Monday, September 30, 2013

Student Life: Staying in and Studying (Cat Videos).

It gets to that point in the semester when you realise you might actually have to submit some assignments. That's what happened this weekend in our house. Suddenly we were all faced with deadlines and tests and there was no way to avoid it. As responsible adults we decided to stay in and study. We retired to our rooms and at first things went well.
It lasted a couple of hours before one of us got distracted and started sending the others life-changing videos from youtube. 
Soon we were all sitting in our rooms pretending to work. I tried my best to pen a verse or two, but simply ended up writing ridiculous ditties about cat videos. 
The spell had been broken. A break was needed. So we spent the next three hours drinking tea.
We found out things about each other as we wiled the hours away with heart to hearts. 
It was clear no work was going to be done. I decided to try out a new pilates regime. Sure it would cleanse my mind of viral cat videos and get me back to writing semi-coherent sentences. Bored, one of my housemates watched and gave pointers.
The whole episode resulted in a catastrophic loss of balance and some minor facial injuries. 
While I sat cursing the pilates ball. My housemates bounced about on it like two hyperactive three year olds. Displaying their version of interpretive pilates. 
We seriously needed to get back to work. But our concentration was waning. We needed food. Rather than order something in, or make something quick like well-adjusted adults who have their priorities in order, we decided to spend a couple of hours cooking ourselves a proper meal. 
Then there was the time spent consuming the spoils of our efforts. In the moments that followed nothing mattered except for how much food we could fit into our mouths without looking like complete heathens.
Revitalized we stood up, ready now to take on the world of study. We made it half-way across the living room before we started dropping like flies as the food hit our stomachs. 
We may not have gotten any work done. But by process of trial and error we did finally figure out what the pilates ball was good for. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

When a Two Year Old Falls Madly in Unrequited Love

My little sister was pretty adorable when she was small. By small I mean two. At about that age she was fairly convinced of her own cute-factor and used it to her advantage.
She became a bit of a love-crazed lunatic. She fell in love on a daily basis and latched onto her victim, with or without their encouragement.
 For the most part people didn't mind too much, it was cute, she was after all just a very enthusiastic baby. She never seemed to notice rejection or perhaps she didn't believe in it. She also didn't exercise discrimination or notice social cues. Pretty much anyone would do, however hostile. 
She had a one track mind and when she saw someone she loved this was always what happened. 
Then came the one person she wanted to notice her, but didn't. My parents hired a builder to put up an extension and he basically stepped all over my little sisters fawning. He seemed completely oblivious to her two year old advances.
She was not one to give up. She decided to make him notice. She started playing with cement.
She built little stone walls out of rocks to impress him. 
And then she took things too far. She scaled a ladder in her attempts to follow him.
My mother had to keep her indoors when the builder was over. She was no longer allowed to pursue the love of her life. Needless to say she was distraught. 
It wasn't long before she found her next victim though and it was mutual. He was a Galway hurler visiting with some trophy the team won and he put her in the trophy for a photo op. All thoughts of my sister's builder paled in comparison to her first taste of being a trophy wife. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

My Big Fat Greek Nightmare (Part Three of Three)

After a lot of long distance phone calls and reassurance from my family, I decided it was time to leave. But there was no way I was leaving without being paid for at least one month of this Greek nightmare. So I booked my flights for the end of my first month, I had two weeks left to pass and I did my best to act casual.

But the excitement was too much. The Greek brothers watched me suspiciously. 
It became clear I was going to need to appear a little more miserable. I started an extensive exercise regime so that I would be too exhausted to smile. I tried exploring the island on long, long, long runs. I spent most of these runs being chased by goats. 
After one particularly alarming near-death experience. I asked them what I should do when the goats attacked. It was the general consensus that I should lie down on the ground. I imagined the result of such a ridiculous suggestion and opted to avoid lying down in the path of charging goats.
To pass the time I tried socialising. After someone produced an old coke bottle filled with a clear liquor called Raki, I decided it was best not to drink anything I was offered. This resulted in me being the only sober one at multiple parties and therefore being the only one concerned for general health and safety. 
It also resulted in me being the only one even mildly alarmed by some of the bizarre things that happened at these parties. 
To be fair I got myself into my own fair share of bizarre situations. I spent a good five minutes hanging onto our trellis for dear life after deciding it was the perfect place to do pull-ups. I completely forgot the fact that I had never managed to do one before and decided the added death-drop would push me to be able to achieve one. 
Finally, after the slowest and strangest two weeks of my life, it was time to leave. My bags were packed and all I had to do was walk the two miles to the airport, against the wind, in the blazing heat of midday. I got about four hundred meters before I started praying. 
And surprisingly my prayers were answered. Albeit, my prayers weren't very specific and the non-english speaking Albanian man who swooped me up into his dodgy red van while he kept shouting "Taxi, Taxi," was a little alarming. But when faced with heat stroke or abduction I now know that I will ask no questions and take abduction any day. It's important to know these things about yourself.

