Jul 29, 2012

The Things She Carried

I started a new job Friday. It's a two-month commitment with a start-up travel website (more later I'm sure) and it requires long hours, nerves/balls of steel, and leaving the house. I haven't worked in an office in about seven years so the leaving-the-house part is the biggest change. 

I prepared like someone preparing to enter a bunker for two months:
I bought a new handbag

... in bunker-green and gold. Utilitarian but a little flash. It seemed like the right thing to do.

A pocket umbrella to fit in one of the front pockets of my new bag ... because unexpected rain can mess your hair when you don't have a roof over your head (and an unused pocket is a sin in New York City, where space is at a premium).

Band-Aids. Not the generic store-brand bandages; the three-dollar-extra industrial-strength Band-Aids with Quiltvent technology and superior breathability. I also bought Band-Aid's Advanced Healing Blister Cushions, with cushioning gel pads no less ... because when you commute at rush hour you have to wear shoes that give you blisters.

Pond's Evening Soothe wet cleansing wipes with chamomile and white tea. They "lift away impurities while soothing the senses." It seems they are designed for evening use, but I use them before, during, and after a subway ride, and on the elevator on the way up to the office. If I was Oprah, these wipes would be on my Favorite Things list ... and I'd give a case away to everyone in the audience.

I'd also give away my other Summer-in-the-city essentials (no self-respecting handbag can be toted without them): Boscia B.B. Cream–a super-light foundation/moisturizer that hydrates, protects from Sun (that I will only see through a window), and evens out skin; Bare Minerals All Natural Lip Gloss (so you can take lip-gloss breaks);  and Moroccan Oil Hydrating Cream for frizz-control (travel-size, of course).

Tea bags and a mug. There's a Starbucks on the corner—and almost every corner where I work—but I need me some Golden Moments in a breakable cup (with bamboo cuff) thank you very much. It turns out I also need me an electric kettle for the office. WTF? I can't believe I forgot to ask about a kettle in the interview. Will add it to my cover letters going forward ...

Coconut Water and Seaweed Snacks. Healthy choices won't endear me to M&M-scoffing officemates, but to quote reality-show contestants—"I'm not here to make friends."

Finally, Ginger Chews to put a sweet and spicy spring in my step and my fave worn-in (with teeth marks from my pup) flat sandals for the end of the day when I don't have the time/energy to walk in heels.

Next week's bag will include a sweater to ward off agressive air-conditioning, a kettle, and a good book to take advantage of an hour-long commute each way. And maybe some Valium.

Jul 23, 2012

Brew Your Own Brand!

I'm very particular about tea. I care about the kettle, the mug, how recently the kettle was boiled, how long the tea brews, how long I have to savor it, and of course, the brew itself. I go back and forth between Lyons and Barry's—usually dictated by availability—but I'm mostly a Barry's woman, enjoying several "Golden Moments" a day. 

A box of Barry's is a regular go-to gift for tea-drinking friends because I am nice like that (and possibly because I want to be sure my friends will have a decent cup of tea for me when I pop in for a chat), so when I saw that Barry's offers custom-printed tea boxes, I ordered a few to gift for upcoming birthdays faster than I fly through a pack of biscuits with my afternoon tea. Personalized boxes cost $14 each and will make a great gift when packaged with a pretty mug.

You can also play with Barry's('ssss) Facebook app to make a virtual box for yourself; handy activity while you wait for the kettle to boil. (Kind of wish I'd ordered a bunch with my own name to elevate my tea-drinking experience/add "tea-blender"to my resume ...) 
Put the kettle on love.

Barry's Tea on FB

Jul 12, 2012

The Project Twins

I see dead people.

way more dead people than living people.

The fellows who designed this Living & The Dead poster would be very interesting fellows to have at a party. You know, those offbeat guests who are as good at breaking the ice as George Clooney is at breaking the hearts. I'm not sure that Cork-based designers Michael and James Fitzgerald of The Project Twins actually attend dinner parties, but they do design very interesting posters, books, and the like. And even interesting designing twins need to eat. Especially if you make an effort with dessert. Again, who knows, they might be too busy designing cool logos and posters (so you should have a few ice-breakers ready yourself).

