Archives For December 2012

There and Back Again

December 30, 2012 — Leave a comment

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Of course I’d finish this with a Tolkien reference.

To know me is to know my long love of The Lord of the Rings and my ability to connect any and all parts of my life to moments from Tolkien’s works. It’s been almost 30 years now since we were assigned The Hobbit in school, which I tore through in a matter of days and was halfway through The Two Towers by the time the class finished the book. I suppose I’ve outgrown certain parts of the story: the magic and the monsters, mostly, although I still dream of owning my own Hobbit-hole someday.

What stays with me are the small moments, mostly about travel: Bilbo quietly slipping away into the night after laying down his burdens; Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin on the road, heading out of the Shire; the weather-stained clothes and long legs of Strider appearing in a corner of the Prancing Pony. And of course, the idea of regular, small-town folk finding themselves forever changed after going on a great journey.

I’ve traveled quite extensively over the past ten years or so, but after the wandering was done I always came back the same person, to the same town, to the same job. A friend of mine would always say she hoped I would find what I was looking for, after heading out on another one of my solo journeys. I don’t think I ever did, because I was never really sure what I was supposed to find. I was always happy to return home to my friends and family and familiarity.

He lived alone, as Bilbo had done; but he had a good many friends, especially among the younger hobbits. Frodo went tramping over the Shire with them; but more often he wandered by himself, and to the amazement of sensible folk he was sometimes seen far from home walking in the hills and woods under the starlight. He found himself wondering at times, especially in the autumn, about the wild lands, and strange visions of mountains that he had never seen came into his dreams. He began to say to himself: ‘Perhaps I shall cross the River myself one day.’ To which the other half of his mind always replied: ‘Not yet.’

It took me a long time to finally cross the River myself. And the last six months certainly weren’t as dramatic or traumatic as Frodo’s journey, and there are others out there that have seen and done far more than I ever did while in Dublin. But it is no small thing to pack up your entire life and start over in a faraway place. For a while I thought I was heading over there for good, but reality and practicality have brought me back home once again. In my last post, I wondered what that would be like, and after being home for a week or so, I think I’ve answered my own question.

In the book, the four hobbits return to a Shire badly scarred by the War of the Ring, something the movie altered for a simpler ending. While I prefer the book’s version of events, the idea that Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin return to a place completely unchanged has a different resonance now with me. They sit in the Green Dragon and toast each other and no one else has any idea what they’ve been through and how it’s forever changed them. And try as he might, Sam will never be able to convince the people of the Shire that he’s seen an Oliphaunt.

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This is the 40th post, and the last of the tales of my adventures there and back again. Tomorrow I turn 41. Normally I gather together friends and family at a local establishment and we eat and drink in honor of myself. Tomorrow I will probably just go for a long walk. But if I had my way, I would throw some essentials into a pack, grab a good walking stick, and quietly disappear into the night, in search of wild lands and mountains I have never seen. Or perhaps even head back to Dublin. A fine place, it is, full of people I am proud to call my dear friends. “Merry be the greenwood, while the world is yet young! And merry be all your folk!”

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Before I close, I thought I would add a little something for everyone’s enjoyment, if they like this sort of thing. One of the first posts I wrote on this site was called “Passengers.” A reference to a Lisa Hannigan song that ran constantly through my head while I was in Ireland, and also to those that I left behind: my friends and family, and especially my students. This blog was written primarily for them, and if they are still reading it, I hope that they enjoyed following along on my adventures. They, and everyone else back home, were passengers with me, and I thought of them often. So here’s a little something that sums up my time over there, in video form. Hopefully people don’t mind me using these clips of them. I imagine I’ll have more people upset that they weren’t included. Strange to see who and what I don’t have recorded; I could have used a lot more of my friends and family on here, and some students from way back, but hopefully I was able to capture a small slice of my life.

*   *   *

Okay, one more thing. While the farewells in Dublin were sad, and the drive to the airport was just a horrible day all-around, I have to say that it was very heart-warming to have my mother (and fellow world traveler) meet me at the airport.

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Okay, I’ve ended this thing enough times already. Thanks to all my readers, and please stay tuned: these are just the first 40 posts of the 4-T Tales. Even though I have just returned home, I think I am quite ready to go on another journey.

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Leavings and Partings

December 19, 2012 — 1 Comment

There was a passport in his bag, money in his pocket.

