Thursday, 8 November 2012

Week Fourteen: Election Day Abroad

This week was the first presidential election that I was able to vote in, and I had to send in my ballot from another country. I wish that I had been able to actually vote in my hometown, but for now, an absentee ballot will have to suffice. I’m also a little bitter because my brother was also able to vote in my first election. But regardless, it was exciting to be a part of a presidential election. And, on another note, my dad was running for my hometown’s board of education (unopposed, but who’s counting really?) so he was on the same ballot as the presidential candidates. Pretty proud that I got to vote in the presidential election on the same ballot that I got to vote for my dad. Watching the election coverage in Ireland was incredibly interesting. I loved hearing what everyone in Ireland had to say about our election. The thing I found most interesting, though, was the intense interest people in Ireland took to our election. There was a television ad that said, “It’s America’s decision, but it affects us all.” I never really thought about the impact that our presidential election, that my own vote, could have on people all over the world. This made me think about the attention that we pay, as Americans, to other countries’ elections. How many of us know when the next election is happening in foreign countries? How many of us know who the current president is in those countries? This election really made me think about America, and its place in the world, in a new light. This entire semester has also made me want to be more aware of current events happening all over the world, because so much of the world that I had never seen before has become so much more real to me now that I have had the chance to visit these foreign countries. For this presidential election, the Irish newscasters were undoubtedly almost entirely pro-Obama. And I think that holds true to the general population of Ireland as well. I read an article that said that Obama had 95% of the Irish’s support, while Romney had 5%. I thought that one of the most interesting aspects of watching the election abroad (particularly in Ireland) was hearing the newscasters accepting and promoting Biden’s Irish heritage, while rejecting Ryan’s. I would love to look into this more and see why they are so accepting of one and so not accepting of the other as linking themselves to the Irish culture. Ultimately, I stayed up as late as I could watching the coverage, but ended up falling asleep, and woke up to the news that President Obama had been reelected. In and of itself, not watching the news all the way through the election was a new experience, and these past few weeks it has been so interesting to me to see the way a foreign country views my home and our election process and this particular election. 

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Week Thirteen: Wreck This Journal

Today, I got myself a journal at my new favorite store, Vibes and Scribes. It’s one of the places I’ve become a regular this semester, and I couldn’t be happier about being recognized when I go in there. It’s this great little bookshop that has enough bestsellers that you know what’s recently been released, but enough older books to remind you that people have been writing things since long before you were born, and people will continue to write things long after you’re gone. I love the feeling in there, and I could peruse the shelves for hours. This time, hidden behind a stack of books about modern art, I found a journal made by a woman named Keri Smith called “Wreck This Journal.” Intrigued, I picked up the journal and examined it. It is, in fact, a journal with the sole purpose (aside from being written in, of course) of being destroyed. Each page comes with its own instructions. One page, for example, says, “Step in dirt and then step on this page.” Another says, “Let your inner critic take over and fill this page. Then throw the journal across the room.” One of my favorites says, “Find a way to wear the journal.” The page I am most intrigued by says, “Give your favorite page away.” I am fascinated by the idea behind this journal, so naturally I bought it and ran home as fast as I could to play with my new toy. I’ve only written in one page so far, but I love the idea of recognizing that what you write is not above being ripped up or thrown across the room, but that regardless of how ugly it may look after its done being destroyed, it is still beautiful. I know this is the kind of thing that would make some people I know absolutely cringe – I actually used to be one of those people before I read a poem entitled “Marginalia.” I am looking forward, though, to the production and then destruction, but continual appreciation of my writing as I journey forward into my latest writing endeavor, to “Wreck This Journal.” 

Week Twelve: Birthdays, Visits, and Facing my Fears

This week was super-eventful because it was Claire’s twenty first birthday, it was Halloween, our friends from Spain visited, and I once again faced my fear of heights and kissed the Blarney Stone! Good news – now I can talk my way out of anything, since I’ve gotten the “gift of the gab” that comes with kissing the stone. Tuesday was Claire’s birthday, and as the night before Halloween, of course it warranted another night of Halloween costumes. Casey, Claire, Molly, and I dressed up as Disney princesses. I was Rapunzel, from one of my all time favorite Disney movies, Tangled. Rather than shelling out money better spent on international travel on a blonde wig, I simply let Molly braid my hair into the craziest braid she could, while weaving flowers in as she went. (Thanks, Mol! It turned out great!) On Halloween, we dressed up as holidays, in costumes made up mostly of things found in each other’s closets and around our apartments. I was New Year’s Eve, Casey was Valentine’s Day, and Molly was Christmas. Our friends from Spain were getting into Cork at about 1:00 am, so we had a quiet night and then went to get them from the bus station, and ended up talking late into the night. On Friday we went to Blarney, and kissed the stone. For those of you who know just how terrified I am of heights, or exactly how kissing the Blarney Stone works, you’ll understand why I was freaking out. Basically you lay down on the wall of the castle, and lean back over an open space and kiss the stone attached to the wall. And as a result you can talk your way out of any situation. Naturally. Except the man who is supposed to hold you while you do this clearly saw the fear in my eyes and decided to have some fun with me. He asked me if I was ticklish and when I told him now was not the time to find out, he made a move like he was going to tickle me and I’m pretty sure tears formed in my eyes. Luckily, when he saw this he eased up and helped me lower myself down so I could kiss the stone as quickly as I could and get myself back onto solid ground as soon as possible. But I am so glad I kissed the stone, and am now able to claim bragging rights to the gift of the gab. And more than anything, my experience with the Blarney Stone reminded me that as much as I am afraid of something, especially heights, I am even more stubborn, so if someone challenges me to something, you better believe I’m going to make it happen.