Tuesday, December 20, 2011

End of 2011

It's very nearly a whole new year. What does that mean? Absolutely nothing to be completely honest. But I have gone through a lot in 2011 and need to plan my journey from today forward. I am going to set some goals for the month of January. There's this girl I know. Her name is Stina, and her blog organization skills make me look like a kid drawing with crayons (I do love crayons).

I'm basically stealing her December to Remember Goals but mine has no cool and hip rhyme scheme. I'm joined up at the new Xsport in Crestwood and am dying in anticipation to get in there and work out. I've got my workout clothes all ready and waiting to abused. Here are my goals for January. I have no idea if I'm being realistic but I am setting them and going to try hard to accomplish them all.

COL'S FITNESS GOALS for the 31 Days of January

1. Attend 9 Group Fitness Classes
averages to 2 classes a week, 1 class in the last half-week

2. Run 25 Miles Total
averages to 6 miles per week, 1 mile in the last half-week

3. Sign Up for One Race or Fitness Event
must be before June 1st

4. Track all workouts in some way
can be done via blogging, mapmyrun account, or something similar

5. Do Two Real Push-Ups
totally stole this from Stina but I wanna do a mud run and they include obstacle courses and usually involve push-ups

6. Only Allowed 10 Meals At Restaurants
this may be my downfall

7. Kick Dan's ass at the Gym
little unhealthy competition can't hurt right?

I want to think that I am not over reaching on these goals except my ability to copy Stina may be extreme (too bad, Stina). I also think that if I achieve all of these things, I will have an official weighing of myself. I usually don't set goals involving weight or check my weight. I plan to set new goals February 1st and start over again. Hopefully this makes me accountable and I will get the full value of my gym membership.

I have six credits left to complete my Masters which include a Masters Thesis, an insane 40-50 page research paper. I'm excited to get all this done even at the expense of going out and having fun--personally, there is too much drama in all that business anyways.

In other news, I'll begin volunteering on Saturdays at a Chicago School and tutoring students and developing reading skills with the organization Working in the Schools. I am really excited about this chance. I've wanted for a long time to volunteer and give back to the city that has been so important in my life. I encourage my friends to find ways to volunteer and give back especially when the world and economy is so wrecked. Donating your time doesn't cost you anything and the pay off is amazing self-esteem.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

decompression and reflection

By Colleen Boyle

This week has brought a lot of things to forefront of my mind. While I have been long frustrated with feeling unaccomplished, this week a lot of new reflections have been present in my mind, and its been a while since I've updated my blog.

One of the assignments that have been required in my Teaching Internship at Roosevelt University is to create a CV, Cover Letter, and Statement of Teaching Philosophy. As someone who has very little training and experience in teaching, this presents a perplexing number of internal conflicts. Though I feel very much like I have mastered skills with writing and critical literary analysis, I have very little, it seems, to offer a teaching position.

We discussed and looked at examples of the above mentioned documents in class for two weeks, and I felt incredibly incapable of creating my own version of these things. Yeah, I've written cover letters and resumes but the cover letter for a teaching job is so much more detailed and specific to something I have little experience in.

But there was no point in putting off the creation of these documents. I thought, "what do I have to lose?" especially since my degree won't be complete for another year and applying for teaching jobs won't be til Spring 2013 or Fall 2013. That seems so far away.

I wrote the CV and found that it wasn't horribly lacking anything. I may not have a lot of teaching experience, but I do actually have a lot of accomplishments on the academic level. Writing a statement of teaching philosophy was a bit nerve racking, but I completed it and felt like I was true to myself in what I said. It needs improvement, but doesn't everything?

So then I got to the cover letter. I first wrote a cover letter to a position at Moraine Valley Community College. As I wrote, I felt a great deal of pride in myself. I begin to think of the girl who went to Moraine in 2003. I was 17, and I had no clue where I would be in a few years. I wasn't entirely sure about my major, my abilities, my dreams, etc... Now I can look back and think about all I've been through and feel proud that I never quit, that I worked and paid my way to a college education, and then even had the nerve to go back for another degree. Yes, I have about $20,000 in student loans but I also have a lot of writing skills, research abilities, and now the ability to help others in their writing and academic life.

Then I think about the other things I've done. I pay for my own apartment; I have no credit card debt; and I even managed the strength to travel in Europe alone for 5 weeks without a friend in thousands of miles (though I made plenty while there). If I could go back in time and find the 17 year old me who went to Moraine Valley, what would I say to her? I would say absolutely nothing because the journey was hard but amazing. That girl was shy and unsure of what life had in store for her. I'm still a little unsure but what's the fun in having all the answers? I wouldn't be the person I am if I didn't work so hard even without knowing if I could succeed.

After reflecting back to these things, I begin to consider what lays ahead of me. It probably isn't marriage and children, and I am perfectly okay with that. Those things come to us when they want to, maybe not when we're ready but they happen when they happen. Next Spring will be my first conference presenting a paper I wrote in grad school titled "Film Adaptations reshaping gender roles and the characters of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein". And just when I began to think presenting at a conference wasn't that big of a deal, I got to see the look of pride and excitement on my professor's face when I told her about how I was presenting the paper I wrote for her class.

There is so much more to look forward to now. I want to get a paper published, complete my Master's Thesis, and volunteer to help build my CV. I'm not trying to brag or gloat about what I've done. There's still a lot to accomplish but I think it helps to stop and realize where you've been before you can move on.

I have many other things to look forward to, watching my boyfriend succeed in college and starting my career. I plan to do more traveling, keep working on making my lifestyle healthier, and somewhere down the line, apply to a PhD program. I feel like this blog has been a little long winded but I really needed to recognize all of this. I used to be shy, scared, quiet, opinionated but silent, smart but simplistic, and I have to give lots of credit to the people who gave me inspiration and support. Every bit made all the difference between failing and succeeding.

I'm not even sure if I should be saying I've succeeded but I've definitely found a path.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Let's get deep (into some literary research)

I wrote a rather extensive and long-winded email to the poor woman I selected to be my Masters Thesis Director. I already feel bad for her because she has no idea how insanely OCD I get about my research papers and how much of a crazy perfectionist I can be. So after one week of research, here are the ideas I am putting out there to help me guide my topic development from here:

I did a lot of reading this week mainly looking to secure what my primary text or texts will be. I've got some ideas that I'd like to run by you. I would have liked to get more done but had a stomach flu for a couple of days making me sleep through a lot of planned studying times.

I haven't read any of these texts from start to finish but am just trying to think about where I want to focus.

Mrs Dalloway . I began reading this mostly because its one of Virginia Woolf's most famous and often read novels. While there are a lot of ideas that come to me, I feel like I'd rather not focus on this text because it is so well known and so many scholars have written about it. Some of the good ideas or themes that I picked up on were issues of marriage, conversations between the genders with emphasis on how Woolf shifts points of view to see how men and women talk/view one another, and a lot of themes involving domestic homes and how women occupy their time (giving parties and so forth).

Although I don't think Mrs Dalloway will be my primary text, I do plan to read it through since it is well know in Woolf criticism and may bring some interesting perspective to whatever I eventually focus on.

Night and Day. Similar to the themes I found in Mrs Dalloway, I like the interesting way that Woolf handles conversations between men and women and the way she shifts narration to view these things. There is also great emphasis on time and the time of day appears to affect the mood of the characters and scene she is leading the reader through. There are also themes dealing with women's 'work' and stereotypes about how they occupy their 'time'. I think I would like to focus on Night and Day as a primary text. I am not sure if this would be a good text to compare and contrast with another Woolf novel or any short stories. I guess I need to keep reading to determine that.

I was also considering some ideas for a comparative thesis with another modernist author. I thought that Jacob's Room and A Portrait of An Artist as a Young Man may have a lot of similar and different themes. It has been a while since I have read either text but the idea occurred to me and I thought it was worth mentioning. Obviously Joyce is Irish and Woolf is British but there could be similar themes since both texts deal with a male lead character and probably a lot of reoccurring themes of time etc.

But adding James Joyce to my studies would only complicate my thesis research since I know he is a difficult author to study and read (though you could argue all Modernists are).

