Reflections on Malaga….

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Travellers searching for the “real” Spain will always be unsatisfied for Spain is a place of regions, each distinct. It is place of various identities with no unified “real” essence. It is a mosaic and every region a tile, uniquely crafted and separate in its own right but working together to make a larger image.

If Spain is a mosaic, Málaga is one of its most colourful tiles. It has been, among others, a Moorish, Vandal, Roman and Fascist city. These different histories and cultures have each left their mark and throughout the centuries have melded together and made something unique; inherited but new.

Dates are transcended as monuments from different cultures stare baldly at each other. The Moorish forts of the Alzacaba and Gibralfaro loom over the city plainly in the view of the Roman Theatre and baroque Cathedral nearby.  The newer Calle Larios with its curved buildings, marble street tiles and four-storied balconies connects to the old Alameda Principal; a broad, tree-lined boulevard complete with grand mansions for Málaga ’s old bourgeoisie. Near the Alameda the 19th century Paseo Parque leads to the port; an area of intense trade and activity since 1000BC. The park is packed with trees and flowers giving the air a green tang of plants imported from Cuba, a nod to one of Spain’s last Colonial possessions.

Like most ancient, modern cities Málaga  is patient, a ramblers’ delight. Visitors do not hurry through its alleyways and boulevards: they idle and dawdle, savour and discover.

In Old Málaga  walkers are shaded from the sun by buildings that cast shadows and lean inwards as if burdened by the weight of stone, history and heat. Shops, bars and restaurants prop them up from below while sounds and smells pour from their balconies above. Smug diners and drinkers sit outside enjoying an afternoon caña or tapa.

Meandering streets flow onto plazas featuring even more bars, restaurants and bustle. The plazas act like beating hearts within the city, drawing people in, circulating them around the square and pumping them back out into the street. There is a waft of fried seafood in the air mingling with smells of chorizo, garlic, dust and petrol.

Plazas vary in size and function. Some, like the Plaza Constitucion at the end of the Calle Larios are flanked by polished buildings and stand as administrative, commercial and cultural centres. Smaller plazas are tucked away within the city acting as local hangouts. They are invariably noisy places; drums and music blend with rapid Spanish chatter and the shouts of children awake far later than we would consider proper.

Malaguenians maintain a fabulous sense of tradition and religious processions occur frequently. They are usually complete with traditional dress and statues of saints that obscure their carriers and appear as if floating down the street. Like all good Catholic countries food is its own ritual. Meals are lengthy and energetic affairs although, with typical Spanish nonchalance, bars and restaurants may operate on inexplicable schedules opening when the owner feels like it.

Despite this sometimes infuriating lack of efficiency Malaguenians are alluring. There is easy romance to their movement, languid yet prone to animated gesticulations. Words and laughter burst from them as friends and strangers alike are grasped by the shoulders and pulled closer as if distance between two people will dilute the atmosphere.

Visitors are drawn close, encouraged to share in the secrets of the city. Locals delight in tourist’s delight, pride dancing on their face. There is an almost conspiratorial air when they inquire about previous travels and, on hearing of visits to other Spanish cities, they nod and proclaim: “Ah, but now, you are in the REAL Spain” To them it is as if any travel up to this point was a slog, an unfortunate trek through the inauthentic with the sole purpose of getting here: to Málaga , to the REAL Spain.

Reflections on Malaga….

New York

*Warning – the below post features no pictures of food.  

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Look, I know it’s trite to say you love New York but fuck it: the city is spectacular. From the amount of fucks everyone gives (0,) to the distinct personality that each neighbourhood cultivates, it’s a place that grabs you by the guts and makes you gawk like a fool.

The city is striking but what catches me most are the art deco style buildings; old structures that lean in close, packed tightly, guarding their secrets and history from interlopers such as myself. The ever-present iron fire-escapes add to the city’s mystique and entrance the impressionable visitor, casting angular shadows on the streets and contrasting with the curling moldings that decorate the structures. Even after living in New York I still can’t muster any cynicism or affect a blasé manner when I revisit. I still marvel at the place like the damn bumpkin spud-fucker I am. I spend almost all my time in New York walking, gazing big eyed at the spectacle that is the city.

