Reflection:

“You’re going to love it”. “This will be the best time of your life”. “Don’t be surprised when you get PID (Post Ireland Depression), it’s a thing”.

Relatively everyone and anyone I talked to about my at the time pending trip to Armagh said one of those three phrases or a slight variation to it. And to an extent I knew what they meant. I knew I was going to like it, and I knew that I wasn’t going to want to come home. But what I didn’t know was the magnitude of feeling that way.

I was most nervous about making friends. I felt like I was going into my first year of college all over again – going to a new place with new people, and not knowing what I got myself into. Much like my freshman year, that fear was diminished after a few days, a few pints and a lot of Dominos pizza. I cannot believe this month is already over, and that I have to leave all my Armagh Project friends and roommates. Who would have thought six women could not only survive in one room for a month, but actually be sad to leave it/each other.

Armagh project allowed me to push myself outside of my comfort zone. I met members of the IRA, politicians who marched in Derry in ’72, famous playwrights and poets, almost gave Malachi O’Doherty a heart attack, and even became an international actress at the Hewitt.

To anyone considering the Armagh Project, or any international travel, DO IT! It’s an amazing experience that you will not regret.

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Writing for young people:

I really like the workshop writing for young people and am constantly amazed by how quickly it starts and ends.

Sheena Wilkinson is always giving us different tips and tricks of getting started on new ideas, and well manages the time of the class. I really like that with each exercise she asks two people to share, but it is never allowed to be the same two people. It keeps the pace and attention of the class well.

My favorite thing we did was when she instructed us to pick a picture we liked the most. Once we did so, we had three minutes to write a story about the picture from the eyes of someone who hated it. I chose a snowy mountain with two people skiing on it, and wrote from the perspective of the mountain. It was a cute little story that I want to expand on.

On the 1st day…

My plan has been to ditch the US and all the distorted politics involved, and marrying an Irishman and rolling down the Irish hills for the rest of my days. But after the official opening, my plan may have shifted. Dáithí O’Ceallaigh talked about how Brexit is going to destroy everything essentially. All-in-all it was an interesting opening.

My workshop is Writing for Young People and I love it. Grace and I were told to wait in the lobby to be escorted to the Cathedral Music Hall but somehow missed the group. We stood there like blind cats until Paul sweetly brought us to our destination. My favorite part of the workshop was an exercise we did called “I remember”. It helped us get in the mind set of writing for a different age group and was just really fun to look back and reflect on what events my brain deemed memorable.

I love the Hewitt and wish it was longer!

Workshop:

I loved our workshop(s) with Nathaniel Joseph Mcauley. I also like that he insists on using his entire incredibly long name. I like the idea of characterization because in my area of study, there really isn’t much room for that kind of development. Well, at least the way we were doing it. So it was really cool and different for me to think more creatively than factually.

Audience

Audience is incredibly important for all styles of writing. It is important geographically, linguistically, historically and socially. All of this needs to be in mind so that way your message can be communicated as effectively as possible.

For instance, the piece I’m writing while in Ireland is written for an audience back home in the States, so I have to go into that knowing most people do not know about The Troubles or even the current existing religious and political conflict. Whereas if I were writing for a Northern Irish audience, I could write less about the background and more about the happening.

Jeremy Griffin:

Jeremy Griffin:

Born to a plumber and a yoga instructor, Jeremy eventually finds himself the middle child, in between his over achieving older brother and brilliantly creative younger sister.

He never really applied himself in his academics and was more focused on socializing. He passed his classes with high C’s and low B’s, and finally decided to go to a trade high school. During his first year he tried out each trade to figure out what to pick and he really really loved the Graphic Design course, but was pressured by his father to follow the Plumbing track instead. He resents that.

That being said, he is used to not getting what he wants and so he is always willing to compromise, always willing to communicate. In his friend group he is the silent leader, the most respected from others, but not within himself. He has a poor self image.

He rescued a beat-up pit bull from the animal shelter, and things started to get better. Finally, he moved out at age 21, and took his dog with him.

He told his dad he did not want to be a plumber, and to his surprise his dad simply looked at him, and said, “Oh. So where do you want to go for lunch?”

This was his most defining moment.

