hoo-boy, men in shorts

I've just had some news that I'm a little ambivalent about. On the one hand, I've been promised a much-coveted ticket to go see the GAA Gaelic football fan in Croke Park. On the other, I'm not so sure that it's my thing. In theory, I'm all for Gaelic games -- they're fast, they're exciting and I love the fact that there are so many years of history behind them. But I feel like a bit of a fraud taking a ticket and going to stand in the stadium with all the fans! I guess I'll try to get swept up in the excitement of the whole thing. I've been in Croke Park before, and it's pretty nice. And I do like the buzz in the city when there's a big match and all of a sudden the city centre is chock full of culchies up for the day. Just last week, there was a massive hurling match and the streets were full of supporters wearing blue (Tipperary) or black-and-yellow (Kilkenny). When it was all over, the Tipperary fans celebrated and the Kilkenny fans drowned their sorrows in the same pubs all over the city. It's pretty cool the way the fans don't get mad at each other! And as a culchie myself, albeit not an Irish culchie, I'm on their side when it comes to deflecting sarcastic remarks tossed in their general direction by the Dublin crew.

If you ever needed proof of the wonderful Irish ability to poke fun of themselves, check out the Culchie Festival, an annual event. You couldn't make this stuff up!!

Tonight's a rare occasion: me and my flatmate are both off work at the same time and as despite working in the same restaurant and living in the same flat we've hardly exchanged a word for weeks, we're gonna put on our glad rags and head out. I feel like going somewhere fancy, so I'm thinking maybe the Church (which is also convenient for the quick stagger back to our place) but he's more a sports-boy, so if I'm not careful I'll end up in one of those places where thousands of sweaty guys raise their pint glasses and shout at the high-definition TV, and we still won't have exchanged more than a couple of words by the end of the evening!

Goodness, what have I done?!?

One of my friends from the restaurant just talked me into something I know I'm gonna regret. It involves getting dressed up in bridal gear (thank you, Oxfam charity shop) and running two kilometres in an attempt to fundraise for a charity.

No sooner had I agreed to this scheme than my friend told basically everybody either of us knows, so there'll be plenty of onlookers to poke fun. I told my Mom and her comment was "I was hoping to see you in a wedding dress, dear, but this isn't exactly what I had in mind."

Sheesh. Anyways, here's the deal.  Appropriately enough, the money raised will go to a psychiatric hospital.

While we're on the topic of fundraising, apparently one of my favorite paintings in the Irish National Gallery, Jack Yeats's Liffy Swim, is going to be recreated on Saturday when loads of swimmers get into the murky-looking waters of the River Liffy (it's a tidal river, so there's seaweed on the edges, it's actually perfectly clean). My friendly greengrocer remarked that "It was a bigger challenge years ago when the Liffey was still polluted, but today's boyos don't know the half of it." I love the way that guy talks. And I wish I had the guys to strip down to a swimming costume and take to the water, but it ain't gonna happen!!

The rain in spain

...and also in Ireland. Boy, is it raining right now!

Last week, we residents of Dublin were enjoying a real Indian summer. Anyone who had packed away the sandals and shorts for another year had to root them out and there were last barbecues going on in every second garden.

Well, today it's a whole 'nother story. The temperature dropped, it's windy and autumn is really in the air. For me, this is the perfect excuse to buy a proper winter coat; a real wool one. I've been saving my pennies and although some people consider it a tourist trap, following my visit there with my mom last year, I have a sneaking foodness for the Blarney Woolen Mills and will be going there on a fact-finding mission later today. My grandmother always told me, "You can save money on most clothes, but nothing beats a good coat." Well, we come from a place where the winters are serious and in consequence I have the deepest respect for a good coat. I get most of my clothes in flea markets and  hippie stalls around town so my thinking here is that I deserve something warm and snug, and costing a little more than five Euros.

Anyways, on the entertainment front the people of Dublin are doing their usual thing and flocking out in droves no matter what the weather or the international news. There's a festival on in the suburb of Skerries this coming weekend which looks like a lot of fun. I may not be able to go because I'm working hard so's to take some time off when my friend Vicki gets here in October, but it looks like a good one!

I guess that's it from me today, because I'm off to work in the restaurant. I've graduated recently from doing the simplest jobs, including vegetable preparation, to actually making minestrone. Look at me! Last year, about all I could manage was opening a tin of soup; now I'm churning it out and selling it to customers who give every impression of enjoying it. That might not sound like such a big deal, but I'm very proud!