I started to read both Between the Acts and To the Lighthouse. I did not get very far into either but had noticed a few interesting things. Both seem to be different because they are taken outside of the city and written in more country settings. The characters also seem very different from the characters in her other novels that are located in London and a more urban, city setting.

Another thought that crossed my mind but I have not followed up on and did readings for was that Woolf wrote a set of short stories including at least one that is a ghost story. This immediately brought to mind Edith Wharton's short stories since I have done a paper on Wharton's ghost stories in the past. Whether doing research on those is a good idea, I am not sure. I know Wharton was an American author and was around the same time period as Woolf (Wharton was born about two decades before Woolf and died about 10 years before Woolf).

Okay, there are a lot of ideas here but I am more comfortable with a surplus of ideas than a shortage of them. I hate to be so long winded through email but writing out my ideas is helping a lot and is already giving me direction for what I will read over the weekend. Any feedback you can provide will be appreciated and very helpful.

Thank you so much for being the wall my ideas are bouncing off of!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Quick Blog

This is probably the earliest blog I've ever posted. But I have some quick things to think about so here I am and before I've had my waffles (already have my cup of coffee though). So, I've got a meeting with a professor to discuss my Masters Thesis topic today.

My 'starter' topic is novels of Virginia Woolf and themes of time and gender. While it's a good start, I have a feeling that it's a too broad of a topic and one that has been discussed in the context of Virginia Woolf a great deal. So, I am hoping to get more direction and learn how to narrow my topic down.

Dan is going to come with me to the city and were going to hangout downtown, walk around a bit and enjoy the city. It's going to be a fun day and hopefully not too cold.

On a bad note, I have not been jogging and exercising this week. Blame it on being a woman but its really not an excuse. Maybe I needed an off week but I gotta get back on track and soon!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Updating my goals and progress/ emerging back into politics

There are two things that I am going to discuss in this blog post tonight. The first is how far along I am in accomplishing some recently set goals. One goal was to being logging and tracking all my food. I have been strong in this aspect for almost a week even though I did not eat the healthiest; I still stuck with logging everything. Unexpected family celebrations definitely contributed to some bad eating but I did not go overboard in my opinion.

I finally set an appointment with a professor to begin working on my thesis topic and have some working ideas about what I can write about. While I didn't get to clean my bedroom and compile a clothing donation for goodwill, I did help Dan do this at his house (a compromise to spend the following weekend on my room). Dan and I both thoroughly cleaned our cars inside and out. I also banned smoking in my car which is a good step towards quitting smoking (and am still cutting back greatly with how many cigarettes I have per day).

I began to work on my lesson plan and assignment for the undergraduate course I am interning with. This involved a lot of time spent reading news articles online and viewing the comments to those articles. I had my hesitations towards reading news articles because of my frustration with politics and getting involved in politics.

However much I try, I can't help but have my opinions and views about our American society in the state that it is today. What started as a discussion of ideas between me and Dan, turned into a lengthy conversation between Stina and I about politics and how our society could change for the better.

There are numerous things wrong in the world today and people are living their lives in chaos without the capacity or direction to make any substantial changes. We live in a world where corporations have way too much control and we rely on them to provide cheap products but at the cost of outsourcing our labor and production plants.

But the problems can't be simply placed there. We have an obesity problem, a lack of interest in protecting the environment, people rarely eat healthy and whole foods, and too many people splurge and live above their means. This issues are not the government's fault but simply the way we have allowed our society to progress and grow into.

The people who want to change those bad habits are the ones that can't afford to spend their time worrying about eating healthier food because they can barely afford the cheap processed foods. How can we grow as a society when the majority of the people in it feel completely helpless and all the education in the world can't get them financial security and job security.

We are so concerned with dividing ourselves into groups and classes that we forget to help one another out, we forget to have sympathy for those in the hard times. Maybe I'm simplifying this all too much or not quite getting at the heart of the problem, but it's frustrating to see people struggle.

But what can one do about any of this by themselves? Well, the answer is not a god damn thing. We can only make the right choices for your own life and hope that enough people begin making the right choices to move our society to a better and more productive society. I hope that it will be one that serves ourselves instead of the corporations we rely on too much.

If you took the time to see how our society has progressed, you see a great advancement in technology but a loss of control for people to manage their own lives and make conscious decisions. Just because something is cheap doesn't make it good for you. I hate dislike McDonalds so I don't eat there. If more people recognize that fast food is ruining nutritional values in our communities and stop eating there, the business would fail and less fast food restaurants would exist. The bad things in society exist because people support them and create a demand for them.

So until we change our behaviors and attitudes, our society cannot reflect the change. It took generations to get where we are today so it will take just as long to progress and change again.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

disaster in the kitchen!

I've got two things to discuss in my blog today. First and foremost, my new found (somewhat forced) decision to start cooking and baking more has had its ups and downs. Disaster is not really the right word for it so I may need to change the title.

First, the boyfriend and I made the spicy chicken bake that I recently found on the How Sweet It Is blog. That blog is truly wonderful and has plenty of great recipes and dishes that would make anyone want to cook!

This recipe went incredibly well and make a ton of food which my dad enjoyed the leftovers all weekend. We also made our own garlic bread and it was amazing. The next thing we made was biscuits n gravy which I long ago perfected and no longer need a recipe. I made these for Dan before and even though it was his birthday, he insisted on learning.

Then it was cupcake time. Since I love baking cakes and cupcakes for everybody's birthday (though I haven't for a long time). Dan wanted vanilla and banana. I'm not the biggest fan of banana so I'd never cooked with it before. I decided to top the cupcakes with chocolate covered banana slices (another from How Sweet It Is).

The recipe for the banana slices call for the bananas to be frozen. I didn't even think of the possibility that the bananas needed to be peeled. So I threw them in the freezer and the next day, quickly realized what a bad idea that was. Oh well, I threw those out and luckily had two more bananas sitting on the counter.

I cheated and used a box to make the cake part of the cupcakes but chose to continue my tradition of making my own frosting. Since Dan wanted banana, I just mixed together one mashed banana, a bunch of cool whip, and then threw in some instant banana pudding mix. I let Dan decide when the frosting tasted well and I think the cupcakes were a success, everybody enjoyed them!

Now, there is some other things that need consideration outside the kitchen. For starters, I am in my last week working for Baird & Warner. While I enjoyed writing content for the website and learning Search Engine Optimization, the project is at its end more because of the new head of marketing. I'm glad that I chose to keep working both jobs when school started so that I now can only working at Polmax with a bunch of fun and sassy ladies.

So I went from working 80 hours over the summer to 50 hours at the start of the school semester and will only be working next week 30 hours. I'm not sure how this will feel next week. I'm guessing it would feel like a vacation to finally have time to do stuff around my apartment. This weekend, my goals are like so:

Research for my Master thesis topic (my goal is to have a solid topic developed by the end of October so I can write my thesis proposal)
Clean my bedroom (maybe even vacuum the floors)
Throw out old stuff and useless items (Anti-hoarding cleanse)
Begin drafting my lesson plan for LIBS201
Donate clothes to goodwill and clean out the closets (this should also indicate that I am going to finally put away the clean clothes piled on my floor)
Clean out my car (this includes vacuuming the inside and washing all the windows etc.)
Go for a hike at Swallow Cliffs Forest Preserve (most likely reserved for Sunday)
Shop for Halloween Costumes! probably the funnest thing on this list!

Coming Soon, Colleen attempts to bake a pie!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Memorable Quotes by Col

I know that quotes are typically reserved for people who have done important things, published books, shaped the world, or made a major contribution to society or promoted peace or some hippie crap like that.

Well I say funny shit! So you know what? I'm going to start a list of funny quotes because I'm too funny to not quote.

So, I present, memorable lines from Colleen Boyle, future author of a book or that chick you might of saw on the train.

"That joke was so racist, I hope you have to stand next time you take a bus anywhere"

"I'm sorry, I forgot that at the beginning of the relationship I'm supposed to let you think you make the rules, how silly of me"

"These kids are so annoying, I might punch myself in the Uterus"

"There's nothing scary about a strong man, you should be more afraid of an intelligent woman"

"I don't think anything is scarier than being reserved instead of expressive"

"Don't you think it'd be funny if you [to a guy] slam the door on me and yell "equal rights", instead of holding the door for me? I mean people might think you hit me, but I'd get a laugh out of it"

"If you keep sneaking your dirty clothes into my laundry basket, I'm going to sneak herpes into this relationship as punishment"

"Being a woman is so tiresome, you spend all your energy caring about things that never matter 24 hours later"

"Boyfriends are just like newborn babies, just as sticky, messy, needy, and smelly, except you don't have to squeeze them out of your girly parts"

to be continued.............

