Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Bog Roll and James Joyce (I Love Your Writing)

Guys, I’m fuelled by the magic of my first peppermint mocha of the season (we asked the barista here if they make them even though they’re not on the Irish Starbucks menu and they gave me a look like who's asking? so I threw out my Basic Betch pokeball and they were like ohhhh she so basic yes indeed we will make you a couple so Falalalala la la la hell yeah) and I’ve got chicken legs baking in the oven, so I’m gonna throw a real positive Pete out at you and say: thank you to everyone who takes the time to write. 

Sometimes it can be a little tiring to scroll through a sea of saccharine promotional material, so when I see a tiny bit of someone’s soul in a post, be it Instagram, Facebook or blog article, it makes me so, so happy. It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of Ottawa writer girls (Dominique, Chantal, Alyssa you know I’m talking about y’all, among others!) and I admire every single thought that writers like Lindy West share, be it through their novels or Jezebel articles, but I myself still find it hard to choose a side between being a writer or a storyteller. What's interesting is that this morning, a completely random person, a complete stranger to me, talked about exactly that.

Most mornings, while I burn the toast and Jeff uses a women’s make-up mirror to style his hair, we watch Ireland :Am. The hosts are really cute and have really pleasant voices and giggle at everything the others say. They switch between topics like the aggressive onset of diabetes in Ireland into the hottest Christmas toys of the year (“…it is not yet clear if it is Irish water or air that is to blame for their incurable mutations. Up next: a bog roll shaped like James Joyce!”) and for the most part, they just make you feel really great. Today, they had British author Jeffrey Archer talking about the seven novels he wrote, and the way he feels when he writes his stories. “I’m a story-teller, not a writer” he said. It was so cool to hear him acknowledge that difference (oh and I wrote about this a few years ago in a super nerdy post that no one will ever read!) , and the way he spoke about the process of writing his story – the excitement with which he revealed that not even he knows how the story will end- it was like finding an old photograph, but of an idea, that you forgot you could feel. Here comes a sentence that will make you reconsider ever inviting me to a party: it made me so excited to read more of everyone's writing. 

So, I hope to see many more posts by all of you talented ladies and gents, and my personal "it's almost new year's" resolution is to write more as well, regardless of whether I have to be a writer or storyteller, regardless of what category it may fit into, and with only one thought in mind which is that it should, like everything that matters in life, come from the heart.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Never Give Up On Pumpkin

Things are different in Dublin. You don't find your every day things in their every day (Canadian) places. A bottle of regular ol' bleach takes an entire city hunt to find; forget about coffee creamer (I promise that one day I will get over this, but that day isn't anywhere near today) because here, it's completely unheard of; and don't even think about pizza yeast or pizza sauce because pizzas are always ready and waiting, everywhere you look, so people don't really make them from scratch. A couple of weeks ago, on my way home from Canada, I turned a blind eye to all of the above and, having to lose some weight in my suitcase (again with the unrealistic expectations ugh #fightback2016) I left behind a beautiful can of pureed pumpkin. I left it behind convinced that I'd find canned pumpkin in Dublin because duh it's fall and everyone loves pumpkin everything, but when I got to Dublin and asked around for it, I was given not only confused but disgusted looks. One store did have it, and that store sells imported American things that are sold at absolutely insane astronomical prices. I simply couldn't afford it. Well fine, I thought, I'll just outsmart them all and for my traditional pumpkin cream cheese roll, I'll use fresh pumpkin.   

