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Back in the Drivers’ Seat: Day Two

September 29, 2010 in spazarific

Your mini Italian lesson for the day:

  • Il frizione = the clutch
  • I freni = the brakes
  • L’acceleratore = the gas
  • Le marce = the gears

I remember these words from when my father taught me to drive stick, half a lifetime ago. They made a lot more sense then, when I wasn’t obsessively watching out for potholes. The instructor says them now and when I make a mistake, he says my name – extra hard on the V – and asks me: Why did you do that? No no no! And he slaps my right hand like I’m a bad child. Why? Why? When I tell you to put down the frizione, you have to do it firmly! Why are you pushing le marce like that? Gently! Gently with le marce and the freno but strong with the frizione, okay? Sinistra. I said sinistra – why are you going destra? Mamma mia, nooooo. That’s fourth gear, not second. You were doing so well before, now it’s all going to merda. What are you doing? Slap slap slap.

But I look in the mirrors. And I stay mostly to the right. And no one dies. And when my instructor slaps my hand, it’s so ridiculous it makes me laugh. And today is definitely a better day.

Back in the Drivers’ Seat: Day One

September 28, 2010 in spazarific

There are a few driving schools listed in the city’s yellow pages and I’m heading to the one that’s advertised on Viale Nano, off the corner of Viale Ulisse, but I run into Auto Scuola Marinella first so that’s the one I pick. It’s nearly empty when I arrive; only a middle-aged man at a desk and a woman hanging by the door. I ask her: Are you in line? She says: No. I’m disappointed because I didn’t sleep last night, and I barely breathed on the bike ride over. My knuckles are white and I’m roasting in my t-shirt and cardigan. I want her to be first, but she’s not and the man behind the desk says: Next! so I go over and sit down.

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Why It’s Cool Having a Blog Name Like I Eat My Pigeon

September 24, 2010 in Ex-Patriate Games

Because shots like this actually mean something. Roost, pigeon, roost. Roost while you can.

“Leone” Means Lion in Italian

September 22, 2010 in Ex-Patriate Games, Italia, spazarific

Back in Italy. Twenty-one degrees and beautiful out. My pink oleander tree is dead. The gas man left great big muddy footprints in my kitchen when he replaced the tank. Giada screams through the ceiling. Cricket chirps instead of construction drills; back to speaking Italian instead of English; stores closed from one to four for siesta. The tourists are gone. The beach is empty and cold. Quiet. So much quiet, just as my cousin Flora said. Dublin’s Georgian doors and capital city bustle  – indeed, any of my past lives – couldn’t seem farther away.

Leone: You know, my name ish Leo, too, like you, but they call me Leone. Do you know why?

Leo: No. Why?

Leone: Becaush unce I went to the jungle. And in the jungle, I shaw a liun.

Leo: You went to the jungle? Well, then, why didn’t you bring us back any coconuts?

I really, really, really need to meet some people my own age.

Country Roads

September 20, 2010 in dublin, Ex-Patriate Games, Ireland

The landlords have a realtor called Patrick whose job it is now to troop prospective renters through my soon-to-be ex-bedsit. Sometimes he calls first, other times he doesn’t. I’m hungover one morning when I hear the timid knock on the door – hello? And then it’s all, dammit, because when falling into bed tipsy the night before, I only half undressed and am now in a bleary, disheveled, wanton state; scarcely fit to receive visitors. Two minutes! I shout through the walls. Patrick’s voice sounds hollow: We don’t have two minutes. And I’m, Well, I need two minutes! And he’s, Okay, grand. And I throw on last night’s pants and last night’s shirt and stick my face under the faucet and open the door. It’s himself, with two strangers in tow. I smile at them and tell them how much I love the bedsit, but I’m thinking Call first, jerk all the while I’m smiling but it doesn’t matter because the couple have decided at first glance of the flat – the living room, kitchen, and dining room crammed into one 10×10 space – that they’re not having it so they tell Patrick Thank you for your time and hustle themselves out, squeezing through the tiny door, but, whatever, that’s not my fault.

