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I suppose I should tell a story or two about what I’ve been up to for the past six weeks. I’ve been spending the summer back in Dublin in a rented house, with occasional short trips to London and Kerry. I’ve also had visitors.

Right after school ended I packed my things and set off for the airport, a Business Class ticket on Aer Lingus in hand that I had managed to finagle without damaging the pocketbook too much. This meant I sailed through security in 20 minutes and got to spend some time in an executive lounge, where I caught up on some final emails to parents from my classroom and finally started to relax. It was a long year with that group of students, although still memorable, as they always are.

Flight over was a blur of beverage and food and long conversations with a Scottish oncologist on his way home from a conference. Got into Dublin Airport before 6 AM, grabbed the Aircoach into town, then a taxi to the house in Terenure. It pays to travel to places you know well.

A good rule of thumb when trying to avoid jet lag is to immediately set yourself to the local time. I ignored that rule. When I crawled under the covers it was not even 7 in the morning, which was just before 1 AM “my” time. I hadn’t slept on the flight at all, and I was exhausted. And since I wasn’t on a hard vacation schedule, I just decided to sleep a few hours right then and there.

And that’s pretty much what I did for the next several days. Caught up with some friends, but spent a lot of time sleeping in and laying in bed watching Homeland on my laptop, via UK Netflix. For lack of a better word, I crashed, and looking back on it now, I realize how much i needed that week. I spent a lot of the past year stressed and sick, fretting about what I was going to do with myself, work-wise, worrying about Common Core and changing styles and the lack of a North Star in my life.

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The Sunday papers

But then David and Rachel came to town, so it was time to be a proper host and show them around a city I’ve come to call a second home.

David is a cousin of mine, much younger than me, so there’s a bit of an uncle-nephew relationship there, too. This was his first trip overseas, and he and his girlfriend Rachel arrived in the Dublin port from the UK where they had just spent several days in London and Bath. My friend Linus was kind enough to help whisk them from the port down to Terenure, where we dropped bags and then headed back into town* for dinner and a short walk around a few of the more well-known areas of Dublin.

We spent the next day down in Glendalough, hiking in the soaking rain, but enjoying the chance to be outside among some fairly dramatic scenery, the kind we just don’t get in northern Illinois. The next day I showed them more of the city, including the Little Museum of Dublin, which I highly recommend for people interested in something not catering to the typical band of tourists.** We parted ways so they could visit the Guinness Storehouse, which I had seen on my first trip over in 2002 and didn’t need to visit again.

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MacPhisto and Me

The next day they took a day trip out to the Cliffs of Moher and I took care of some school business, but I met them later for dinner and pints in Neary’s, my personal favorite place to have a drink. Their final day was Kilmainham Gaol¬†and an obligatory visit to Carroll’s souvenir shop to get silly gifts for friends and family back home. (I waited outside.)

While I liked giving them tours around the area, I suppose I enjoyed just hosting people, and taking care of them for a few days, making sure they were well fed and always had a drink in their hand. “When you’re at your Grannie’s, you can do what you like.”*** Hosting guests is¬†something I don’t get to do very often back home. It was nice. And I would get to do it again two weeks later.

Next up: Shakespeare and getting “Punchdrunk” in London with a fellow Limelighter.¬†

 

*While we might say “I’m going downtown” or “into the city” to describe heading in to Chicago, over here if you’re heading into Dublin proper, people just say “I’m going into town.”

**The Little Museum is not above capitalizing on certain aspects of Irish culture in order to turn a profit, mind you. The third floor is devoted solely to U2, and they’re currently featuring something “Mrs. Brown’s Boys: D’Exhibition.” Don’t ask.

***Wise words from a most excellent host. 

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A little shout-out to Uncle Lar’s Pizza.

Haroosh’s Last Trip

November 25, 2013 — Leave a comment

In Which Haroosh and I Take One Final Trip Together, and Some Lessons Are Learned

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Are you packing your suitcase again?

Yes.

Does this mean you’re going on another adventure?

Yes, Haroosh.

Wonderful! Do I get to come with?

Yes, of course. I think it’s important that you come on this one. You might learn something.¬†It’s time to teach you about things greater and more important than Adventures.

Where are we going?

Florida.

For a holiday? I mean, a vacation?

Not exactly.

Oh. What is it, then?

I”m not sure what to call it, exactly. We’re going to see some family. To pay our final respects.

What does that mean?

It means that someone has died. In my family. And so my uncles and my mother and I are going to go say goodbye, and be with some of our family for a few days.

Oh. And I get to come with?

Yes.

It doesn’t sound as much fun as the other trips we took.

I know. This one is different. This is a trip we need to take together, my uncles, and my mother and I. The last trip, perhaps.

The last trip? For me?

For many of us.

Oh.

Are you okay, Haroosh?

Yes. Maybe. I don’t know. I…¬†I thought we were going to take a lot more trips together.

I know.

We were supposed to see the world. That’s what Kyle wanted you to do. With me. See the world.

I know. And we did. A small part of it. But that’s all done, for now. I have responsibilities, and it’s time you got back to Kyle. I’m sure he misses you.

I haven’t seen him in a long time. Will he be different?

Probably. He’s a little older now. He’ll be in high school next year.

Oh.

Will he still want to have me back?

I think so. I think you’ll be with Kyle for a long time.

I hope so.

So, we’re going to all drive together? All the way to Florida?

All the way to Florida. Without stopping for the night.

