Sunday, June 19, 2016

Ireland: Day 2

FRIDAY, MAY 13, 2016

Walking to Trinity College to see the Book of Kells didn't afford us the opportunity to hear much of the local language. Conversations became background noise as we entered the college grounds.

Honestly, the only draw I felt to the Book of Kells is the huge undertaking and great accomplishment that it was for the times.

One of the most interesting things about the Book of Kells is that there were a number of different monks who had a hand in its creation. While it was not unusual for scribes and artist to embellish the copies they wrote, the intricacies and dedication to detail shown in the Book of Kells is truly remarkable!

The symbols of the Four Evangelists (from Wikipedia)
Written over a thousand years ago, the Book of Kells is proof of the talented artisans living in Ireland at the time.

Not only does the Book of Kells share the gospel of Christ, it also incorporates imagery and symbology from ancient Celtic beliefs. Throughout the book, Celtic crosses, knot work, and creatures can be seen in vivid, full color detail.

I was impressed most by the use of color in the Book of Kells. From the commonly used yellow ochre to the highly expensive lapis lazuli, pigments were gathered from as far away as Southeast Asia.

Even today, the artwork contained in the Book of Kells is easily seen and enjoyed in its original, hand-written state. It remains nearly pristine on the vellum pages and can be viewed on a daily basis by visitors to Trinity College.

The Latin in which the Book of Kells, the Book of Darrow, and the Book of Armagh are written is the language used by the Catholic church. What is interesting about this is that, while it is a dead language, Latin is still widely used in Catholic church ceremonies around the world. Not so dead after all, is it?

The Long Room
Above the exhibition floor is the Long Room. Originally the main chamber of the Old Library, this room now contains over 200,000 of the oldest books in the Trinity College Library collection. These books are shelved on the original shelves and in gallery bookcases. Being able to see materials that are hundreds of years old is a priceless opportunity that I won't soon forget!
As an aside, I was allergic to Trinity College. During our entire visit to Ireland, I only had an allergic reaction at the college. Alas, I will never be an archivist if I'm allergic to the materials I am supposed to be working with!  :P
In addition to the many priceless books at the Trinity College Library, there is also a harp. The oldest surviving harp in Ireland, it is an emblem of the early bardic societies.

After a brief communication snafu, Miranda, Bree, Sara, Brianna and I found a coffee shop with WiFi. We spent almost thirty minutes getting to know each other better. Just like the coffee shops back home, students were completing work and friends were meeting to catch up with one another. Some things appear to be universal and coffee shops being a place for the community is one such thing. Yay!
My instructor made the following note in my journal. "So glad you did all become friends! --Doug B."

Though small, our next stop proved to be quite an interesting little museum. The collection of the Dublin Writers Museum is housed in an 18th century mansion. The building has suffered from water damage and parts of the exhibit had been removed for restoration.

Even with the missing pieces, the items remaining in the exhibit and the self-guided audio tour painted a memorable image of the historical significance of Irish writers and literature.

We were even able to see Samuel Beckett's infamous telephone! He had special buttons that would block or allow calls only when he desired them and only his close friends new when the accept calls button would be pressed.

The reading of an excerpt from Bram Stoker's Dracula had be grinning long after I heard it. The dramatic flare of this most famous vampire story isn't particularly poetic, but it is vivid and imaginative. I would love to read Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan La Fanu. It would be very interesting to compare the two stories that, quite possibly, started the tradition of vampire novelizations.

After the tour, I made a point of talking with the security guard. I asked him why he chose the job he now held. I was rewarded by his reply that the opportunity to meet people from all around the world is what makes his job so rewarding. We talked a little about American politics and it was most entertaining to see how his accent became more pronounced as he became more and more passionate about the topic.

The Irish do not like Donald Trump in the least.

Walking the streets of Dublin on Friday night was a wonder! The city was absolutely buzzing with activity; both locals and tourists enjoying the beautiful weather, taking to the streets with friends and family. I heard so many accents during this first evening in the city; from German and Swedish to Korean and British and, of course, the native Irish lilt.

