a few snapshots from my first week, taken in/around killala. thank you, iphone, for pulling through when my brain could not be counted on. luckily my fantastic mother found my camera battery today so hopefully next week i'll be able to finally go on some photo hikes.
i've officially been here a week and am settling in and getting comfortable with my new surroundings.
for the first time in over six months, my week revolves around a monday through friday work schedule with free weekends, which is such a contrast to my months of waitressing. i get up at 7:30 (before dawn this time of year) and am out of the house with morag by 8:30. we drive 15 minutes to her mother's house in ballina (pronounced BAL-een-NA) and have breakfast and put on the kettle. i get cozy in the parlor while she goes out to her "shed of refuge"- a little house in the back yard with no internet or distractions where she can type the 2,000+ words a day she needs to finish her novel by the end of march. meanwhile, i do research projects for the book, edit the copy from the day before, or work on the project of organizing the hundreds of articles she's written for various periodicals over the past few years. there's also blogs to post to and tweets to tweet. i poke my head into the shed every couple of hours to make sure morag's still alive/hasn't had a complete mental breakdown/needs another cup of tea.
oh the glamorous life i lead.
yesterday i spent a few hours walking around the village. i made a point of visiting all the historical sites and wandering down as many strange roads as i could. still, within two hours i felt confident that i'd gotten the lay of the land... there really wasn't that much land to lay. oh well. it's beautiful. i'll take some weekend trips to keep me occupied.
by the way, if anyone has traveled through ireland and knows some must-see sites i should experience while i'm here, either leave a comment or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. much appreciated!!
PS my camera battery is in america for some stupid reason so i'll post some photos up as soon as i can figure out how to get them from my instagram to my blog without having them look like crap. if you know anything about that, too, that would be really really appreciated.
eight observations and/or realizations that i've had in my first full day in ireland:
1. yes, it really is that green. one cross-country train ride later and i have witnessed the evidence. actually, it's probably greener. at times it glows. honestly, what are they fertilizing this place with? leprechaun gold, me thinks?
2. as far as i can tell, the coffee sucks. consider me a tea convert for the next few months. allow me to abuse the phrase, "fancy a cuppa?"
3. i can't believe how much the irish language is everywhere and how completely indecipherable i find it. it has the same cadence as an irish accent (which makes sense) and is really beautiful and mysterious sounding when you hear it spoken (you know, when they're making announcements in train stations and stuff).
4. you can't listen to pandora radio in ireland!! they've blocked it from all internet providers because of "copyright infringement". this is why opposing SOPA was important people!
5. people in ireland make fun of american tv the way we make fun of british tv. (i'm not the only person that finds all british tv inherently hilarious, am i?)
6. ireland is not a part of the UK, although they do drive on the other side of the road. the entire household is nervous about putting me in a car, as am i.
7. my address does not include a house number or a zip code. when i asked niall, morag's husband, how the mail gets around, he told me that the postman knew who they were and where they lived. when i stared at him, i'm sure quite incredulously, he said, "well, sometimes we put 'last house'." wow.
you can (attempt) to send mail to me at:
Lily Stoicheff c/o Morag Prunty
Quay Road, Killala, County Mayo, Ireland
8. so far, everything is incredibly beautiful.
pictures to come. for now, music.
in the past five years of my life, i have moved seven times. this week, i've been preparing for numero ocho, and i've been reflecting on what i've learned:
1. the amount of crap you will accumulate is directly proportional to how long you live in one place.
i moved yearly during college. each time i was faced with dedicating precious spring time hours to packing my junk in boxes, i adopted a strict and monkish dictum: if it's not absolutely vital to your happiness, it goes. i always wound up giving away or throwing away mounds of stuff i had no idea i'd tucked inconspicuously away (the amount of crapola i pulled out of the closet i lived in freshman year was especially shocking). pieces of costumes i'd worn to parties, old essays, photos of kids i'd parted ways with, broken things, dirty things, things i'd used once and had kept around 'just in case'- all the stuff that, unless you're lucky enough to be one of those fastidious people that thoroughly cleans their living spaces on the regular, gets pushed to the backs of drawers and stuck behind things you use every day. it's miraculous the stuff you'll learn to overlook the longer it decides to make camp.
however, in the last year i've moved three times. during the periods of settlement, the memory of the previous move clung to me. fear of the impending forthcoming move and "stuff accumulation" became my constant companion. it became clear that if i owned something, it meant i had to move it. believe me, it changes how you look at shopping.
