Here I was thinking I could sort of cruise through the last three weeks. Instead, we’re entering Round 3: You Survived Culture Shock Mostly And You’ve Experienced Office Drama, Now Challenge Yourself Socially.
Last night, I had dinner with Mary, her husband, and Mary’s longtime friend Hannah before we went to a concert at St. Finbarr’s Cathedral. Hannah is retiring soon, after a career in computer science. She studied chemistry through her PhD because it was what her parents did, but went back for a BA in history because she preferred arts. It sounds like she’s brilliant and well-read and well-traveled, and probably a very cool person to know, but I’m pretty intimidated by her. She offered to take me to the coast this weekend – it’s very nice of her, but it’s still weird to me that people are going out of their way to be uncommonly nice. Maybe I’m just a worldly, jaded, and embittered grown-up now (or maybe I was just in a sorority) but I keep suspecting people of having ulterior motives.
(Is “ulterior” ever used without “motives?” It’s like “jilted,” it doesn’t really stand alone.)
Honestly, after all of this being a “grown-up” and having a quasi-job and trying to prove how adult and capable I can be, I just feel like I’m back in high school. I’m so anxious for people to take me seriously when I know they don’t fully because of my age.
Anyway, the concert we went to was really nice. We saw a small chamber orchestra playing most of the familiar classical pieces – Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, a Bach piece, lots of things I’d heard before but never knew the names. The music was lovely, but for the entire first part (the entire Four Seasons) no one applauded. Dead silence at every pause. We didn’t have a program, and I sort of wondered if they had requested that we not applaud, but I’d never heard of anything like that and maybe it was just a case of no one wanting to be the first to clap, but then I didn’t want to be the first to clap, etc. Which made it kind of hard to settle in and enjoy the music. But during the second half I resolved to clap, dang it, and so finally there was applause.
The really great part of the concert was finally getting to see the inside of the cathedral. Kaitlin had made a face when I said I was excited to see it, saying it really wasn’t that great. Well, it’s “not that great” according to someone who’s lived with it their whole lives. It’s a cathedral, and it’s full of carved stone and painted ceilings and stained glass and mosaics and red marble. It’s not 500 years old, sure, but it’s still grand and beautiful. And of course, I forgot my camera.
But as an added bonus, I got to see the hidden lower floors! The line for the bathrooms before the concert was getting dismal, so one of the volunteers led us down some creaky old stairs into the underbelly. It wasn’t a crypt or anything exciting like that – just a kitchen/meeting room – but still, it was sort of cool to see a part of the cathedral I wouldn’t ordinarily see, even if it was just a regular basement.
Everyone in the office is pretty tickled that I’m so excited over their churches. I think the best explanation for it is just the “grass is always greener” syndrome. Stuff is different, which automatically makes it cooler.
Now that the end is approaching, trying to figure out how to ship a few things home that I won’t need on vacation. Mailboxes Etc. tried to charge me a minimum of 170 euro for a 10-kilo box (their smallest size, and no, there are no missing decimals). Fortunately Mary’s daughter is studying in the USA and Mary sends her packages through the Irish post, which should only cost around 16 euro for 5 kilos. I was willing to pay up to 30, even 40 euro, but 170 just sounds like it should be illegal. The first quote he gave me was 190!
Is tomorrow Friday? My perception of time has gone completely out the window. Maybe once the date shifts into September things will start making more sense.