What’s it like down there?

It’s warm. Very warm. I used to live there, a long time ago. We’re going to say goodbye to my cousin, who we used to spend a lot of time with, her and her sister and her parents, when I was younger. We went on camping trips together, rode horses together, had pizza on Friday nights. She used to drive me to school. I had to sit in the backseat, but sometimes they’d let me play some of my music on the car stereo.

Was she nice?

Yes, she was very nice. She was a teacher, like me. And she loved animals. Horses, dogs, cats, even pigs. She would have liked you very much, Haroosh.

I bet I would have liked her too.

Are you ready to go, Haroosh?

Yes, I’m ready. Let’s go.¬†


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The photos are from the last time we visited Lorri and the rest of her family, in 2004. We went down to spend Christmas with my sister and her family, and took a day to drive over to St. Cloud to see the old neighborhood and to catch up with Lorri and Jenny, Jane and Mike.

I’ll write a bit more about the trip, and Lorri, in the next day or so.

In case you’re wondering who Haroosh is, I suggest starting here and then reading the rest of these entries.

Monday Miscellany

October 28, 2013 — Leave a comment

I had an Amazon gift card donated by a parent in my class that HAD to be spent, so I got some new books for the class. Since we’re close to my annual Viking Day event, I thought I would get a couple of books to help with the actual content we’ll be learning. I picked up some other books that they asked for, and of course I had to get a Neil Gaiman book, although this one’s a bit silly for fifth grade. Still, there’s nothing like having a stack of new books to read, and (most) everyone was fighting over who got to read what.
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It’s my mom’s birthday today, so Happy Birthday to my dear Mother. I attribute most of my good qualities to her, whatever they are. Although I wish I had her positivity. She would probably claim to be much more pessimistic, but very rarely do I ever hear her complain or fret and speak ill of others. She’s good people, that lady. Everyone in Dublin was so excited about having her come visit over the Christmas holiday, but then I went and spoiled it all by heading home early. Maybe another time.

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I don’t have very many recent pictures of Mom and I, but here’s one from last Christmas. I brought back a few oddments of European Christmas traditions, so we’re drinking German gluehwein and wearing a paper hat from an English Christmas cracker.

For the past two days I’ve had a sore throat (again), and I’ve been getting headaches for at least three or four days straight. So it’s back to the doctor for me tomorrow afternoon. I’m pretty wiped out, so I’ll keep this entry short. Missed a family gathering this evening due to being sick, but I figured I didn’t need to be around people if I’ve got something nasty.

I woke up before the alarm. Laid in bed circulating through this and that in my head until I was told by national public radio that it was time to actually get moving.

Drank black coffee in the silence of a Saturday morning, flipped through the news articles on my iPad, made some scrambled eggs. Turned the burner down low to let them stay warm while I buttered an English muffin, still doing the math in my head. Three hours to enter grades, another two (probably) to figure out the new electronic comments system. Hand-written report cards replaced by a computerized system, to save time, but when it’s the first time with no explanation you need to block out the right amount of time to teach yourself the new format.

Got excited for a moment when I read that Daylight Savings Time ended tomorrow, but then I realized I was on an Irish website. I could really use an extra hour of sleep tomorrow.

Cleaned myself up and dressed up for Aunt Carolyn’s 90th birthday party. Her husband was the late great Uncle Fred, whom you might remember from another post from last year. I don’t get a chance to see this part of the family very often, and I thankfully was able to turn off the workworkwork thoughts that kept rushing through my head while I drove to Naperville for lunch. Caught up with Johnny and Ed and Phil and we had lively conversation about herpes viruses and Delta Airlines and Frank McGuinness and property management.

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Towards the end I chatted with my folks about Sunday plans to celebrate Mom’s voice and it all came flooding back, and I did that heightened-quick-speech thing I do when I get really stressed. Didn’t know how to fit in getting grades done, plan for next week, clean the house, go see the show at East tonight, buy Mom a meaningful present and have her over for a nice home-cooked meal by her son. We were going to see each other on Monday as well (her actual birthday), and they were swamped with yard work, so we canceled Sunday’s plans. Something’s gotta give.

 

 

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(I was trying to take a picture of people taking pictures, but I ended up getting a decent one of Mom.)

Zoomed up to the old address to retrieve an Amazon order sent wrongly to my old house, then back to the classroom to get those grades entered. (I could do it from home but my Apple keyboard doesn’t had a keypad for quick data entry.) Barely lasted two hours before a splitting headache forced me home and back under the covers. Tried to read a few pages about the old Viking gods but had to close my eyes and rest up for the show at 7:00. Tick-tock, tick-tock.

If you’re looking for simple proof that I was stressed and distracted, here it is: I walk downstairs into a dark kitchen and notice a pale blue flame peeking out from under a frying pan. Remember the scrambled eggs from breakfast? Yeah. I forgot to turn off the burner.

In the car, “Here’s Where The Story Ends” by The Sundays comes on. Song’s almost 24 years old, and I never hear it on the radio, but I still love it, even though I hear more and more of “Cemetry Gates”¬†when I listen to those old Sundays albums. It’s enough to lighten my mood, though, and my hand relaxes a bit on the steering wheel as I head east on Wolf’s Crossing for the second time today.

Heavy-eyed and hungry, I wandered into Oswego East High for an evening of 18th century theatrical comedy. I’ll tell that story tomorrow.

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A rare moment of being Dressed Up