When we arrived on our first day the weather insists we head straight for Central Park. The Park is a gift of unquantifiable value: a space that provides a city so large with such an immense green space. It acts as a pocket of tranquility and provides refuge from the bedlam of the streets.  Even with the ornate buildings guarding the park and looming overhead, there’s still a vastness to the area; you feel like you could wander forever. After one such healthy wander we stopped in Strawberry Fields but were quickly driven out by bands of Australian children, each equipped with a matching backpack and the shrill fervor of youths released from scholarly bondage.

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Central Park led us to Columbia University and we roamed the campus, which is book-ended by two mammoth buildings designed in classical Grecian style. These are the kind of buildings frequently found in academic environments and for some reason make me wish I was writing a soul-destroying thesis on Derrida (that bastard.) From there we traveled all the way to the West Village, a place that I love because it can pull off both kitsch and sophistication depending on what street you’re on.

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Friday started with a Brooklyn-based misadventure that deserves no description. From there we went to the new World Trade Centre, (named with usual American subtlety – “Freedom Tower.”) The building itself is actually amazing – the tower gleams and constantly changes colour, light and shadows dance on the glass as the panes reflect the moving sky. The building also reflects some of America’s better qualities: innovation, resilience, pride. Standing at the base and looking up at the structure boldly piercing the sky is, for anyone who remembers watching the twin towers fall, a sobering moment.

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My solemn mood soured pretty quickly by the time I had seen my 9th selfie stick. This tool of dickery is everywhere at the World Trade Centre; a piece of equipment that conflates its users’ already overblown sense of self-importance. People were literally leaning on the side of the memorial and covering the names of the dead with their backpacks so they could capture the moment they spent, grinning like idiots, at the site of mass grave all to share with all their absent friends.

The other thing that feels wrong at the 9/11 memorial (which is so well designed and maintained,) is knowing that those who worked there after September 11, the people who dug and cleared and developed illnesses from breathing in the malevolent substances, are being abandoned to their sickness by the US government. This, in stark contrast to the building’s brilliance, gives a sense of America’s worst quality: putting so much value on appearance but failing where it really matters.

From the memorial we walked to the Lower East Side. I love this area because you can easily imagine it as it once was: dirty, hectic, loud and crawling with God Damn Immigrants, hawking their wares and squawking in their myriad native tongues. Apart from the abundance of bars, restaurants and variant boutique establishments the neighbourhood has not changed much: the streets are still narrow and jumbled and the buildings still squat and furtive. Here we had a drink in McSorleys – one of the oldest bars in New York. It’s a grimy, saw-dust floored bar with manky-looking memorabilia crowding the walls. McSorleys serves two types of beer: light and dark and if you want something else well fuck you. If there weren’t multitudes of yuppies crowding the round tables you could almost pretend you were having a drink in turn-of-the-century New York (minus the tuberculosis.)

On our last night, after dinner in a typical New York restaurant, (the kind of place that offers a menu featuring “artisanal reinterpretations of classic dishes, inspired by indigenous Polynesian architecture,”) we walked towards the subway and ended up sitting next to three flamboyantly dressed Southern gentlemen. I’m not sure how it happened, and I can hear my American cousin groaning at the Irishness of it all, but we were all soon belting out the choons with a flagrant disregard for the other passengers on the uptown 1 train.  We embraced their soulful crooning as much as they did our lusty Irish yodeling – it really was one of those things that could only happen in a city like New York.

The next day we prepared to leave New York like so many others before us: tired and hung-over, waiting for a Greyhound bus, feeling scummier with every minute spent in Port Authority. As we waited for the bus that would take us towards more sensible, less seductive places we felt as probably everyone feels leaving New York: desperation to put it off, to stay another day and wring a little more from the city. Even with blistered feet and banging headaches we wanted nothing more than to skip the bus, rise out of the station and rush headfirst back onto the street above, back into the city and experience it all again.

