I woke up at 9:15 this morning and promptly rolled over and fell back asleep. In case you don’t know me that well, I’m a morning person by nature. No, seriously; that’s the jet lag’s doing. I certainly wasn’t planning to sleep until 11:30, spend fifteen minutes mentally forcing myself to wake up, and another thirty puttering around the house with a mug of Basia’s magic tea in hand still trying to wake up. Goodness! By the time I actually left for Dublin, it was a quarter to three!
Hopefully, I’ll wake up a bit earlier tomorrow. I want to see a Dublin sunrise at some point (this will become more feasible as the days grow shorter, right?), and sleeping ’til noon is no way to do that. Still and all, I did make it to the city. I even made it to TCD campus with enough energy to explore a bit. That was my favorite part because of the people I met there, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
This particular beauty is in Leixlip, not Dublin, but I’m including it because it is downright stunning. I’m not even sure what’s under the paint — a generator, perhaps? Something electrical, in all likelihood, but I know little of the metal objects that frequent sidewalks in urban areas.
Moving into Dublin, I maintain the notion that Philly needs to up its game. A lot.
And that’s not even all I saw today. I mean, come on, Philadelphia. We’ve got the murals down pat — better than those I’ve seen in Dublin — but these put our graffitied train stations to absolute shame!
In other sightings: a street performer with a Phillies cap, a one year old riding her daddy’s shoulders as her pregnant mama laughed with them, two girls around seven on the upper level of a Dublin Bus who got a kick out of the fact that I looked straight at them (we made faces at each other, I winked at them, and they waved as they rode away; I’m pretty sure the other folk waiting for a bus thought we were old friends. Their mama thought I was a good sport, I think, from the smile she gave me). I also found Christ Church and Saint Ann’s Church by wandering about; they’re quite lovely buildings.
Also, Dublin Castle has a sand castle exhibition. All the time. They do different installments each year.
There are flowers everywhere — and I do mean everywhere. Florists, windowsills, hanging from street lamps, even towers on the sidewalk. Yes, towers of flowers. I’ll take a picture of one tomorrow. They’re quite curious; a roughly two-meter high obelisk of petunias, topped with a placard of information about whichever part of the city you happen to be exploring.
I mentioned earlier that my favorite part of the day happened on TCD’s campus.
side note: I have heard of nothing but the weather since telling people I was studying in Dublin for a semester, but the past two days have been nothing but sun and blue sky. A bit of grey did seem to be headed towards City Centre as I left for Leixlip, though!
I was strolling around Trinity’s beautiful campus — there are lots of lawns you aren’t allowed on, more that you are allowed on, and a ton of cobblestones — when I decided to wander past Berkeley Library (home of the moving Sphere Within Sphere statue — aka the Trinity Pomodoro). I scooted past the rotating sculpture and down towards Fellows’ Square and the Old Library. I peered at the various people on the green and tried not to look too much like a tourist. After all, this is my home for the next four months! Best start acting like it. I stiffened.
Two people were signing on the green.
Okay. For this response to make any sense, one has to understand that while I want more than anything to become a pediatrician and work within the medical field — sign language and Deaf culture are my passion. No, seriously. I love Deaf culture. A lot. It fascinates me to no end — the way such a marginalized community created its own space within the world, the way ASL and other signed languages develop, the differences between “d”eaf and “D”eaf, the fact that Deaf people view deafness as an advantage, as Deaf Gain.
… the point is, one of the reasons I applied to TCD is because they have a school of Irish Sign Language and Deaf Studies, and I so, so, so want to learn some ISL while I’m here.
I circled the green and tried not to stare (staring is rude, you know, especially if you can understand what people are signing and don’t alert them to that fact). Naturally, I chickened out. Courageous, I am not. And it’s been a while since I introduced myself to a complete stranger, Deaf or hearing. Also, I’m in a different country. What if randomly introducing yourself to Deaf people because you know sign language isn’t normal here?!
But wait! The story doesn’t end there! Connor, you goose. Haven’t you read enough of Deaf culture in any setting to know that introducing yourself is alright? I circled the rest of campus and finally, after much mental debate, headed back towards Fellows’ Square. I ran into the couple as they were leaving (thank you, Jesus. Seriously. Thank you) and asked them to take my picture with the bell tower… in sign language (American, since I don’t actually know ISL yet).
Naturally, they immediately asked if I was Deaf. No, no, but some of my friends are! I’m from the US, so I know ASL, not ISL. Ah, yes, very interesting! You sign well! Thank you! My name is Connor. What state are you from? Pennsylvania. Ah! My wife’s friend — where does she live? — Michigan, yes. Michigan state. Nice!
The picture then taken, I asked for their names. John, signed the man, and his wife was Lucia. The “H” and “A” in ISL are different – H is like I, but with the first finger also extended; the A is the same, but pointed like a thumbs-up instead of sideways. Anyway, meeting the two of them completely made my day and I walked off to my bus stop with a ridiculous grin.
Funny how signing makes me feel so much more at home in a place. It did so at Penn, when I was starting ASL classes and as I met more and more of the Deaf community and got more involved, and it’s doing so now that I’m in Dublin, too. In other news, “zucchini” is known as “courgette,” “eggplant” as “aubergine,” and my lovely hosts think I’m a bit of an Anglophile due to the amount of British actors and television shows I seem to know… which, you know, isn’t fair from the truth, but I am quickly becoming a lover of all things Ireland — which Google and Wikipedia inform me is known as a hibernophile — too!