Thursday, July 31, 2008

Shankill Holiday

Here I am again. Back in the Shankill. Craig's mom and family went to Spain for holiday so we are housesitting while they are gone. Oh, how I wish I were in Spain right now. The weather here is so weird. It's dark and gray outside and it's raining mad (alleluia it's raining mad!), but it's so hot and humid. Somewhat tropical. Craig and I are sweating like pigs in heat. "It's like Africa with white people", I say.

We were stressed out earlier in the day. First off, we woke up late. I wasn't feeling well last night. I had some nasty 24 hour bug making me feel like crap. I had the chills and a fever. This time the tables were turned with Craig playing Florence Nightengale. The poor boy had to hop up and down the stairs with a backpack full of soup, toast, and tea. *snicker* Craig decided not to go to sleep because we were to be at his mom's house by 11:30AM. We both woke up around 3PM. So packing became a huge dilemma. Craig was all stressed out and I was just taking it easy (because I'm the one that will have to carry the stuff anyway). We packed all our shit from the kitchen including my spices. I was going to bring our leftover produce and frozen meats to save us on shopping. I asked Craig whether we should put it in the garbage bag and he bitched and moaned saying, "I have no idea. We're going to have to put this in the taxi". UGH! I just about lost it, because I wasn't feeling well for one, and two I always have to make the decisions and doing all the shit in the house. So I went ballistic and chucked everything in the garbage. Craig freaked out and wanted to curl up in the fetal position in the corner.

Luckily, Liam (our new housemate) didn't witness the madness. He came in the house in the nick of time. As a diversion, Craig gave Liam the lowdown on the house and explained the signs we put up around the house. Yes! We put up signs. It was my idea. Especially topping up the electricity and gas because I was sick of Connie freeloading off of us. I created a record log of who put in what and everyone must sign the log. Hopefullly, Liam will follow through and Connie will feel like an ass for not putting in her fair share.

It was a very silent and tense ride to the Shankill. I started to warm up when I saw a birthday suprise waiting for me on the mantle. I got a cute soft teddy bear from his sister, Laura and I got £20 from his mom. Awwww...they're so sweeeeet!!! I dreaded going out in the pouring rain to get ingredients for our dinner (since I threw everything in the trash). I especially dreaded going out onto the Shankill and endure the menacing stares. But I did anyway. I came back and Craig asked what's for dinner. I said chicken fajitas. He opened the trash can. "What are you doing?", I asked. "Aren't you going to chuck it in the bin?", he jokingly says.

Ha. Ha. Ha.

Sidenote: My blog hit the 1,000 mark! Woohoo! Thanks for all your support readers!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Bodhran Lesson Cancelled Today

Madlyne , in relation to tomorrow evening I will need to cancel our planned lesson due to childcare arrangements .If for whatever reason circumstances change I will email you tomorrow, if you do not hear from me take it that the lesson is cancelled.

All the best for now.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Magic of the Pants at the Grand Opera House

Last night we saw Magic of the Dance at the Grand Opera House. Advertised as the "Irish Dance Sensation of the Decade", I was expecting it to be cheezy but I didn't expect it to be a big mountain of steaming turd.

It starts out with ominous music and a screen of Celtic images in the background, Christopher Lee narrates (which doesn't fit into the storyline whatsoever). Fog fills the stages and out comes a line of monks marching with torches carrying a woman in white. They then start Irish dancing as a group and she sees her Irish prince and they embrace. And then the devil comes out and he dances and some fairies flit about and throw confetti. All of sudden it segues into the modern harbor where you see 4 New Yorkers dressed in sailor suits and they tap dance on a bunch of oil drums. The New York Tap Dance All-Stars, how they fit into Irish dancing I don't know. Then it reverts back to medieval Ireland more fairies and demons. Then it goes back to Brooklyn, New York where they tap dance with a bunch of basketballs. And then it goes back to Ireland where the young innocent maiden starts singing and becomes corrupted by a bunch of devils. Lots of fire and fog in this scene. She dies and the Irish dude come out all sad and starts doing a jig. And then the fairies come out and she lives again. They get married and live happily ever after. Then the Irish Dancers and New York Tap All Stars do a showdown. The Irish lead dude's shoes burst into flames and dances for two minutes. They do their bows and then the lead guy falls on his ass as he exits the stage. The End.

The highlight of my evening was not only that the leading dude fell on his ass, but being inside the beautiful Grand Opera House with it's painted ceilings and guilded balconies. It was like I was transported back to the Victorian Era. The raspberry ice cream we ate during intermission. And afterwards Mongolian Beef at Red Panda.

I want my money back.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Most Awkward Conversation Ever

While Craig and I were waiting for our taxi, a woman walks up to me and asks...

"Are you Chinese or Korean?"

"No. I'm American."

"Are you Korean?"

"No. I'm actually Filipino but I was born in America. I'm from California."

"I have a friend who is Korean."


"I've always wanted to go to Korea."


"Well, good luck."

"You too."

WTF?!?!? I should have said, "If you give me 20 quid, I can be Korean. I can be ANYTHING you want!"

This is Why I Hate my Housemate!!!

She leaves her alcohol everywhere!

Would it kill her to empty the trash?!?!? How hard is it to put cans and bottles in the recycling bin?

She expects other people to wash her dishes.

I have already mentioned this to her before. I don't think she gets it. Anyone have any suggestions on how to handle a noncompliant housemate by nonviolent means?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Craig's Cupcakes

In honor of our engagement and to make up for my birthday, Craig (world renowned Michelin Star pastry chef) baked me cupcakes. Below is the master at work:

It takes a great deal of focus and concentration to frost his cupcakes!

A blank canvas to express his creativity!

Master pastry chef Craig places milky buttons and smarties on the cupcake ever so carefully and intently.

Voila! After 2 and a half hours, he creates his masterpiece! (This is just the one cupcake)

He creates more with variations on a theme!

Bon Appetite!

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Day After

Today wasn't too bad. We saw Dark Knight at Storm Cinema, VIP seats again. We were 25 minutes late but STILL caught 5 minutes into the trailer. Can you believe that? I wouldn't say it was the best movie I've ever seen but Christian Bale is too hot. Heath Ledger as the joker did a fine performance (too bad it was his last).

After the movie, our original plan was to go to La Tasca and have Spanish tapas. We noticed how empty it was and went to the Red Panda instead. We learned quickly after the Giraffe incident...Empty restaurant = sucky restaurant. Craig had been boasting about the Honey Chili Chicken for some time so I was anxious to try it. Although the place was packed, we were seated right away and we didn't even have a reservation. Service was prompt. In addition to the Honey Chili Chicken, we also ordered Sui Mai for appetizer and Mongolian Beef as the other entree. Mongolian Beef was out of this world. It's the best Chinese food I've had in Belfast, I must say. The Honey Chili chicken was sweet but had a mild spicy kick to it. Chicken was juicy and moist. The beef was tender and the sauce was gorgeous. Craig wanted to appear all cultural and civilized, so he ordered green tea. The Chinese waitress gave him a talking to and said they don't have green tea but the Chinese tea (meaning green tea is Japanese). She came out with a tall mug of steaming hot water with a ball of green prickly stuff. The prickly stuff started to unravel and bloom into a beautiful flower. It was neat!!!

Food: 3 1/2
Customer Service: 4
Atmosphere: 2 If it weren't for the blaring ABBA music, I'd give it a 3.

I was craving for a chocolate sundae with a cherry on top. So we went downstairs to the American Diner and guess what? IT WAS CLOSED!!! I was just about going to lose it. My eyes were going to well up in tears but I held back. It was 9PM and Craig didn't know where else to get a sundae so we just took the taxi back to stranmillis and had chocolate cake and milkshakes. I was picking at my chocolate cake and Craig said, "You don't look to happy. Are you sure you're going to last six weeks?". I just sighed and frowned.

I went to Centra to get some junk to stuff my pathetic face. Craig hobbled back to the house. We planned to have a pity party fest and watch cheesey romantic movies. Tonight he was going to be my girlfriend and consoling shoulder. Everything started to become a disaster again. Him hobbling up and down the stairs to the bathroom cuz he has the runs (must be the milkshake). I gave him a fright while I was getting glasses out of the cabinet. I dropped a glass and it smashed to the floor. I was like just great, my nerves are hanging on by a thread here. I wanted to burst out crying. I sweept the glass and headed back upstairs. Here is Craig again hobbling up from the bathroom. He's out of breath and sweating like a racing snake. He just stood there looking at me trying to catch his breath. I asked if he was ok. He held out his arms and told me to give him a cuddle and he said, "I appreciate everything you've done for me these past few months, and what you've sacrificed to get here. I know I've ruined your trip and I'm sorry. I want to spend the rest of my life making it up to you. You are special to me and I love you with all my heart. Will you marry me?" He reaches into his pocket and takes out a gorgeous ring. I say, YES! and he puts it on my finger. A perfect fit! I love it. I love him more than anything. Even though it has been shitty most of the time due to outside circumstances, it was all worth it because we have each other. I'm actually grateful for all these shitty events because it made everything else all that special and I am confident we can handle anything that comes our way with laughter and a smile (even though sometimes it can be hard, we are there for each other and that's all that matters). I know it's not the grand romantic storybook fairytale. No trips to exotic places and proposing in front of an island sunset. No fanfare. Just simple and real in our wee room in South Belfast. I couldn't have asked for anything farther from perfect.

