A bit of advice, Irish mammies, and more.

Well, it’s been three months and I’m still walking everywhere.  Luckily I do have some access to a ride in a pinch though.  Work is still hard to find here without transport.  I would highly recommend that anyone planning on exchanging a licence from another country to just bite the bullet and take the classes and test.  When the government says 3 months, it will take at LEAST that long.  I still have no sign of it and NDLS could only escalate the claim.  I wanted to avoid the 600+ Euro bill and test waiting period, but now I’m down 3 months of work.  

It is true that the Irish are very helpful and friendly once they get to know you a bit.  They kinda claim you a bit I think once you start using the phrases (unbeknownst to yourself) and the town/entire county spreads word of your presence (also unbeknownst to you.). It seems even 5 year olds here will go and tell their family who they saw you with!  

I do love the work ethic and mindset here in some ways, though it’s a double sided coin.  If there was one phrase I’d associate with Ireland it would be: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”. I see incredible opportunities here, room for improvement…BUT…getting people to jump on board or accept these things is a whole different thing.  Dishes in restaurants, chimney caps, products available…the list is huge, but I am starting to see why all the Italian guys came here with amazing food, yet decided to open chippers.  It can be good in certain ways…you can get away with the minimum, you know what works and exactly how to do something, on the other hand, you are just adding to an already dilute market.  I have some ideas on how to break through in certain areas, but unlike other continents, Europe, especially Ireland, is comfortable in it’s old ways.  Plumbing, building, service industry, all of it.  The bigger areas, the larger cities are different, but there really aren’t any large cities in Ireland.  This is one of the things I also love about this country though.  Go to New York City, London, Dubai, Bejing, Berlin…you’ll find anything, you’ll find unique, odd, offensive, whatever… but Dublin, the largest city in Ireland is just a more diverse and larger, more pretentious version of Ireland in general… I love it.  I can see how a native born Irish citizen could feel at home anywhere in the country.

If you go to another state in the US, most if the time it will feel almost like another country.  The lifestyle, attitudes, beliefs, vary so much from place to place.  I’d say the only things that vary much here are accents and phrases and they vary much more than anywhere else! 

Irish mammies are really quite something else.  Mothers everywhere will feed you to some extent, they will tell you to keep warm, or give similar advice, but nowhere else will they fuss over you the way they do here.  

They worry if you’re eating enough and assume you have the bubonic plague if you miss a meal.  

They know for fact that if you go out without a jacket at almost any time if year other than July and August that you’ll catch African sleeping sickness or some other illness (even though it’s pretty much proven a myth)

They will notice any slight yawn or reduction in alertness, discomfort, pain, anything.  

They will worry for you in just about any way imaginable and do what they can to help, and if they are not your mother, sometimes they will act through proxy so as not to seem overwhelming until they can sneak in and become overwhelming.  No amount of experience, knowledge, or capability will grant you knowledge greater than theirs either, so the American “ma I’m fine” doesn’t work.

All in all, things are OK, as long as this local job comes though, or something else comes up, I’ll be OK.  I wish health and safety / the government didn’t put so many road blocks up though.  If there weren’t so many different qualifications and BULLSHIT courses needed, the unemployment rate would reduce greatly!  I think I know how to wear a hard hat and lift with my legs…it’s so frustrating to be confronted with so many frivolous and unnecessary obstacles.  I came to this country to create jobs, but instead of taking a couple people off their welfare system over the next couple years, I’ll be working, saving, and trying to figure out how to fit the health and safety requirements to hire people…if I even try, it’s almost seeming not to be worth it.

Even a local council member joked with me about the ineffectiveness of the government…not really confidence building I know…

Until next time!

Advertisements

Nighthawks at the Diner

Nighthawks at the Diner

Every time I move away from somewhere, I realize certain things I miss, and find ways to adapt.  There are so many great things about Ireland I enjoy.  If I was having better luck at finding local work, I would be able to enjoy them more.  The local pubs always have good trad sessions going, and I have always LOVED trad music.  Even if I just have one pint, and get a cab home, it’s more than €10 Euro. I don’t think there are many times I just have one to be honest. The other thing I love doing here is just going for a drive (Americans…don’t call it a ride here!) And taking photos, or just enjoying the countryside (which is the whole country.). 

