See you in the spring when the mattress falls through

The first couple months of 2012 have been quite the ride… long story short I am single after almost eight years, resulting in being mostly homeless, haven’t felt too great and accidentally lost a bunch of weight during the anxiety of work and relationship woes, and now I’ve come out the other side. To get there I consumed a lot of drinks at bars and met up with some interesting people along the way, my work project was completed successfully, I bought a new wardrobe, and I found myself living with my best friend and also dating someone new and really enjoying myself. No idea how long the latter will last but it’s pretty fun for now! It’s looking good at least. Oh and I started drinking coffee.

I have had the rehab house for nearly two months now and so far it’s been gutted down to studs and now is being rebuilt. The new electric is nearly done, but everything else is pending… plumbing, HVAC, insulation, walls, floors, appliances, furnishings… all those things that make the house more than a shell. I’m glad I have a great place to stay in the interim because it’ll be awhile until it’s time to move in!

The animals are in flux. I hope to have Arliss and Clover move with me this week. The fosters are being scattered about to other homes. I see the dogs when I go feed the buns, but it’s hard not to sleep with a greyhound or Mr. Sensitive Walter-pup hogging the bed.

Today I’m relatively happy and I have hope. Most days have been trying but always still hopeful. A lot of friends, family, and coworkers have really come to my aid (seriously… even my boss offered to have me move in with her!) and I think that has made all the difference.

Here’s to a new house, coffee, first dates, and Manhattans!

I sense a theme here

David send me this picture he took today.

Of COURSE she has to put her butt on my pillow.

I had an adventure today at work which involved a muscle spasm in my back while at my desk, which was going to be a simple trip with a coworker to health services, but someone heard “back injury” and called the emergency number, and pretty soon I had lights and sirens and a trip in the company ambulance. SIGH. More embarrassing than anything! I am fine and back at work after they treated with heat, muscle relaxer, and ibuprofen. (I’m also very grateful to have medical services available right here at work! Talk about efficient and cost effective for the employees–and it gets us back to work faster too. Good for everyone.)

Back in the saddle?

Wow, that was a long unplanned blog break!

I am back in the United States. My year in Ireland turned out to be a year all over the place! Actually, looking at my complicated tax calendar:

I would definitely do it all again, but of course there were some low points too. I think those would have happened at home anyway so it doesn’t change my opinion of being abroad nor make me any less thankful (especially to my employer) for the experience.

I hadn’t been feeling well for a couple of months again beginning around Christmas. I guess I’ll attribute to that malaise why I haven’t been posting here, and I definitely feel better now after a bit of medical intervention in the midst of a lot of overwhelming stuff (largely managing a very demanding job with a lot of hours while trying not to be overwhelmed by another international move!). I’ve been home since early March and just now feel somewhat settled. We still have a lot of things to unpack and we haven’t properly restocked the pantry, but I’d say things are getting back to normal.

I still hope to catch up here on the missed travels, including Sweden, Tenerife, Amsterdam, Belgium, and around the rest of Ireland. I have lots more pictures to share.

Ms. Vegas bunny passed away less than a week before I got home, which was very sad. My other pets have come home now, including Arliss bunny with her much younger boyfriend (everyone is much younger when you’re an 11 year old bunny, it seems), the guinea pigs, and the frog. The dogs made it back ok and don’t seem to care where they live as long as we are with them.

Here’s to catching up!

Not going anywhere

Not only did Vienna not happen, but Prague didn’t either! We went to the airport on Saturday morning and our first flight was delayed four hours (not like they let us know until after we had checked in and the departure times came and went twice), which meant we would miss our connecting flight, which meant we may as well go home and forget it. And that’s what we did after I came to terms with no other options except staying overnight in Manchester (for hotel cost) to hopefully get on the next Prague flight Sunday afternoon for an extra couple hundred bucks, which would leave us less than 24 hours in Prague. I lost plenty of money on flights and hotels (which no travel insurance could help, since it doesn’t kick in until you are delayed for more than 24 hours), but I think I’m over it. Mostly.

Another weekend in icy Kinsale.

Then I got sick Sunday night anyway and stayed in bed all day Monday, so it was just as well to be stuck at home. Still bitter, though.