A ruby (my birthstone)encircled with diamonds (his birthstone) represents me being the center of his life and his continous loyalty and love for me.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

No Cake

There's no cake today. Flaked on a Ginger Bistro dinner reservation. No ride on the Belfast Aye.

Just bawling into a pillow and wanting to go home. At least I got one birthday wish, Ireland gave me a day without rain.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Great Outdoors

For the past few days, I have been venturing out into the city centre by myself. And what refreshing change of pace that was! The past few days have been ALL ABOUT ME...a selfish, narcissistic beotch. No more running up and down the stairs to answer doors for the cableman postman or delivery man, no mopping kitchen floors, doing laundry, or catering to Hop-Along. Just rest, relaxation, self-nurturing, and pampering.

On Tuesday, I went to get my eyebrow waxed at Zen Day Spa on Great Victoria Street. I left the house an hour early to allow myself to find the place. It was easy enough since the bus stopped a block away. I had an hour and a half before my appointment so I explored the area. I walked along Great Victoria Street, I wouldn't say that it was aesthetically appealing, KFC on the corner, SPARS, several business suites, restaurants, and uninteresting stores. I spotted Belfast's celebrity chef, Paul Rankin. He was outside his restaurant, Cayenne, talking to some people. Ever since, I saw Anthony Bourdain dine in his restaurant on Bourdain's show No Reservations, I have always wanted to follow in his footsteps and sit in the very same seat bad ass mofo chef parked his butt. Craig vowed he would take me here before we leave (let's see about that). I kept walking up and crossed one street over, parallel to Great Victoria Street onto Botanic Avenue. Botantic Avenue is a hip and happening street,sort of a boho vibe to it. It reminded my of Haight Street in San Francisco with cafes, vintage clothing stores, dusty bookstores, restaurants lining the street. I ducked in and out of the bookstores browsing and I also found a cheapo store and bought house stuff.

3:15 rolled around and it was time for my appointment. When I walked into it, it certainly wasn't what I expected. It looked like a cheap place, for a spa there was no relaxing ambience whatsoever and reception looked like a closet. The woman led me to a stairwell and told me to fill out a form and to wait until I was called. I felt like someone stuck me in a stairwell in an office building rather than a tranquil retreat. As you can guess, I was freaking out and was wondering if I should make a bee-line for the exit before I look like a chola who went overzealous with a sharpie. But foolhardy as I am, I just waited. A woman called me in and again led me to another flight of stairs. The corridors were narrow and she told me to go to the room in the end at the far left. It looked like a Dr.'s office. She told me to lie down. I prayed the Hail Mary as she was doing my brows. She was very nice and pleasant. It was quick and painless, and she asked if I wanted to take more off. I said, "No way!". My brows were decent enough. Nothing to wow over. Still doesn't compare to my beautician in San Fran. I would go here again, just don't expect to be transported to another world. It's a very clinical atmosphere. No pampering here, they just get the work done. If you're pressed for time, this is the ideal place to go. I was waiting at the bus stop to go home, and the same old man who tried to make small talk with me at the cheapo store was at the bus stop. He said hello, and he started talking to me about his day at the Doctor's appointment...TMI. He was also those types of people who speak so close to you that they're practically down your throat. I clutched my purse close to me body and just answered him with an "Uh-huh". I then realized this is like being at home, nothing has really changed except the accent. Because a weirdo is a weirdo and I am a weirdo magnet no matter where I am in the world.

Today was my haircut appointment at Alex Mekki. The other day, I was browsing for "professional" hairstylists. I came across Alex Mekki. Like Zen Day Spa, their website looked really smart and appeared like they knew their shit.

Their intro read:

An exceptional hairdressing experience through visually stunning surrounding and outstanding quality of service.

This is what really sold me:

We are one of the few salons in the country that are trained in the styling, relaxing, and treating Afro and Asian types of hair.

I booked my appointment right away. When I got there, it was far from visually stunning. It looked like a hair salon you would see at a strip mall. The decor was gaudy and a bit dated. Yellow everywhere, it felt like I was inside a honeycomb. As for the service, they lived up to their word. As soon I walked in, I was greeted by an amicable receptionist. She took my coat and offered me tea and biscuits. This is something not unusual. My salon would do the same thing. There was no air of pretention just people getting their hair done. I didn't feel intimidated at all. Brian, my hairstylist, greeted me, he listened to my requests, he did a thorough hair analysis where he runs his fingers through my hair, tosses my hair from side to side, and asks me how many times I shampoo a week, whether I was the wash and go kind or the high maintenance kind. I told him I was the wash and go kind. He said I have combo hair which means oily at the roots, and dry tips. He tells me which products he will use to remedy this problem some photocytokinetheesistisis. I get my hair shampooed and conditioned and got a heavenly scalp massage. He starts cutting but all the while, he was working on someone else's highlights, extensions, answering the phone, etc etc. His multitasking was making me nervous and I was concerned that my hair was not the focus of his attention. Although, I did like the way step by step, he described what he was doing and what kind of affect it would have on my hair. The end result was astonishing. He layered my hair beautifully and he jazzed it up with some texture. I love my hair!!!! Brian is awesome! I highly recommend him! At £45, it's worth it. It is about the going rate for my haircuts in SF. When I told Hop Along about my hairdressing experience, he laughed so hard. Compared to his barber, Alex Mekki makes his barber sound like he is at a sheep shearing factory. LMAO!

After my hair appointment, I went crazy shopping at Victoria Center. I bought 2 cardigan sweaters, 2 cowl neck dresses, and 3 comfy pairs of flats from Clarke's at 70% off, same shoe in different colors. There were sales everywhere, I was completely mesmerized. Although, I did snap back into reality and converted everything back to $$$. It's not that much of a bargain afterall. Oh well, you only live once. After 4 hours of drooling over clothes, I took the bus back home. And it actually felt like home on the way back. For the first time, I didn't feel like a stranger in a foreign land. I didn't feel uneasy, nervous, or anxious but felt an extraordinary feeling of comfort and familiarity. I was just taking the bus home over a long day of shopping. That was all.

Pampering yourself is hardwork. I'm knackered. Off to bed. Tomorrow is a BIG day! Please, PLEASE don't rain.

Lección de Bodhran Parte Tres

I was 10 minutes late again for my bodhran lesson. I was in a mad rush coming in from my shopping spree at the city centre. I saw my teacher sitting on his doorstep texting on his phone. I was going to get a yelling for sure and I'm sure he was texting that very moment.

I opened the gate breathless and apologized for being late. He seemed to be in good spirits and said it was ok. Mind you, I didn't practice at all this week and I was sure that he wouldn't be in good spirits for too long.

He gave me a glass of water. He inspected my new drum and said it was a really good drum. We went over what he taught me last week with the new 4/4 Reel rhythms. Of course, I completely forgot. He started doing them and told me to play along with him. I forgot what they were so I asked him if I can record our lessons from now on. Once I get home, I lose everything and don't know where to start practicing. He said, "Sure". So I whipped out my digital recorder from argos and plugged away. This time I won't have any excuse to not practice. I also noticed that he used the word "practice" in every sentence like his trying to tattoo it on my brain. Could he be hinting at something? Nah!

After we reviewed everything I learned with reels we went on to jigs. Jigs are slower than reels and is in 6/8 time. I love 6/8 and I picked up the rhythms quickly. He was astonished. He'd show me once and I would get it. He says I'm the first ever student that picked it up immediately. He also gave me handouts of the different jig rhythms and he photocopied an article on the history of the bodhran.

I thought I did well in class except towards the end my left eye was stinging and distracting me. My eye was tearing up. I didn't even bother to wipe the stream on my left cheek because I wanted to concentrate. He keeps emphasizing that the bodhran is easy to play. I don't think it's that easy. It's so different from the other styles I play (Middle Eastern, African, Indonesian, Pilipino, Afro-Cuban, and Afro-Brazilian percussion). Bodhran is quite unique with the sweeping motion of the stick. But he's right, I have to give myself some slack I've only been playing for 3weeks and I only can do what I can do for now. I'm too hard on myself and impatient.

