Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Storyteller

Tuesday, October 7, 2009

Today was a beautiful day in more than just the weather. It has become very chilly like a mid to late November day, especially at night. A jacket is always a must.

I woke up to meet Paula in the square to go for coffee/tea. Roberto was with her when we met up. On the way to where we were taking our drinks, we ran into Demelsa. She decided to join us as well. That is what I love about Galway. It is a bigger city, but small enough that I am always running into people I know or have at least see before. I feel I would always have to be in constant communication with people if I lived in Dublin (which also has pros and cons). Like how I ran into Zach at the grocery store today. We had both gone to buy bread, without the other knowing. Thankfully, we ended up on the same isle and the same time, so I left to go pick up our bus tickets at the Citylink office.

We had our drinks in an old pub called Neachtain. It was a classic Irish style place with dim lighting and a cozy feeling. We sat in a corner booth primarily closed off to the rest of the place and talked about different things like understanding music. It is hard for someone to understand a song when English is not their first language. I admitted that often I do not understand a song until I look up the lyrics and read it like a story. Usually, the song itself is too drawn out and slow paced for me to grasp the meaning before I lose interest. I see the voice as another instrument of sound before I see it as a channel for expression.

After leaving the pub I walked with Demelsa to the Atlantic language school where they take English lessons. I had not been there before and I was curious. She took me upstairs to where they had a bulletin board for free classes from poetry readings to dance lessons. She signed up for a Bachata class and I told her she would need to teach me after she learned. While we were looking at the board Marta and Jordi showed up and said hello. Marta immediately took me to see the outdoor terrace overlooking the harbor she had only discovered the day before. It was pretty, but also a smoking haven. Supposedly, Atlantic was rated as one of the top places to learn English in Europe. They all told me I should try to find a way to teach there. Since I’m not certified, I doubted that I could, but I checked with the director anyway. Before I left, I went with them to the move room to check out three films: Just Married, PS I Love You and The Quiet Man. We are having a movie party at their apartment at half past 9 tomorrow evening for PS I Love You. I never saw that movie, but Monica hates it, so she said she would knit while we watched it.

I left the school for my 1pm library appointment to use the internet. I also checked out some French vocabulary and sentence structure books. I put my name on the waiting list for the French language CDs (a popular item) and ran off to meet Zach at the Galway City Museum at 2pm. I’ve been here a month and still haven’t visited the museum other than the time I introduced myself to Ellie (the museum café lady) who never called me back for a job.

The place was three stories tall and filled with information about the current cultural festivities as well as the claddaugh and enormous fishing industry that made Galway so prosperous long ago. I saw photographs of the parade floats/creatures that are made out of the same material Marta and Demi made their lanterns with.

Before starting on dinner, I went to the Gaf (youth café where I get internet) to ask about volunteering. I explained that Amnesty was no longer an option and asked if I could be of any help to them. Galway not only has a shortage of paying jobs, it has a shortage of nonpaying (volunteer) jobs as well. However, they were able to use me! I think part of it had to do with them already being familiar with who I was since I go in often for the internet. The coordinator lady was going to have me help with the café part, but when she found out I had journalistic experience, she passed me on to Tara. She is in charge of the different clubs within the organization. The Gaf is part of Foroige. It is an Irish organization dedicated to the development of youth. It was a bit odd since it hasn’t been that long since I considered myself to be a youth.

Tara specifically needed me to help with the film club. My role would be to attend a screening with youth about twice a month and then facilitate a discussion about the film with another volunteer leader after the movie. I would also help set up the snacks for the movie. I got really excited about discussions! They have always been my favorite part about classes, and I even had a class in Communication Studies that did the exact same thing. I was pumped, but sad it would only happen twice. She said if we got enough interest we could do as many as we liked. She was also searching for ideas. I mentioned the indie movies at the Town Hall Theater as a possible option. If the budget didn’t allow then maybe we could get the same film they are showing and have show it at the café. She seemed to really like that idea. We set a possible date for the week before Halloween and I mentioned the film should be a horror movie or some classic revolving around Halloween. We both got excited about that. Then she realized the date might conflict with the Halloween party, so we moved it back a day. I asked if I could help out with the Halloween party and she set up an appointment Thursday for me to meet the coordinator of that to offer ideas and planning expertise. I get events planning experience after all!

I walked back to the apartment and went downstairs to get Teresa to sign as a reference for some paperwork since I will be working with youth. The Guarda will also be doing a background check on me that takes 8 weeks! It is nothing serious, and I will actually be finished with my work at The Gaf before it is even complete. Teresa was happy to sign the paper and sad to hear that Amnesty had closed. She also informed me that it was bad off for everyone though and this is the worst her store has done in the whole 23 years she has been in business; she wouldn’t be able to afford to pay anyone as hired staff even if she wanted to, and thankfully she managed between her and her son. I was feeling in a giving spirit and told her if she ever needed me to help out at no cost that I would be glad to mind the shop if she nor her son could assuming I was available. She thanked me and we continued to talk for another 20 minutes. I also stopped to talk to a customer who came in for a bit. His name was Dan and he seemed like a nice fellow. He was telling me about France and his adventures to the Southwest of the US. He asked me for my number if I ever wanted grab a drink or have a tour of Galway. I found paper and was quick to get him to write his number and avoid giving him mine. After he left, Teresa asked if I had seen the wink. I had not, but she told me that when he came in he said hello to her, but winked at me. She said she thought to herself, “ah, he fancies this young lady”. I told her that’s why I was all too careful to get his number and not he mine. She said I had a smart head. It was getting late and the girls were coming over for dinner, so I told her goodbye and ran upstairs, but I felt like we really bonded today!

