Wednesday, March 31, 2010

This unemployment thing is the pits!

Hi, my name is Kim and I like to work.

There I said it. I wish I could say I am not defined by my career, that there's more to me than what I do at work, but well, I can't. I have been pulling in a paycheck since I was 15 and that's just who I am. I am very, very thankful that we are able to survive on one salary, but it makes me depressed when I think about things we'd be able to do if I was also working. For the first...oh, I don't know...6 months, it wasn't so bad, but one year on and the lack of employment is really starting to bring me down. It's not just the money though, it's more the feeling that my brain is rotting away.

Please don't tell me I should just enjoy it, because I don't. I sit here and feel totally useless for most of the day. I'm not crafty or oh my god I'd start an Etsy shop in a heartbeat. The one thing I love to do is DIY stuff, but I can't really do anything in this flat nor do I want to do anything to this flat. Short of becoming a house painter, I'm not really sure how I could make a career out of my love of DIY.

Yes, I can keep blaming my lack of work on the crap economy, but I have to also blame it on what seems to be my poor interviewing skills. In one year I have manage to score two interviews (yes, I'll blame that on the crap economy) and while the first position was a bit out of my league, there is no reason why I shouldn't have gotten the second position. Trust me, I am furious with myself! Now I have plans to change things up if I manage to get another interview in this town, but who knows if I'll ever get that chance.

Now, I have ideas and I'm trying to think outside the box, but it is all a little daunting. I mean, if I can't succeed in an interview in my field, how am I going to convince someone that I'm a good candidate for a career change with their company?? Who knows if any of this will actually come about and I just hope I'm given the opportunity to make a case for myself.

Thankfully, the weather is a bit nicer today and I'll be able to get out an exercise off some of this angst!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Adventures on the DART

The DART (which ironically stands for 'Dublin Area Rapid Transit') goes two directions: north towards Howth and Malahide, or south towards Bray and Greystones. A few weeks ago I blogged about a day trip we took to Howth. That was actually our second trip to Howth and we have visited Malahide a couple of times, so we have 'north' pretty well covered. The furthest south we have ever been on the DART is Dun Laoghaire (pronounced 'dun leery'), so today since the weather was nice we decided to check out Bray. It was about a 30-40 minute trip, so not too bad, although rapid it was not.

We got there around lunch, so first on the agenda was to find food. There's a strand that runs along the beach, so we wandered down that way. I imagine on a warm day it is heaving with people. There are lots of ice cream stands, chippers, and even a brand new arcade. We were pretty happy to discover that there's a Porterhouse in Bray. Who knew?? They also had a beer festival on at the moment, so the beer selection was even better than usual. Here's a shot of the strand:

After lunch we wandered down the beach towards Bray Head:

There's a coastal/cliff walk that you can take all the way to Greystones. We didn't have time to do that today, but we're definitely going back to do this. Also, if you click on the picture you'll see a cross at the top of Bray Head. There were a bunch of people up there, but again, we didn't have time to do this. I imagine the views are amazing from up there! Please note it was about here that I announced that someone's smoking the ganja somewhere. Turns out it was a man out taking a stroll with his young daughter and they were pretty much standing right next to us. Classy. Wes was afraid he was going to beat us up since he heard my announcement. I told him if he couldn't take on a guy who's stoned then he really has no hope in a fight. But I digress....

After we ditched the stoner, we decided to walk part way up Bray Head to enjoy the views. Of course we had to take the prerequiste picture first. Notice we don't have scarves on. The weather is really coming along here in Ireland!

Here are some scenic shots:

This one is looking north towards Dalkey. That land mass far in the distance is Howth.

Bray in the foreground wtih the Wicklow Mountains behind it. Honestly, you couldn't catch a bad view in this town. If you looked one way it was the sea, the other way was the mountains. Gorgeous!

After enjoying the sea views we walked up into the town. This building used to be the town hall. Now it's a McDonald's.I suppose we should just be happy they haven't torn it down!