Unfortunately, I’m still waiting on my licence 3 months later, and it will probably end up being restricted to automatics (impossible to find in this country) whereas in America and Canada we don’t have separate licenses. My advice would be to just go through the test process instead of exchange.  

Finding work here locally is very tough as a local, let alone a foreigner who doesn’t have even an E.U. citizenship.  I just got two job offers though, so hopefully after the second interviews they will be solid.  

I’ve been listening to one of my favorite albums: “Nighthawks at the Diner” by Tom Waits lately.  I used to get up at the crack of noon, or later, and work all night at my studio and before that, a bar or music venue.  Playing music into the wee hours and watching the late night characters over a corned beef on rye and coffee and pie at 3am.  The jazz and blues clubs got to know me well, and whereas the local pubs here are more if a social atmosphere…the jazz clubs and some bars in the u.s. are more geared to letting people disappear and blend into the darkness.  A calm, dark corner was always available after a long day or night, the diner was always a few blocks away open to serve day old pie and mud coffee 24 hours a day.  It’s probably better to be here now as I need a bit more structure these days, a change.  All of the things I miss are great, but nothing I can’t live without and it makes them all the more special for when I go visit home, or any of the other places I’ve lived, as a tourist or visitor.  

Although I would love to introduce a late night business here, something different, it wouldn’t fly.  It seems the old adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Is more of a religion here.   There are only a certain type out all hours here, with a complete lack of other late night jobs and businesses… there is no further demand.  The same goes with the food.  There’s a certain take on every cuisine, and new or unknown things don’t do entirely well.  Perhaps I’ll check out the cities and do further research, but living in Dublin is completely out of the question considering living and rent expenses vs a pay rate that isn’t much different than the rest of the country.

I’ll have to roam Cork and Kilkenny soon to check out the life there since they are near enough.  I’m looking forward to getting citizenship here so traveling and doing business within the EU will be easier then.  

I’m going to RE-ignite a project I started in America…going to pubs and recording stories and conversations of everyday folk…stay tuned. Good luck!

The Future Isn’t What It Used To Be.

Three years ago I had a thriving recording studio and live sound company.  I had a touring band and also played with some of the world’s most well known musicians.  I had a house and enough money to be comfortable for quite a while. I had a future in mind, and though my aspirations and means were great it all meant nothing in the end.  I’ve always tried to stick to the shadows, even when life threw me into the limelight.  I became a contradiction, an invisible man who forced himself to be part of the type A world around me, ducking in and out as it suited me.  

The reality of how spoiled us Americans really are doesn’t set in so easily in today’s global world. Much of the modern world enjoy the same comforts with relative standards of living.  It was only when I got to one of the most expensive countries in the world to live in that it started to sink in….not at first…it wasn’t the obvious things…it was the background, random things.  Ireland is cheaper in some ways, yes, but not many.  When I think of how I would complain about being taxed to death, I laugh now.  Granted, the taxes for small businesses are on level, but for private individuals in Ireland, taxes are much higher.  Sales taxes across the board in Ireland are much higher.  Medical expenses I’ll get into in another post, but for me, in Ireland they are astronomically higher, for others, drastically lower.

Being able to get anything you want at any time of the day or night at low cost and great variety is awesome, let’s just face it.  The downside is that with all the cheap technology, services, food, etc… it takes away from social and family life.  It’s a hard thing to explain but the world seems like a much smaller place here.  I know it’s a tiny island.  I know it’s a less diverse place.  I always saw most other Americans as ignorant to the world around them, and while many in the center and south of the country stay ignorant for their own backwards reasons, the rest are only ignorant of culture because north America is so removed from the rest of the world.  Europe and Asia have so many old cultures packed into what seems to be a sardine can.  America and Canada are very similar despite Canadian protest.  South America and central America contain many countries, but with similar cultures.  In the golden age after the second world war, America and the Soviets divided the world in three pieces…the first world (America and allies), the communist countries such as the USSR, China, and allies, and third world countries that remained neutral.  These third world countries like Ireland didn’t necessarily suffer overtly, but didn’t get brought into the wings of the allied powers.  When the European Union came about, it began to level the playing field a bit and afforded Ireland and other European countries a lifestyle more “on par” with the first world powers.  

