I totally pulled a George R.R. Martin on this beezy and have been MIA the past few days  apologies! I’ve been wracking my brain for new topics, and Matt threw a monkeywrench in the works when he DEMANDED I change my tune on dis blob.

During a beautiful sunny afternoon a few weekends ago, we were happily skipping along after a day at the Ulster Museum. Apropos of nothing, Matt suddenly burst out: “EVERYTHING ON YOUR BLOG IS NEGATIVE! YOU’RE SKEWING PEOPLE’S PERCEPTIONS. WRITE SOMETHING GOOD ABOUT NI OR I’LL KNOCK YOUR MELT IN.”

Jokes on that last bit! But I realized he was probably right. I’ve been taking the piss out of NI too much lately, and this is basically Matt’s reaction to every post:
The truth is a terrible, beautiful thing. So how about some happier tidbits? Let me fill you in on the best part about living here, the #1 perk! Surely you already know? That’s right, baby SOCIALIZED MEDICINE. NHS 4 LYFE!!1!1!!

On a scale of 0 to America, how awesome is NHS? Way up there. 9.95.

Matt always loses it at the abstract thought of people criticizing the NHS. “YOU DON’T LIKE IT? THEN PAY FOR IT!” he screams furiously to no one. LOL, he has a point though! You can’t argue with the price tag. Plus, if you want to rise above the great unwashed masses, you have the option to go private and pay mad scrilla for diamond-studded colostomy bags, etc.

I’ve only had good experiences with the NHS since coming here (except for that one time a nurse drew blood without sanitizing my skin, but who cares!). So last week, I had to have an endoscopy due to chest spasms while swallowing. I was dreading it, but my Scottish-Italian cheapskate heart leapt with joy at the thought of a freebie. Who knows what it would have cost back home? The novelty of a free invasive procedure was enough motivation for me to face my fears and go for it.

It was done at the Ulster Hospital, and the doctors were really caring and attentive. Even so, though, the endo was lot harder than I thought it would be (probs cause I refused the sedative like a FOOL).

It basically felt like an eternity of this:
Still though no complaints!

So what’s the final verdict on NHS? You already know! 10/10 would recommend.

“But it would never work in ‘Murica!” you protest. “Obummer already took my freedom  my freedom to die penniless and covered in gangrene!”

Never change, America. And by that I mean you need a total system overhaul. NI isn’t stuntin with this bizznazz. You’ve gotta up your game.


Sunshine and rainbows,


Racism – it’s everywhere!


It’s only natural that after you’ve lived somewhere for a while, the luster begins to fade and you develop certain pet peeves about your new environment. And so it begins with me & beautiful Belfast. There are so many wonderful things about this place, but at the moment BIG FAT RACISTS are ruining everything.

Since I moved here last year, there has been a spate of hate crimes in our area. The victims are mostly Eastern European immigrants and black people. Just this week, some sacks of garbage disguised as humans burned down a Lithuanian lady’s nail salon in our neighborhood for zero reason whatsoever. THANKS FOR LETTING DOWN HUMANITY.

Then, on a less extreme but more pervasive level, casual racism finds its way into conversations. There’s nothing quite like discovering that one of your acquaintances is racist. It’s kind of like finding a dead fly in an Arby’s sandwich. You’re disgusted, but not that surprised since Arby’s is crap anyway.

So here’s a story: when I was working for a small company here in Belfast, I had a co-worker we’ll call Janet. I’d been warned about Janet, that she was “a bit sharp.” As far as I could tell, that was a fair description. She usually answered my cheerful greetings with a grunt. She was a bit of an anomaly, to be honest — all of my other co-workers were really friendly and chatty.

Well, one day Janet and I were in the office kitchen together. I think I was making smalltalk about the weather, and she surprised me by asking about the weather back home in California. LOL, cue me pathetically jumping at the chance to be her bud (“PICK ME PICK ME!!!!”), and I kept chatting.

She suddenly cut me off, sniping, “I don’t like America!”jlawok
I laughed. LOL!

I don’t really curr if someone doesn’t like the US, but I wanted to find out why. Brace yourself.

“Well, we went to New York. I hate New York. And we went to the Empire State Building. We were waiting for the elevator. The doors opened, and these coloured people—“

WAIT. What?

“These coloured people—“

Yeah, Imma stop you right there. A lot of olds here still use that term. Maybe it’s not politically incorrect yet in NI, but this is still me every time:

“These coloured people were inside the elevator. I was terrified! I’d never seen so many coloured people in my life! Don’t like America. Too many coloured people. Well, maybe not all places in America are like that. But New York was.”

I couldn’t believe it. I mean…what can you even say? Well, this pretty much sums it up.

Unfortunately, that’s not the first time I’ve heard hot trash come out of people’s mouths. Obvio there are fool racists everywhere in the world, but I guess I’ve lived in a sheltered bubble until now because it totally floors me.

LOL, and speaking of floors, can we just stop for a second to marvel at the photo I snapped at a historic local cinema earlier this week? Matt pointed out the quirky carpet in the lobby, which featured movie stars all over it. Haha, cute!

Oh wait. Then there’s this:

Tragically, it’s not the Hamburglar. It’s effing Al Jolson in blackface. Sort your life out, NI.

