Monday, September 15, 2008


Superstitions: If I spill salt, I will throw a little pinch over my left shoulder. If there is a stray eyelash on my face, I will get it, blow it away and make a wish. I used to hold my breath when going under bridges (got over that one). Never walk under a ladder! Knock on wood! A black cat!

This last weekend a group of us went to the land of superstition known as Blarney, home to the world famous Blarney Stone. It was a little jaunt away from Cork, where we were staying. Literary giants (and giantesses), politicians, and just about anyone else have kissed it to get the gift of the gab. I can honestly say it is something that I have always wanted to do. To do so, one must climb to the top of Blarney Castle, lie on the floor, then dangle their body over a crevice in the rock (don’t worry, I’m sure only a handful of people have been fatally injured). Mom, you would have a claustrophobia panic attack walking up. The stairs got considerably smaller as we plodded along. But we all survived it and felt much more eloquent after.

The grounds are quite extensive and there are many paths and trails for exploration. We went into the Rock Close, a quite green and magical path with a lot of stories and tasks to experience along the way. Legend has it that there is a witch who lives in a stone and she comes out at night to gather firewood. The owners of the castle, way back when, agreed to let her do this if she grants visitors a wish. To get that wish, one must walk up and down these stairs backwards with their eyes closed, thinking only of the wish. We all managed to do this without any broken limbs. I kind of felt like I was on Legends of the Hidden Temple without the tacky shirts or hard hats.

That late afternoon everyone else went back to Dublin while Carmen and I stayed behind for one more night at the Kinlay Hostel. Instead of our fellow NYUers, who completely filled the room the previous night, we met the itinerants, our new hostel mates. There was one girls from France, two guys from somewhere in Latin America and one older Brit. We also realized how underprepared the two of us are. A conversation kind of happened that went like this:

Me: Uh Carmen? Did you bring a hairbrush?
Carmen: Uh, no. Did you?
Me: No. Uh Carmen? Did you bring an umbrella?
Carmen: Uh no. Did you?

No umbrella and no hairbrush = crazed, frizz ball, drowned rat Americans. We rocked it though.

That night we were on a quest for traditional Irish music. We were told a few places and were planning on hopping around. We also wanted pub food, but realized that most pubs close their kitchens quite early. That is how we ended up at an Indian food place. We walked in, glanced at the menu, then ordered. I said that I wanted the Chicken Tikka. He looked at me very seriously and said in monotone: Miss, that is very spicy.
In a similar fashion someone would say: Miss you have an explosive device strapped to your face.
I said I could handle it and he looked at me seriously again and made me sample the chutney type sauce.

Guy: What you ordered is twice as spicy as this. Can you handle what you ordered?

I sampled, said I could, and he finally let me go through with it after he checked my blood type and medical history. It took skill and perseverance to order the chicken tikka, but it was tasty and well worth the burn.

After dinner we headed to The Corner House. On the way, we passed a drug store and Carmen paused and said, “Did you see that? There’s a man dressed in a bunny costume in there!”
I didn’t see, so we walked back. I stared, didn’t see anything. Then slowly the events unfolded. I saw a pair of pink ears peeking out from one of the aisles. We gaped in anticipation. Then another man walked toward us and in a very foreboding and deep voice said, “Don’t be afraid.”
Bunny man walked out from the aisle and we both gaped even more and clutched each other. It was perhaps the scariest thing in the world: A pink fluff with cut-out eyes and a cut-off mouth was walking right toward us.
Me: He’s creepy!
Carmen: I’m afraid!
Me: Run, Carmen, run!

So we did.

In situations such as that, I am 100% flight over fight. We ran away from evil bunny and didn’t tire until we reached the bar of the Corner House…

Carmen: Two pints!
Bar man: What kind of pints?
Carmen: Guinness! Two Guinness! (when in doubt)

The Corner House didn’t have live music that night, but it had a very homey atmosphere and the music they did play was very traditional. It was the perfect end to an event filled day. We talked to some of the locals and had a jolly old time.

