All posts by mush

Where the deer and the antelope range…

What a difference more than a month makes, huh? I’m home. Home from the range. Home on the range. Home any which way but the range. Just home. And it’s wonderful.

First week back was a whirlwind of apartment finding and fast food. 2nd week back was a whirlwind of work and re-acclimatizing to the ways of UCC. 3rd, 4th and 5th weeks back have been, well, familiar.

At work, it feels like I was both away for ever and have never left the place. It has both changed and stayed the same. Schroedinger’s workplace. Still, I’m glad to be back there. Sure, I miss those crazy fuckers in eXplorance in Montréal for sure. But I’m also enjoying getting back into the swing of things with colleagues I haven’t worked with in a couple of years here in UCC too. The heartfelt welcome-backs have been incredible heartening. I’ve a busy plate in front of me but definitely relishing the challenge.

It’s been quiet enough socially. No mad, mad nights so far. But a few enjoyable ones all the same. It’s been good to catch up with folks slowly. I’ve also come to the conclusion that I hate hate hate loud, noisy bars. Give me a good old-fashioned “old man pub” any day. At least until it’s time to go to the late bar.

I got me a new car too – a Toyota Avensis that I’m calling Desmond. He’s maroon and has a 06-D reg, which we won’t hold against him. And so far, he’s a fine replacement for my previous car, Daurice the Yaris. I like having a car again. The 1600 mile road trip hasn’t turned me off driving it would seem.

It’s good to be back. Close to friends. Close to family. Close to home. It feels right to be here. Of course that could just be the glow of the change, the return, the what-have-you. But so far, it’s so good. Looking forward to the coming weeks, months and years. Putting down some roots, enjoying growing back into my Irish life.

Later,

Mush

The Road Home Part Two

When last I posted we had just arrived in Tijuana. That was a week ago. I’m now sitting in Keflavik airport in Iceland waiting to board the flight to Cork.

The last week of our holiday had it’s ups and downs. We discovered that Tijuana is not for us. The heat was a definite factor, staying in an art gallery with no air conditioning. But we also found it difficult to really experience the place beyond the tourist area. Plus it felt dangerous as hell. Still, it was worth the visit and we’d be kicking ourselves if we’d travelled the length of the west coast of the US, and hadn’t popped across the border. We did manage to grab ourselves some culture while we were there as well. I wouldn’t be in a rush back there all the same.

After Tijuana it was back across the border to San Diego. I loved this city. It’s clean and sensible and felt welcoming. We felt like we were back on our feet. Still had the heat to deal with, but San Diego is a close second to Vancouver for both of us in terms of the cities we visited. We took it handy for the most part – the previous nearly three weeks having left us pretty zonked. But we did have Comic Con to enjoy! Now, unfortunately it’s nearly impossible to get tickets for the con itself but we were still in town and managed to soak up loads of the atmosphere. Plus there was loads of fringe events. Highlight for me was meeting Steve Zaragoza and Mike Falzone who have one of my favourite podcasts – Dynamic Banter. If you like off the wall, weird funny boys talking nonsense I highly recommend it.

They were super funny and super lovely at the meet-n-greet afterwards. They took a few minutes with everyone who had turned up to their live podcast recording. Just fantastic.

Another highlight for me was a visit to the Star Trek Discovery gallery, where they had props and uniforms from the new show on display. As you may have gathered I’m a bit of a fan of the Star Treks so it was cool to get a sneak preview of the upcoming show.

Overall, we had a lovely relaxing nerd filled time in San Diego. Would visit again. Especially if I can ever get actual tickets to Comic-Con!

And so on Friday, we headed back to the traffic quagmire that is LA to catch our flight out from LAX. Flying WOW air, we had a 17 hour layover in Reykjavik as an added bonus. Gave me a chance to show Seán a great gastropub I visited the last time I was here. We were pretty knackered but we still got a flavour for the town.

It also gave us a chance to get a few hours sleep in a bed as well, instead of curling up in a ball on some airport lounge seat. So here we are, an hour before we fly back to Cork. It’s been an incredible roadtrip – I drove a total of 1600 miles; we saw some amazing cities, and some not so amazing ones. But we’ve had a blast and didn’t kill each other (which is always an achievement for  any married couple on an extended holiday I reckon).

