A Year of Thanks

1 post a day for 365 days showing gratitude

Cool and confusing, the Irish edition December 19, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — courtsbrogno @ 10:27 am

Since I’ve been “across the pond” (I’ve heard this from numerous people), I’ve noticed some really cool things and then some totally confusing parts of the Irish. Now, I could go on for days about what’s cool and confusing about American, but since I’m here, in Ireland, it only seems appropriate to do this country some justice.

Every hotel has a power turning switch attached to your room key, so when you leave your room, all the power goes out too. I mean, I guess you could leave the power key in and just take your room key,but the whole idea behind it is just so cool. Think of how much energy the Irish are saving!


In every hotel room and house/apartment I’ve been in they also have turn off switches for every power outlet. Again,the Irish are saving their country so much money! We should get on this is the states!


Also, the Irish have–in the cities at least–wifi everywhere. I mean, almost every corner has a “hot spot” which is a wifi connection place. This has been great for me because I can’t use my phone unless hooked up to wifi, but I think it’s pretty beneficial for everyone here. On the other hand, though, I will never complain about my students or Maddie being on the phone a lot because the Irish have us beat. They are on their phones constantly and everywhere. It’s quite unbelievable actually.


The Irish get free water. As in, no one in Ireland gets a water bill. Which seems cool, right? It’s not like they really have to worry about droughts and saving water. Yet, right now this is a HUGE topic of concern because the government is discussing charging for water because their sewer and waste water systems are out of date (this explains why No one drinks from the tap and why no restaurant/cafe gives out regular water. It’s like I’m in Mexico or something). I can’t tell you how many people have asked me how much my water bill is in the states and then freaks out because they can’t afford to payoff mother bill. I can see both sides of the argument, but hey, they’re getting free wifi everywhere so maybe paying a small portion of a water bill isnt such a bad idea.

The euro is about as dumb as driving on the left side of the road. I mean, so. Many. Coins.


So in the pic is a 5 euro and a 50 euro– both the same color and size, pretty much. I thought the whole idea of different colored money would be better distinction. But nope, because I’ve had tobe very careful with those 50 euros. The the coins! So they don’t have 1 or 2 euros in paper, so that means if you drop a coin it could be 1c, 2c, 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, 1 euro, or 2 euros. For reals? This is just ridiculous, and it means that if you drop a coin, you don’t keep walking like in the states. You pick that up! You don’t want to just drop 2 euro.

Every sign is in English and Gaelic. But here’s the deal,no one really speaks Gaelic. Theyre taught it in school,but no one actually uses it, so I’ve been told. It’s just a way to hold onto their heritage. So, here’s where I have to give the states so credit. I really thought we were the only country whose citizens really only speak English, compared to most of our European counterparts who speak like 4 languages and in south America as well…and well pretty much everywhere else, but not the Irish. They don’t learn Spanish or hey, even mandarin. Nope, they learn Gaelic, a pretty much dead language.


This brings me to a touchy subject: the Irish are pretty damn ugly. The pattern seems to go like this: cute babies–>cute kids–>awkward teenagers–> hipster and cute 20s–>terrible and ugly 30s-50s–>adorable old people.

I can’t say anymore. I really feel badly about this but my advice to the Irish would be STOP BREEDING JUST IRISH GENES. MIX IT UP.

Finallly, CCTV. I’ve seen how CCTV is used in all the UK movies and TV shows I’ve seen, but when you see it all around with “CCTV taping 24 hours a day” notices, it feels a little creepy. Like I’m in some kind is surveillance state. Which I am. I guess.


That’s it for now. I hate to pick on this beautiful country,but hey, I’d do it to the states in a heart beat and probably have a lot worse to say.


A few days with the Irish December 17, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — courtsbrogno @ 3:38 am

Well, I’ve been in Ireland for a few days now, and I’ve enjoyed my trip so much. Except for the rain. The cold I can handle, but the rain…well, even the Irish hate the rain.

Which is so funny because so far every Irish person I’ve met has complained about the cold and rain and I just keep thinking, “wait, isn’t this what your country is known for?” to me, it’s like Californians complaining about the constant 70-80 degree weather.

But I digress. Let’s start from the beginning.

The plane ride: I’m terrified of flying, but I refuse to not travel so I fly with the help of large amounts of benzos. But for some reason, this time when I flew, I was surprisingly calm. Sure I took a few pills up nothing like I had in the past. And I kept waiting for my nerves to kick in or to have a massive panic attack, but it didn’t happen.. It was like my mind kept thinking “ok. Have an attack now,” but my body didn’t. That is something so strange to me yet I’m so thankful. Of course, this also meant I was awake for most of the plane ride.

