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We flew out March 25 from our hometown, then it was on to Chicago for a layover. A seven hour layover. A seven hour layover in O’Hare, which turned out to be almost nine hours as our flight there arrived early and the flight to Dublin was delayed. Yeah. I honestly hate O’Hare. Every time I’ve flown out of the international section I’ve hated it. It’s dirty, smells odd, and has no facilities whatsoever. There are some bathrooms and maybe one or two odd hallway snack kiosks selling liquor, candy bars, and magazines, all at outrageous prices. So we walked those grungy hallways for an eternity.
Once we finally got on the Aer Lingus flight to Dublin, everything started looking up. There was a decent dinner, and it was a new, clean plane with a noticeable absence of crying babies. In fact, there were so many empty seats I was able to spread out a bit and get some sleep. Since it’s impossible for me to sleep on airplanes, I felt like this was a huge improvement. And there was a built-in screen and entertainment system thing in every seat–and a bit of legroom! Yeah, I was shocked too.

So we land in Dublin, tired, hungry, and a bit lost, but it’s a gorgeous morning. The fog is just lifting, revealing this glowingly green landscape. We make it through Customs and Immigration, find my luggage, and even manage to pick up a cheap phone with SIM card so we can call around.

I call Paddy’s Palace because not only do they have cheap beds in Dublin, they have backpacker’s tours (which we plan on taking) AND a free shuttle from the airport.

Shuttle was super nice, but when we got to Paddy’s Palace the same girl that had blithely assured me they had spare rooms on the phone was now quite certain there were none to be had. I signed up for their three-day Northern Ireland tour, leaving the next morning, and after lots of hunting we found a four-bed dorm in Jacob’s Inn for 32 euro a night per person. NOT the greatest deal out there, but there just so happened to be a Tina Turner concert in town that weekend and there was nothing else to be had. Damn you, Tina Turner, damn you.

I found out that a lot of hostels in Ireland enjoy using these absolutely retarded push-button shower control things, a lot like the ones you get on sinks in public restrooms where you press the handle down and after a minute it’ll rise back up and stop the water. I struggled my way through a sporadic shower to wash off fifteen some hours of airport/airplane grunge, possibly the grodiest kind out there, and was asleep by 8 pm (damn you, jet lag) to the sound of BBC2 and some strange, strange British cooking show that involved men in flamboyant yellow suits and matching accessories.

And that was my illustrious and surprisingly smooth arrival into Ireland. Did I mention that at two am, an older gentleman reeking of alcohol stumbled into the dorm room, swore softly, and spent the next fifteen minutes struggling gamely but unsuccessfully to reach his top bunk? The rest of the night, the room smelled like a bar, but once he stopped bouncing the springs, it was fairly quiet.

Adventure of the Three Day Northern Ireland Tour coming up next!



Why does everyone always cover themselves with a mask?  Not literally, but in a behavioral sense.  We are always hiding our true selves from other people.  We reflect what we think they want to see from us, and it’s not us.  It’s somebody else.  It’s a mask. 

Cultural shorthand, I believe, has something to do with it.  We expect different behaviors from different people based on their role in society, and it’s no different when it comes to ourselves.  We look at a doctor, and we don’t expect him to start dancing a jig, now do we?  But if the same man were dressed in a leprechaun costume, we wouldn’t notice anything odd.  That is cultural shorthand.  And we apply this cultural shorthand to ourselves as much as we do to other people. 

I wish we wouldn’t.  It constrain people, confines them, limits them to a narrow scope in life.  Some people can break free from that narrow prison…those people are usually the ones we admire and look up to, or think “Ai, I wish I could be as cool as him/her.” Or they’re the people labeled crazy.  It depends a lot on how you look at it and what their background is.  Some people seem entitiled to be able to do whatever they want.  The very, very rich are a good example.  They can get away with giving all their money away, hoarding it, living like a homeless man, acting “eccentric,” spending it lavishly, behaving badly in public, etc. etc.  You get the idea.  But even they almost have a compulsion to do something out of the ordinary, to act strangely.  Their cultural shorthand is to scorn cultural shorthand!  You can’t get away from it.  The instant you look at someone for the first time, you are already conceiving notions about how that person should act, think, talk, dress, and so on. 

Why do we do this to ourselves?  Why can’t we all just live how we want to, do whatever we want to?  If a doctor likes to dance a jig, why won’t he do that?  Because he would be labeled strange by the rest of society, and there goes his career. 

We even act differently around different people, depending what their station/position is in life relative to yours.  I”m not going to start singing around a complete stranger, but I might if I were around just my friends.  I’m going to be more polite and formal when I’m around older people or little kids than I would be of people my own age.  I’m even going to act differently around people from my math class than I would in my psychology class, because I know different things about them.  If I know what their grade is in that class I might act differently yet.  Everything influences how you behave. 

I don’t think that’s right.  But really, we have no choice.  If we ignore the rules of cultural shorthand, we get labeled as an outcast in society, or worse, as insane.  Try deviating a social norm for just one day and see how people treat you.  It’s rather disturbing.  Try going up to someone in a supermarket and start talking to them as they that person were your best friend.  They will become very uncomfortable, if they don’t run away. 

I just hate this.  I wish we could stop it.  I wonder how many personalities have been repressed, how many relationships unformed, how many things have gone unsaid, how many people have even died never having done what they really wanted in life.  We are so constrained, and we need to learn to break free from the bounds of our society.  Next time you see someone interesting in a store, go talk to them.  Next time you see something you want to do but know you can’t, because it wouldn’t fit in with your image (like go to Disneyworld alone when you’re thirty, jsut for a random example…) do it!  Just break out of your shell and start living your life.  Ignore what other people think about you.  It’s so hard…it’s almost impossible.  Everything you do is affected in some way by other people.  I just want people to wake up, look outside of Plato’s cave and see the blue sky!  There’s more to life than getting a raise. 

Live your dream, everyone.  It’s all you’ve got, so find it!  Do something you want to do instead of something you should do.  Walk up the road dancing and singing.  In a perfect world, nobody would look twice.  Here, you’re going to get some really funny looks. 

If you completely ignore everything else I just said, listen to this: do one thing that you want to do that doesn’t fit your image.  Just one thing.  Learn to open the box, and maybe you’ll find there’s a whole new beautiful world out there. 

Time for a snack. 



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