So, you may have noticed I have been pretty slack with the whole ‘blogging’ thing over the past month. Today is the first time in 3 weeks I’ve actually had the urge to blog (and, more importantly, time to blog). I blame February. I don’t know about you, but I always find that January drags its feet, where you are constantly looking on the calendar going, ‘Seriously? Its only January 7th? But, last time I checked the calendar it was January 6th! Would the year not hurry up?’ Then, something happens on February 1st, like someone injected all the clocks with speed and it seems that the next time you get out of bed its February 26th and you’ve no clear idea of where the time went. And it can’t just be that February is a shorter month, because its only 2 days shorter than January this year, and usually its only 3 days shorter.

Anyway, no matter how it happened, its now almost March, and I have to sum up 3 weeks of one month in a single blog post. So, in a nutshell, what have I been up to?

1) Went to Wicklow Mountains and Kilkenny with the most irritating tour guide in the history of forever (no exaggeration). But, I will not tell you the tour group’s name, because I do not wish to get sued (if you wish to avoid said tour group, you may PM or email me, and I will divulge the secret). But, the whole day was full of bad jokes surrounding how stupid and drunk the Irish are. All the time. Forever. I was insulted on behalf of the Irish. After my wonderful year, full of wonderful Irish people of all types, I had forgotten that the Irish are always the butt of the joke in those ‘Scottish, English and Irishmen’ stories, and it suddenly all seemed very unfair. Along with the drunk and stupid jokes, there were also many jokes at the English’s expense. There were several English people on the bus. Now, normally I wouldn’t mind that sort of thing so much, except that these ‘jokes’ were not so much funny, as just insulting and uncomfortable. I’m all for a good joke at someone’s expense, as long as its funny. But, not these. Anywho. Wicklow and Kilkenny were very pretty, and almost made up for the tour guide. If I had met Gerard Butler on a certain bridge that will be familiar to all your female readers out there, and he had given me his leather jacket and invited me to the pub that night, where he had then sung me ‘Galway Girl’, well, I would have forgiven anyone anything. There were also two hilariously stereotypical Bronx New Yorkers on the tour, so that brightened the day. One of them wore one of those Irish tweed caps, a celtic cross and a hideous scarf in the colours of the Irish flag, clearly bought from an Irish tourist shop. He was obese, and wheezed and spoke like he had throat cancer from chain-smoking. I think he was in Ireland getting in touch with his ‘Irish roots’. I’m always intrigued when people manage to be such an obvious stereotype. Do they do it deliberately? Or can they not see it? Perhaps I am a terrible stereotype and I just can’t pick it (no need to suggest offensive stereotypes for what I might be, thanks all the same, anonymous blogger-verse…)

2) Got offered two very exciting opportunities, both outside of my beloved Co. Cork. So, next week, I pack up my lovely little cottage and head up to big smoke of Dublin. First of all, I spend two and a half months with Fishamble Theatre Company. They are advocates, producers and developers of new theatre writing in Ireland, and I cannot wait to work with them. I’ll be doing boring admin work, but I’ll also be working in the literary department, so I am hoping this will have a great benefit on my own writing, by learning what companies are looking for, and what stands out (both bad and good) in people’s submitted scripts. I have got myself a share house with a lovely Irish girl in a very central location (near the Guinness Storehouse, as well as one of the better music venues in Dublin), called ‘The Liberties’, which is apparently ‘real Dublin’. That means that 40 years ago it was slums, but, now its halfway through the process of gentrification, and all the local funky young people feel smug for living in a gritty and real neighbourhood, but still get angrily self-righteous when their expensive laptops and i-thingies are stolen. Well, I’m guessing. I actually have been told that its a lovely place and I shouldn’t have any troubles there (but don’t walk around alone late at night – so, just like the places I was mainly living in Sydney). I have also been accepted into a mentorship program (50 Foot Women… which my father and brother have so kindly pointed out conjures up images of monstrous, out-of-control women destroying cities in Japanese horror/sci-fi films). In a reflection of the shifting focus of my life this year, the mentorship is in London. So, I will be flitting back and forth between Dublin and London until I eventually make the move to the UK permanent in May/June. I’m utterly delighted to be getting some mentoring though, as I have frequently felt completely directionless over the past year and a half. They may not be able to solve all my problems, but they might reassure me that feeling directionless is common and not to be worried about. Or, maybe they will solve all my problems. Who knows. Either way, at least I’ll have a few contacts in London when I move there, instead of when I moved into the relative wilderness of the Irish countryside. I will also be attempting to keep my connection with Creative Connections (ha!) in Cork, as we are currently in the process of writing a book, and are also creating the most fantastical performance piece for the Cork Midsummer Festival with Mark Storor (seriously, its gonna be awesome. You should come to Cork for it). Its going to be exhausting flitting between Dublin, London and Cork, and I feel sick about the greenhouse gas emissions I will be contributing to (though, would it really be improved if I wasn’t on the planes? Surely, its best that the planes are at least full when they’re flying around destroying the atmosphere than if they’re flying around half empty… not that I take up the space of half a plane, but, oh, you know…), but I’m also kind of excited. As my father says, it sounds like the typical schedule of an international artiste. Well, he said artist, but I think artiste is funnier.

