28 October 2010


"Life is a curious thing," he pointed out in his usual semi-comical tone as we crossed a sleeping College Green to send him on his way again. Five years ago, the question, unasked, had been like a cigarette butt put out on my heart; now, it was a source of amusement, with just a touch of pensiveness. The answer was like chocolate-coated irony. Going through the gates without my guest, I was a mixture of smiles and damn-its. Stories are self-perpetuating -- they run on the dissatisfaction they leave behind. Perhaps this is why we never change, and why I'm not done with this story.

12 October 2010


It is late-ish on a Friday evening and once again I've found myself in Leixlip, the axis around which my world of music now revolves. Nuala's high heel is tapping the offbeat on the wooden floor, Seán is attempting to munch on Pringles discreetly, and Gearóid is using his hand as an organic whiteboard to tell me when the next bus is coming. These small goings-on seem a little far away to me: I'm entranced partly because of the oaky red wine, but mostly because I'm listening to my soul being played back to me. The shoes in the room are unanimously appreciative as John's fingers move subtly as ripples in a pond over the fiddle strings, and Catherine's flute seems a chorus of echoes. Although they are but two, the sound could not be more complete. I am transposed, transfixed, transcended. And it is clearer to me than ever before that this is something I can never leave for long. This is my home.

28 August 2010

ESP music requests

Was just looking for a song on Grooveshark and the cafe's radio started playing it. I like it when things like this happen.

22 August 2010

Miserable old bat

I'm sitting outside at a rather empty cafe, quite comfortable with my feet on another one of the wicker chairs. An old lady has just come up out of nowhere and told me off for dirtying the furniture. I find it somewhat upsetting that this bothered her so much that she felt the need to tell me I am inconsiderate and should be ashamed.

13 July 2010

My new friend

This weekend I met someone inspirational. She makes the most of what she's given, and so she can't help but impress. My own age, and from my own country, she speaks this foreign tongue with conviction after only three years of study. Looking after a four-year-old and undergoing surgery in a foreign country can not have been easy to say the least, but her face shows that she is one to see the sunny side of things. Her joie de vivre lights up the room. I hope one day to be as strong as this girl who smiles so contagiously at the steep slopes she has to climb. I wouldn't be surprised if the slopes bent to make way.

15 June 2010

A memory.

At the top of a hotel in Nyon is a little wood-clad room with a similarly little window looking out on the lake. That night, as I sat in the dim light with the scent of wood and freshly washed white sheets, I was drawn to the open window. The breeze stroked the surface of the lake much as a mother would stroke her child's hair, and invited the evenly spaced lights on the opposite shore to perform their simple but mesmerizing musicless dance. I wrapped myself in the almost-silence, the faraway lights, the foreign taste of the air. After a great deal of lying still with wide eyes, creating and dispelling expectations, I fell asleep with a new smile on my face.

20 May 2010

Too slow.

It is 5AM, and the sun over the bus stop is rising much too quickly. My face is buried in his shoulder, and his eyes I'm sure are closed while his arms are around me, pressing me close enough to feel that his breathing is unsettled. We stay like this for quite some time in a wistful silence. The tension is torturous, fascinating. A masterpiece of composition. "We'd make quite the sculpture, the way we are now."

--"A sculpture? Yes. The mothers would bring their children by, saying: See, children. This is what happens when you're too slow."

He says the forest at dawn is beautiful, but he wouldn't let me walk with him. Wär schön gewesen.

01 May 2010


My friend, usually impeccably behaved, had had a bit too much to drink, and was decorating a Berlin train platform with regurgitated Averna. A kind passer-by, seeing we had run out of tissues, offered us a full pack of her own to help minimize my friend's discomfort and embarrassment. It warms my heart to know that people like this exist.

08 February 2010

What is this "wundalous" you speak of?

Wundalous is a slip of the tongue, blending the words wonderful and fabulous. Much like Lewis Carroll's frumious from furious and fuming. Perhaps one day it will catch on. But for today, it conveniently enables me to easily pick available usernames for websites.

06 February 2010

Paris, je t'aime

As the mindless, over-processed noise I would only grudgingly call music wanders through my floor and into my chair, programming seems somewhat infeasible. So I'm taking a mental walk across the border and into last weekend in Paris, where I'm sure I can find peace. 

Normally I attempt to recount stories chronologically, but this one is more a series of impressions, and the order is unimportant. 

In a bookshop, I asked directions to a café. The clerk drew me an impressively tidy map of the path I was to take. After finishing his drawing, he held it up to the light and admired his work, saying "If you still get lost, even with this, then I'm afraid I don't understand anything anymore." I bid him good day, and left, returning a minute later to collect my forgotten umbrella.