There's a lot of Victorian architecture in the town. This is from a street near the centre of the town. If you're looking for a place to stay there's the Bray Head Inn which looks like something directly out of Fawlty Towers or a horror movie if it's night time. I can't believe I didn't take a picture of it. Next time! Next time I'll also be more vocal about getting a 99 Flake. I think everyone was eating one but me! :(

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Just a few shorties

  • I walked out of my way today to ride the LUAS, only because I bought a return ticket and didn't want to waste the journey.  For the record, a return journey was €3.30, so not exactly breaking the bank. At first I felt lazy for not walking home, but then felt I made up for it by walking in the opposite direction of home just to ride the rest of the way there.
  • The waiter at lunch today overheard our accents and congratulated us on having health care now. None of us had the heart to tell him that we all actually have Irish health care and that we did actually have US health care before that, because, well, he just seemed so darn excited about it. 
  • I'm in a 'Made in America' mood. I almost bought marshmallows (which I have no need for) simply because they were processed in New Orleans. I also rejected a can of A&W Root Beer because it wasn't made in America. It looked the same and there's a good chance it tasted better if it was made with sugar instead of corn syrup, but it went back on the shelf.
  • I helped a little old lady cross the road today. I saw her hovering around the cross walk as I was walking towards her. When I got a little closer she hit the button on the signal, then asked if I'd help her cross. Of course! She grabbed my arm and we headed off at a fair clip. I told her to take her time and no one would go until we were across. She then exclaimed her distaste for Dublin drivers. Hmmm....nice to see she still has her wits about her!
  • Burgers, chips, broccoli salad and brewskis for dinner tonight. The husband has had a stressful couple of days and this is his favorite meal!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Scenes from Smithfield

salad and bread

As a follow up to yesterday's post where I talk about the film Bananas on the Breadboard, I thought I might go out and take a few pictures of the people and places featured in the film. 

This woman is actually selling 'Grapes on the Breadboard'! These woman go to the markets in the morning to pick up fruit and veg that they then take down to the Henry Street area to sell off these prams. You can hear them before you see them because they will yell out, 'Grapes, two euro!' in a very distinct Dublin accent. In the 1980s this way of selling was unregulated. The shops along the streets decided they didn't want these women taking their business and the Garda started arresting the women and carting them off to jail. There were large protests and to make a long story short, the street traders are now licensed.

Stalls on Moore Street

One of the entrances to the only remaining original market in Smithfield. 
It was built in 1892 and holds fruit, vegetables and flowers.

This is the area that used to house the fish market which is next door to the fruit market. If you click on the picture you'll see the white strip is tile from the original market. It was demolished in 2005 with the idea they would regenerate the space into a sports complex.'s a parking lot.

Part of the Greek Street apartment block with the Four Courts building in the background. 

The other side of the Greek Street apartments
This apartment block was built in 1916 by Dublin Corporation (now Dublin City Council) in response to the collapse of a tenement building on Church Street in 1913. You can read a little more about that here. Some of the families have lived here since 1916 and have very strong ties to it.

Father Matthew Square with Capuchin Friary in the background
Some of the families from the demolished tenements are also moved into these squares. There are quite a few of these dotted around the neighborhood. When they were originally built they are two rooms upstairs and one room on the ground floor with a scullery in the back.

This is an older picture, but I realized I didn't take a picture of Smithfield Square, which was the main market area of Dublin for selling livestock. It used to be surrounded by old warehouse buildings, but those have been pulled down and these apartments put up. Now, I'm not a huge fan of pulling down historic buildings, but I've seen pictures of what it used to look like and this is a huge improvement. There are no longer street traders in Smithfield Square and the only market that still exists in the monthly horse sale. 

So there you have it. Just a few pictures of the 'hood! I really enjoy learning about the significance and history of an area. I do find it makes me appreciate it more. There were huge regeneration plans for the Smithfield area and unfortunately they were all sidelined even before the recession hit. Hopefully one day some money will be reinvested into this neighborhood to at least try and restore the sense of community which has been lost. 

Thursday, March 18, 2010

News Flash: Warning-some may find this offensive.

The Irish* don't really care about St. Patrick's Day.

I know a lot of you Irish-Americans out there will find this hard to take, so I understand if you curse my blog and click away from it. But, really, it's true. No one eats corned beef and cabbage (my husband never even heard of this dish until I mentioned it to him). There is no green beer. The River Liffey continues to flow its regular shade of brown - no green tint added. There was a commercial on TV advertising the opportunity for people living in Ireland to win a trip to New York City to celebrate St Patrick's Day. Umm...what??

This was my first St Patrick's Day in Ireland, so I wasn't really sure what most people do to celebrate. I think most Americans will be surprised to find that this is a true holiday in Ireland, which means they get the day off work.On Monday I asked Wes if he wanted me to make him ham and cabbage for dinner on Wednesday. 'Why?', he asked. 'Uh, it's St. Patrick's Day!' 'Oh, no'. Okay, so I asked what most people do for St Patrick's Day. 'Binge drink and fist fights.' Hmmm.....okaaaaayyyyy. I think it's no surprise that neither of these things really appealed to me.But, since he had the day off work I felt compelled to come up with some semi-exciting plans.