Now that we are up to date…Ireland is still a very old fashioned country in so many ways.  It’s almost like it was dragged from the 1950s to the new millennium through a wormhole.  In some ways, the country is very progressive. Gay marriage is legal and even old fashioned Irish mammies voted for it. Abortion is illegal…aside from hot button issues…technology is advanced in most sectors and homes, yet, for a country where energy is expensive, many homes are still heated and run by very inefficient technology.  Ireland for all it’s accepting nature is still a very homogeneous country.  The racism is not dark and hateful, it’s just innocent and unintentional for the most part.  If you were to talk about “black babies” or make a big deal about a black person in the United States…you’d be in a load of trouble.  Here, in the small town cultie Ireland, or bogger territory, there are people that have never seen anyone with black skin in person, yet though media and culture, it’s not a touchy subject.  There are so many strange dichotomies here…one minute you’re in modern Europe, leaps ahead of America, the next you’re in The Quiet Man.  

Three years ago I would never have thought I’d be out of my NYC studio space, living in a small Irish cottage with an immersion, heated by peat…yet here I am… an American used to getting ANYTHING at any time of day or night, cheap and easy… I do love the simpler life, but I grew accustomed to having more, even when living in rural America.  I could go on about every tiny difference, but in the end the bottom line is that Americans are spoiled…as the Irish say: “spoilt for choice.”. So instead of taking an uber to my favorite restaurant, or grabbing metro north home at 2am and then stopping at any range if 24 hour stores before going home…I walk into town during standard business hours and get necessities and order everything else online for double the price of what it would cost in the states.  I’m fine with it!  In fact…I love that it’s making me frugal and able to concentrate on important things instead of just things.  I am no longer working 18 hours a day and obsessed with money and achieving a lifestyle I had or wanted.  

The Future isn’t what it used to be…

You are always changing and the most important thing to me is to not hold onto the pictures I have held in my mind, or my past.  

Let it all go if you can. Find new things, even old dreams, but get out, shake off your roots, and RE-pot yourself every ten years or so!

All dressed up and nowhere to go.

I finally got my belongings after having to pay a customs broker to put thru the paperwork and have customs inspect the shipment. Initially the company in the United States wanted an extra thousand dollars for delivery to the new house from Dublin.  I decided to get it myself until the customs broker told me they could arrange delivery for only €135 …no brainer considering a truck rental plus expenses and time would cost more for me.  The rates for just the paperwork I was annoyed with, but I had no choice.  

So now I have my studio equipment, my suits, clothes, tools, and everything else.  The fly in the ointment is that I still have no licence… they told me 5-6 weeks at application, online and officially, they say two to three months…fingers crossed.

So now I apply to every job I can find online, and though I’m overqualified for all of them, the most trepidation I’ve been observing in interviews is that I’m foreign, American… I have a stamp 4 residency, which requires no work permit, basically the same rights as an Irish citizen.  Unfortunately I don’t think the employers understand this and seem to dismiss my cv.  It’s a large inland town, but not a city, and not flush with opportunity so the jobs are few and far between.  Public transportation is limited and time consuming so I’m limited to local jobs at the moment.  I can go out and make contacts, I can offer NY services, but only in a limited sense.  My photography can only be within transport locations and times, my audio services are limited until I can convert some items in my equipment inventory, or until I can transport it.  

So what good does it do to have your tools and your fine clothes if you have nowhere to go?

It will work out some way, some how, until then ask I can do is keep at it.  There are so many people with amazing skill sets out there, there should be a better system to take advantage of this.  Currently, bureaucracy in Ireland impinges on this by requiring so many different certifications, licenses, and classes just to qualify for simple things.  A course on wearing reflective clothing can cost hundreds of Euro and a wait list.  On the job training and cheap certification are only a tiny part of Ireland’s unemployment problem In my opinion, but part of it none the less.  It is the same with the drivers licenses and insurance, one of the most stringent and expensive in the world.