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Taxicab Duets

September 18, 2010 in dublin, Ex-Patriate Games, Ireland, Looking, spazarific, trinity college dublin

Drinks at Kennedy’s with my former classmates turns into a tipsy nighttime walk through City Centre turns into drinks and dancing at 4 Dame Lane. Untiss untiss untiss. Untiss untiss untiss. Talk of our novels, talk of our poetry, talk of our master’s portfolios; of marriage and children and Beckett and Hardy and confessional poets like Plath but not like Plath because Plath was all right, but screw Anne Sexton and her attention-seeking ilk. Untiss untiss untiss. Untiss untiss untiss. Girls in sequin dresses. Men in pointy shoes. A disco ball that spins leopard spot-shaped flecks of light onto the walls, the floor, our faces. And another thing about Hardy… *crash.* White wine and sparkly shards of glass all over the table. Ho, snap. Look what you did. We are drunken writers and we are beautiful.

And then, later, not sure when, I’m danced out – tapped out – and so I say my goodbyes. I weave past the crowds of city folk packed around the entrance of the club, past the neckers and the college boys yakking in shopfronts. My high heels clack on the sidewalk, threaten to stick between cobblestones as I head towards the relative calm of Exchequer Street. The lights shine soft on the buildings. For once, I’m more tired and tipsy than I am stingy. I hail a cab.

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Photo Friday: Monopoly Houses on the River Liffey

September 17, 2010 in dublin

A new art installation in Dublin – 2010 Fringe Festival madness. Monopoly houses bobbing along the River Liffey between the O’Connell and Ha’penny bridges. Red and green. Floating with the current. Lit up at night.

This post has been brought to you by Delicious Baby Photo Friday.

Things I Won’t Miss About Dublin and Ireland

September 17, 2010 in dublin, Ex-Patriate Games, Ireland, spazarific

Before I left for Italy last July, I wrote a list of things I’d miss about Dublin and Ireland. I can’t look at it now; it’ll make me too sad, reignite my technicolor fantasies of chucking everything and staying right here in my little bedsit, drinking Barry’s tea and dreaming of swans. Instead, I try to cheer myself up; try to think of things I won’t miss about Dublin. I rack my brains. I rack my brains. I rack my brains. It’s no use. All I can think of is the things I love about this place.

But then I put on the big girl pants and I think of a few. I betray the beautiful things. I take one for the team.

Things I won’t miss about Dublin and Ireland:

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Your Hiberno-English Word of the Day

September 16, 2010 in spazarific

Today’s secret word is craic. It’s an Irish word – one of those words you can’t really translate into English. Something you feel rather than explain. It’s a noun. It means fun. Liveliness. Spirit? Music’s usually involved, but not specifically music. Craic’s a good thing. You want to be where the craic is. You like the craic.

How do you pronounce it? Craic rhymes with the English word “crack.” That word can be a noun or a verb. When it’s a noun, it can mean a sudden sharp noise, or a witty remark, or, of course, like craic, it can also mean something that a lot of people like. A hell of a drug. Is it a coincidence? I think not. Why – what has fun/liveliness/mirth/possibly music/spirit got to do with a Class A drug?

Let’s examine some common uses of craic.

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September 15, 2010 in Ex-Patriate Games

Four days left in Dublin. Can two weeks have passed already? I’ve picked up my dry cleaning. I’ve packed my books to ship to me in Italy via An post. I still have to take the ESB out of my name. Close my bank account. Shut down my internet. Get my deposit back from the landlord. The landlords were busy while I was in Italy, redecorating for new tenants and putting up the apartment on Potential renters have trooped through my studio day and night. Why are you moving out? they ask. They expect me to reply: Because it’s so darn small and the landlords should totally lower the rent. But instead I have to say: Because I’m leaving Dublin.

Saw this in my living room the day I got back:

At first I thought it was another decoration, put up by the landlords, like the new red lampshade. It took me a couple of days to realize that it was coming through the window:

Where are its roots? Where is it going? What’s it looking for?

Metaphors, metaphors.