He sent me on my way and gave me a CD of a bodhran player. Homework for studying different techniques. Next week there may or may not be any class which means I have to keep checking my email consistently.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Royal Mail vs USPS

Royal Mail:

1) They never answer their customer service line.

2) The people at the post office never answer your questions and do not want to track a package for you even though it has been floating all over the city for 5 weeks because 'they don't do that there'.

3) Parcels come at irregular intervals so you can never the leave the house. And when you do leave the house that is when they come and leave a slip at the door to pick it up at the main post office.

4) You do have the option to go online and redeliver (but you don't know when and you're stuck in the house ALL day) OR you can have it sent to a post office REALLY REALLY out of the way because for some reason the post office down the street isn't listed!

5) When you choose the option to deliver to the closest post office (which is in another town), you need to visit at least 6 times before the postman decides to deliver it there. And when you ask the person behind the counter, when they expect it to arrive they say they don't know and when you ask them if there is anyway to track the package, (see #2). There's no point in calling before you go (please see #1).

6) When you pick up your parcel at the main Royal Mail post office, please note that you are ONLY allowed to pick up mail here, not send mail.

1) They at least answer the phone albeit grumpy, indifferent, apathetic or at worst case rude but they ANSWER your questions.

2) You don't have to wait at the house all day because the postman comes roughly at the same time.

3) If you're not there to receive the parcel, then they too slip a note in your mailbox saying to pick it up at the main post office or they will come back tomorrow at the SAME time.

4) If your parcel goes missing (which is very VERY rare), you go to your local postoffice and the nice postman behind the counter goes to a computer (you know that box with a screen that tells you information). He will TELL you what is on that screen and give you some idea of where it is. He will also pick up the phone and call the main post office and ask where the hell the package is. That is, if he feels like it.

5) You can pick up AND send mail at the main post office. That's cutting edge, man.

Belfast Fashion Do's and Dont's

A working list of my observations thus far...

1) Orange skin is IN! DO go to tanning salons every week to get that sunkissed complexion.

2) DO wear ultra-low waisted skinny jeans to show off that foxy muffin top. Make sure you wear an XXS top to exaggerate this look.

3) DO wear an ubermini skirt to show off the nether regions. This also provides easy access to the young lads at the pub.

4) DO wear skimmers or ballet flats because Belfast terrain is uneven and they don't know how to do a properly paved sidewalk. Although, when going out to drink DO wear stilletto heals, this will greater your chances at getting shagged.

5) DO wear 4 sizes smaller than your normal size to show your 'best' features.

6) DON'T leave the house without makeup on but DO dunk your face in a vat before you go so you look like bozo the clown. The more the better.

7) DO wear UGG boots with hot pants on cold days.

8) DO wear hoop earrings the size of your face.

9) DO wear a belt at least 12 inches in width positioned at your ribcage.

10) Prams are the ultimate fashion accessory. DO be seen walking around town with them.

11) DO make sure to wear extra long pants at least 4 inches at the cuff so it can drag and mop up the muck on the streets. Saves the city on street cleaning.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

I've Turned Into An Old Fart

It's 3:30AM and it looks like quiet Connie has turned over a new leaf. She invited her mates over for a houseparty. All night, I heard door slamming, girls giggling, baby elephants running, chatting about god knows what in their pseudo English accents (seems to be the trend of Belfast youth these days) screaming off the top of their lungs the worst song in the historyr of songs, "Lollipop", by Lil Wayne. Ugh! I will be surprised if I still have hair left to tear out Dawn.

All my hard work today has gone down the drain. Today I spent the whole morning washing down the walls in the living room (previous food stains from student food fights), wiping the skirting board full of black mysterious soot, and mopping the hardwood floors. This labor was obviously fruitless. It all went to shit around 8PM when they walked through the door.

Craig and I went downstairs to get ourselves some hot cocoa and I nearly fell on my knees when I saw the mess! It has been the messiest the living room and kitchen has ever been since we moved in. Vodka bottles strewn everywhere as well as crisp bags. Now they are eating takeaway and I whimper at the thought of greasy chinese food falling on the floor that I JUST MOPPED!!!

Farewell to the tranquil bliss of Stranmillis. I'm sure there are many more parties to come. Oh well, it will give me an insight on what this house will be like when we leave and the other students move in. It will be fivefold. This house will be very, very sad to see us leave. We gave it as much TLC as we could and I'm sure it appreciated it.

All I ask is that they don't fuck with my spices! If they do, they'll have hell to pay!

Friday, July 18, 2008

A Day Out With Hop Along

Banner in Kainan Cafe, Belfast City Centre

After a slight getting frustrated over waiting for Craig to freakin' wake up and to do something. And him getting frustrated over me expecting him to wake up because I wanted him to do something, we finally headed out the door and took the bus to the city center.

I think I am immune to the rain now or the fact that my blood was boiling thinking if I had to stay one more day in that house, I'm going to blow a gasket and will need tranquilizers, because rain or shine, I'm going OUT!!!! So in the midst of a tsunami, "Hop Along" and I, went to Marcus Music on Royal Avenue to buy my drum. But before we even reached the store, I noticed signs pointing to a place that said 'Kainan Cafe'. Kainan means eatery in Tagalog. Tagalog is national language of the Philippines. I was like, "No, this can't be!". So I shouted to Hop Along who was 20 feet in front of me to check out this place. It was a Filipino restaurant and grocery store! I can't believe it! I mean, what are the chances?!?! Apparently, there has been an influx of Filipinos who came to Belfast 5 to 7 years ago because of nurse shortages in hospitals in the UK. Due to lack of jobs and low pay in the Philippines, all health professionals had no choice but to work abroad in search for a better life, for higher wages, and more opportunity so they can send money and help family members back home. I told Craig we must eat here after I purchase my drum. It will also give him insight of what my peeps are like and I was curious what he thought.

We went to Marcus Music and he immediately reconnected with a friend of his who is an employee there. His friend is also an accomplished guitarist. After they talked shopped for awhile, because Craig also plays guitar, I finally got down to business and bought my first ever bodhran drum. The drum w/ tipper and case was around £135. It's about average for a semi-professional bodhran and it will do for practice and classes. If you're serious about learning a bodhran make sure you get the screws in the back. What you want is a tunable bodhran where you can tighten the skin by a turn key. The ones that don't have them are pure decoration and not suitable for playing. A bodhran 14-16" in diameter would suit you just fine. You don't want to go any bigger than that. The bodhrans they sell in Marcus are manufactured in Dublin. I still plan to buy a custom made bodhran here in Belfast. Eamon Maguire is supposedly a master bodhran maker in Ireland. I'll will definitely give him a shoutout before I leave. I hope he'll let me take pictures in his workshop. I'm really eager to see how the bodhran is made.

After Marcus music, it was off to Kainan Cafe. There were a group of Filipino men entering the cafe. They looked at us with curiosity. What is a Filipina doing with an Irishman? (Mailorder Bride?. HAHA!) And when they heard my American accent they were doubly intrigued. But they didn't make us feel like we were unwelcome. It was a relaxed atmosphere. We went in and behind the counter was a nice Filipino man who reminded me of my uncle. There were hotpots all lined up in a row. I asked him if there was a menu, he smiled and said to just look in the hotpots. He asked if I was Filipina, and I said yes but I was born in America so I don't really speak Tagalog all that well. I sheepishly said that I'm not sure what they were so he opened the lid and told me what they were:

Kare Kare - a peanut and oxtail dish which you eat with fermented shrimp paste. Sounds gross but it's oh so good!

Pork Adobo = Pork marinated and stewed in soy sauce, garlic, vinegar, and basil leaves. Hop Along said it tasted like really strong roast beef. He really liked it!

Mungo - Thick soup made with mung beans.

Diniguan - Spicy pork blood soup with tripe. Not my thing but it's good.

Sinigang - a tangy beef soup, another favorite of mine

I ordered the Kare Kare and Pork Adobo. A main dish plus generous helping of sticky rice is only £4.50 (which is average price for Chinese takeaway). It was ok in my opinion, nothing is as good as mom's cooking. But it was adequate. I was surprised Craig cleared his plate. He said he felt like Anthony Bourdain in No Reservations. LMAO!

I asked the nice cafe man how long he's been here. He said 5 years. I asked if he liked it here, he grimaced and was like, we're just here for the money. His wife is a nurse and once they have enough money they are going back home to the Philippines. I don't blame him. Coming from a tropical country, they must think Northern Ireland is the arctic circle. I browsed the shelves and saw the all too familiar ingredients that my mom uses in her kitchen and it made me long for home. :(

Filipino men were just chilling and chatting over the din of The Filipino Channel! LOL! I assumed they were waiting for their wives to get off their hospital shift. Man, it was so nice to be surrounded by the familiar. I loved listening to them speak in Tagalog. For once, I didn't feel like a stranger and I fit in, and Craig was the opposite.