Four hours later I had boiled, strained, peeled, mashed, blended, and sieved the equivalent of a cup of pumpkin for my recipe.  The cakey part came out looking like a grade five gym mat, but I still had high hopes. Then, using what I was sure was cream cheese (for lack of my trusted Philadelphia brand), I mixed the filling until the portal into hell opened wide and sucked all of my efforts straight in: the filling turned to  milky water. What. The. Eff.  Still, I persevered, knowing I had created something utterly, utterly wrong. I tilted the pumpkin roll and poured the filling in, sealed the ends, and let this bitch cool.  The next day, as predicted, the result was a texture akin to that of a prosthetic limb, and the unforgettable taste of tangy cheese by-product. It did photograph well, though, and looks almost like food in this picture:

Despite this picture's totally basic-able autumn Instagram win,  I refused to share it on social media, and instead, cried in the shower. Then I cried to Jeff about how everything fails here. Or, more like, how I fail at everything here. I decided that this year, I just had to accept that life will never be the same, and I shouldn't expect to succeed at things I have been making for goddamn years, and I need to just let it go and hope for the best around the Christmas season. After all, I could make a peppermint roll. A new tradition! I could sprinkle it with sadness. Delicious. Basically, I gave up. But Jeff didn't. He called a shop that used to sell pumpkin puree, found out when they would be re-stocking it, and put a can aside under his name. By then, days had gone by. When he found me again, I was under the couch, having grown a beard to my ass, and had forgotten the sound of my own name, bathing only in peril and defeat. Then, he gave me one of those talks where you huddle and then someone slaps you really hard and tells you to wake up. Except he didn't slap me obvi. That day, I found a pair of leggings on sale at Penneys for 3 Euro (say whaaa?). It was meant to be, so the minute I got home, I pulled them on...(and yes Jeff instantly left me)..

I looked a little harder, found Philadelphia cream cheese (!!!), picked up that can of pumpkin which they had actually received so much of that the store was practically bursting..

Just your homestyle pure de calabaza

...promised myself I would never cook with this "dupe" ...

Mixed all the ingredients together again, this time being so happy to see everything looking pumpkin-y instead of that weird pale beige situation from before..

Threw it all in the oven and crossed my fingers...and everything worked out!  

The pumpkin roll was as good as I remember it tasting every year, and was gobbled up in one day! Looks like this year, the real treat is the lesson of never giving up. Wow. 

Happy fall! Happy thanksgiving! Believe in your dreams!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Last Day of My 20s

It’s 8 pm, the sky is black, and I just finished a Skype call with my family, whose laughing faces were illuminated by lazy Sunday brunch sunshine. I’m an ocean away, in the bedroom of our little apartment. Two doors away, in the living room, I hear the rustling of gift wrap. I am banned from that room for the night: Jeff is preparing a birthday surprise.  Tomorrow, as previously feared, I will be 30. From the vault of my ridiculous and unfounded worries: I will wake up covered in menopause, with a sudden penchant for raisin scones and trousers that button up just at tit level. Tomorrow is the first day of a new decade, and for the first time in my life, I feel like age means something. I mean, I’m not even sure what’ll happen when the gods above see my un-finished 30 before 30 list, but now I’ve also gotta explain (to someone?) why I don’t want kids or a mortgage (…yet.) 
I'm lucky that my friends are all relatively the same age, and we're all making this leap into this new decade, one by one, like popcorn kernels. Everyone else seems to be doing fine, no one woke up looking like Jann Arden, and it really is just another day. Meanwhile, in Ireland, because moving to another country wasn't enough change, I decided to round up my favourite memories from this decade, to hopefully stop my ears from ringing with the fear that I'm going to be Ye Aulde with nothing to show for it. 

Jann Arden isn't old and there is nothing wrong with her, not that there is anything wrong with being old anyway

2006 would be the year that I turned 20. It was also the year of Taking Back Sunday's album Louder Now, a living soundtrack for my post-teen angst, and a very compelling argument for why oh my god you just don't get it, mom. Remember how cool studded belts were? That said, I'll never forget just how much we felt back then. Every heartbreak, every Saturday night, everything was for the first time and so, so loud. 

At 21, I had my first party. It was at the Minto hotel in Ottawa, and I bought 10 bottles of Absolut vodka. My best friend and I both had platinum blonde hair. There was a group pillow fight. We were young and wild.