Which sucked. Let me just say that air Canada is one of the worst airlines I’ve ever flown. First because I requested a window seat and they stuck me in the middle seat (surrounded by 2 very nice Canadian men) and he’s the deal: I’m a small person and I had NO room to move at all. Then from Toronto to Dublin, I had an aisle seat, which was better, but they had no entertainment unless you downloaded their app on your iPad, computer, phone. It would have been nice to know that before I got on the plane. Trust me, I was not alone in my annoyance. Almost everyone on the plane was confused and upset. So I spent 6 hours trying to read, sleep, get comfortable, but mostly I just stared into space. So boring.


Good bye San Francisco.


Hello Dublin.

Once I got through customs I got a taxi and made my way to the airbnb room I had booked for 3 days. It’s a lovely room, about 2 blocks from the guinness factory.



My room.

I dropped off all my luggage (which is really only one bag) and immediately found a cute coffee shop and bakery across the street.


I’ve come here every morning because I can get a coffee (which is really an americano filled to the brim–they don’t make real coffee, like coffee in a coffee maker anywhere here) and started to read the paper. Here’s just a few of the articles I read. The Irish news cracks me up.


I don’t even know what sport this is but it’s reported on every day.


Merkel and dolly Parton? What what?


Apparently, 77% of the Irish are for gay marriage, but there’s also a referendum on this same ballet for lowering the voting age to 16 and the age to be president from 35 to 21. I’d love to see a 21 year old run for president.

Then for the past few days I’ve been exploring.

The nightlife:


Supposedly this guy is the Irish Elvis. I just didn’t see it, but he did cover every American song you could think of, particularly anything from Ed Sheehan, which everyone in the bar requested several times.


At this bar, everyone was wearing an ugly sweater. I later found out it was a bar filled with soccer–ahem, football– players from Scotland. When they found out I was American, they said, “oh yeah, football over the is a girl’s sport.” ummmm….no its not. But anyway, when they found out I was from California they were super nice. Apparently, Americans suck unless you are from California. Lucky me.

The Guinness factory:




St. Patrick’s cathedral:









This guy above built the very first public library in Dublin. That is cool.

Dublin castle:


The castle was cool, but Chester Beatty library, which is connected to the castle, was even more amazing. I met an old, handsome, Irish man who was in charge of the book bindings in the building and he was great. Although he did tell me that the Irish do not like James Joyce or Oscar Wilde. How could the Irish not like their 2 most favorite writers? Because they wrote about “uncivilized” things. Go figure.


The Chester library is where they store copies of the Quran, bible, and European midieval manuscripts. You can’t take pictures, but I silently took the one above. A picture of the quran.

Trinity college and their library:






You couldn’t touch any of the books, but they were so amazing. The library houses more than 200,000 of trinity’s oldest books:


Finally, the book of Kelly’s, a 9th century illuminated manuscript.


And finally, the most of what I’ve seen in Ireland–rain:


Today I’m off to Galway. That is if I figured out the bus schedule correctly.


So much to be thankful for December 13, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — courtsbrogno @ 10:04 am

It’s been a week, I know. But it’s been a crazy week. So I’m just going to get to the important stuff from this week that I’m thankful for:



So this means I’m off to Ireland. (actually I’m typing this in the San Francisco airport as I wait for my flight)


So, someone dropped off $300 in a note and put it through my mail slot with just this note:


I hate mysteries and I cannot for the life of me figure out who sent it. But to whoever these friends are, I am eternally grateful. Now I won’t be as broke as I thought I’d be..

I’m also thankful for my titi terry, mom and dad, aunt Judy, and aunt Linda who also sent me with some cash to travel with. LIFESAVERS!!!!


Since I’ve been frantically working and grading so I can go on this trip, my kids have been pretty much up to their own devices. Which means stealing my phone and taking silly pics. But I love them and will miss them while I’m gone.





Yes, I worked so hard over the past week so I wouldn’t have to bring any work with me on my trip and I actually finished! I’ve never finished grading so quickly. But I’m actually going to miss my classes. My students is fall were a pleasure and I loved teaching them.


I drove this morning to my brother’s house and he kindly drove me to the airport. Looking like this:


Ok. I’m off on my trip. I’ll keep trying to post. We’ll see how this goes considering I’m writing this blog on an iPad for the first time ever.



last day wish December 5, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — courtsbrogno @ 2:39 pm

Today is the last day of teaching for me this quarter at the university (one more week left at the community college) and I AM SO THANKFUL.

Of course, I still have 94 essays to grade and finals, but I can do it on my own time and I don’t have to stand in front of a class.


Then as I was walking back from teaching, I stumbled upon a dandelion, just growing in the cracks.