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wait, what? You can cook food at home? WOW!

There are certain things I am good at and then there are those other things that I never learned or tried. You know, stuff like cooking, sewing, juggling, snapping, watching romantic dramas, shoe shopping, and getting a tan.

But in a recent blog post, I indicated my want to start eating healthier, and with that comes the idea that I need to make my own meals and know what is in the food I eat. In the past four years, I have become a pro at memorizing nutrition guides for many 'fast' food restaurants and sandwich joints in the city and suburbs.

As much as I kick and scream at the thought of growing up (hence my love of coloring books and toys), it's time to grow up and get some big girl skills. So today, I hit the blogs and thanks to a good friend, Stina (her blog is here: ), I was able to browse a few blogs that post great recipes.

The main blogs I found useful:

Eat Live Run

How Sweet It Is

I highly recommend Stina's blog since she has been a large source of information for me since a lot of her goals are aligned with mine (some of which, she is way ahead of me in achieving). We ended up on the topic of food after we were discussing a dessert to make for my boyfriend's birthday--which is going to remain a secret for now.

I chose to make the Spinach-Feta-Turkey-Burger. So I hiked all the way to Orland and hit up Trader Joe's with about five recipes in my purse. After spending about $60 and renewing my love of shopping at Trader Joe's (PLEASE OPEN A STORE CLOSE TO ME!), I headed home with tons of positivity and a sinking feeling that I forgot something.

After putting away groceries in my kitchen, it dawned on me. Hamburger Buns. Yeah, I had regular bread, but who would make amazing Turkey Burgers and put it on regular sandwich bread. How do I always manage to do this to myself? Happily, I had bought ingredients for two other recipes.

I ended up making the BBQ Chicken Quesadillas. Now, I didn't really follow the recipe. I bought wheat tortillas, chicken, low fat mozzarella cheese, and BBQ sauce. I always cheat and take out the onions and bs my way through it. But it turned out pretty good even though it kind of fell apart.

Later, I will be making homemade granola bars. I may opt to go for a run and make the granola bars tomorrow but they will be made. In the past, I have made the mistake of buying ingredients to make a particular dish or try a new recipe but end up being too busy to make it, and the ingredients spoil and get thrown away.

Anyways, I am taking a step in the right direction! Horray for positive changes!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

new goals and new beginnings

There is probably a statistic out there that will tell people that if you write down your goals onto paper (or the interwebz), you are ____ times more likely to achieve them. I could google that but statistics don't really matter.

I have spent the majority of my adult life attempting to have a healthy lifestyle and be in better shape. I have at some points gotten very far in pursuing that goal and at some points, lost my way due to stress, overworking myself, and sacrificing a lot to have good grades and a social life.

At this point in my life, I need to finally have the mental capability and determination to stop putting off important things like my health. Besides issues of health, I am creating a list of things to accomplish and work on in the next year. From now on, when I get stressed, I am going to look at this list and put aside petty problems and get working at it.

1. Lose Weight - become more height/weight proportionate. I am consciously not putting an amount here along the lines of "lose 20 pounds" and there's a lot of logic behind that decision. I don't believe number measurement or jean sizes are a good way to determine someone's health. I am more healthy than people who are a jean size 8 because I have muscle mass and do not eat at McDonalds every day. I say more healthy in that previous sentence because I am far from being healthy in my own opinion. I can run a mile in less than 14 minutes but my weight is above normal weight groups. I don't say that because I have low self-estem, I say that because it is the truth and I need to face it.

2. Eat healthy and fresh foods. By all means, I do not have the worst diet in this country. But I do not eat enough healthy and natural foods. I drink a lot of coffee, probably twice as much as the average person. I occasionally gorge on fast food though I often times check the nutrition and chose something 'better' than greasy burger and fries. I definitely do not spend enough time cooking my own meals. I have made a lot of positive steps in the right direction and am beginning to eat more veggies like broccoli, peppers, spinach, cucumber, sweet potatoes, and zucchini. But I need to move towards making those foods an everyday part of my life.

3. Finish my damn Masters Degree. I haven't been at all lazy and slacking in this department in the last few years. I only took one semester off due to stress and issues with my living situation (ie apartment ceiling collapsing). But I need to get it squared away so I can get a full time job and have health insurance again. Not seeing a doctor in two years is a scary thing and its been nagging me for some time now. But I definitely need to focus on completing my Masters with a high GPA (which I currently have a 3.77/4.0) and there are some decisions about school that need to be made in the next few weeks that are important and will take a lot of thought and consideration.

4. Join a sport. This will probably be postponed til Spring or Summer but I'd like to join a team sport that way I can burn calories and have a social life at the same time. I find that going to the gym and studying conflict with maintaining the social life that I enjoy and need to find more ways to combine these things.

5. Volunteering. Okay, I know. That's asking a lot now, isn't it? It's a true story when people tell me that I put too much on my shoulders but something I've really wanted to do but haven't been able to do is volunteer. This is something I want to keep in mind for after I finish my Masters degree and maybe before finding a full time job. It's just something I always want to do and it needs to be set down here to remind me to do it.

6. Quit Smoking. I guess this is an important one that I nearly posted without including. I did quit smoking for a while and saved a lot of money that way but now I am back to being a full time smoker and I don't really need to put down why I need to quit. It costs money, makes your clothes smell bad, reduces your lung capacity, and in general weakens your immune system. It's time to give it up and poor Dan is going down that road with me (which we have already talked about, I'm not forcing him to or anything like that).

7. Get Married and have tons of babies. PSYCH! But in all seriousness, that was a joke as I do not have any desire to be married and popping out babies at this moment in my life. I guess number 7 should be something along the lines of developing a research project to apply to PhD programs.

Monday, August 29, 2011

ending summer in style

I sit in the breeze of Lake Michigan between classes on the first day of a new school semester at Roosevelt University. I try to retrace the steps of my life that have lead me here at this very second and my mind cannot even comprehend the enormity of all the things that lead me here.

So much has happened and so many people and things have shaped the person I have become and the person I am still evolving into. All of the people included in my life have impacted me in a way and it no longer matters whether or not their part was a positive or negative influence at that time because I have found happiness.

It did not come in a neatly packaged box delivered to my doorstep or picked off a shelf in the store. It mostly came from letting go of any desire to control everything around me and force some form of artificial happiness on myself. It also comes from the wonderful people I share my life with and the experiences they share with me, even those dark and surreal experiences you wish didn't exist in the world.

The world is a dark and imperfect place and the sooner you accept those darknesses, you can begin to see how the whole range of your emotions affects the thoughts and decisions you have and make that in turn leads you to change the way you share the world and your experiences with other people and you begin to let more people into your own personal world whether you are merely listening to a story being told by someone you just met or shaping your perspective during a conversation with an old and familiar friend, life is a series of social interactions and too many people live in the center of their thoughts and fail to see the value in that interaction.

The water and lake front reminds me of the hours of reflection I had while traveling in Ireland. Many of those times were dark and tempting thoughts of not returning home. I met so many great people during my travels and learned so much from each of them. Since being home, I have had more darkness in which I regretted my return to Chicago. But I can now see that there are people at home with ideas and experiences to be shared and that traveling the world is not the only way to have a diverse social interaction.

I find that my writing has given me the chance to reflect and sort out the crazy corridors of my mind and that while I ramble too much in conversation, I can write concisely and with absolute clarity.

I wonder that I too often live in a world of fiction and fantasy to avoid reality but that fiction is sometimes a great mimic of reality where you can be comfortable to explore things knowing they aren't real when in fact, they discuss and present very realistic issues found in real life. I am going to set this aside now and finish enjoying the breeze and beauty of a Chicago summer on the lake front with a good book and then go back to class.

