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Dublin experience…perfect…well except at customs, but then again when do I not have problems with them? Note to self again: Honesty is never the best policy when going through customs. First discovered this while flying home from Italy and stopping in the Netherlands years ago… When asked by authorities if I wrapped the gift in my bag, I should have said yes instead of no as they thought it could be a bomb and took me in for questioning. In Canada, I should have said I was staying in a hostel not I am here with a couch surfer I just met from Scotland and visiting another couch surfer who is a complete stranger…I am pretty sure they thought I was a drug mule by the way they searched me. In Canada coming home from Argentina, perhaps I should not have asked when you say no weapons do you mean ancient dart guns? And I also knew not to discuss volunteering as without a Visa this could be considered work and one could be deported (previous flatmate’s way of exiting UK forever). So I mentally prepared. I knew my couch surfer’s name and address. I would call him my friend when the officer asked me who I was visiting, and could confidently say his name and phone number. Unfortunately, I failed to find out what work he did which led the officer to respond “Well then he isn’t your friend is he…so how do you really know him?” This caused what I call Beth Ann honesty vomit, “Ummm…well…you see, I actually have never met him. I umm met him on couch surfing…ummm do you know what that is?” Customs officer’s response, “Yes, I’ve heard of it. So basically if I let you through, I am going to hear about someone finding your dead body in a ditch later this week?” Yah…definitely got the lecture from this guy, but it was kind of enduring and fatherly in a way despite the point my heart was beating out of my chest, and I thought my trip might be over before it started. Luckily, he let me into Ireland, and I have avoided dying in ditches thus far.

First Irish encounter outside of airport involved a wonderfully helpful, kind man on a bus who I am pretty sure I convinced to join couch surfing. Hoorah! Another person bound for the ditches! He gave me the quick lowdown on Ireland, and we exchanged some lovely conversation. Made it to first couch surfer’s place without any hitches, and he, wonderful host that he was, set me up with a tour of Glendalough next day with whiskey shots to keep me warm. Him and his flatmate most definitely lived up to my expectations of true Irish blokes. Adventures included riding to pubs on bikes, dancing until wee hours of morning, political comic relief, witty conversation…or the “craic” as it is called here… ballads in pubs and a good old Irish jig or two, sitting on cow while eating cow, cheers with whiskey and Guiness, running in parks, attempts to attend yoga classes and miserable failings, listening to gruff old men read heartfelt poems, Francis Bacon connection, and proper tea at the Wall & Keogh where I did a good amount of reading and writing…also, my phone decided to run away from me which is why my blog is rediculously behind. Losing my phone was the best thing that happened to me though as I was able to enjoy the rest of Ireland free from technology for most part, which is the best way to experience this breathtaking country, and I did things I might not have otherwise done…like hitchhiking. But those are other stories…

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While in Dublin, culture night was taking place; museums and various artistic venues were open to the public for free late into the evening. I was thrilled to find out that the Dublin City Gallery happened to be home to Francis Bacon’s studio, as found after his death. I felt connected to the chaos of his brilliance. Bacon’s understanding of human suffering is so visceral and honest in his art. The screaming mouths of his famous ‘Three Studies of Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion’ comes to my mind when I want to capture the sorrow that has no eyes, no ears, no voice. They scream but nothing is coming out. Their pain cannot be captured in sound. It is best observed as the excruciating build up before release.

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Francis Bacon-Untitled (Kneeling Figure-Back View)

Man distorted. Constant but stagnant. To be still, look up, the way out would become clear. But he pushes, struggles. Animal-like in his desperation to survive. How he must be suffocating, heart palpating, knees and hands bloody as they work to push past this barrier, this corner that closes in with no exit. When will the light burn out? For surely then he will go mad. Who is this voyeur who finds pleasure in another man’s torture? Do we not all create our own hells?

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