Filipino Men hanging out at Kainan Cafe - We're taking over the world! *sinister laugh*

After we had our meal, we headed to roast for some coffee. I still have trouble with the currency here. LOL! The man asked for £6.50 and I gave him £5.50 how embarassing. As we sat there waiting for the rain to die down. HP was fiddling with my itouch to see if there was free wifi...which there was (all Roasts do). From the time we left the house, and all the while we were at the city centre, he was checking for wifi hotspots. The man was obssessed. Whatever gets his rocks off, I guess!

HP's barber was nearby so he walked in for a haircut. I have been here once before in January. And I found it kind of funny how barbers are no fuss no muss as opposed to hair salons where you're pampered. Men sit and wait until it is their turn. They sit in a chair. Tell the barber they want their hair short, and off goes the buzzer. They pay the barber £5 and that's it. 15 minutes tops. Straight and to the point.

We then took the bus to his mom's house in the Shankill. We played with LADY! Yipeee!

Lady always makes me happy!YAAAAAAY!!!

And you know what else today is? It's a milestone for Hop Along and I. It's the first anniversary where we met in person! Awwww! I remember it vividly. When I first saw him, I melted like butter and my heart went a pitter pat. It was his first time in San Franciso. Him tired from the long journey and me frantic running around the city getting ready for his arrival. It was clumsy and awkward at first but the strong feelings were there and we couldn't believe how we made it come to fruition.

Never would I have guessed that I would move to some foreign country to live with someone who has touched my heart and soul, and showed me a different side of life I would have never gotten to know. It's been a great adventure thus far, and I'm sure we'll have many more for years to come!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Lisa Hannigan at Black Box

Tonight we saw a fantastic show at the Black Box. Lisa Hannigan was amazing. She was kinda quirky, reminded me of an Irish bjork. She incorporates a lot of unique musical instruments. If you don't know who Lisa Hannigan is she sings duet with Damien Rice. I don't think she has an albun out yet. At least it's going to be out soon I think. I highly recommend her music. Her voice is very soft yet powerful. Gavin Glass was the opening act. He is actually in her band. His style is more of a funky bluesy cocktail loungy.

Gavin Glass - The opening act and also a member of Lisa's band

The Black Box is located in the Cathedral quarter, new fresh cafes abound, very upbeat, hip and young. It is a really great venue to watch a concert...very small and intimate. The stage is so low it's almost level with the audience. Although it's a small venue, there wasn't a compromise in sound. It was even doubly enjoyable because we were practically sitting in Lisa Hannigan's lap since we were smack dab in front. The people at Black Box were so nice and accommodating because of Craig's broken leg, that they let us in first and we had first dibs. There is limited seating with were about 8 tables in the front and space to stand in the back.

This is also my first concert with the durdles! They were a studenty, bohemian, arthouse, alternative type of crowd. And it seems that once you get drink down a durdle's neck they aren't their usual selves, they are quite chatty and loud. But I liked it, it was very unpretentious, relaxed atmosphere. Just a bunch of people there to enjoy the music. As opposed to San Francisco, pretention rampant, people concerned about how cool they are because they listen to an obscure artist, and hoping to be seen in such surrorundings.

I also took video, before a lady stopped me and said quit it! You can view a 90 second clip below...

What I Miss About San Francisco

In no particular order...

1. I miss crossing the street without fearing for my life! In San Francisco, pedestrians have the right of way.

2. I miss walking into a store with the sales assistant greeting me at the door and asking me how I am, if I'm looking for something in particular, and my name is xxxx, if you need any help, just ask for me. You see, in San Francisco, they are paid on commission and it's their job to kiss your ass as a paying customer. They are paid to be your best friend. They don't gather around the counter chatting to each other and ignoring you, and you have to wait until their conversation is finished for you to interrupt them to ask for your shoe size.

3. The stores are open. Period. In San Francisco, stores are open after 6PM. Oh, I don't know why, maybe it's because stores want to make business and people have different schedules and want to shop at certain hours. You see, stores that open after 6PM stimulate the economy. And by god, if I want cotton balls at 3am, I am going to get it! Because I'm proud to be an American!

4. I miss well paved sidewalks. In San Francisco, you can wear your stillettos all the live long day and walk 5 miles because the sidewalks aren't uneven and don't have crevices the size of ravines.

5. I miss neighborhoods with character. I miss how you can walk into each of these neighborhoods and feel like you're in another world. Mission District = South America, North Beach = Italy, Japantown = Japan, Chinatown = China, Tenderloin = Crackhouse, some parts Vietnam, Valencia/Dolores Park = Alternative/Ecclectic, Noe Valley = Yuppie Families, Sunset=Irish, Chinese,Richmond District = Russian, Chinese, Italian, Marina = Trust Fund Babies, Financial District = Three Piece Pinned Striped Suits, Excelsior District = Native San Franciscans/Filipino, Castro=LGBT community. The list goes on. San Francisco is certainly not a one note city.

6. I miss the food. Fresh produce all year round and in season. I miss real mexican food (burritos in the mission). I miss the fact that if I have a craving for something I can get it whether it be Ethiopian, Pho, Peruvian, South African, Cajun, you name it, they've got it! I'm not even going to mention the Michelin star restaurants (this is a whole thesis). I miss good old fashioned American Breakfasts at a good old fashioned American diner. I miss Whole Foods and Trader Joe's. I miss butternut squash ravioli at pasta pomodoro, I miss bbq chicken salad at CPK, I miss Turkish Coffee milkshakes and Portobello Mushroom burgers at Barney's, I miss Arnold Palmers (half lemonade and half iced tea). And I mean LEMONADE, you know made from the juice of REAL LEMONS! Not 7UP or Sprite!!!

7. Costco because sometimes you feel like buying in bulk like Doritos or something superfluous like that. Not to mention their big, FAT hotdogs that stick out of the bun. None of the rinky dinks they have here. BIG, FAT hotdogs with ketchup, mustard, saurkraut, and REAL sweet relish. AND a mixed berry smoothie. *SIGHS*

8. I miss that, in San Francisco, you can find something to do no matter what time of day. If I want to go see rennaissance paintings there's the Legion of Honor, if I feel like modern art, I go to the MOMA, if I feel like rollerblading in golden gate park, I can do that, or if I prefer, I can rollerblade across the golden gate bridge all the way to Sausalito. If I want to workout at the gym at 4am, I can do that. If I want to hear jazz, folk, rock, pop, or electronic music, clubs abound! If I want to sit in a cafe and people watch, I can do that. And If I want a fucking ice cream sundae at 11:30PM, I CAN DO THAT TOO!!!

9. We have an amazing public transporation system. Every inch of the city is accessible. You can catch a bus within 2 blocks walking distance max and you can go anywhere you need to go and they run all night. If you want to venture outside the city and go across the Bay Bridge and hang out with the weirdos in Berkeley, you can take BART. If you feel like taking it by sea then you can take a ferry.

10. I miss coffee that doesn't taste like cigarette butt juice.

11. Festivals. In San Francisco, festivals are abound. Ethnic Dance Festival, San Francisco Independent Festival, Fillmore Street Festival, San Francisco Jazz Festival. I miss the cool summer free programs like Concert in the Park, or Dolores Park Movie Night where you picnic in Dolores Park while watching a classic movie like Breakfast at Tiffany's.

12. I miss how everything is within reach. If you want to go ski in the mountains, you can go to Lake Tahoe, if you want to take a drive through the wine country Napa only 35 minutes away, if you want to go to the beach, you can either go to Ocean Beach in the city, or down south to Monterey or north to Bodega Bay. If you feel like camping, Yosemite is not more than 3 hours away. If you want to go to Los Angeles or Vegas, a plane will take you there in 1hr and 45min.

13. I miss how random strangers on the street greet you good morning or engage in friendly idle chit chat. Over here, people are reserved and aloof. They only talk to you when you approach them. If not you either get menacing stares, or you're invisible.

14. I miss a sweltering summer. I miss the sun beating on my skin and blue skies!

There's more to this list but I am not going to continue because I would just be torturing myself.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Bodhran Lesson Part Deux

I was rushing up my teacher's street and was out of breath when I finally reached his door. I was dreading today. It's been two weeks since I last had my first lesson and I haven't practiced. Furthermore, I didn't buy my drum yet. And last I heard from my teacher was an email reprimanding me for not showing up.

He asked me if I practiced and I said, "Not as often as I should". Then he gave me a lecture on the importance of persistance and practicing everyday. Basically, he was telling me I am a lazy ass. He told me to go over the techinques that were taught to me 2 weeks ago. Fuck if I remember?!?!? So I did and he said that I sounded really good. I'm not sure if he's just egging me on, being polite when, in fact,I suck.

