Monday, July 30, 2007

Pictures from Howth

We went to Howth about a month ago. This is a beautiful little seaside town just outside of Dublin. You can hike on the cliffs there and it is truly breathtaking. Yeats lived there for a period of time, and I can see how it can be a very poetic place to live. If I could go there alone, I'd love to sit on the edge of the cliffs and write a poem.

Here are some pictures from that trip of the scenery:

Typography School

I am currently doing some research for a paper I am writing about typesetting that will be a final project for one of my classes this summer. This research has proven a bit difficult to do over the web, because there is little credible information on print typesetting on the internet. I find information on wikipedia, blogs, and interestingly enough, You Tube.

In my efforts, I stumbled across this video:
Typography School

It's a short film about a man who still teaches his students how to use printing presses. It seems pretty obsolete to me. And I do agree that he is an elitist. Have a look at the video though, it's quite interesting, if you're a dork like me and like learning about typography and typesetting.

Well, this video won't help in the slightest with my own to the drawing board!

Making a Book Cover

So last week started out like every other week with just spreadsheets and manuscripts. I'm starting to think I can do my work in my sleep, and sometimes when I forget to have my tea in the morning, I pretty much am.

My supervisor feels terrible (such a sweet man!) that this is all I do and sometimes stands up for me and pesters people for jobs for me when I have tried to pester them and fail. Well, this time it paid off. I like working with Inka, who is the in-house typesetter and designer because her work, besides actual editing is the stuff I'm most interested in. So, thursday she comes up to me and explains they need a book cover designed by that night. She then asks me to do it. ALL BY MYSELF! I thought this was a huge honor, for them to trust me with a book cover when I have no experience or anything.

It wasn't exactly from scratch, the book is a guide for finding volunteer work abroad and they had already come out with a previous edition. They decided they hated their previous cover and wanted a whole fresh new look that didn't look so much like a text book. They also wanted a collage of images to make it more interesting and as with all non profits to have their logo on it in the exact dimensions, colors, etc. that they had indicated. They even had a specific font I needed to use for the title! It didn't help that their logo was cherry red and puke green (soooo hideous!) or that Inka informed me that we could only afford to buy one image, but still had to try for the collage effect.

It took a couple drafts and about an hour looking for "volunteer-y" pictures on image databases on the net, but I came up with three different designs and one was chosen by my superiors and sent directly to the authors and organization for approval. If it is accepted, it will actually be published! This piece will probably be the highlight of my portfolio for a long time! I knew there was a reason I took this internship, I've been on cloud nine ever since, even though I've had to read about 50 (not an exaggeration) short pieces on giving birth (we are coming out with a collected short story book about babies).


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Save Planned Parenthood

I usually don't get political on blogs, but this issue is seriously pissing me off. I'm on the planned parenthood mailing list, and I keep getting emails about how politicians are trying to shut them down! Since I'm living in another country right now, I cannot contact my representatives to do anything about it, so I thought I'd let some people on this blog know about it. Please, if you care about reproductive rights, read this email that I have copied onto the blog. Thanks, guys. :)

From Planned Parenthood:

The anti-family planning politicians are at it again. Congressman Mike Pence is introducing an amendment that restricts critical family planning funding. We've seen family planning funding restrictions before -- but this one is different. Rep. Pence's amendment specifically calls out Planned Parenthood and seeks to ban Planned Parenthood health centers nationwide from receiving family planning funding.

This amendment isn't just unconscionable, it's unconstitutional. It's an attempt to punish Planned Parenthood for standing up for women's health and rights and justice!

Each year, more than five million women receive comprehensive family planning services at family planning clinics that are funded by Title X. These women are predominantly poor and uninsured -- two-thirds have incomes at or below the federal poverty level. Title X provides a critical safety net for these women, and without it, many women would go without the health care they need and deserve. For many of these women, Planned Parenthood is the only provider they know and trust.

Time and time again, anti-family planning politicians put politics ahead of women's health. It's time to put a stop to these extremist policies. Call your member of Congress NOW and ask him or her to VOTE NO on the Pence Amendment to the Labor-HHS spending bill and to speak on the floor against this attack on Planned Parenthood.

Representative Mike Rogers
(202) 225-4872

Call your Member of Congress now and tell your Representative that it's time to stand up for women's health!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

One Month Left

Today is the 11th of July. I come home on the 11th of August. That means I have exactly one month until I come home, one month until all my papers are due, one month left of my life in Ireland.