2. things, with a few rare exceptions, are not memories.
all that stuff i mentioned under lesson #1? i'd kept most of it around because at the time, it meant something to me. we are a species that likes our mementos. we keep ticket stubs from concerts, bottle caps from a beach bonfire, place cards from weddings. it's fine if you're a person, like me, who likes to hold on to a little bit of the moments we've treasured. but guess what? that stuff is a pain in the bazeejus to move from place to place. and more than once, i've completely forgotten why i decided some random thing was so important to me at one time. i keep one shoebox for the little things that really are special, but with space at a premium, it forces me to consider long and hard which souvenirs are worth keeping. i've found that most of my great memories stand on their own, and don't need anything to hold them up. for the all the rest, i've learned to take pictures like a crazy person, and back up my hard drive.
and finally, the cold, hard truth...
3. stuff costs money.
every time i've had to purge my bellongings before i move, i end up throwing away and donating a ton of stuff. it's heartbreaking, because even though i spent my own cash on those items, somehow between then and now they've come to mean nothing to me. i've also discovered that most things have no resale value to speak of. it does feel good to donate to the needy, but a few boxes every year? from one person? after being affronted with a physical symbol of my waste time and time again, i knew my lifestyle had to change.
i've grown to loathe the impulse buy. if i spot something i think i want, i've made a habit of walking around for 20 minutes to see if i still "need" it. more often than not, the feeling fades.
i've also developed a sense of value for the items that i buy. firstly, i assess whether or not an item i've been lusting after is really worth the price. just because i want it, does not mean that money is no object. on the other hand, if i want something to last me a long time, i buy the best quality i can afford. i end up saving money in the long run because i don't have to replace it.
"stuff accumulation" has become my enemy, but i'm still learning how to practice avoiding it. my constant goal is to be able to put everything i own into my tiny acura and be able to hit the road at a moment's notice. as i size up the pile once again, i know i still have a ways to go.
but at least my suitcase zips.
oh. hey. fancy seeing me here. it's been a seriously long while.
reader, if you do exist, i'm amazed you're here too. to even for one minute think that anyone would, after this obscene amount of time, ever wistfully type my long-forgotten url into their search bar, hoping for how ever long their internet connection takes to bring them to my small and dusty corner of the internet that perhaps that one girl they used to know or read had written something about what she'd worn that day and maybe posted an amateurishly posed photograph or two, only to have their hopes crushed because, apparently, she continues to be stuck in some sort of limbo where she is perpetually vacationing in l.a., is far, far more than i would expect. or hope. or dare to dream. i am just not that cool.
you do deserve the full story though. but maybe later. it's been six months after all, and a lot has happened. the frame work for the story is that i moved to new york city. well, i moved to yonkers. and although my abode was a scant three miles from the bronx, and it only took me 30 minutes to step out into grand central, yonkers cannot be considered part of the big apple. i did spend an awful lot of time in the city. i loved it mostly. i was frustrated quite a bit too. it struck a note of poetry and adventure within me and a KO to my bank account. it was great. i promise i'll tell the best stories when the moment's right. but i don't really have time right now because i have to take stock of my life and possessions again before i head off to ireland for a few months.
yup. land o' ire here i come.
it happened like this:
shipping your stuff across the country is awful. really. it's so horrible that between that sentence and this one i spent a good five minutes trying to illustrate how horrible it is with a metaphor, but after running through my cache of things that really really really really suck, including writing a twenty page term paper the night before, having the flu on a bright and beautiful saturday, and realizing that you've traveled for an hour in the wrong direction, i still couldn't think of anything that accurately compares. again, i promise, more on how much shipping things sucks and why i'll never do it again later.
also, when you move across the country, without a doubt the u.s. postal service will screw up your forwarding address and end up sending your stuff all over the neighborhood. after a week of not receiving a certain magazine, i decided i'd follow my housemate's suspicion and go next door to see if it had been mailed there by mistake. it had, and while we were chatting up my new neighbor, a slightly frazzled woman comes down the stairs, dragging a large suitcase and looking like she was pretty sure she'd forgotten something but couldn't remember where or what. my neighbor explained that she was a friend and historical fiction writer who was promoting her newest novel in the city. the lady-novelist introduced herself as morag (pen name: kate kerrigan) and explained that she was about to take a research trip to fire island for her next work. what popped out of my mouth next may have been my single most enlightened bit of self-promotion to date:
"wow! you write historical fiction? i'm a history major. do you need an intern?"
and she did!
i helped her out as best i could while she was promoting her novel, Ellis Island, in new york, and started doing research projects for her when she returned to ireland, where she lives with her husband and two sons. we ended up really hitting it off, and she liked the work i was doing for her, and turned out to be a totally fascinating lady, and while i was doing my best to do my best and not be completely ga-ga at the opportunity i had been given, she up and invites me to come and do research for her over in ireland while she finishes her next book. how crazy is that?!
so that's where i'm going. on monday. and i haven't even begun to pack. again.
and that's why i'm back. my life is a little more interesting since we last saw each other, and working for a novelist has inspired me to start writing a little bit more. i'm excited to catalog my adventures for myself, my family, and my growing network of friends around the world.