He taught me new rhythms and this crazy drum roll triplet where you slightly grasp the stick and hit both ends of the stick against the drum. He was going at 100 mph, everything just went over my head. But I was on autopilot and just did it and he said, "Good!".

He then played a jig and made me play to the music. I never know what the heck to do during these moments when I'm on the spot. I feel like a specimen under a microscope. Him sitting across me and criticizing my every move. He told me that I have a natural aptitude for rhythm (well duh, I'm a percussionist) and the things that he's taught me today, he usually teaches during week 5 to his other students.

I asked him if there were different regional bodhran styles. He says that is a dying art because the newer generation are bastardizing the old traditions by bringing in oustide influences. Although, regional styles are still alive and well by flute music. How they were different my teacher doesn't know. I would love to go to the West Coast of Ireland again and hang out in County Clare or even in the Aran Islands. I wonder what their take is on traditional music. There's always next time! I have yet to go to a session at a pub. And I mean real traditional Irish folk music, not some fat chick playing an accordian and some old dude w/ an electric guitar singing Johnny Cash.

He then let me borrow a CD so I can practice all the jigs and he's expecting me to improvise over them next week without his help or without stopping. This is my homework. I will need a taperecorder next time, because I've forgotten everything he's taught today. I also need to go into the city centre to buy my drum. It will be an exciting day since this is the first time I've ventured out on the bus without Craig. Yay!

I am a little apprehensive though. I don't fear getting lost it's asking the "durdles" for directions because I can't understand them. Oh! I almost forgot. On the way to drum class 2 young lads asked me if I knew where a street was. Does this mean I'm no longer an outsider? (No, it just means that these dudes were lost.)

Eggplants and Ipods

I woke up around 12PM today. Instead of the usual minstrels and maltesers for breakfast, I decided to opt for something more substantial. I noticed that the eggplant was on its way out so I decided to make eggplant parmesan. Yum. Yum. I didn't have breadcrumbs so I used panko and it was crispy perfection. I served it with a side of pesto and sundried tomato penne.

I think everyone should have eggplant for breakfast, it's nutritious and delicious!

Craig didn't have any. He had wheatabix. He's never really verbalized this but I think he hate eggplants. Everytime I metion eggplant he says let's order out or I'm making french toast. I think he has an eggplant phobia like the pickle girl on Maury Povich. He is also obsessed with gadgets which explains why I woke up today and found out my ipod was wiped out. All 60K songs, 5 movies, all 4 seasons of Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations and the beginning of season 5 vanished into oblivion. Dude is bored and housebound in the worst way. Step away from my ipod! I need to figure out fun stuff for us to do. Oi Vey!

Anyways, I wanna take a nap before I go to my dreaded bodhran class.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

See Ya! Wouldn't Wanna Be Ya!

"Are you sure you know how to get there?"

"Yes, I'll be fine. I'll call you if I get lost."

"Just to be on the safe side. I'll show you on google maps."

"I told you! I know how to get there! Go down Stranmillis Rd. Turn left on Chlorine Gardens. Left on Malone Rd past the petrol station. Right on Derryvolgie Avenue. At the end of Derryvolgie Avenue, I'll hit the Lisburn Rd."


"I'll be back soon. Bye."

As soon as I shut the door behind me I was like, "See ya, sucker!" Hehe. Ah, the freedom! I was about to go bat shit crazy playing Florence Nightengale to a whining Ulsterman with a broken leg. What is it with men and a low tolerance for pain?

Today I had to go to the Post Office at the Lisburn Road to pick up my parcel. So I went and it was a waste of time, because the postman didn't deliver any parcels today. WTF? Are my parcels lost? That's $150 of vintage posters down the drain. The lady behind the counter had no explanation and was ever so help full. "Thanks but no thanks, lady." *Rolls Eyes*

Since it was such a nice dry day. I decided to explore the Lisburn Road. I've been here a couple of times with Craig but only for the sole purpose of shopping at Tesco. The Lisburn Rd is a really vibrant place. This long busy street is peppered with cafes, gelaterias, health food stores, home furnishing and accessory stores, cute little clothing stores, hair salons and dayspas, and fine dining establishments (like Shu and Porterhouse). This is my kinda street! People of all kinds are here (that is, other than the pasty white variety.) Indonesians, East Indian, Eastern European, Chinese, Filipino, Jamaicans, Nigerians, Yuppies, Mommys, Granolas, Neatniks, Goths, Alternatives, Metrosexuals, the list goes on... You name it the Lisburn Road's got it, all 31 flavors and more. For once, I can go to a place here where I can blend in and not stick out like a sore thumb.

Then...something weird suddenly happened. As I was casually strolling down the end of the street, I heard a choir of angels accompanied by harps and I was blinded by an aura of light. There it was...

The Holy Grail!

Two Things I Can Count On...

#1 Tesco Home Delivery Service

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE THEM! Groceries delivered right to your door AND I found out that I save more money through the delivery service for some reason. Maybe it's because I go astray when I peruse up and down the aisles. Maybe it's the subliminal muzak that entices me to BUY, BUY BUY. Is there still muzak in grocery stores? Anyways, if Tesco delivery service were a man, I would marry him and give him daily steaks & BJs.

#2 Sahara on Botanic Avenue

A take away joint that delivers until 4am. Can you believe it? A place other than a pub that is open after 6pm?!?!? There is a god afterall!

An electic menu of unadulterated junk from pizzas to kebabs to chips to pakora. I highly recommend their pizzas. Prices are reasonable at £4.50 an entree. Delivery is free before 11pm. They're the quickest I've experienced thus far. My wait time was an average of 30 minutes or less. OK it's not gourmet, but at 2am with the drunk munchies, who the fuck cares?!?

Food: 3 stars
Customer Service: 4 stars

Monday, July 14, 2008

VIP Treatment

After dinner, we went to go see Wanted at Storm Cinema in the Odyssey. The Odyssey or pronounced The AH-dessee is a cinemplex come chain restaurants, come concert hall/skating rink come meatmarket club and science discovery museum (W5 for What Where who why when - which stands for What is it?, Where is it?, Who goes there, Why is it closed and When does it open - we coined this name b/c everytime we go there it is CLOSED like everything else in this city!!! AGH!!). I was wary that Craig wouldn't be comfortable sitting for 2 hours in a movie theater since he can't put his foot up. But at Storm Cinema, for £12 a ticket you can go VIP and watch a movie in one of three exclusive screening rooms which only holds 48 people and is equipped with huge bronze leather reclining chairs which are big enough to park an elephant's butt (I notice butts are the theme today). You also have access to the Director's Lounge, only exclusive to VIP ticketholders, where you can sip a pre-cinema coffee or cocktail while enjoying the waterfront view. Super cool!

Hop-Along just chillaxing and watching a movie.

Wanted was entertaining. I wouldn't say it was mindblowing! The effects were really good and the storyline was a cross between The Matrix, Equilibrium, and Office Space. I bypassed the mediocrity because I was too busy drooling over James McAvoy. *SIGH* I noticed that the movie audiences here are quite reserved. There wasn't a peep out of anyone. I felt like a jackass laughing out loud at the funny parts. I mean that's why you go to movies to share the experience with other people. It's a collective experience. Craig just chalks it up to Americans being over-dramatic. Whatever! *rolls eyes*

After the movie, I wanted to just chill and have a coffee or even an ice cream sundae. I saw an "American Diner" and was like, "Let's go in there and hang out!". There was a big sign that said Closed. What the hell kind of "American Diner" closes at 11pm? Who the hell goes home right after going to a movie?!?!? The biggest thing that frustrates me about this city is that there's nothing to do after 6PM but drink. It's like they force you to drink. You can't do shit other than get piss-faced drunk which I am not into.

I don't want to get drunk after a movie, I just want a fuckin' ice cream sundae!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

What's for Dinner?

For dinner tonight, we had beer butt chicken (only with a sprite can) with sauteed greenbeens w/ almonds, cornbread stuffing and cranberry sauce. In Craig's house, his mom always makes a roast on Sundays and I wanted to keep that tradition. This was my second attempt at making beer butt chicken. The first attempt, I burnt it to a crisp. But this time around, it was perfect. The meat was so moist and juicy that it was falling off the bone. I asked Craig, who made the better roast. He said with a mouthful of chicken, "I don't want to get in between you and my mom with the chicken war." He seemed to like it, since he got several helpings. There's hardly any chicken left!

Who woulda thunk that sticking a beer can up a chicken's ass would make it taste sooooooooo good?

Sinnamon on Stranmillis Rd.