Celeste, Christine, Brianna, and I walked for absolutely AGES trying to find something for dinner! It seemed that every place we stopped was closed and we began to wonder if we should just find a convenience store and grab something from the shelves. When we finally found a restaurant we all liked the sound of, it turned out that they were out of the menu items we wanted. *sigh*
Finally, we decided on "authentic oriental food" and ate at the Noodle House. Yay, food!

The girl in the restaurant where we ate dinner spoke with a British accent, calling the bathroom a loo instead of toilet. She was very kind and explained that chicken gougan is sliced chicken breast, breaded and cooked.

I am curious to find out if the chicken gougan recipe matches at all with that of a chichen nugget or strip.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Ireland: Day 1

I will be sharing a series of posts about a recent study abroad trip to Ireland I took with my sister, Brianna.

While in Ireland, we were required to keep a daily journal for the World Literature II class that was included in our final grade at the end of the trip... These posts will be all of what I wrote in the journal, additional thoughts (which will be indented), and pictures that weren't shared with family via my Facebook page.

THURSDAY, MAY 12, 2016

Conveniently, we flew out of Memphis International.
Meeting at the Memphis International Airport, all seven study abroad students in one place, made this trip suddenly real!

Snacks aboard our Delta flight. *nom nom nom*
I was too tired from my first international flight to notice more than the new accents in the Dublin airport. The first, and most readily noticeable, was the Irish accents and the second was that of the neighboring Brits.
Our final assignment for the World Literature class was to write about the language in Ireland. What were the differences? Nuances that we heard? Accents? Did the Irish use different words for things than Americans? It was quite a broad assignment and it was difficult to get into because of that.
I had heard Irish accents before traveling to Ireland, so it wasn't really a shock to hear the accent again. In fact, it was really nice to hear the almost musical quality of the lilting language as the locals talked with us.
One of the most different things I noticed while in Ireland was how nice everyone was. People in Ireland seemed to be genuinely kind and, in every interaction I had with them, they were interested in me as a person and making sure that I enjoyed every part of my trip.
That first evening, Brianna and I walked a classmate, Celeste, back to her hotel. Because of a scheduling snafu, our group was split between two different hotels while in Dublin. On the return trip, we stopped at a McDonald's restaurant for Street Passes. I only recently got into playing games on the Nintendo 3DS and (thanks to Corey B.) became addicted to collecting as many street passes as I possibly could... What better place to get exotic street passes than across the pond?

I was hoping that the menu (and staff) would say chips instead of fries, but it was not to be. I contented myself to eating a small order of french fries.
Interestingly, McDonald's is one of Ireland's largest employers and they started operating in the country in 1977! This is not something that I think is all that amazing, it's just interesting. I've never been a huge fan of fast food, but it was fascinating to see the different menu items they offered that I've never seen in America...
  • Fish fingers
  • Sugar donut
  • Twisty fries
  • Chocolate filled donut
  • "Toasties" for breakfast
We went to sleep that first night exhausted and excited all at once. 

Monday, June 6, 2016

Beautiful People #1 | June Edition

The Beautiful People meme, created by the Paper Fury blog, is a way for writers to get to know their characters better.  When I found this meme, it looked really interesting and (though it took awhile to get started) I decided to start with the first edition.

Join me and get to know Quill and the other characters from my 398.2 novels...
June 2015 Edition

What is their full name and is there a story behind why they got it?
     Quinton Caldwell. His nickname is "Quill," which he received from classmates due to the first ad last letters of his name... Qui-ll.

How old are they, and when were they born?
     Quill is 27-years-old and was born on December 21 during the winter solstice.

Describe their physical appearance. (Bonus questions: 1. What is their race/ nationality/ ethnicity? 2. Do you have a picture of them? If so, include it!) 
     Quill is happy to claim that he is five feet and eight inches tall, just a little shorter than his best friend Ransom. He has green eyes. If he could ever decide just what he wants to do with it, Quill would get his hair dyed anything other than the mouse brown it is now. He thinks it is boring and one-note in both color and texture.
     Though they've lived in the United States for the last four generations, Quill's family is of both German and English descent.

