bonoI became a big U2 fan in the 1990s when their album Achtung Baby was released. I was drawn to the dark funky beats and the lyrics were superb.  I found meaning in these lyrics that I could relate to — probably the first time ever someone else’s writing moved me.   After surviving cancer, I decided that I owed it to myself to visit Ireland.

Thinking back even now, the beauty of Ireland still takes my breath away.  The rolling green hills,   the Irish Sea clashing against tall cliffs, and tiny villages that looked like they stepped right out of the middle ages. Then there were the  Irish cities like Dublin, where a 900 year old cathedral stands across the street from a modern  Irish shopping mall.

Of course, I was taking the U2 tour while I was there.  By this time it had become common knowledge where the band liked to hang out.  This was a bar around the corner from their studio.   Now this bar was not where one would think a group of world famous celebrities would be hanging out.  It was in one of the roughest parts of the city and from the outside at least, it looked like a hole in the wall.  But once inside, you knew where you were.   It looked like an U2 museum.  The walls were covered in memorabilia including U2 posters, paper and magazine clippings, and their gold and platinum albums.

I still chuckle when I think about the first time I walked into that bar. It was a Sunday afternoon and the bar was empty except for a group of Asians.  When I walked in, one of them approached me and asked, in very bad English, “Are you a rock star?”  I think my reply was, “Huh?”   A gruff looking bartender yelled, “No! She’s not a rock star.”  Okay, I knew how not to play it off so I said the half-truth. That I was  a tourist looking for a nice place to unwind after a day of sight- seeing.  Lucky for me, my blue-collar back ground provided me with the knowledge of how to fit in.   One member of the group of fans came up to the bar and ordered one of those fuzzy drinks that comes with a cute little umbrella.  The gruff Irishman behind  the bar made a sound of annoyance and said that his bar did not carry little umbrellas.   I  took the cue and ordered a pint n of Guinness.  I hated the bitter brew but I pretended to love it.  I drank it all and then ordered another one.   The group of fans sung an U2 song. I couldn’t understand the lyrics but I knew the melody.   The bar tender said that he had heard bad renditions of U2 songs in every language.  We both had a good laugh at this.

Visiting this bar became my routine during my ten days in Ireland. I honestly stopped caring about meeting U2, I visited the bar because I liked the group of regulars. It didn’t take me long to find out that fans came to the bar on weekends, but there was a group of regulars that came in during the week.  Just as I had imagined, the regulars often engaged in lively discussions about world affairs.  This being Ireland, religion and Irish politics were off limits, but world affairs were ripe for the picking.   Since I am an American, they appreciated my view on things.

I never did meet U2, but they were recording in the studio around the corner.  There were several times when the bar was filled with U2 employees taking a break while they waited for the band to work out a song.  I remember on one occasion the phone rang and it was them saying they were picking up the tab for the final round.  The bartender poured me one without my asking. I was excited.  I could honestly say that U2 brought me a pint!

When I returned home I found that I was unsatisfied with my employment situation.  I worked for a Fortune 500 company but I absolutely hated my job. I decided to go back to school. I researched universities that offered degrees in writing and public relations (which I was now interested in). I found an excellent  university that offered an online degree.

I eventually took an internship at a human rights organization that Bono supports.  I was only there three months when we held a press conference with him as one of the speakers.  Yes, I finally met Bono.  I wasn’t disappointed the way some people are when they meet their favorite celebrity. He was just like I had imagined.  The press conference went off without a hitch.  I had found my niche.  Not only did I enjoy working with celebrities and VIPs, but I was good at it.  I now routinely do interviews with entertainers and I never turn down an opportunity to cover a press event that involves U2.

While I chose to write this today, on Saint Patrick’s Day, I hope my readers realize the morale of this story. It’s not really about Ireland or U2.  This story is about how going back to school helped me to make my dreams a reality. If you are considering going back to college, then please do. You never know what new adventures await you.  The only failure is in not trying at all.

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