Next stop: Pittsburgh

New York

11 Things Irish Immigrants Hate

Guys, just before we get into this can I just say PADDY’S. Paddy’s, Paddy’s, Paddy’s. Never Pat’s. Never Patty’s. Thanks. 

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  1. “Do you know…?”

Ireland has a population of 4.5 million people. I may be mistaken but I believe this to be roughly the same size as one of those gigantic, terrifying American high schools. While my country is admittedly a shanty town in comparison to those North American monster-tropolises even so, we don’t ALL know each other in Ireland. The odds of me knowing that random Irish guy called Mike that you met four years ago are pretty slim. The odds decrease even more when you can’t remember his last name, where he came from or any discernible features apart from his Irishness. Also to be honest even if I DID know Mike, it’s likely I’ll lie and say I don’t, just because that’s the kind of shitty thing Irish people get a kick out of. Or it’s even more likely I’ll lie and say I do know Mike and make up some outrageous back story about him because that’s another shitty thing Irish people enjoy. Basically we enjoy lying.

  1. “OMG – Did you know about the Famine?”

Any non-Irish person speaking about Irish history to an Irish person is subject to our greatest scorn. Unless you have a PhD in Irish history or you personally time travelled and fought against the British in the War of Independence (in which case, good for you!) we don’t want to hear your take on it.

  1. All Other Dairy and Meat Produce

I may be biased but I firmly believe that Irish cheese, bread, butter, milk, chocolate, eggs and meat are the best in the world. Although we may adjust and force ourselves to make concessions in our new countries, we secretly hate most food that’s not Irish (exceptions are made for “fancy” foods like sushi, burritos and chicken wings – these things are actually best consumed outside of Ireland as we haven’t quite got the hang of them yet.) Irish immigrants have been known to go to obscene lengths and expenses to procure their favourite foods. If you’re looking for a hilarious new pastime, go into any Irish bar in the world and throw a pack of Galtee sausages in the door and watch madness ensue.

  1. Guinness Anywhere Outside of Ireland

Every time I order one I think maybe, maybe this one, maybe today will be the day. And then I taste it and my heart sinks back into that special pit of sadness reserved for Guinness related disappointments.

  1. Too Much Enthusiasm 

Irish people are complex creatures. Despite being known to reveal highly personal details to strangers on the bus we also dislike people getting too emotional or being too eager about anything. It may hark back to our bleak history but we feel incredibly uncomfortable with overt displays of enthusiasm. We tend to be a pessimistic bunch and often try to deflect anything that can be perceived as vulnerability or egoism. Our tendency to downplay emotions and aspirations may be some ingrained coping mechanism built around fear of failure or, since traditionally Irish people were never taught about the “American Dream,” it may derive from not wanting to insult our family and peers by acting superior (being perceived to have “notions” about yourself is highly undesirable.) Whatever the cause other nationalities’ comfort with divulging their ambitions and passions strikes us as very odd.

  1. “I’m Irish Too!”

One thing Irish people love; it’s when people compliment our country. We appreciate when people want to join our lovely club by claiming Irish ancestry and this is perfectly acceptable if the person has pretty much any further information to back up their statement. If you tell an Irish person that you are also Irish, then the Irish person will inevitably ask you where your family are from. This isn’t any kind of test; where you’re is born is a huge part of Irish identity and we genuinely want to engage with people about their heritage. However, randomly bleating “I’m Irish too!” and having absolutely nothing with which to follow this statement will usually be met with poorly-concealed irritation.

  1. LOL – Top of the Morning!

We don’t say this. Don’t say this to us. It’s not funny. It’s not original. It’s nothing except embarrassing. It’s the equivalent of asking a French person if he wears a garlic garland around his neck. It’s basically four words that can be translated to: “Hi, I think repeating zenophobic banalities is hilarious because I’m really ignorant and boring and I have nothing of value to say! LOL!” See also: anything to do with lucky charms, leprechauns and potatoes.

