The Whirlwind

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i miss it

April 12, 2014 Chad No comment

On the bedstand: Dubliners by James Joyce. Still. This week has been a mess. I haven’t had a chance to touch it.

Coming through the speakers: The Boss. All of it. Thunder Road!

I miss it. I do. The madness. The smells. The colors. The pace. The people. New York.

I caught this BBC video on a rat terrorizing passengers on the subway. Sadly, I can’t remember if I was ever in a car with a rat. I’m pretty sure I was. It’s just not that remarkable when you’re in the middle of the mayhem.

I’m happy here in Dublin. I am. Long-term though? Who knows. I stopped trying to answer that question after I left New York. I thought Brooklyn was the long-term answer. We all saw how that turned out.

So for now, I’ll watch subway rat with all the fondness and wistfulness that’s usually reserved for family holidays.

I’ll see you around New York.

Meet Up in Waterford!

April 7, 2014 Chad No comment

On the bedstand: Dubliners by James Joyce

Coming through the speakers: Andrew Bird. The guy can bring me to tears with the simple pull of a bow. Here he is live.

Waterford City. It was a bit of an unconventional choice for my Irish first trip beyond Dublin City Limits, but I was traveling with the Dublin History Meet Up group. I was just along for the ride.

It was my first event with the group and I was a bit hesitant starting off with an overnight stay. I haven’t yet had a bad experience with a Meet Up group though; a change in that trend would have to wait!

Hear ye, hear ye! I will be your town crier for the afternoon!

Hear ye, hear ye! I will be your town crier for the afternoon!

We arrived in an absolute mist of an Irish day. Grey, cool (not cold), and a heavy drizzle that wouldn’t let up until we were ready to leave. After checking-in to the hotel, we gathered for the first of four tours. With this being the history group, I could shamelessly geek out on all kinds of Viking and Medieval things (with a group who could appreciate a good geeking-out!).

Back and forth we crossed the Viking Triangle. The town was nice, but I didn’t really appreciate it until our final day when the sun came out. It seemed as if the town had adopted a whole new personality! Rain or shine though, we rocked our sunglasses. It’s all a state of mind!

Geeking out in the Viking Triangle

Geeking out in the Viking Triangle

The Medieval Museum offered an impressive collection. Gold-threaded vestments from the 16th century and colored legal documents from the 14th century have a way of making an impression. The tour through the Bishop’s Palace was also great: Period actors turning what could have been a boring tour into a theatrical production. Why can’t they all be like that?!

And of course there was the Waterford show room!

Guys. It's a lot easier to just buy one.

Guys. It’s a lot easier to just buy one.

That evening, the group hit up the night life. There were about 20 of us. I was definitely on the younger side and also one of the few males. At times it reminded me of hanging out with my parents’ friends. That’s not a bad thing.

The group really gelled as we shared stories over pints and bad music. The people; that’s what really makes a meet up group, right?! I wouldn’t say I’ve met a “Meet Up Type,” but they all share a positive outlook and a friendly demeanor. So many of them seem to be starting over, whether due to a recent move or a broken relationship. Even if they don’t say it, they seem to sense that there’s more out there. More refreshingly, they aren’t afraid to admit that they don’t know what that entails or even how to find it.

Dinner with the group. Of course there was a historical background to the restaurant!

Dinner with the group. Of course there was a historical background to the restaurant!

And before I could drink another pint, it was time to get on the train back to Dublin. It was a wonderful, magical, beautiful trip through the countryside. When’s the next meetup?!

You Gotta Be Tough to Get Old

April 3, 2014 Chad No comment

On the bedstand: Guess.

Coming through the speakers: Tonight I’ll be Staying Here with You by Bob Dylan

Geez… getting old sucks. The worst part? It never gets better.

I’ve recently been self-diagnosed with a case of plantar fasciitis. Recent meaning three months ago. Still no running. Still “healing.”

I check online for the “prognosis.” Just keep off your feet and in 90% of all cases, it’ll be gone in a year. A year?! A YEAR?!? That’s just stupid. I don’t have time for that. Age gives a whole new meaning to the term “walking it off,” in that you don’t just “walk it off.” I mean, you’d have to be able to walk, right?!

This is the first time in my life I’ve been afflicted with the dreaded injury. It never really felt like the sharp needles through my heels so many liken it to. For me it was more like a dull, persistent pain on the back of my foot. Until I tried to start running at least.

Since not much can be done about it, I’ve started swimming again. The strange thing though is I kinda like it. I’m getting to the point where I kinda know what I’m doing. Like, I did a flip-turn for the first time last week. Like, the real kind. Not the kind I was doing before.

Of course later that week, I pulled my abdomen while doing situps, which kept me from flipping against the wall. Never did I think a pulled abdomen would be something I’d have to worry about. I’m telling you… getting old suuuuuuuucks.

That said, I’m already thinking about joining a swim club. The biggest bummer about not being able to run is I miss the camaraderie. I miss the competition. I mean, that was my whole plan on how to meet people here in Dublin!

I gave up on swim team after about a week at the age of 6. It might be time to revisit that decision.

Wheelin’ and Dealin’

March 31, 2014 Chad No comment

On the bedstand: Joyce. Dubliners.

