Racism – it’s everywhere!

DEBBIE DOWNER POST YOU GUIZ!!1!

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:
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Anyway.

“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.”

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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:
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“WTF? IS THAT THE HAMBURGLAR?” I thought.

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:
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From my high horse,
Lilly

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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.
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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:
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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.
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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:
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When actually…
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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,
Lilly

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…
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“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.

HAY, IS THAT SOFT SEAT TAKEN?
HAY, IS THAT SOFT SEAT TAKEN?

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!
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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,
Lilz

Our house, in the middle of our street…

Psyche, it’s been almost a year since I’ve moved to B-town (sounds wrong), and I still haven’t fulfilled peeps’ requests to see our digs!

WELCOME TO CRIBS, NORN IRON EDITIONsnoop
First of all, let’s set the scene. We live in East Belfast, also known as Heart of Orangeness™. Here’s our street, with a beautiful  Irish double rainbow!
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As I mentioned in a previous post, we also got new doors recently our old ones were Jankfest 2015, with wood so cracked and swole diesel you had to throw your whole body weight against them in order to get them closed. Check out the front view now! Balllllllinnnn

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Front door on fleek.

When you walk through the entryway, to your left is our cozy living room. Matt is so proud of the little console he built under the TV. If you ever come to stay, make sure you fawn over it.
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After walking through the living room, you get to our kitchen and bathroom. Fun fact: Matt and I chose every aspect of our bathroom, from the tiles to the shower, toilet and sink, in less than 10 minutes.
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Where the magic happens. I was skeptical at first about the ultra-modern stovetop, but now I loff.
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Worst bathroom photograph evar, but it’s such a small room that I can’t get a good vantage point. You probs didn’t want to see the toilet anyway. JOKES we just go in a shallow trench in the backyard.
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This backyard pic was taken just before our 4th of July extravaganza last year. I’m sure you’re wondering if we fly our fancy, plastic flags all year round, but I’m sorry to say that they only grace East Belfast on special occasions. I don’t even know who I am anymore.

Anywho, that’s the entirety of the downstairs. Shall we TAKE IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL?!?!!!!!1!!1!
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Upstairs is da master bedroom, resplendent with our favorite Japanese characters. PS, literally everything in our house is from IKEA. Matt is basically Edward Norton in Fight Club.

Across the hall from our bedroom is the office/Sweet Jams Room/Matt’s Hidey Hole.
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Lastly, we have the guest bedroom/Lilly’s Womyn Room. I needed somewhere to put all of my feminine trappings when I moved in, and Matt lovingly installed those shelves to hold my lotions, potions, bedazzlements and trinkets. What a guy!

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Honored guests, that’s our house for you! Not pictured: the haunted attic, moldy closet, indoor pool and world’s smallest petting zoo. You’ll have to come visit us to see!

Hostess with the Most Ish,
Lilz

“It’s a mug’s game!”

I have resigned myself to defeat. Football (soccer) is part of my life now. I should just embrace it like this diva:
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Most weekends, Matt quarantines himself upstairs with a bowl of Doritos, a glass of chocolate milk and hours of football. It’s fine by me, since I can putter around the house doing whateva I want! As soon as he puts it on the TV, this is me:
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Every once in a while, though, I’ll hear a strangled, disembodied scream from above. If it’s a “YEOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!” I know he’s happy and I can go up for a chat. If it’s an “AAAAHHHHH!!!” I know he’s going to be sad forever and I’d better just leave him to wallow.

The other night, I was reading while Matt watched a game on the iPad. He plugged in his headphones so the noise wouldn’t disturb me, but he seemed unaware of his own hilarious running commentary. I secretly recorded some of the choice moments and tried futilely not to laugh. Without having the ambient noise of the match, it just sounds like he’s doing Lamaze breathing and talking to himself like an insane person. Enjoy!!

Wee bit of trickery,
Lilly

P.S. – Published with Matt’s permission 😉

My first Paddy’s Day Parade

Apologies, I know it’s been over a week since my last post but once you hear all the revelry I’ve been up to this week, maybe you’ll forgive me?

St. Patrick’s Day was on Tuesday, and since this year marked my first ever Paddy’s Day on the Emerald Isle, I wanted to make it count! It’s a big deal over here — national holiday! With the day off work, Matt and I were free to partake in all of Belfast’s festivities.

First though, we had to have a bitter fight about the day itself. EVERYONE EXCEPT PROD MATT KNOWS ST. PATRICK WAS A BIG FAT CATHOLIC. Not only is he the patron saint of uber-Popey Ireland, but Protestantism hadn’t even been invented by filthy heathen yet! There was only one church, dawg. THE church.
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Eventually, we agreed to disagree. I won, though, because Belfast totally proved my point: Matt had never been to the city’s Paddy’s Day events because they’re completely monopolized by Catholics/Republicans, LOL. Seems like ye olde Protestants can’t claim Paddy after all!

Anywho, we ambled into town to watch the parade at midday. It was a fun, family-friendly atmosphere kiddos were resplendent with fake red beards, shamrock antennae and the Republic of Ireland’s flag (aka the Tricolor). We blagged some free flags ourselves:

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Trying to pass.
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His ‘get out of jail free’ card.

The parade started from City Hall, and featured all kinds of hoopla: a giant St. Patrick, dancers, bagpipes, and more! It only lasted for about 15 minutes, but was fun nonetheless. I liked the bagpipes best! I took a video, but doesn’t work on this blob. Just imagine their beautiful bleating.

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This represents something.
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My main man
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One of the banished snakes!
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The brunette in the middle is Belfast’s Lord Mayor!

I was pleasantly surprised by the feel-good wholesomeness of it all. Unlike American SPD parades, there weren’t any bands of ruffians starting knife fights or projectile vomiting. I had half-expected a scene similar to this brilliant Simpsons clip (watch from beginning to around 3:15. Matt and I died laughing): http://facedl.com/video/awqkiqqkuaunx.swf

I was super sad that Belfast didn’t have an ‘Irish Boy Most Resembling a Potato.’

But, buoyed by the good will around us, we decided to get our day drinkin’ on and hit a pub with some traditional music. We downed a respectable pint apiece, then bumbled back into broad daylight to find another watering hole.

Well, wouldn’t you know, suddenly trouble was starting to kick off. Throngs of drunken children (YUUUUUP) were squaring up to police outside McDonald’s. OF COURSE at McDonald’s.

Their chants were getting louder and the crowd kept growing, so Matt and  I decided to head back toward City Hall — oops, we forgot that the Unionist flag protestors were camped out there (Wiki Belfast City Hall Flag Protests).

Another line of police officers had barricaded themselves between the increasingly agitated teens and the flag protestors. Nothing was happening yet, and to their credit, the police officers were calmly talking some of the kids down. But tension was building across both sides. This was us:
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LOL, we safely bused it back home. Tuned in for the evening news and learned that the kiddos had eventually set fire to a Union flag, natch. But hey no one died, so all in all, St. Patrick’s Day was a rousing success!!

Fiddle dee dee,
Lilee