Category Archives: Tales of Yore


“How do you say ‘hangover’ in Spanish?”
“No Idea. Food and Coffee. STAT.”

This whole thing started when I decided it was a good idea to have a party a few hours before I got on a plane to Spain.

At the time, I was living in Ireland on a “study” “abroad” trip and my cousins came over for the night. Read: disaster… or as they say in Ireland, “the craic.”

We’ll just skip the particulars of that evening except to say that we drank a lot of wine. Looking back on it from The Future, it was the night that everything happened though it seemed at the time like nothing much happened at all. It was the night from which we would come to learn “we’ll never see these people again” was not a good motto. No, no, you will see people you should never see again on roof tops on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, years later in the middle of The Quays bar in Galway, and pretty much everywhere… multiple times. It was the night that some of our favorite sayings, such as “the nature times” and “just go with it, it’s funnier that way,” came into hilarious being. It was also the night before Martha and I were probably almost murdered in Madrid.

We were in bed by 9:30 p.m.

Next thing I knew, my alarm was going off at 3 a.m. and I had to get on a plane. After shoving a grand total of two outfits into my backpack, I made the one-minute trek across the lawn to Martha’s flat. I put on a kettle and prepared the breakfast of champions – tea and cookies – while she packed. I believe the conversation we had, regarding our astounding preparedness, consisted mostly of groans and grunts, but we understood.

The flight from Dublin to Madrid was a little over 2 hours. Two-plus hours of deep, deep struggle.

I had been to Spain four years earlier at the age of sixteen. On that flight the attendant was really nice to my group of friends. He gave us brownies and milk because we couldn’t sleep on the flight and, apparently, it was “shocking to meet American kids who weren’t a bunch of jerks.” I like baked goods and backhanded compliments, so I was pretty excited about Spain.

This flight was less exciting. Have you ever been hungover at 30,000 feet with TortureLights™ flickering on and off as flight attendants try to sell things to you?

RyanAir Flight Attendant (5:30 a.m.): For just forty euro, we will provide you with this mystery meat sandwich on stale bread! Are’t we great?
Me: …..
Mean Lady (5:32 a.m.): For your next flight please visit our website. It’s a miracle that you booked this flight without knowing about it! Flights as low as 2 euro 50 euro! Plastic seats may be included, we’re really not sure.
Me: I hate you.
The Devil (5:40 a.m.): Water or wine?
Me: What? WINE? First, it is not even six a.m. Second, NO. No. Wine. Ever.

My brain was screaming “Hydrate me!” at the top of it’s little brain lungs, so I wondered for a few moments what Airplane Lavatory Faucet Water tasted like. I really thought long and hard about it. Then I shelled out the ten euro for bottled water.

Upon arriving in Madrid, I stared at the signage through a thick haze of nothing as we walked two miles through the airport, aimlessly following the people in front of us. I began to panic a little.

Me: “Martha, you know what I didn’t think about when we booked this trip?”
Martha: “That the Figure-this-Airport-Out-for-Yourselves! Game would take this long?”
Me: “Nope. The fact that I DON’T SPEAK SPANISH.”

I had gotten to the point in high school where I was probably a year away from speaking fluentish. I was at that point of understanding where things started to get confusing. You know, the point where you’re ordering a sandwich somewhere and legitimately cannot remember the English word for cucumber. Two years of disuse later, I barely remembered how to say “where’s the bathroom?” (¿Dónde está el baño? BTW.) I lose language quickly. I don’t even know how to speak English that well.

Just like that, Martha became the “translator” for the trip while I stood and smiled at people (or reflexively spoke at them in English.) At that point it didn’t really matter because it was 8 a.m. and we needed sustenance. How do you say hangover in Spanish? Who knows, Food and Coffee, STAT.

The strange thing about food in Madrid when you are 20-years-old and have no money is that absolutely everything tastes like Spanish ham. Eggs? Ham. Salmon? Ham. Butter? Ham. Ham? Ham. It is really quite distressing, but we scarfed down a larger than necessary portion of food, and found our way to our hostel. It’s possible that we wandered around a private building or two before finding the hostel.

After a nap, we went out to explore the city and, more importantly, to buy Martha shoes. Because Obviously. Who remembers shoes when drunk packing? To her credit, she remembered to bring more than two outfits and underwear. When we returned to our hostel we were looking forward to spending the rest of the evening not drinking EVER and chatting with the Argentinian girls who were staying down the hall.

As we reached our floor, we noticed a man standing by the hostel door. I immediately felt uneasy and could sense Martha felt the same unease. The man by the door looked me right in the eyes – have you ever had someone look at you and the only thought in your head be “danger?” Behind us, a building resident was walking up the stairs and he must have noticed us hesitate because he took the mans attention away so that Marty could unlock the door to our part of the hostel and slam it behind us.

About an hour later, Martha had returned from her shower, and I jokingly said “I’m kind of afraid to leave our room, what if he’s here?!!” She was laughing when I opened the door and he was standing there. I slowly closed the door and turned and started laughing that uncontrollable kind of giggle that only comes when you shouldn’t be laughing. “Martha, he IS out there!”

