Returning Home

 

I’m finally home.

This is something I’ve been waiting for for ages, It felt so surreal because I feel as if I had been in between New York and Dublin all summer if that makes any sense; like I’ve spiritually and emotionally been in between both places. While I loved my time in the states, I am beyond thrilled to home. I am so happy to be back in my own bed and to be with my family, friends and furbabies. It felt strange stepping through the arrival gates in Terminal 2 of Dublin airport and seeing my family waiting there for me with ‘Welcome Home’ balloons and open arms. It felt good and heart warming that I was welcomed back. I was deliriously exhausted, emotional and gross from travelling but I did it, I survived and made it home in one piece. We said our goodbyes to Conor and his family and headed home. Dublin was cold and it was a refreshing change from the humidity of New York. It was overcast with grey skies but I didn’t mind because all I could see was home. It was the oddest feeling being in the car and driving through the city and noticing the changes and regularity of the city. I kept seeing old versions of myself and specific memories from my past everywhere we went. I felt like I was dreaming after we pull up in the drive way and Dotty ran up to meet us and pulling my bags inside to finally return home. I was so happy to be back and while our kitchen is being extended and there’s no heat or washing machine, it’s still home. I jumped in the shower and it felt glorious to be in my own shower and emerge ‘reborn’ as a new and clean person. I didn’t have energy to unpack my suitcases but I did manage to give my family their gifts and I changed into clean clothes and we headed out to see my sister’s new flat and it was just the most wonderful feeling, being with my family and having a glass of prosecco and just talking about everyday things and catching up. I was full of euphoric feelings (but it could have also be a mix of exhaustion and wine) when my mum was just talking about the food in the fridge she bought me and going to take me to the hairdresser. I missed her so much and I couldn’t have made it through the visa without her that’s for sure.

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We went to Miller’s Pizza Kitchen on Baggot St and I was so excited because I had barely eaten throughout our journey and couldn’t wait for real food. I was instantly transported back in time to being 17 when I entered the restaurant, as I mentioned earlier; I had been having flash backs since our early car journey. We had a delicious meal with more wine and it was again, just wonderful to be with my family and talk and be together and that night, I happily settled into my bed with Kitty at my feet and hearing the silent suburbs all around me.

This is the longest time I’ve ever been away from home. I’ve travelled and spent summers away but never fully moved away from home and 13 months is a long time away from home and all my loved ones. Whenever I got homesick or down, I would call my mum or look at a picture on whatsapp of my furbabies and know that soon I would be reunited with everyone and happily settling in back at home.

New York is a great city but it’s also a crazy, daunting and overwhelming place that drained me in every way. I tried my best to make it a home and it did feel like home sometimes but nothing’s beats my family home. I left for New York last year with all my dreams and ambitions and a positive yet slightly anxious attitude that I would make it happen and everything would work out and a year later, I’ve returned home exhausted and still dealing with my anxiety but I survived a year in New York. It was difficult to move to a huge city as an immigrant (during a turbulent political climate) and working 2 jobs and trying to work on my career development and my art in my spare time.

I feel that during my year abroad I learnt so much about myself and what it means to be an adult and trying to live independently from home. I have learnt so much from my internship and how American theatre and Off Broadway theatre works and throughout the year, I have been trying to navigate my way in the American workplace. I have seen a lot of great theatre and met so many wonderful and friendly people; especially theatre patrons who would hear my accent and after asking me where I’m from, they would gush about how much they love Ireland and their family ties or their most recent trip there and it made me feel homesick and a strange sense of pride washed over me. These interactions happened often and every time, I felt the same way- longing for home. This year, I had also discovered about myself that I suffer from anxiety and hate being alone for long periods of time.

I have also realised this year that I have a lot of people in my life that care about me and that I care about them. I have reconnected with old friends and kept in touch with my American friends. I have been overwhelmed with the well wishes and kind words from friends (you know who you are) over the year and especially during the hard times. I felt instantly better after a phone call or reading a nice message. I have also been touched by the kindness and generosity of my american friends and their families for taking me in on my travels and giving me great hospitality. I am so appreciative of everything that people have done for me even if it’s believing me and wishing me luck. You have no idea what it means to me.

I kept asking myself during my year ‘Am I doing enough? and ‘Am I making progress?’ and it’s a hard question to ask yourself and during a year of trying to be an adult in the American workforce and to take care of myself. So I made an accomplishment list to help me remember everything I’ve achieved:

  • Found a job/ internship
  • Found an apartment
  • Set up a bank account and a phone
  • Nursed Conor back to health after food poisoning
  • Learnt how to do my laundry and house keep like an “adult”
  • Went to Canada and dealt with Immigration
  • Dealt with visa stuff and arranging my internship
  • Dealt with health insurance stuff
  • Made rent on time every month
  • Learnt how to get around New York
  • Went to auditions/ self taped auditions
  • Signed up for acting and improv classes/ completed the courses
  • Started a blog (this one)
  • Started writing poetry
  • Went to an artist salon to debut some new writing
  • Didn’t get fired or sent home
  • Filed my American taxes
  • Wrote a solo play
  • Learnt how to network (and still learning)
  • Kept a Journal with a timeline, diary entries, ideas and feelings
  • Confronted my anxiety and went to counselling for it
  • Dealt with water bugs in my kitchen
  • Got 1,088 views on this blog
  • Made it a year in America

This is my list and I know some things probably don’t look like much but it’s what I’ve achieved this year and I really got out of my comfort zone, many times I have been pushed out or I pushed myself out because it’s good to do that once in a while and while I’m not a completely different or changed person, but I have grown and matured and I tried my best. That’s probably my best achievement. I kept trying my best when all I wanted to do was quit. This was not an easy thing to do, actually most things were unnecessarily complicated during the year like trying to get a doctor’s appointment but I did it. I never thought I could survive the year as much as it was a dream of mine to live in New York and I’m so happy I did it. It was a new beginning, a new chapter of my life, a messy chapter of my life but an exciting chapter. There were many highs and lows but an overall great experience. I may have moved back home but I’m moving forwards.