I have mixed feelings. On one hand, I really miss my family, my friends, and certain aspects of my life back home (like working at OMERAD!) but on the other, I absolutely love the life I have created for myself here. I love Dublin, I love Europe, I love all the people I surround myself with.

Oddly enough today was the first time I experienced real homesickness. I just wanted to call home or call Ethan and I couldn't and it made me really upset. So, in some ways, being home will be a relief and communication will be a lot easier.

I think the reason I got to feeling so homesick today is I got an email from Liz yesterday. She described to me her adventures in Mexico and I am so proud of all the work she is doing and she made me homesick for her. She truly is my lifelong best friend, we've experienced so much of each other together and apart that our lives become inevitably intertwined even though we are thousands of miles apart. The email was definitely bittersweet because it made me realize that I will not see her for another 4 months even after I return home.

This weekend I am going to Paris and I couldn't be more thrilled. I belong there, no mistake about it. Without knowing I'm a french major and entirely obsessed with the culture, my friends here have commented on my unique and "french" presence. Hopefully the french won't realize I'm a phoney :)

I have fallen really behind on this blog and I apologize to anyone who reads it regularly, which I think is Leah and my mother, haha. I'm working on about 6 entries right now, so in about a week be sure to scroll down and you will find more pictures accompanied by hilarious stories!

With that, I will leave to finish Harry Potter the book in preparation for seeing Harry Potter the movie tomorrow. I am so excited I could cry. To those of you I know, see you in a month.


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Paris, je t'aime

Ever since I got to Dublin I’ve wanted to take advantage of my big city living and go to an independent film centre. Within my first weeks, a coworker had already told me the name of one: The Irish Film Institute. It became one of those things I’ve been meaning to do but never quite get around to doing (along with going to bingo night hosted by a drag queen and going to see a Gaelic football match). When Courtney was in town, I was determined to get out into town and do more stuff that I would miss doing back home (not that I don’t get my fill of indie films). So, the last day she was here, we decided to go to a film at the institute.

We had tried previous to Sunday night, but unfortunately the film we had wanted to see was sold out…and for good reasons. We were smart on Sunday, though, and purchased our tickets in advance.

First, I’d like to describe the theatre. Tucked away on the distinctive cobblestone streets of Temple Bar, the IFI is a very popular spot on Saturday and Sunday nights. Maybe other nights, too, but I’ve only been there on those days. From the outside, the theatre looks very discreet, marked only by a small sign and a neon blue hoop that marks its location, so it’s very easy to walk by and not notice. When you walk inside you come across a long dimly lit hallway with a floor that illuminates and directs you towards the center area of the theater. Here, the ceiling shoots up and the space opens up into a nice meeting area. The bare brick walls are covered in recent and antique movie posters. In one corner, there is a cute little pub (where my supervisor and I had a cuppa one time!), next to which is a little café where you can get desserts, coffee, tea, and Hagen Daas ICECREAM. In the other corner sits a cute bookshop filled with books about film study, theater, and cinema in general.

After entering the theater the night of the movie, we had already bought our tickets, so we skipped the line and waited until the theater was open and we could choose our seats. While waiting, we all decided we needed some Hagen Daas, which pretty much ended up being our dinner because it was 6 pm. I got praline icecream and couldn’t be more excited to enjoy my icecream while watching a French film. Finally, after queuing for about 15 minutes we were allowed to enter the theater. It had tall ceilings just like the meeting area and a huge floor entirely filled with rows and rows of seating. This theater seemed odd because the rows weren’t split up at all, so they were rows of about 50 seats with no break. We sat in the middle and realized that the rows were so tightly packed together there was almost no legroom. I tried not to think about what would happen in there if there were a fire.

Now I’d like to shift into an overview and review of the actual movie, titled Paris, je t’aime. A lot of the technical information for the movie I got from The Internet Movie Database.

