One going to Dublin would expect Guinness to crush the beer market, yes? Dominate, destruct, obliterate. To order anything else in a pub would be utter blasphemy. Right?
Well, wrong. At least as a woman, this is not the case. As I have previously documented, to order a pint of Guinness as a woman will have men looking at you like you have five heads or prefer the company of ladies. So, what’s a girl to do?
Order what is apparently the second most popular beverage on tap: Coors Light.
You read that right. Coors Light has a bizarre popularity here that I can’t quite explain. Whereas at home, I would never have touched the stuff, I have found myself ordering it because it’s easy.
When I think back to drinking beer in America, I usually chose the local brews. In Atlanta, I would have a nice Sweetwater 420. In California, it was always a delicious Fat Tire. But here? Those delicious kind of local lagers don’t really exist. Either you have a Guinness (and get assumed to be a lesbian), a Heineken, or a Coors Light or Bud Light. There’s really no in-between, and that’s incredibly sad. I don’t like ciders, so Bulmers and Bulmers Light is out. I’m finding myself opting for the terrible tasting light beers from my home country that I would never have if given the choice back home.
I feel like I’m in bizarro world.
Plus, the lady-like thing to do is it to take it in bottle form and then get a separate half-pint glass on the side with ice for pouring. I don’t precisely understand the logic behind this other than I suppose it waters it down a bit so it’s not quite as strong.
“I want to be done playing this lady November 5. So, if anyone can help me be done playing this lady, that would be good for me.”—Tina Fey, referencing her portrayal of Sarah Palin on last week’s Saturday Night Live.
It is actually sunny in Dublin today. SUNNY! I just took a four mile walk around town and life is damn good. You honestly don’t get to see how beautiful Dublin can be when it’s covered in rain for 7/8 of the year.
Weird tidbit: I have, on more than one occasion, been presumed to be Irish. I find this funny because I haven’t even been in Dublin for three months and all of a sudden everybody is thinking me to be native. This is especially amusing to me because people who are not, in fact, Irish, are very numerous in the town. Spanish, Italian, German, American, Chinese, Middle Eastern, etc… The list really goes on in terms of the foreign population. They, we, are everywhere. Us foreigners abound.
Caveat: I usually pose this question after a couple pints in a loud bar to whatever new acquaintances my friends and I have started chatting to, so these results are a bit skewed. But no less than three out of three times has the question, “Where do you think I’m from?” come back with a resounding, “Dublin, of course!” They are so certain, yet they are so wrong.
This question is kind of like a game to Irish people, because the country is so varied in terms of dialects that’s common for people to identify each other’s hometown from their speech. Sort of like how somebody from Mississippi is instantly recognizable, as is somebody with a thick Boston accent. A nice little guessing game for the natives.
I do not think I look particularly Irish. In fact, I don’t think I look at all Irish, but I’ve been wrong before. I thought perhaps this was just a phenomenon for the pub crowd, those who have been perhaps clouded by beer. But then after getting off the plane in Dublin after a long journey through Malta and Germany, I was tapped on the shoulder by an American gentleman behind me. “Excuse me,” he said, “But this is the line for Non-EU only.”
“Right,” I said, and turned around.
He prodded further. “I’m just saying, it’s going more quickly if you’d like to use that line.”
“Haha, no, I know.”
“Aren’t you Irish?” he asked.
“No…” I said, dumbfounded. “No, I’m not.”
“Are you… American?” He asked, unbelieving.
“Yup, sure am.”
“Wow, you sure don’t sound like it.”
And with that, I wondered what the hell has been going on to make me sound like I’m actually Irish. To me, I don’t sound Irish at all. I haven’t changed any speech patterns and my TV-watching has been habitually American content. I routinely surround myself with other American ex-pats. I have no need to pretend as if I were Irish and I don’t actually ever do so.
But apparently, this is the key to being mistaken for Irish.