So that was that. The Albanian man, thankfully, dropped me at the airport in one semi-sane-piece. All I had to do was board my plane and I was free. There I was sitting in the window seat of the same rust bucket I flew in on, when I turned to see who sat down beside me. It was my Greek suitor from the bar who had wanted to raise goats behind the airport with me. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

My Big Fat Greek Nightmare (Part Two of Three)

My first days in Greece were spent with a childish fervour for everything. I spent hours just staring at the blue ocean, walking barefoot in the sand and attempting to cartwheel with joy. The cartwheeling was painful and didn't get me very far, but it seemed necessary in order to capture the feeling. Who could possibly go to Greece and not cartwheel?
 I took pictures of everything. Uploaded them to Facebook and smiled to myself as everyone reported back their jealousy.
It wasn't long before I started to really notice how "hot" it was. I spent much of my time gasping for water and looking a little like this...
I started working and was reintroduced to the brothers. All of whom were as odd as I remembered and all of whom maintained their strange personalities with odd persistence. The grunting brother continued to merely grunt, my boss continued to warble on about all sorts of nonsense, and the other brother spent much of his time waxing lyrical about Jesus being Greek. I was relieved when my boss introduced me to his daughters, but that was short lived as one was the kind of child that spends all her time finding spiders to throw at you and the other had been expecting me to be best friends with One Direction.
Work was boring at first. A simple list of cleaning tasks and then I could go home. The cycle home was to be achieved by cycling on a bike built for a ten year old, it was actually the ten year old's bike as apparently I was short enough not to need an adults one, against a wind that practically stopped the bike in it's tracks.
 . I spent my free hours running up mountains 
And inventing ways of generating air conditioning in my apartment.
It soon transpired that I was allergic to the sun and broke out in a hideous rash. The only way to avoid the rash was to remain inside.
Then work started to get busier. We started to get an assortment of customers. Mostly Greek men who were friends of the brothers and most of them were quite old and creepy. At first I was polite but then things like this started to happen. 
At bar parties I was expected to mingle with the customers and generally make sure they were having fun. This resulted in me being groped on the dance floor while trying to take drink orders. This had not been part of the job description. I became suddenly aware that... 
The men soon got weirder. There was one that came to the bar every day and spoke for five hours straight about Kentucky. Anytime it went silent he would bulge his eyes out and scream "Yee Haw Kentucky". He was to say the least a charmer. 
There were other men too, liberal ones who tried to explain to you that some Greek men acted that way because of the way foreign girls were... 
And then there was just the stereotypical Greek men that tried all sorts of inventive chat up lines on me. 

Finally there was my boss and his mood swings. He would scream relentlessly at me till I cried one minute and the next try to pat me on the back and send me for a walk. It was all getting a little much. 
I began to plot realistically about how I was going to escape the situation...
Thankfully in the midst of everything I realised I could Skype my sisters in pigeon-irish and nobody would know what I was saying. I could tell them what was really happening...
It was obvious I needed to plan an elaborate escape and so, with the help of the Irish language and my sisters, I began to plot.

Monday, September 2, 2013

My Big Fat Greek Nightmare (Part One of Three)

Full time jobs with sensible career options are hard to come by in our current economy. So you can imagine that after I quit mine, in a fit of self-righteous morals, I panicked a little. Actually it might be more appropriate to say that I had a bit of a melt-down. During which I came up with highly probable worst-case scenarios.
Then, as we all do during our various crises, I turned to the master of the universe, the source of all our knowledge and the one that can answer even the most ludicrous questions.
After a while I had figured out what I wanted to do with my life. I did at least half an hour of thorough research on Google images and made sure I had a realistic visualisation of what my plan would result in. 
I was going to spend the summer on what looked to be a small Greek paradise. I would bar tend a little and lounge about a lot. I prepared myself accordingly and so it was that a month or so later I was skipping off to Greece equipped with three bottles of water-proof factor 50 sun block. What could possibly go wrong?
It was all going smoothly until we got to Athens airport and we got to see the rust-bucket that would be transporting us to the tiny island of Karpathos. 
Tactfully the air-crew attempted to distract us for the first five minutes with jellies. Presumably so we wouldn't look out the window and notice that the planes wings appeared to still be under construction.
But I was not fooled. I gaped out the window, knowing I was doomed.
It wasn't long before I forgot all about being in a rust bucket though. I was joined in my tiny seat by possibly the largest women that had ever been on the plane. I tried not to stare, I tried to give her more of my seat and be polite. I was thwarted when our air hostess came down with a seat belt extension. I'd never seen one before and the fact slipped straight from my mouth.
 We sat in the most uncomfortable silence. I thought of ways to make it up to her. Small talk about weight watchers? Maybe ask her about the island? In the end the perfect opportunity arose. We were given complimentary peanuts which my seat-partner managed to swallow in one impressive gulp. 
The way I saw it she really liked peanuts and I really didn't. So considering it a peace offering I brandished my own bag and smiled at her: "Would you like mine too?" It's probably clear to any rational person that this wasn't the brightest move. I was expecting a grateful smile and to see her impressive one-gulp-bag-of-peanut-consumption trick again. But that's not what I got, oh no, this is... 
At this point, I gave up. I sat there in awkward silence and listened to the plane rattle. We eventually landed and hysterical laughter broke out across the passengers. I'm quite glad they waited till we landed to erupt into nervous fits as hysterical communal laughter would have terrified me any earlier in the flight. We had to bus across the car park to get to the airport. It was swelteringly hot and they drove us the impressive distance of fifty meters to the small white building. To be honest I was quite relieved I was already feeling over-heated. 
I landed in Karpathos and waited in baggage collection where I was met by my boss and the chef that would be cooking our meals. 
They took me to eat at the Taverna and to meet the other brothers that helped run the business. The chef was a great big Romanian man who didn't appreciate me telling him that he sounded a little like Dracula. He went off to cook me food, after it turned out that their version of "I can cook you anything," meant " I will make you pasta."
I then sat eating my pasta in front of a row of brothers and the chef. There was one brother who seemed to only know how to grunt and sneer, my boss who rambled on about parties, his other brother that kept talking about God and Greece and then the chef who asked every two minutes "How is the food?"
I tried to remember their names, I tried to imagine who the grunting brother had murdered and why and mostly I thought about getting back on the plane. But it was only day one, so I settled for sitting there and trying not to look like this...

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