  1. American TV

So.many.fucking.ads. So.many.fucking.cheerful.fucking.people.

  1. Adjusting our Speech

This one is hard because it’s an absolute necessity when moving to a new country. As all immigrants know there’s a fine line between maintaining your cultural traditions and assimilating into a new country. Irish people can often feel isolated, frustrated and marginalised when they move to a new country because of how we talk and thus, to make life easier, it becomes necessary to change certain aspects of our speech. At work I had to learn to slow down and remove any phrases or words that I felt will be confusing or distracting to my colleagues. This is because I have chosen to live in a new country and not only did I feel I should make an effort to fit in but it meant I didn’t have to stop and explain myself every five minutes. It is common among Irish people to tone down our accents although it doesn’t mean we like it; it’s simply a sacrifice to be understood.

  1. Anyone mistaking us for Being British or Part of the UK.

I know this one is hard for anyone outside of Ireland to understand but here goes: The Republic of Ireland is an independent country that is in no way affiliated with the United Kingdom or Great Britain. Although many people in Northern Ireland define themselves as Irish, Northern Ireland is a separate country that IS part of the United Kingdom. The island of Ireland was ruled by the U.K. for hundreds of years and fought bitterly for independence. The topic is a sensitive one for Irish people who can often react strongly when Ireland is mistakenly considered a part of the United Kingdom. For shits and giggles take a look at this U.S. journalist who completely cannot understand Ireland’s position as an autonomous nation.

  1. Anyone trying to do an Irish Accent

Chances are your American/Canadian friends will give this a go after a couple of beers and chances are it will be terrible. Context really applies here and most Irish people don’t mind good-natured banter around their accent. However this shit can get real annoying, real fast when people continue to imitate our accents far longer than appropriate. So, to the person who’s gearing up to test out their Irish accent this Paddy’s Day, heed this advice: unless you’re close enough with your Irish friends to know they’re cool with it OR you’re the one person in the entire world who can pull it off (although I’ve never met you and I highly doubt you exist,) please keep your best diddly-i voice to yourself.

Follow Gemma on Twitter @Gemma_cricket

11 Things Irish Immigrants Hate

13 Tips To Living Happily With Your Partner

We all know that love is ~respect, love, trust and honesty~ (swoon.) But maintaining love, while worth it, is actually a very conscious and tiresome effort. When you live with someone you often have to stop and realise that you have made the choice to live together and being happy requires effort. It means communicating even when you’re angry, making tiny concessions for things that feel enormous and coming up with new ways of having fun which counteract the various banalities associated with day to day life.  

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And so successfully co-cohabiting with your partner may mean following one or all of these 13 tips:

1. Overcoming their flagrant misuse of kitchen towels and sponges even though you’re dying inside watching them wash dishes with the counter sponge.

2. Cutting them slack the next morning when they came home drunk, woke you up and aggressively tried to pee on your shoes the night before.

3. Arranging any childhood teddy bears in various positions of depravity to surprise them when they get home.

4. Watching that glob of guacamole drop from their mouth onto the floor you JUST washed and saying nothing, just calmly cleaning it up.

5. Having respective jobs. Surprising them by taking a turn at one of their jobs: changing cat litter, recycling etc.,

6. Forgiving any laundry related incidents no matter how tiny or pinkened the clothing has become.

7. Concocting incredibly elaborate back-stories about your neighbours to the extent that you text each other pretending to be them “Hello Mark, it’s me Zondrah, the sexually aggressive divorcee from 10B. I’ve just poured some gin, cranked up the Toni Braxton and I’m feeling like making some bad choices tonight….”