I’m glad I push myself out of my comfort zone and please, if there’s something you really want to do, try your best to make it happen and everything will fall into place.

Before I leave you with this post. I want to share a mindfulness mantra with you all:

‘May I be safe,

May I be happy and healthy,

May I be free from suffering,

May I be at ease.’

With Love,

Ari

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

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All things go, All things go, Drove to Chicago

*While reading this blog entry, I suggest listening to all versions of Sufjan Stevens’ Chicago and Rogue Wave’s Lake Michigan because they were the soundtrack to my weekend*

I had never been to Chicago before and I was excited to visit the windy city as I’ve heard so many wonderful things from friends and family. I was so ready for a holiday as the New York summer was reaching its brutal last few days and I couldn’t hack it anymore. I was also super stressed as it was coming up to the last month of my visa and my mind was in overdrive of things I had to do so of course, running away to Chicago seemed like a practical solution.

We left New York early on Thursday morning and flew into O’Hare airport, I was exhausted and sleepy but I was happy to finally be in Chicago and meet Conor’s lovely friend Scott and his girlfriend Phoenix who were absolute angels and picked us up from the airport and drove us all the way to our accommodation in Oak Park, Illinois, if you don’t know Chicago- just know, it’s a very far away drive from the airport. The weather was great as well, for once, I felt as if I could breathe and actually get air into my lungs. The New York summer is heavy and muggy so a literal breath of fresh air was a welcome change to my mood.

We were dropped off at our friend Hannah’s house (shoutout to Hannah) and was welcomed in by her lovely mother and cute little cat Chala who showed us around and rolled around on the bed to show us how comfy the bed is. After freshening up and changing, we headed out to explore the neighbourhood of Oak Park and had a delicious Sushi lunch at SEN Sushi BarI had a bento sushi box for $12 and I was a happy camper. So much food and so much cheaper than NYC (if you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll notice that most of the time, I compare how everywhere else is cheaper than New York, I still love New York but it’s expensive AF).

After we finished lunch, we head on the train towards the city centre. The CTA trains are cleaner and bigger than subway carriages and that was another welcomed change. We got off at the Cloudgate area and walked around to get our bearings. Chicago city is so clean, quiet and spread out and the sun was shining; it was the perfect start to our weekend trip. Surprisingly, not that windy but there was a nice breeze coming in from Lake Michigan.  As we headed towards Cloudgate, there was one thing I had to do was check if there was any available tickets for Hamilton at the private bank theatre and unfortunately I did not have a spare $190 for a balcony ticket so I went on my merry way. We walked towards Millennium Park and got up close and personal with ‘The Bean’ the Cloudgate sculpture and of course took touristy photos as seen below.

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We tried to take some nice photos but the sun was blinding us also.

The Bean was surrounded by tourists as it was a glorious day and the reflections were especially good. We then mosied towards the lake and taking in the sights around Millennium park. It felt nice being able to walk slowly and not feel the crazy rush the New York streets can bring with it sometimes. We strolled along the harbour and was intrigued when there was a boat tour offering a trip around the lake so of course we jumped on the offer for $10. It was so surreal being on Lake Michigan and feeling the wind in my face (pardon the pun) and I just had to put Chicago by Sufjan Stevens while we were floating in the water, probably the most clichéd thing to do but I had to. We thanked our boat captain and told him that we would see him in Dublin one day. We continued to walk down the lake shore mile and stopped at The Buckingham Fountain which is gorgeous and a definite must see.

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The photo does not do it justice, at all.

We then looped around the fountain and walked back up to The Crown Fountain and watched in amusement as people and children were playing in the sprinklers and cooling off. It was coming into the early evening and like on any holiday, the one thing on my mind was alcohol. It was time to wet my whistle. Thankfully, we found a good happy hour in The Adamus Lounge as part of the Silversmith Hotel. $5 for a glass of wine? Yes please! I will gladly help myself. This bar was so swanky and quiet for a thursday evening which was nice as we had optimum choice for tables. The tunes were also unreal as they were playing the best hits of 2008-2009 and I was living for it as well as I had about 5 glasses of wine so I was ready to party.

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Evidence of round 1.

As we enjoyed our drinks, we recieved a message from Phoenix saying that she was coming to pick us up and I was ready for the night to begin, unfortunately there is alot of traffic on Chicago’s highways so to in order to pick up Scott from work and get to our next destination; it was nearly 2 hours in the car but that time is prime catch up time and it was so lovely to be in a car, taking the sights and letting conversations just flow. We also picked up their friend Nick and went onto downtown Chicago to get to The Escape Game ChicagoIt was 11pm at this point, we had a late booking and I had been up since 6am so I was exhausted, anxious and a litlle drunk so naturally the best thing for me to do would be to be locked in a room for an hour and having to figure my way out by using my problem solving skills…what could go wrong?

I was pumped however that this was gonna be fun and I was determined to escape ‘the mission to mars’. That was our escape room theme. We had one hour to repair our oxygen, communications and power to our space shuttle and make it off mars. No joke- that was our mission and I spent most of it running around and trying to open every nut and bolt and punch random numbers in all the ipads to open the doors. This is how I try to escape most problems in my life. With one minute to spare, we succeed our mission and successfully got off Mars. It felt good and it is great fun, I really reccommend it if you’re in Chicago.

By then, It was late and I was exhausted still but the adrenaline has kicked in and I feel hyped up but also hungry and unfortunately nothing was open in the area that was vegan or celiac friendly so we headed to Scott and Phoenix’s apartment in Irving place and they scraped together to make us a feast of vegan patty burgers and vegan eggs but the best part was meeting their Chow Chow Frankie.

This big ball of fur was so cute, again the pictures don’t do justice.

By now it was probably 3am and my eyes were falling out of my head and I was ready for sleep, Scott kindly dropped us home and Chala met us at the back door and followed us upstairs to bed.