It’s also a bit bitter-sweet to be putting the final lid on our North American adventure. The last two and three quarter years have been amazing. We’ve made new friends, seen more of the world and generally have grown a bit more as people (sappy as shite I know). I hope I can keep some of the Montréal spirit alive when I get back. That live-and-let-live attitude that allows for such diversity is one of the greatest gifts I got from my time there and it would be a shame to lose it.

So, looking forward to seeing friends and family and getting ourselves settled back into Cork life. I start my new job on August 1st – I’m UCC’s new Website Content Strategist, working in the Marketing Department. It’ll be a bit sad not to be working in IT services, but they’re a good bunch in the Office of Marketing and Communications so I’m looking forward to the new challenge.

Later,

Mush

The Long Road Home Part One

It’s a beautiful day here in Tijuana. Maybe a bit too beautiful when you’re in an apartment with no air con, but gorgeous nonetheless. We’ve been pretty lucky with the weather actually. Glorious, so it has been for our trip so far.

And what a trip it’s been! We’ve travelled by road the entire length of the west coast of the continental United States (and a little above and below too for good measure) to date and it’s not over yet.

We started in Vancouver, BC on the 1st of July. Two layovers on our flight from Montréal meant that we managed to add two more Canadian provinces to our list of “provinces that we’ve spent even a little bit of time in” that now includes: Newfoundland, Québec, Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia. And to do that on Canada’s 150th birthday felt extra special. Vancouver itself was great. A very special feeling city. Very different to Montréal but inimitably Canadian all the same. The highlight for me was the cycle around Stanley Park, a gorgeous urban park right on the edge of the city where forest meets sea meets city.

From Vancity, we bussed it to Seattle, the first American city on our trip. Gotta say, Vancouver was a tough act to follow. But we enjoyed our couple of days here. Again, if I was to choose a highlight it would be the Museum of Pop Culture.  Exhibits ranging from 50 years of Star Trek to previously unpublished David Bowie photographs to a look at the life and work of Jim Henson, saw us spending nearly seven hours in the place. And not a minute wasted. We had a rather special moment too, when Michael Jackson’s Thriller was played in full on the gigantic screen in the middle of the museum, which resulted in the whole place grinding to a halt to take in a classic.

After Seattle it was on to Portland. The dream of the 1890’s is alive in Portland, as Portlandia would have you believe. It’s a pretty chill place to be honest, and I think I preferred the vibe here. Special shout out to Dr Nick who met us for drinks and burgers and showed us around a little bit. We also got to see the feminist bookstore location from the show Portlandia, which was a treat for us.

We picked up a rental car in Portland as well and took ourselves south in the direction of San Francisco. Given the distance between the two, we decided to make a stop half way, in a tiny little place called Brookings, Oregon. It was a truly lovely little town and the AirBnB we found ourselves in was an absolute treat. Nestled in the Oregon woods, on the pacific coast, we spent one of our most relaxing nights here.

Then on to San Francisco. That bastion of liberal values and mecca for gays everywhere. We took a trip to see some redwoods on the way of course. Can’t pass through that part of California without visiting with our giant tree overlords. Impressive doesn’t even cover it.

San Francisco was a bit chilly. Probably the coldest spot on our trip. And actually, a well needed break from the heat was needed to be honest. For us, there were two main things we wanted to achieve – go out and have fun in the Castro and cycle across the Golden Gate bridge. Both were lots of fun, if different. It was very special seeing the Castro as a gay man from Ireland. Being at the forefront of pushing LGBT life to the forefront of modern western society, it meant a lot to be able to visit. We found a really chill bar called Twin Peaks with a window onto the main street where we were able to watch the gay world go by while downing a few cold ones. Beers that is. Keep yer minds out of the gutter.

We took ourselves across the Golden Gate bridge the following day. Jesus it was windy. But worth it. And it cleared the hangover that’s for sure.

Next stop was a little place called Los Osos. Again, the distance between SF and LA meant that a break between the two was called for. Our AirBnB this time was a mini-farm with goats, dogs, cats, horses and chickens. Very peaceful.

Los Osos will also have a special place in my heart for another reason. It was there that I did a Skype interview for a position in UCC that I had applied for at the end of June, a position that would be taking a step up compared to where I was before I left. A 3pm kick of time in Ireland meant I was up for a 7am interview. The wonders of modern tech meant that I was able to connect with the folks back in UCC from across the world for an interview that I didn’t want to miss. And I’m super glad I didn’t – before I left Los Osos I got the good news that I had been selected for the position. I don’t have the official contract yet so I don’t want to go into too many details. But the good news is I’m coming back to UCC for sure!