Food…from New York to Ireland

I come from the land of the best food, and the most varied in the world…you can try to argue, but you will fail.  That being said, the ingredients in Ireland are far more fresh, and said fresh ingredients are standard and cheap.  Getting farm fresh ingredients such as meat, eggs, and milk in America is expensive.  They are now considered luxury and artisan.  It’s a hipster thing now-a-days.  Go to a butcher to get local grass-fed meat, and expect to pay a premium.  How did the country get to the point where you pay more for products that require the least of work and overhead? Well…because the government and economy decided to not take care of their farmers…big business created production line, hormone fed, factory farms,   Animal and crops alike.  Farms go under by the hundreds every day in America, and the ones that stay in business, struggle greatly.  Chicken is now sent to China for processing and then sent back!  Ireland has gone the opposite way.  The chain stores contain only Irish sourced produce and meat, and it’s cheap.  The milk is fresh, fresher even than the “artisan” creamline milk.  Butter comes from the farms down the road, the meat you can see grazing on the hill above you.  The bread is baked around the corner.  All of these things you can taste and see the difference, and it’s a huge difference even from the so called “local” and “organic” “grass-fed” stuff you get in America.  

Ireland takes care of its farmers.  Farmers, especially those with road frontage here, are minted…they are well off!  They don’t struggle day in and day out to make ends meet.  

I’m a cook, and a baker and have been spoiled in that I’ve always had almost any ingredient imaginable living in New York.  Ok, maybe not pork belly, but everything from fresh vanilla beans, to pheasant, to every manner of fish, imported chocolate, every manner of produce, etc… here in Ireland, the variety is very limited.  So I sacrifice variety for quality.  Oh well.  I’m sure if I went to Dublin or cork I could find more, but there are some things, like boysenberry syrup for example, that are just not available anywhere in Europe essay I can find.  This lack of variety is driving me to make things from scratch, driving me to grow and produce things myself, and in turn, be more sparing and frugal with my ingredients.  We Americans are spoiled in so many ways.  I couldn’t imagine what would happen if all of a sudden, Americans weren’t able to get all of the comforts we are used to.. personally, I’m fine with it, I thrive under those circumstances.  I can’t speak for my fellow countrymen though.  I am enjoying the forced adaptation, and looking forward to making my own products, growing interesting plants and berries, finding new alternatives, and discovering new recipes.  

As for food, bravo to Ireland for taking care of farmers.  Thank you for creating amazing ingredients.  

As for the other things I’ve taken for granted, like hot water, that’s to come next.

The hunchback of Tipperary, space, and updates.

So I’m here three weeks now, I live in a small country cottage with no house number.  I hunch down at least 8 inches to get thru the kitchen door, the spare room, the shower, and to do the dishes.  It’s beautiful, and I can’t complain about it.  I have Ireland’s most famous postman and embarrassing father as my post man.  I’m with a ridiculously stubborn redhead princess, who loves to argue though she won’t admit it.  I want to strangle the Irish government, I can identify every father Ted reference, I enjoy red lemonade,  and I eat more sausages than ever… the country has just about absorbed me!  

I’m getting used to how long it takes for anything to get done though.  I am learning to never expect things to get done in any sort of timely fashion.  On the bright side, everyone is helpful and nice so far. The problems I face are pretty compared to what I’m used to.  I no longer live in a paranoid state, in a police state.  The guards are more like security guards, which is not so comforting in one sense, on the other hand, it’s nice to be able to drive around and not feel like I’m driving through Nazi Germany or north Korea.  Every time I’ve driven here, I’ve noticed how good other drivers are, how I never see a Gardaí car.  And am much less aggressive and stressed.  

The other side of the coin is much darker in a way.  I am much more paranoid about breakins at home, not about the actual break in, but nothing being done about it, the frequency of them, and the possible ramifications on me when I defend my own home.  What if someone attacks or harassed me and mine while we are out?  If I defend myself, I will probably get in trouble, if I don’t, grievous harm comes to us.  Or the Gardaí won’t even show most likely.  I’ve never seen so many broken windows, heard so many horrible stories…I’m really having a very….VERY HARD time finding what the point of the Gardaí is at all.  Not to mention the extreme political correctness that contributes to nothing being done.