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I had too much energy and woke up early on Friday and was pottering around the house, playing with Chala and getting readying for our next adventure in Chicago. We once again walked through the lovely neighbourhood and tree lined streets of Oak Park to the train and heading towards Irving Park to meet Scott and on our way to get food.  We had barely eaten yesterday so I couldn’t wait for all the good food Chicago had to offer.

We wandered through to Boystown which is the LGBT district of Chicago and there were pride flags galore, every window and every shop front had a pride flag. We picked The Chicago Diner for brunch and this is a good spot if you’re vegan because it is a vegan friendly diner and the food is amazing. I got a vegan breakfast platter, all the trimmings include toast and I was stuffed and feeling happy and healthy for long after.

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It was so filling. I devoured it.

After brunch, I was full of energy and ready to keep exploring. We got the train back into the city and walked around the loop area. The city was once again full of people enjoying the sunny day and light breeze in the air. We visited Phoenix at work which was right on North Michigan Avenue in the giant Apple flagship store so playing with all the gadgets was fun but I’m not the most tech saavy person so I tried my hardest not to break anything.  We then continued onto Willis Tower to get to the Skydeck Ledge and to get alook onto that amazing view of Chicago and the Chicago River. The line was unfortunately and painfully long but once you get up there and battle your way past the other tourists; the view is worth it. We arrived in the early evening hours to Chicago looked glorious in the golden rays. Again, we tried to take pictures but it was difficult when we were being blinded.

We tried our hardest to look nice in these photos, we really did.

The views from Willis tower are breathtaking, stepping out onto the ledge is a little daunting but completely mesmersing at the same time. It was hard to leave the sun drenched views but we eventually got our heads out of the clouds and headed for our next adventure. It was winding down into the early hours of the evening and our stomaches were growling so food was next on the agenda. We headed to Wicker Park and Native Foods Cafe  hit the spot. This Californian style cafe was just what we needed and the Chicken and waffles was just what I needed after a long day.

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I ate every bite and washed it down with some craft cider.

The night was young but before we headed out, we decided to go back to Scott and Phoenix’s apartment and walk frankie around the neighbourhood because he is adorable and I am now a bonafided dog lover. After our little night stroll, we continued onto our next location: The Upside Down. Yes, that’s right, we went to a Stranger Things pop up bar and it was pretty awesome. The line getting into the bar was not but it was amusing to watch the drunken antics surrounding Logan Square. While we were waiting, we saw ‘missing Barb’ posters taped all over the telephone poles and a giant Eleven mural staring at you from outside the bar. Once you enter, you leave the safety of the treehouse in Hawkins and enter through a curtain to the upside down where there is a DJ and a dance floor filled with 80’s tunes and a bar making excellent cocktails such as ‘Mouthbreather’ and ‘She’s our friend and she’s crazy’. They even have the show playing on a loop in the background as well as the infamous alphabet wall.

As you can see, it was pretty awesome. Thankfully there was no demogorgon waiting for me in the restroom but unfortunately there was no barb either.

We headed home after last call and at least we escaped The Upside Down.

I awoke on saturday to meet Hannah’s father who had returned from Tampa in the living room and after having a pleasant chat, he kindly took us for breakfast in the neighbourhood diner and there is nothing better than diner pancakes and fresh orange juice. I strangely missed mid western diner food living in New York, although the food is amazing, nothing beats good old comfort food.

Again the sun was shining and the weather was wonderful, we happily walked back to the house while Hannah’s dad gave us a history tour of the neighbourhood and a brief history of the Chicago fire. It’s incredible to think that Chicago literally rebuilt itself into this incredible metropolis that it is today.

We then continued back into the city towards the cloud gate area. We actually wandered up getting lost trying to find the architecture boat tour. We ended up off the beaten track, way down south loop in the city but I didn’t mind wandering through the quiet and spacious Chicago streets. I actually ended up finding some pretty cool graffiti.

(I like to think that this represents me trying to figure out my life and where I’m headed)

We unfortunately didn’t find a boat tour so we headed back to the cloudgate area and thankfully got the last hour entry in The Art Institute of Chicago which was amazing because it was $5 cheaper which means an extra $5 for a drink.

I was in awe of all the Gauguin and Degas art that hung on the walls and the contemporary photography exhibitions were just stunning. I only have one photo however so here’s a little snippet.

This was probably my favourite photo in the whole collection. It is untitled but I like to think of it ‘A Burst Of Positivity’ because that’s what I felt when I looked at it. My anxious mind calmed for a moment and all was well (sneaky Harry Potter reference for you all).

There is also a great miniature model exhibition downstairs and it felt like walking through history as there were so many different styles and periods; everything from a 14th century gothic church to a 1930’s Art Deco living room.

The piece de resistance for the museum though had to be Monet’s water lilies.

I thought these paintings were just exquisite and gauked at them for ages, until the security guards came to usher us out and close the doors. We were back on the streets of Chicago once more and started hunted for some deep dish pizza before getting on the train out to Orland park.

We quickly stuffed our faces with pizza as we ran down the train platform before catching the train to Orland Park (Scott’s family home out in the suburbs). The train was nicely relaxing and it was nice to see the green fields pass as we moved further out of the city and into the suburbs. After running to Whole Foods to pick up some wine, we were on our way to Scott’s family home and to watch the McGregor/Mayweather fight.

Now I am not really a boxing fan but it was nice to be in the company of boxing fans. It was nice to be welcomed into a family home and be surround by friendly people and good conversation. The wine was flowing just like the conversation and I was getting pumped to watch the fight. I felt a weird sense of Irish pride talking about McGregor and Dublin. I got passionate talking about Dublin and Irish culture so much that a pang of homesickness hit me so hard that I started to choke up before the big fight. I know it sounds stupid but it’s true. I was just really homesick, it had been a long time since I had been home or seen family or friends. Maybe it was being surrounded by an Irish family made miss my own so much. I felt right at home in that moment even though I wouldn’t be watching the fight if I was in my own living room but it was still lovely to feel accepted and in good company with good food.