He began banging on the doors and screaming for the “chica morena” which, I mean, was really vague seeing as every girl in that hostel had brown hair. We used our cell phones to call upstairs and try in broken Spanish to explain that there was an intruder in the hostel. Lucky for us, one of the Argentinian girls called the police after withstanding thirty minutes of the ordeal. Once the police took him away, the owners of the hostel came downstairs and yelled at all of us for calling the police. I couldn’t understand it, but I imagine the conversation went something like this:

Hostel Dude: Why would you call the police?
Argentinian Girl: Oh, butt dial. Nothing to do at all with the intruder that you were ignoring. Just kidding, sorry I’m not sorry.
Hostel Dude: We were handling it.
Martha (to me): Anddddd we’re leaving tomorrow.

So we did. And that’s the story of how we ended up running into my friend from New York in the best tapas bar in Granada drinking wine again.



The following stories are true.  Any resemblance to real people is not at all coincidental.  It’s definitely about exactly who you think it’s about.  Names have been changed to code names that are not subtle.

I get writer’s block a lot.  Mostly, I think because I haven’t ever taken writing “seriously.”  I have always done it to make people laugh or to gather my thoughts in a way that actually makes sense.  “Seriously,” it was always something I did when I had a paper due that morning the next morning.  I wasn’t the best of students.  Not that I wasn’t smart.  I wasn’t lazy either.  I was bored.

I went to Catholic high school.  We wore kilts made of Teflon and rolled the waist hems to make them shorter.  I stopped rolling mine around the time I realized that if I didn’t, I only had to shave my legs up to my knees.  We went to mass once a month in our gym, and as a member of concert choir, I was frequently tasked with set up.  No one can set up a row of folding chairs as quickly and neatly as I can.  It’s a life skill.

In high school, I had a solid group of friends for the first time.  I’m still friends with some of them.  Actually, my brother married one of them.   I felt like a grown up and had grown up things to worry about, such as (ranked in no particular order):
  • Getting a part in the musical. I played Liesl in the Sound of Music before my dreams of being on Broadway were crushed forever by a certain university in New York — LOOK AT ME NOW, BITCHES!…. wait….
  • Boys.  A constant source of anxiety.  As if any of them were even remotely acceptable dating material.
  • Physics class. Totally got an A.
  • Everything. Still an issue.
  • Not getting into a good college.  I did.  I graduated, too.
  • My dog getting old.   He died… as dogs are wont to do.
  • Web MD.  Also still an issue.
  • Being in the same grade as my big brother…

I once had a teacher say to me, “if you were more like your brother, you’d have done better in this class.”  I’m serious.  I am very close with my siblings.  You have never met three more different people.  The people who loved us never made us feel like we were being compared.  But complete strangers did.  I cried about it in the car ride home that day.  My brother said that it was the stupidest thing he’d ever heard and reminded me why I really didn’t do well in the class.  I didn’t do well because it was religion class and the teacher and I disagreed on some fundamental issues, like how not to be a horrible person.

Religion teachers and I have a history.  My freshman year, a different teacher, Mr. Matrix, threw a coffee mug at my head.  Let me take you back with me a bit:

Mr. Matrix:  If I wasn’t Catholic, I would be Atheist.

Baby Aislinn (thinking): Extremism.  Love it.


Mr. Matrix: Kissing before marriage is wrong.

Baby Aislinn (thinking): Oh. My. God. Yessss.  This will be hilarious.


Mr. Matrix:  Women are the cause of original sin.  There is a long, intricate ‘thread’ about this in the Catholic Latin Chat room that I met my teenage girlfriend on.  I wear her hair-elastic around my wrist.  We’re getting married in the fall.

Baby Aislinn (thinking) Do you make it rub the lotion on its skin whenever it’s told, too?


Mr. Matrix:  When a woman sits on a man’s lap, she is emulating the devil putting man through temptation.

Baby Aislinn (mutters aloud):  Well, no.

Mr. Matrix: Excuse me?

Baby Aislinn (realizing I said this out loud, figuring there was no going back): That is the most misogynistic comment.  And you said it in a classroom made up almost entirely of teenage girls.

Mr. Matrix: Go to the office.

Classroom immediately descends into chaos.  Classmates begin yelling at Mr. Matrix.


Mr. Matrix throws mug. Mug misses my head and the girl behind me, shatters on blackboard. Silence.

He didn’t get fired.   I got detention for a week.

Besides getting detention a few times, high school was fairly uneventful for me. I never got asked on a date; wasn’t a star athlete, the valedictorian, or the prom queen; I didn’t even get a superlative!  I’m sure those things upset me then, but I don’t even remember now.  It didn’t really matter to me.  I had friends who loved me.  In the grand scheme of things, high school is purgatory (oh my! religious references galore!)  It is where you wait.

Of the memories I have from high school, the majority of them are good.  I actually keep in touch with a number of the teachers I had and liked.  We’re Facebook friends!  But the memories that I cherish the most?
Setting up folding chairs with my friends and crazy religion teachers.  And that thing with the crickets, but that’s another story for another time.
BONUS – embarrassing chubby pubescent photos!  Good thing I saved my birthday locker decorations!