Monday, April 30, 2007

At Least my Luck is Consistent!

I'm cursed. If you have any fears about air-travel, such as your bags being lost, or your plane nose-diving into a mountain, check if I'm on the plane, and if so, get the hell off.

For the second time in eight months, I'm travelling light because another airline has lost my luggage. F#&@ers.

I had an utterly heinous day of travelling, and here's a first; I don't feel like talking about it. There's no way to distil the hugely complicated, utterly convoluted day into an easily-digestible blog entry that accurately reflects the hassles I endured, so I'll throw a few highlights at you.

Both of my flights were cancelled, and I had to convince the powers-that-be to let me on similar flights, or, in the case of my flight to Minneapolis, convince them to send me to Milwaukee instead.

My $20 phone died, and in my packing frenzy, I had somehow managed to put the charger and spare battery into the luggage that was on some godforsaken plane to some godforsaken place. I had to beg for the use of a mobile phone from random people. Some were nice. Some were not.

I blagged my way to front of many lines, discovering along the way that white people are seemingly more than willing to relinquish their place in line if the Arab behind him isn't.

I was that guy you see at airports who you see running past randomly. On two occasions I had to barrel through two terminal buildings, heavy electronics-filled backpack swaying, as I ducked and dodged between travellers, pirouetted away from small children that I saw at the last nanosecond, bounded up escalators and through walkways, and vaulted over old ladies by the dozen.

Anyway, I'm going to leave you with this picture and call it a day.

The Hardest Part is Saying Goodbye...

As my studies at RMU have come to a close, I've had to leave my dorm, and all that I hold dear behind...

It won't be the same without you...

Friday, April 20, 2007


Sorry if it seems as though I'm harping on, but this is an odd one!

After class today, as instructed, I went to the International Office to sign some paperwork, fill out an evaluation, and pick up a 'care package'. After a gentle scolding for not replying to 'all those' (there were 2) e-mails, we got down to business.

As I made my way for the door, the secretary said; “Don't forget your bag of goodies there!”
Being nice, I replied “There's no fear of me forgetting this – I've been looking forward to it since I read your letter!”

She replied with “Yeah, we thought we'd give you that because we noticed you don't get any packages from home”.

I didn't give her any reaction, but continued to look at her, prompting her to essentially reiterate her previous statement.

“We always see our exchange students picking up care-packages, but we noticed that you've never gotten one.”

What the hell? How dare this woman insinuate that nobody loves me! I spared her my incredulity, of course, because I may have been reading between the lines, as she doesn't seem like a malicious sort, but if it was unintentional, it was quite a faux-pas.

The goodies they gave me were pretty decent, to be fair. I feel less special knowing that every exchange student got one, of course, but it doesn't detract from the goodness within the red, white and blue, RMU branded, 'Made in Mexico' bag.

Full list of what's here in the Comments, if you're interested (which I don't blame you for not being)

When filling out the evaluation, the last question was “How would you rate your Study Abroad experience?”. I gave it full marks; “Excellent”, because no amount of tactless, incompetent fools and the hassle they cause could detract from the rollicking good time I've had here at RMU... (rollicking? Have I ever even uttered that word aloud?)

Monday, April 16, 2007

Sully's Poetry Corner

My computer reliably informs me that it's April 16th as I write this. I have 11 days left in Pittsburgh, meaning I have to get my academic affairs in order. This doesn't give me much to write about, but seeing as I am currently filling a portfolio with poetry (among other things) for my Creative Writing class, I thought I'd give you an insight as to how it's going.

Bedtime Story

Once upon a time,
In a land not so far away,
There was a tavern,
And in this tavern there was a princess,
With beautiful golden hair down to her shoulders,
And a young prince did look upon her and say,
“I wonder if the carpet matches the drapes”

They didn't live happily ever after.

Real posts coming soon, I promise!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

My 'Happily Ever After'

Like most great stories, there was a definite uncertainty as to what the outcome of mine would be.

Our hero, robbed of his riches and stripped of his dignity, was then struck with a mysterious ailment to further confound matters. His valour prevailed against the tides of fate, and our protagonist persevered through fatigue and discomfort to realise his noble intentions... It's 2007 – unlabelling yourself a terrorist and getting $421.93 is as noble an endeavour as one can aspire to these days!

As foretold in the prophecies, the e-mail arrived early this week:

I was made aware of this through the President of Academic Affairs; Larry, as the woman in the international office didn't want to be the one to deliver me the good news, for some reason. Larry also said

"sorry this happened, but please let Titi know you appreciate her efforts"

I tried – but it seems she's the begrudging type – she misinterpreted my sliver of gratitude as an invitation to take swipes at me, so of course I made her understand that my 'thanks' stemmed from the relief that her incompetence could be scrubbed from the record, after which I scurried out of there for fear she wasted any more of my time with her nincompoopery.

Since I'm an exchange student, I was invited to the International Farewell Party, in an e-mail typed (and signed) by Titi – but again, it was forwarded to me through one her minions, rather than sent directly! Needless to say, I probably won't be making an appearance at the party, for fear the music stops, and the glares start, and somebody ends up with a cocktail stick in the retina.

Getting back on track; once the issue of being on the Department of Homeland Security's Suspected Persons list had been resolved, I thought I'd see how the request to pay me back for the resulting expenditures was going down with the powers-that-be at RMU, which called for a trip to Larry's office.