It was a long wait for the actually fight but it was worth the hype. We screamed and cheered at the TV screen. The fight was intense and fast; it was a thrill to watch and before we realised, it was over like that. McGregor graciously accepted defeat and we hung there gobsmacked. It was hard to believe the fight ended like that. It was not the result that everyone wanted but it was still a fun evening. We thanked Scott’s family for such wonderful hospitality and we left Merry; filled with wine and pizza and high spirits. Scott and Phoenix generously drove us home as they sang in the front seat and we fell asleep in the back seat.

Sunday morning came. Our last day and I woke up in disbelief that the time had gone by so fast. We got ready and had one final breakfast with Hannah’s parents. It felt so nice to have a proper home cooked breakfast of eggs, bacon and orange juice. It felt so nice to have good conversation at breakfast again. The feeling of homesickness washed over me once more as it made me realise that I miss home but that it’s so close. Our time on visa is limited and before I know it, I will be back in my own home with my family and of course my cats. After breakfast, we said our final goodbyes to Hannah’s parents and her cat Chala.

We left for the city once more and ended up in Scott’s apartment and said goodbye to Frankie as we left for our last deep dish pizza. We drove through the neighbourhood and I was in the back seat, watching the world go by and playing the Ukulele. It was Phoenix’s Ukulele for the record. I am not musically talented but it soothing to just make up melodies and songs while the world passes by. I was daydreaming and trying to calm my anxiety so the Ukulele helped.

We finally arrived at Gino’s East for some deep dish pizza and I couldn’t wait to devour it but unfortunately I had to as deep dish takes forever to make.But the wait was worth it as it was so heavenly.

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Just look at that prefection. It was so filling however I could only eat 2 pieces but thankfully it filled me for the flight ahead.

After pizza, we had just enough time to check out Lincoln Park Zoo.The best part: it’s free admission which is wonderful because I’ve missed free things. It’s hard to love in New York on an Intern’s budget. We wandered through the park and enjoyed strolling through all the different houses such as the reptile and primate houses. They are definitely worth exploring the next time you visit Chicago. It was filled with families and groups as well enjoying the last of the summer rays and the  good weather. I was told that it has been a mild summer this year in Chicago and I was eternally grateful for that.

Alas, our time had come and Scott, being the gentleman that he is, drove us all the way to the airport. We said our goodbyes and thanked him for his wonderful genorsity over the weekend. Chicago is a wonderful city but it was made even better by Scott, Phoenix Nick and Hannah as well as their families’ hospitality.  I will always remember it when I think about Chicago.

And on that note, I will finish this post about my love for Chicago.

Much love,

Ari

X

 

 

 

 

 

One Year On

I’m on the subway ride home,

A year ago I was on Dublin Bus awaiting what was to come.

It’s been a year- a crazy, hard, emotional and exhausting year.

It’s been messy, I’ve been a mess but the time is coming to move again.

But I will be moving forwards, not backwards, moving home but still moving forwards.

I am on the subway right now but in a few weeks, I will be back on Dublin Bus. I wonder where I will be a year from now?

Most likely riding Dublin Bus and thinking about all my journeys on the subway. All of my adventures, all of my struggles and all of my days here.

A year ago, I left home to make a home with you in New York and now we are to leave and make a new home somewhere else.

A year from now.

‘The Dead Water Bug’

There is a dead water bug on the kitchen counter.It is staring at me, mocking me and judging me.

I jump back horrified at the sight and I breathe deep because I know it’s just a water bug.

You stare at me from the doorway, talking me through the whole thing and calming me down, reassuring me that I can do this.

‘Just breathe’, you say.

I listen and take a breath as I boil the kettle and wait.

You stay with me as I watch the water bug just lying there. Still and unaware of its future. (We are similar in that regard and only in that regard.)

The steam rises and the kettle whistles. I breathe and slowly pour the scalding water on the lifeless pest.

The legs kick one final time.

It’s over. It’s dead. I pour a bit more water on it to be sure (because I am not sure of anything anymore.)

You tell me it’s fine and that I am safe. I put down the kettle and grab some paper towel to scoop up the remains and throw them in the bin. I disinfect and wipe down the counter top. I repeat aloud to myself “I am safe”, “Everything’s ok”, “I’m going to be ok”.

I turn around and you have left. You have gone to bed.

I breathe and repeat my mantra. I leave the kitchen and enter the bathroom. I wash my hands and scrub them raw. I look at myself in the mirror; I look tired in the dim grey light overhead the mirror.

I tell myself there are no more water bugs. I retire to bed knowing that there may be more water bugs tomorrow but at least I am prepared now.

“There will be no more water bugs tomorrow” I whisper to myself as I fall asleep.

Changing Seasons

It’s finally September and with that brings change. Change in the weather, change in nature and change in pace, change of lifestyle and change in career.

I was happy to party away the end of summer as Labour Day is a huge weekend-long celebration of the unofficial end of summer and the end of the gross humidity and heat. I got those summer blues. This summer has been brutal on my skin, my hair and my general mood as I feel like I haven’t slept in ages and am constantly exhausted due to the intense heat. My Irish body was not built for this bullshit. I was built for overcast and breezy spring and autumn days with a chilly wind and a hot chocolate in hand. I can’t wait to get back into my tights and jumpers. I can’t wait to lounge around in front of the fire.

So autumn is coming and it’s not just because Starbucks has started selling their pumpkin spice lattes again. Autumn is coming and with the end of summer brings back the routine of work or school. It’s that time of year again where people slumped back to their desks to work, kids kick and scream going back to school and college students drag their feet heading back to campus once more. I recognise all these feelings and rites of passages and there was a pang of sadness in my chest when I realised yesterday that I would not be going back to school or college. Institutionalised education is done for me for the moment; I’m learning new stuff every day and yet I crave the classroom structure and the support education can give an individual but in another way, I view education as a safety blanket. I can’t be a student forever and sooner rather than later, I will have to let go of the blanket.