I was able to rebook one flight for free but it had to be back from Amsterdam, so that’s where we’re going next weekend! I hope. It was on our list too, but I’m sad we missed Vienna and Prague.

We took Emmy to the vet tonight and she has protein in her urine. PRAY it’s not her kidneys!! Waiting on bloodwork now.

Now nursing my white-spotted throat with fake Nyquil from the States! hooray

Things that pissed me right the F off this week

I started this post several weeks back and thought I’d resurrect it.

All this travel means so many pretty pictures and not enough rants on my blog! That’s like going against my own philosophy. I’m afraid I’ll become extra boring if I’m not staying true to my roots. Or I’m growing older, I guess.

Pretty much all of these items were posted by US friends on Facebook. Either I don’t have enough acquaintances here to be close enough to be pissed off, or Americans really are self-centered and annoying.

home parties
fireworks killing dogs
going to the circus
purpose breeding your dog
whining about how much you hate moving (not you, TMC!)
right wing insistence on radical Islam’s focus
UK TV (it’s so American)

I guess I’m done now.

I thought of something else Ireland doesn’t have: big bags of potato chips. They only sell big bags full of single-serve bags of potato chips. Useless!

I’m trying to decide if I should do NaBloPoMo this year. I will never post a real post every day but I have a bajillion pictures and could do one a day pretty easily.

Someone at work made fun of me for saying awesome a few weeks back, even mimicking me with an American accent. So I tried not to say it so often (I didn’t realize I said it at all), and then our taxi driver made fun of me for saying awesome this weekend in Belfast. I looked it up and have said it 22 times on the blog. That’s not too much over four+ years, is it?

Finally feeling better after having a nasty upper respiratory thing last week, though the cough is lingering. I’ve been frustrated by lack of cold medicine here–all they do is take acetaminophen and suffer. You can get codeine OTC but not cold and flu treatment. I saw empty blister packs for something orange called DayNurse at another sick person’s desk and got excited that it might be like DayQuil, but it was just the same pain reliever crap. Anyway, I learned two new words for being sick: dosed and smothered. “Oh, you must be smothered!”

I also heard someone use the term away for slates, which I picked up at but had never heard in person before! It’s something like being content or everything’s hunky dory (the more common phrase is “happy days”).

A peace wall in Belfast. Our taxi driver was a little strange and looked like he might have been in Flock of Seagulls. I think he said the walls, gates, and checkpoints are currently scheduled to come down in 18 more years. The gates are still closed at night. I took the name “Peace Wall” to sound rather hopeful, but really I think it’s just acknowledging that the only reason there’s peace is because of the wall.

When is July over?

I feel like carp. I mean crap. That is an excellent illustration of one of my ailments, bizarre goings-on in my arms and hands that keep me from typing well. Sometimes it hurts to use the computer and that in combination with other crappy health stuff means not a lot of updating here. I have thousands of pictures to present but I can barely scroll through Facebook.

Vegas bunny is quite ill and is having a ridiculous surgery on Thursday. I’m worried about her.

This month sure sucks so far. Next!

1. The hydrangeas here can’t pick a color. I know they vary based on soil acidity, but the variety here is amazing and often occurs on the same plant.
2. I don’t think these were the intended diners when the pet store put out this dog food.
3. General Tso’s Tofu
4. The thing that trims the hedgerows
5. Stuffed portobellos and campers
6. Walter lounges

Health Center Centre

Wednesday night I developed a sore throat. By Friday morning, my baby sinus infection was much worse, and I got desperate enough to figure out the employee health services since I only had a couple Sudafed left from home and wasn’t sure what I would find at a pharmacy (which all close by six p.m. anyway). My doctor in Indianapolis is very stingy with antibiotics and would wait until I had green stuff coming out of my head before she’d give me anything, so I’ve gotten in the habit of waiting out some of these horrible sinus things with cold medicine and throat spray, because by the time I’ve had that green symptom I’ve already been sick for five days and it seems kind of pointless to bother with it then. (Sometimes this backfires into a three-week illness but other times my immune system catches up in a few more days.) Anyway, the nurse at the health center couldn’t give me much more than “Sinutabs” (which were much appreciated), and acknowledged I needed an antibiotic, but she did give me the name of a clinic in town, which is more information than I had when I went in there. At this point I still had to work the rest of the morning, then get the keys to my house, move in, and accept/unload delivery of my big shipping container. But at least I had the afternoon off, so I called the doctor place, and got an appointment for quarter to five.

