daily preciousness

Saturday, June 09, 2001

magnetism and Matthew

|Magnetic fields|

I'd never heard of this music group before a few weeks ago. I read their name on the trip itinerary. Last year in London, the professors had a great experience seeing them, so they wanted to re-create that this year in Dublin.

The music was great. The group had excellent lyrics that were playful and funny. Their stage presence was intensely casual. They had very little theatrical tendencies, making it feel like a very intimate venue, although the theatre was of moderate size.

The Magnetic Fields

The songs were about love and loss, mostly loss. I could identify with them really well.

|Trouble brewing|

I'm sensing a lot of difficulty on the horizon. I called Mom and Dad's hotel today and they had no record of their reservation. This could get very difficult. How can I contact them? Where and when will we meet? Why aren't they on the hotel computer?

Not having a phone in my room is really inconvenient -- I can only call out from the hallway phone.

|A walk with Matthew|

Matthew Green, a great guy I met my first night out, picked me up in his sporty van Saturday afternoon. It was my first experience driving (in a regular car) through the streets of Dublin. The little vehicle was interesting. He called it a van, mainly because it was a two-seater with storage space in the back. But it was shaped like a regular car, just with the rear door windows blocked out. Very different.

Anyway, Matthew drove us out of town to a little seaside village at the end of the Dart line, South of the city.

It was a charming place. (And the company could well be described in the same terms.)

The town wasn't really old-style Ireland charming, but it was pleasant and inviting in a modern way. There was a festival going on. Banners and flags in multi-colors flew from streetcorner to streetcorner.

The pubs were packed with people, anxious for the music to start at 8. We got there at 7, walked along the seashore and up a small mountain. We saw an 18-wheeler (a 'lorry') labeled, 'Chernobyl Children's Project.' I asked about it and Matthew informed me that Ireland had volunteered to take care of a lot of the orphans of that disaster, so there was probably an organized system of shipping them to this cozy seaside town for the summer to let them have a little holiday in the sun.

Without ever once quoting the phrase, 'I had a farm in Africa,' Matthew told me about his youth in Kenya on a coconut plantation and about the lawlessness of the countryside over there. It was truly exotic.

Then he told me about his young adulthood in Ireland. (He never got a good answer out of his parents about why they moved here.) The Greens planted an apple orchard near Waterford. The estate had many acres and produced bushels and bushels of apples.

He remembered waking up early once a month to bring the apples to market in a city 3 hours away. 'Mom and Dad would put a blanket over me, cover my ears with mufflers (to shut out the noise of the van) and put me in the back seat for the ride,' he said. Matthew was so sleepy that he'd fall asleep, head laid back and mouth agape, during the long trip.

Once they were there, he'd sell apples until his pockets were stuffed full of punts. (This was before punts came in coins, so all the currency was in bill form.)

It seemed like a great childhood, except for all the bullying. Matthew had an entrenched English accent. And the Irish schoolchildren often picked on him for it.

But that's all over now. At present, Matthew works for a telecom company, working on mobile phones. One of his jobs is to test out the phones that are still in the design stages. He divulged a few hints at the next generation of phones, but he'd probably be drawn and quartered if I let loose with them here.

We had a pleasant meal at the Barracuda restaurant. I enjoyed the decor more than the food. The place was done in sort of a Neo-Who style. The walls where white and glowing. They had giant discs on them, straight out of the Tardis! I expected Tom Baker, wrapped in his big scarf, to walk around the corner at any moment.

Next, we headed to Dublin. We met Matt's swaggery, charming friend Dez, who was focusing his attention on a girl from his *past*. Major drama here. He's had a crush on her for ages -- but she's been away in San Francisco, working for Sun Microsystems. Now that she's home to visit some family, it's Dez's chance to let her know about his feelings for her. But he's afraid to 'sound off on the national question,' which is his code phrase for coming out.

We chatted with Dez and his friend Laura for a few hours, before leaving them at 3, fairly soaked in spirits, hoping that they wouldn't do anything they'd regret.

Matthew walked me back to Trinity and hugged me goodbye. He was regretful about and resigned to the fact that he was only allowed to hug me goodbye. What a shame. I would have gladly puckered up and given him a faceful. But, alas and alack, there was no pluckiness in the air above Trinity College that evening.

What a great time I had. It was a great experience for me because he's so informative and knowlegeable about Ireland -- while still maintaining a bit of an outsider's perspective, thanks to the Irish tendency towards nationalism. Even though he's spent most of his life here, he's still looking at it from the outside in, in many respects. But that was fortunate for me, since he could more readily dissect things that I might not otherwise grok (understand).

I look forward to spending time with him in the very near future.


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