A few other items from The Project Twins online shop pictured below. My fave is Yonderly, the print with the bubble head, representing someone who is "emotionally distant or absent-minded." The twins thought they could remove the hair and I wouldn't recognize myself, but I'd know that blue shirt anywhere.

The Project Twins Shop

Jul 11, 2012

Sighted and Noted Whilst Squandering Time

I'm between freelance gigs at the moment, the kids are off gallivanting with friends and girlfriends (says she as she blesses herself and launches into the tenth decade of the rosary), and the pup has boarded himself into the closet after hearing mention of thunder in the evening forecast. I should be hanging the pictures I've been meaning to hang for two years, sanding the table that I've been meaning to finish sanding since I decided to rough it up before a New Year's party, or writing pitches for articles that I've been meaning to pitch for-ev-er. At the very least, I should probably tend to the dishes in the sink. 
Instead, I've been pottering about the interwebs all afternoon, questioning if Fairy Cakes really have to have raisins because I'm not feeling the raisins, and wondering what kind of bra I should wear with that white dress I got on sale last week.
I suppose Rome wasn't built on a Wednesday. 

I spent fifteen minutes trying to remember the names of these infamous 80s Irish gangsters ... before I realized that the names are printed at the bottom. In my defense I was viewing on my phone while wearing sunglasses that sometimes fog up when my brow overheats. Should you suffer a foggy brow: Cornelius the Crow, Flaherty, the Plonsters, Bosco, and the Tongue Twisters (shudder).

Heritage Centre

Singing along to this new song from Irish band Heritage Centre's forthcoming debut album "Alright, Check It Out."Catchy, no? The album is out in September. Watch this space.

Origin Green

A lovely video with a lovely vision for Ireland narrated by the very lovely Saoirse Ronan.
Sign up for a clean green Ireland at Origin Green, BordBia.

I spent much of the afternoon skipping about the blogosphere like a well-flung stone on calm waters. Noted:
Helen James' personalized wrapping paper
GoIreland's infographic of Irish family names
Joanne Hynes' suggests for shopping in Galway
Pol O'Conghaile's 50 Free Days Out in Ireland

I'm obsessed with finding an army jacket at the moment despite the fact that it is too many degrees to count here. All I can say (to rationalize jacket thoughts in bikini weather) is that one has to be armed to combat aggressive air-conditioning. I used to live in an army jacket in secondary school (in fact, my mother used to say that I'd be buried in it) and I can't believe that I let that much-loved jacket go AWOL. 

Angela Scanlon's post on army jackets (from back in March--see why I got nothing done today? ages to catch up on) reminds me that I need to sign up, fall in, and get my camo on. I'm also reading The Things They Carried (it's on my son's reading list for Summer, and I read what he reads so I can catch him out for not reading) which means, among other things, I will pay particular attention to my accessories.

Follow-on note: Blanaid often has army jackets in her Shutterbug store like the one pictured above. I know I could prob find one stateside but Blanaid has a great eye and I have a great need. 


I love when a book I want to read has a cover I want to look at. Writing the Irish West by Eamonn Wall examines seven contemporary Irish writers—John McGahern, Martin McDonagh, Tim Robinson, Richard Murphy, Mary O'Malley, Moya Cannon, and Sean Lysaghtin their west of Ireland context. It'll look great on my bookshelf.
Speaking of bookshelves ...

... once I finish diddling here, I will spend the dredges of the evening wondering if I am cool enough to have a black/charcoal-grey/dark wall with black/charcoal-grey/dark bookshelves. That should get me to Thursday. Where I will be very productive. I bet Rome was started on a Thursday. (Oops, sorry for draining your Wednesday).

