It’s St. Patrick’s Day and Somewhere in there, I’m a Tobin

As I write this, my mother is in the kitchen, listening to Riverdance and banging two wooden spoons together. Her clacking is not in time, but rhythm has never been one of my mother’s strong suits — they took the triangle away from her in grade school. She’s had both hips replaced but that doesn’t stop her from doing her most inspired Michael Flatley impression.  She’s a Tobin after all and it is St. Patrick’s Day.

We take Irish food and music very seriously... we have enough Irish oatmeal to lead the nation through another potato famine

Despite being a conglomerate of Italian, German, Scot, and Irish heritage, we take St. Patrick’s Day fairly seriously in my house. Come to think of it, we take being Irish pretty seriously in my house, even though we’re 2 generations removed from the family homestead in County Clare. Well, we take Irish food and music very seriously. My mother makes a mean boiled potato and there’s enough Irish oatmeal in the pantry to lead the nation through another potato famine. My favorite song growing up was “The Orange and the Green,” I was more interested in playing a reel on my fiddle than Mozart on my violin, and my first concert in New York City was Gaelic Storm at the BB King.

I was more interested in 300 fiddle tunes than a Mozart symphony growing up.

In honor of the holiday, I’ve put two loaves of traditional Irish brown bread baking in the oven. Meanwhile, my mother made green jell-o and we collaborated on cabbage rolls and green Scotch shortbread cookies. My father contributed with a 6-pack of Irish Red in the basement fridge. We’re ready to party in a way our ancestors would be proud of… maybe.

I went to Ireland once, when I was 7. That trip was the first time I’d ever stayed up past 9PM and first time I’d ever been to a bar. My father was on business and my mother used it as an excuse to met up with her favorite Irish cousin and her son. Julie drove us from Shannon into a small town hidden among fields and knolls. It was like the setting of JRR Tolkin book. The sky was black and clear and the only light illuminating the streets was the glow from cottage windows. We stepped out of the car into a informal parking lot outside a pub. Music and laughter filled the air and it was clear we were in for a rolicking good time.

The whole world seemed to be crammed into the small, smokey public house. Pints sloshed as joyous patrons slammed their glasses down in time to the music, which was provided by a group set atop a rickety stage. The tables and chairs had been cleared from a section of the floor, and men and women reeled around in circles, stomping and spinning, pulling in new partners at will. An older gentleman with a white beard and cap, straight off a postcard, threw me into the middle of the floor, determined that I would learn how to step dance before the night was through. As a kid, I had chalk white skin, rose bud cheeks, and thick blond curls. In my cable knit sweater, I looked as local as anyone else there. I would eventually learn that the Tobin farm, tied up in family feuds for a half century (how typically Irish), was but a mile away — I was as local as anyone.

We rolled into our cousin’s B&B at 2AM and slept till late afternoon. It was one of the most memorable nights of my life.

Sometimes I feel like pulling a John Wayne in the Quiet Man and moving to Ireland to reclaim the family homestead

It’s true what they say about Ireland — it gets under your skin, you become part of a family, and you start to pine for it. Sometimes, I feel like pulling a John Wayne in “The Quiet Man” — retire from this fighting life, move back to my people’s farm, fix it up, marry me a nice Irish bloke, and dance a jig to the tune of a happily ever after.

In the meantime, I’ll have to settle for my home baked bread, a pint, a warm memory, and a toast to my Grandma, Anna Tobin.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

Advertisements

A Soundtrack for Yet Another Snow Day

A month and a week into winter and we’ve been bludgeoned by 7 snowstorms. Record accumulations. Headline clean-up catastrophes. Headline clean-up triumphs. Temperatures at historic lows. A persistent winter wonderland.

Enough with all this ice. Winter, I'm over you.

There’s another storm raging outside my living room window. The snow sits so heavily on bare branches that the wailing winds can’t budge them. Yes, if there was ever a January to ignore the world and cozy up in front of the fire with someone cuddly, January 2011 has been the January for it. But the novelty of mornings spent shoveling followed by afternoons spent snowshoeing, has worn off.  After 7 snow storms, I’ve had enough of winter. I’m over cozy. Give me sunny.