For the past few years Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book has been my favorite read-aloud in my classroom. Loosely based on The Jungle Book, it’s a bout a live boy named Bod who’s raised by a family of ghosts in a graveyard. It’s spooky and funny and incredibly touching all at the same time, and the kids usually vote it their favorite as well.

But that last chapter just kills me every time I read it. I won’t spoil any of the plot, but basically it’s about goodbyes, and the main character’s realization that he’s grown up, and that it’s time to leave the graveyard and face the unknown. Perhaps that sounds a bit basic, but it’s written very, very well, and the final moments are well-earned. (You can watch/listen to Gaiman read the entire book for free right here.) The farewell from Silas, and the moment he sees his mother standing at the gate of the graveyard…man…it gets me every time without fail.

I grew up in a small town called Sandwich. Mostly. For a while I thought it was the only town I ever wanted to live in. Eventually I moved away, but it was really just down the road. But ever since I sat and impatiently waited for a shuttle bus that would never come, in London, eleven years ago, I knew that one day I would have to leave my own graveyard.

Bod said, “If I change my mind, can I come back here?” And then he answered his own question. “If I come back, it will be a place, but it won’t be home any longer.”

I head home tomorrow. For the past couple of days I’ve said my farewells to my very, very good friends from Dublin, although tomorrow morning’s will easily be the worst. But my mother will be waiting for me on the other side, and for the first time in my life, I am coming home for Christmas. Those are good things.

It shall remain to be seen whether or not I’ve “gotten it out of my system,” as both Donal and my grandmother have called my desire to leave everything and go live overseas for a while. Sure it was going to be a year instead of six months, but would that have been enough? Or too much? I like to think that my time here was my time here. It was what I got, and that should be enough.

And will I be able to pick up the pieces of an old life? What will be home, and what will just be “a place” now? I think that remains to be seen, although I’m curious what my reaction will be now when I read the final chapter of The Graveyard Book aloud. That might be the true test of whether or not I’ve gotten this business out of my system.

But between now and then there was Life; and Bod walked into it with his eyes and his heart wide open.

This is the 39th post of the 4-T Tales. There will be one more, the 40th, appropriately, and then this part of the story will come to an end. Stay tuned, dear readers…

Small Towns

December 15, 2012 — Leave a comment

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“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”
— Samuel Johnson

I would slightly disagree with that quote.

I love visiting London, but after a few days I’m always ready to leave for somewhere quieter. It’s crowded and moves at an incredible pace and everywhere you turn there’s something new and brilliant and suddenly there’s St. Paul’s cathedral, which means the Globe and the Tate Modern is just across the Thames, the Thames, and London Bridge is falling down, falling down, but after a while you just want something a bit different. At least I do.

I’ve been trying to stuff myself full of the great cities of Europe this past week or so, not really knowing when I’ll be doing something like this again. I love traveling, and I still enjoy traveling solo, but time and again I know in my heart that I’m growing tired of wandering by myself. I should be sharing this with someone.

And after 10 days of Prague, Munich, Strasbourg, Paris, and London, I wanted somewhere quiet and different than the bustle of major metropolitan areas. And I knew there was just something I had to do, while I was here.

I had to go to Sandwich.

I’m from Sandwich, Illinois. A small town of about 6,000 people past the point where the suburbs of Chicago become the small towns. And for most of my life, I’ve heard every laugh and stupid joke you get when you mention you’re from a town that shares its name with Joey’s favorite food. (See: the greatest Friends episode ever.) We’re apparently named for a town in New Hampshire, which is named for Sandwich, England, where that Earl was too lazy to stop playing cards to eat so he just threw the meat between two slices of bread. Hence the name.

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This Sandwich is also a small town of about 6,000 people, on the southeast coast of England near where the Eurostar goes under the English Channel to take you to Paris. It’s full of dark, narrow medieval streets that are slightly spooky at night, but at the same time I feel perfectly safe and welcome here. After arriving, I sat and ate some beef stew in the Inn as the locals started filling in the place. They glanced over at me a few times and eventually struck up a conversation with me. In London they ignore you and push you back into the crowd, but I’m very happy to say that the people of Sandwich are very easygoing and make an effort to include you in their conversation.

One guy told me a story of how he got deported back to England after living in L.A. for five years; I talked to another local about his upcoming second marriage; another couple grabbed a map and showed me different pubs I should visit. After a week of fumbling my way through Czech, German, and French (and the indifference of most Londoners), it’s nice to be in a place that seems happy to have you here.