Coming through the speakers: Riptide by Vance Joy

Within the span of a week, I became the proud owner of a guitar and a bike. Total spent: €130. I rule.

Both of them came via DoneDeal, Ireland’s answer to Craigslist. I was glad to see the shadiness factor remained universal.

The guitar: Y’know, I hadn’t touched a guitar in about a year. The two(!) I had back in Austin did an excellent job of collecting dust while looking fashionably chic in the corner of my room. When I got to Dublin, a switch flipped and I just had to play and sing. Seriously. Just so inspired! I was looking up chords before I even found the guitar!

As for the guitar I bought, look, it is what it is. I’ll never play the O2 with it, but I wouldn’t say that limitation stems from the quality of the instrument. For 50 quid, it’s perfect.

I met the guy selling it in a pub parking lot after work. Unlit parking lot, 9:30pm, foreign country, what could possibly go wrong?!

As soon as ownership was transferred, I snuck off to the park to strum a few chords before my fingers had a chance to freeze in the Dublin night.

The bike: It was only a matter of time until I made this purchase. I came over here with my helmet and lock. I was ready to be a city cyclist.

I checked out a couple different offers over the past month, none to any degree of success. My favorite fail of a purchase came from a Russian guy selling the most rusted, dilapidated piece of metal I’d ever tried to ride.

The bike I ended up with, this one… so I scheduled to meet the guy out in Clondalkin on a Sunday afternoon. Now Clondalkin is a hike. Maybe an hour with the bus? I get out there, go to the guy’s house, no answer at the door. I wait.

A guy walks up to the house with his girlfriend. “Are you here about the bike too?” he asks. “Hiya, I’m Chad,” I say with hand extended. I figured he was the seller. Nope. Took me a minute to register it, but he had also been told the bike was available. This was suddenly somewhat awkward.

We chatted about the situation while we waited for the seller to show up. This was certainly odd. Maybe the seller was trying to turn this into a bidding war. No, we agreed. There wouldn’t be a bidding war. “If we both like the bike, let’s settle it with a friendly game of rock-paper-scissors,” I suggest. “Best two of three.”

The seller finally showed up. He didn’t seem too concerned that multiple people had shown up for his ad. He didn’t seem concerned about much

We both took a trial ride up the block. This bike… for 80 quid? This bike was a winner. The other guy, an English guy working for a tech firm here in Dublin, he told me I could have the bike. No rock-paper-scissors needed. “Really? Are you sure…?”

I paid the man his 80 quid. It was Mother’s Day and he’d be treating his lady right. McDonald’s. Anything on the menu babe. Heck, get tow of whatever you want.

I then embarked on the long ride home. It rode well, despite the rust colorations. Of course, by the time I got home, the bike tire was completely flat. When fixing it a few days later, I noticed that the entire back rim was rusted and rubbing in all the wrong ways. A new back tire would be an additional €50.

As mentioned, DoneDeal: The Craigslist of Ireland!

Paddy’s Day! In Dublin!

March 23, 2014 Chad No comment

On the bedstand: Dubliners by James Joyce

Coming through the speakers: Wild Rover by Dropkick Murphys

Paddy’s Day.

In Dublin.


It started off as most weekend days in Dublin do: hazy and hungover. Brian made me stay out at the club way later than I wanted. I showered, donned my finest green, then got out the door by lunchtime.

I by-passed the parade because, well, I’m not a parade person. Instead, I was headed to Croke Park, home of the GAA Club Championships for hurling and Gaelic football. Two more sports that I knew absolutely nothing about and I loved every minute of them!

I don't have a clue what's going on, but I love it!

I don’t have a clue what’s going on, but I love it!

The stadium greeted me with a line to end all lines wrapping through the suburban neighborhood. C’mon, I don’t have time for this! I was already late because stupid Brian made me stay out late. Stupid.

A shady guy with extra tickets was hawking them at face value. Meh… let’s take a chance, right? Amazingly, surprisingly, they got me through the gate. Good seats too! I grabbed a Guinness on my way to the seat, the cream resting nicely on my upper lip as I savored that first sip. I was so proud of myself. Guinness. Ireland scarf. Green TG4 flag. I was set! Then I saw the sign that didn’t allow alcohol in the seating area. C’mon Ireland!!!

After necking my Guinness (or whatever it is you do when you try to drink Guinness quickly), I settled in for the hurling match.

Ohh that green field in front of me. Beautiful! A friendly gentleman behind me explained who I should be cheering for, but little about the rules. Hurling is kind of like lacrosse, only with men beating each other with wooden sticks. Gaelic football is a perfect mix of soccer and rugby – very entertaining!

As the matches wound down and the cups were hoisted, I made my way back to the city centre. Temple Bar was as messy as you would imagine it to be. Teenies and touries and affirmations that I made the right choice in taking the more traditional route.

A nice afternoon stroll through Temple Bar.

A nice afternoon stroll through Temple Bar.

That’s not to say we were above a few pints ourselves. I met up with Brian and his friends for a tour through the city. Beers in hand, we passed through drum circles, dance parties, and the occasional crazy. Of course there were hints of Hoboken–Paddy’s Day seems to bring out the amateur everywhere–but a beautiful way to spend a day off from work!