I’ve been looking at pictures of my last trips to Cozumel and Cuba, longing for a beach. To get me through another icy day locked at home, I’ve assembled a  summery, sing-alongable playlist that will hopefully get me through another snow day:

  1. We Gotta Get Out of This Place by The Animals — There’s a blizzard. It’s below freezing. Get me outta here. nuff said.
  2. Mercy by Duffy — These snowflakes have me begging the weather gods for mercy.
  3. Temperature by Sean Paul — please, give me some place (or someone) with the right mercury reading to shelter me from the storm.
  4. July, July by The Decemberists– It’s mostly because of the title, but the fact it’s a great sing-along song doesn’t hurt either.
  5. Louie, Louie by Chuck Berry — There’s something about Chuck Berry that always makes me think convertibles, flip-flops, and summer nights.
  6. Brazil by Pink Martini — Smooth and jazzy, a song about June moons and exotic love. Yes, please.
  7. Everything about Sheryl Crow makes me think of sunshine

    All I Wanna Do by Sheryl Crow — …is have some fun. Hypothermia is not fun.

  8. Pacific Coast Party by Smashmouth — Smashmouth always provides the quintessential summer soundtrack. This is a song about California, California sun, and California parties. It’s 40 degrees warmer in California.
  9. Someone to Call my Lover by Janet Jackson — Carefree Janet
  10. Alejandro by Lady Gaga — What’s a playlist without a little Gaga? And when vacations are on the brain, there’s nothing like daydreams about a Spanish lover to take you far, far, away. A winter wonderland doesn’t stand a chance.

Dinner & A Movie is So Passe… In Need of a Date Idea? I Got one For You

Your typical date-night routine got you all worn out? How about taking eachother to Fencing Masters NYC

He like the Knicks. She likes a Broadway show. He likes comedy clubs. She likes the US Open. They both like a good party. They’re both tired of the typical date night on the town.

It’s time for something fresh, and I’ve got an easy way to make everyone happy…

Take your main squeeze to the Fencing Masters NYC.

On November 17th, the world’s best and most decorated fencers will take on members of Team USA at the Hammerstein Ballroom in a dynamic show of athleticism. It’ll be sporting event meets gala, complete with cocktails and hors d’oeurves. To cap off the evening, guests can brush elbows with the Michael Jordans of fencing at the Fencing Masters After-Party, which will take over New York City’s highly esteemed Hudson Terrace.

Your guy has always wanted to hang out with professional athletes. Your girl has always wanted to have her photo taken with a male Gucci model. You’ve both always enjoy hanging out together. Fencing Masters NYC can make all that happen.

Tickets on Sale on Groupon for one day only (Nov. 1)! Get your deal here: Groupon

If you miss the Groupon, have no fear! Great seats are available here: Fencing Masters NYC Website

 

You Borrowed My Bob Dylan CD and Stole My Heart. I’d like them back now, please.

Bob Dylan and Joan Baez were a dynamic singing/peace-loving duo

I once made the mistake of exchanging CDs with a guy I was seeing. I loaned him Bob Dylan’s  “Blonde on Blonde” and he loaned me “Highway 61 Revisited.” It took some convincing, but eventually he saw the light — Highway 61 may have its historic significance, but Blonde on Blonde boasted the catchier tracks.

Before I knew it, we were serenading each other with “I Want You” and stomping along to “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35” as we cooked dinner in his kitchen. While we saw each other, we shared many things, including a mutual distaste for the Red Sox and a mutual preference for elaborate home-cooking, but nothing was more “ours” than Bob Dylan.

At the time, it was great. Every time I’d start to belt out “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” I’d think of us and smile.

And then our theme song became “Most Likely You’ll go your way and I’ll go mine”

We stopped seeing each other.

When a relationship ends, there’s always the post-traumatic exchange of goods. Things loaned and borrowed, things left behind at apartments or in cars — all things that have to be returned in an awkward and loaded hand-off. But let’s face it, ridding yourself of his Michigan sweatshirt and reclaiming your “Blonde on Blonde” from his CD rack is relatively easy. I’d even go so far as to call the act empowering. The problem is ridding yourself of the intangibles.

Back at home, I held my Dylan CD in my hand and looked at it with distaste. I knew I wouldn’t be able to listen to it  anytime soon without flashbacks to our sing-alongs and cook-ins. Appropriately, I recalled a song Joan Baez wrote about her relationship with Bob Dylan in which she sings: “We both know what memories can bring/ They bring diamonds and rust.”  I was having a hard time finding any diamonds amongst the items I’d reclaimed from his place and the memories that lingered from our months together. Worse of all, Bob Dylan was covered in rust for me and I was annoyed at my ex for stealing both my heart and my favorite musician.

A broken heart mends in time, but a broken CD… well, the only place for that is the trash.