This journal has recorded the ups and downs of my summer, and while I chose to not share almost all of these entries, I am consciously choosing to share this one. My motivation is a small hope that my friends and family will take a moment to evaluate their relationship to the world and the amazing people populating it and the hope that only positive reflections and peace of mind follows that evaluation.

Love, Col.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

self reliance and consumerism, where's the balance?

I don't know what everyone's childhood experience is like but I can speak from my own personal experience. As a child, everything we ever needed could be found at Walmart or Walgreens or the local mall. When I wanted to buy new clothes, I got a summer job, worked, saved up the money, and then went to the mall and spent all my money.

At no point growing up did the concept of creating the things you need cross my mind. I don't think my experience in this is isolated but rather a product of our generation and the very close relationship our culture has with consumerism. If you can dream it, you can purchase it if you have the money or the credit cards.

When I met my friend Mandy last August and she told me she made her own handmade soaps, VeVe's Handmade, for both her own use and for sale, I had to ask why or how someone starts to do that. I could not tell you what she told me then, it was 3am at a party with lots of people and conversations surrounding us.

But I do recall the impression it left on me as a person. I remember her talking about her daughter Ve and how her daughter inspired her to do it in some ways. I remember thinking that it was such a cool and proper thing to be independent of a job and have your own business and be an intelligent woman and not answer to anyone, and I remember being impressed and thinking about what a great influence this would be on cute little Ve.

Coming up to the one year anniversary of meeting Mandy and my views have changed. It's not that my opinion about it has changed, but there's been an addition to my perspective about what she does. And to give credit where it is due, my friend Ed has also taught me a lot about the concept of making and creating your own things. Ed blows glass and has made some really interesting things.

So here I am, gaining an appreciation for things that are handmade without any recollection of ever making something for myself with some few exceptions. I remember learning to sew for girl scouts, but I cannot recall what I made with that and I have a clear recollection of the fact that I did it for girl scouts, for a badge, and not for my own personal use.

Anything else I have ever created include creative writing, graphic arts, websites, photography, and other artistic projects. But all those things lack a physical feel and an everyday use that I can appreciate. Yes, my old creative writing wasn't good quality but I still gained something from the experience but in a personal and internal way.

After reading about the Make movement and having discussion with people, you begin to look back and wonder what it would be like to be self-sustainable and no longer rely on a corporation to produce products for you. The sci-fi nerd in me looks to the future and sees things like THX1138 as an actual possibility. Will there be a day when we no longer have any creative output into the world and only exist to consume?

So I started to research online and think about what daily things I could make on my own and probably found more than I could have possibly expected and given the right amount of time, the instructions were fairly easy and achievable. Now if I could invent a time machine to give myself the time to do all these things, life would be great.

But I thought that just because I have two jobs and classes starting soon, that doesn't mean I should give up on all the ideas I've collected in my research and ponderings. So my blog here is my way of keeping these ideas somewhere safe so that I can return to them when the opportunities arise that I can actually follow through.

1. Strawberry Jam. Yes, I love this shit. I eat peanut butter and jelly like it's going out of style and I'm still a college student so I'm allowed to not ever cook and eat real meals. My mom spoiled me in this department and made so many of her own jams that I got very snobby about the jams and jelly's I'll use. I don't think my mom has made any recently but now I hate the jelly I buy from the store and the consumption of peanut and jelly sandwiches is at an all time low.

2. With my photography comes the picture frames. This is mainly inspired by the fact that I am struggling to figure out which pictures from my recent travels to be framed and put up on the walls. It would be interesting to create my own picture frames and base their design on the pictures that go into it. This would add another element to the picture itself.

3. Purses. I was thinking about making my own handbags and purses, maybe even with printed fabric using my photography.

4. Candles and Incense.

5. Halloween Costume. Even though I haven't learned how to sew, I think I'd like to try making my own and sewing it together with my own fabrics. I have, in the past, usually put together my own costume but with clothes already in my closet.

I will continue to add new ideas to the list as I think of more things and please feel free to send any ideas my way or join me in creating any of these things. I have a lot going on right now, but by next summer, I definitely want to make Jams and start doing more fun projects like this.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

back to reality for me...

So I tried my best to update everyone on my travels and adventures abroad but may have left out some stories and pictures that were really fun and interesting. I'm back home now for over a week and I've taken on a second job to save up money since I've spent it all on the pubs in Ireland and theatres in West End, London.

Working two jobs may seem like a bit overwhelming but it'll be good for me this summer to stay busy and focused on my goals. Another aspect of my summer that I haven't shared on my blog is that I've had some new creative writing projects in mind, but I really haven't the time to sit down and start any of them.

I'm debating whether or not it'd be good to post any of my creative writing on my blog or if I should collect them and look into publishing them in a literary magazine or an online zine. I haven't decided but I am always happy to share them with friends and exchange ideas.

So, I'll be totally honest. I did cry before my flight home. I took the bus from Galway to Sixmilebridge for my last weekend abroad and listened to a Doctor Who soundtrack (which alone could bring tears to my eyes) and I did quietly shed a few tears. But I didn't do it in complete desperation. I did tear up because I was having one of the most amazing experiences of my life and didn't want to go home yet.

I learned that I have friends just waiting to chat with me all over the world. I also learned that the world is full of beautiful and amazing people that you can't meet while sitting in the comfort of your apartment or hometown.

The parts of the trip that I will hold close to my heart are the amazing conversations I had with other people. I met people from all over the world, Australia, New Zealand, England, Ireland, Argentina, Canada, Japan, France, Sweden, Germany, Russia, Mexico, and more.

All I have been thinking about is how to have another adventure before I get too old or too settled into my life to do it again. If I could save up my money and wander the world into my old age, I definitely would. Even now, I am tearing up at the thought of doing it all over again.

I can say that my life has had its ups and downs, it's good moments, and the times where I didn't think I'd leave the dark moods I have found myself in. But I can say that I am growing old of Chicago. I want to finish my Master's Degree and take on the world.

Whether or not I will do that is up in the air at this point. But I feel like I have limited myself by staying in my comfort zone and always being in Chicago. I didn't even go away for college, and I am beginning to regret that (even if it had been a study abroad program).

Maybe all of these feelings explain why Doctor Who has been such an obsession of mine lately. Every companion of the doctor learns to see the world as being bigger than they every knew it could be (and by world, I guess I should be saying Universe). But I think the point is that I am too unique and special to sit in one city for the rest of my life. Yes, I have family and friends here (some of the best family and friends I could ever ask for). But those family and friends have their own family and friends and I wouldn't be leaving anyone to fend for themselves. I also like to think that my family and friends would be happy for me and would cherish all the good vibes I send back toward Chicago via blogs and facebook.

Well, it's time to get ready for some margaritas and chips and salsa with some amazing and wonderful people.

Cheers to my mates, Coco

Monday, June 6, 2011

all good things must end, BUT I DON'T WANT IT TO!!!! WAAAHHHH

Ellen left me in Galway on Friday morning. I went out Friday night but it wasn't as fun as the previous few nights with my aussie mate. But alas, my journey was coming to an end and I was nearly out of money. On Saturday morning, I left Galway and went to the small town Sixmilebridge. Saturday night, I hung out with Katie, a girl from Wisconsin who is moving to Chicago for grad school (and a big doctor who fan, yes, we bonded).

Katie left on Sunday morning and then Sara and Dusty arrived. We walked about the town a bit, played scrabble in the common room, but overall it was a pretty relaxed last few days abroad. I got incredible sad and nervous about going back home. I kept thinking, 'It can't be over yet' and then secretly planning to run off and meet Ellen in Scotland. But I knew I'd be out of money all too soon and that it'd be better to go home and regroup my life and begin planning my next adventure.

Ellen and I are already in talks of meeting in New Zealand or Asia. It all depends on the money situation. She goes home to Australia sometime this fall and will need to save more money for more adventures and I need to finish my Masters Degree.

Overall, I am very pleased with everything I've accomplished in the last five weeks. Rather than focusing on my sightseeing and pictures taken, I am choosing to cherish all the people that I met and all the fun stories we've exchanged among one another. It was a great experience and I am tearing up just now thinking about it all.

I'm in New York waiting for the flight back to Chicago. I miss my extra large bed and not sharing a room with 8 or 9 strangers (most of which became friends but some were creepy).