Paris, je t’aime is a conceptual film that was dreamed up by writers Tristan Carné and Emmanuel Benbihy. The concept included bringing together fabulous directors from around the world, including such favorites as Wes Craven, the Coen Brothers, and Alfonso Cuarón (the director of the Motorcycle Diaries and HARRY POTTER and the Prisoner of Azkaban), and inviting them to create a short vignette (5-8 minutes in length) around the theme of love and it had to be set in Paris. From this concept were born 21 vignettes that were set in different arondissements and were as uniquely different as can be, but still all tied back to the theme of love. At the end of the film, some of the stories were connected together to show how people’s lives can come together and we are all connected through our emotions and experiences in ways that might not be outwardly realized. The vignettes were a whirlwind tour of Paris, exploring themes ranging from tumultuous French politics to falling in love to losing a loved one to existing in a life without love to falling in love with Paris as an American tourist (the last one made me giggle incessantly) featuring a cast of famous Hollywood and French actors including some of my favorites: Gaspard Ulliel, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Natalie Portman, Steve Buscemi, Juliette Binoche, Willem DaFoe, Gerard Depardieu (also directed), Elijah Wood, among others.

Since it would take forever to describe all the stories, I’ve selected a few I thought were especially cute or poignant or both and I will analyze and give a brief overview of them.

“Faubourg Saint-Denis”

This vignette started with a blind boy on his laptop listening to music. All of a sudden the phone rings and he hears the voice of his girlfriend.

There are times when life calls out for a change. A transition. Like the seasons. Our spring was wonderful, but summer is over now and we missed out on autumn. And now all of a sudden, it's cold, so cold that everything is freezing over. Our love fell asleep, and the snow took it by surprise. But if you fall asleep in the snow, you don't feel death coming.

He instantly hangs up the phone, devastated, thinking she has broken up with him. He then flashes back to the first time they met. He was walking along a back street and hears a girl screaming at a man begging to be let out of a room. Thinking there was trouble, he rushed to her window and asked what was going on. Around turns Natalie Portman, saying, “I’m rehearsing a scene, what are you…blind?” He replies, “Yes, I am.” And they fall in love. The next section of the movie is a whirlwind tour of their relationship.

“she would scream loudly for no reason”

He justified her phone call by explaining that they had been drifting apart, that the seasons of their love really had set into a winter, their love was in hibernation. The piece was a very accurate and brutal portrayal of young, immature love.

The present flashes back and the boy receives another phone call. He wipes away a tear and answers. It’s Natalie Portman, asking why he hung up. She goes on to explain that she was rehearsing a scene.


This was possibly the funniest story in the movie, obviously, because the Coen brothers did it (reference O Brother where art thou? and Fargo). The scene begins with a man (Steve Buscemi) sitting in a metro station, reading his tour book. Anyone who travels knows all about tour books and whether they are helpful or not. Some people swear by them, some would rather discover things for themselves. I prefer the latter, but Buscemi’s character is an avid follower of his tour book. He reads about the history of some of the famous tourist attractions in Paris, and then he reads that it is the lover’s capital of the world. He then notices some people across the tracks making out. All of a sudden, he is hit by a spitball and sees a bratty kid sitting with his grandmother. He looks back at his tour book and it tells him to avoid eye contact. He thinks this is odd and then looks up. The woman currently in lip lock across the way is staring right into his eyes. He makes eye contact. He freaks out. What will happen next?

Buscemi ends up getting kissed by a herpes-infested French girl, beaten to a pulp by her boyfriend, and left lying on the floor of the metro station for the next train to come. Before the scene ends, the young kid spits another spitball at him.

Moral of the story: always heed your tour book.

“Loin de 16eme”

A Spanish woman is shown lying in bed. Her alarm rings. The time says 4:30 am. She gets up and gets ready for the day. She gets on a series of public transportation with her baby, she probably lives in the HLM, which makes a very long and tedious commute to work every day. She walks into a dimly lit, dingy room with about 50 cribs that serves as her baby’s daycare. The baby cries. She sings it a song.

The woman then travels on another long series of transportation to her job. She falls asleep, she wakes up, and she looks exhausted, weary, and sad. She arrives in metropolitan Paris at a very well to do home. She walks in and is clearly a maid/caregiver. The matron of the house leaves and she is left alone again. She sighs. She hears a baby cry. She sighs. She walks to the baby and stares at it. (Why should you be crying…you have everything.)? She sings it the same song, with far less gusto.

This piece, although the only dialogue was basically her singing this Spanish song, was the most poignant of the film. It portrayed the trials an immigrant mother in France must overcome to support her own baby, sacrificing her own happiness and time with her baby to create a better life for it in the end. This piece made me very sad, as it should have.

