Beginning at the End

  • No Comments

When I have had a big event, a big adventure or just something interesting happen in my life, I almost always have to spend a little time processing it, usually out loud and on these pages.

Having just returned from a weeklong trip to Ireland, I’m pretty sure that readers here will be treated to (tormented by?) several posts about my days in Dublin. I had such a wonderful time and I want to get all the stories out and onto the page.

The question is, where to begin? Some would say start at the beginning. Some would say start somewhere in the middle when things begin to get good. Others still say to start wherever you want.

The thing is, I usually don’t get a say in where to begin telling a story. The Muse has a mind of her own and she tends to open one sliding door in my mind to show me what she’s interested in, while keeping the other doors firmly closed until she’s good and ready.

What I mean today is that there is one story, one experience, that keeps replaying in my mind. It is the sum of my entire view of Ireland and probably belongs at the end of the entire tale.

But why cave to the convention of putting the end of the story at the end? This is what I want to write, so this is what will be written. For today, at least.

Here we go…

The hotel where I stayed was in a rather upscale suburb of Dublin named Donnybrook. Back in the day, Donnybrook used to be the scene of an event called the Donnybrook Fair. And by “back in the day”, I mean like the 1200’s through the 1800s.

Evidently that event turned from a nice twelve-day fair, fun for the whole family, to a drunken brawling event. In fact the very word donnybrook has come to mean a brawl or fracas.

The Catholic Church took a dim view of this debauchery (as they are wont to do) and ultimately lobbied for the fair to shut down, mainly by building a church right at the event site.

This is a great story, I love it, but it’s kind of tangential. Let me get back on track. In this wonderful Donnybrook neighborhood, there are quite a few shops, restaurants and a couple pubs.

One of the pubs, named McCloskey’s, was about a half a block away from where I was staying. I could see it from the window in my hotel room.




Image found here.


I had walked past the place quite a few times but was never brave enough to go in. Something about genuine pubs kind of intimidates me. It’s a mix of the expected amount of hesitation being a woman going into a bar alone, and my propensity to overworry that I’ll somehow say or do something that breaks the unwritten protocol of the pub.

I also never am sure how Americans are perceived so it’s always a little tentative for me. Which is silly because of the pubs I’ve encountered in the UK and now Ireland, it’s always been a lovely experience.

On Thursday after what had been a busy and intense workweek, I decided to go inside McCloskey’s. I was hungry, I love pub food, and I was in desperate need of a pint.

With a deep breath, I opened the door and went in. I walked the length of the place to give it a look-see and decided to stay, taking up a corner seat at the bar.

The bartender was a fireplug of a man, in his early fifties, with a pugilistic look about him and a vibe that was clear he knew how to run a pub. He could and would toss your ass out without hesitation and with force.

He came over and slid a napkin on the bar like skipping a rock and asked, “What’ll you have?”

“A pint of Guinness,” I replied with confidence. He nodded with a grunt and poured the beer. In hindsight, I should have just said “A Guinness,” the pint is understood.

What a lovely pint it was. A perfect pour, the perfect temperature, perfect creamy foam on top. Oh yes. I wanted to take a picture of it so I could always remember that beautiful moment, but thought better of it. It felt like the bartender may take a dim view of selfies and Instagram in his pub.

As he set the pint down I asked, “Can I order some food?”

“Er, yeah, we have a stew, the fish and something else I can’t remember” he said.

“I’ll have the fish,” I said.

“Fish and chips, you know?”

“Yep!”

He grunted again and went off to the kitchen to place the order. I sat there feeling tense and sipping my beer. There were really only about four people in the pub, all quietly drinking and keeping to themselves. 1970’s disco played from a small boom box to fill the atmosphere.

Next to me was a stack of local newspapers so I picked one up and read it, giving me something to do as I sat alone and tried to act normal.

After a bit my food came and it was so delicious. Light and crispy cod, perfect chips and slices of tomato. I ate it joyfully and drank my Guinness and suddenly everything was really right with the world.

During this time, the bartender mostly ignored me. He was friendly but distant. Gruff but fair, I suppose, and that was fine.

While I ate, a group of people came in. They were obviously all family, and they took up chairs and seats around several tables. Then more and more kept arriving. There were probably twenty or more people and one older gentleman with graying hair was buying all the drinks.

These folks were all in a good mood and talking excitedly. At one point someone teased the older man about “never being around” and he tipped his pint glass to them and said, “now that’s one thing you can never say about my term! My opponent can’t say the same.”

It was then I sussed out that this might be a local politician. I heard someone call him by his first name and as I was texting the play by play to The Good Man, he did a quick Google search and we discovered I was in the pub with the local councilman. Elections were due to be held the next day. My guess is he was out celebrating the end of his campaign run with friends and family.