I found this picture in my Fall 2008 collection, which would mean I was 22 and in university. This kind of autumn is how I always remember my early twenties. The Postal Service on my iPod shuffle, a Tim's chai tea (2 milk, 1 sugar), my class notes, and the orange leaves brushing past the windows of the bus, on the way to campus. It was the realest romance. Well, not this picture in particular, because here I'm just trying to not cry after hurting my hands hanging off a tree branch in an effort to seem whimsical a-la Meg Ryan.   

At 23, I lived and breathed Lady Gaga. Naturally, I spent a month making this halloween costume, constructing a 3D crystal formation out of cardboard and CDs cut up into tiny disco-ball squares. At the club, I was booed offstage immediately: it was a Sexiest Costume competition and the winner was a Sexy Call Centre Agent. I remember striking pose after pose amidst the booing, determined to show off my crafty ensemble regardless of the heckling. If you've ever done that, you'll know it takes an almost inhuman amount of guts. Was a banana thrown in my general direction? My memory is a bit hazy now, but never mind that - on my way out, I was stopped by a drag-queen asking to buy my costume for a show. Baby, I was born this way.

24 marked my official audacity as a full blown hipster. After a brief stint in Brooklyn's Williamsburg, I was no longer a part of the 'normal' world. I emailed The New Yorker with article pitches, wore ironic second-hand sweaters covered in black donuts, told my government job boss that a budgetary proposition was "masturbatory", read spoken word at open mic nights, attended community events dressed like a colonial woman on acid, 'composed' 'music' on my MIDI keyboard (shoutout Cubase and Fruity Loops), and landed a freelance job writing for a fashion studio. I was vegan, I was into Jodorowsky, and my most prized possession was a pair of old mens' sunglasses. No regrets - I don't think I'll ever be that cool again.

In 2011, I was 25 and had this Christmas dinner with my favourite girlfriends. It was in the first apartment I ever lived in on my own, and it remains my favourite place in the world. At night, you could see the snow falling from each of the corner windows, and it felt like you were in a snow globe. The apartment had old wooden floors and a faux fireplace with a mirror built in. That year, as a very influential and important relationship ended, I found the pieces of the new me, and this little dinner party was the first time I felt like myself again.

When I was 26, I went a month eating just raw food. I've always loved trying different lifestyles, and didn't think it would be too difficult since I had gone years being vegan. That January, I learned what it was like not having a life. I was always cold, I was always hungry, a co-worker said she didn't want to be around me since I couldn't eat anything anyway, and a dude told me I smelled too much like vegetables. I was dehydrating zucchini around the clock, and my idea of dessert was a hot shower. To this day, the thought of "agave-avocado" anything makes me shudder..

A lot happened in 2013, between photography classes and discovering our city's new gourmet street food trend, and festivals, and new friends...but one of the funniest memories is the time we went to New York, just my mom, my sister, and I. We had donuts, and window-shopped, and my mom asked the man at the Gucci store if he had change for the bus, and then fake-argued with a wax Samuel L.Jackson, and then rejected an Abercrombie & Fitch model. Sometimes, the best part of something is knowing how much it means to someone else.

One of my happiest memories in recent years is this one Sunday afternoon. There wasn't anything exciting going on, I was 28 and it was a very ordinary spring day. I had come back from a long run, exhausted, and had picked up a loaf of fresh sourdough bread from my favourite bakery, Bread & Sons. My feet were killing in that awesome way that makes you feel like it's totally fine to nosedive into a ball-pit of cheeseburgers, and I showered and changed into a big fluffy robe. The sun was shining through my bedroom windows as I made a couple of cheesy toasties and lay back on my bed watching This is 40. I think I'll remember that moment forever. It was just me, alone, and it was perfect.