I picked it and made a wish. I wished for Luke’s nickel to make its was through his stomach easily. I received some bad news yesterday from the pediatrician. Apparently, the radiologist when looking at the X-ray closer noticed a slight build up of fluid, which could indicate that the nickel has perforated Luke’s stomach lining. The pediatrician then called a pediatric gastroenterologist at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, who agreed it looked suspicious. But everyone decided that we wait until next Friday for another X-ray to see if the nickel has moved. if it hasn’t–well, that’s a HUGE problem and we’ll have to take Luke down to the LA Children’s hospital for surgery. Plus, it’ll cancel both mine and Luke’s dad’s travel plans (though really, this is just secondary).

In the meantime, we just wait and look for any signs of fever, vomiting, or abdominal pain, in which case we’ve been instructed to go immediately to the ER.

So, let’s just all hope my dandelion wish means as much to me now as it did when I was a kid. Because when I was a kid, it seemed like all my dandelion wishes came true.


the nickel that just won’t go away December 4, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — courtsbrogno @ 9:34 am

A week and a half ago, Luke swallowed a nickel (I already wrote about this). His dad and I have been looking through his poop ever since to no avail. So, the doctor ordered an X-ray.


And this is what we saw. That damn nickel has barely made its way through his stomach.

I’m not thankful for this–far from it. I’m actually worried.

But what I am thankful for is a friend of mine who’s a doctor and works at the hospital. I texted him and asked him to look at the X-ray and he came right over. From there, he made a few personal phone calls–to a radiologist who looked at the X-ray from his home and then to a gastroenterologist. Both the radiologist and gastroenterologist suggested waiting another week and half to do another X-ray to see if the nickel has moved. Hopefully it will have. if not, well, then we go from there.

There’s just one small problem that’s killing me. In a week and a half I’ll be in Ireland, which doesn’t bode well with me. But I’m taking it one day at a time.

So this morning I’m incredibly thankful for my doctor friend, who went above and beyond to help me, Luke, and Luke’s dad.

I also don’t have to look through poop anymore since they’ll be doing another X-ray, so I guess I’m thankful for that as well.


writing parties

Filed under: Uncategorized — courtsbrogno @ 9:25 am

So, yup…I’m a day late, but yesterday, I was thankful for writing parties.

Let me explain. A few years ago, a student of mine suggested that I hold writing parties for my students. Her rational was that students just need time and a place to write where they’re not distracted by friends, texts, social media, etc.

So I thought about it. I broached the subject with Maddie and Kirby and they both laughed and called them “total geek parties that no student would ever go to.”

But I decided to give it a try. I told my students that I would hold a writing party at my house, from 6-8p.m. (and I live really close to campus so it’s no big deal for them to get to my house), and they could stop by to write, get help from me, or whatever.

Guess what?

It worked. For the past year and a half, students have been coming to my house every time I throw a writing party (I usually throw 6 a quarter, 2 per essay, always 6-8 p.m.). And you know what, most of the time, they just need a quiet place to write.

Today (or ahem, yesterday actually) I threw my last writing party of the quarter and it was well attended. Mostly students wanted me to look over their work, but some still came just to write.

I’m thankful I throw these parties. Usually, by the time I get home from work, the thought of having to read more essays, answer more questions, or even have my house clean is the last ting I want to do. But, it all  pays of when I know I’ve helped a student or even offered a relaxing place to just write. .


falalalalala December 3, 2014

Filed under: family fun — courtsbrogno @ 7:07 am

Today was the day I’ve been waiting for, well, ummmm, about 364 or so days–the day we get our Christmas tree and decorate our house.


So I picked Luke up and we went to get a tree. We found a perfect one immediately and then just had to wait for it to be wrapped.


(Waiting for our turn patiently in the rain)

And I have to say that I feel pretty bad ass. I loaded the tree onto a cart. Put the tree in my car. McGyvered my trunk closed with twine because the tree didn’t fit into the car. Drove home. Put on the stand. Pulled this damn 8 foot tree into my house. And then stood it up and put on the lights all by myself. I felt like running out into the street and yelling, “I am woman. Hear me roar!”

Then the kids decorated the tree. I did not put  up one ornament, and yes, they’re all a little misplaced, but it’s the kids who did it and to me, it’s perfect.




I hung stockings, put out decorations, hung wreaths, and now our house just feels magical.



We listened to Christmas music, ordered pizza, and then sat on the couch taking it all in.

I love this season for some many reasons, but manly because I watch my ids get so excited (even Maddie!) and that brings out the inner, hopeful child in me.

I’m so thankful for this day, our time together, and the begining of the best time of the year.