3) I ran a week-long workshop for writers at the Theatre Development Centre in Cork. This was also exhausting, but very rewarding. I think my writers really enjoyed themselves, and learnt a great deal. I certainly learnt a great deal. I’d like to do it again with a more concrete idea in my head of what I’m aiming to get at the end. I mean, I ran it just hoping to teach people a bit about theatre writing, and for people to end up with at least one piece of writing that they were happy with, but I think the structure would also be very interesting for experienced theatre people, actors or writers, or dancers, musicians, directors, whoever, to explore a specific theme or idea and then we could create some awesome performance monster out of it at the end. If anyone would like to pay me to do that for their community, or festival, or theatre, or their Sunday evening family talent show, please get in touch. I’m totally out for hire. And, we should definitely call it ‘Performance Monster’.

4) I went to an Irish Singles Night. Yes, that’s right. Not content with the seeming social suicide that was associated with actively participating in internet dating (friends who have also been on internet dating and who have met the love of their lives through it, please note I am joking), I decided to attend a singles night with a bunch of single lady friends (no, we did not sing Beyonce ad nauseum as we got ready. But, I will admit I danced enthusiastically when it came on at the club). I figured it could either be terrible or just ok. It turned out to be absolutely awesome. I’ve not had such a fun night in a very long time. It was one of the least sleazy evenings I’ve had out in Ireland, because the guys there seemed genuinely interested in talking to you. Perhaps it was the early hour of the evening, and they weren’t drunk yet (oh, whoops, just made a drunken Irish joke after all that self-righteous talk at the start of this post). Either way, it was very fun, and I had many lovely conversations. I didn’t meet the love of my life, but I did get dressed up, go dancing and meet some fun people. There were still, of course, some very sad and lonely people there, but, hey, I guess that’s to be expected. I was also chatted up by a middle-aged man, which seems to be a requirement of any night out I have in this country, but at least it wasn’t all middle-aged men (and no-one told me they were from a parallel universe which will, from now on, always be a point in favour of an evening).

6) Wreaked whimsical havoc on inner-city Cork at the behest of Mark Storor. We had two more workshops last weekend with Mark, and on the first day, despite my exhaustion from the writers’ week, I had a great time running around a small part of Cork attempting to complete various tasks, such as leaving little tags with messages all over the place (I left mine in a phone box, on a dress in Penney’s, in a book, on a tea-cup and in a box of groceries), making a trail of chalk marks, convincing people to give us things, taking photos with disposable cameras and many others. I had a great time leaving what I considered to be delightfully positive and zany messages for unsuspecting people. In my head, they read them and then live their lives that little bit more happily. Please don’t ruin this image for me by suggesting that people will simply throw them away or destroy them or think they’re weird.

Well, that’s about it. I’m going to have to stop and finish some assignments which are due for Creative Connections on Monday now. Plus, there is a seal in the harbour, and I have to go watch him bob his head in and out of the waves before he swims away. I will miss that sort of thing when I move to Dublin. All in all though, I think I am a big city girl, and am looking forward to moving back into the ‘thick of things’. The small town thing has been interesting for a while, but I think I’ll go back to my original life plan, which was to put off moving to the countryside until I’m old and grey. In the meantime, its back to the rat-race.

I will miss you, swimming friend. Image found at: http://www.sealswimming.com/

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