So yeah, there you have it. Basically, these shenanigans combined with rampant homophobia have led to my semi-permanent state of existence:
From my high horse,

The Belfast Squint // Taps Aff

On Easter Sunday, the weather here took a freakish turn for the warm and sunny we are LOVING IT, as is everyone else in NI. It’s been in the high 60s/low 70s, and we have taken full advantage!

We picniced in the local park, had a couple of lazy evening walks and were finally been able to hang our laundry on the line again! Unfortunately, this led to my tragic discovery that the neighborhood cats have been using our backyard as a giant litterbox. We have to buy a sonic noise repeller to keep the kittehs away. All of my pathetic efforts to make new cat friends are now meaningless, and my life is basically over.
Anyway, back to the good weather news: people here are exuberant when it’s nice outside. This was basically Matt and me when we saw the amazing forecast for this week:
On Easter Monday (holiday, woop woop!), we decided to walk downtown to do some shappin. As we basked in the sun, I was overjoyed to welcome the glorious return of The Belfast Squint™. What is The Belfast Squint, you ask?

I first coined the term last summer, when I thought to myself, “why does everyone look so generally unpleasant?” Eventually, I realized that NOBODY IN THIS COUNTRY WEARS SUNGLASSES. The result is that on super sunny days, everyone walks around town with seemingly angry, screwed-up faces because the sunshine is searing their eyeballs.
Behold: The Belfast Squint.

This is endlessly hilarious to me, since LA peeps wear sunglasses 24/7. I honestly don’t even think people here realize what sunglasses are actually for they probs think they’re for decoration. GET IT TOGETHER, NI. The Belfast Squint lives on.

The other funny thing about sunny days is that it’s TAPS AFF time. TAPS AFF (tops off) is the phenomenon in which a panoply of men all over the city walk around shirtless. As soon as the sun peeks through the clouds, BOOM! TAPS AFF.

You’re probably thinking “whatever, guys in Murica are shirtless!” True, though it’s almost always at the beach/park, or if the guy is jogging. Here, EVERYWHERE is fair game for shirtless wonders.

A lot of the TAPS AFF princes peacock around town, thinking they look like this:
When actually…
Just the other day, Matt and I were in a sporting apparel store. Sure enough, some old dude who wanted to try stuff on just took his shirt off in the store. I mean, who has time for dressing rooms, AMIRITE? Also: why shouldn’t we all get to revel in his tatted up, middle-aged body? What a time to be alive!

Tune in next time, when springtime rains kick in and I sink into a bottomless pit of existential despair! Jokes! …?

From beautiful East Belfast,

Soft seats: the eternal struggle

Greetings, and welcome back. Today is a very special and long-awaited day, because today is the day that I’m gonna fill you in on yet another NI quirk soft seats. There is no exact American translation of “soft seat,” but it’s basically exactly what it sounds like: a squishy, comfortable place to sit. A pew is not a soft seat. A folding chair is not a soft seat. Sofa, yes. Armchair, yes. Restaurant booth, yes.

Soft seats are a national obsession. The fact that people here have a phrase for them shows you how effing integral they are to life.  Like the moth to the flame, Northern Irish butts gravitate helplessly toward soft seats. I triple dog dare you to try to force an NI person to sit on a hard surface. It’s like trying to make two positively-charged magnets kiss each other (GEEK PATROL).

Go to any public seating area with a Northern Irish person, and you will see. OH, YOU WILL SEE. They’ll frantically scan the place once, twice, three times, in search of a soft seat. If they are successful, they’ll say, “let’s take the soft seats!” or “oh good, soft seats,” then scramble over as fast as they can.

If there aren’t any, however…
“No soft seats?” they’ll whisper in panicked disbelief. Engulfed in despair, they’ll reluctantly join you in a wooden seat. They won’t listen to anything you say, though, because they’ll be too busy watching the entire time to see if anyone is leaving their soft seat.


If such an opportunity does arise, WATCH OUT, because NOTHING is gonna come between your companion and that damn soft seat. Pack it up, people—we’re moving everything to the soft seat.

Soft seats are also an integral factor in home entertaining. Stay with me, because imma take you on a semi-related tangent of NI social norms. The NI dinner party formula: let’s break it down!
If you’re lucky enough to be invited to an NI person’s house for dinner, you’d best be bringing some drank. That’s the entrance fee. Also, wear layers that you can take off throughout the evening. In winter, people think it’s super fun to crank the heat up to tropical levels just for kicks. “It’s snowing outside and I have heatstroke! Ain’t life grand?!”

Dinner is eaten at the dining room table, natch, and dessert is served there as well. GET THIS THO, cause this is where it the formula never fails: after dessert is finished, the host will suggest “moving to a soft seat.”

Urrbody gets up and moves into another room at this point the room of abundant soft seats. And it is unfailingly here where guests drink their tea or coffee, and biscuits/chocolates are passed around. ALWAYS. If you try to drink tea and eat a digestive at the table, the house will spontaneously combust. Best to do it in a soft seat like a real person.

“But Americans like soft seats toooooo,” you protest. Yeah, well, we don’t have a name for them so we are immune to criticism. Also, my experience in America is largely that people continue to talk at the table well after dessert. We’re lazy; we don’t move for anything—not even a soft seat. USA! USA! america
From the softest seat in the house,