Wide Awake in Wonderland

We’re only dancing on this earth for a short while

Old churches, new clothes August 20, 2008

I’m having a semi-surreal moment, sitting in a nice little living room in Cork, listening to some Germans try to puzzle through the instructions for Monopoly and watching Mariah Carey vamp around in a microscopic silver dress and tube socks on TV. Mariah Carey is an interesting study in rebounding. Certainly no stranger to bottoming out, she seems to be back in fine form. I’ve never necessarily been a fan of her style of music, but anyone who can shatter glass with their voice is fine by me. Anyway, she reminds me of a good quote I read recently, attributed to Mary Pickford of silent film fame, “Failure is not the falling down. Failure is the staying down.”

Anyway, realizing my own propensity to pass judgment way too quickly, allow me to note that European life – much like American – sure does seem to revolve around retail. Old churches and retail. If pressed, that is how I would summarize the last few weeks of my life: She traveled at length, encountering numerous old churches and endless opportunities to buy stuff.

Don’t get me wrong, the old me would’ve been thrilled: Buying clothes that I had nowhere to put and no time to wear and driving up the weight of my luggage into the three digit range. However along with some other reality checks, I’ve recognized that as just one further symptom of the malady of not living my life. Not that I can or would speak for anyone else, but in my case, clothes came to personify me more than i actually did. Somehow my identity got strangely wrapped up in my own exterior and what i was projecting. Beyond the paycheck, the only other thing I loved about my old job was the excuse to buy great clothes.

Not to minimize my sincere feelings for my clothes: I do love them – passionately. It’s just that when you get to the point that you could personally clothe a small nation, you maybe need to stop and reevaluate?

Anyway, without all my cute stuff, I feel a bit like a slob, and not quite like “me.” I did pick up a blazer on clearance at H&M (for warmth as much as anything, but the fact that its tailored and looks polished didn’t hurt). Walking around the last few weeks, I’m struck by how people treat you when you’re in jeans and a t-shirt and carrying a giant backpack. They treat you, quite frankly, like you’re beneath them.

It’s odd, because just a month ago I was the same person, only in a suit, and that apparently made all the difference. I remember noting the same difference at the grocery store – the difference whether i went in dressed for work or on a Saturday morning in my running clothes. We are a superficial people. Case in point, the “band” now on TV – the Pussycat Dolls. Maybe I’m not giving them enough credit? The lyrics are so bad (“When I grow up, I wanna have boobies.”) maybe they actually wrote them themselves?

Meanwhile, I’m in a super small hostel here in Cork. I’m sharing a room with a guy who is apparently living here (according to the girl that checked me in). I haven’t met him, but judging from his pile of stuff on the floor, he’s a smoker – but a smoker without loyalty. He had packs from at least eight different brands lying around. Maybe he’s doing some taste testing or market research or something? Maybe he has multiple personalities? Hopefully none of them is a serial killer…

Anyway, and more importantly, there is no Internet of any kind at this place. although I believe there’s a cafe in Cork where I can upload this. Moreover, tomorrow I’m off to Schull (at the very southern tip of Ireland), a town with a population of 700. That stated, if I fall out of contact for a couple days, rest assured that I’m writing the blog, I just can’t get online to post it. In that case, Saturday will be a bonanza of more exciting news and babbling. Yippy skippy.


If you happen to talk to him, wish Tim a happy birthday!