After Craig's Dr.'s visit, we decided to have breakfast at Sinnamon. Just a few blocks from our house, we've always stopped by in the morning on our way to Centra and find the place packed with people. We were thinking, if it's this packed it MUST be good! On the eve of the 12th, we were lucky to finally find a seat. I ordered the Yankee Breakfast (£1.95) which consists of 2 American style pancakes and maple syrup for Craig. We were anxious to see how this stacked up to Giraffe (hehe, stacked get it?). I ordered waffles topped with fresh strawberries and whipped cream. Waffles are their speciality and you can order a sweet or savory toppings customed tailored to your taste for 50p to £1.50. AND last but not least, we shared a pot of english breakfast tea.

The great thing about Sinnamon is we don't have to wait to be seated by a hostess and deal with a tardy waitress. You go up to the counter, give them your order and they bring the food right to your table. Badda-bing-badda-boom! I just love things that are straight and to the point. Quick, easy, and FRIENDLY service that doesn't make you want to tear your hair out!

Our dishes came out and we ooh'd and ahh'd...

Our dishes tasted as good as they looked. I took a bite out of the pancakes and they were pretty decent, just like I would get back home. Thick, buttery and fluffy. They could have been bigger and they could have served them sausage. It's not a yankee breakfast without the sausage or bacon. As for the maple syrup, it's the golden can syrup. It was watered down but it was better than the honey we got at Giraffe. Craig thought it was alright. He said if he and the pancakes were put on a plane to San Francisco and sit at a cafe in North Beach with a view of Washington Square Park with a PITCHER of REAL maple syrup and crispy bacon then he would give it 4 stars.

OK back to reality here...

My waffles were excellent. It was light and airy. The strawberries were fresh, succulent, and sweet as if they were just picked off the field. The cream was well...creamy! My mouth is watering just thinking about it. It was the epitome of loveliness.

The atmosphere is relaxing and just as a cafe should be. All walks of life from families, to college students, to computer geeks. There are a few sit down tables inside and the option to sit outside to soak in the Stranmillis vibe. There are also ample cushy couches so comfortable it feels like you're in your own living room.

Hell yes, I'd go back here again and again! And Oh yes, I finally found a place where I can get a decent cuppa and a toasted bagel with cream cheese! A plus is that it's right outside my door and I can go whenever the craving strikes me! Yay!

Food: 4

Customer Service:4


Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Twelfth

I am happy to report that I had VIP access to the Orange Marches . I was in the thick of the front of the tv. Thanks to BBC, I didn't miss out on the festivities. But after 5 minutes, I got bored seeing flute band after flute band and lodge after lodge. It's just as well I wasn't there in the thick of things. Otherwise, I would have been confused. The BBC commentary helped answer all the questions that Craig couldn't bother answering because he too is bored of the subject. The Orange Marches commemorate their victory over the Battle of the Boyne where William of Orange (a Protestant) reclaimed the throne of England, Scotland, and Ireland from the reigning Roman Catholic King of England, James II. In essence, the war was a sectarian and ethnic conflict between Catholics and Protestants. For decades Orange Marches symbolized marching into battle and victory over preserving the Protestant reign. It was at the height of the Troubles, where Catholics retaliated against the Protestant imperialistic attitude. For the Catholics, Orange Marches symbolize their defeat. I realize that my explanation is an oversimplification. It is such a web of complexity. But these days, there is still tension in the air. The Twelfth has become a farce to most people here. And The Twelfth is the main reason why they leave Belfast on holiday to Tenerife, Spain, Portugal, Bulgaria....far, far, far away! And those who are still here, stay at home and cross their fingers that trouble doesn't ensue.

Almost every person, they interviewed in the crowd were tourists, none were locals. BBC knew that they wouldn't get response fit for daytime television from a Chav. I guess they wanted to portray an outside point of view to convey the march as a fun "family affair" to spread the hype how Belfast has changed for the better and is now a tourist attraction. Although, what these tourist don't know is that almost every person they saw in the parade today were paramilitary, ex-convicts, and have at least capped someone in the knees, or worse yet, killed someone in their life time. Yes, this is a family affair! Below are some of the outsiders' responses:

BBC: What do you think of The Twelfth?

Woman from New Zealand: I feel uncomfortable about the whole thing since I was raised in an Irish Catholic family.

Woman from Japan: It's rearry rearry ROUD!

Nigerian Woman from London: I had no idea about this. I was just here to go shopping and everything is closed!

Hmmmmm...and what was Craig doing? Sleeping!!! It was the first time ever where he was able to sleep in peace and not be awoken at 7am by the sounds of clashing cymbals and the thunderous vibration of the bass drum.

I am curious what the Catholics do. Feile an Phobail is in the first week of August. It looks really fun and interesting! A week of entertainment in West Belfast! If only I can convince Craig to go. Even though there will be no burning of the Union Jack and it is a non-sectarian festival, Craig refuses to participate by the fact that it is held in West Belfast. If there is one thing about Belfast I hate is this territorial assinine crap. It prevents you from exploring outside your postcode just because it is Catholic or just because it is Protestant. You miss out on a whole lot of the great things that Belfast has to offer. But they refuse to move forward and let go of the past. They say they want to move forward but then again..."Never believe anything Irish people say."

Living in a sectarian society sucks!!!

Friday, July 11, 2008

"Are You Going to the Boney?"

Hundreds of Protestants and a few gutsy Catholics disguised as Proddies (you can always spot a Catholic in the crowd wearing the most red white and blue out of everyone: rangers shirts, union jack hat, union jack underwear) are at "Boney Night". Tonight is the Bonfire, a Protestant ritual before the Orange March tomorrow. All throughout the city there are bonfires lit up the size of sky scrapers topped with the Irish Republic flag or the dummy of the pope. It kind of reminds me of the Klu Klux Klan and their cross burning. I can already smell heavy smoke in the air and the blue sky has turned a dark gray. I can hear fireworks in the far distance, either that or they're shooting each other! Hehe.

The closest I will ever get to a bonfire -- inside a speeding car at 50mph.

Why am I not at "Boney Night", ya say? For one, I am held captive by "Hop-Along Cassidy" here. Second, even if he didn't have a broken leg he wouldn't take me to a bonfire because they are too violent. There are a lot of drunk people and people getting the shit kicked out of them. The bonfires are all in working classes areas, and this is when every Chav and Chavette crawl out of the woodwork. I asked Craig in my naivete and wide-eyed innocence, "Do they roast marshmallows and sing 'Kumbaya' with their arms wrapped around each other?" His answer, "Uh, no. They don't roast marshmallows they probably sing anti-catholic songs and sectarian chants." He turns his head to the tv again and becomes mesmerized by Karen Carpenter singing "It's Only Just Begun". He suddenly bursts out, "Look! There's a guy on crutches in the Carpenters! What is this crutch week?". Craig is too busy thinking about crutches rather than the Bonfire apparently. I don't blame him. There's nothing like rounding off an evening polluting the air with some casual violence and rioting.


I'm A Flake and a Thief...

The following email was written by my bodhran teacher...

Madhin mhait Madlyne , please advise as to why you did not attend the pre arranged bodhran tution class last night 7.00pm to 8.00pm, I would have appreciated you contacting me if you were unable to attend as I had specifically set aside the teaching slot and cancelled other appointments.

I would also like you to return the bodhran and case as my understanding was that you were going to purchase one .Please leave the bodhran off at my work place , the XXXXXX.

I would also need to know if you are intending to avail of more classes , if so please confirm next Wednesday - 16th July 2008.

All the best for now.

Slan anois

I did text my teacher from the hospital while Craig was getting his leg plastered. I guess he didn't receive the text. My teacher has now lost all respect for me and I will forever be blacklisted in the Irish music scene so I called him immediately after I read his email apologizing profusely and grovelling for him to schedule the next class.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Picnic at Belfast City Hospital

The past two days have been hell and I haven't slept very much lately. On Monday, Craig went to a coworker's house to fix his computer. Fixing computers led to the pub, Craig calling me 6 times sounding really wasted, and him coming home in the taxi shit-faced drunk. Before you accuse him of being an alcoholic, Craig honestly does not drink that much (a few Guinness here and there) and he absolutely HATES people getting drunk. Never in my life have I ever seen him like this.

His coworker calls and send Craig in a taxi because he is drunk. The taxi pulls up across the street, I struggle to get to the other side because our street is heavy traffic area and I was afraid he would get run over. He stumbles out of the taxi and opens the trunk of the taxi. The taxi driver gets out and says, "Why are you opening my boot?!?". I search Craig's pockets for his wallet because I didn't have any cash to pay the driver. The driver was like, "Who are you?!?!?". "I'm his girlfriend! Did he pay you for the taxi?" The taxi driver said that man who put him in a taxi did. Oh ok! Phew!