This has been something I have been thinking about more recently as it is dawning on me more and more that everyone seems to be starting a new course or going back to college. It seems that everyone is moving forward and I have no idea where I’m heading next; my return home is approaching and I am scared of the change it will whereas I am thrilled to be going home; I thought I would have my next step thought out or what I would want to do.

For the past year, I have enjoyed my time living and working in America but now I have entered my last month, it will be a difficult transition to move home, to part ways with everything I have this year and start afresh at home. It will be a difficult month trying to finish up my internship here and soak up the last of american culture while trying to get myself ready and prepare for the move home. It’s going to be emotional. I will be an emotional mess, I just know it. Moving is never easy and moving over an ocean is even harder but it’s time to go.

‘It was only a year anyways and I can always come back’ I tell myself.

Another thing that has recently dawned on me as well is that I started college 6 years ago yesterday and also graduated from my undergrad 3 years ago. I also graduated from my postgrad 2 years ago so many anniversaries and memories have been coming up for me, on social media and in my memory as well. I remember those hectic and eventful occasions with some fond memories and the want to start over and do it all again.

It’s nearly been a year since I arrived in the U.S and soon it will all be a memory and I can’t help but wonder what will change in the coming year and what will I be doing this time next year; reminiscing about my days running around New York and day dreaming about my future?

Most likely.

With love,

Ari

X

 

 

 

 

 

‘Always Awkward’

I’ve been scribbling a lot of poetry in my diary recently and while a lot of things are going on in my life with the transition of moving back home soon; I’ve been extremely busy and swamped. I’ve been trying to do everything and still trying to find the work/balance and finding that in New York is extremely difficult.

I have a blog post in mind for my recent trip to Chicago this past weekend but for the moment, here’s a poem I wrote on the subway the other night:

Always Awkward

‘I will always be awkward,

I will always be clumsy,

I will always be messy,

I will always be unpolished,

No matter how hard I try….

Awkward is how I stay.

I will always trip, fall, bruise and scar.

I will always look like I have greasy hair and oily skin, never looking clean.

I am clean but the nerves and anxiety make that hard to look well put together.

I fear people judge me, look at my unevenly shaved legs, chipped nails, ungroomed eyebrows, tired eyes and plain face and think I am disgusting.

They are probably think I have no self-respect but I actually do. I try very hard to be presentable.

I can never get it right.

Always wanting to just be normal but never getting there. Always messy hair and a read face. Red with ache, red with sweat and red with exhaustion. Looking like I crawled out of a cave and maybe I did however my body hurts and aches from the simplest things.

I have made my routine simple by being restricted to be simple. I have no choice sometimes.

My hair will always be messy,

My clothes will always be grumpy and stained,

My bag will always be attached to my back and bumping into things.

My bag full to the brim with homework, journals, ideas and unfinished thoughts.

I may look awkward but I am trying my hardest not to be.’

Finding my artistic voice

I am still finding my artistic voice/vocation and those of you who know me well or have been keepingup  with my blog know that I have been struggling with this for some time now.

Yesterday was an interesting one because I was wall to wall busy with creative activities. I have missed that feeling because I feel that I do not get the artistic satisfaction from my internship as much as I would like. I feel like I am not learning what I want to or what I should know but still, I am trying to learn as much as I can because education is everything. I am taking some part acting classes while in New York and I feel more comfortable getting back into the swing of rehearsing and scene analysis yet auditioning has not been going well for me. I have decided I need more training and will continue to pursue this when I return home and into the future, again I don’t know what path I am going down but I’m trying my best and education is a good first step. I am taking a Meisner masterclass located in the Players Theater in the West Village and while I am enjoying it and learning a lot; I still feel like I am not doing enough for myself so I still auditioning in my spare time for plays and short films.

I awoke yesterday with a mix sense of nerves but excitement and hope. I was hopeful that it would be a busy but good day.  I awoke like I usually do in the mornings: tired, hot and with a sense of restlessness.  I find it is impossible to get a good night sleep during the summer months even with the A.C on full blast, my thoughts are going a mile a minute and I can’t seem to turn them off so I spend most of the night tossing and turning. I arose from my bed exhausted but also determined to get through the day and before I knew it, I was running out the door already late for class and thanks to the stupid train delays but none the less, I arrived only 10 minutes late and ready to go. I was low in confidence at the start but after me and my scene partner rehearsed our scene a few times over with direction from our teacher, I was feeling much better around the scene and the work I had done. After class, I went to a nearby cafe to rehearse over my lines and tried to eat lunch however my stomach was in knots and made it impossible to eat anything.

It was also 30 degrees and 86% humidity so I was slowly turning into one sweaty betty considering I was already nervous. Naturally, I thought it was a great idea to walk 20 minutes to my audition in the sweltering sun and heat and by the time I got there, I was gross with sweat but I did my best to freshen up and register for an audition slot. It was being held in the Drama BookShop in Times Square and it was packed with people either browsing or rehearsing in the aisles. I sign in and registered, gave them a copy of my scene and facepalmed when they asked for a copy of my headshot and resume…I forgot to bring one in my folder…the main thing they needed. I think I was off to a rocky start; I apologised and said I had emailed them a copy to which they said that was fine. I tried to get into rehearsal zone and started practicing in the corner while trying to calm my nerves. I knew my lines and the scene well but still a little extra practice never hurts.

I thought I was getting on quite well with the company members at the registration desk as we were chatting before I was called in; basically me trying to redeem my stupidity from earlier. I was called to go downstairs to the theater space and waited to be called in. They had another Irish girl in their company to be my scene partner so it was strange to be acting opposite an Irish accent again. I was greeted by the artistic director and led up to the stage area and sat on stage in front of the whole company. Talk about daunting but I was ready. I paused and took a breath.