I think being extremely tired has kept me from being emotional all day today, including saying goodbye to the two new friends from Buffalo New York who had the same return flight as me. But I now struggle to know what direction I should be taking my life. I want to do some more traveling but I'm at an age where I'm supposed to have a career and gag, marriage and children.

So I haven't cried or anything too dramatic, but I do feel the sad pangs of ending an adventure as grand as mine has been. I will do everything I can to keep making positive and interesting friends around the world and am now really determined to leave Chicago as my home and make it my hometown but take up residence somewhere new.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Having a blast in Galway


It's been a little while since I've updated my blog. I last posted when in Killarney and since have been to Cork and am currently in Galway.

Cork was fun but it was a little too quiet and laid back for me. I went out a couple of nights and met some interesting people, went to Blarney Castle and got lots of pictures. The last night at the hostel in Cork there was really loud parties and I couldn't sleep at all. I'm going to revise my list of people met at the bottom of this post.

I arrived in Galway on Sunday and met a cool chick from Australia named Ellen. Me and her have been tearing it up in Galway. Monday night, we hit up the bars and met a lot of awesome people. I'm pretty sure that we have some crazy psychic link and that we are perfect partners in crime! Monday night we met some other female travelers and went bar hoping with them and met some local guys, Shane and Emmett. They were pretty cool and showed us where to go for delicious late night foods. I had garlic mayo chips (french fries in America) and they were amazing.

Ellen and I crawled into our hostel beds around 4:30am and by 9am, we were up and about and going to the Cliffs of Moher. We met some guys from Chicago which was the first time in my trip that I met anyone from Chicago. We got some awesome pictures at the cliffs and then went back to the hostel to relax and go out again (without napping).

So then Tuesday night, this time we rolled out with two girls from America (Dusty and Sarah) who actually are on my flight home, which is kind of cool actually. We met up with the west suburban Chicago lads and then went to a few bars. Well it's all kind of a blur, so I'll just tell you how the night ended.

Sarah and Dusty left with the Schaumburg kids to get chips (though they were still saying fries). Sarah had a glass dropped on her foot and was bleeding. I was left talking to a local and then couldn't find Ellen.

So I walked out of the bar in Ellen's shoes and started asking guys who we'd chatted with earlier, "Where's my Aussie mate?". I remember them yelling to stop saying mate because it's an Aussie thing, not an Irish thing and I yelled back but I'm looking for an Australian.

One guy, whose name I don't recall, walked with me to a food place where I couldn't find Ellen or the American gals. So then I stumbled back to the hostel, rang the bell and ran to the toliet. While in the toliet, I hear Ellen's majestic voice carry from the reception area and I go running back. There she is, still wearing my cute flats and starving for chips.

We went back to the Latin Quarter for Chips. The place emptied out and there we find Nathalie and her crew. It was Nathalie's birthday and I met her at the beginning of my journey. While we managed to not have hangovers after Monday night's adventure, we are both properly hungover today and now chilling in the TV room.

So, I've found my traveling drinking mate and we plan to stay in tonight, rest up and make tomorrow night grand. I'll see Sarah and Dusty again on Sunday where we're staying at the same hostel before flying out of Shannon together on Monday. Hopefully Sarah and Dusty will be just as sad as me and get a pint with me at the airport.

The next night was a lot of fun with Ellen. We went out with two Canadian guys and a few other girls from the hostel. I managed to leave the bar with all of them but got lost and/or distracted by a cute boy, but I still somehow got back to the hostel like 10 minutes after everyone else.

An updated list of the people I've met
Jane, from France
Francis, from Sweden
Kohei and Kyon, from Japan
Nathalie, from Canada-New Brunswick
Jessica, from Toronto
Craig, from New Zealand
Alison, from Philly
Sarah, from Canada
Virginia from Argentina
Sally from England
Josh from US-Mississippi
Aeman from Donnegal, Ireland
Brendan from Cork, Ireland
Ellen from Australia
McKenzie and Katie from Texas
Sarah and Dusty from New York
Lenora from New York
Eva from Mexico
Alex from Canada
Dan and Tom and David from Schaumburg, IL
Karol from Galway
Jana from Bavaria, Germany
The two Brendens and their two friends, from Galway
Tess from Washington DC
Chris and Adam from Ottawa
Cassie from Boulder, CO
Katie from Wisconsin
Latrisha from Cali
Ingrid from Cali
Emily from Cali
Pascelle from France

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Another Travel Update

So far, I have had an amazing experience with this holiday. Traveling alone isn't as scary as I expected and I've met some amazing people so far. I'm trying to keep them in mind, so I figured a list would be in order so that I can remember them properly.

Jane, from France
Francis, from Sweden
Kohei and Kyon, from Japan
Nathalie, from Canada
Craig, from New Zealand
Alison, from Philly
Sarah, from Canada

There are so many more whose names I didn't get or I have already let slip from my mind (due to some amount of alcohol). There were the two guys from Holland who creeped me out at the London pub in West End. Then the seven young British men who made fun of my accent for hours and all in a good fun. They are as amused with the American accent as we are with everyone else's accent.

I am not back in Killarney for a few days. The travel back from London was horrendous. I stayed up the entire night cause I had to leave for the airport at 4am. I couldn't find the coach bus, saw it at the last second and had to run and catch it moments before it left. The wire of my bra snapped during my travel to the airport and punctured my skin causing me to bleed. I am down to two sports bras and wasn't able to find a replacement bra that fit me well in Killarney.

At the London airport, Ryanair had a ridiculously long tine for check in. I would probably chose to take the ferry and a train to London from Ireland. Even though Ryanair was cheap, it was a bit of a hassle with all there extra fee's. They charge extra if you don't print your own tickets, they charge for your bag being checked, and they have weight requirements for both the checked bag and the carry on bag. This made it difficult to buy souvenairs in London but I really didn't have the money for much anyways (don't worry Mom, you got your t-shirt).

While my original travel plans didn't involve very many hostels, I have learned that planning too much constricts your adventures. I've had more fun than I could have possible planned for. Had I booked up hostels for the whole of my trip, I would never have made it to Lodnon, which is probably going to be the highlight of my trip. I would not have met so many great people.

I am definitely beginning to see the formation of a book in my head. I have learned so much in the week I've been staying at hostels that I feel like a guide book for hostels and backpacking could be easily written! I also want to move to England! I loved London and would be content living somewhere close to London or in London. It's very expensive to live in London, worse than New York.

But this experience has proved to be well worth it. I feel like I've spent more than expected with the London trip but that it was worth every Dollar, Euro, Pound, etc...

Friday, May 20, 2011

Much Ado About Nothing in London

By Colleen Boyle

Maybe, it was the fact that it was the first day I ever stepped a foot in London or the fact that I had never seen a Shakespeare performance even after studying Shakespeare throughout my university studies, but I really enjoyed the current production of Much Ado About Nothing starring David Tennant and Catherine Tate.

So here's how it happened. I was on a five week holiday in Ireland when my friend sends me a link to an article about the production. Both Suzy and I are Doctor Who fans and well read Literature buffs. I love Shakespeare. I took a course while getting my bachelors degree and can say that I really enjoyed reading the plays.

But no matter how well I enjoyed them, I knew that something was missing. Well it's pretty obvious Shakespeare didn't write a play with the intention of it being read in a classroom—it was meant to be performed.

So before the trip to Ireland even began, I made a bucket list of all the things that I really wanted to put priority on experiencing in life. The list was silly but a few items like “See a Shakespeare play performed live” were serious things I wanted to do.

Well, I took a detour from my Ireland trip and planned a weekend in London. I haven't even been sightseeing yet, have only been on the Tube twice and haven't even bought a silly key chain. But I had my tickets to Much Ado About Nothing.

This is the preview week of the production so very feel reviews were in existence. I read a few of them and had already heard complaints that it seemed like some people were only there to laugh and respond to David Tennant. I understand that 'draw'. I am a newly found Doctor Who fan but I'm a Shakespeare fan first.

I found that there were so many reasons to laugh that I couldn't really sort out the Doctor Who fans from the theatre lovers. While, there were moments that only a few laughed because they 'knew' the joke, overall it didn't seem like I was at a Justin Beiber concert or whatever new pop singer you want to put in that sentence.

