Pike Place Market
As US cities go, there’s very little to attract the international traveler to Seattle. Bar a love for Grey’s Anatomy, this Washington city never came under my radar, until I moved to Vancouver and consulted a map. With the knowledge that it was less than a three-hour drive and a short stop at US customs away, it seemed impertinent not to visit. Thus, ignoring the pang of pain that only comes with seeing how weak the Canadian dollar is against USD, we set off for the weekend.
We were women on a budget, with roughly just 36 hours at our disposal, but it was enough to fit in as much as you need to see to get a feel of the city.
Pike Place Market
The fact that the first ever Starbucks counts as one of Seattle’s greatest attractions probably tells you all you need to know about this city. Tourists literally queue for the guts of an hour just to get a coffee there. I lack that kind of commitment, so instead I took a poorly focused picture and walked away to seek my caffeine fix elsewhere.
At some point, in unspoken agreement, it was decreed by the emigrants of the world, or at least by the emigrants of MY world, that we would pretend to outsiders that it was easy. When anyone from back home would ask what it’s like to pack up and move to the other side of the world, we would all reply something to the tune of ‘it’s great, I’m really loving it here’.
I’ll hold my hands up and be the first to admit that I am 100% guilty of sugar coating my experience in Canada so far when people ask. Sometimes ‘it’s great’ is just the easier answer to give to someone, especially when the alternative is ‘actually it’s been really tough – finding work is hard, I’m broke and homesick and the chocolate here doesn’t even taste like chocolate’.
The great podcast revolution came in late 2014, when the popularity of Sarah Koenig’s Serial exploded across the world. People who had never before had any interest in radio programs suddenly became hooked on the story of the 1999 murder of high school student Hae Min Lee and her ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed, who’s currently serving life in prison for her death.
Save for Serial, podcasts don’t generally receive the same kind of recognition and mainstream acclaim as television series and documentaries enjoy, despite them often providing just as much entertainment. With that in mind, I’ve put together a short, and by no means definitive list of podcast series for the podcast virgin.
This American Life
This American Life is the show that started me on the road of podcast consumption several years ago. As many fans will already be aware, Serial is actually a spinoff of This American Life, as the aforementioned Sarah Koenig is one of its producers. The hour-long weekly programme is presented by Ira Glass – who’s voice is every bit as radio perfect as his name. Each episode is a work of journalistic non-fiction and based around a theme – made up of a number of acts. You’ll love this podcast because Ira’s voice will lull you into a state of relaxation, and at the end of each hour you’ll feel like you’re the smarter for listening to it.
The Moth is a non-profit group based in New York who focus on the art of storytelling. This podcast is a recording of their storytelling events held across the States and further afield (they even recorded one in Dublin). The stories are often quite simple, and tend to vary in length, but can wrap you up to such an extent that you’ll be caught on the bus either laughing out loud or shedding a tear.
Early 2015 Róisín, how truly I failed you.
At the start of last year, I made just one resolution – read 40 books in 2015. I didn’t think it too ambitious, I mean there are 52 weeks in a year, surely, SURELY, such a feat is doable. Plausible even. How naive I was.
Instead of 40 books, I managed a mere 25, and even that was a struggle. Despite my best efforts to the contrary, often life and a lack of self-discipline (i.e. too much Netflix) got in the way.
To this end, I have revised my 2016 Reading Challenge to 35 and vowed to try harder. Here are some books that have made it to my list so far:
- Wild – Cheryl Strand
- The Silkworm – Robert Galbraith
- Career of Evil – Robert Galbraith
- Go Set A Watchman – Harper Lee
- The Circle – Dave Eggers
- A Hologram for the King – Dave Eggers
- Gone – Michael Grant
- One Step Too Far – Tina Seskis
- The Princess Bride – William Goldman
- The Blind Assassin – Margaret Atwood
- A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara
- Why Not Me? – Mindy Kaling
- The High Mountains of Portugal – Yann Martel
- What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours – Helen Oyeyemi
- Asking For It – Louise O’Neil
- The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – Rebecca Skloot
- All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr
- Play It As It Lays – Joan Didion
Oh Wonder – Oh Wonder
Oh Wonder how you teased for so much of 2015. The musical pairing of Josephine Vander Gucht and Anthony West released a song per month – each as enchanting as the last – before finally releasing their debut album in September this year. It’s Indie pop at its best.
Favourite track: Technicolour Beat
Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell
If Indie folk is your religion, then Carrie & Lowell should be your bible. The album is named after Stevens’ mother and stepfather and chronicles the difficult relationship he shared with Carrie – who was bi-polar, schizophrenic and was both an alcohol and drug abuser – before succumbing to stomach cancer in 2012.
Despite how bare the tracks are, the record’s harrowing lyrics are far from easy listening.
Favourite track: Should Have Known Better