8. Walking in on them dancing, saying nothing, putting down your bags and joining in.

9. Hosting their friends and family without begrudgery and gracefully accepting their thanks when the visit has passed and you’re cleaning an apartment that looks like it was raided by a particularly clumsy band of Navy Seals on a search and destroy mission.

10. Staying distant or silent when your respective programs are on. This includes absolutely NO disdainful huffing or sighing.

11. Knowing that when a movie decision must be made someone will be aggrieved. Taking turns being this person.

12. Accepting that any food cooked or brought into the home is shared food except for incredibly serious circumstances which will be made very clear in advance.

13. Figuring out that The One Tiny Thing They Hate and making an effort not to do it. Except sometimes, for the laugh.

13 Tips To Living Happily With Your Partner

5 Reasons Why I Don’t Believe in God or Religion

Stephen Fry’s interview on RTE’s The Meaning of Life with Gay Byrne has become this week’s viral sensation (along with Jimmy Fallon’s Fresh Prince parody – because obviously.) For any non-Irish unfamiliar with presenter Gay Byrne imagine a patronising Uncle who operates under a general air of disapproval and probably thinks describing people as “coloured” is politically correct. Byrne epitomises the old-school Irish media pundit: a judgey Catholic who seeks to maintain status quo by pretending everything is grand and we’re all just having a lovely time.

During the interview Fry, with his usual eloquence, explains to an increasingly disapproving Gaybo why he finds the idea of God to be grotesque. Seeing Fry denounce God to Old Gay on the country’s national broadcasting station was heartening.  RTE’s decision to air such fervent atheist views come at a time when Ireland’s ludicrous Irish blasphemy laws are being called into question and reaffirms what we all know to be true; that the Catholic Church’s stifling influence on the country is waning.

Fry’s speech made me want to articulate my own reasons for denying the existence of God and leaving the organised religion in which I was raised. Growing up in Ireland in the 90’s was synonymous with growing up Catholic. Despite my parents’ liberal sensibilities going to mass “as a family,” was an automatic part of our routine. Every Sunday we joined the other families in our community and dutifully spent an hour listening to the sermons and the readings and in turn playing our part in the call-and-answer ceremony of a Catholic Church service. Induction to the Catholic Church was not only expected; it was unavoidable. Both my primary and secondary schools were either run by or affiliated with religious orders. Visits from the Parish Priest were common (and met with serious preparation and forewarning from the teacher) and religious education was a serious part of our curriculum. Making Communion and Confirmation was as natural a process as taking state prescribed exams. It was just what you did.

I never consciously chose to enter the Catholic Church and similarly I never chose to leave. There was no great epiphany, no great fracture or crisis of identity. I came to the point where I simply didn’t believe the reductive and restrictive explanations that religion offered. As an annoyingly inquisitive child I wasn’t content on stopping short a line of inquiry because some questions could only be answered with “faith.”

When I actually gave it some thought I found countless reasons to question or deny what I had been taught for so many years. The below list is by no means exhaustive but highlights the main reasons that I have personally chosen to deny God and religion in my life.

1. The Odds are Stacked

Here’s how a religious institution works: it tells us we are sick and then tells us that it, and only it, has the medicine. Religion imbues its followers with a belief that they are unworthy, fractured and fundamentally sinful and only by devoting their time, energy and resources to the religion can a follower be absolved of these intrinsic deficiencies. This concept of Original Sin is the perfect way to ensure Catholics spend their whole lives feeling guilty and in the thrall of the Church. I find this abhorrent. I refuse to believe we are born with an inherent flaw. I refuse to believe lovely, chubby, innocent babies are born sinful or tarnished by some fictional act of transgression. The Church decrees that natural human impulses (impulses that every human will experience) are bad and offers a solution to this badness, Positioning itself as the saviour to a problem it helped create.

I always questioned: why would God instill these desires in us if he wanted us to constantly suppress them? Why are modesty and asceticism good but desire and pride bad? Why not remove these emotions altogether? Why these constant impossible tests? Why keep us in such a state of guilt and conflict?