My overall thoughts were that I was a little surprised to see the modern setting but happy they retained the original language and dialogue very closely (though there were a few things changed from the original script, I believe).

But the main conclusion is that David Tennant shines on stage. Maybe that is why he made such an enjoyable Doctor, he is a very theatrical performer and he puts thought and feeling behind every word spoken.

David and Catherine as Beatrice and Benedict is a match made in heaven. I can tell you that from reading the play and watching Doctor Who. But on the stage together, they are electric together (am I starting to sound cheesy?).

The modern setting was a little off putting to me at first. I was almost expecting them dressed like the film adaptations, old suits and dresses and old English clothes. But the modern setting grew on me fast. Benedict overhearing the conversation in the orchard became entertaining when he puts his hand in a tray of paint, ending in him smearing it all over his face and hair from being so drawn into the conversation.

Catherine Tate got a similar scene that was equally entertaining. The part where the modern setting really became solid in my mind was the bachelor and bachelorette parties and the music. It's refreshing to have fun and modern music with the old Shakespearian language.

I also thoroughly enjoyed the dancing party at the beginning where Beatrice bad mouths Benedict but thought she was speaking to someone else. Don Pedro wears an Indiana Jones costume, another character in Princess Leia, Beatrice looks like a sexy androgynous Blues Brothers, and Benedict is in drag. First of all, prancing on stage in a jean skirt, pleather red high tops, and lace stockings is a good laugh no matter who does it. But taking a Doctor Who actor and putting him on stage to do that is just hilarious.

I don't know that my opinion has much credit since I am not a regular theatre attendee, but the girl working on her Masters in English Literature can go home to Chicago and say that Shakespeare on stage is absolutely thrilling. I plan to see another performance at the Globe Theatre before leaving London and will make more efforts to see Shakespeare performed live at home in Chicago.

As for David Tennant and Catherine Tate, both are wonderful on stage and did wonderful with the particular roles in Much Ado About Nothing. I would not hesitate to see another play with either actor. Beatrice is my second favorite Shakespeare female (just after Viola in Twelfth Night) and I was happy to say that Tate did a wonderful job of portraying the attitude and overall personality. I always identified with Beatrice as the opposite of that silly romantic girl you expect in older literature. Tate did her character justice.

As someone new to theatre and new to London, I can say that I am having a great time and felt absolutely privelaged to have seen David Tennant on stage. I would love them to bring this production to the United States, even if it doesn't go to my hometown Chicago, it'd still be worth a flight or drive to see.

My London Journey

Today, I arrived in London around 10:30 in the morning. The slight detour from my 5 week tour of Ireland was the greatest idea I ever had. On the way to the hostel, I started to think it was a bad idea. My shoulders and neck were tense and painful from my luggage (even though I left the majority of my luggage in Ireland at a hostel in Killarney).

But it's nearing midnight and I have no regrets at all. The Green Man Hostel in London is pretty nice. The common areas and reception are all apart of the bar. So they serve alcohol 24 hours and have people around and hanging out all the time.

I went up to my room and people are already in bed. Seems kind of early but I guess I'm a night owl. The reception/bartenders are really helpful and nice. I was shocked to find that the public transportation was more crowded than anywhere I've ever seen. It was rush hour when I got on the tube and I barely squeezed into the door with about 15 people still waiting at that one door. The messed up thing, the trains come every 1-2 minutes. And every train was full. On my way back from Wyndham Theatre, it was still pretty crowded but everyone was able to get on the next train that came through the station.

As usual, I adapt to new systems of public transportation without much effort. Maybe that's the city girl in me talking but I definitely feel more comfortable in the big city than the little towns. There's diversity with people everywhere speaking different languages, tons of young people, and bars everywhere. I feel at home!

While I was still in Killarney, I met a young guy from Philadelphia. Don't know if he's a hockey fan or not but he didn't have any hostilities towards me so, I guess not. But anyways, he was telling me all about his travels. He went to France in Sept 2010 with a student visa and then has been country hopping since. He had some cool stories and highly recommended doing more backpacking.

This has me thinking about my next travels and other such plans. Teaching English abroad or doing other fun and exciting European trips. But right now, I'm sitting in a bar in Central London, drinking a Bulmers (yeah, it's Irish, so what?), and I really need to continue with the vacation I am on before I begin to plan the next one.

So the next post is my review of Much Ado About Nothing.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

determination and stubbornness can be a dangerous combo

It's my last night staying on Valentia Island and I had one last thing I wanted to see, Bray Tower. After spending most my day working my online job and doing laundry to prepare for my departure, I decided I didn't care how dark it was, I was going to hike my way up to Bray Tower.

So. I made some dinner and took a shower and then set off. I drove across the island and parked the car. It was raining, so I left my camera and bag in the car and just brought the car keys. Now, at this point, I should have been like, hmmmm, it's raining, maybe I shouldn't make the walk.

But, this is me we're talking about. So I put my bag back in the car and then walk my happy little ass in my adidas sandals and then climb the fence and start my hike. First of all, sandals wasn't the best idea and neither were the jeans I wore. I was soaking wet after 5 minutes and could feel a layer of rain water gathering on my face.

It was so foggy that I couldn't see in any direction farther than 10-20 feet. I also managed to scare a little gaggle of sheep. After 40 minutes of walking through what I'm sure could be classified as a cloud, I arrived at the tower and as it came to view, it sort of emerged in the fog very slowly. Seriously, straight out of a horror movie!

The tower wasn't that tall or much to look at and since I left the camera in the car, I can't even show you the sight I got. The whole tower was covered in fog and beyond it a high cliff with ocean waves crashing. I started to walk towards the edge of the cliff but visibility was too bad and I am prone to falling and tripping and didn't feel like swimming at that time of night.

So I headed back down the lonely country road with a new spring in my step I like to call accomplishment. It was quite good exercise to get up that trail and to the second highest point on the island.

I got back to find my housemates enjoying tea in the kitchen and they got a good laugh out of seeing me soaked from head to toe and my feet and sandals covered in mud. They made me a cup of hot cocoa with marshmallows and I gave them the whole story.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Finally did some proper sightseeing

Today was a grand day! I slept in pretty late (as you all know I love to do). Then I got a driving tour with a local friend named John. We drove around the Ring of Kerry, stopping to take pictures every so often and a stop in Kerry National Park.

The National Park was a lot of fun. It had exhibits of the traditional Irish farm. It should have been educational for a city girl like me, but I spent most of my time making friends with a local kitten that I named kitty-cow-cat. She was so cute, I almost put her in my purse and brought her back with me. John found this pretty amusing.

For those friends of mine who have commented on how ridiculously fast I like to drive on Chicago expressways, I now know how you felt. John drove really fast along winding roads over mountains and on the edge of cliffs. It was quite a walk down memory lane actually. Shawn and my dad both remember how Grandpa Boyle used to drive the Jeep in Colorado. We'd hold on for dear life while Grandpa reassured us he knew the roads like the back of his hands.

So I've finished rearranging my trip and it goes like this.

Valentia Island, Kerry County til May 18th.
May 18th in Killarney at a hostel (need to be at the airport early and Killarney is the most convenient location for this)
May 19th fly to London
Staying at the Green Man Hostel in Central London til May 23rd
May 23rd fly back to Kerry Airport, Ireland
Stay in Killarney for maybe two more nights
May 25th go to Cork and stay in another Hostel
June 1st bus to Galway and stay in Hostel til Flight back on June 6th
Then back home to Chicago!

By this time, I will be out of money and need three days of sleep. But it will be worth it.

I'd post pictures from my sightseeing today but left my camera in my room upstairs and too tired to get it. Sorry everyone.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Another Update-Change in Travel Plans

By Colleen Boyle

I thought this whole travel and stay in a foreign country and work to pay for my room and food thing would be a breeze. But holy crap was I wrong! My hands hurt, my back hurts, and I even sweated! yeah, I know! Sweat! Gross.

But the people I am working with are really nice and helpful. We get to take a break and order food from Sinead, the cafe cook. As we were all eating, an African-American dude with dreadlocks comes over to the table and starts speaking Japanese to Keho and Kenom (will update with correct spelling soon).