The next day we took the train from Cork to Cobh (pronounced Cove). It is a seaport town and where the Lusitania and Titanic were built. It was raining heavily that day, but Carmen and I dealt with it and explored anyway. There were a spattering of sail boats in the water, the houses were all very colorful and there were a ton of statues and memorials commemorating the two great and tragic Oceanliners. We wandered up this massive hill (as steep, if not steeper than the great hills of San Francisco). It was pouring rain, we were sopping, and decided to go inside the majestic church that sat on top of the hill. We wandered inside and realized that a baptism was taking place and sat unobtrusively in the back for a while.

We wanted to light candles, but realized that there were no candles. From far away, yes, there were candles. Upon a closer look we realized that they were all electric. Instead of lighting them with a match one had to light it by pressing a metal button. Besides for that slight tackiness it was majestic.

Back in Cork, as we were walking from the train station to our hostel, we came across three little boys asking for money. One was definitely the loud leader/facilitator, the second was the crony, and the third did not know what he was doing with these two knuckleheads. They were in the twelve year old range.

They asked for a euro so they could get home. The leader said that he had a hole in his pants, grabbed at a hole at his knee, and said that his money fell out. The crony was clutching a video game guiltily. I called them out and asked if that was the reason for the missing money.
The leader gave in and told me the truth.

Leader: Yeah…stupid (shaking head). And now no one will give us money.
Can you pleeease spare a euro.
Me: Let’s see…I’ll give you a 50 cent.
Crony: What?!
Me: (to crony) Excuse me? Listen, little—
Crony: Little?!
Me: Yes, LITTLE boy. I’m going to give you money. Don’t be rude to me. And I think you should do a little dance or something so you earn this money.

The facilitator did a small jig.

Me: Okay, you’ve earned it.

I gave him 50 cent and so did Carmen.

Me: Next time you have to get home, don’t spend your bus fare on video games!

They nodded solemnly as the mysterious older women (us) walked off into the sunset.

Leader: Wait! Where are you from?

They yelled after us.
Me: Where do you think?
Leader: London!
Me: Yes. Yes we are.

Carmen and I nodded, walked away and both agreed that it was kind of like a Butcher Boy moment (this movie about a psycho Irish child). The run-in was kind of like this:

On the way back to Dublin (the four and a half hour bus ride) Carmen and I invented a game. It’s called marry or vomit. It started like this: We were both feeling ill from reading on the bus. So Carmen said since we were getting car-sick, and she listed all these names and I just assumed that she was going to ask who I would throw up on (since we were on the car-sick topic) But she really was going to ask who I would rather marry.

So this is how the game works: Who would you marry and who would you vomit on? You give three people and they all have to be somehow related.

David Beckham, Bono, or Ewan McGregor?
Unanimous vomit on Becks. I would marry Bono, Carmen would marry Ewan

George Clooney, Brad Pitt, or Matt Damon?
Unanimous vomit on Clooney. Unanimous marriage with Damon.

Scorcese, Lucas, or Spielberg?
Unanimous Marriage with Marty, Unanimous vomit on Lucas

And so it continued until the two drowned rats finally reached home base.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

It's about time!

The natives are restless!

I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.

My deepest apologies to all of you kind folks for bearing with me on my leave of absense from the blog world. Classes have started and we are all starting to get in the swing of things.


A lot of you know that I’m ridiculously awesome in the kitchen. I’ve gotten really creative since I’ve been here…quite prodigal actually. Emeril Lagassi calls me constantly. Here’s what our conversations sound like:
Emeril: Lex Lex, it’s Em Em.
Lexi: Oh hey best friend, what’s up?
Emeril: Do you think you could give me the recipe for your famous Chocolate Rasberry Souflee with Crème fraiche
Lexi: Sure thing, I’ll go look it up. Oh wait, no need to look it up, I have that recipe memorized!

Here’s some evidence of my recent culinary masterpieces:

The chive and cheese quiche, baked to utter perfection.

Here’s some delightful popcorn puffed to poppy perfection.

I’ve also developed quite an infatuation with meat flavored potato chips. A lot of you know my adoration for bacon and would imagine my sheer delight when I came across Bacon Pep, a potato flavored puff reminiscent of a pork rind. Wow. I had to purchase it. I walked up to the cashier, and asked him very seriously (hoping to get a review for Emeril) what his feelings were toward Bacon Pep. He just laughed and shook his head and told me that I owed him a euro fifty. Can you believe it?
The nerve.

Don’t worry I didn’t eat the whole bag.
I ate the rest the next day for breakfast.