I drag him to the house as we stopped traffic. It was so embarassing. All the while, I was furious yelling at him that he's so fucked when he gets sober, and wait until his mom hears about this! I tell him to sit down in the living room like a drill sargeant. He complies. His eyes were glassy and so far gone! And great timing too, our roommate Connie was moving the rest of her stuff in and this was the first time she's ever met Craig. Connie was like, "Is he ok?!?". I whispered, he's drunk as I was talking to his mom on the phone. What a great first impression he made Connie. No wonder she locks her door every minute of the day. His mom told me that he is behaving unusually. He never gets drunk. He either just goes for coffee, if he does go out to drink, he just goes to bed but is never drunk.

So I tell him to go upstairs and he was limping and stumbling, all the while I'm freaking out because I've never cared for a drunk person ever in my life. I was hoping he'd just go to bed and sleep. He was walking up the stairs and I feared he'd lose balance fall backwards and break his neck! I screamed when he slipped! "Goddamn you!", I screamed. But he made it. He sat on the edge of the bed and started crying. I held him and asked him what was wrong. He just kept crying. I told him to lay down so he did sobbing into a pillow. He then fell asleep. I was like, thank god. I get the trash can and set it next to him. I wanted to get a glass of water but I didn't want him to be walking down three flights of stairs. So I sat there watching him breathe and making sure he was getting the right number of breaths per minute and his lips and nails aren't blue, take his pulse. I took a first aid training course a long time ago in college and one of the workshops was determining signs and symptoms of alcohol poisoning. Everything is in check. Afterwhile, he starts hyperventilating, I freak out and try to jar him awake for response. He starts sobbing again and clenching his teeth and grabbing everything in sight, including me, he pulls on my leg real hard, and then my wrist and wouldn't let go. I finally free myself and he reaches for the bedside lamp. Luckily, I got to the lamp before he did and took it away. Since I've never seen him in this condition, I had no idea how he would react so I kept my distance and called his mom.

I tell her he's being rough with me and he somehow, he suddenly wakes up and calms down. He heard I was talking to his mom, so he sat there quietly like a schoolboy in trouble. His mom comes and tells him to go to bed, and shape up! He undresses and falls asleep. I was afraid to go into bed with him for there's not telling what he might do so I was awake until he was deep asleep which was at 3am. By 4am, he came to and was awfully sick. And from there I was nursing him, giving him water, helping him piss, fixing him food. He said his ankle hurt. It was swollen pretty badly. I pegged it as a bad sprain so I elevated and iced it periodically.

Tuesday Morning - I finally got some shuteye around 7am. He woke up again and started vomitting so I had to get up again and give him water. It just stunk so bad, I was about to puke myself. I'm not good dealing with other people's body fluid issues. Come to think of it, not even my own. I had to clear the bucket and wash it out and stuff. He went back to sleep and I decided to stay awake and sterilize the bathroom and kitchen. That was how utterly disgusted I was!

I was helping him down and up the stairs to the toilet. I was pretty exhausted by then and quite delirious but I kept pressing. Around 6pm, his foot didn't look any better and he was in real pain. I walked to a pharmacy that was close by!!! The next pharmacy was a 25 min walk away. Fuck! What is it with this place? Are people not allowed to get sick after 6pm? This is when it really hit me that I really missed home. I miss how you can get anything at your fingertips and the convenience of a pharmacy practically on every block in SF such as Walgreens open 24 hours where you can get ibuprofen and a wrapping bandage before 6pm!!!! When we finally went to sleep that night he told me whie I was in a sleepy daze, "You are a better person that me, especially having to put up with such a wanker!". I moaned rolled over and stole all the duvet.

This morning the ankle wasn't any better. I went to the pharmacy around 8:30. It was still closed. I asked the shop next door what time it would be open, they helpfully said they didn't know. OK? So I come back and make fluffy pancakes w/ REAL maple syrup. We call the pharmacy and it is OPEN! Alleluia, he finally gets ibuprofen and I wrap his ankle. So enough was enough. Craig kept putting off the hospital and I forced him to go. We take a taxi at Belfast City Hospital. The taxi stopped across the way and he had to hop over to the ER. A nurse who had finished with a wheelchair brushed passed us and I yelled if we can use the wheelchair. She looks at us and hides the wheelchair in the corner. A kind woman wheels it over and made comment about the nurse, "I can't believe she walked by you and didn't even leave you the wheelchair! Hectic!". I wheeled Craig frantically looking for Accident and Emergency. We passed through I food court and gift shops, and I was like WTF? are we at the airport? What an odd layout. If you're at an ER entrance shouldn't the ER be right there? And of course, we had a defective wheelchair and it had it's own mind to go somewhere else.

We wait for awhile. And in my experience with the NHS so far, I packed us some sandwiches and drinks. Picnic at Belfast City Hospital! Yay! It was strange being in the emergency room of a hospital twice in the past two months. This time I was in the waiting room and Craig was seeing the doctor. I luckily didn't wait as long as Craig did for me (when I catapulted off his bike at 90 mph six weeks ago). They took xrays and it so happened that Craig seriously fractured his foot. If he put any more weight on it, he would have to get surgery! He has to stay off his foot for 6-8 weeks. He can't work because he's on his feet 8 hours a day. I got to sit with him while they plastered his cast. I took pics of Craig since it's the first time he's ever broken any bones. It's a milestone. First cast. The nurse yelled at me not to take pics in the hospital. What the fuck? They don't have any problems back home. I remember when my brother broke his foot, I took pics and the nurse even smiled and signed his cast! Fuck her.

The happy bunny!

On the bright side, we get to spend even more quality time with each other while I draw pictures of cocks on his cast for being a COCK! On the downside, we were supposed to go to Glasgow for 2 days next week. I suppose that's out and I would have lost out on $450 (no refund). Oh well!

Tune in to see what Craig does next week for more exciting, assinine adventures!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Under House Arrest

I've been under house arrest all day waiting for the cable guy. Around 2pm, Craig texts me and says the cable guy wasn't coming after all, there has been a mix up. Just great. :/

Today I made up for our household strike this weekend and have been very productive. I finished the laundry and ironing for that Craig left off yesterday. I've also made lumpia (Filipino springrolls). Wrapping them is labor intensive. The wrapping paper is so fragile you have to be careful not to tear it and you have to wrap them perfectly or else they will not cook right. They are then fried until a perfect golden brown and eaten with a sweet chili sauce. It's the first time Craig has ever eaten filipino food. Lumpia is a great introduction to Filipino cuisine. It's a no brainer since everyone who tries it for the first time loves it!

My first attempt at wrapping lumpia! It doesn't look as good as my mom's but it will do.

The finished product! My mom would be so proud!

Looks like we have a new housemate. Her name is Connie. Craig calls her goldilocks because she has blonde hair. She is moving in her stuff w/ her friend as I type. A very giggly bunch. They sound like Craig's sister and her friends. Oi vey! I just hope she isn't like Laura. Laura is the main reason why we had to move out in the first place. She was way too wild and loud. She just didn't give a shit about anyone else but herself in the house. Just concerned about partying with friends, clothes, makeup, and boys. She never lifted a finger to help around the house and left a trail of mess all over the place. Craig appropriately coined her "Paris Hilton". She's a nice girl but a wild teenager! I am surprised she gets away with so much. Everyone caters to whim and spoils her. If I shouted, 'Where's my vodka?!?!?' all over my parents house, I'd get knocked upside the head.

Oh well, at least we had it good for a month. Connie's room is right below ours. The poor girl. LOL!

Domestic Violence Ad

You cuff her. You'll get cuffed

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Cabin Fever

We have been shut in this whole weekend. Our bed has been unmade for 3 days. What's the point? We've hardly gotten out of bed and if so, only when necessarily like eat, go to the bathroom. What a bunch of lazy bastards we are! Housework has come to a standstill we are both on strike. Oh, the things you do when you are bored!!!

Fenian Balloons!

Arranging loose change by size and value

Saturday, July 5, 2008

When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Drunk (In Norn Iron)

It's about 6:15AM and I can't seem to get shut eye. I am neither lulled by the pitter patter of torrential rain nor soothed by the ranting and raving drunken lunatic on the street. The makeup marathon sex hasn't seemed to help either. Seems to work for Mr. Crabby since he is snoring away here. So alas, I sit here eating left over chili whilst I type on the interwank.

All is good on the relationship front again. Yesterday Craig got out of work early and texted me to meet him at our favorite cafe. I was thinking, "Oh no, is he going to be breaking up with me over latte?". I see him with a tall glass of mocha and a chocolate fudge cake waiting for me at the table. "Things have been getting a little tense in the house", he says, "I thought it would be nice to take a walk and take advantage of the sunshine." The sunshine is a rare thing here in Northern Ireland and people take advantage of it as much as they can. I have learned my lesson in believing the BBC weather reports because they are never true. They reported torrential rain yesterday and it proved to be the opposite.

