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