After a late night reading about the awfulness of the event in Connecticut, I awoke to sunny skies and warm temperatures in London. I checked out of my hotel and dropped off Bill the Pony (which is what I call my large suitcase I’ve been dragging along) at St. Pancras’ luggage check-in for 24 hours. I wandered around Knightsbridge, Belgravia,

and Hyde Park, then said goodbye to the UCD crew in Sloane Square. I had no desire to sit in a cramped, stuffy theatre watching one more “important” play. Too much to see and do, too many people to meet, too many streets to stroll down. Haroosh needs to see the world.

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Theatreland

December 15, 2012 — Leave a comment

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Over the past two days I’ve seen three shows in London, with one more tomorrow before everyone heads back to Dublin. Haven’t had much time for sightseeing, but this is my fourth time in London, so I already have a lot checked off the Must-See List. In my downtime between shows, I visit with the UCD gang a bit, but mostly I just walk and walk and walk, observing life in this sprawling and crowded city dotted with some of the most famous landmarks in the world. And it’s amazing the amount of theatre that goes on in the West End and everywhere else in the city. They’re running a remount of the incredible production of Twelfth Night I saw ten years ago, but I decided against seeing it again. Best to save the original in my memory the way it was.

Aside from the heartfelt and brilliant War Horse, which I was completely on board with, nothing has grabbed me here, really. And looking back at the dozen or so shows I saw in Dublin, it was only Farm and The Boys of Foley Street that really left an impact on me. More and more, I keep wondering if theatre has anything left to say. Most people I’m here with shrug their shoulders at what we see, or nod off, or leave early, and so much of it is pretentious and boring. It’s theatre for serious theatre-goers only, and I think that’s just a shame. I’ve always believed that art should be as accessible as possible to the average person, while still trying to be interesting and innovative. You shouldn’t have to have a deep background in Marcel Duchamp or understand post-modernist theory to enjoy something.

Now that my trip’s coming to an end, it’s been the theatre of the everyday moments that stay with me the most. Little kids saying hello to St. Nicholas on Prague’s Mikulas celebration; cafe conversations on the boulevard Saint-Michel in Paris; schoolchildren on a tour of the National Gallery in London. That’s theatre to me at this point. Theatre of the small moments of humanity that remind us how fascinating life and people and cities and towns can be.

There are other kinds of theatre as well. The grotesque picture show of the Nazi’s Theresienstadt; beggars lying prostrate on the ground in Prague, heads down and a cup in their hands, and the people passing them by; the empty nothingness of waiting for the lift at Russell Square tube station in London. The theatre of life can be both beautiful and horrifying all at once, as the news from Connecticut reminds us.

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On Wednesday evening as I was wandering around the city I accidentally stumbled upon the London premiere of The Hobbit. The crowds craned their necks in Leicester Square to catch a glimpse of Peter Jackson, Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, and Cate Blanchett, and then to top it off I saw Prince William drive up at the end as well. Quite the unexpected journey, I have to say.

IMG_0844 IMG_0852Most of the UCD gang are young and full of energy, and stay out until all hours having a good time. They always plead with me to come out and join in on the fun, but I’m not 25 anymore, and to be honest, Thank God. I’m fine to come back to my room before midnight and read a bit before falling asleep. I turn 41 in a couple of weeks, and I’m totally okay with that. 
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So tomorrow it’s farewell to London, and my brief relationship with the UCD crew. Haroosh and I have one more small journey to take before we head back to Dublin on Sunday, and then it’s home for good on Wednesday. There will be some very difficult goodbyes to make before then, and that will be the hardest part of all of this. But it’s time to head back and figure out what the next act has in store for me, and I’m ready for it.

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Mind the gap, Haroosh.

French Rituals

December 11, 2012 — Leave a comment

Just some random thoughts from the past few days. I’ve written plenty more than this, but I thought I would keep it brief and to the point. And also, photos!

Say what you want about the French, but they love the ritual of sitting down for dinner. When you enter a restaurant, or cafe, or brassiere, you are always greeted with a “Bonjour!” You sit, order food, and when it comes, you get both “Voila!” and “Bon Appetit.” Every time. And it’s great, mostly because it’s the only French I really know.

Because I’m in the solo part of this trip right now (in between visiting friends in Prague and meeting up with the Dublin UCD crew in London tomorrow), I sit and write my thoughts down while I wait for my food, or I knock out a story or two in James Joyce’s Dubliners. It also helps to slow down the dinner process; I normally eat quick and efficient-like, as a bachelor often does. But a European dinner can last a couple of hours, so it’s important to sit and relax and enjoy the food and atmosphere.

