Ireland 2012

I went to Ireland in 2012, right around mid-September. I used YMT tours, which are low cost while still giving all the backstory, history, and personal touch to the countryside, cities and moors.  I loved my tour director. For the only time I’ve experienced, our driver was also the director, so while navigating tiny, twisting Irish countryside roads in a gigantic bus, this guy was regaling us with stories of times past. I wish I remembered his name — tough part about writing in retrospect.

Arrival was in Dublin. I missed the first shuttle from the airport to the city, so a couple hours later I got into the heart of the place. It’s a beautiful city, feels really unique and distinct with areas of cobblestone streets and walkways along and over the River Liffey. I had an overnight flight in, and I don’t sleep on planes, so I was pretty pooped and didn’t get too deep into local culture as I had the next day in the city as well before the tour took me out of Dublin.

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Under train bridge, edge of River Liffey

I expected to meet up with a friend of mine, Aonghus, on that second day, but it turned out the city’s Fringe Festival was in full swing at the time, and Aonghus took me out to a concert that first night. We saw Kormac Big Band, plus his AV show in this big outdoor courtyard. What a crazy-good show! I’d never seen anything quite like it, nor have I since. I wish I’d had my bearings a bit more so as to pinpoint where in the city we were, but I just followed Aonghus’ lead. Afterwards we went to a few bars, one a converted bank  that was absolutely beautiful. You don’t have to tip bartenders in Ireland!

So I got about 4 hours of sleep during the first 2 days of this trip. I was basically delirious the next day when I went around Dublin. I went around Parliament, saw St. Patrick Cathedral, and walked around Trinity College that holds the Book of Kells. I do remember the university the most, I think, because we ran across a crew shooting a movie. Actors were in old-timey garb, maybe 1920s; I still wonder what that movie was about. That night I slept like a rock, but stayed logy the rest of the trip — sleep debt is rough.

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Wonder what the movie was…

The next stop on the tour was Cork, and we visited the Rock of Cashel and Cobh (the Titanic’s last stop before setting off across the Atlantic and into oblivion) before getting there. Cork is the second largest city in Ireland, and cities sort of spring up out of the countryside here. Not much by way of suburbs or sprawl. I loved the spaces between cities.

We set out for Killarney the next day and stopped at Blarney Castle not far out of Cork. I kissed the stone, which is on the underside of a destroyed wall high up on top of the castle. A beefy dude grabs your belt and supports you while you are suspended above the castle courtyard like five floors below. Above you the stone, below you the countryside and ruins of the castle. Fuck the stone, that view was worth it. Worth the long trek up the tiny claustrophobic stairwell, worth waking up at 6 to beat most of the crowds. I booked it down the stairs post-kiss and traipsed through the dew-covered nature til I had to back at the bus. Ireland is so, so green. I found little shaded havens full of ferns, rolling hills of wild grass, and very friendly locals. We also visit Muckross House which was a gorgeous Victorian home with extensive gardens. By chance, a horse-drawn carriage was just outside the bus when we alighted, and I and a couple others got to take it through the countryside up to the house. It was crisp and cool, and we passed a lake so clear and deep it looked black. We enjoyed traditional Irish music after dinner at a local pub. The next day we drove the scenic Ring of Kerry and plenty of the local cows just lounging in the sun. Apparently the grass in Ireland is so full of nutrients the cows don’t have to graze all day the way they do in the US, and they just lounge most of the time, getting sun and fun. Hell, I thought the cows were sick; they were just hanging out!

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Next we visited the famed Cliffs of Moher, then went through the Connemara region. This is a gorgeous, barren space through the middle of the country where many Irish were banished when the English pillaged the countryside. They figured out how to use the resources, cut and dry turf for fuel, and survive. Not all, but some. The Kylemore Abbey is nestled in this region, and is eerily isolated. I think there may still be part of the abbey functioning as such, and I can imagine the whole place filled with dark-clad Sisters.

