Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Ireland, Freaking Hurricane Sandy, and my Tattoo (Yep, you read that right!)

So, I suck. I'm sorry!

It's a little sad that when I was writing my last post, I was on the verge of leaving for Ireland, and here I am now, a month later, meaning a month has passed already since the trip. I can't believe it.

Part of the reason I've put off writing about it is that...well, it's just really hard to put it down in words. It was absolutely amazing. I had a few specific dreams in going, and I'm happy to report I achieved them: befriend an awesome elderly couple? Check. Bottle-feed a lamb on a farm? Check. Sing with an Irish band? Check. Yup, I am awesome.

Another reason I've delayed this is that I've already recounted the trip to most of you in person. Maybe someday I'll feel inspired to do the daily breakdown, but for now, I'll say firstly that there is an album on my Facebook page with a large portion of the photos (titled Ireland 2012) if you would like to see photos and have not checked there yet. Secondly, here are a few highlights if you want a quick glimpse of the trip:

Also, I'm writing this post-Sandy. That storm was a bitch, dude. The state pretty much shut down as of Monday, though the brunt of the storm didn't make landfall til 6:15pm that evening, and didn't bombard our area until about 8:00 that night. We watched, horror-struck all day as the coastline of New Jersey was eaten away. Boardwalks swallowed whole. Here in Btown, we were extremely lucky. The winds truly started to howl at around 7:30. We cooked an early dinner in case our power went out, which it did, around 8:15 or so. Cue my mini-anxiety attack. It was so creepy to hear the wind, hear branched cracking, but not be able to see much of anything.

In addition to the dark, our windows were spattered with so much rain, visibility was really low. What we did see, though, was plenty of good-sized tree limbs downed, and the loud crack we heard was a huge part of the tree out front falling. Thankfully, it did not take down the power line, nor did it land on any of the buildings. Our power came back on at 10:30-ish, and has been back ever since. We haven't ventured out yet, so I can't speak to where else power is out (I suspect most of the houses in town are dark--that's how it went with Irene, too), but it seems, from what we can see, that our area was truly spared the damage other towns suffered.

I'm thankful, too, for Facebook and cell phones. It was reassuring to keep up with friends and family, and to know they are safe. Tomorrow will be our third Hurricane Day, and I'm starting to feel a bit cabin fevery...we'll see how it goes. I'm hoping roads and things will be recovered enough to get out and about for a little bit. To those still recovering and cleaning up damage, know our prayers are with you for a safe and quick trek back to normalcy.

And yes. Tattoo. I has one! I know it may be surprising to a lot of you, but I've actually wanted one for a really long time. But I couldn't commit to a design or a location. To bring things full circle here, I decided there was no better time or reason to finally get one than to commemorate our trip to Ireland. So I started getting some inspiration before we left, and absorbed lots of ideas while there. When we came home, I called the tattoo shop, No Ka Oi in Philly, to book an appointment with artist Cindy. Last weekend was my consultation and this past Sunday (yes, as Sandy was heading right for us!) I had the piece done. Long story short: I created the design with the help of MS Paint. Decided I wanted it on my wrist. Learned my wrist was too small for the level of detail. Decided to move it to my ankle, where it now resides.

How was it? I mean, I knew it would hurt, and I know the ankle is a particularly painful location, but it honestly wasn't too bad. It hurt, yes, but after a while the whole area hurt and kinda plateaued/numbed. Until she hit the shamrock on the ankle bone. That hurt like hell. At the moment, it's still a bit sore all over, but the ankle bone feels like it has a bad bruise on it. Probably the weirdest sensation was to feel the gun vibrating. So it was a wiggly kind of pain.

I had a fabulous experience, and highly recommend the shop in general and Cindy in particular! Also, it's a woman-owned business, and most of the artists are women. So rock that!

Because I know I'll be asked, here are the meanings:
1. Circle of Celtic knots--the knot, in Celtic tradition, is a symbol for life after death as well as neverending love--the same concept as a circle--no beginning or end.
2. Shamrock--probably the best-known symbol of Ireland. And since it truly is incorporated into ancient as well as modern Ireland, I didn't feel cliche in using it. Seriously, this little guy is in architecture, in jewelry, in clothing, art...it's everywhere.
3. The kitty is Pangur Ban, a character in a poem written by a monk in the 8th century. The poem is about little Pangur hunting mice while the author is hunting words and inspiration. The poem is linked with the Book of Kells, which is an incomprehensibly beautiful illuminated Gospel text. I mean, come on? It's a cat, first of all, but it's also deeply linked to poetry and Irish history culture. The likeness of Pangur here is actually his cartoon character in the movie The Secret of Kells, which came out a few years ago. It's a great movie about--I highly recommend it.