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!

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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.  

I’m here, now everyone wants proof.

So I arrived to my nice little gatehouse in rural Ireland. I’m happy I got here in one piece, and my things are in route across the sea.  Despite the accomplishment, there are so many things I need to do to get settled.  I need a bank account opened, utilities set up (internet, refuse, phone, etc…), get a vehicle and insurance, exchange my drivers license, and a few other things I’m forgetting.

In order to get some of these things, I need a bank account, in order to get the bank account, I need utilities or some other proof of address.  Even if I could get utilities, I’d need two months worth of bills…  I could get something from a government body, but for some reason, revenue.ie won’t let me register online for some reason related to my pps number.  I went to the intero office (things related to employment/social welfare) and they told me that my PPS number is active and they don’t know why it would have shown otherwise!  So now I’ll have to get in touch with revenue and figure that out.  I have no idea what all the abbreviations stand for, how I’m supposed to register a sole trader/self employed business…and everything government related takes forever here.  Not only that, but there are so many different offices, I’m likely to get sent around all over again.  Without a vehicle, everything is difficult and time consuming.  I could use the missus’ bank account to get things moving, but it’s still not ideal or smooth. 

As far as the bank account, they need proof of address, my lease agreement is not acceptable for some reason. I could offer two forms of proof of address in the United States, but for the purposes of sending me the bank card, that’s problematic and time consuming.  I plan on going to the gardai on Wednesday to check in, renew my residency, and change my address, so hopefully then I’ll be able to get something!

I am not able to get a bill pay phone due to lack of bank account, and no proof of address, I was lucky enough to be technologically savvy enough to root and unlock my US Verizon phone for use with a foreign sim card.  If you don’t have an unlocked global GSM phone, be prepared to shell out big bucks to get one and use a prepay sim card.  

I still have yet to buy a vehicle from donedeal.ie, and get insurance, but I did get recommendation for where to go to get insurance quotes in town and will be doing so tomorrow.  In Ireland, the process of buying a used car is actually much easier than in the United States.  If the tax and inspection (DOE/nct) are good, it transfers to new owner.  The plates stay with the vehicle as well.

Here’s updated licence info though… even though I’ve got a license from Ontario they will transfer, the process isn’t that simple or quick, and unfortunately it can take 2-3 months.. not only that but insurance for non Irish licence holders is drastically higher these days.  I’m on a shoestring budget and can’t afford to be paying the high rates, nor can I afford to wait two or three months for my license.  I also need to have both medical end eye forms filled out which were not required in either country I’ve been licensed in previously….Ireland…why!?!!!?! I went into the Canadian center, and within a half hour I walked out with a licence, they did eye test at counter. All I needed was multiple ID forms and a driving abstract.  I really don’t know what I’m going to do as I’m relying on getting a vehicle for almost everything. I might have to get another job in the interim if this turns out to be too much, and it will really throw a stick into my wheel spokes…jobs are hard to come by in this country, hence my plan to be self employed.

All I can do is try and pray at this point. 

I think the biggest hurdle in my entire transition is the driving part. I understand not wanting to have too many drivers on the road, but this is just ridiculous.  

Off to try and de-stress.  It’s ironic, one of the biggest reasons I chose to move here, besides love, was too have less stress, and due to bureaucracy and poor policies, I’m getting more stressed by the day, and my savings is going to start evaporating quicker than planned.  I had hoped to be working within the first month, but without mobility, I am unable to do so right now.  So I’ll go get quotes as a non Irish driver and hope I don’t leave with an aneurysm.

Re-Potting, shaking off the roots, and all your early possessions.

Out of the myriad of places I’ve moved to, this one adds up the most.  It’s one thing to throw your stuff in storage, or above a garage somewhere then move off for a year or three somewhere; To move with the intention of staying indefinitely brings all the extra mayhem.  My mentor always said that you should RE-pot yourselves every ten years or so, shake off your roots, and settle into a new pot with new soil.  We all have ornaments we carry with us through the years, but we also collect a lot of junk and dirt.  This applies both mentally and to your earthly possessions.  I spent half my life and counting learning from one of the top 100 art and antique collectors and dealers in the world. He was a horse Jockey, actor, and any other thing he could get into. His wife is equally as amazing and varied. Though he passed away, his wife continues on to teach me.  I was urrounded by collections of oddities from around the world, fine art, primitive to modern.  Pollocks, Smith sculptures, Pedro Friedenberg furniture and works, antique European furniture, the list goes on for miles.  Cultural influences in their customs and knowledge bled through and made me dead set on doing as much as I could. I learned to bend and break rules, how to blend in seamlessly whether amongst wealthy socialites or in a hole in the wall in a place you’ve never heard of.  All the time having fun, poking around battlefields and learning history lessons or hanging out with..people on the fringes of society.  

You could imagine that He, his wife and daughters would collect so many things over the years, houses becoming archaeological time lines…yes, and no.  There was always something I had never seen before, and to this day that is true.  That being said, the houses were never cluttered, just incredibly varied.  Things would be sold, collections gone, and new ones came… our interests change through the years, and we can’t hold onto everything.  I love the idea of selling everything, or giving it away, but I love having memories and weird, quirky things around me.  Not to mention the tools that make me money.  So shipping was a must….

Famous last words of someone I’m sure.  I unfortunately am not well off, and I can’t afford to send everything I own to Ireland.  If you are moving a house or apartment, furniture and all, moved for you…I would say you’re looking at somewhere dancing around 6-10,000 USD.  If you select carefully, you can trim it down to a few big pallets and pay 2-3 grand door to door.  I chose two pallets, I’d deliver to port, and pick up at the next port of Dublin.  I got it down to 800, but that’s not including packing materials, hiring a customs broker to clear my goods at the other end, and renting a truck.  I had to itemize everything in case customs wants to check, and that’s a multi day task when you have a load of random small things.  

So everything is packed there and ready to go.

Now how do I pack all if the things I’ll need for the next 4-8 weeks on the plane with me? I don’t know, and I don’t really want to think about it but in less than two days I’ll be on a plane, one way.

I’d love it if the customs guys look in the golf bag and see studio monitors, hard drives, chimney sweep tools, and a pair of cowboy riding boots I forgot to stick in the steamer trunk. 

Of to the port tomorrow to see if it’s all good to go…

Seriously, just get rid of everything.