The scene had started, I knew I could do this and yet just like that I tripped up on a line and that led to my scene partner getting confused. I tried to save myself by doubling up but that led to more confusion for her. I fucked up. I shook it off and kept the scene going as if nothing happened. I thought I recovered, it was time for my character’s monologue and I was nailing it, I was giving it my all with passion and anger but it wasn’t enough. The next thing I hear is ‘Ok, you can stop there; I’ve seen enough, thank you for coming in’; it was the artistic director down the back of the room and I was dumbfounded. I was only half way through the scene…and I was finished just like that. I was applauded by the company and shown out the door. I thanked them for their time and thanked the girls at the registration desk and left.

I blew it. I tried so hard and I still blew it. The knocks don’t get any easier because I really wanted this opportunity. I just need a creative boost; I just want to be part of a creative community that would help me be a better actor and artist but it has been something I have struggled with while being in New York. Maybe it’s a sign I’m meant to do something else, maybe I’m no good or maybe I need to go down a different route. So I left that audition feeling pretty deflated….but not for long as shortly after, I was on my way uptown to attend my first artist salon. My friend Caroline had invited me to attend the monthly artist salon hosted by the Irish American Writers & Artists .

It is a ‘organization dedicated to the celebration of Irish American writers, actors, musicians, filmmakers and artists’ and this was the perfect place for my to showcase my writing, especially my work in progress piece High Heels Are Not My Friends. I was registered to read at a 5 minute slot and again the nerves were bubbling but I was determined to feel the fear and do it anyways. Everyone at the event was so friendly and supportive and It made me feel better about performing my own work. After a short introduction, I began. I was shaking and not used to speaking into a microphone but I kept going. I kept going and let the words flow and it felt scary but in a good way.

I finished and awkwardly moved aside from the microphone and was met with an array of warm faces and applause. It felt good especially after feeling the crushing blow from early that afternoon. I awkwardly said thank you and returned to my seat to be met with ‘well done’ from Conor and Caroline. I’m glad I stood up and performed.

Afterwards the salon was finished, we mingled and I thanked the organisers for having me and letting me share my work. I highly recommend attending an open mic night or a salon event as it is a great way to practice your work/performance aloud and get  constructive feedback as well. I definitely enjoyed my time and hope to go again in the future before I return home.

It’s crazy how your confidence can change in a short time and with a good amount of belief, self-care and positive energy, you can achieve it. You just have to keep going.

Just like I will keep going.

Much love,

Ari

X

 

Boston Bound

As much as I have been using this blog to creatively to vent and hash out ideas and thoughts; I also want to write about my adventures. After all, it is called Ari’s Adventures In The Big Apple. So I finally had one! Now every day can be an adventure in New York but for once, I actually left the city for the weekend and it was so refreshing. Taking time out of your daily routine and environment are vital for relaxation and your spirits. New York is a tough city, it can weigh you down sometimes so this break was well needed.

Boston is perfect for a weekend away. It’s a cleaner, friendlier and smaller version than New York so I felt right at home and of course there’s the Irish connection. Boston is full of Irish expats and Irish Americans and there’s never a shortage of good pubs to drink in. Unfortunately the trip to Boston was extremely unpleasant…cue the Megabus. Now, the Megabus is (as Conor would say) ‘the Ryanair of buses’ and that’s a pretty accurate description. It’s cheap, gets you from A to B in one piece and has just enough leg room/ personal space to recline back in peace and sleep for the 5 hour journey however we were caught in extremely bad traffic and arrived in Boston at 3:30pm on Friday. We were meant to be there at 2pm. We also did not have time to grab any breakfast or snacks for the long journey so that made it even worse. Imagine being on a bus, no water, no snacks, the wi-fi is not working, there’s a child kicking your seat and you’re stuck in traffic. Worse bus ride ever but at least it was cheap.

Things looked up when we finally arrived in Boston and the sun was shining and the day was still young. First thing first was to get food so we scoffed our faces with sandwiches in South Station and then headed to our Airbnb in Medford. Thankfully Boston is a bit cheaper than New York so we decided to treat ourselves and get an Uber. Our Airbnb host was unfortunately out but thankfully she gave me the door code to get in and it was like entering a home away from home. There were selves lined with books, DVDs and board games. 100 board games to be precise. We were also treated to a breakfast and coffee bar; she even had her own bar in the living room. We were being spoiled in this very cute B&B style apartment. There was even a tray or mints and chocolates beside an information and tourist folder but the best part of the Airbnb was Snuggles the cat who greeted us with welcoming meows and belly rubs. 20424547_10155058599671919_1826285037_o

Just look at that cute little face! Snuggles showed us around and helped us get comfortable in our room by showing us how to knead the pillow to get extra comfy and rolled around on the bed. After freshening up, we were ready to hit the town and one short Uber ride later, we were enjoying a drink overlooking Faneuil Hall Marketplace at Anthem Kitchen and Bar. I had a ‘Far from the tree nova hopped cider’ and at 8% a bottle, I was getting in the holiday mood and buzzed. We thankfully had a lovely waitress who accepted my Irish drivers licence and 2 other forms of I.D because apparently under Massachusetts law, they don’t accept foreign drivers licences as official I.D, only passports. I was lucky because I had left my passport back in New York.

After we had our drinks, we wandered around the marketplace taking in the sights and people watching before heading to North 26 Restaurant & Bar for dinner and if you’re ever in Boston, I highly recommended going there and getting the Lobster deal for $20 because it was so much food and it was SOOOO good. 1 1/4 lobster, clam chowder, corn on the cob, potatoes and dinner rolls. It was a feast and the server there, Cathy, was enough to show me how to properly open the shell.

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I struggled to finish it and could barely move after dinner but it was worth it. We then took a stroll down to the waterfront. It was beautifully lit with fairy lights wrapped around the archway through Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park. We watched the boats in the dock area bob in the water and people walking around the area. It was so peaceful compared to the hustle and bustle of New York. We then continued onto The Tap Trailhouse for one final drink before heading back to the Airbnb and getting some much-needed sleep. Although the trip started out rough, I was highly impressed by my first night in Boston.

