J1 begun: lesbian sports-bars and bourbon

The unfortunate delay in the blog brought about by whatever the fuck was going on in my lower intestine for the last week has meant that I didn’t get to begin as I had hoped. They say start as you mean to go on and I began rushed, flushed and diarrheic so I’m going to recap from the beginning so as to avoid any self-fulfilling prophecies.

I flew out of Dublin Airport Terminal 2, that glass cathedral to wasted money, the Celtic Tiger’s final ironic fuck you to all the people now emigrating out of it. Arrived about an hour before the flight, the less time spent in Dublin Airport the better. Airports are bad for the soul, the soul being, I like to think, something between Casper and the Holy Spirit.

The trip to London was uneventful, beside the fact that we flew there. It was in Heathrow that things went south, literally. Travel, unfortunately, can often be reduced to a series of uncomfortable shits and showers. Blitzkrieg. Poo Terrorism. It was the first time I ever really understood the phrase “to shit a kitten”.

By the time I got on the flight to JFK I was so unwell that I could no longer rely on my face to produce words. If I opened it, I was going to vomit. The people either side of me were drinking G&Ts and red wine. I got the hiccoughs somewhere over Nova Scotia, and I don’t know if you’ve ever had diarrhoea and the hiccoughs at the same time but it’s like Russian roulette. As I sat there for six hours and forty minutes breathing in my own carbon dioxide, I genuinely wanted to fucking die.

There is no novelty in flying anymore. A child of the Celtic Tiger, city breaks have numbed me to the excitement of air travel and destroyed the miracle of flight. The only difference between travelling by plane or bus is that if the plane crashes, you’re international rather than national news.

By the time we landed at JFK I was like death warmed up. The rest of the week was spent in a similar state. There was no nice food, no alcohol, no blog, no job. All year I had harboured dreams of the famed, yet seldom seen, productive summer abroad. This was not an auspicious start.

This, for my sins, is my second J1. I learned the hard way how quickly it can turn into a train wreck of dissipation and Jameson, when it becomes an achievement to fall asleep with your shoes off or go a night out without getting sick on the street. I like the idea that I’ve learned from the mistakes of my previous misadventures. I’d like this time to bear some fruit, hence the blog.

First time round I went over with great intentions of productivity, which died projectile deaths in various public toilets and on one carriage of the Metro North. This time I maintain that I’ll write every day and come back with something to my name other than a reputation for having to be put to bed. I reckon once I put one thing up online then I have to maintain it otherwise I fail publicly.

Having recapped , let us move on.

Welcome to The Machine.

If you’re J1ing you’ll know that Week 1 is an abomination of forms to fill. Bank account, Sevis, getting a phone etc, etc, wank.

This is a genuine conversation DooDoo had with T Mobile:

“So that’ll take a few minutes if you can just wait on the line.”

“Grand job.”

“So you’re from Ireland?”


Sound of typing from the other end.

“I useta love The… Corrs? As a kid. Big fan. I had all their posters.”


More typing.

“Yeah, I have all their albums on my phone still. But I don’t tell my friends. Now you know something about me that very few people know.”


“Well, that’s everything sorted, Have a nice day.”



We are looking for bar work above all else. We arrived with a few contacts each to go on and left the rest up to Craigslist. Nearly every contact is for an auntie or an uncle, which in Ireland ranges from your mam’s second cousin to the fella your da sat next to during the Leaving in 1977, (if he owns a bar).

Fun was the first to cash in, securing a job selling picnic baskets in a particularly swanky uptown establishment that shall remain nameless. Gin and I were offered jobs too, as bussers, but decided to hold out for something more interesting.

During the interview, the owner poked at a hole at the top of my Trinity Elf Shoes and said “That happens to my four year old’s shoes too. He runs around a lot.” He also had distressingly condescending mid-nineteenth century ideas about the Irish working in New York. “It’ll be like a giant Irish family and if you don’t work hard your Irish brothers and sisters will beat you up.” Well fuck you too.

The Mitty has been doing a lot of searching but his jaunts into town don’t seem particularly productive. He goes on “bar recon”, as he likes to call it, and comes back hammered. He never brings any CVs so I’m beginning to doubt his sincerity. But who am I to talk, I don’t have a job either.

DooDoo has gotten a job working the docks. He came back with $150 in tips after his first day so I can only assume he’s on the game. Whatever he’s doing he’s making serious cash money. He celebrated his first day of gainful employment by drinking bourbon until 4am “somewhere”. He left for work the next day still drunk. He has entered the J1.

Gin and I have prospects. He’s working Brooklyn Pride in a lesbian sports bar in Brooklyn. Him, Fun and I went there for a few drinks on Wednesday. Next thing I’m eating kimchi with a fifty-year old lesbian electrician called Nicky Tits and she’s using a straw like a pipette to feed me Canadian Firewater. We ended up in Brooklyn Heights in an uncle’s bar, where free alcohol was my undoing. I didn’t last. Fun and Gin ended up back at the lesbian sports bar. I went home, crouched.

That set my recuperation time back about five days.

Follow D's NY adventures here: @D_JoyceAhearne