Wednesday, April 27, 2005


Well, Bill and I went to Belfast for the weekend. It was pretty wild. As you are probably aware, Belfast is/was the centre of the IRA vs. British Nationalist-related violence for the past 40 years, although it officially ended in 1998.
In any case, Belfast felt largely like any other city of its size in the British Isles (which I am saying to include Ireland although I don't know if that's proper). Except for when Bill and I went off to see the murals, in the areas where the violence primarily took (and still takes) place-- two lower income neighborhoods on either side of the 'peace wall'. And this was far and away the most memorable part of the trip. The murals on the Protestant side of town featured quotes from such glorious Protestants as Oliver Cromwell saying things like "kill all the Catholics" and had pictures of their militia, men in black hoods holding gigantic guns. The Catholic side of town's murals were a bit less aggressive, with mostly painting of their martyrs, like those that died in a hunger strike during the 80s and children that have been killed by rubber bullets, which the police shoot at them sometimes.
Also, the Catholics had some murals of other oppressed people that they identify with, like the Kurds and the Palestinians and some others, I can't remember which. And of course the obligatory anti-Bush mural.
In any case, the Shankill Road (Protestant side) area looked like a war zone. First of all, there are these rows of 'terrace houses' (what we call townhouses, at least, what I do) and they all have murals on the ends, leading to a big grassy field. You would think, as it was a beautiful Saturday afternoon, that people would be outside playing or something. But no, completely empty.
The Catholic side of town was a bit more lively, but I just couldn't believe it. We saw two prisons that had 5 foot thick walls, with more barbed wire than I had ever seen in my life. And the peace wall is just this monstrously tall concrete and barbed wire structure. It was truly frightening. I took pictures of course, so eventually I will post these.
And certainly, the conflict is far from over. Right by our hotel, there is this new office building going up, and already, the scaffolding features UFF murals, and the curbs were painted red white and blue. In a lot of ways, the UFF and IRA seemed like slightly politicized versions of the Crips and Bloods.
Sunday, Bill and I wandered around the city centre, when all of a sudden, a parade! Loads of old men wearing derby hats with orange fringey scarves around their necks. Now, orange is the color of the Protestants, so we figured this was them. But I was thinking this is probably some sort of Kiwanis thing for the Protestants. But alas, I was wrong, as sure enough there was a drum that said "Shankill Road Defense League." It would be so much cooler if American gangs marched around in bowling hats.
So this is a very disjointed update about Belfast. I was just surprised to see how present the violence was. The UK elections are, as you may know, in about a week, and the whole city had loads of signs up about various candidates, and literally, every single candidate (except for a few stray socialist flyers) featured the UK or the Irish flag. Apparently, everyone votes along these lines. Labour and Conservative have virtually no presence in Northern Ireland.
I suppose I could babble on about my reactions to the city for days, and indeed, have been. I will go ahead and leave it with this this though.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Not dead.

I am glad that none of you worried too much about my potential bedtime slaying.
On the plus side, I have a new job that has allowed me to complete Nelson Mandela's autobiography in 48 hours. No mean feat, considering it's 600 and some more pages.
However, the big negative is that I have no internet access at work which I consider to be truly abusive. An example of the unfair treatment temporary workers are subjected to. However, the job should end on Friday and I should then have something better. And by better, I mean pays more money and allows me to dick around online unencumbered.
This is all very sad for you because I had a fairly eventful weekend that would have made nice pictures. Alas, no Paint for me.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005


You are bad, ungrateful people. I have had several requests for photos from my abroadlife, and then when I put them up, at great personal cost (€1.99 for the CD and obviously such clever captions were mentally taxing) and what do I get in return? Nary a comment.
But alas, I am a benevolent and forgiving god, so I will not punish you. In fact, I have even drawn a few more pictures, because...
Yesterday Bill and I had AN ADVENTURE. Not really the good kind, but you know, the acceptable kind. I will relay the story now:
Around 10:30, Bill and I stepped into our backyard for a breath of fresh air. When we came back into the house, our front door was wide open. Our front door that locks automatically. No one else was home. I've illustrated our looking out the door.
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And yes, our house is that color. The curtains are a little off, I think there is also green. Also, Bill and I look literally nothing like that. Especially as we have bodies. And that's art on the wall behind us. It's not original, it's a print. Also, the cat burglar may or may not actually exist. The rest of the post will explain.
So Bill walked around the house looking in all the doors and yelling hello. I stood by the door feeling like a girl.
In any case, Bill turned up nothing. So we left the house and set the alarm, figuring well, if someone's in and they try to leave, it will go off. If it's our flatmates, they'll turn off the alarm.
But when we leave, we see a suspicious looking mini-van. Mind you, our street is literally narrower than most American drive-ways, and it's a dead end. Why the mini-van? A mystery.
So, we wait outside for a while, thinking it's possible one of our flatmates ran home and then ran out to get something and didn't shut the door all the way... But no flatmates. So, Bill makes us call the Garda, which is like the police except Irish.
And they come and declare our house safe. This is one of them. The picture is entirely fictional as Bill and I met them at the street. Still, I felt like this was a multiple image story.
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And of course, as they leave, my Spanish flatmate comes home with his non-english speaking friend. So I am sure that amused them. I am quite sure I heard them call us gringos and stupidos and americanos. Except, do the Spanish call white people gringos? They are white too. Well, so maybe none of the words sounded like that and I am imagining things.
In any case, I could have a ghost! Or, someone could have tried to rob us! Who knows!
So that was the yesterday adventure. If I am murdered in my bed tonight, expect no further updates.