And as I realize time and again, a book or a notepad is fine, but company is always better at dinner.

We’ll see if all those observations I wrote down make it onto here. I’m heading into the closing stretch of this trip, and London is going to be pretty jam-packed with theatre and (probably) late nights with that young crew from UCD.) But I have more stories to tell, and one last city to visit after London, so as always, stay tuned, dear readers…

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Can I tell you how fantastic train travel is over here? I could do it all day and never get tired. This is the train I took to Paris.

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Oh HI there! Years from now, I’ll want to look back on this trip, and so it’s important to remember what I looked like. Old and bald, yesirree…

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Snowing in the Strasbourg Christmas market.

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The Venus de Milo, in the Louvre Museum, Paris, France.

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Looking out the window at the Musee D’Orsay, Paris. It used to be a train station. Shout-out to all the Hugo fans out there.

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Haroosh and I at the Eiffel Tower, Paris. He’s afraid of heights, so we didn’t go up to the top.

Also, I need a shave.

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Another picture of the Eiffel Tower. Had to get the light just right.

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Walkway across the river Seine, in Paris. Those are locks on the left and right. It’s become a popular thing for people in love to write their names on a lock then attach it to a bridge. Saw the same thing on the Charles Bridge in Prague.

Man, that’s just a fraction of what I’ve seen and done in the past few days. Hopefully I’ll get more up soon!

Train of Love

December 11, 2012 — Leave a comment

I’m a bit behind with the chronicles, as I’ve been wandering various German and French cities for the past few days. But I’ll try and post a few journal-type entries I’ve been keeping while riding trains and sitting in cafes.

December 8th, 2012. 9:45 AM

Aboard the Franz Kafka Express to Munich

Dropped off in Dejvicka by Patty, then used my last Prague Metro ticket on the subway to Hlavni Nadrazi rail station.  Quiet Saturday morning in Prague. A few female tourists with their bags rolling behind them, me with this huge suitcase (it’s all I had, and didn’t have time to buy a smaller one.) I have named it Bill the Pony.IMG_0746

Bought breakfast in the station: pastry with Nutella, my European favorite. Wander a bit, see the old abandoned station building, sitting atop the new long low boring one. Watch the departures board, wait for the platform. #3 is displayed and away I go.

Older train, slow, mostly compartments of six seats. A white plastic version of the Hogwarts Express. I have a reserved seat. Old Czech man in there as well. Face reminds me of guys back home. Bull-necked and barrel-chested, uses a cane to navigate the corridor. Pulls rosary beads from his pocket from time to time, prays silently to himself.

Young skinny guy with no luggage rides the first leg, but disappears (along with his noticeable body odor) once the conductor starts checking tickets.

Pass through leafless woods, brown and grey, dusting of snow on the ground. Small, run-down villages, reminders of the old days. Revolutions come and go here, but not a lot changes, I imagine. Mountains appear to the south, far away. Snow gets heavier, forest gets thicker, evergreens still giving off a dull color.

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Cross the border into Germany, the old bull gone from the compartment, replaced by a mother and a daughter examining boxes of Christmas chocolates. Then another young brunette woman, then two more speaking some far Eastern European language join us in the compartment. Five gorgeous women and me, rattling along southern Germany, dozing here and there, the sun glinting off the solar panels on the roofs of barns and houses as we make our way to Munich.

The Swell Season

December 9, 2012 — Leave a comment


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My time in Prague was brief, but incredible.

Prague has this annoying association still attached to it, one of those cities that young backpackers always go on and on about. “You gotta go, man. Prague is amazing.” I avoided it until now partly for that reason. But it is the site of Vaclav Havel’s Velvet Revolution, part of that fall-of-the-Iron Curtain era of history that I’m so fascinated with. And ever since a family I knew from my 5th grade days moved there this past summer, I had vague plans to travel there to finally see it for myself. And with school wrapping up, and my time living overseas coming to an end, I made it the first stop on the Last Tour.

I was able to see Ian’s school, a small British-style international school that, aside from the small class sizes and some cosmetic differences, didn’t seem that much different than what we were doing back home. The teachers are all ex-pats, travelers from around the world looking forward to teaching in a foreign country for a few years before they eventually move on. I looked into something like this several years ago but couldn’t quite pull the trigger.