On the Rue des Archives, I found a lovely flower shop. Upon asking the florist if I could take pictures of her shop, she said I could only take them from outside, but then hesitated, saying with a smile that since I was nice enough to ask, I could take whatever pictures I wanted. I tried to take her picture among the hyacinths and lilies, but she ducked behind the counter again.

Shakespeare & Company is a surreal and magical establishment. Hiding in a rather quiet corner on the narrow cobbled Rue de la Bûcherie next to the Seine, it welcomes passers-by with baskets of weathered, obscurely titled books. Upon entering, I realized that ordinary social rules did not apply. Personal bubbles do not exist -- there is not enough space. Books of all colors, subjects and languages fill every nook and cranny with knowledge and opinion. The tiny staircase at the back, leading up to the Reading Rooms, can only permit one-way traffic, and so strangers exchange smiles and laughs as they get in each other's way. At the top I found a piano, which was being held hostage and only intermittently played by a girl in a mustard-colored jumper. As I entered the room to listen, she stopped, not moving to look around. I left her alone. The notes began to tinkle melancholically again, and I picked up a book of stories by Mark Twain, bright red on the shelf among many dark blues and browns, and sat down on a dusty beige cushion. Someone's dog snooped about the room, and found the attention it was looking for in my corner of the room. The waning, white sunlight glinted across its glossy black coat and friendly amber eyes. This was a living room for my retirement -- a piano, soft in the background, a myriad of stories to read, children playing with an old typewriter, and a nice dog to keep me company. But for the missing fireplace, it was peace at its purest. 

Outside the shop I sat on a bollard with my Macadamia Nut Brittle, not bothered that my hands were freezing. I looked down the street at a bright green building and the sign of the Hotel Esmeralda in front of me and tried to frame the photo I would take when my ice cream was gone. A couple subtly flirtatious friends entered the scene. The boy was anomalous with his smart grey coat, unruly ginger curls and ill-suited thick-rimmed glasses. His thin friend with her insufficient jacket and artsy hat took his picture against the wall, telling him to leave his glasses on because he looked good in them. 

The kindness of the Bryson family gave me an exceedingly comfortable bed, as well as rich French food, good red wine and my latest discovery, the Tarte Tatin. I hadn't slept that well in months.  

Châtelet metro station was filled with the passionate singing and playing of a band of Russian buskers, complete with accordion, double bass, and some exotic-looking percussive string instrument. I stood to listen and take in their profound enthusiasm. 

At the Musée Zadkine, I discovered "how much a man's life can be changed by a pigeon-house or a tree." The sun brought the little sculpture garden to life, and painted shadowy pictures on the walls. This little courtyard in the city could only hear the leaves rustling and the birds singing among them. I listened to the curators philosophically discuss the work of various artists, and wondered at how I was able to read the facial expressions of the cashier despite her having almost no eyebrows. 

On my wanderings I passed two old ladies laughing so hard they were oblivious to everything around them and could no longer walk straight. An old man walking in the opposite direction returned my smile in acknowledgement of the comedy. 

I escaped the foreign blithering of the clumps of confused tourists at St Michel metro station, finding a quaint sidestreet off of St André des Arts. The quiet was refreshing. And here I found my favorite two characters in all the giant play surrounding me. Exhilarated squeals emerged from a shiny blue helmet, and the two-wheeled creature wobbled along its wildly meandering path towards me, and with such a smile as you've never seen before. The smile was mirrored in his father's face as he chased after him, ruddy with the chilly wind, the exertion, and the pride. I walked slowly to enjoy the scene, and my eyes filled involuntarily with liquid joy. I hope they will remember that day as well as I will. 

09 January 2010

A moment of subtle misanthropy


Having consumed my tiny, delectable and overpriced cappuccino, I am enjoying a bit of people-watching in the Café Central in Vienna. I feel a great deal of staring from my left at the door, and realize the café is full and 3 or 4 people could easily fit at the small table I am occupying on my own. Somehow, if the place were less busy, I would pay the bill and leave; however, having this space to myself and knowing that the brightly-clad and waterproof visitors, whose searching eyes are multiplying at the doorway, can't have it -- this gives me great satisfaction. I'm tempted to order another coffee just to make them wait. Politely suppressed chaos surrounds me as frenzied waiters rush to seat their foreign customers, and I feel unanticipatedly relaxed. Gradually, a loud Slavic-tongued woman with streaky butter-colored hair edges into my personal space, clarifying her intentions to conquer my table at the soonest opportunity. My peaceful bubble is burst. Watching the everyday lunatic is only fun when one doesn't have to interact with her.

05 January 2010

Poison Pen

I wasn't in love, so I won't cry. It's spilt milk, really. There are several things about this that I find disappointing. 1) No more fancy weekend getaways. 2) I didn't practice my French enough. My fault, of course. 3) My impression is that suaveness generally disguises serpentry. 4) It was tenuous and aimless. Bound for failure, and that was no secret. But he beat me to the punch line. Again. Bastard.