We sat and people watched for awhile. Durdles all dressed up and somewhere to go. Friday night is a big night for them. It's the start of the weekend and that means one get pissed drunk. They drink for recreation and it's to be expected since it's a pub culture. But I never understood getting drunk for pleasure. Where is the fun in acting like an idiot and puking your guts out? Oh well, when in Rome...

We went to Winemark and joined in the festivies. He got a 4 pack of Guinness and I got two bottles of cider...Mixed Fruit Kopperberg. Ahhh...Kopperberg, nectar of the gods! We also got some snacks at Centra, our home away from home. We dropped the stuff at the house and walked along the Lagan Towpath towards Ormeau Road. There was bit of a vibe going with people chillaxing outside the pubs having their pints. Everything was honkey dory until...

We saw flashing blue lights in the distance. Craig lets out a sigh and rolls his eyes and says, "Oh no, here we go, the police". "What's going on I say, is there a riot over there?" "No", he says, "it's a marching band, fuckin' hell". "Oh neat!" I was ecstatic and literally dragged him off his feet to go near the action. Craig is Protestant you see. His immediate family just wasn't into it. Although his extended family are well known super Prods. His aunt was seen on national television beating a priest over the head with an umbrella and telling him to get the hell out of the Shankill. The priest was just walking through there as an effort of solidarity and peace. Madness! Nevertheless, Craig hates what the Orange order marching bands stand for. From November until July 12th they march throughout the streets of Belfast. It's an annoyance really, they block traffic and make people late for work. In case you don't know, the Orange order is a Protestant lodge where super Prods get together and get pissed drunk and hate on Catholics (aka Taigs or Fenians).

We stopped in front of the orange order. I can hear the thunder of the bass drum, and the cracks of the snare coming closer from the distance. Bystanders excited like it's the Macy's Thanksgiving parade. And there I saw upclose and personal, super Prods in orange sashes, stoic and proud to be Protestant and British. Little boys holding their batons in the air and marching like little soldiers. Banners of No Surrender and William of Orange's mug.

Suddenly, the drummers and flutes stop. Everyone stands at attention and sings, "God Save the Queen". They always close with this song to show their allegiance to the Crown. Bystanders shout, "No Surrender!" From the corner of my eye, I see Craig roll his eyes. I ask him why he is ashamed of his culture and who he is. He answers, "As an outsider, you have a naive view of things which is understandable. But having grown up on the Shankill and seen marching bands all my life, I know what this represents. They are a constant reminder of why Northern Ireland became so fucked up in the first place. A bunch of mindless sheep who can't think for themselves. This is not about religion, it's about corrupt power and money. I can guarantee you that every person here is a paramilitary. They don't mess about. I don't want to have anything to do with them. Most of the world thinks this is what defines Belfast, but they are the minority. The majority is most of us normal people who just want to get on with their lives and leave the troubled past behind."

I see his point and I can't argue. And it is way too complex for me to understand. Unionists, Loyalists, Republicans, Nationalist. It's all Greek to me. More than likely, I was the only Taig standing in a crowd of Super Prods. I could feel the hostility and the agression. Just before the parade started, a chavette ranted, "Any Fenian that comes my way, I'll jam them in the face!". If only she knew who she was standing next

We headed back home, got buzzed, had poignant discussions on how religion makes you do weird things and how to safely remove yourself from harm when caught in the middle of a riot. Good times!

Anyways. Must. Go. To. Sleep.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy Feckin' 4th.

Independence Day went off to a great start! There were much fireworks in the household today.

First off, I woke up early in the morning to go to the bathroom. On my way there, I slipped down the narrow stairs and cut my wrist on the fire extinguisher! I panicked at the amount of blood coming down the inside of my forearm. Running up the stairs with toilet paper over my wrist, I turn the bedside lamp on. Just as I turn it on, the bulb burns out! FUCK! Craig wakes up and wonders what the racket is. I tell him I fell down the stairs and cut my wrist! He says, "Good One!" and rolls back to sleep. Here I am seething with anger and possibly cutting a major artery and bleeding to death (I didn't it was just a surface wound but I was a drama queen!), he rolls over and goes back to sleep?!?! After I finally found a bandaid, I go on his computer because I couldn't stand to crawl back in bed again. He rolls over again and was like, "What are you doing, it's 6:45 in the morning?!?". "I'm on the computer, what does it look like I'm doing?!?". He rolls back over and goes to sleep again.

After browsing the interwank, I got bored and went to bed. Apparently, I didn't shut his computer down, so he gets up, turns his computer off, and says "You're gonna burn out my screen!" I lay there seething but told myself it's July 4th and I refuse to make this day shitty and make a nice yankee doodle breakfast even though he doesn't deserve it. So I got up and went to Centra hoping to get whipped cream, blueberries, strawberries, and sausage for our pancakes. They didn't have blueberries even though I walk in there everyday and see blueberries and rasberries. Of course! Of course today there wasn't any because I NEEDED them! Whatever!

I go back and make the pancakes. All is well and beautiful in the world again. I set the table really nice. I go upstairs and he's asleep STILL. I seethe again. He gets my goat when he does this because every single time the night before he burns the candle at both ends and doesn't wake up until 1PM and a whole day is wasted! He set his alarm at 9:00AM so we could do things today but he turns it off and rolls over to sleep and doesn't wake until the afternoon! It was 10AM by this time. With clenched teeth, I nudge him, "I made you breakfast!". He wakes up and we give each other a cold stare for what lasted like 3 minutes.

We go downstairs and I was hoping that STACKED fluffy, buttery pancakes and REAL maple syrup would cheer us up and sing to the tune of yankee doodle dandy! But it didn't. He sat there grumpy and sleepy. I asked him in a bitchy tone, "What day is today?!?" He retorts, "Friday." "No, I mean what date is today", I retort back. "July 4th", he says. "What happens on July 4th", I ask. "I go to work", he says. He's on the afternoon/evening this week and I notice he becomes a real grouch and does not allow himself nor anyone around him to have fun because HE has to go to work. The day is a countdown for him where he constantly looks at his watch. I roll my eyes and say, "You know damn well this is an important day for me."

Mr. Crabby pants himself. Can you tell he's really excited about his Yankee Doodle Breakfast?

He takes 3 pancakes and says, "They're stacked!". Then he slathers them with a bunch of warm maple syrup w/ melted butter. Takes a bite out of the pancakes and a bite out of the sausage. His eyes roll to the back of his head and says, "Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm". Then he says, "You were annoying earlier this morning. Banging around the house, making all kinds of noise, turning lights on, and using the computer. You know, SOME people have to get some sleep and go to work." Yes, I was making noise because I fell down the stairs and cut myself on a fire extinguisher, and looking for a bandaid. I couldn't turn on the bedside lamp cuz the bulb burned out. I was making all kinds of noise because I wanted to cook your ass a special breakfast, and I would work if I could but I quit my job to travel 5,000 miles spend quality time with you, you ungrateful *&%&$**£&!!! I thought this in my head but decided to keep it curt and said, "I fell down the stairs and cut my wrist. I could have had blood squirting out of a major artery and STILL you would roll back to sleep." He says, "Yup, I would!!!" I pushed my plate, "I'm not hungry anymore!"

I stomp back upstairs, got into bed, pulled the covers over my head and started crying. Telling myself I want to go home now and this was a big mistake. He was downstairs washing dishes. I hear his footsteps and he gets into bed again. After awhile, I couldn't stand it and got out of bed to take a shower and go somewhere away from him. He was hiding under the covers hoping I wouldn't murder him. Before I dressed to go out, I went on expedia to book my flight home. I booked it for September 4th. I cooled off real quick by then, and realized that what we were doing was petty. We were both at fault. I was being a drama queen bitch and he was being a jackass. And in essence, he doesn't give 2 shits about July 4th. He's not American nor does he want to be! I forgot about that! I looked over to him and realized that the clock is ticking and I don't have much time with him. A month and half will come and go quickly. I hopped into bed again and gave him a big hug. He wakes and kisses me and then we made our own fireworks. Pyrotechnics so mind-blowing that it made you want to hold your hand over your heart, say the pledge of allegiance and sing the "Star Spangled Banner". U--S--A NUM-BER ONE!!!! YEAH! ALRIGHT!!!

In honor of Independence Day, I shall close this post with a pic of a crazy Shankill kid. I don't think he knows what happens on July 4th nor would he care. He's got July 12th on his brain and on his face! Whether it's the 4th or the 12th, same difference. After all, America's founding fathers did descend from Ulster. Fuckin' Right!!!