Tea Time

IMG_9347It’s never not time for tea, I mean I’m Irish, so there will be tea. Now there’s coffee too, don’t get me wrong, but that’s for jolting me into my day. The tea is for savoring all the moments in it.

I consume coffee in the mornings and if I’m out and about will have an Americano as late as 3.30, or 4pm – okay, 5pm at a push and sometimes after a meal at night-time.

But I’ll start drinking tea at lunchtime. A tea break is called that for very good reason. Is there a coffee break? It’s just not the same. in fact, it”s been known to happen that I’ve had a late coffee to take a break from drinking tea.

Anyway, here I buy imported Barry’s Tea, though if anyone is visiting I’d love some Lyons. (Hint, hint) There are tons of different brands of black tea, but while the Irish palate is robust, it doesn’t want to be bludgeoned either. Liptons? Terribly weak. Bigelows? Let’s double the bags. Similarly with Taylor’s/Teavana. The Twinnings Irish Breakfast Tea is acceptable. Trader Joe’s Irish blend is too strong, a little too rugged.

Always hot. Always.

Good mug isn’t it? And being china, it’s really good for tea too!

 

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This Year’s Big One

The Super Bowl – I mean Big Game – is on at the moment. It’s SOOOO American, I mean, of course, what else would it be, it’s American football and the season finale. But now it’s more, it’s all the ads in between the plays, it’s the half-time entertainment. It’s also who is singing the national anthem. There’s a separate pre-game concert. There’s post-game analysis AND one of the late-night hosts going live with a show immediately after the game. It’s something for everyone and a precise and live application of commerce to every, single aspect of this event, which now takes the whole day – it’s Super Bowl Sunday. The pre-game has a pre-pre-game which I think was live from 7am this morning.

Americans love, love, love statistics and sport is the way to go on this. The biggest, fastest, farthest throw/putt/chuck/pitch. The longest jump/run/push. The strongest arm/leg/head. The best-est team for now, until some other outfit can rise through the ranks and take them on.

The stats of a team can also be compared to the stats for every other year past. Is this year’s Eagles team as good as some past Eagles team, which won X number of years ago?

An underdog team, the curse of losing for years – all make for great sports stories – great team stories, just a great story. Something for us non-sporties to know and talk to other people about.

The extensive statistical analysis extends to the fans too. Here’s Joe who’s painted his flock of sheep in his team’s colors and Ned who’s every surface in his house is Dodger Blue. Or Nancy, 93 years young, who can remember the last time the cursed team won! Will their hopes and prayers get the team over the line, when it’s down to the wire, to the last second on the clock?

Four Seasons

So there is general agreement on there being four seasons in our year: winter, spring, summer and autumn (fall in America). But the seasons here are marked very differently.

We’ve just had Groundhog Day, February 2nd, made famous for me by the film which I think is now 25 years old. So the townspeople hold up the groundhog and if he sees his own shadow there will be another six weeks of winter – not just wintry weather, but winter. When, pray tell, is the springtime?

Well that’s just it, see, it is still winter here. When we in Ireland, and Europe I suppose, are in our springtime, it is still winter here. The US seems to consider winter to have arrived on December 21st, the shortest day of the year, and to be here until March 21st, the spring equinox. Then spring stretches from March 21st until June 21st. Summer officially arrives on June 21st and goes until September 21st or thereabouts and then autumn/fall is from September to December.

Clearly, plainly, reasonably – this is simply wrong. Maybe I am a pagan Celt but there is a stretch in the evenings, the snowdrops have been out, it’s now time for the crocuses and daffodils – spring has sprung! The birds are chirping for mates everywhere and by Easter-time there will be a ton of cotton-tail bunny rabbits hopping all over the place. (I thought the abundance of fluffy-tailed rabbits was a Disney myth, until I saw it in St. Louis with my own eyes!) So even American natural life will belittle the official calendar.

What is June 21st? Not the start of summer, but yes, Midsummer’s Night á la Shakespeare – half-way through the season. By August, it’s time to harvest. September in Irish is Mean Fomhair (mid-Autumn), October is Deireadh Fomhair (end of Autumn) – makes sense in relation to the actual changing weather.

November, December and January are the winter months – certainly the darkest ones. Christmas is an important  gathering time, but alongside it, as we rush to prepare we have an eye out for the shortest day, when the sunlight hits the back of the burial chamber at Newgrange.

Our pre-Celtic ancestors lined up the stones impeccably, so that millennia later, the sunlight of a winter dawn illuminates a small chamber, to let us know the world has turned, past the longest of nighttimes and we will see the stretch in the days again.