We woke up early on saturday morning, had breakfast and filled our bags with water and snacks (Shout out to Shalene, our lovely Airbnb host) and headed out to see Harvard University. As soon as we pulled up outside the red bricked walls and black ironed gates, I could feel my brain turning to mush. I will never be as smart as the students at Harvard and that’s a fact. Our first stop was the Harvard Book Store and it is a book worm’s paradise, I enjoyed exploring all the aisles however they had nothing on my reading list in stock so I left emptied handed but still impressed. We crossed into the campus, through the iron gates and wandered into Harvard Yard. The green trees and plush square surrounded by red brick buildings is a sight to see, regardless of swarms of tourists around. Nevertheless, we admired the buildings and snuck onto the tail end of a tour group to get some background and historical facts.

Our tired but happy faces outside the Widener Library.

I don’t think the tour leader even noticed we tagged on but we did and followed her around the yard for nearly 30 minutes until we jumped ship and entered the Harvard Art Museum. By cheekily using our expired student I.D’s, we got student admission for only $10! A Bargain and what I miss most about being a student- the discounts that come with a student card.

The museum had a wonderful mix of Contemporary art, Asian art, pottery, sculpture and Renaissance art so I happily wandered around the rooms for ages, getting lost in the different rooms and exhibitions. My stomach growling was the only thing to bring me back to reality and with that we said goodbye to Harvard and hello to lunch. We hopped on the shuttle headed for Boston Common and grabbed some lunch in Silverstone Bar and Grill. The next thing on our list was a shopping trip to Primark because I have been deprived of  cheap but reliable clothing and located downtown is a huge 5 story Primark, so that already beats the 2 hour trek to get to the Primark on Staten Island. After spending 2 hours wandering around and hitting the changing rooms; I left the shop with a big bag and a big smile on my face (I was smiling to hide the pain of the pending transaction that was coming.)  I was parched and by parched I mean I was dying for a drink as I was on holidays so it was wine time. We wandered through downtown until we dropped into Scholars American Bistro and Cocktail Lounge and I indulged in a glass of prosecco because that’s what I do on holidays. I soaked up the atmosphere while enjoying my glass and guessing which bartender/waitress was on the J1 summer visa. The answer was at least one as I heard a Wexford accent behind the bar.  We downed our glasses and headed onto our next location as the night was young yet. We got the shuttle to Assembly Square and as soon as we passed Mike’s Pastry, my mouth watered and I had to get a treat. I couldn’t decide over all the cakes, pastries and cannolis so I finally ended up getting a Boston cream pie and it was delicious and so filling.

We headed down the sunlight path through Assembly Row to get to Muse Paintbar for an evening of sip and painting. The deal is $30 for a an hour painting class and they have all the materials provided so you follow the instructor on stage step by step. There is a fully stocked bar as well but thankfully they had to close the kitchen so to compensate; they gave everyone a free drink! My favourite surprise. I settled into my work station, mixing my paints and sipping my wine while the instructor began the class. It was a lovely way to get back into art without having to rearrange my whole bedroom to do it. They also had a party playlist going on in the background which was just the best addition to the activity as I jammed to classic Spice Girls and Britney Spears while painting. Another lovely surprise was that they ordered pizza for us as a second apology for the lack of Kitchen. I already loved the free drink but of course I was taking free pizza. I was in heaven; painting, prosecco and pizza, what more could a girl ask for! When we  had finished our paintings, we cleaned our brushes and everyone rushed to pose with their canvases on the stage and naturally so did we.

(We’re like two natural Bob Ross style painters).

Unfortunately we could not bring our paintings with us as we were going back into the city and then eventually back to New York so we parted ways but at least we’ll always have the memories. We left feeling tipsy and on a high note so we went back to the North end for dinner and drinks. I had fallen in love with the food scene in Boston and was hungry for more seafood so I ordered a hot lobster roll at the Bostonia Public House. It was perfection- the roll was soft and warm and the lobster was dripping in butter and the prosecco was cold and crisp. I nearly entered a second food coma. We sat there finishing our wine and people watching as it was a saturday night and the bar was packed with characters. It was entertaining to watch them all mingling until a crowd of loud and drunken Bros crashed upon our table and we knew it was time to leave and that the was a cute cat and a private bar waiting for us back in Medford.

Waking up on Sunday was bitter-sweet because I did not want to leave the comfort of our nice, comfy and clean Airbnb. I want to call work and tell them that I was never coming back; I live in Boston now but alas, reality beckoned and we had tickets for the Megabus that evening. We got dressed and packed, said goodbye to Snuggles with tears in our eyes and headed out for our final day in Boston.

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A holiday away for me wouldn’t be complete without Sunday Brunch. I used to brunch a lot but unfortunately because I work most weekends I never have time for Brunch or I’m too broke for brunch in New York.  We headed to The Beehive for a farewell brunch and it was just delicious. The best waffles I’ve had in ages;  I had to ask especially as they had taken them off the menu but the waitress nicely put in the order. We enjoyed our brunch outside in the sun while lots of dogs strolled past us. Boston is also a great dog city.

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(The picture doesn’t do it justice.)

After brunch, we strolled to the Boston Public Gardens and soaked up the sun as we watched the row boats and swans paddling in the water. It was a hot summer day and the gardens were full of people enjoying a lazy sunday out. We stop to take some pictures on the lake but unfortunately they’re Polaroid so excuse them for not being in the blog post. We lazily strolled through into Boston Common and walked all the way down common wealth avenue to get books in Barnes and Noble and snacks in Trader Joes for the journey back to New York because I want to be prepared this time for the Megabus.

We dragged ourselves to South Train Station and grabbed bottled water and a sandwich for the bus. It felt strange that only 48 hours previously we were in the same station and now we were about to leave again. As we boarded the bus back and settled in for the long journey ahead, I was sad to say goodbye to such a great city and grateful for a much-needed break away.