For three days I wandered the city, spent time with Ian and his family, and ate heavy meals and washed it down with a few good Czech beers. The language barrier was only a small inconvenience; Czech is a difficult language to understand, but there are enough people here that speak English, and you get by.

The city is gorgeous, but here and there you see echoes of the former Communist past. Gloomy, boxy buildings made to service the proletariat but add little to the grandeur of the older architecture. The older folk carry that heavy, resigned grumpiness that comes from being occupied by an oppressive power for decades.

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When you teach fifth grade, you get the kids for a short nine months, three seasons and then you pack them off to the junior high and you say goodbye. Most of the time you never see them again, occasionally some stay in touch, but even that fades in time. But if you’re lucky, sometimes you build a relationship with a few that last for years and years. Sometimes, you even get to go to a wedding.

For a few days, Haroosh and I were reunited with an old friend, on the other side of the world, and I can only hope that it isn’t the last time I see Ian and his family. That last day of school, where everyone says teary goodbyes to the little community created within four walls of a classroom, gets worse and worse every year. Too many goodbyes, too many good kids you don’t want to part from. Limelight offered the chance to sustain a relationship for years and years, but now that’s gone too, a swell season of my life that has given way to a new, more uncertain one, but still full of promise and potential.2012-12-05 16.22.20 2012-12-06 11.46.13 2012-12-06 19.20.03
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Flew to Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, the other day to see a former student and his family who relocated here this past summer.

I have slept well and eaten even better. Longer post soon, but for now, enjoy some Mikulas  action!

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An Angel and a Devil riding the Prague Metro.

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Prague’s awesome Astronomical Clock. I want one.

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Christmas markets in Prague.IMG_0722

Eatin’ some Trdelnik. You can really taste the cylindricalness!IMG_0713Nothing says Christmas like some good old medieval torture!

 

316

December 4, 2012 — 6 Comments

When I first arrived in Dublin, I had nothing. Just a suitcase of clothes, a handful of books, and a laptop connecting me to back everything back in the states.

I had just moved out of my house of seven years. Packed everything up, sold some old bookcases and a decent couch, had a farewell party, and mentally started from scratch.

Needless to say, I was a bit emotional and discombobulated. I was in a foreign country, and needed a home.

For the first couple of weeks I lived in Dublin, Jack and Paddie gave me that home.

I had been inside “316” once before, after a wedding for Donal and Issy back in 2010. We ate and drank and sang songs late into the night. It was one of the best nights of my life, and I secretly hoped I would have the chance to experience something like it again.

Jack and Paddie are both retired educators, and had a spare room, and graciously offered to put me up until I found an apartment I liked. For nine nights or so, I ate with them, talked teaching with them, and stayed up very late drinking French wine and Guinness with them.


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(Delicious AND affordable!)

Paddie offered up ideas about helping out in area schools, and Jack and I made vague plans to catch a Hurling match sometime in 2013. When I wasn’t apartment-hunting, or sometimes sleeping past breakfast (ahem…it uh…took me a while to adjust to the new time zone), I helped organize a garage and silently took notes while Jack prepared delicious dinners night after night.

Eventually I found a place near the university and moved in, but it was a bit of a disaster. I rushed into renting a place, and later discovered it was horribly damp. (It was a basement flat.)

Passports shouldn't do this.

Passports shouldn’t do this.

A month later I found a new place, so all’s well that ends well on that story.

But back to 316.

(That was what everyone called Jack and Paddie’s place. Homes often get names over here, I’ve noticed. One of the little things I love.)

I had wanted to take Jack and Paddie out for dinner some evening, as a thank you for everything they had done for me during my stay at 316. But they were busy, as it turned out they were in the process of selling their home of 31 years. It was time to pick up sticks and live in the country a bit.

And so I headed back to 316 for one more night of singing and farewells.

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I’m not going to give you a blow-by-blow account of the evening, but it was quite wonderful, and I felt very lucky to have been there for the final gathering in their home. 316 had a long history of hosting extended visitors, and I was one in a long list of people who temporarily called it their home. Kind of like Sam Gamgee getting Ring-bearer status even though he had barely carried the thing.

Paddie gave me a big hug when I walked through the door, and soon I had a glass of wine in my hand. Many familiar faces from the last party were there, telling stories and laughing about the long history they had with 316. Jack worked his magic in the kitchen and piled food onto our plates.