"We're cutting you a cheque"


Well, actually, he said

"We're cutting you a check"
Damn Americans – they've no knack for flair with their language.

Language discrepancies notwithstanding, it was fantastic news, which I celebrated with a trip to the Sewickley Valley Hospital (it wasn't really a celebration, I just needed a segue). Unlike my last visit, where they sucked blood out of me like one would extract milk from a cow, I only had to fill four tubes with precious life-essence, and one cup of urine! This of course, was part of the doctor's orders to figure out my recent spate of sickness – why my red blood cells were low, and my piss red. Yeah – my piss was red. It should be a personal matter, but it may as well not be – when I went to the doctor to discuss the results with him, he talked about everything in the waiting area, in front of the other patients, and any fellow students who were checking their mailboxes right outside the open door – I didn't really care, but the illusion of privacy would be nice.

I'm getting a little side-tracked again – he said that whatever had been attacking my red-blood cells had stopped, but we had 'missed the boat' for a specific diagnosis – my fault, then, for taking a week longer to get to the hospital than I should have (but I had little time to – such is the amount of work I'm trying to catch up on here!).

If this were to be my last post from America, it would be a fitting one – I'd mount my steed (a Boeing 757, in this instance), decked in expensive finery, bought with my newfound wealth (um... reimbursed wealth), and return to from whence I came unhindered...

It's a pretty tenuous analogy, actually, so I'll just continue to post random crap about this American experience until I run out of steam or forget my Blogger password. Over the remaining two weeks of school, I'll be hard pressed to update during the week, so I'll probably still be talking about the States long after I return to Ireland, only by that stage, it'll be a heavily glorified, idealised version of where I hung my hat for those 8 or so months.

Hope you're looking forward to it.

Saturday, April 07, 2007


If you've been following the blog over the past month, you're no doubt aware of the hassle I've had with the American government, more specifically the Department of Homeland Security... If you're not yet informed, start here, then here, aaaand finish up with this one

Now that everybody's up to speed, I'll continue! Like I said earlier, when I went to the International Office at RMU, I was met with no sympathy, and told they couldn't do anything about it, so I went to their superior, and told him what happened, preparing myself with a list of buzzwords to use that would resonate with him for the rest of the day; words like 'outraged', 'ridiculous', 'incompetent', 'unbelievable' and 'are you going to eat that?'... Okay, maybe not the last one, but I had a few things that I wanted to say, and they were received how I was hoping they would be. I speculated that the two Irish girls who came to RMU with me last semester would also be on the list, and this got him worried - he agreed with me that this complacency couldn't continue because RMU would "get in trouble", and started cracking the whip. The director of the International Office still isn't very nice to me, but she did forward me this during the week, illustrating that it may well be possible to clear my name. The two girls who are also involved haven't been told yet by RMU, and I tried to contact them before putting this up to no avail. I blacked out their names in case they're not willing to broadcast to the world that they're on a 'Suspected Persons' list, and some other info that shouldn't be online.

The 'Male from United Kingdom' threw me off a little since I'm an Irish citizen, and every form I fill out reflects that, bar the 'Place of Birth: London, England', which hopefully explains that discrepancy, in case you were wondering.

This experience has made me glad I decided to stay in RMU that extra semester - cos otherwise I wouldn't have known about this 'administrative oversight' until my next US holiday (which of course, would have been severely cut short).

With a bit of luck, shortly after not being labelled a dirty terrorist anymore, I'll get my $421.93 back from Robert Morris!

Monday, April 02, 2007

Giving Taking Back Sunday my Saturday

When it was announced that Taking Back Sunday would be playing at Robert Morris University, I was a little dubious. That was, of course, until I found out the tickets were $10. I'm not exactly a Taking Back Sunday fan, but I've listened to their CDs, and I don't think anybody could pass up seeing a band live for little under €7.50.

We were intentionally late for the concert, and missed Armor For Sleep's set, and most of UnderOath, which meant that we'd be spending less time waiting for the only band we knew or cared about. When I walked in I was hugely impressed.

It was a real concert. There were people everywhere, great sound, and a decent light show. I didn't spend much time observing the emo-teeny-boppers, but my friend Krampe did overhear one sullen emo-kid profoundly say to another sullen emo-kid something along the lines of “Dude. This is what heaven should be like”.

Taking Back Sunday took to the stage, and I pushed my way to the front. How close exactly?

Pretty damn close.

I took some nice photos and cool videos, and edited together a little video, purely for the purposes of trying to elicit feelings of jealousy from my younger brother, who I believe has yet to experience the joys of powering your way to the front of a concert and being within spitting distance of famous rock-star types. It was sweaty, and disgusting, and I stank of pre-pubescent perspiration by the end of the night, but it was well worth it, especially since I got a video out of it.

About the video: all the pics and footage are from my digital camera, and I dubbed 'What's it Feel Like to be a Ghost?' over it, as the audio capture on the camera was painful to listen to. Oddly enough, considering I rarely put myself in my videos, and this is about TBS, I'm in it... Kindof - you can see my forehead at three minutes and seven seconds... If you're wondering about some of the shaky footage – that's me getting kicked in the back of the head by some insane crowd-surfer.

Be sure to leave a comment!