is reading the scrolling information board. "Crap!" we both exclaim. "22:45 FO" Friday Only. It's so Thursday night. Ok, so the bus doesn't run this time on Thursdays. Cori laughs. We wander around looking for a hostel or someplace to stay for the night. No luck, we can't find the hostel that we thought we saw earlier. After a bit of wandering, I finally say "ok, i've got a Visa, lets find a hotel" So we pick the closest one, across the street from the bus station. Two beds, a tv (which is exciting since we don't have tv at college, so we watched whatever crap was on just to watch), a night of good sleep, and a wonderful breakfast in the morning. It kind of feels like a Visa commercial-why parents give their kids a credit card for international emergencies when they're stranded in a strange town in the middle of the night.
But all is well that ends well. We had a good time and can definitely laugh about it now. We caught the first bus back to Derry and are now happily showered and such. I'm contemplating a quick nap, then it's off to write papers and decide what I'm baking for Thanksgiving dessert!
Current Location: Derry, UK

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November 19th, 2008

11:03 pm - Ice Cream and BMW
No, not cars...Boy Meets World.  I just laughed and cried my way through my favorite BMW episode, A Long Walk to Pittsburgh while eating chocolate ice cream.  In this episode, Topenga's parents are moving to Pittsburgh from Philly.  Corey is devastated that they will be separated, as they've known each other for 16 years.  Now, there are so many parts of the show and this episode that are sappy, and things that I don't agree with (for one, i happen to think long-distance relationships can work for the short-term if you put the effort in) but all that aside, Part 2 of this episode is fantastic.  As Corey defends his love for Topenga and defines it to his mother...I cried.  And ate chocolate ice cream.

Tonight was a really fun night.  Luisa, Cori, Sarah and I went to the nice chinese restaurant on the river and had a great time.  I laughed so much, and my line of the night was "can't you see I'm drinkin' here?" in this strange brooklyn accent because they all kept saying funny things as I took a drink and I'd nearly spit it across the table at Cori.  And this is kind of a posh place.  Oh what fun.  As my time in Derry draws to an end, I'm thankful for friends and memories that will stay with me long after I leave this place.

Current Location: Derry, UK
Current Mood: contentcontent

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November 5th, 2008

05:15 pm - Pictures!
I have recently added pictures from BCA study abroad to my picasa web album. Please enjoy!
Current Location: Derry, UK
Current Mood: busybusy

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October 21st, 2008

12:26 pm - Donegal Town
Cori and I went on an excursion today! I woke up at 06:30 and met Cori at 07:30 to walk to the bus station to catch the 08:30 bus to Donegal. It was supposed to be a good day, though a bit cold and chances of rain. I wore a typical Michigan winter outfit-tall socks and leggings under jeans, a long sleeve shirt under a sweater. I packed my rain coat and umbrella (these are required in Ireland...I think they're as important as your passport) We arrived in Donegal just before 10:00. I had been yawning excessively on the bus, so our first stop was a coffee shop! Across the street was a market so we wandered around looking at large carrots and yummy treats. Then we set off wandering the streets of Donegal, checking out little shops (music, knitwear, books, touristy stuff) It was a fun day. Cori was getting hungry, so we started looking for lunch around noon. Well, things don't seem to open until later...14:00 for one place, so we kept looking. We found a cool pub that served lunch at 12:30, so we wandered down to look at the old castle and river to kill time until we could get food! Hopefully I can steal some great photos from Cori once she uploads them. We had a nice lunch (her sandwich had REAL bacon!) and then wandered the town some more. The bus wouldn't be leaving until 15:50, so we had time to kill again. We wandered the only side of town we hadn't seen yet and discovered a cool graveyard and a nice view of the river/bay area. We also hit up the visitor center for bathrooms and found fliers advertising an upcoming music festival in Sligo and Little Shop of Horrors in Letterkenny. I'm also debating whether or not I want to go to Dublin to see Jane Eyre. I think it's just a play, not the musical, and so I'll probably not go. If it was the musical, I'd be there! We were back in Derry around 17:15. All in all, a very fun day.

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