Another bright note is that word of mouth is even better than any country I know for business… I hadn’t even gotten started yet and have a number of jobs lined up.  There is also a number of HUGE holes to be filled business-wise.  So much work to be done. It surprises me to know the unemployment rate is so high.  All you need is a little ambition and your senses.  Maybe it’s because of the reliance on the systems and standards? Everyone goes to the same job sites, the jobs are all listed under the same old schemes, nobody seems to blaze their own trail, or stray off the beaten path.  

This is a great country, full of even better people.  Just like any other country, it has it’s downfalls, but nothing that can’t be overcome.  I am looking forward to taking part in it, eventually being able to vote, to add my voice to causes to improve it.  I already feel at home, now I just need to find my place.  I’ll always be an outsider, but compared to any other country I’ve been to, this one is the most accepting of me. 

Let’s see if they send me my licence now that I went thru the gamut.  Then I’ll see how horrible the insurance is!

Welcome to the modern world Ireland…or not.

I was always a bit confused when people in Ireland gave me their addresses and there were no house numbers or zip (postal) codes.  With Ireland being a small country and all, this is understandable, the entire population is only a quarter that of New York City.  This became problematic when trying to fill out online forms that require a zip code.  Even though Ireland is in the process of assigning postal codes, the standard does not match most other countries formats, and finding your house that does not have a number is very problematic.  The Irish post (an post) is great at finding the place, but everyone else just can’t.  As I’ve of my favorite Irish comedians says “just get it to IRELAND (in all capital letters), and they’ll know what to do with it!”. 

The banks here ask for more proof of address than any place I’ve lived or had dealings with.  You need proof from utilities (not internet/tv, nor refuse) consisting of at least two bills…or a letter from a government body like revenue or Gardaí… but NOT the ppsn letters…the electricity will do but they bill by-monthly usually so this could take 4-6 months.  Lease agreements not accepted.  If I wanted to use my foreign address they need two proofs, like bank statements, but reprints not accepted, and you would have to set up for card to be sent afterwards when you change your address online.  I still have not figured out my banking, and likely won’t for a while.

I tried to register at revenue.ie, unfortunately it wouldn’t let me as it said my pps number is either inactive or already registered. I have never registered, and I went to the intreo office (social welfare/pps) who told me that my ppsn was active and fine! I then applied for my public service card, perhaps that will help…

The Gardaí and social welfare accepted my proof of address which was the lease agreement though!  On another related note, the bank told me a letter from Gardaí or doctor would work if the person in question had an account with AIB…who asks that!? It’s a bit if a personal question,and Irish people I ask think so as well. 

The driving licence exchange is getting even more complicated than expected. When researching before, the site only said there was an exchange program with Ontario, which I exchanged my new York licence for in about 30 minutes. The eye exam was done at the drivetest center counter, I just gave licence, passport, birth certificate, and driving abstract printout and boom! Licence exchanged…Now that I’m here, they have updated the NDLS site with all manner of new stipulations including: must have certified driving abstract from Canada, an eye exam form, a medical doctor form, a bunch of other forms, proofs galore, a fee of course, and driving restricted to automatic transmission!  I’m hoping they don’t enforce the last part, because finding an automatic in Ireland is like trying to find ice in the desert.  I still have yet to figure out insurance and was going to hold off until my licence was sorted as I have heard that non-Irish licence holders have drastically higher insurance rates…and I mean like 5x higher. The site also says it can take 2-3 months to exchange licence, before the new info was posted it claimed 2-4 weeks.

Since I’m dependant on my ability to drive and vehicle for work, this is turning into a nightmare. Ireland does not want immigrants. Period.  Expect to pay through the nose and become a trained circus seal if you want to move here. Everything is complicated, everything is expensive,and everything takes more time than most every other country in the world that I’m even remotely familiar with anyway.

So I’ll keep plugging away and possibly find work nearby until this is sorted out.