With that piece of luck, we hit the road for Los Angeles. Or as it’s also known, the Devil’s parking lot. Seriously, how does anyone live there? Do you all just sleep in your cars? Don’t get me wrong, we enjoyed our LA experience (we took a hike in the hollywood hills, hit Santa Monica beach and got to see one of my favourite comedians, Mike Falzone, in person) but Jesus the traffic there is a personal affront to humanity. I reckon we spent half our time in LA in the car just trying to get from one place to another. I suppose that’s part of the experience. Can’t say I’d enjoy living that on a daily basis though. Nor would Seán.

After we extricated ourselves from the dry pit of Satan, we headed further south, to our current stop, Tijuana in Mexico. All three of the big North American countries covered. We find ourselves in an interesting AirBnB, one that is also an Art Gallery but that doesnt’ have air conditioning. For a couple of light skinned, pasty Irish folks we’re nearly at boiling point. We’ve only been here one night so can’t give a full report. Happy to be here. It’s a bit dodgy but we’ve managed ok so far. Had street tacos last night and they were fucking delicious.

Gonna hit the town a bit tonight and do some culture tomorrow before we head back to the states for the last leg of the trip to San Diego. And Comic-Con. I can’t wait!

Later,

Mush

Now So Long, Montréal…

…it’s time that we began, to laugh, and cry, and cry, and laugh about it all again! Never a truer word spoken, Lenny C! Tomorrow we leave Montréal for good. After more than two and a half years, we’re hitting the road and taking the long way home.

Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, Brookings, San Francisco, Los Osos, Los Angeles, Tijuana and San Diego. These are our stops over the next 21 days before we fly back to Cork from LA (via 16 hours in Reykjavik). And I can’t wait. I finished work at the start of June and it’s been a pretty hectic month. Enjoyable too for sure, and we definitely made the most of our time off in Montréal. Sights were seen, fun times were had, Saturday’s were broken. We even got to go to a Canadian Football League game where the local Montréal Allouettes trounced Ottawa’s team.

There’s been stresses too, as we try to disentangle ourselves from a life. Dealing with Québec bureaucracy is frustrating at times. But we’ve managed it well enough for the most part. The great thing about the road trip is that we have none of that to worry about. No real world to intrude (well, except for the Skype interview I have for a job back in Ireland while we’re in California). Just us and the open road.

I’m really looking forward to a final slice of Americana (and Canadiana too, if that’s a word). I’m also looking forward to driving most of the west coast of the continental USA (with a smidge of Mexico thrown in for good measure). A couple of years back I enjoyed a great road trip from Chicago to LA via route 66, but as I wasn’t a licensed driver, I couldn’t help out with the driving. Between myself and Seán, I am the only licensed driver though, so it will fall on me to get us from Portland (we’re bussing it from Vancouver to Seattle and on to Portland) to Tijuana and back over the border. I’m looking forward to the challenge.

I’m super excited at the prospect of being in San Diego at the time of Comic-con. While we didn’t succeed in getting tickets this year, there’s plenty going on around the fringe of the con to keep an uber nerd like me happy. Just have to remember the WOW air luggage limits to stop myself going too crazy.

So yeah, the Montréal adventure comes to a close. A mini adventure beckons immediately and then the challenge and opportunity of resettling back home in Ireland await us just over the horizon. Just keep swimming I suppose.

Montréal, you’ve been beautiful.

Á la prochaine!

Maurice

MURAL 2017

One of the things that I’ve really loved about Montréal since I first moved here is the abundance of fucking amazing street art across the city. They really make the most of wall space and public space to bring art to the public and it’s fantastic.

Today, with my sister who is over for a visit, I had the opportunity to take in MURAL, Montréal’s street art festival. All along Boulevard St. Laurent, dozens of artists are given the sides of many buildings as their canvasses and asked to bring something new to the city. This takes place over a few days, so some of the murals aren’t finished, but it really is an amazing scene. If you’re ever in Montréal at the start of June I’d recommend it.

Not only do they have the mural’s been painted but they also cordon off the street to traffic for about 10 blocks. Plus there are concerts and other cool things going on throughout the time. We went during the day on a Monday so it wasn’t super hopping but it was still an afternoon well spent.