Last night, dance class was incredibly awesome and rather challenging. I followed suit with my friends to purchase all 8 classes up front so I could save an average of 5 Euro per session and the instructor said that I was “brave” for doing so. I think that’s because we have gone from going to the beginner’s contemporary class to doing intermediate, and clearly, I am out of my league in this area. We had people in the class who obviously Knew What They Were Doing, whereas I, rather hopelessly at times, did not. That’s okay, though as I just laugh it off. The session was a hour and a half of straight dancing and stretching and floor rolls and kicks and leaps and jumps and turns and… ZOMGWTF! Luckily, Heidi is in the same boat as me and was, for the most part, similarly clueless.
I think a lot of it is trying to utilize muscle memory to make your body remember how to do certain things. I took dance for two years in high school instead of P.E. (because, at that point in my life, I hated running more than anything ever) and, in the process, I was taught all of the basic ballet techniques such as first position, second position, etc. Grand plies, however, are the bane of my existence and I am willing to bet I will be sore in a day’s time. A good kind of pain, though.
Heidi gave me a lift back to my house, where I commenced showering (as I was very sweaty post-dance), getting things in order in my room, fixing dinner, sitting down to an episode of Supernatural, and very abruptly and suddenly developing a blind spot in the center of my eye.
And then I freaked the hell out.
I have had migraines before; they are not new to me. But I am not a frequent sufferer. I do remember the first migraine I ever got was in the middle of my Medieval History class. All of a sudden my vision got a little blotchy and an overwhelming sensation of nausea overtook me. I tried to get through the seminar as best as I could but, although I raced home from class to try and make the bathroom in time, I ended up throwing up all over the lobby floor of my apartment building before being consumed with a skull-crushing pain that was only cured by a very, very dark room and sleep.
Fast forward to yesterday evening.
If you have never encountered a migraine with aura, you are missing out on… absolutely nothing. Although the effect of the migraine can be kinda cool, it is mostly terrifying and, since I get them so rarely, I forget how horrifying it truly is. All of a sudden, there is a field of vision right in front of you that you cannot totally grasp at all, words are unreadable—unviewable, even—and there’s a shimmering zig-zag shape in your peripheral vision. HORRENDOUS. And then, as it apparently sometimes happens, a numbness from your hand starts tracing its way up to your head, where a throbbing pain begins, but it’s overwhelmed with numbness as well, so you basically are half in pain and half without sensation.
Wholly. Freaking. SCARY.
As anybody who knows me well can tell you, I am a minor league hypochondriac. So visions of a brain tumor flitted through my mental encyclopedia of diagnoses before settling down and looking at causes that were a little more likely. As Web MD confirmed, all signs point to the typical “classical” migraine. Yippee.
So I took a melatonin and a Nurofen Plus and called it a night. After a bit more research today, it seems that not eating enough combined with intense physical exercise can trigger it. Makes sense.
Incredibly TERRIFYING sense, but sense nevertheless.
In other news, I am going back to another American Meet-Up tonight. I’m really looking forward to it. Heidi, Kim and I are going to Da Pino for Italian beforehand. Mmm. Italian.
(Full disclosure: I did not know the proper name of Luke Skywalker’s home planet before Googling, “Star Wars desert planet.” I never pretended to be a Star Wars fan.)
It’s desert-y, with lots of cream-colored houses piled on top of one another. It’s a mix of high class with low class, of ancient regal splendor mixed with modern poverty. I was housed at the Corinthia Palace hotel, which is smack dab in the middle of the island. The island, by the way, is very much a giant, sprawling city. There are breaks for modest fields of crops but it immediately transcends into more houses, factories, roads, etc. What’s more, for being such a tiny little island, it’s not at all pedestrian friendly. The first morning I got there, I embarked outside to try and make sense of my surroundings (and to buy a new can of deodorant, which had been confiscated in Frankfurt by zealous security personnel), and I wandered forward and backward and side to side, when I realized that the sidewalk ended and that if I didn’t want to be run over by the tiny cars zooming towards me, that I might as well go back to the hotel and just sit it out.