As the crowd grew, it became such a convivial atmosphere. I sat next to one of his daughters and we chatted and laughed. Her son, who looked to be about five, ordered a cranberry juice and wanted it served in a Guinness pint glass. Everyone bought and ate small cans of Pringles.

As ever more people kept piling in, I kind of felt like I needed to get out of there. I’m sure I could have stayed and been fine, but I started to feel like an outsider.

So I hopped up from my barstool and went over the cash register where the bartender stood. He turned to me and I said, “I’d like to tab out, please.”

“Oh sure,” he replied and began ringing me up.

“That will be twelve euros fifty,” he said. I handed him a twenty euro bill.

He took it and looked me, touched my hand and said, “You doing okay, darlin’? Was everything all right?” with genuine concern in his eyes.

I replied, “Yes, it was great. I’m…I’m just a little jet lagged and very low energy.”

He had a sparkle in his eye when he smiled, then tapped my hand again and said, “That’s okay, darlin’, you still look gorgeous!” He laughed like a schoolboy while he got my change.

He put the bills and coins in my palm and said, “now you have a good night, eh?”

I left the pub with a smile on my face. Now that, the whole story and everything in it, that’s Ireland to me.

It is a wonderful, charming and friendly place. I loved every minute of the time I spent in the city of Dublin and the district of Donnybrook.




A view from my hotel room. Lovely! Copyright © Karen Fayeth, 2014




Everything Old is New Again

  • 3 Comments

Take a look at this photo. It’s not my photo. I came across it yesterday and I kind of liked it.




It’s got that color saturation and green tinge that you see in a lot of these new square format apps for the iPhone and Android (my personal favorite is Hipstamatic).

Actually, I like this photo a lot. But I didn’t heart it on Instagram. I didn’t like it on Facebook. I didn’t re-Tweet it either.

Because this photo was found inside a frame and mounted to a wall at the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University.

This photo is part of their Walker Evans show.

This weekend, my photography group took a field trip to check out the exhibit. Going in, I knew very little about Walker Evans other than he had captured a lot of powerful black and white images from the Depression. I purposefully didn’t study up before my trip because I wanted to learn about the photographer through his photos.

Well. Knock me over. I was really, seriously and deeply educated by the time all was said and done.

First of all, Walker was a writer, and then moved into photography. He did both for most of his life. So take that you scallywags who say an artist should pick a medium and not dabble. Feh! Also, I really came to appreciate Walker’s sense of irony. You have to get up close and look around the frame of his photos to find it, but it’s always in there.

That said, the part of the exhibit that gave me the “holy crap!” moment of connection was at the very end when I saw the photos tucked away on the back wall.

It seems that in his early seventies, Walker Evans was left tired and uninspired and found himself unwilling or perhaps unable to create.

And then he got himself a Polaroid SX-70 camera and an unlimited supply of film.

“I bought that thing as a toy, and I took it as a kind of challenge,” Evans explained. “It was this gadget and I decided that I might be able to do something serious with it. So I got to work to try to prove that. I think I’ve done something with it.”


As I stood there looking at the photos, I was at first jealous. Jealous of that “unlimited supply” of Polaroid film. I am completely devoted to the Polaroid camera and used several different versions growing up and well into adulthood. I shot Polaroid until the film was no longer available.

Thanks to the Impossible Project, it’s still possible to buy Polaroid film, but at almost $24 a pack, that easy carefree snap-whatever-you-feel-like and just buy another pack mentality has to be reined in.

So I stood there feeling jealous about having all that free film on hand.

And then…my hands came up and framed either side of my whaaaat? face as I realized…

I have access to an instant camera and unlimited film. But in a different format. Sames tools, different age.

I have Hipstamatic on my iPhone. And Instagram. And a bunch of other toy camera apps.

All of these beautiful color saturated photos. They can still be made! I can still snap with reckless abandon! Oh dear god I have this gadget and I might actually be able to do something serious with it.

Oh my goodness. Oh. My. Goodness!

This realization left me dazed and confused and happy. So happy.

And inspired.







Top photo, “Untitled, 1974 Unique Polaroid” by Walker Evans and used here under Fair Use.

Quote from The Ongoing Moment by Geoff Dyer.

Bottom photo, “Power” Copyright 2012 Karen Fayeth, and subject to the Creative Commons license found in the far right column of this page. Taken with Hipstamatic app for iPhone.



My Heart is in Southern NM

  • 8 Comments

And I’m wearin’ it around my neck.

About a month or so ago, the internet burst forth with the story of mega-corporation Urban Outfitters (who I won’t link to) stealing Esty artist Stevie K‘s wonderfully successful “The World/United States of Love” line of jewelry.

The concept is simple yet beautiful silver pendants depicting states and countries with a tiny heart inside. Stevie makes the pendants out of precious metal clay and sells them through her tru.che Etsy store. This beautiful concept was successful enough, Stevie was able to quit her job and pursue art full time.