I was actually pretty pleased with what I came up with. We went to the Light House Cinema, which is a small independent cinema in our neighborhood, and ended up meeting up with some friends who also live in Smithfield. They were showing Bananas on the Breadboard which is a short documentary highlighting the people and traditions of the market area of Smithfield, Henry Street, and Moore Street. You can read a bit more about it here. I really enjoyed it! I live in this neighborhood and see these people everyday. I buy fruits, vegetables, and fish from these women. So learning a bit more about their history, why they started selling fruit and veg off prams, and the fight they had to go through to keep their source of income, was really inspiring to see. The film also talked about some of the buildings in the area - for example, there's an apartment building that was built by the Corporation (aka Dublin City Council) in 1916 after a tenement collapsed in 1913 killing, I think, seven people. Wes and I had no idea the building was that old. We thought it was built in the 60s. If I can organise my thoughts enough, I'd love to do a post one day about the strength of the Irish woman through history. They are some pretty amazing people!

After the film we went to an Italian place next door and had pizza and coffee. How very Irish of us! After the pizza, we did head over to the Cobblestone for a few pints. We were hoping that because it's not in the city center that it wouldn't be jammed with tourists, but no luck. I'm pretty sure Wes and our friend, M-L were there only Irish people there, except for the musicians and the bartenders.There were lots of cheesy hats, large men wearing tiny bibs, and even a girl wearing dried orange slices as earrings (perhaps it was the only 'orange' she could find for her outfit).

All in all, it was a pretty low key day and we managed to avoid the binge drinking and fist fights!

*At least the ones still living in Ireland.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Dave Matthews Band

Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and corn

Last night we headed to the O2 with Liz and SJC to see the Dave Matthews Band. This time was a bit different from the previous four times I've seen him. 1.) We paid extra for seats 2.)It was not warm outside 3.) The concert was inside and 4.) I didn't see anyone puking. 

The evening started out on a good note when we found out our seats were upgraded. Basically, they didn't sell enough seats and we got moved up closer to the front. This probably made us all feel a bit more special than it should have. Whatever, we felt like rockstars! Being in the seats, as opposed to down on the floor, meant that there were a lot of old people sitting around us. And by old people, I mean my ripe old age of 35. There was even a pregnant girl in front of us who looked like she would have rather been sticking forks in her eyes than sitting at this concert. Also being in the seats meant that you don't stand up and dance. One couple did this and we all shot eye daggers at them. Fortunately, the large bald man in front of me didn't seem too interested in dancing.

As always, the DMB put on a good show. They don't keep the crowd waiting too long and they pretty much play continuously for 3 hours. They like to go off on their jamming tangents, which can get a little long, but I enjoy watching them because you can tell they're obviously having a blast. It makes me feel good to know the band members actually LIKE each other.

Note to all those first time DMBers out there - Chanting 'Two Step' will not get them to play it as the encore. Ever. Don't be that guy who can't stop chanting it.

If you're a DMB dork like me, you might be interested to know the electric guitar player on the left is Tim Reynolds.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


I imagine the lovely fishing village of Howth is gorgeous in the summertime. Unfortunately, we only tend to go there when it's beautifully sunny and bloody freezing. Today was no exception and I'm glad I decided to bring my hat at the last minute. If only I had thought to bring my scarf and gloves too! There is a farmer's market every Sunday in Howth and it's an easy trip on the DART from Dublin which means there are LOADS of tourists there on the weekends. We had a disappointing lunch in a pub, then wandered around to enjoy the sunshine. We would have eaten from the Farmer's Market, but it was so cold all you really wanted to do was sit inside where it was warm. People were actually eating ice cream cones and we both agreed it was definitely not ice cream eating weather. One of the best parts of the day were the cheeky seals that came up to the pier! You get the impression that they're well fed by handouts from the fisherman during the week! At one point there were eight of them hovering around. So cute! Here are a few pictures from the day:

Ireland's Eye in the foreground with Lambay Island behind it.

Looking back towards Howth

The lighthouse and part of the pier

Fishing trawlers headed out to sea!

The requisite shot!


After a lovely day we came back to reality - Smithfield Square after the monthly horse sale. Blech.

Friday, March 5, 2010

I might feel like crap...

...but I managed to pull myself together to make these delicious brownies! Priorities, people!!!

Oh, woe is me!!!

Being sick when you're employed is much different from being sick when you're unemployed. When you're working you'll find you just suck it up and go to work. When you're not working you stay in bed late then move to the couch and spend your day moaning in agony. Even I'm getting annoyed with myself.