And, of course, it just wouldn't be me if I didn't say that my favourite memory from my last year of my twenties was running the marathon. Up until a few years ago, thoughts of the marathon were right up there with Chris Hadfield and the planet Mercury. It just wasn't part of anything I considered doable or even real. And then, one day, I ran it. And it was incredible. That year, I also went to Ireland and umm like totally changed my life and stuff, but that's a memory I'd like to unfold in my thirties, and I'm not there yet, so for now here's a photo of me at 500 metres to the finish line!

It is now 11 pm and I will be thirty in an hour. I'm in Dublin, drinking a glass of wine I bought with the Euros I made from my new job. My blog URL now ends with .ie and I haven't heard the Canadian accent in months. In all of the silly years above, I never could've predicted this is where I'd be, and yet, here I am. It's easy to get caught up in what you haven't yet done, or what you think you're supposed to do, and as I slowly turn into Reba McEntire in this last hour of my youth, I'm certainly caught up in the stark realisation that I am an unmarried woman without child or car payments. 

But this is where I am, regardless, and if the next ten years are as kaleidoscopic as the past ten have been, then I don't want anything to change. "Want to do something silly for your last hour?" Jeff asks, taking a break from what sounds like either smoking a crack pipe or blowing up balloons in the other room. "We can do knick knacks! It's when you knock on a door and run away," he explains. On the other hand, maybe, just maybe, I'll wake up tomorrow and still be me. 

Saturday, September 17, 2016

8 Before 30

I love lists. To-do lists, to-buy lists, to-read lists, you name it, I’ve made a list for it.  In my desk, there is currently a growing list of food I want to eat in the near future, because I can’t think clearly when I’m thrashing violently Emily Rose style, seized by the satanic hands of Father Hunger. In my purse is a list of songs to sing in my head when I’m on the train, and a list of dead animals I’ve seen by the side of the road leading up to that train. Just kidding, if I had a list like that, it would only have one item: a rat.  Can I just mention that nobody seems to mind this recurring appearance? I’m the only one clutching my chest, gasping for breath when I find myself nearly stepping on its body, mouthing “Oh my God” to let everyone know I am a compassionate human being, outraged by dead rats, and clearly much more sensitive/distinguished than those who simply walk past it. No one cares, and, in the afternoon, on my walk back, the rat is gone. It’s probably the same rat every time. Desperate for attention, he plays dead a couple of times a week, and when the morning rush carelessly walks by (well because they already know this trick and have had enough, cheers) he slowly sits up, fixes his hair, dusts off his knees, and walks back into the bushes. Number of people gasping Oh My God today: One, his list says, Will return tomorrow.

Anyway, following my girlfriend Amy’s brilliant idea to make a list of things to accomplish by the time she turns thirty, and seeing how cool the end result was- thirty fun challenges crossed proudly off her list-I thought it would be great to make a list of my own. You can read about it here, actually. I made the list well over a year ago, and was convinced I would attack it with the same determination with which I tackle my running training schedules and employee appreciation cakes. Nabokov and Hemingway were going to be my dreamy escapes from the harshness of Canadian winters, until I was ass-deep in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged with no chance of ever, ever finishing it. Look, I tried, but despite reading it twice a day, every day, for three months of commuting to the suburbs, I just couldn’t stay excited about a seventeen hour monologue marrying the metaphor of trains with the fickle human condition. 

That said, that year I rented my apartment in a really cool building named after the lead character’s last name, so there. I will finish this book one day, when I’m feeling like re-opening that can of slow-moving worms, but until then, apart from a few pop literature books I read on vacation...

(Mindy Kaling’s Why Not Me? Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind of Girl, Jon Ronson's Lost at Sea: The Jon Ronson Mysteries and Lindy West’s masterpiece Shrill) my reading list remained untouched. 

Eight. Eight items have been more or less completed. Looking at it now, I don't know how I expected for some of these opportunities to just present themselves in the span of two years, but here's what got crossed off, and why:

Running that marathon with that awesome finish time is probably my favourite memory from that list. That one I crossed off, fair and square.  