His name is Shannon and he's from southern California. Him and his wife (who is from Toronto but not a hockey fan) moved here permanently. Shannon has his own business trying to bring Japanese tourism to Valentia Island. He spoke Japanese fluently and made the Japanese couple staying here excited to speak the language again. Made me feel like an ass for learning the language in high school and only remembering a few words and how to count to three.

Today was a long day of cleaning, sweeping, and organizing the back rooms of the cafe. But it wasn't too bad and I'm sure it'll be easier day to day. After a long day and a delicious meal (I got a BLT and Chips), me and Jane took the car to Cahersiveen to put my name on the insurance and get dog food.

Jane gave me the car keys and pointed out the car and said she'd be there in a moment. So I went and got in (after having to remind myself the drivers seat is the opposite as it is in my Kia) and I sighed and face palmed myself. Manual Transmission.

Now, me and manual transmissions are friends--well I guess acquaintances. My dad made me drive his toyota when I was 15 and I did okay. I got nervous at a stop light when there were cars behind me and couldn't get the car going and kept stalling. It was frustrating and so my dad gave up.

But then again when I was 16, I drove my dad's toyota in Wisconsin, in the open and wide roads. The roads in Ireland are small and people drive freakin' fast. So here I was, in Ireland, sitting at the driver's seat, and Jane gets in.

I explain to Jane that I haven't driven a manual car in over ten years and couldn't promise to do it well now. But she has faith in me and my confidence builds a little. Here's the thing, Jane is only 22 and can't be insured on the car. Since I am 26, I can be insured.

Another hurdle to overcome? Jane's first language is French so she has no idea how to explain what to do in English. I kind of remember, so we peice it together and figure it out and off I go, driving on the left side of the road like a badass (even grinning now at the though of it, yeah, I know, what a dork).

So then driving off the ferry is a steep hill and I stalled the car trying to shift into second and have to slam on the brakes to stop from rolling back into the cars behind me.

I tried to get the car to go up the hill but didn't want to break the host's car. So me and Jane switch and Jane takes the car back to the cafe. Jane promised to take me out driving so that I can practice a bit and get the hang of it.

Here's what I mean when I say that the roads are really narrow. Watch the video below. If cars are going in the opposite direction, one has to pull as far over as possible and stop and let the other pass because they'd hit each other while moving.

A few days after I began this blog post and I've practiced my driving and was able to get over the car ferry and to the supermarket in Cahersiveen. My scared passengers were thankful for my efforts and we now have a fridge full of food. I think I am going to make pizza tonight or tomorrow night for my housemates.

A few changes in my plans. I'm leaving Valentia Island early for a trip to London. Going to see David Tennant and Catherine Tate in Much Ado About Nothing (Shakespeare with Doctor Who actors, this girl's dreams are coming true). For those family members worried about where I'll be when, my flight to London is May 19th and I fly back to Kerry Airport May 23rd. From there, I will let people know where I'm going. Either Cork, Galway, Dublin, or a smaller town. I may visit some distant family members (Uncle Mike and Aunt Cheryl Daly's family). But I will give everyone update.

Also, while in London, platform 9 3/4 is a must see and I will take lots of pictures!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Traveling to Ireland

So Monday morning, I woke up at about 6am and finished the last bit of packing, had breakfast with my Dad, and then drove to O'hare Airport. I got my plane tickets and then waited about an hour for my flight to JFK. I was a little nervous about flying to New York right after news broke of Osama Bin Laden's death. But all went well. I had about four hours to kill at the airport and did so by eating BBQ Guinness wings and reading A Beauty Myth, a book long ago recommended by Maggie Molloy.

After the flight to New York, I started to feel a cold coming on-nasal congestion, sneezing fits, and a little bit of coughing. This is just my luck and it hasn't gone away yet. But I arrived at Shannon Airport and was shocked at how small the airport was. The airport parking lot was the size of a Metra Station parking lot (NO, I am not exaggerating).

I managed to get on a bus and head toward Limerick. While in Limerick, I ventured to find a pharmacy or a drug store. I actually found three, all of which were closed. How disappointing. I went into two convenience stores and asked for cold medicine. One guy had no clue what I meant. The girl in the first store understood but didn't have any (she pointed me towards the pharmacy that weren't open).

Limerick was eternally boring. I didn't enjoy the wait for the next bus but I was tired, sick, and fatigued. I tried to walk around a bit, but the 50+ pounds of luggage made it difficult. I could feel blisters forming on my hands from carrying everything I had with me.

From Limerick, there was a two and a half hour bus to Killarney. This was the worst bus ride ever! I had to use the bathroom (they call them Toilets here, fyi) almost immediately after leaving the Limerick bus station. After about an hour, I couldn't wait any longer, so I had to ask the bus driver when the next stop was because I needed a toilet. He said he'd let me know when there was a nearby toilet and that he'd wait for me to get back. This was awesome since the next bus wouldn't be for two hours and none of the stops were in big towns. I felt like such an ass holding up the bus but the bus driver was super nice and I thanked him over and over again.

After I was able to relieve myself, me and the bus driver had a lengthy conversation. He asked about my flight since he regularly flies overseas since his wife is from Baltimore. When we arrived in Killarney, he advised me that the shop owner would watch my bags for 2 Euros so that I didn't have to bring it with me.

Killarney was beautiful and I would go back and stay there in a heartbeat. It's a smaller town than Limerick but way more lively and fun. The bus station was attached to an outlet mall so I ended up buying a few Nike T-shirts for 10 euros a piece. I walked for a bit and managed to get some great pictures of the town.

Though it rained a little in Killarney, you can tell from the pictures, it was a really good time. I was still feeling sick and sneezing but I enjoyed it better than my wait in Limerick. Another great thing about Killarney is the store, Boyle Sports. Since my last name is Boyle and everyone in my family are sports fanatics (at least almost everyone is), I just had to get a picture of this place. I was very pleased to see my last name there!

My last bus ride was from Killarney to Cahersiveen (good luck trying to pronounce that, it took a few tries for me to get it right). I finally made it there and was supposed to have a friend of my host's pick me up. But of course it starts raining and my ride is no where in sight and of course, I have to use the toilet again. This is just my luck. By the time I lug all my things to the nearest shop and use the toilet, my ride is outside the bus stop looking for me. Luckily I made it back before he gave up and he greeted me graciously.

His accent was British and we picked up two elderly women who also live on the island, and are also British. So we chatted about the royal wedding and made our way to the island across the bridge near Portmagee, Ireland. After he drops off the two other women, he finally brings me to the Knightstown Cafe and we knock on the door where a girl around my age answers.

The other people staying with me are a newly wed Japanese couple who are really interesting and fun to talk to and then a girl who studies in Ireland but comes from Sweeden and a girl from France who has been here over two months. The room I am staying in is the brightest color of pink which isn't my favorite color. There are also mirrors all over the wall which kind of creeps me out, but oh well.

My first night here involved a quick tour around the coffee shop and upstairs apartments, and a tour of the owner's house which is currently occupied by her seven dogs while she is out of town. These dogs are really cool and can be brought down to her private beach to play. I haven't had a chance to take them down there, but plan to this weekend.

After the tour, I opted to skip dinner with the rest of the group and get some well needed rest. About 15 hours of sleep to be exact. I still woke up feeling sick but a little bit better. The coffee shop has been closed since I arrive so there hasn't been much work to do yet. I took a walk down to the end of the block and enjoy the view. Literally:

While I must admit, I was very nervous at first, the more I've talked to the other people staying here, the more comfortable I am. They all speak English, some a bit better than others, but enough for me to understand. The Japanese couple has cooked both meals I've had so far. I'd offer to cook but would rather keep my germs to myself. Tomorrow, the cafe will be open so I will probably be watching the bookstore or some other type of duty. I will update again soon and hopefully without a cold.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Let's get literal up in here!

The Literal Bucket List

shoot fish in a barrel (totally okay with missing and not killing a fish)
make an acorn fall really far from the tree
become my brother's keeper
have great hair on a bad day
put bee's in a girl's bonnet
burn down a bridge
make a long story even longer
melt some pots
skate on thin ice
swim against the tide
have something be made of money
jump over a gun
get my knickers in a knot

I had to leave some of my ideas off the list, the main one being shit eating grin. Not willing to try that out in a literal sense.