Our last stop before returning to Dublin to fly out, was Belfast. Wow. What a switch. Northern Ireland is UK territory, and it loses all of its charm the minute you cross into it. In the rest of Ireland, signs are in both English and Gaelic, the roads are winding, and there aren’t a lot of recognizable stores or chains. In Northern Ireland it felt very Western. I DID see the first brown people since Dublin, however, so that was nice, but chain stores and boring, low, industrial buildings just weren’t my thing. The murals from the war in the 80s were very interesting, though, as well as the “Freedom Wall” that separated the Catholic and Protestant sides of the city. They voted fairly recently to keep the wall intact, as it made them all feel safer. We visited the Titanic museum as well, as the ship was built and launched from there.

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The Red Hand of Ulster.

Overall, the trip was great. It was my first time in Europe, even if not on the mainland, and it was a great toe-dip in. I’d definitely go back if given the chance.

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Travels and More

Hey World! I’ve been lax at keeping up with this blog, mostly because I’ve been going through some depression/anxiety, new meds, new house, new guy, flux, flux, flux. You know how Buddhists say “Life is suffering?” To translate it correctly, it’s reallymore like, “Life is Flux,” and flux in inherently uncomfortable. Change is hard, but change can be for the better.

I always scold myself for not doing more. I am never, ever satisfied. There’s always something else that I can be doing, seeing, consuming, and more and more my interest has turned to travel. I’ve seen most of the US, I live in a city that is in a hurry all-the-goddamn-time, clearly our country is currently trash, and I think seeing other cultures really broadens you. You can realize your life doesn’t have to be as frantic as we all make it. Any time I travel it’s a test run for where I’ll ultimately live, cuz it’s looking less and less like it’ll be north america.

Now, I do go places. I always say to myself: why aren’t you traveling right now? Seeing the same sights in boring. Same couch, same floors, same walls, same halls…it all gives me hives. Brain hives. My brain gets itchy. Thing is, I never document going places. Maybe if I can look back and say, “oh, hey itchy brain, we literally just saw a new place two months ago” I can quell it for a while. So I’m going to try to document my travels now. First of the Travels section will be a bit of an info dump, cataloging the last couple years’ travels, then going forward will be intermittent. It’s mostly for me, and my itchy brain, but if y’all like it, cool. More to come soon.

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New Novel finished, Other news

Hi world!

I finished my newest book, editing and all, and now I’m shopping it around to agents. I’d like to get this book out to a wider audience than the last, so I’ll take my time finding the best venue to do that. I’m very excited to be getting some feedback and interest — I can’t wait to share this story and its characters with you all!

In other news, I am a semi-finalist in the Spring 2017 Screencraft Short Film Fund! Screenplays aren’t generally my medium, but every now and then a story comes to me that makes the most sense as a screenplay (same way some stories come through best as a short story, novella, or novel), and the one I submitted came out as one immediately.  Not sure how far into the competition this short will get, but I’m proud as hell to get this far! Cross your fingers for me — the quarterfinals are coming up.

I’ll keep this blog updated as I learn more, and of course if my novel inches any closer to publication.

Keep reading, keep writing, keep your head up,

C K Stackhouse

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Don’t Give a Fuck February

Well, hey World! Long time, no speak!

I’d like to shed light on a personal holiday of mine called Don’t Give a Fuck February (or Fuck Off February, depending on how combative you are). It isn’t a well-known holiday, not so much anyone outside of my circle of friends, but it’s an important one.

Did you know Black folk are fucking tired? That every single day of slogging through the world feels like a crippling burden? That it’s African American History Month? We should be jumping with glee — it’s our own month! The shortest month, but…

Speaking of African American History month, why in the hell is it February? I’d like to see the notes from the meeting that designated February our month, I mean, what were the justifications? Maybe the fact the Martin Luther King’s birthday is in that month?

Gotcha, folks. That shit’s in January. But January’s 31 whole days. So I seriously can’t see the rationale behind designating the month African Americans’ besides the fact that February is the shortest month, and therefore the shortest period of time this country could hold deference to the people they enslaved and then legally fucked over for centuries.

Month Designation Panel: How bout February? It’s the winter! Crisp air, fires in the hearth…

Black Delegation: We hate the cold. You know that.

Panel: C’mon, ice skating, hockey, good stuff!

Black Delegation: Massive side eye.

Panel: Look, guys, we gave away all the good months. At least you got something. Latino Heritage Month isn’t even its own month. You guys’ll take February and be grateful to get it.

Black Delegation: Yeah, we mad appreciative.