As you can see, #7 is crossed off with a squiggly line which is kinda the way you tell your doctor that you drink "socially" while keeping your foot firmly over the snack-size bottle of Absolut nestled in your purse.  #12 was to see a broadway show, and thanks to my lovely fella, we saw "Once: The Musical" here in Dublin, and I didn't even barf! When the performers were warming up, I briefly thought about leaving (oh yeah, I hate broadway shows) but I'm definitely glad I stayed because it was as genuine and un-campy as broadway shows get. Plus, I had my moment in the spotlight:

And did I grow all the ingredients for a salad? Well, if you're making a salad of basil, parsley and cilantro, then you bet I did! But the reason I'm squiggly-crossing that one off my list is actually because here in Dublin, I've kept my basil plant alive for TWO MONTHS! Two whole months of watering it and clipping the leaves when they get too old (or eating them). It's unreal. Like, guys, it actually fucking grows back. I can't believe it. 
Okay so then there's #19 which is the one where I help my mom with a big project, and that one I definitely did when I organized her move into her new house and moved most of the stuff and I hope that she can't see this part if she's reading this blog but if she is then sorrayyy not sorray. Also, you can read about that in this blog post.
And directly after that one is the one about taking a cake decorating course, which you will soon see is not necessary for me as I have actually become Buddy the Cake Boss. It was Jeff's birthday a few days ago, and I decided that when you are living in a new city, country, and continent, you should opt to bake a last minute secret cake to feed 40 people with ingredients you have never used before - specifically the terrifying F word: Fondant.  Buddy stretches that thing like it's nothing, but even on his show, the pros are always freaking out about the fondant cracking, sweating, peeling off, or just "not cooperating" (what?).  I've avoided it for years and years, opting for the safe and predictable icing scenario....until now.  I don't know what came over me, but I decided to just do it, and without any practice or any idea how to even handle it, I applied the fondant to my cake at 5 am the morning of Jeff's birthday party day. I won't lie, all of Dublin pitched in with ideas. The cake decorating cake store clerk drew pictures of how the fondant should look when it's flat, the grocery store clerk assured me that it'll be grand, the Irish baker tutorial said it would be just like marzipan so don't sweat it...and somehow, the birthday gods came together, and I managed to secretly bake three layers of red velvet cake, ice them with cream cheese frosting, and cover it in the aforementioned cloak of gastronomical terror. And so, when it was all done, before me stood one of my biggest fears, conquered: a steak cake, with marzipan mashed potatoes, peas, and carrots. 

As for the disco roller skating, my very thoughtful guy took me to a disco roller-skating place one day, until halfway through the trip I pulled him onto a bus going to the airport instead, so we could have coffee and watch people travel. No regrets, it was fantastic. We did disco roller-skate anyway, actually, at a music festival this summer…and it was every bit as terrifying as I hoped..

Much grace so elegance wow
And lastly, of course, there was the adventure of getting my driver's license. After a month of lessons with a man named Barry who giggled when I said fuck, and weekends of being an unbearable human being around my loved ones who offered to supervise me while I yelled "I'm not ready for Bank Street!" and "Parallel parking is not necessary in this country!", I passed my G2 test, on the first try. Very proud of that, and embarrassed for the person I was in the weeks leading up to it. Anyway, moving on...

Today is just a few days before my birthday, and I can confidently say that I will not complete my 30 Before 30 list, and the reason that I've written about it here is that I can confidently say that this is the first list I will not complete, in my stash of testaments to my OCD.  Even though part of me wants to bite into a brick, a much bigger part of me is kinda like let’s see what happens. I mean, let’s see what happens when I don’t accomplish a set of crazy goals. Let’s see what happens when, instead of running myself ragged just for the momentary satisfaction of crossing off an item, I let myself have a relaxing few days (nay weeks) and enjoy not worrying about it.  Maybe it's the Irish lifestyle rubbing off on me, or maybe it's the acceptance that the things I did complete have been pretty fantastic, but I think I'm okay with being human, this time. 