Except after successfully wandering around Kinsale making sure I could find the clinic, scoping out the pharmacy (also called a “chemist” here, but the building still says pharmacy), getting a few groceries, and determining if I had enough cash for the doctor and the rest of the weekend – I get paid Monday which will be the first time there is money in my Irish bank account, and the ATM percentage charge off my American bank account is annoying — I arrived at the clinic at 4:20 to find out my appointment had been at 3:45! I guess I just didn’t understand the accent on the phone and while the receptionist seemed annoyed, I asked if I could at least fill out the forms to be a new patient so I could establish a GP somewhere. I guess you need GP blessing to go get any other medical work done anyway. She handed me a slip that consisted of my name, DOB, address, and phone numbers. That was it! I thought I would get the full six-page questions with a nurse later but I never did. It was kind of weird not to detail my history for a new doctor… even my root canal guy at home wants every detail since I was born.

She still seemed annoyed but said she would try to squeeze me in since I said I was really sick, and I went into a waiting room which was a little dumpy like the rest of the place, but I felt too crappy to even read the magazines and listened to a three year old bother everyone else in a cute way. After about fifteen minutes someone called me (I think it was the actual doctor, again no nurse in this setup), and I went in his office and explained how I’d just moved there and that I had a sinus infection and what the symptoms were. He took a VERY brief history right into his computer, which was basically what meds I was already taking and if my immediate family had any major illness history. Not even height and weight, but heck, this was pretty awesome to get right in and have him proclaim I needed an antibiotic. He did check ENT areas and when he listened to my lungs he kept saying “excuse me” as I lifted my sweater jumper, which was also a little funny. I guess this is where the super-politeness comes in; my doctor at home never “apologizes” for each move of the stethoscope. He even apologized that it might not have been my fault for misunderstanding the accent when I apologized for being late to my appointment!

Dr. Tony Somebody also asked how I was doing with the move and being away from home and suggested being on airplanes and the big stress of moving could have contributed, though we also discussed how many of these stupid infections I’d had before. I liked that he listened to me and seemed to respect that I know my particular history with this affliction well, something I don’t always get with my home doctor. By this time I was practically in tears anyway, being so sick and having such a LONG day already (I did successfully move into the house and get my shipment), so I was glad he not only wrote a prescription but that he also was happy to write others for meds I already took if I just brought in my current containers, no third degree to reestablish my various ailments to be deemed worthy of medication. Most of what I’ve taken recently seems to have a different name in Ireland, so we worked out some of those differences and I ended up with name brand Augmentin for under €12. The actual visit cost €50 and they don’t seem to file your insurance for you (while it’s true there is some form of national health insurance, many Irish people buy private insurance too). I would have had to file my own anyway with the new international insurance I’m supposedly on. I can’t seem to get any info on the plan and I don’t know how/where to file a claim yet.

At the pharmacy I also found actual Sudafed (hooray!), though they didn’t have a generic, and some sore throat spray, and that stuff is so strong it almost hurts more than the ailment it treats. Much of the OTC stuff is behind the counter so you have to ask them to get it for you. The pharmacist pronounced my name correctly, which makes him the second person since I arrived to do that. I kind of thought Europeans might get the whole German spelling/pronunciation right more often, but not so far. The other guy who got it right was a Polish guy on the IT help line at work. I need to find more Poles and test the theory for other parts of the continent.

I had dinner plans with other Americans from work at one of their homes and sniffled my way through that. Despite being ill, I’m glad I went, not only because they had a dog and a cat but because even this introvert gets tired of eating in a restaurant by herself every night. Some nights I just haven’t eaten because it seemed too much of a hassle and too depressing to walk into town for food I couldn’t store as leftovers anyway, and I was never that hungry after the big lunches at work.

I spent an hour or so unpacking enough things to have pajamas and bedding and slept pretty well that night with all my drugs. The next adventure: driving to Cork to shop for household goods. I survived, but you’ll have to read about that next. Also, I have no phone, TV, or internet yet, and I’m going insane. If you are reading this I must have stolen a wifi connection somewhere.