It’s something that I think other cities could learn from as well. Think about how many bland, ugly, drab buildings there are in your home town. And think about how awesome a canvas that facade could be for some artist! The colour and vibrancy that these murals bring to the city, the different visions they allow to be presented, are all fucking awesome. It would be so cool to see this back home for sure.

Anyway, I threw some of the photos together in an album here if you want to check them out.

Later,

Mush

Sunshine

It cracks the buds and gives them green, this glowing ball of heat and light. The very definition of radiant. The life to our force. The heat of our days. A skin warmed by millions of miles of light, feels healthier, glowier, lighter than the cloud chilled skin of the winter months.

We need the sunshine. But not just the cosmic-born, but the spiritual, the psychological, the metaphorical. Especially on days like today. When the dark takes the lead. When the fear that springs from that dark, gnaws at the world’s soul. We take comfort in the little rays. The helpers. The heroes. Those who pause for a beat. Wail and nash some teeth, but then get on with the business at hand. Who run towards the noise. Who offer the cup. Who wipe the tears.

The charcoal dark clouds can seem overwhelming. Oppressive. Relentless. But all it takes is a crack in the thing, to let the light in, as Leonard said. For the sun to peek out it’s head, as Jack and KG might have said.

There’s not much that can be said on days like today. Who wants to add to the noise, to the fear to the dark. Just, I suppose, maybe if we think of the sunshine, in all it’s forms, physical and metaphorical, it’ll help a little. Get us through until it hurts a little bit less, until we’re a little bit less frightened. Help us stand that bit taller in the face of the cowardly. Help understand all of the fears that cause the hate that little bit more clearly. So we can change. So we can stop it. So we can blow the clouds away.

Later, Sunshines,

Mush

Departure Lounge Two

Jesus, it’s the middle of May and “not a child in the house washed” as the expression goes! As an expression for unpreparedness, I might be being a bit fast and loose. We’re actually doing nicely in terms of the various preparations necessary to extract oneself from a life in another country. But there’s also lots more to do.

Most of it, we’ll get done before we leave Montréal. But there are some things that we won’t be able to close off completely ’til we’re back home. Which introduces the worrisome prospect of dealing with Québecois bureaucracy from across the Atlantic ocean. Can’t be helped though. Need to keep the bank accounts open while we’re on our West Coast trip.

So yeah, we’re taking a trip down the west coast of North America as a final hoorah to the continent before we leave. Starting with Vancouver, we’ll bus it to Seattle and Portland before picking up a car and driving on to San Francisco, LA, Tijuana and San Diego before jetting back to Cork via Reykjavik towards the end of July. We’ve a bit more intinerizing to do before we jet off, but it’s a solid plan with all of the AirBnB’s booked and everything. I was hoping to pick up Comic Con tickets of course, but it was not to be. Still, we’ll be in the Whale’s Vajayjay at the same time as Comic Con, so plenty of fringe nerd activities to be explored.

Still, if you have lived or live in any of these cities, hit us up with your recommendations. We’re open to ideas to spend our time on the big trip. We’ve between 2 and 3 nights in each city so time for a bit of exploring in each place for sure.

Anyway, we’ll leave it there for now.

Toodles,

Mush

Poorly Does It

I am poorly. It sucks and I hate it. After many years of battling chronic illnesses in Type 2 Diabetes and High Blood Pressure and for the most part winning, I now find myself at the mercy of the battle between my own body and tiny, tiny creatures. At least, I’m assuming there are tiny creatures involved. Could be lack of tiny chemicals too. Or a combination of both. So despite being at the peak of my good health I am laid low.

Suffice it to say, I feel like crap and have done on and off for the last few weeks. At first, I was putting it down to increased exercise. Or the change the in the weather perhaps. Something to explain the intermittent light-headedness, evening fatigue and occasional headaches. Perhaps it was the overdoing things at the weekends, I thought.

But alas, after one of the most underdone weekend I’ve had in a long time, the symptoms persist. And that meant engaging with the Canadian health system.

So, Canada has a reputation for having a world class health system. And in a lot of ways, it’s pretty good. Certainly in comparison to the country directly to the south. But it has its issues too. Like the fact that it’s nigh on impossible to get a family doctor and if you are lucky enough to get one (which I was due to my aforementioned chronic conditions), it doesn’t mean you can make appointments at a moments notice. Leaving you at the mercy of the walk-in clinic system.