2. God Seems A Little Unstable…

This brings us to my next point.  Even if God does exist (which I firmly believe he doesn’t), I would still choose to deny him because of his general volatility and nastiness. As Fry describes in the interview, God’s actions seem incredibly unjust, capricious and monstrous. He gives the example of cancer in children and asks why? Why does God make these atrocious choices? Why impregnate underage virgins? Why order people to kill their beloved sons? Why drown the whole world as a punishment for vice that he himself created? If he exists, why has God set up humankind for repeated failure from very beginning?

In addition to revealing the Church’s inherent misogyny (more on that later,) the story of Eve’s transgression and the origin of Original Sin reveals a meaner side to God. As an omniscient Being God knew Eve was going to eat the fruit  which begs the question: why put the forbidden fruit there in the first place? Why intentionally trick your beloved children and then eternally condemn them to a life of guilt and attrition?  The Catholic answer is that Eve was exercising her free will. The Church’s juxtaposition of free will and God’s omniscience is not only a fabulous lesson in doublethink but also conveniently explains any tricky questions that may arise when people question why anyone acts against God’s orders: “Oh, free will obviously.” But do we have a choice to have free will? Can we not beseech God to remove our free will so that we may act entirely under his guidance and live purely, making no bad decisions and never needing absolution? The answer is no. God gives us no choice but to have free will, (by the way undermining the entire concept of free will) and thus gives us no choice but to be constantly making mistakes, constantly guilty and constantly begging forgiveness.

As well as setting us up for this never-ending emotional turmoil, God also ensures we suffer on a physical level. As Fry asks why is there an insect that exists solely to eat children’s eyeballs? Why do good people get cancer? The explanation that religious people offer is that we cannot question or understand the workings of God. That he makes these choices because of some reason we don’t have the capacity to understand. To this reasoning I say nonsense. This is simply another way of demanding unquestioning conformity and stifling logical questions. The world has not been designed by a divinity that considers humans to be of primary importance. If it was then the earth would not seem so indifferent to us. For me, it is more far appealing to believe that things happen by chance and we simply co-exist with millions of other species on a planet that has absolutely no consideration for us. It is too cruel to believe otherwise, to believe that there is divine justification for why good people get cancer or why there exists an insect that thrives solely on eating the eyeballs of children.

3. It’s Judgemental, Oppressive and Dangerous

The restrictive and divisive laws to which religious practitioners must adhere to are at best foolish and at worst dangerous. The moronic parents of terminal ill children who choose prayer over modern medicine, the thugs who attack gay men and women, the protesters outside an abortion clinic are all following an archaic, inflexible and highly contradictory doctrine that has absolutely no place in contemporary society. Any institution that teaches blind acceptance and encourages its followers not to question or demand substantiated evidence stunts capacity for reasonable inquiry and oppresses the natural human instinct to understand and learn. Confused teenagers being taught masturbation is wrong, parents of babies who died fearing their child will suffer in limbo or people stifling their sexuality are just examples of people for whom the Church offers not guidance but judgement, fear and oppression. This woman’s experience highlights how religious regulations, in this case the ban on pre-marital sex, can be highly detrimental to a person’s natural development.

As the article points out, religious obsession with controlling the woman’s body is a crucial instrument of oppression and serves to perpetuate the Church’s patriarchal and misogynist ideologies. Religion restricts women’s rights so vehemently because an educated, enlightened woman is less likely to conform than a woman preoccupied with her many children and who is dependent on her husband. Sanctions on pre-marital sex, birth control and abortion are all ways to reinforce the belief that a woman may not own or control her own body; that she is in some way subordinate to her father, husband and religion.

4. It’s Hypocritical

Shouldn’t loving Christians be accepting of all creeds, races genders and families and seriously, why does the Pope live in a gilded palace? I’ve been to the Vatican and it is decadent. Shouldn’t the Church sell or melt the solid gold effigies and donate it to the poor?