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And as the sky grew dark, everyone gathered in the front room for one more round of songs. I got to join in on the chorus of “Wild Mountain Thyme”, one of my favorites, and dug out John Prine’s “Paradise” again, at Donal’s urging. Guitar in hand, smiling and saying “I got your back on this.”

Lots of sweet, sad songs, and a meaningful goodbye to an important piece of many peoples’ lives.

DSC_0101I’ve started to think a lot about “what I learned” while I was over here. Sure, I learned the difference between semiotics and phenomenology, and read the complete works of Anton Chekhov, and I can now navigate the Dublin bus system like a pro. But really, I think, the most important thing I’ll take away from here is that there need to be places like 316 in peoples’ lives. A warm, inviting home that welcomes you with a big hug and leaves you with a full belly and an even fuller heart.

I used to love having parties, and hosting people in my home. But the place I have now is small and cramped and after a while I stopped inviting people over, and I also stopped wanting to invite people over.

My time spent in 316 woke something up in me. When it comes down to it, I think this whole trip has really been about me finally growing up and getting serious about life, and I would like nothing more than to one day have a place like Jack and Paddie’s. A home full of song and life and good friends and family sharing a few moments together. The light in the window for weary travelers. That would be a good life.

Farewell, 316. You belong to the ages now, but I won’t forget what I learned while I was there. And I’ll be back for that hurling match, Jack.

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(Most of these photos were taken by my good friend, and very talented photographer, Elisa, and are used with her permission. Thanks, ‘Lis.)

UCD, Blackrock campus. Had most of my classes in the building on the left.

UCD, Blackrock campus. Had most of my classes in the building on the left.

Today I turned in my last assignment for the four courses I took at UCD this past term, along with my official notification of withdrawal from the university. Now I’m done.

The fact that I’m leaving very soon really started to sink in today. Very mixed feelings right now, and I had a lot of “oh that’s the last time I’ll walk into that shop, or down that road” thoughts.

I stopped in to see my local barber one final time, to get a buzz on the head and a good trim on the beard. He’s a super-nice guy, and we always chat about theatre and Irish mythology and music. He was supposed to go to Chicago last month, and I had even written up a list of great restaurants and jazz clubs for him to check out, but something about an Aer Lingus strike canceled his plans. Maybe next year, he said.

I probably could have saved money by purchasing a set of clippers and doing it myself, but I still like to visit the barber, and I’m glad I found such a great one here in Blackrock. Gonna miss that guy.

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Hobbit bus!

I wandered around the village, and then took a long walk over to Stillorgan to search for a cheap and smallish suitcase, but no such luck. Gonna spend the next twelve days doing some traveling. Too long to just pack everything in my backpack, like my last trip, and so I’ll have to drag the monster suitcase all over Europe with me.

First I’m headed to Prague to see a former student and his family from my teaching days, then Munich for a night, then Strasbourg, France, then up to Paris for a couple of nights, then the Eurostar to London to meet up with everyone from my MA group for a final weekend theatre binge. Trains, trains, and more trains, and I can’t wait.

It’s back to Dublin on Sunday evening, and then I’m home for good on the 19th, via Chicago. And then Christmas, which I’m looking forward to spending with my family. First time in my life that I’ll be “coming home” for Christmas. It’s a nice feeling.

But all of this traveling isn’t giving me much time to say farewell to Dublin or the people I know here, and that’s frustrating, to say the least. Time isn’t on my side right now, and I couldn’t afford to wait any longer to fly home. Prices jump pretty bad the closer you get to Christmas. For a while I considered sticking with the original plan, which was to do Christmas here with some friends, but it just feels right to be home. You go home for Christmas.

So it’s all coming fast, and my head swims and my heart aches with the constant push-pull that I’m feeling right now. I feel like I did everything I could, theatre-wise, while I was here, but I certainly didn’t get to “live” enough. But maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe it’s better to leave now, while the fire is still bright, instead of lingering on for another six months, where (gasp!) I might have actually gotten sick of living here. Maybe bittersweet is good, because it means that my time here was worth it, and that I still look forward to returning again someday. And it certainly will be a lot cheaper.

One of my students asked me the other day if this meant the last of the 4-T Tales. I don’t think so; obviously I have a few more travel stories to tell over the next couple of weeks, but hopefully I’ll continue this thing one way or another when I come back. Less travel and theatre, and more teaching and tech. We’ll see.

UCD, Blackrock Campus.

UCD, Blackrock Campus.

As always, to be continued…