Since I’m no stranger to having my creative work ripped off on a much smaller scale, I was of course incensed by this blatant abuse of an artist making her way in the world with her creative work.

So I decided to support Stevie’s work the best way I could. I went to her online store and bought this:



It just arrived today.

Lovely, isn’t it? In the posting for the New Mexico pendant, the heart was placed over toward the eastern side of the state, somewhere around Portales. Well, Portales is a fine town but it’s not where my heart is at. I asked Stevie if she could move the heart more toward the center of the state, and she obliged.

My heart is in Las Cruces where my real heart resides thanks to my two beautiful godkids. I will wear this necklace with pride both for where I come from and in support of independent artists everywhere.

I notice that Stevie has put her store on pause while she catches up on orders. Apparently I’m not the only one who wanted to support an independent artist who had her ideas ripped off.

But she’ll be back. If you want to show your love of where you’re from, keep an eye on Stevie’s store.


She Did What?!? Ooooh Guuuuurl….

  • 12 Comments

Here we are at Thursday again and that means it’s time for Theme Thursday fun.

This week’s theme is: Gossip

Or as a friend once said, “If you can’t say something nice, come sit by me.”

There are certain words that, for reasons I cannot explain, I just prefer to think of in Spanish. Chisme is just such a word. There is the relatively plain word “gossip” and then there is the inflection laden word “chisme.”

iDígame!

I would like to say I’m above all this chisme business. That I never sit in the passenger seat of a pickup with my best friend, Sonic sodas in hand, and cuss and discuss the world around us. I’d like to say I’m not like that, but I’d be lying.

I’m an eternal Nosy Nellie. I don’t like to get mean…I just like to know what’s going on. Call it insecurity. Call it envy. Call me irresponsible…just don’t call me late for dinner.

And let’s be honest, hasn’t Facebook just upped the ante on chisme? I mean, you can see what so-in-so is saying on their wall and then there’s the inevitable “did you SEE what she said?” or “did you SEE that picture?”

It used to be the biddies would pick up the party line and listen in on their neighbors (guilty as charged) but now it’s all out there on the interwebs.

I think it’s interesting, I looked up the etymology of the word gossip. Here’s what it said:

“The word is from Old English godsibb, from god and sibb, the term for godparents, i.e. a child’s godfather or godmother.”

Um, ok. I’m a godmother times three…so doesn’t that give me permission to cluck like a hen with all my girlfriends?

“The verb to gossip, meaning “to be a gossip”, first appears in Shakespeare.”

And I’m all literary and stuff, too!

Now…come on over….tell me, what’s the latest? You got any chisme for me?




“Don’t chat! Chatting leads to treason”


1941 Soviet era poster, used under Fair Use and found on Wikipedia


My Bounceback Done Gone

  • No Comments

First of all…I’m glad to be back on the interwebs. The hotel where I’m staying this week is supposed to have free WiFI, and in the past, it’s always been great, allowing me to surf and do email with ease.

During this week it’s been dog slow. At one point it took a half hour for a page to load. For three days I’ve been begging someone to restart the router on my floor and this netted me many a blank stare from the hotel staff.

They finally gave me a tech support number and the nice tech support guy in another country diagnosed my technical issues. And then he restarted the router. Sheesh!

Aaaaaanyhow….

Along with interweb woes, I’ve been living it up a little on the road food. (see my abject joy of Sonic post).

Lately (meaning, prior to this trip) I’ve been trying to eat small meals several times a day. Good small meals with lots of lean protein and less sugar along with going easy on the dairy, and no gluten.

God I’m getting old. Look at that paragraph above. Sheesh.

But…when I do all of that and throw in a little exercise, I feel pretty good. I sleep well. My brain is clear. I have energy.

Today, I had to endure a daylong training class. I did nothing more than sit on my rear all day. No exercise and boooooring. So to pass the time I poured milk in my coffee (bloat) and had a pastry from the oh too pretty plate of goodies (tummy gurgle) and ate a sizeable lunch on top (*burp*).

Now I’m all bloated up like Violet Beauregarde (the one who swelled up into a blueberry and had to be juiced) and wondering just what in the heck possessed me when I know better?

As I said to the good man via a whiny text message….”A few minutes of :) for several days of :( Ugh!”

Ugh, indeed.

It didn’t used to be like this. I used to be able to eat dairy and wheat and fats of all sorts of saturation with reckless abandon!

Where did it all go wrong?

I aged. That’s where it all went wrong. At 22 I could bounce back from a journey down cheesey tater tot lane in about a day. Now it takes me many days and some hard work and diligence just to come back to even.

*sigh*

Thus ends my whining for the day.

I know, I know…ya’ll went two days without a blog post for this? Hmph!

I’ll try harder tomorrow.