My friends were so glad that I introduced them to such wonder.

But in all seriousness. I’m doing fine. I’m getting enough nutrients. I’m staying hydrated. I promise that I don’t eat Bacon Pep for breakfast (everyday).

So much has gone on, so I’ll give you the hi-lights…

Last Thursday a group of us went to the International Bar/Comedy Club and saw some stand-up. Some of the acts were very good and a few, invariably, were very bad. I was very impressed with the audience though, during the ones that fell flat, there was never any heckling, everyone dutifully courtesy laughed. During the headlining act I got pulled on stage by a comedian with crazy hair, and a hilariously creepy sense of humor. He sat me down and serenaded me with his guitar. I also got brought up two more times. One for a hip-hop dance with him and an American MC. The third time was for the bow. It was hilarious.


Honestly, this place is magic. I saw a rainbow in it’s entirety. It didn’t dissolve into the clouds, it was the entire arc. Last Saturday, five of us went to Dun Laoghaire (pronounced Leary…like Dennis Leary) for a free outdoor screening of The Shawshank Redemption. We got there and wandered around for a while before the film started. We came across this narrow rock wall (about three feet wide) and we ran out on it. The waves were crashing at our feet and we screamed every time it did so. The clouds were pink, the sun was setting, and it was perhaps one of best things I have ever done. I will always remember it. Next, we wandered over to the park where the movie was taking place and sat on some damp grass. It started raining during the movie but we didn’t care.

That night we went to this place called The Globe on George St. (close to us, but not in Temple Bar) We had a very good time and met a lot of truly amazing people. About halfway into the night, my friend Sarah came over to me and pointed out that Glen Hansard was talking to the DJ. Well…surprisingly, I remained relatively composed. I did not leap on him with glee. For those of you who don’t know, Glen Hansard is this amazingly talented musician who starred in the film Once, and is in the band The Frames. Once is a really amazing, low budget Irish film about two musicians. It really should be seen by all, I promise you will not regret it. It is mesmerizing. I was one Guinness for the better and decided I was going to go talk to him and tell him how amazing he was. So I did.

Here’s the two of us soaking in the Irish countryside.

Carmen and I also went on the tour of the austere Trinity College. The grass was freakishly green and the buildings amazingly collegiate. We saw the Book of Kells, which was truly incredible.

SOME FUTURE PLANS: This weekend I’m going to Cork where I will kiss the Blarney Stone. I also have booked tickets and am going to Barcelona, Italy, and Paris for Fall break. Other future weekend trips include Galway, Belfast, Scottland, Amsterdam, and London.

Cheers to you all! I miss you, and thanks for reading!

A few facts about Ireland:
*Many Irish are cold, but few freeze.
*The ducks float backwards in the Liffey.
*It takes approximately five hours to wash our clothes in the washing machine. The concept of a dryer does not exist. Period. We hang dry.
*The potato is not indiginous to Ireland and was brought over from South America.

Monday, September 1, 2008


Hello all! I have arrived safely in the land of green and am loving every minute. As always, travel was eventful. The flight from L.A. to Georgia was very low-key. I sat by two unrelated middle aged men who were both wearing ungodly short shorts. (Not just one, but two! What are the odds?)

In Atlanta, my two hour layover turned into a four hour layover. There were a few insane Irish children hopped up on candies while pop pop lived it up at the airport pub and mum’s tired voice went right over their heads. One child was in a monkey harness (the tail is held by guardian to prevent an escape). Well. Said child escaped, jumped on table (the same table I witnessed another Irish child jump on), acted like it was a surfboard, jumped down to the other side and began whipping me with his monkey tail. I started fake screaming (the kind with little sound). He started laughing, then moved on to the guy across from me (who also started fake screaming) and an elderly woman knitting (who also started fake screaming). The assault led to a conversation with the other victims that lasted until we boarded.

On the flight from Atlanta to Dublin I sat next to a latin man named Felix who graduated from USC a few years ago, he was meeting his girlfriend in Dublin and they were going to a wedding. Felix was also wearing a kilt. Was the wedding the reason for this kilt? No. It was a surprise for his girlfriend.

