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Friday, June 17, 2005

Drinking and thinking about Belfast...

I am not a heavy drinker by any measure -- and especially by the measure of some of the students at Queen's. Yes, I will do a beer or two every so often and feel a bit nice afterwards, but I rarely if ever get what I would term “schnockered”. But this was one of those days when it seemed appropriate to have a few drinks too many.

My colleagues and friends at the Institute of Governance convened a bit of a farewell event for me, and I thought it was a fine opportunity for me to finish off a bottle of Scotch that's been sitting in my flat for about a year. I also brought along a slightly consumed bottle of Bailey's (left over from Randi's last visit) as well as an unopened bottle of wine. I don't know what happened to either of those, but with only the slightest of assistance from the gathered group I single-handedly did in a goodly portion of the 10 year old Laphroaig....

My incentive for this overindulgent behaivor was to keep me from letting my emotions get ahead of me at this event. I did not completely succeed, but the effect was to keep me reasonably intact through some rambling comments.

These past two academic years in Belfast has proven not only productive for me professionally, but has had a major impact on my life in many ways. Most of all, it's been an experience marked by the building of very close friendships that I know will last a very long time. I'm still finding it difficult to deal with the departure in blog postings, although strangely enough I feel somewhat of an obligation to do so since so much of my previous posts have had to do with Northern Ireland and Belfast.

Randi is helping things along with her recent posts of some pictures she took during her trips here. The unplanned ferry crossing from Greencastle in Donegal to Northern Ireland was one of several memorable adventures during our explorations last year, including a stopover at friend Justin's place in Fermanagh.

Justin and I have spent many hours chatting over many cups of coffee (and his many cigarettes) about scandals, careers, writing projects, world finance, and life in general. We are on the verge of collaborating on a paper that will somehow mix his wonderful prose style and considerable insight into the realities of corporate shenanigans with my plodding analytic approach to research, but somehow doing this at a distance will not be the same. We are already scheming about opportunities to get together as he continues his world travels....

In another photo posted at Randi's site, one of the roses from the Botanic Gardens right next to the University is featured without some bothersome weed and a groundskeeper that she has eliminated with her Painter IX software. I've been strolling through and sitting around those gardens of late while going to and from the University Physical Education Center, and while the roses are now in bloom they have yet to reach that spectacular stage which I remember from last summer. I'm hoping that I will be able to convince Randi to take a little break and come back with me to Belfast for a short visit in August, but for certain I will spend about two weeks here in October. In either case her picture is a clear signal that a walk-through the Botanic Rose Garden will be in order....
After the drinking and dinner I went back to the flat a immediately fell asleep, but was soon up and about -- and sitting at the computer posting this blog. Despite the noted time and day of this posting, it is actually 230 am in Belfast and I am up -- quite sober by now -- remembering the pleasant times and great friends I have met in Belfast.... The emotions are coming to the surface.... In case I need it there is an unopen bottle of Oban Scotch sitting in the cupboard....

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