My hotel was very nice. I was staying there with two of Stefan’s friends from his days at Oxford, an English guy named Rick and a German girl named Angel who had been dating for the past five years. It was nice having other outsiders along because the wedding party was almost all Maltese. And by “almost all,” I mean, apart from us, every single other attendee was Maltese. Which was why the Catholic ceremony, performed entirely in Maltese, made sense. Although English is an official language of Malta, it makes sense that the important things would be performed in their native language.
Maltese is fascinating, by the way. It’s as if Latin, Spanish, Italian, Greek and English had a big orgy and the result was Maltese. Considering Malta’s history is one almost entirely composed of being conquered over and over again, this makes sense.
Mdina was by far the most beautiful part of my visit. The old city, which can’t be accessed by cars unless by permit, is absolutely beautiful. With cobblestone corridors and intricately crafted statues, it’s just a gorgeous, serene site to behold. It’s at the tallest point of the island. The moat surrounding the city has been converted into tennis courts, which was kind of cool. I suppose you’ve got to do something or other with all of that free space.
Although we didn’t get a lot of time to spend with Lara and Stefan during the reception (the crowd was around 175 people), we met up the following night after a dinner of chocolate cake (per Angel’s request) and went to one of their local bars. What was cool was that they brought forth free appetizers to all the tables. Maltese bread (which was like dry pieces of baguette covered with olive oil, tomato, tuna and olives), pasta with meat sauce, fried potato slices with salt, and bacon-wrapped rabbit liver. I opted not to try the last option. I did really enjoy the local beer, Cisk (pronounced “Chisk”), which was damn good. Not so good? Their local soft drink, called Kinnie, which is an abomination of the taste buds. It says it tastes like “bitter oranges with aromatic herbs” and… well, that’s exactly what it does taste like. I don’t know what I expected. I had about two sips, decided I couldn’t endure the taste any longer, and abandoned it. Ga-freaking-ross.
During lunch on Sunday, I asked Rick and Angel what the most exotic places they have been. Angel said Ecuador, Rich said Libya. But, for me, I think Malta is probably it. It’s so different than anywhere else I have been in the world and I don’t know many, if any, people who have been there. But I would definitely go again. But my hosts won’t be there any time soon, as Lara and Stefan are moving to Moscow at the end of the month to begin Stefan’s stint as a diplomat in Russia. I’m already planning my visit. Mwahah, to have friends in high places!
I am sitting in the check-in area of the Frankfurt airport, waiting for the Air Malta desk to open so I can check-in. This is my first time ever setting foot in Germany, and it is a little overwhelming. I am positioned directly in front of “SPORTSBAR: BEER AND SNACK” that is modern in design and decorated with images of American football imagery. They even adcertise “American sandwich” on the chalkboard in front. Kinda amusing. I have a guilt complex whenever I am in a foreign country and don’t know the language, but they are able to converse in English. My shame even leads me to mumble, which doesn’t exactly aide conversation, as you might imagine. I bought a Coke Zero and a packet of Riesen candies to tide me over before I can have real food. I am ver glad Coke Zero is so international.
I went to a contemporary dance class on a whim last night, along with Heidi, whom I met at the American Meet-Up, and her coworker, Maria, who is Spanish and talks a mile-a-minute. And wow, it was AWESOME! I had an amazing time, despite not knowing what I was doing. It was a beginner’s class, so I didn’t feel entirely out of my wheelhouse for not knowing how to do things. It felt almost yogic in the movement. Just lovely.
I find it interesting that in my interest to get out there and be more social, I am attending all of these exercise classes. For the most part, I have shunned the group environment for fear of looking like a fool. But I have actually found it to be quite nice because it forces you to step outside of your comfort zone and try things that you normally wouldn’t do. I have found myself to work myself harder and for longer and use muscles or techniques that would never have occurred to me.