World’s End

World’s End is the name of the location or neighborhood or whatever this place is. I’m staying in the Trident Hotel, and that’s their address. A lot of the homes and businesses here don’t seem to have (or at least use) numerical addresses, just names like Old Head and Seaward and Highlanes Gallery. I’m glad I’m not delivering pizza here. Also most streets don’t have signs with the street name, just arrows pointing to various named shops and points of interest. My GPS SatNav goes by street names, and they’re on maps, but not actually posted in public. Very confusing.

I’m moving into my house tomorrow, but the phone and internet connections could take a few to several days, so I may not be around much on here or on the phone. Meanwhile I’m fighting the early parts of a sinus infection, but my insurance is suddenly bizarre and the pharmacies don’t stay open past six, so I’m doing my best with Aleve and Sudafed–glad I brought at least a couple things with me. Apparently rather than having a selection of OTC meds on the shelves at any grocery or drugstore, you have to talk to the pharmacist and explain your symptoms and they might sell you something.

Also: Arliss has a Twitter account now too! She’s advanced past my own level of connectivity. I expect I’ll see her cell phone bill on my credit card next. She has a couple new posts at her blog, too.

Pics I took right before I left.

Lunch lady

I was reading an interesting series of short articles on public school food in D.C. The switch from shipping in pre-packaged individual meals to be warmed before serving to the kids to ‘fresh cooked’ meals in a brand new school kitchen actually means shipping in pre-packaged larger quantities of frozen food that are then reheated in a steamer by people who have never cooked in an actual commercial kitchen before, and everything is served with disposable tableware. They don’t even have a stove or a dishwasher in the new kitchen. The worst is the junk the kids are actually served. It sounds awful in taste and is just marginal in nutrition.

Anyway, it got me to thinking about my own cafeteria experiences. First off: Safetypup was on the milk cartons! His cartoon taught us safety tips while using good grammar. Matches are tools, not toys with which to play. Unfortunately I can’t find any pictures of Safetypup in his cartoon form, just scary costumed people dressed as Safetypup.

I used to keep my lunch money coins in the zippers of my Kangaroo shoes. It was really hard to stand on one foot in the lunch line as it moved forward and unzip my shoes to get the money out. Seems bizarre that I swipe a credit card at the work cafeteria now.

Mom would post the weekly school lunch menu from the newspaper on the fridge, and each morning she’d ask if we wanted to buy the menu choice or take a packed lunch. One of the most humiliating experiences of my elementary school lunch career was when the sixth grade girls (the meanest one was Jamie McCarthy!) made fun of my fifth-grade lunch: a hotdog in a Thermos of hot water, which I assembled with the bun at the table. Mom was creative in keeping the food hot, but the teasing stuck with me for, oh, 24 years now.

Our Little Hoosier meetings were held in the cafeteria. We made Indiana-shaped cookies once a year. I also remember thinking how dumb some of my classmates were during these meetings.

In boarding school we shared a cafeteria with college students. The most famous dishes were Limelight chicken, or Chernobyl chicken as suggested by the strange glowing color, and Tater Tot Hot Dish, or TTHD. The lady who ran the checkout was kind of socially awkward (I guess she fit in with us) and had some classic lines which made it to the Masochistic Board, a piece of MDF we propped in the lounge on our dorm floor, which we decorated with things that drove us nuts and then beat on it with a cat o’ nine tails-like device my mom had at home for distressing wooden frames. It had chains attached to a wooden handle and made a hell of a racket! It was so bad that the girls on the floor downstairs started crying because they thought someone was being beaten and we had to stop attacking our Masochistic Board. I’m not quite sure how it got that name, except maybe because we were punishing ourselves by going to a really hard school, but I do remember the director of student life taking a couple swings at it before it was retired.

Pissed? Bitter? Test your beating skills on the f***ing Masochistic Board! (One of the girls on our floor had a bad emu experience)

Our work cafeterias are decent, but some days are better than others when it comes to veggie options. Still better than school food! I hated Hamette on Bun, which was a common Friday lunch.

There’s a program to fund veg options in school lunches!

I was going to end with a little rant about the pro-HFCS commercials, but instead I recommend a viewing of King Corn instead, which streams free from Netflix.

This post made me hungry.