Describe your character’s personality first in one word, and then elaborate with a few sentences. 
     Quiet. When excited, Quill does tend to speak on the too fast side, but he is normally soft-spoken and is careful to enunciate his words clearly. Quill's favored form of exercise is yoga and running. He wakes early in order to perform sun salutations each day and runs three times a week, weather permitting.

What theme song(s) fit their personality and story arc?
     For the first book in this series, Adventures in Solitude by The New Pornographers fits best with both Quill's personality and the arc of the story.

Which one of the seven deadly sins describes your character?
     If pressed, Quill might admit to being greedy about his books.

If they were an element (fire, water, earth, air), which one would they be?
     If Quill were an element, he would be air because it is able to move through and around things.

What is their favorite word? 
     Quill's favorite word? That is certainly a difficult question, since all words are just a combination of 26 letters (in the English alphabet).

Who’s one person they really miss?
     His best friend since childhood, Ransom Sanders.

What sights, sounds, and smells remind them of that person?
     Being outdoors, in the woods, always reminds Quill of his friend. In their youth, Ransom and Quill often camped in their backyards, spent time in their tree-house, and explored the nearby forest.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Beautiful People #17 | May Edition

The Beautiful People meme, created by Cait at Paper Fury and Skye at Further Up and Further In, is a way for writers to get to know their characters better. This entry is my first time actually linking to the meme, but be on the lookout as I fill out older questionnaires from the site.

Join me and get to know Quill and the other characters from my 398.2 novels...
May 2016 Edition

How often do they smile? Would they smile at a stranger?
     Quill finds himself smiling almost daily at the antics of his owl-friend, Des. He tries to be kind to strangers and hopes that by sharing a smile with someone, he can make their day a little better.

What is the cruelest thing they’ve ever been told? And what was their reaction?
     The cruelest thing Quill was ever told was that he was an abomination and that he needed to be cured of his sickness. Even with the support of his friends and family, Quill continues to struggle with the memory of these harsh words. He has never reconciled with the Uncle who said these things.

What is the kindest thing they’ve ever been told? And what was their reaction?

What is one strong memory that has stuck with your character from childhood? Why is it so powerful and lasting?
     The most memorable event of Quill's childhood is his sister, Elizabeth's first birthday. He remembers being confused (and frustrated) that he wasn't allowed to have a piece of cake... even though 'Lizabet was too little to have any. Ransom got some and he was only a little bit older than Quill. It just wasn't fair to a seven-year-old Quill.
     The reason he remembers this so well, is because it is one of the first times he was allowed to hold his sister without one of his parents helping him.

What book (a real actual published book!) do you think your character would benefit from reading?
    "The Wisdom of the Shire: A Short Guide to a Long and Happy Life" by Noble Smith.

Have they ever been seriously injured? How severely? How did they react?
     No, Quill has never been seriously injured. He was accident prone as most children can be and experienced his own fair share of scrapes and bruises, but hasn't broken anything nor has he needed any surgeries.

Do they like and get along with their neighbors?
     Back home, yes, Quill gets along with all of his neighbors. He grew up with many of them, so they are long-time friends of his family.
     Quill hasn't had the chance to get to know many of his new neighbors in the apartment complex in Montana. Some of them keep odd hours and others seem to party long into the night, so he isn't sure if they will get along when they finally meet.

On a scale from 1 to 10 (1 being easy and 10 being difficult) how easy are they to get along with?
     Those who have met him would say that Quill is fairly easy to get a long with. He can be a little withdrawn and quiet until he gets to know someone, but after that first hurdle is passed things 

If they could travel anywhere in the world, where would they go?
     If he could travel anywhere, Quill would choose to go to Alaska. The landscapes are amazing and both the people and animals that call the area home are resilient. He would love the opportunity to spend time exploring and learning about the culture of the area.

Who was the last person they held hands with?
     Excluding handshakes, the last person Quill held hands with was Ransom.