Jul 3, 2012

Yeats: In Rings and Rhyme

I consistently love Irish transplant Macha Jewelry's edgy-chic collections, but their latest Yeats ring collection, available in an array of tropical colors, makes me want to muck up Brooklyn's highways and byways in the hopes of a pothole-induced delivery. I'm loving the Yeats ring in white and tomato shades, but the sea mist ring has inspired a longing and infatuation of Maud Gonne proportions. I'll be devastated if it won't be mine.

Speaking of Yeats ... The other day, I tried to recite The Lake Isle of Innisfree in a fit of poetic summer longing/an attempt to dress up Coney Island beach, and I was horrified to find that moths had eaten holes in a few lines. It was a low moment. I really thought I could rely on my Yeats, but it seems he can only stand so much neglect. So I have been relearning my Easter 1916, my Sailing to Byzantium, and my Lake Isle of Innisfree, this time with the freedom to listen and feel (without having to consider what I'm supposed to hear and feel, as dictated by teachers and tests). I'd forgotten how much I loved to say "bee loud glade"... and how the class sniggered that time at my enunciation.  

—Pause here to say "Bee loud glade" —

Instead of getting out of bed in the morning, I arise and go now. Instead of patching together bits of lines, I feel it in the deep heart's core. Instead of lighting up with mortification, I'm just lighting up. Snigger away.

Reviving "old school" faves from Mr. W.B. has inspired a thorough watering and weeding of all the poetry planted in my brambles; so far I've found Patrick Kavanagh, Maire Mhac an tSaoi, and Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill, and I'm pretty sure verses of Keats, Donne, Thomas, and Kinsella are rooted in the depths somewhere, too, awaiting a little sunshine. 

My next task is to decide on a new poem to take to heart. It's kind of shocking to realize that all the poetry I know was beaten into me with rulers and red faces in school ... that I have never taken the time as an adult to learn a poem by heart. 

—Pause here for emphasis—

I'm randomly pulling poetry (from the likes of Seamus Heaney, Dermot Bolger, Ogden Nash, and Margaret Atwood) off the shelf for a visit and I'm excited to possibly pick something to stay. Perhaps I should mark this new passion with ... I don't know ... a little sea-mist on my finger?  Yes, a little physical poetry to suggest lake water lapping while I stand on the roadway  ... digging potholes. (Phew, isn't rationalizing a potential new purchase exhausting?!)

Jul 2, 2012

Song of Good Hope

I saw Glen Hansard in concert at the Beacon Theater last Friday night. I've seen him a few times now and he still exceeds my expectations every time. He's a gifted musician and storyteller, but he's also hardworking, grateful, and genuine. Most songs were prefaced with "this is for my friend ..." and a little story about an old friend about to make a big decision, or a new friend he just met today. He even invited musical friends he'd met earlier that evening on stage to close the show (something it seemed he was in no hurry to do, once he'd already paid the fine to Beacon for going over the allotted time.) The crowd listened intently, smiling at the rambles and curses, returning well wishes for his friends, singing along when invited (Hansard obviously pulls a very musical audience because the harmonies were really beautiful), and leaving a few hours later, warmed and sated—after spending a lovely evening with a good friend. 

Hansard dedicated Song of Good Hope to his friend Ezra, a bike maker and close friend in New York who was diagnosed with cancer; for a while it looked bad for Ezra, but he is now back on his bike to good health. It's a lovely song of hope for anyone sailing rocky waters.

Sing it with me:
"And take your time babe, 
It's not as bad as it seems, 
You'll be fine babe, 
It's just some rivers and streams, 
In between, you and where you want to be, 
Watch the signs now, 
You'll know what they mean, 
You'll be fine now, 
Just stay close to me, 
And may good hope, walk with you through everything."

Pardon the iPhone camera quality and the woman in front of me coughing right when you are wishing good hope on everyone you know (and I am wishing a collapsed lung on a stranger).

Buy Glen Hansard's new album, Rhythm and Repose on Amazon.com