Friday, July 23, 2010

Ireland Day 16 - Grocery Shopping

What an event, right?

Frosties? Is Frosted Flakes not a good enough name?

Imagine you walk into a Safeway. You feel fairly secure in what to do. But then you start walking the aisles and you realize you suddenly have no idea what you're looking for. You walk to the milk section, it took you a while to find it. Once you arrive all you want is a small carton of fat free milk. But it all just says MILK. You grab the tiniest one you can find, and boy is it tiny, and with a shrug you put it in your basket. You turn a corner and there are suddenly chips. Only variety packs though. "Where are the full bags" you wonder to yourself. "All I want are some cool ranch Doritos!" You spot another brand you're familiar with, so you grab that and run even though it's not your favorite.

Logic dictates that you need more than milk and chips to survive, so you go to the bread section. "Why are the slices so huge", you ponder. One brand is Irish Pride. "Sounds good" so you take that too. Your entire trip is like this, stumbling down aisles labeled 'Tinned Veggies' and 'Baby Goods'. There are Sale tags everywhere but you don't even know what the regular price is. At one point you wake up delirious on the floor after having passed out trying desperately to find the parmesan cheese.

This had better be good or I will be angry.

Finally, your shopping basket overflowing with supposed 'goods', you creep to the front of the store. Paralyzed with fear, you can't tell which aisles are the '10 and under' and which aren't. You step cautiously into a slow moving line, figuring that gives you enough time to step out if you've done something wrong. Almost a minute too late you realize that you have to bag your own groceries and you thank God that you brought a reusable bag. You fumble with your change, unable to tell the difference between a 1 cent a 2 cent, a 1 euro and a 2 euro coin. The woman takes pity on you and accepts €22.16 instead of €22.17 because you can't figure it out.

When you've finally left the store it occurs to you that you're squeezing your loaf of bread like a life line. You quickly slacken your grip and attempt a normal pace back home, breathing deeply because you made it out with food and you just want to go home and eat.

Teeny tiny milk container.

That was my experience at the store today. It was intense.

So here I am, eating my peanut butter and jelly, banana and coke. If that isn't comfortable homesick food then I don't know what is! I miss my friends :( Having fun! But I miss my friends. Oh, and family too :P

I made sure to take pictures of all of the items I bought at the store to show everyone what the packaging looks like. It was incredibly disorienting.


I've been catching the 8:45 bus and that's fine, except there is a very large group of exchange students that catch it at the same time. They are loud, they are inconsiderate, they are teenagers. It makes for an obnoxious ride. I was in a bad mood this morning, so when I got off the bus I didn't take any pictures of the empty streets. Instead I went to The Chocolate Box. They're next door to Butlers Chocolate Cafe. I heard they had good hot chocolate as well. They don't. It was better than the crap I had the other day, but it was nothing compared to Butlers. While at Joyces (the grocery store) I saw that they sell Butlers Hot Chocolate mix. I shall send money to Dave and have him send me boxes once a month!

I got to the studio very early and just sat around. The whole day was kind of like that, very slow and not a lot to do. A lot of people came in asking questions but no one wanted anything. For lunch I tried a pick-me-up by going to an Italian place I'd heard good things about. It was absurdly expensive. I don't know that I'll be going back there. €13.95 for a smallish plate of cannoli. It was good, yes, but not €13.95 good. I think the whole experience would have been better if a huge family with multiple children hadn't been seated right next to me. I was really distracted and the dad kept glancing at me. It was awkward. I was kind of on edge, I really wanted to say "Why do you keep looking at me", but there's no need to be hostile.

The bread is very large. I couldn't see what it looked like because all of the packaging is opaque. 

The streets here are starting to get really full for the Arts Festival and the upcoming weekend. I practiced alternate paths the other day and they've come in handy.

Catherine and Maisa went out to dinner tonight, not sure if they'll be out for a long time or what. I'm assisting Brad on a wedding tomorrow, so I want to make sure to get enough sleep. I was going to do laundry too, but Steve just did laundry so he'll have the drying rack. Phooey. I'm not in crisis just yet, it can wait another day or two. I did go to the grocery store though, that was important.

I felt better after consuming this.

I have another story for you.

On the bus ride home I was being held captive by a frightening looking black wasp. The 33 was very full and traffic was slow. As we made our arduous way around the Square, I took a glance around the bus. To my great horror, I noticed said wasp almost directly above my head between the two open windows. I made a jerking motion and the older woman sitting next to me turned her head toward me ever so slightly, and then shuffled her paper. My eyes darted around the bus and I took in the woman next to me, the people standing next to her in the aisle, the impossibility of my ability to get away from the wasp, and how close the wasp was to me.

I continued to stare at it as we snailed down the road. It would walk along the ceiling toward me, then make an about face and head toward the other window again. A few times it took off for a second before landing again and I would jump horribly, ruffling my seat-mate repeatedly. I was white-knuckling my phone wondering if I'd be able to aim true enough to kill the wasp if it came down any lower on the window. My mind started to race over what would happen if it started to fly at me. Would I knock the woman into the aisle? Are the Irish afraid of bees and wasps? Would they understand? Would someone help me? What if I got stung?