I just realized how long this post is and decided not to cover the last two stories I wanted to. Just see the film :-)

Monday, July 9, 2007

A chat about my life in general

My tasks at this internship right now have become pretty regular and steady. In the morning I make spreadsheets that contain contact information for every single Professor in certain departments in about 20 universities around Ireland. If you ever want to consider going to school here, I can give you a wealth of information on it because I spend so much time perusing their sites.

In the afternoon, I head upstairs to the publishing department and spend my afternoon reading manuscripts. Since both of these tasks need to be completed soon and there's lots of work to do, this is what I've been working on for the past week and a half. It gets boring, but it has to be done by someone.

The other day while reading manuscripts I was chatting with the managing editor, Deirdre, as usual. She mentioned that she had to send one of the manuscripts off that afternoon to the editor so it could meet its deadline. I jumped at this opportunity to finally ask how things are run around here in the editorial department. Since, she is the only editor on staff, I always wondered how they got everything edited and where they sent it to, etc. She uses a few trusted freelance editors to help her with the editing process. She's met these people throughout her years of experience and she'll use each for different projects, different aspects of publishing, etc. I then asked how she found these people, and if they had just been hired from looking at their CV's (resumes) what she looked for in their education and experience. Overall it was a really great conversation. I even asked her what she honestly thought about my major versus an English degree, to which her response was that she would almost take the Professional Writer over an English major because our education is more honed in undergraduate than is an English majors'. I then took the opportunity to ask about grad school. She suggested that if I were really serious about publishing to get a degree in publishing or editing rather than in english, creative writing, or professional writing. These degrees were too theoretical to be practical in the real world. Then she went on to actually suggest grad schools! Higher education is much cheaper in Ireland and the UK versus in the States and she suggested a couple of great Masters degree programs in Publishing: one in Galway, one in Scotland, and one at Oxford. I don't know if I could actually see myself living here for a long period of time rains too damn much, haha!

I'm glad I jumped at the opportunity to ask questions, because I think I learned more about editing and what I want to do with my Professional Writing degree in that 45 minute talk than the rest of the time I've been here. It really got me thinking seriously about whether I want to go into book publishing, pursue my other career dream of translating, work for a music magazine (always thought that would be cool), or scrapping everything and being a ski bum/instructor for the rest of my life...okay maybe not the last one.

Monday, July 2, 2007

You might think I'm really competent...

But you'd be wrong. This summer abroad is my first time living on my own, completely. I have lived away from home before, but I've never been completely independent from my parents, my friends, and my general "comfort zone." This is my first time living outside of my hometown. On one hand, I am absolutely loving it, but on the other hand I am realizing how incompetent I am on my own. Hopefully, it'll get better as I learn how to be independent responsibly.

Today I decided to take deliberate action against my stupid mistakes after I made a completely avoidable one. (well they are all avoidable) After living in Dublin for a month and a half, I managed to take home the wrong bus. I think I was really tired and not paying attention or something, but all of a sudden, I was in a very unfamiliar part of town and being thrown off the bus because it was the end of the line. Oh. my. god. You do not want to not know where you are in a big city. What's worse is the ATM I stopped at on the way home from work wasn't working so I had no cash that I could use to hop a taxi. Imagine my roommate's shock when I call him with the words: "I just got kicked off a bus and I have no idea where I am." This story has a happy ending, though, but I've decided to be more cautious and to take better care of myself. No one is here to pick up my slack or watch over my shoulder like at home. I have to be my own mom here :)

I'd like to give you a list of some of the stupid things I have done, and hopefully learned from, while in Dublin (in no particular order):

1. Dropped a ten dollar bill on the ground
2. Lost all of my friends at a club and had to wait outside for them for two hours in fear of having to get a taxi home by myself
3. Got kicked off a train in can read further into this story in a previous post
4. Woke up having no idea where I was
5. Dropped a shoe on the side of the road, or a bus, never to be seen again
6. Dropped my phone in the sink while the water was running
7. Spent money thinking it was dollars and not euros and being horrified at my bank account after said purchases
8. Bought moldy bread
9. burnt meat in the microwave because I didn't know you had to put the microwave on "defrost"
10. Offended people from Northern Ireland with my ignorance
11. Lost a scarf that I bought only weeks earlier (sometimes I think someone stole it)

I will update this list as more stupid stuff arises. Hopefully, I have learned my lesson a thousand times over with these mistakes, however.