Monday, April 11, 2005

My exhibitionism reaches a new level

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I have elected to post pictures from my life here. Actually, they extend as far back as roughly last flunk day until last weekend. So about a year. However, they are edited and in groups, so peruse at your leisure. Please note that they were taken with the sort of digital camera that comes free with a printer. a $30 printer. Hence, the 'special effects.' Also, the London pictures are in reverse chronological order, so for those who place great weight in chronology, start at the end.
Look at my little life!

Friday, April 08, 2005

Should I stay or should I go now?

Most of you are probably aware of my next few years plan, as you know, I adore planning and talking about planning. But lately I've run into a serious conflict. One part of me is really dying for a more permanent lifestyle... you know, I'd like to paint my walls, expand my CD collection, these sort of materialistic pursuits that I adore... It's obviously not worthwhile to do these things here. I'd like to live on the same continent as my friends, or even in the same city. And I really miss Chipotle. Where's globalization when you really need it?
On the other hand, it's fairly easy to procure Irish sponsorship. And, if you are under 35, you can get a full year's work visa for New Zealand. And the commercials for New Zealand look really grand. Plus, I've made several friends from Down Under, and while they are all in England now, they won't always be. And I would love to see that part of the world and I could go travel around Asia fairly easily. Of course, I'd have to learn to like fish more than I do.
I meet so many Europeans and Aussie/Kiwis who have literally travelled the world and they don't seem any worse for the wear not starting their 'actual life' until later. But it's a bit different too, for them, because it's much more a part of their culture. And they have loads of friends abroad.
I wish I could do both, you know, go back to the US and get a month's paid holiday to go running around seeing the world like many people I've met do. Alas, a month's holiday would be unlikely.
In any case, I'll almost definitely go home to Kansas City in September, once the Irish visa runs out and the travel money runs out.
Ideally, all of you would say, yeah, fuck it all, let's move to New Zealand and we can all go be friends together. And then we'd hold hands and skip.

Monday, April 04, 2005

I'm grand, thanks.

Everything's grand, in fact, because that's what they say here and that's what it is!
Bill and I had a terrifically exciting weekend!
We bought insanely cheap grapes and tomatoes on Saturday and then went to the Irish Museum of Modern Art (which is, incidentally, around the corner from my house) where Bill discovered his new god, the American artist Laurie Anderson. They had a huge exhibit of her work there and it was truly awesome. It's really rare that I feel so strongly about those jack of all trades contemporary artists, but man, my socks were totally knocked off. Also, they had a Fred Tomaselli exhibit that was great, as well as a Jasper Johns post-1983 exhibit that was pretty cool too as he had lots of paintings that incorporated the optical illusions old lady/young lady, face/vase, rabbit/duck etc, which is really cool. Also, I encountered a new artist that I thought fairly interesting, some Dutch guy named Mark Manders.
And if that wasn't enough culture for a day, we saw an underwhelming production of Hamlet in the evening by some Irish troupe called Guna Nua or something like that. But it featured two men and two men only, so fairly interesting in that respect.
Yesterday, Bill and I went to nearby Bray Bay, where we walked around a mountain, and then directly up to the top of the mountain. This was great fun, except the going directly up to the top part. This hurt my calves considerably, but I suspect was truly excellent for my ass.
And then we threw rocks into the ocean. Or rather, I threw them in and Bill skipped them around on top all fancy-like. He even managed to skip this huge boomerang shaped rock several times. He is a real man and I am lucky to have him!

Friday, April 01, 2005

Central Asia

On Wednesday, I read the news for the first time in several weeks due to the fact that I've been moving, etc. I learned several things, including that there is a country I swear I have never ever heard of in my life-- Kyrgyzstan. I looked at it on the map I wondered who these people are and what they do.
I then realized I have a deep fascination Central Asia and perhaps ALWAYS HAVE. This is due to the fact that in the 9th grade, I asked my World Geography teacher what race far eastern Russians were (which, indicentally, my teacher didn't really answer. dick).
Also, one of my favorite restaurants is a Mongolian barbeque.
So, last night I literally could not fall asleep I was so obsessed with Central Asia. Like, why haven't I learned anything about these countries? Why do archeology and artifact type museums have nothing from Central Asia?
Also, a few months ago there was this article in the New York Times about Mongolia's push to make English the nation's second language.
In any case, I've spent like all day reading about various Central Asian countries. Apparently, it's quite difficult to travel to those CIS countries, but I really want to go there. I literally cannot imagine anything more foreign than those countries (which I am not spelling out due entirely to laziness and uncertainty). I mean, for chrissakes, they play a sport involving a headless goat that somehow looks a bit like rugby.
Has anyone been to Armenia? Azerbaijan? Kazakhstan? I just cannot imagine it, though I've spent much of the day looking at pictures and reading about drinking fermented mare's milk. I am disappointed, Jubin, that you aren't going to go to Kyrgyzstan as I would really like to hear about it.
If anyone else is fascinated, I found to be a nice resource. Also,
Really, this is a plea for your wonder and wanderlust.