We inched forward and my eyes were glued to the flying beast. I looked down every few seconds to take in the scenery and reassess just how far we were from my stop and how agonizing the ride was going to be. After one such thought I looked up and the wasp was gone. After thoroughly searching the perimeter, I determined that my tormentor had finally gone out the window and I relaxed into my seat.

During my walk into the studio a bird pooed on me a little. Got my hand and my shoulder. I told you all I felt like it was going to happen soon. I was so stunned and amused that I just stood there staring at the crap on my hand before wiping it on my pants.

What a day!


9:15 am: shop street: I think a bird just pooped on me but I only got a little sprinkling.

9:38 am: photo one: Butlers Chocolate Cafe has better hot chocolate than The Chocolate Box.

12:52 pm: photo one: A kid just walked by and ran his slimy fat fingers down the entire wall of windows at the studio, making a very awful screeching noise. He then turned around and walked back, doing it all over again.

2:05 pm: Milano: Trying another Italian place I've heard good things about. I am a pro at eating alone. I wont' know how to hold a conversation over dinner when I get back home.

2:46 pm: walking: I feel very awkward and cheap not tipping.

5:36 pm: but stop: Natives of Ireland are unperturbed by the cold but they still all use umbrellas.

6:49 pm: walking: A little grocery shopping! Should be interesting in its own way!

7:16 pm: walking: Maggie's Irish doppleganger!



Kirstin said...

Hey in most of European countries, birds pooing on you is a sign of good luck to come!
And it's alright, Mo, getting used to new brands in such a usually familiar, routine place like a grocery store can be a bit overwhelming at first, but you'll get used to it's just food shopping, don't stress!

[Pseudonym] said...

I was very curious to know how your wasp story would play out. Ya did good! Sorry you got pooed on. I was flying overhead and got a bit excited at actually finding you [this is in reference to your picture]. Unfortunately, there was a meeting of the birds and I couldn't stop to say hello.

Cass said...

i've heard that you have to bag your own groceries in europe and that the lines frequently move fast. glad the experience wasn't too traumatizing! ...not like the harassing wasp on the bus.

any other ideas of things you would like sent to you (besides gummi candy?) :D

p.s. i was laughing nearly the entire time i was reading your post. well written, moe :)

Anonymous said...

Your wasp story reminds me of Jason Bourne when he tells his companion that he could specify something like three different exits from any given situation. He could tell you the license plate numbers of individual cars in the parking lot.

You had to channel Bourne to deal with that wasp. Nicely done.

- John

MJ said...

I didn't mind getting pooed on, it wasn't a full-on splat! And the grocery shopping was just so strange even though it should have felt normal. Quite the experience!

Jake! Learn to control yourself! Glad you enjoyed my wasp story.

Cass the line did move pretty fast. They move fast everywhere. I don't even have the chance to see what people do with their change. I'm always trying to shove mine back into my purse and everyone is looking at me because I'm still standing there! I still can't think of anything I'd like :\

John you're too funny, I shall take that as a compliment :)

Jacki T. said...

Miranda, friend, I dearly love that little milk jug and wish they were that cute and convenient here. Everything is so big and full sized, I feel wasteful not finishing it soon enough!

I am making an attempt to blog now, you can rejoice as you wish ;) <3 take care, and I'm glad you didn't get too much poo or wasp on you.

MJ said...

I'm so glad that you're blogging! There are many tiny foods here and they all make me think of you!

Melanie Rowe said...

What an eventful day! Wasp attack AND bird poo... it hardly seems fair LOL. I have to say it's probably a safe bet that people everywhere are afraid of being stung by wasps, but if the woman next to you didn't see it of course she would've had no idea why you were so jumpy. I'm glad you made it out of the grocery store alive and only fainted once while you were there... are you happy with all of your purchases? It might help you move through the line more quickly if you use a credit card to pay for your purchases. Just a thought :)

MJ said...

So far I'm happy, yeah! :) I may use my card next time, figuring out the change was just too much pressure :P

3v3 said...

Ah yes, I remember being completely confused by the grocery store as well. Were the cashiers sitting down when they rang you up? I don't know why I remember that detail so much, but it's just weird to me.

It's so strange to be without that feeling of familiarity, and to suddenly become completely self-aware and realize that you don't know what the customs are. I felt like that at some of the cafes during my study abroad trip, in every country. Just not knowing which counter to go to, where to line up, how to order things correctly, when to pay, whether to tip or not, do I bus my own table or leave it there? All this stuff I've always instinctively known my entire life and it's suddenly up in the air and I find myself having a mini-anxiety attack because I can't order a mocha! Oh well, it's not really a big deal. You seem to be handling it all okay though!

MJ said...

They were all sitting down, yes! Not knowing whether or not I'm supposed to bus my own table is making me crazy. I don't know if I'm supposed to wait for the check or not either. I keep wandering up to where the till is and saying I'm ready to pay because it's "taking too long" for them to bring it to me (if they even do??).

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