That of course only scrapes the surface of Church hypocrisy. There has been so much written on rampant pedophilia and abuse within the Church that I feel it sufficient to ask just one question. Why did God allow children to be raped and abused by the people supposedly closest to him? For me, that question is all I need to deny any existence of God.

5. I Don’t Need To and I Don’t Want To

A lot of people find comfort in their religion and I understand that a great deal of reassurance must be found in believing that an all-knowing authority has pre-ordained the course of your life. Accepting that your hardships are the result of a higher power’s plan may mean that painful situations become more bearable but to me, this has always been unsatisfactory.

For me it is enough to say that the pain, anger and sorrow in my life are accompaniments to the joy, love and laughter and, as part of the human condition, should be experienced fully and not passed off as the machinations of a divine entity. I find it disappointing when someone preservers through hardship and then attributes their strength to God instead of crediting themselves for their effort. Situations and people cannot ever be controlled but I find comfort in knowing that I have a choice in how I react and I also find comfort in knowing I, and I alone, will have to take responsibility for those choices.

I cannot, no matter how much I try to suspend my intellect and cynicism, believe that there is a cognisant entity existing on a transcendental plane overseeing my every movement on this earth and more importantly I don’t want to. I don’t want to spend my fleeting life preparing for what may come when I die. I want to take ownership of my actions and spend my life free of restrictions and judgement. Despite the wars, diseases, natural disasters and countless tragedies that befall the world I remain, without any semblance of faith or religious belief, convinced that it is a good and beautiful place and I am grateful that I am alive in it. Fry describes a life without God as “simpler, purer, cleaner and more worth living,” and for me living without arbitrary restrictions, without guilt, self-abasement or believing that another life awaits is liberating and reminds me to take time to find wonder in and appreciate the life i have as much as I can.

5 Reasons Why I Don’t Believe in God or Religion

5 Things I Miss About Ireland that Aren’t Monster Munch, Club Orange and Black Pudding

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1.Sarcasm and Abuse

North Americans try their best to partake in this. They really do and it’s admirable. But nothing can match the contemptuous sarcasm and ferocious abuse that Irish friends will inflict on each other.

I’ve often told a Canadian friend to fuck off and, judging from the look of wounded confusion on their face, had to reassure them that I don’t actually want them to leave my presence, even though I kind of do. (That’s a lie – I have no Canadian friends. But if I did, that’s probably what would happen.)

2. Self-Deprecation

Whether you find it endearing and infuriating, the complete inability for an Irish person to take a compliment is one of the things I miss most. Admiring someone’s outfit and them responding with thank you or the ever-annoying I know right? feels strange, like the person has just divulged some seedy memory about a 3rd cousin and too much Amaretto.

3. Self-containment

Few things upset curmudgeons like me more than people offering too much information about themselves.

Never ask someone how they are. You will be faced with: oh y’know, I’m goooood, I’ve had some problems with my partner, he’s basically giving up solid food at the moment and I’m finding it really hard to connect with him on like an spiritual level? So I’m trying to figure out my body clock with like, interpretive dance? I’m guessing it goes back to when I was 17 and my Mom really didn’t support my decision to learn Portuguese.

4.  Not Being a Novelty

You have an accent! What’s it like being Irish? Oh you’re Irish? That’s so cool. This shit wears thin after a while.

5. The Cop On

At some point in recent years, all North-American parents got together and decided to lie to their children and tell them that everything they do is important and any opportunity is available to them. Call it optimism, determination or sheer stupidity but people genuinely believe in themselves here and that can be really fucking annoying. 

It leads to a generation having inappropriately high levels of expectancy and self-confidence, who feel everything they say is valid.

Hint: It’s not. I’ve spent too many TTC rides listening to people hark on about how they’re definitely, absolutely, totally going to make it as an actor because they’re so totally talented and it’s their dream and it’s totally going to happen. Not a drop of cop on.

5 Things I Miss About Ireland that Aren’t Monster Munch, Club Orange and Black Pudding