And surprised she was. (I’d imagine)

For now he lives in Bakersfield where he is a local newscaster. I asked if he was a Bakersfield Celebrity and he said that one time he was at Costco (he likes the $1.50 hotdog/drink special) and some guy approached him, recognized him and bought his hotdog.

I would like one day to reach that level of celebrity.

Together Felix and I dominated InFlight Trivia. PAAAM, the previous victor, didn’t know what hit her.

When we were getting close to landing, the clouds finally thinned and I couldn’t believe how green it was. Absolutely gorgeous. I got my bags from the baggage claim and then waited in line at the taxi queue. Ernie, the toothless, obese cab driver showed me the sights. I once heard that all cab drivers are secretly comedians and they chose to practice their routines on their charges. I wouldn’t say Ernie was a comedian. He was very knowledgeable about politics and history, a kind fellow, but no, he was not a comedian. There was something about his demeanor that was anything but. He told me how the Irish don’t teach history to the youth of Ireland as much as they should because the Irish have a history of remembering too much. He pointed out a pub called The Tap, where Kevin Barry was arrested in 1920. Barry was a member of the IRA and his participation led to the deaths of three british men. Before he was executed (at the age of 18) he was tortured. Ernie added the gruesome detail that when they did so, they pulled off all of his fingernails. Welcome to Ireland.

But really, that is what is so fascinating about this city. Around us there is history everywhere. The buildings are ancient, many of the streets are cobblestone, but as old as everything is, there is such a vibrant, young air about Dublin.

I arrived on Fishamble Street around noon on Saturday and was greeted by Susanne and Sigita, both absolutely wonderful people who I look forward to getting to know further. Susanne is the head of the program here and Sigita is the RA.

The first night, after naps all around, and a quick orientation, a bunch of us went out for fish and chips at Burdock’s. We realized that Dublin is EXPENSIVE and since then have been cooking a lot of our meals at home. There was nowhere to sit inside, so we walked a little while and decided to sit on the walkway by the river Liffey and after went to pub called O’Neil’s. It was a lovely night.

After three days here I have yet to fully unpack (I’m sure non of you are surprised.) But I’m positive it will get done sometime within the next month.

Yesterday, we realized that our water heater (which must be switched on) takes a lot longer than 20 minutes to fully heat up. Nia took a shower first, walked out declaring it was the coldest shower she had ever taken. Next was Monica. We figured the water must have been hot by then, it had been more than an hour since we switched on the heater. A few powerful, dramatic screams errupted from within the bathroom, and she came out declaring how horrid her shower was as well. I went in next, because I figured it really must be warm by then. I turned on the water, and let out pathetic yelps akin to Old Yeller after he contracted rabies, but before he went psychotic on little Johnny.

We figured we would leave our water heater on all the time now.

Last night we wenr to Fitzsimons where we had our first encounter with a live Irish band. They played cover songs, mostly Oasis and U2. REALLY FUN!

We get free membership to a gym a short walk away, and tonight we decided to do a spin class. We dragged our bikes over to the center of the work out room, got in a circle. The instructor had very buff arms and very small legs and told us that we must use the hand break if we want to get off or else we WILL fall off the bike.

About ten minutes into it, we were intensely peddling and I literally thought I was either going to die, or worse, vomit. I looked around, did not see either a bathroom or a trashcan, and had visions of me wandering aimlessly around the room, really NOT finding either, and then class would be canceled, the custodial staff would be called in and I would forever be the spin class pariah.

We were just talking about the Darwin awards today. Stupid deaths that shouldn’t have happened. I mentioned one about a guy who was driving a motorhome and decided to put it on cruise control and go on back for a cup of coffee.

While in first position I decided to write my own Darwin Award obituary.

Alexandria Kathryn Henigman died today. In Spin Class. She did not utilize the hand break. Poor soul.

About half way through, about the time they played Eye of the Tiger I had a sudden burst of energy and thought, if Rocky went through all of that extensive training, I can make it through Spin Class without being in the Darwin Awards and without having public vomit humiliation.

With that said, so much has already happened that I couldn’t possibly fit in one (already too loud and rambling blog). And I will try to constantly fill all you in at least once a week. It has truly been a really great experience so far. I love Ireland and all the people involved in this program. (Classes start tomorrow!)

I’m looking forward to traveling around Ireland and Europe!

And, no, there has been no sign of Seamus thus far.