Divesting

‘I am so middle-aged’ is what I thought when I read the word ‘divest’. Firstly, because I knew exactly what it meant. I am approaching a significant (huge) birthday in six months time. A move into a new decade etc, etc. So I’ve been eyeing everything with that in mind.

Okay, okay it’s 5.0. – happy now? The reveal is always alarming because in your head, you think that the young person you made laugh at the party now thinks you’re really old. That there’s no way you can ‘pass’ as young now, so you’ll have to settle for being interesting and possibly amusing, on the way to becoming cantankerous and curmudgeonly and never asked out again. I am definitely on the slippery slope.

So 50 becomes a lens to view your life through. Is this something I want to continue with as a 50 year old? This ragged t-shirt? This whatever it is at the back of the wardrobe? This mistaken purchase? No, no and no – divesting commences.

The clothing aspect came into focus last week as I was on a trip to San Diego for a course and then on to New York for fun. Being in those cities made me more aware of myself in the world and how tired I am of the one (much photographed) coat I own.

But the feeling of focus and resetting goes beyond clothes and image to who I am. What’s changed in me from growing up in Dublin, living in Galway, moving to Glasgow and the UK, back to Dublin and then making a new life in Los Angeles, California?

Look at all those geography changes, yet I still consider that I am fundamentally myself. “Wherever you go, there you are!” is really very profound. I am still growing, changing in subtle ways, but why? Perfection is pointless. If it’s a continuum then presumably you get to be your most perfect self and promptly die. But we whittle away at ourselves all the same. Divesting of the worn-out ways, investing in changes – even for their own sake.

 

This is the word of the day on the Merriam Webster Dictionary site, which I am finding to be as much of an inspiration as the WordPress Prompt of the Day – probably 50/50 and then my own thoughts inject to become blog posts too!

Profuse

Profuse with ideas, apologies, praise. St. Louis at Christmastime was profuse with cookies! As I’m sure Ireland was profuse with drink. Los Angeles is profuse with traffic, creatives, ‘business of show’ types. What draws everyone here and creates such a profusion of talent?

Possibly, the answer is quite simply that the industry is here and however few opportunities there are in this lottery: if you’re not in, you can’t win! And, make no mistake, it is all a lottery. It’s not a level-playing field. Plenty of talent comes here, does great work and might even get well-paid, but never makes that so called ‘Big Time’. And don’t those goal-posts always change…

The chain goes on…

It’s been a month of blogging for me. That’s the most sustained period of writing that I’ve ever completed. Oh I have started diaries before: especially in Januarys past: fresh pages and new pens, tearing out that first page to start again with better handwriting… Eagerly writing on day one, feeling that picking up the pen on day four was a chore and then missing a day but thinking that I could easily catch up and do two entries the following day. And then that gap grows and it’s suddenly a bigger deal to get back on track.

Sometimes there’s another attempt, more years not. But that’s been my modus operandi up to now. So the fact that I’m here with my X through most days of January, means that something about publishing the entries on WordPress worked for January and seems to work in practice. I’m not going to look too closely at the content of the blog just yet, my aim is to just keep going – it might be ráméis altogether, or okay and a little overwritten, but as I say, that’s being put aside for the moment in order to just keep going.

The main thing I’ve learned from self-help reading and doing the blog is that ‘you’re never going to feel like doing it’ – and that the muse doesn’t strike, driving you to get writing. It’s far better to get going, to act, set the time, get into the habit, keep the process going and then review. More Xs to go onto the page – I’m keeping this chain going.

 

Flutters

A flutter of snow over the city, the white roofs on yellow cabs go by on the street below. Layer up. Still that wind whips in around necks and noses. Eyes dart above scarves, gloved hands grip steaming cups of coffee today. Bleak, bitter but still the city is in motion. Suits with snow boots get the walking done. The subway is packed with warm bodies. The Nuts 4 Nuts cart is pushed along the sidewalk by a guy who is incredibly bundled up against the elements, still he is going to his spot to put in his time.

Our time here is slipping away. Even as we talk about the cold and snow, we know we are flying tomorrow, so we both endure and enjoy.

Our show (Come From Away) is a full house, Newfoundland sounds by way of Ireland. I am emotional during the show, I too am an Islander, choosing to live here and I am recalling my 9-11, while enjoying this telling of the event in Gander. It’s the flutter between the all the thoughts in my head and all the feelings in my heart that brings a tear to my eyes.