The walk-in clinic system works as follows. Get up at 6.30am to be at the clinic for 7am when the doors to the building open. There is already a small queue at this time. Head up in the elevator to the clinic itself and wait until they open the doors at 7.30am. A sizeable queue will have formed by this time so it’s important to get there early. Once they open the registration desk, you register (assuming you have a medical card – if you don’t, you’ll have to go to a private clinic instead and fork out a ton of money). The doctors come on duty at 9am. Which, even if you’re the first in the queue means you will be seen at 9.20 at the earliest.

Quite the fun times. Thankfully, the clinic I go to also has blood testing facilities in the same place so if you have to get tests done you can get them done in the same visit (again, only if you have the medical card, otherwise you have to go to the hospital and pay cash). And then you wait. For a week or two weeks. And they’ll only call if they find something. Woop. Nothing stressful or anxiety inducing about any of that.

Anyway, I’m just complaining cos I’ve spent the morning in the clinic and I’m not feeling myself. Hopefully it gets sorted soon.

Toodles,

Mush

Deelish

Take an onion and chop it up nice and fine. Doesn’t need to be a very big onion, a nice small-to-medium size one will do nicely. Get yourself some spring onions, one or two sprigs, and chop them up just as fine as the onion.

Now, grab two tins of tuna, open, drain and mix together with the chopped up onion n spring onion. Crack some black pepper over that bad boy. Nice. Then, in a bowl, mix up about four tablespoons of light mayo with a teaspoon of sweet chili, a pinch of granulated garlic powder, and a teaspoon of dijon mustard. You could throw in some chilli flakes as well to give it a bit of a bite.

Dollop this lovely gooey mess onto the tuna and onion and mix it all up all gloopy and sloppy. Get yourself four slices of buttered bread (or even cheez-whizzed bread if you’re feeling like some extra goop) and liberally dollop the tuna salad (cos that’s what you just made) onto the bread.

Result? Delicious, oh-so-satisfying tuna salad sandwiches. Guaranteed to hit a spot. Serve with a bowl of soup and you’ll be well supped for sure.

In other news, we’re heading back to Ireland in July. For good. I can’t wait. Been missing family and friends something fierce. Don’t get me wrong, Montréal has been an awesome adventure. Two years of fun, friends and other words beginning with eff I’m sure. But home is calling and home is where I wanna be. So yeah, back to Ireland and Cork at the end of the summer. Excited.

Later,

Mush

Eff Five

The long weekend. As a necessary here in Canada as it is back home. A time to chill out, log off, refresh, do whatever is necessary to recharge a few batteries. For the most part, this mission was accomplished.

I like to disconnect every once in a while. Take myself off and indulge somewhat. Like taking a cinema day. Just heading off to the movies and taking in a whole bunch of them in one day. The most I’ve ever managed is a quadruple bill but I haven’t had one of those in a while. This weekend, I did a double – John Wick 2 and Kong: Skull Island. Both perfectly fine. Neither of them particularly taxing, mentally. They hit that sweet spot of mindlessness that is often necessary for putting the brain in the off position.

In between both, I had a bit of downtime so kindle, beer and hot-dog filled the gap. Yet again I’m happy in the company of myself, my device and some form of sustenance. A perfect opportunity for the disconnect. Plus it gave me a bit of time to check out Moose Bawr again. I like this bar in downtown montréal. They play good music, serve good food, and serve beer in litre (or bigger) sizes. A perfect movie interlude. And they serve delicious deep fried balls of sausage, called Moose Balls that are fucking delicious. Go there. Now.

Sunday was a little less F5 refresh and a little more F11 enter full screen mode, with some impromptu sessioning with some pals. It’s the impromptu that makes it the best type of sessioning. The sneaky pints on what would normally be a day of complete rest. Sure, it kinda made Monday a bit of a right off, but worth it none-the-less. And I finally watched a full hockey game (even if it was only on the telly) which the Habs went ahead and won, bless their shiny skates. Allez les Canadiens.

But alas, all long weekends must come to an end. Back at it today then. But at least the Bixis are on the roads again – lovely fresh aired cycle from Verdun to Peel instead of the stuffy crowded metro. I’ll take that.

These posts won’t always (or often) be anything profound. I know right? You were expecting such great things.

Toodles,

Mush