Okay, back to studying.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

preparing for Ireland adventure...

So I have my airfare, my room to stay at, bus routes that I need, but not the mindset to pack for a trip over a month long. How many pairs of shoes do I bring? will I want to wear heels, will it be nice enough to wear flip flops?

Also I need a new memory card for my video camera but now idea how large of a memory cards is necessary. Then I need to find my outlet converters or buy new ones. I've already looked for them but they've totally disappeared. I also need to figure out if I should bring my regular camera or borrow a digital camera and leave the film behind. I found 8 unused rolls of film and 1 is even black and white, but I guess I can save them for another time.

Next I need to make sure bills are all paid off and that I have reminders to pay them online while I'm going. Need to go to the bank and find out the fee structure for using an ATM in a foreign country. I'm told waterproof shoes, waterproof jacket, and an umbrella would be good things to have.

Overall, I think I am way too excited about this trip and need to just go with the flow or I'll drive myself mad. Also will suspend my facebook account. People who want to keep in touch can follow my blog, twitter, and chat on aim.

I think the packing thing will drive me nuts. How much clothes do I drag along with me? Will I even have a washer and dryer to do my laundry while I'm there?

Also need to add a video of my fav song! Enjoy!

Friday, March 18, 2011

ABCs 123s... totally stolen from Stina

A. Age: 26. gee I'm old as hell.

B. Bed size: full size and even though I'm short, I still sleep with my feet hanging off the end of my bed. I honestly can't understand how its physically possible, but I still do it.

C. Chore you dislike: dishes. right now, my dad does the dishes and I love him for it. Cuz I'll never do it.

D. Dogs: My mom has a dog named Max and my dad has a dog named Harley (Harley is currently a resident of my grandma's house since my apt doesn't allow pets).

E. Essential start to your day: Everyday is a little different. My work schedule is flexible. I try to be up around 8am, but that doesn't work half the time. and Thursdays are the only days I have school. Weekends involve a lot of sleeping in.

F. Favorite color: Green and not just because it's March.

G. Gold or silver: Silver for sure

H. Height: 5’3". I used to say 5'4" but some jerk decided to measure me to prove me wrong.

I. Instruments you play(ed): I am bad at music, I just don't have it in me. As a kid I played the trumpet and clarinet. I tried to play bass in High School but never practiced enough.

J. Job title: Website content writer and Grad student.

K. Kids: I have sims characters? does that count?

L. Live: South Suburbs of Chicago

M. Mom’s name: Diana

N. Nicknames: Coalleen was my high school nickname. I have also been called Rayne (Joy gave me that one) and Coco was a nickname I got last summer. We were drinking so I don't remember how I got this name.

O. Overnight hospital stays: I have had pneumonia a few times. I recall being in the hospital for a month when I was in Kindergarten. I was also accident prone so I've been in the hospital more than I can remember.

P. Pet peeves: I have so many of them. I don't even know where to begin.

Q. Quote from a movie: "To the well organized mind, death is but the next great adventure" Dumbledore. Yes I know this is from a book as well, totally cheated on this answer.

R. Righty or lefty: Righty

S. Siblings: One older brother, Shawn. He is awesome, trust me on that!

T. Time you wake up: I don't have a normal schedule.

U. Underwear: Um yes. I have a draw stuffed full of underwear and wear a pair almost every day.

V. Vegetables you don’t’ like: Onions! I hate onions! YUCK!

W. What makes you run late: I am notorious for being late to everything. When a train or bus schedule is involved, I am always early. But meeting with friends, I am often late. The best time was my 25th birthday. I told everybody to go to the bar at 9ish and arrived at 10:30pm and this caused a round of applause when I walked into the bar. Made my feel like epic royalty! haha

X. X-rays you’ve had: I have had way too many. Probably 5 x-rays on my head, my back, my hands, my left foot. Accident prone ftw

Y. Yummy food you make: My new favorite is sweet potato fries. yum.

Z. Zoo animal favorites: Monkeys. I want a pet monkey and I don't care if they are illegal, I'll steal one from the zoo and treat it like a baby.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

travel plans and intentions

I came across an interesting quote, and I found that I could apply it to my life in some ways and made me think 'deeply'.

"If Jane Austen suffered in any way from her circumstances it was in the narrowness of life that was imposed upon her. It was impossible for a woman to go about alone. She never travelled; she never drove through London in an omnibus or had luncheon in a shop by herself. But perhaps it was the nature of Jane Austen not to want what she had not. Her gift and circumstances matched each other completely. But I doubt whether that was true of Charlotte Bronte, I said, opening Jane Eyre and laying it beside Pride and Prejudice... And I read how Jane Eyre used to go up on to the roof when Mrs. Fairfax was making jellies and looked over the fields at the distant view. And then she longed-and it was for this that they blamed her-that "then I longed for a power of vision which might overpass that limit; which might reach the busy world, towns, regions full of life I had heard of but never seen: that then I desired more of practical experience than I possessed..."

A Room of One's Own by Virgina Woolf (page 68).

I read this while doing research for a paper about an Austen novel and Mary Wollstonecraft's a Vindication of the Right of Woman. But I thought about this applies to more than writing novels and literature.

When you think about it, we are all sometimes content with life as we know it. The cliche idea that you don't know what you have til it's gone, doesn't really work in my mind anymore. It's not that you didn't know what you had, it's that you are comfortable with what you have and losing that thing puts you in the unknown. Does that make any sense at all? It makes sense in my mind, but I may not be using the right words to express it.

The little exert lays out a philosophy for two types of people. There's the Jane Austen's who make the best out of the current situation and do not want what is beyond reach or reason. Then there's the Charlotte Bronte's whose mind dwells on what else there could be or what lies beyond their reach and long for it. I also think these could be stages in life. I was content with life a feel months ago. But now I want to push myself and go beyond what I already have.

I guess that I would be a Bronte. I have always had those dreamy ideals that are beyond reach. But that isn't fair to say exactly. Charlotte Bronte lived from 1816 to 1855. In her age, women could not own property, attend schools/colleges, publish anonymously, and were confined to the domestic drawing rooms.

When I compare my situation to Bronte, Austen, Wollstonecraft, or any other women writer that I am really familiar with, I feel a great deal lazy. I have the right to do more in my lifetime than they could dream about. Yes, women still have lots of inequality in the workplace and women writers are still branded as sentimental or insignificant, but I could travel anywhere I want and do anything I want.

To be fair, I have been to Dublin and Berlin but only for a week at a time. Not to undermine the things I've done in life, but I'm 26 now, and I have not achieved very much. I have my bachelors degree and in the process of completely my Masters degree. But I've never stepped out of my comfort zone, I've never lived outside of Chicago and the Chicago suburbs.

I haven't even done anything incredibly daring. I guess this explains my month long stay in Ireland that is forthcoming this year. I will be living and working in a culture outside of my own. I will be completely alone for the 12 or 15 hour flights there and back. I will be alone for the three buses I need to take to get to Valentia Island, where I'll be staying.

Some part of me thinks that I may never want to come back. After a week in Dublin, I remember kicking my feet at the airport and not wanting to leave. My ex boyfriend may have even pushed me into the airport a little bit.

So what will stop me from coming back in June? I have no clue. I might need to make a list or it will be really easy to stay there. Here's a list in progress.

1) Family
2) Finish your damn Masters degree
3) your vast book shelf is in Chicago
4) hockey
5) the rest of your shoe collection?

Well it's a start. I left friends off that list since a lot of them have let me down in the past month, either by ignoring me or lying and avoiding me. It was nice when I had lots of friends, or when I had a group of guys that I called my extended brothers. But I guess that doesn't stay the same when you get older. You lose that when everyone is dating, having kids, or doing their own thing. Oh well. I don't mean to sound pessimistic, cause I do still have those great friends who'd be mad if I didn't come back. I know who they are, and they know who they are. The people I'm mad at wouldn't read this anyways.

But in the long run, I think I'm getting my priorities straight. Living in Ireland was a dream I had for a long time. A month stay will either have me running back after my Masters is done, and be a great memory that I'll hold on to forever. Now I just gotta figure out how to pack for a month of living abroad!