So I was one of only very few Black students at the Catholic schools I went to kindergarten through high school. Black History Month was a period of increased self-consciousness, as this was when teachers delved into the darkest corridor of American history and stole glances at me as they weaved their way through the curriculum (ahem, yet another instance in which the Catholic Church did nothing to condemn atrocity).  I hated this month. Now, there were documentaries on TV reminding us of what we had been through, and during the beautiful 8-year reprieve while Obama was president at least we had something positive to end these dregs through hell with. Now, with Professor Cheeto at the helm, we’ve returned to just feeling cast aside, demonized, and to be real, exhausted. This struggle is all the time, and I get THE MOST TIRED during February.

So for me, over time, during February, when triggers are at their utmost (do we need The Color Purple, Frutivale Station, History Channel and PBS documentaries and, AND Roots revival all in one month??), I’ve gotten to a calm, zen, quiet place where I just don’t give a fuck. For one month. ONE month. Dude, it’s like all the time and I just need one month to myself.

We get guilty, minorities and women I mean, when we step away for a moment. Well, don’t! One goddamn month, people! White activists will tell you that one can’t afford to take any time away, especially in this climate. Well you know what? It’s IMPERATIVE for minorities to take time away to combat fatigue. It’s different for people of color in this current climate, and there have to be spaces for reprieve.

So I proffer February as Don’t Give a Fuck month for African Americans. Colored People can look forward to this month to decompress, reboot, bolster for the year ahead. Every year. So for a month: voting rights in peril? Don’t give a fuck. Megalomaniac in office of PUSA? Don’t give a fuck. Beyonce having twins? I absolutely give a fuck, why didn’t you tell me sooner????

So, this is my month off. Seriously. I’m tired, I’m chillin’ and if you’re looking for a black chick that has two shits to rub together, get back at me in March.

Thaaaanks.

The Black Girl in the Room

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Snowmageddon 2016 — Here Comes the Sun

The storm broke last night (or early this morning) at about Midnight. The snow came down continuously until then, then the flakes became finer and finer, and finally let up. And this morning, the sun’s out.

So, now comes my least favorite part: digging out. But with the sun overhead, I might even enjoy it a little bit. I’ll pace myself. Digging my car out will be the first task.

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After that, I’ll dig out the driveway, and after some warm tea and a sit down, get out and clear the walkway up to the house and the rest of the drive.

Trying not to think of all of it at once, as it’s pretty overwhelming. Looks to be over two feet of snow out there, and the longer the sun’s out, the slushier and wetter it gets, and therefore heavier and harder to move. There are times when living alone has its downsides.

But upside: Mentally, still good! Made it through! The snow made some awesome icicles and snow patterns, the sun’s out, no one’s hurt (as far as I know), and the cleanup’s about to go down.

 

Hope Snowmageddon treated everyone else okay; from me, it’s an over-and-out.

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Snowmageddon 2016 — STILL continues

Holey moley. The snow keeps coming. It’s supposed to end sometime tonight, and be clear outside tomorrow. I hope so, cuz digging out is certainly going to take a couple days, and a girl’s gotta get to work. Even a girl driving a 2002 Honda Civic.

Here’s some pics from about 5 PM, Saturday. You can see, if you look closely, the righteous icicle action on the neighboring home, my car beneath that hump of snow, and the clearly southerly proclivity of the storm, tugging snow to the left on the green banister of my porch:

Mental state: Mellow. Did laundry, did some cleaning, feeling pretty good.

Cheers to this storm coming to close tonight, though. I’ll be sleeping on the couch like I did last night, watching the snow blow by the street lamps and create drifts over the ornamental grass. If I can drift off, that is. I feel a little like a kid, too excited to sleep on Christmas night. I think it’s that weird snow-day mentality. So exciting. Only less exciting because you have to dig yourownself out instead of your folks getting out there with their shovels. Drag.

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Snowmageddon 2016 — it continues

Well, it’s still snowing. Plus the winds have kicked in, so it’s hard to see out there. Most people (and animals, apparently) are staying inside; haven’t seen hide nor hair of anything today.

Mental state: Tired and bored. Didn’t sleep much last night, but spent a lot of time looking out the windows at the snow pouring down.

These pics are from when I woke up around 8 AM:

So good point: I’m still alive!

Not so good: I think I’m gonna be stuck here a while.

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