Ireland

5 Things To Do on St. Pat’s Day (that don’t include drinking & fighting)

Today is my favorite holiday! Hold up, my second favorite holiday; I’m a Halloween fanatic. Third favorite, my third favorite holiday (Flag day).

My Irish blood swims around my veins and spits out through my red hair and pale skin; naturally, I have a love/hate relationship with the holiday which manages to both celebrate and demean my Irish heritage.

St. Patrick’s Day can (and should be) a family holiday. Never mind the drunk parade. Never mind the girls puking in the street and the bros who drink Michelob Ultra out of a skinny can with a coozie. There is more to St. Patrick’s Day than drinking and fighting and acting like an idiot.

Because truth be told, (pause for serious effect), the Irish are the most humble, down-to-earth people I’ve ever met. Their representation deserves some balance. (more…)

Adventure: Not All it’s Cracked Up to Be

Adventure is weird and complicated. Like ordering a martini for the first time or Thai food, it’s not easy. It’s sexy, sure. We escape the familiar in favor of the unknown. We leave our friends and family behind. We buy maps (or iPhones) and plot new courses.

My wife and I have only five days left of our six-month stay in California. From here, we’ll pack up and drive to Idaho for a few weeks and then drive, finally, to Rochester, New York, where we’ll settle.

The idea of living in three states in one year sounded fun, initially. A couple of fair-skinned gypsies in a Prius-charriot awaiting adventure—that was us.

All I’ve ever wanted was adventure, and truth be told, I’ve had my fair share.

I’ve back-packed through Ireland; I’ve driven to the Grand Canyon on a whim; I’ve rode through a carwash on a razor scooter… Adventure is in my blood.

Is adventure good for blood?

Fake Adventures

I grew up idolizing movies like Indiana Jones, Star Wars, and The Mummy where characters traveled to the ends of the Earth, or universe, to conduct business. I’d watch TV shows like The X-Files and swoon. The monster-of-the-week storyline, on the search in a new area, fascinated me (and still does).

But it’s all fake. It’s exciting, but truth be told, if I met a new monster every week and I’d be dead by now. I’d be digesting in some mutant’s stomach and that’d be an awkward funeral.

Then there is the whole social media thing. All the fake adventurers. I recently read an article about the “Instagram Envy Effect,” which, really, is just how it sounds. Instagram captures everybody’s good moments, new moments. The rest of us watch and wish we could have those moments. Really, it’s all just fake. We post the interesting moments and leave the rest hidden, like reality TV.

I bring the Instagram article up because social media—as well as movies, music, and books—teach us some falsehoods about adventure. They tell us adventure has no downside. That it’s all just fun all the time and YOLO and pose!!!

Warning: Adventure is not all it’s cracked up to be.

Here are some tips to make sure you never, ever have an adventure.

Issue number 1:

You’re basically always packing. I’m not sure how you feel about packing, but I’m not a big fan.

Issue number 2:

Friendships are rare. It’s hard to get close to people when you’re always on the go. It’s not like the comic books where the hero has all the friends. The real-life hero, the traveler, is awkward at parties, unable to connect—not sure if he even wants to.

Issue number 3:

It gets harder and harder to leave. Maybe I’m getting older, maybe the traveler’s heart is just failing to pump like it used to, I don’t know. Maybe a six-month vacation wasn’t a very good idea. All I know, is that it’s getting harder to leave.

My friends, my family, my town. Sometimes, adventure just kind of sucks.

The memories are worth it, and that’s what I’m holding on to, for now.

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What are your thoughts on adventure?

Short Story: Lunch

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I remember sitting at the pub in Ireland. We were dead tired from the day’s journey. My friend and I were traveling through the country on a two-week expedition—suspending our futures for an adventure. As in most stops, local chatter was custom.

“You could call it ‘self discovery’ I guess,” I responded to the friendly stranger, “but I’m not so sure.” He was an older man, plump and symmetric on his bar stool, inquisitive like most Dingle natives. “Our plan was just to get away from life.”

“Get away from life?” he chortled, clearing the fresh mustache of Guinness off his lip. His accent was thick but warm: “Life is all there is lad, a gift. Every day it renews and don’t forget it.”

“You never needed to just leave, clear your head, reflect?” I begged.

“That’s what lunch is for,” he replied, “besides, I’ll have plenty o’ time to reflect when I’m dead.” He smiled, finished his drink and rose. “Make your days count boy, life is not a patient lass.” He paid for my drink and left.