daily preciousness

Saturday, June 30, 2001

Ireland on £30 a day

A fag on a crag.

That's been the most inspiring thing that I've seen here in Dublin, Ireland.

There's a stony crag -- a big hunk of rock -- in Merrion Square. It's a beautifully lush garden right in the middle of town. In the Southwestern corner of the square, there's a sculpture of Dublin's native son, Oscar Wilde, looking up at the house where he was born.

He's relaxing on the rock, dressed foppishly and grinning at the quotes that he's written, which are inscribed on the sculptures facing him.

It's great to be in a city that has so much respect for writers and drinkers. (As if there's a real difference!)

Yesterday, I went on a great pub crawl that started at a factory. Actually, to be precise, it started on the top of a factory: the Guiness Hops factory museum. On the 7th floor of this old structure sits an amazing George Jetson -meets- Austin Powers meets Arthur Guiness type of pub. Nothing like you've ever seen. The tall glass windows of this pie-shaped pub offer an astounding view of the city. The bar also offers *extra cold* Guiness beer, which is amazingly smooth, rich and filling. I've never had beer so good -- and probably won't, ever again!

Today the group went to Clonmacnois, the 8th century monastery. The ruins were magnificent. Celtic crosses burst out of the rich green earth. Two round towers overlook the site, quietly keeping centuries-old secrets. But not all the secrets were kept well. Our guide, a smart and friendly college girl getting her degree in "heritage studies" was the best tour guide of our trip. Nikola explained how the site's monks fought the vikings, the Anglo-Normans and even *other* monastic groups. They were serious about god -- and serious about expanding their territory. So much for keeping the peace!

The oddest part of the trip so far has been the students. While they're all very friendly and fun to get to know, I had a strange experience last night after going to the factory.

The pub crawl that followed felt a little awkward, because one of the students brought up his views on gay people. He agreed with "Dr. Laura" that gay folks are "biological errors." Whenever somebody expresses homophobic sentiments to me, I always get a terrible pain in my stomach. It's been like this ever since I can remember. There is nothing more difficult than having to defend yourself against an unknown enemy. I don't know how homophobic people are when I first meet them and it's strange that it came up in conversation right away, right after I'd met this person.

I wish I could be stronger and just out myself. Why can't it be easier, after all this time? Why do I still squirm away like a scared little animal everytime I'm confronted -- even indirectly -- with homophobia? I don't know. I guess the pain of being different never really disappears. I guess it just stays there. Even as confident and up-front as I am, it's hard to confront somebody head-on.

Ironically enough, today is pride day. I guess that might be a good enough reason just to come out and tell him. I have nothing to lose and nearly eveything to gain. But it's still a challenge.

I guess I'm like that sculpture -- a fag on a crag. Except the only rock-and-a-hard-place that I'm stuck in is my own lack of self-confidence. Maybe I just need to work on finding it.

Wish me luck.


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