A normal life

A friend of mine recently asked where she could find my blog. She went to my website, she said, but the last post was from August. Was she missing something?

Nope, I admitted. I just haven’t been blogging.

I wish I could say it’s because my days have been packed with exciting interviews and fruitful exploration. Who has time for documenting when you’re living, right? I could share some of the fascinating conversations I’ve had with journalists about the X Case and about the death of Savita Halappanavar — two of the cases that shaped abortion law in Ireland, and which I touch on very briefly here.

I could talk about visiting the Wicklow Mountains in the southeast of Ireland and County Donegal in the northwest. I could distract you by telling you that the Slieve League Cliffs are three times the height of the famous Cliffs of Moher (and three times as windy!) and then sharing this panoramic view:


But wait, you might think to ask, wasn’t that Donegal trip just one weekend? And I’m only doing, like, two interviews a week for my research, right? What am I doing with the rest of my time?

The truthful answer is: I think my body and brain so desperately needed a break that they have sort of gone on strike in Ireland. Unlike in my daily news job, there are few deadlines here; the academic advisor who’s overseeing my research kindly advised me on the first day to “take it easy.” There have been many days where I’ve felt physically exhausted and had trouble getting out of bed, including one where a stomach virus eventually sent me to the emergency room. (That glimpse into the Irish medical system, I decided, counted as research.) It’s been less of a constant adventure and more of a detox.

Many nights have been spent eating Nutella by the spoonful — it’s better in Europe, I swear — and watching The Bold Type on Netflix, which is ironically about a group of journalists in America. I’ve been going to a weekly community yoga class and playing at a weekly trad session at a pub. Last week, I went to a public lecture at the university about black holes. In other words: a normal life, with an Irish flair.

At times, I feel a niggle of guilt about not taking advantage of every moment of this incredible opportunity to work and live abroad. If I worked a full 40 hours a week on my Fulbright research, I certainly would be done by now, or at least feeling more productive. At least, this is what I told myself recently as I lugged my computer down to one of the cafes on Main Street, ordered a coffee and croissant, and prepared to transcribe an interview.

I opened my laptop. The computer was dead. My computer charger was back at home.

I didn’t get any work done, but the coffee was delicious and I felt just fine.

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