And if on September 26th I wake up and I’m still alive, despite that list glowing venomous red with a thousand little Outlook reminder flags, if the sun still shines (well as much as it would in Dublin anyway), then maybe that’ll be the new me: Alisa in her 30s, who’s comfortably nerdy, spends some (most) weekends eating pancakes and watching reruns of Home Improvement, gets along best with old people, and doesn’t always cross every item off the list. Let’s see.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Dublin and Me

Hello, do you have brewed coffee? Brewed. Brewed. It’s like…when you run beans through a filter. Nope, not like an Americano. Okay, that’s fine. I’ll have an Americano.

It’s Alisa.

Alisa. A….L…..I……S……A.

Haha, no, I can’t help push Trump out of the elections. I’m Canadian. Actually, I’m from Ottawa. It’s….like…do you know Toronto? It’s kinda beside that. Yeah. I like Drake too.

I’ve been living in Dublin almost 6 months now, and I’m just now admitting that there is no way to concisely organize my thoughts into one short and coherent blog post about my experiences, so I might as well just bite the bullet and talk about the part that’s been sort of the parchment paper lining the uhh muffins of my Irish…adventure. I’ll try to fix this analogy later.

Bull Island, just a few minutes from our apartment

Lovely Temple Bar and basically I'm going to just put random pictures into the rest of this post to counter the seriousness of it..

The paragraph above is what I find myself saying almost on a weekly basis, or whenever I decide to be brave and venture outside the realms of Dublin’s fascination with espresso-based beverages, and it sort of ties into what I’m about to tell you, because what I’m about to tell you is what I’ve discovered so far about my identity here in Dublin. Before coming here, I never realized what it meant to be Canadian, and I never really felt Russian, or Estonian, or Canadian to begin with. Once I learned English in grade school, life in Canada sort of became all-encompassing, the only way to live, and, year after year, I gathered the inevitably na├»ve perception that “life’s like this”, in the immortal words of Dame Avril Lavigne. Then I moved here and found myself making shifty emoji eyes at everything, like Waaaaaait a minute, why did the post-man make that joke? Haaaang on a second, how come women aren’t as important as men here? (more on that some other day, yikes) and Hooooold up, I’d like cream for my coffee and it…doesn’t exist in this country? (This is, sadly, a fact). Most importantly, I’ve found myself extremely self-conscious of my accent and my general demeanor.

All this needs is an inspirational Instagram quote. Something about the road less travelled or w/e

At the risk of making a ridiculous generalization, I’ll still say this: there is a much greater sense of femininity among girls here, much to the dismay of my “what’s good fam?” greeting, often met with disgust/shock. I can’t remember what the fashion trends are in Ottawa (could I ever? BURN.) (This is the kind of thing I’m talking about that is met with a polite slow clap in this city) (But she burned herself! Tell me how that’s not next level..) (etc.) but in Dublin, you are not a proper lady if your eyebrows aren’t penciled in, your jeans a very flattering high-rise, your tops of the cropped variety, and your hair gorgeously long and healthy. Dublin girls love to wear what’s in style, and dress like their age, if not slightly younger. This of course leaves me and my sensible attire looking like a middle-aged divorcee, which, frankly, I take as a compliment. Yet, I’ve come a long way in these past six months. In the beginning, realizing that my non-Irish accent makes people look up from their newspapers and slant their glasses down to get a closer (disapproving?) look, I became very self-conscious. At first, it was the pause of the bus driver’s hand over the steering wheel upon hearing my (basically) “one ticket downtoon, bud!”, then it was the cashier’s horrified stare as I counted and re-counted the identically-coloured cent pieces in my trembling hand, holding up a line of eighty million frustrated customers. Without even speaking, I felt like all eyes were on me, and not in the “who’s that girl” kinda way, but like if my ass was on fire or if I had covered my face in human turd. I think the last time I felt this way was when I was learning English, armed with a bizarre lexicon of half French half Russian. I thought the days of being different were long behind me, but here I am again!