Character sketch:

Name: James   When Born: 1990   Age: 26

Currently Living: Belfast

Occupation: Tattoo Artist/Professional Fighter

Marital Status: None, but interested in Marian

Physical Description: About 5’8″, with dark blonde hair. Shorter on the sides and longer in the middle. Full beard and i believe blue eyes. Tattoos all over, including a red demonic face covering his front torso, and Taylor swift on his left leg. Grey shirt, and grey sweat pants.

Personality: Kind, inquisitive, funny, and intelligent.

Anything else: Loved art as a kid, and didn’t care much for school. He was always doodling and then realized that he could do something with it; tattooing.

“Can’t we just all get along”

Community, social justice and activism play pivotal roles for writers. As M.Lynch said, “There needs to be a conflict. No conflict, no story”.

Social change or reform can be both positive and negative and in doing so, it resides differently within everyone. That being said, I now truly believe you cannot fully feel what others do unless you submerge yourself in the culture. Nessa and Malcahi each described The Troubles, and conflict within the Irish community, and I thought I understood it. There truly is a difference between thinking and seeing. My second trip to Belfast, Jen and I were escorted by Malachi to see the “bonnys” being built and the marching of the parade.

Everything felt tense.

At an event where a part of community comes together, bands are playing and children are waving their handheld flags, everyone seemed angry. For the most part no one was smiling, it was truly bizarre to see. We minded our own business and tried to fit in as much as we possibly could, until I felt a tap on my shoulder. I, much like most of the people at the parade, was taking pictures and video of the procession going by, so I was very confused when I looked to my right. “Are y’on holiday?” Nervously, I smiled and nodded my head, afraid to speak because of my non-Irish accent. The man nodded and walked over to another, as I watched I saw him repeat my response.

It was an uncomfortable feeling. I did not physically look different from those around me, you could not hear that my speech was different from those around me, and I was even doing the same thing as those around me. So how did he know? Better yet, why did he feel compelled to ask?

It wasn’t until that moment that the whistle-stop history lesson clicked.

Belfast Photo & Reaction(s)

Oh Belfast. I love you Belfast. This was my third trip to Belfast, and somehow each trip had its similarities, but was also vastly different from the one before. First, I was with Lexi, Second I was with Jen, and third, I was with everyone.

Similarities:

  1. The bus schedules, numbers and stations still confused us:IMG_2484
  2. Strangers were still waving brochures for different trips and outings
  3. Lexi and I STILL managed to have to spend hours waiting in the bus station café

Differences:

  1. We stayed in a hostile. My first trip was simply for the day, and my second was in the worlds greatest AirBnB (@paul)
  2. For the first time we stayed in a mixed gender room, and with people outside of our program.
  3. Kerrin was our navigator, and not Malachi

Our hostel seemed a little rough around the edges but it had a bed, pillow and blanket so for that I was grateful. Turns out the man on the bunk below me, Francis, was completing a masters degree in Creative writing and knew all about the Hewitt Festival-talk about a small world.

Thank goodness I sleep like a hibernating bear because I slept like a princess despite the loud people outside our window. Refreshed and ready to tackle our day we set out for breakfast, permanent ink and pokemon (sorry Lexi). We got coffee, eggs and co. at Maggie Mayes where Jen and Kerrin rapped Nicki Minaj while Marian uncomfortably sat in between, and every second of it was perfection. Let’s be real, no pics no vids NO PROOF: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MTkGbtw_PPY .

We all met at Addinktion at noon and most of us stayed until about 6p; needless to say we made great friends with the artists. All in all it was an amazing experience to be able to share with everyone. I look at tattooing as taking back a part of yourself – whether it be a symbol for a loved one, or a reflection of a past life/experience they all symbolize taking a step forward for yourself, which in my opinion sometimes lacks in our day to day lives.Screen Shot 2016-07-17 at 12.56.16 PM

The poor wee cat

http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/pet-cat-burned-in-antrim-bonfire-on-the-mend-but-could-lose-tips-of-ears-34881661.html

The night of the eleventh, all around NI, bonfires are set. Each year they are lit to commemorate the safe paths taken by the Williamite ships. Even though this is the historical context, it seems as though each year that thought becomes more and more lost, and the pyres grow in size. This year, a cat allegedly climbed onto a structure where many observers shouted to wait and save it while others shouted racial slurs about the burning of the cat. Others allege that those setting the fire put the cat on the blaze.

Now, the cat is going through recovery from the burns and may lose the tips of its ears and has no whiskers.