If you’re ever in Boston, you should seriously check out these attractions.

Much Love,

Ari

X

Having an Artistental crisis

Have you ever wondered what you were doing with your art?

Have you ever wondered if you should change medium or craft?

Or have you ever wondered whether or not you should give up on art completely?

Don’t worry because I’ve been in the exact same boat for a little while but I think the black clouds are lifting.

For as long as I can remember; I’ve always had a fascination with art in general, mostly due to not understanding many of the other subjects in school but also because it was exciting and fun to explore different types from craft, design, theatre, dance, music and film. I’ve always called myself an ‘artist’ and see myself as a creative yet I’ve feel like I don’t create much art; am I a fraud or am I still finding my niche? I think the answer is yes to both but that could be the negativity setting in. Worst own critic syndrome. That and the anxiety of failing hits me pretty now and again

 

What if I’m not good enough? What if people hate it? What if it doesn’t work out? Etc. etc. etc. You can get pretty exhausted just even thinking about it

 

I also don’t know what I want to pursue anymore- it feels like theater and film are slowly going nowhere and I’m scared that I’m too far gone to start again in a new art venture and even if I did; what would I do and most importantly where would I start? I think that’s another thing; have I actually learned anything in terms of creating/producing work? I honestly don’t know so how to start again. I apologize for all rhetorical questions also. I just in a mess right trying to figure it all out and sure that’s what this year abroad is about I suppose. Maybe I will go home and want a brand new career or vocation or maybe I’ll want to try something new.

 

I suppose I need to ask myself: What type of artist do I want to be?

What type of art do I want to create and

Can I realistically make a living from it?

So many fun questions to answer and I am trying to give myself time to find it out but I’m scared I will miss opportunities and chances if I don’t make a decision now! Stuck in between a rock and a hard place yet that’s probably how most people go through in their twenties. Sometimes I enjoy getting lost and staying lost but most of the time I just wonder: am I on the right path or making any progress at all?

I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

Crisis…fading, stay tuned.

Ari

X

‘Bedroom’

Below is a poem/ dramatic monologue I wrote after experiencing Enda Walsh’s Rooms installation. There are three rooms: ‘Hotel room 503’, ‘Kitchen’ and ‘Girl’s Bedroom’ and you enter each room and explore all the nooks and crannies as you listen to a character’s monologue about their experience in the room.

I was inspired to write my own monologue entitled Bedroom

 

‘I feel trapped, yet I can leave my apartment and my bedroom whenever I want. I can go outside, I can go to the park, walk along the river, take the train and yet I feel the gravital pull back to the darkness. The darkness being enclosed in that dusty, grimey dark apartment in Queens.

 I feel trapped there.

I feel trapped however I also felt trapped back home in Ireland. Trapped in a void, a mindless, endless routine and yet I feel trapped again as if I have switched one cage out for another. Both in which I have no power or rights. In one, I have no body autonomy and in the other, I am a female immigrant… the enemy in the other’s eyes. Why did I leave the cage in the first place? I should have stayed in my room in Dublin and just stayed there amongst the dread and predictability. It’s know as ‘comfort’ in some eyes, I saw it was an entrapment and somehow I long to go back there to the place I called home.

I never felt at home in this new room, this apartment, in this city. I am a stranger, a foreigner, an alien far removed from the politics and the culture here. I tried to plant my feet in the soil and grown again. To plant new seeds and root myself in a new life but all I found were dead leaves and behind them, dried earth and steel bars.

There is nothing natural or organic about this land anymore. My body aches and my feet are sore. This cage gets smaller everyday, the light gets brighter but it hurts my eyes so I retreat further into the darkness. Further back into the room that I’ve grown to both hate and find ‘comfort’ in. I find peace twisted into the solitude.

I’ve spent many hours and days in this room, looking out at the brick walls that surround me and steal my view from any trees, flowers, of any natural colours. The dull colours of grey, maroon and eggshell haunt my nightmares.

I need to escape, back to my first room, back to Dublin, back to ‘home’.

I feel the pull of the Motherland. I feel may be trudging dead earth in a foreign land but my thoughts and spirits are with her, dragging my ‘home’.

I feel trapped, yet I can leave my apartment and my bedroom whenever I want. I can go outside, I can go to the park, walk along the river, take the train and yet I feel the gravital pull back to the darkness. The darkness being enclosed in that dusty, grimey dark apartment in Queens.

I feel trapped there.

I feel trapped however I also felt trapped back home in Ireland. Trapped in a void, a mindless, endless routine and yet I feel trapped again as if I have switched one cage out for another. Both in which I have no power or rights. In one, I have no body autonomy and in the other, I am a female immigrant… the enemy in the other’s eyes. Why did I leave the cage in the first place? I should have stayed in my room in Dublin and just stayed there amongst the dread and predictability. It’s know as ‘comfort’ in some eyes, I saw it was an entrapment and somehow I long to go back there to the place I called home.

I never felt at home in this new room, this apartment, in this city. I am a stranger, a foreigner, an alien far removed from the politics and the culture here. I tried to plant my feet in the soil and grown again. To plant new seeds and root myself in a new life but all I found were dead leaves and behind them, dried earth and steel bars.

There is nothing natural or organic about this land anymore. My body aches and my feet are sore. This cage gets smaller everyday, the light gets brighter but it hurts my eyes so I retreat further into the darkness. Further back into the room that I’ve grown to both hate and find ‘comfort’ in. I find peace twisted into the solitude.

I’ve spent many hours and days in this room, looking out at the brick walls that surround me and steal my view from any trees, flowers, of any natural colours. The dull colours of grey, maroon and eggshell haunt my nightmares.

I need to escape, back to my first room, back to Dublin, back to ‘home’.

I feel the pull of the Motherland. I feel may be trudging dead earth in a foreign land but my thoughts and spirits are with her, pulling my ‘home’.’