Sometimes if you're at a pub you can get a little room to sit in, and it comes with a cozy little lamp, candle, and flowers..

Something else that I now realize is a Canadian thing, is politeness. I can count the times I’ve been pushed on the bus in Ottawa on one hand. Most of the times have been catalogued in news alerts the likes of “Passenger spotted allowing himself onto bus ahead of man clearly waiting before him. Avoid Bus 85 Hurdman until further notice. Police are investigating.” Here in Dublin: LOL. It doesn’t matter if you are a girl, woman, not sure yet, growing into yourself, pregnant, old, sad, cold…the minute those bus doors open, anyone who feels they wanna get on that bus are gonna walk immediately in front of you and get right on. The first few times, I just stood there, dropped jaw billowing in the wind. Then, I got used to it. One time, I was like lol when in Rome! and tried to do it to someone else but felt horrible at the last second and let the other person on first. I don’t think it’s because I’m a good person, I think it’s because it’s absolutely fucking mental to be any other way.  An idea: if you get to a bus stop and someone is already waiting there, let them on the bus first.

Sometimes the view is surreal and makes you wanna go swimming but it's cold so
I think that, as with anywhere else in the world, you get some great people and some not-so-great, so again, I can’t say this is just the face of Dublin, but this happens every time I take the bus, so get at me bro.
Another thing I’ve learned about Canadians and myself is that we are polite but reserved. Here, everyone’s always trying to get up in everyone else’s life. Business tends to run on a more personal level (have you ever been called “love” by your tax representative?) and the distant conversations we struggle to maintain in Canada, like “How are you/Good, thanks/Great weather/Yes” go the lengths of “Doing the groceries, are ya?” or, what I personally heard today as I reached for MY FIRST piece of sample cake: “Don’t eat it all, now! Hehehe!” from a man who reached for TWO pieces of sample cake. As with a lot of things though, I’ve grown to like it. It’s strangely comforting to have someone heckle you, especially when you’ve been alone and talking to yourself all day.

Okay just wait until I tell you about the desserts here 
 It seems that, in order to have the efficiency and steadfast hunger for betterment of life, you need to be on your toes, the way Canada is. Being laid back and casual and cute (in many, many ways that I won’t attempt to squeeze into this blog post) the way Dublin is goes hand in hand with, well, the inevitable fact that Ireland seems to be behind on a few things, from their concern about taking care of the environment (it’s quite rare to see recycling bins outside) to their general understanding of customer service, except for at Permanent TSB, my new bank - you should hear them talking about how much they want to serve me better. That customer service is on point man. I almost have to whisper if Jeff’s around (“Yes I’d like to hear more about your online services. Just don’t call back on this phone. You know my other number.”) (JEFF I AM KIDDING). 
I’m proud of Canada and of getting to tell people that I’m from the city that’s kinda close to Toronto, and that I like Drake, and that I’m here because I’ve always wanted to try something different from the life I’ve grown used to. I still feel like my ass is on fire some days, but nowadays it’s for being my usual self, like kissing random people on the cheek (Is that an Irish thing? I don’t know but I’ll do it anyway and see what happens oh my god no. It is not an Irish thing.) and asking a finance manager if she is the overlord of the finance floor (I meant overseer, which in itself doesn’t even fucking make sense.)
Despite everything I’ve written here, you can’t compare Dublin to Ottawa, and you shouldn’t. You can’t compare being Canadian to being Irish in an effort to understand who you are, because, at least so far, who I am seems to exist separately of my nationality anyway. I won’t lie that part of my (this is your cue to pull out your sword and wizard cape) quest was to understand myself better, and while I’ve gotten a better understanding of what it means to be Canadian, who I am is not limited by language or accent. A that’s what she said is a that’s what she said, no matter what time-zone you’re in, baby.

What's long, hard and prickly? Just a shrub I guess