Kathleen and Erynn came over for dinner bringing mashed potatoes and dessert while Zach and I supplied the main course. I cooked burgers and topped them with brie cheese. I sautéed onions with garlic (seasoning, lemon juice and balsamic). We also had roasted vegetable couscous. Zach toasted some buns in the oven, but we both forgot about them until they were hard as bricks but not burnt. We didn’t have any more buns, so I told them loaf bread was another option. We all ate the hard buns though. The taste was good if you could chomp through the brick-like texture. I had my wine bottle and candle burning, but the thing refuses to drip! For dessert they had butterscotch pudding and dipping wafers. It was simple, but yummy. We sat around talking for awhile before they left. I enjoyed the conversation and was glad to see them since it had been so long.

I had gotten a call from Roberto, Victor and Monica during dinner, so I called them all back when Kathleen and Erynn left. Roberto, Marta, Demi, Paula, Jodi and Monica were going to a storytelling. It was 9:30 and it started at 10. I jumped in the shower really quick, got dressed, dried my hair and was across the river by 10!

The place was down an alley near where we took a political sign from the other day. I think it was someone’s home, but the place was packed with people. They had a man sing a song on guitar to start off the night. Then offered up the floor to anyone wanting to tell a story. The first man started with a story about a version of creation and how things came to be. The second man was actually my friend from the internet place next door. He had already said hello, but I was surprised to see him speak. His story was one of dragons, chickens, wizards and wisdom. It was probably my favorite, but I definitely laughed the most as the last story. The last performance was actually a puppet show. The man used mostly grunt and noised to tell his story with puppets who were actually his fingers. I was lost in the imagery because it was harder for me to picture the puppets as fingers than as characters. Jordi and Roberto were looking for a drink after the show, so we went to the Spanish Arch Hotel Bar, which is nicer than it sounds. We were positioned by the fireplace in a cozy little bar with Irish music played by a live group, but it wasn’t loud. There were no speakers, just the instruments. I put another log on the fire then found myself caught up in the desire to tell a story, so I made one up as I went. I was something like this:

Long ago there was a man with three legs. Instead of a face like mine or yours, he had a mirror where a head might be. He lived in a place neither you nor I have ever seen. It was a world unlike ours. There was no atmosphere and upon this planet were chutes that could send someone to another planet.

One day he was walking along and came across an animal he had never seen before. This animal could talk and he asked the man if he knew what chute would send him home. The man replied he did not, but suggested to slide down the closest chute and see where he landed. The animal asked the man if he would accompany him on his journey. The man thought a moment and finally decided why not, he would go with the animal.

They climbed into the chute and off they went. They landed on a planet called Taberon. This planet was all desert. There was everywhere. The man knew this planet and told the animal of the stories his great-grandmother who was from Taberon. He knew enough to know there was only one village, so they began walking and walking and walking. Just when they thought they could go no further, they spotted the village just ahead. A woman came out to meet them. She looked just like the three-legged man with a mirror for a face. She took them to her mother and father where the whole party was invited to sit down at the table.

The animal explained why they were there and asked if anyone knew the way to his planet, Earth. The mother and father looked at each other and asked why anyone would want to go to such a planet with so many bad things. The animal replied that Earth was his home and that there were as many good things as there were bad things. You see, Taberon was between Earth and the planet of the three-legged man. The mother and father had seen things on Earth they could not understand from a distance, so they thought only the worst of the planet. The mother and father felt better about Earth after talking to the animal, but told him that no one had ever left their planet except for one woman long ago, but no one ever knew how she left.

The woman, the man and the animal left the home of the mother and father searching for a way to get to Earth. They walked for days. Finally, in the middle of the sand was a bush, and on the bush was a single rose. The woman picked the rose and held it up to the man. The reflection between the two in their mirrored faces created a portal of dust that shot a beam straight across to Earth. The animal looked up overjoyed. That was until they realized the portal could only carry one of them. If the man or woman tried to leave the portal would close.

They returned the flower and went back to the mother and father. They asked them for their help and the mother and father agreed to assist them in the journey. When they reached the flower again the mother and father held it this time. The reflection of the flower in the mirrors once again crated a portal connecting Earth with Taberon.

The animal went first then the man and after saying goodbye, the woman followed. When they all reached Earth the animal found he was unable to speak. No words came from his mouth, only sounds. He turned around and found the man and woman were frozen and unable to move. Their legs had become hard and their faces long. They had become what humans know as full length mirrors.

The bar was closing, so I had to end it more abruptly than I might have liked, but Roberto asked me if I invent it now. I told him that yes, I made it up as I told it. He called me a genius and Marta said I needed to teach lessons on story telling. I don’t think my story was that good, but I was happy with how it turned out even though I was a bit nervous at points. It is all about the energy you use to tell a story and how you draw images with your body language that make even an average story great. At least I think so.

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