My brain isn’t really rigid, so nothing really “broke” it per se, but there’s a lot of new stuff mashed into it now. The experience of being overseas, the experience of spending 95% of my time with the same small group of people, the experience of using foreign currency (trying to figure out the 18 different British coins [I’m exaggerating, but only slightly] was a little challenging initially).
I think the thing that’s most mashed in there though is the whole complicated Irish history, and how strongly it still dictates the Irish identity. More than that, I’m incredibly impressed by their sense of solidarity with other people worldwide who are suffering. On a grander scale, their empathy with the plight of the Palestine people in the Middle East right now is very touching (I don’t mean to sound trite; I truly find it inspiring that they can see the universality in people’s struggles, instead of keeping a narrow focus on their own problems). On a somewhat smaller scale, the amount of coverage that the Aurora, CO massacre is getting in the Irish and British news has surprised me — as Joan said, they’re fascinated with the fact that Americans are always killing each other, but it’s been so much more than that — they’ve been expressing condolences in so many ways, the latest being a book at the Hewitt Festival which they’re inviting people to sign to give to the American Consulate General. Maybe I just haven’t been looking, but I can’t think of too many American equivalencies. I mean, I know we throw millions of dollars at Israel and Afghanistan, but to me it feels methodical and politically motivated.
In general, everyone in Ireland seems more laid back, conversational, and less concerned with being politically correct and formal (in a good, refreshing way). I imagine some of it is, to some degree, because I’m American, or “foreign.” Maybe some of it is my own mindset — I’m not keeping the rigid, fast-paced schedule that I keep at home. But at the Hewitt Festival, for example, everyone is eager to chat even before they know I’m American, and the show we went to tonight, The Third Policeman, felt less formal or uptight than similar events that I’ve been to in America.
And they do love to tell stories here, which I love.