Park your ego at the door (And your snakes)

New Yorkers can be seen as loud, rude, egoistical, and a slew of other negative terms by outsiders. From the inside, we can describe ourselves as strong, resilient, no-nonsense people with strong family and community ties…die hard ones.
I’d say both New York and Ireland are among the most misunderstood and misrepresented communities in the world.   Ireland is seen as a land stuck in the 1800’s, thatched huts with no running water or electricity, men in paddy caps drinking in the pub next to a cow pen.  Horses, carts… bright and cheery people tipping their hats and greeting you with: “top o’ the morning!”. Ok fine, even if you don’t see that, you probably still have a fantastical picture that doesn’t jive with the real deal.  That’s not your fault, the country is portrayed that way, the accent is Always the same Americanized abomination instead of one of the myriad of real Irish accents.  If they do get it right, it’s always a Dublin accent, or a movie based in Dublin.  I’ve found that Dublin is probably the least Irish place in Ireland these days.  Should I rile up since Irish people by telling you why I think that?  Ok…maybe just some of the reasons… Dublin was heavily influenced by the British culture throughout the occupation, no blame here in anyone but the English, though the accent, egos, and condescending attitudes stuck!  Next, we have the tourists!  The tourists created the plastic paddy stuff.  All the things that people expect in Ireland, Dublin is almost the only place you’ll really see it besides the gift/souvenir shops or “American stores” as the Irish call them.  You know the stuff I mean, the little sheleighleighs, the leprechauns, shamrocks everywhere… paddy caps, even the names of the drinks.  See Americans think things like green beer, black Velvet’s, Irish car bombs and god forgive…black and tans are Irish drinks. If you ever dyed beer in Ireland they would beat and deport you. Black velvet was a London drink, And the black and tans were the biggest shower of b@$tards ever to roam the beautiful emerald isle! Why would they name a drink after them? It’s more likely to be called a half and half.  Anyway, back to Dublin. So the pubs in tourist areas like temple bar are not a good representation of Irish pubs, don’t do it.  There are so many things to see in Dublin, why does everyone go around concentrating on British colonial sites? VIKINGS people….Vikings…Nuff said.
Last but not least, the St. Patrick’s day parade…..it’s basically an American parade in Dublin.  It makes me want to throw up in my mouth a bit.  There are so many museums, educational centers, art and photo centers and the likes to see, I’d love to see the tourist travelers of the world, (the literal meaning, not the Irish ones) especially Americans, start learning about the true Irish culture, and not the American version.  And I pose a challenge to the Irish…STOP FEEDING US! Don’t you know Americans are like stray scabby cats? You feed us tasty garbage we are used to eating, we keep coming back for more, becoming more averse to the real thing, and peeing all over your house!
The Irish aren’t all hat tipping leprechauns with accents like Julia Roberts and Tom Cruise’s butcher jobs.  They are blunt, plain spoken people compared to Americans. They will tease and say things to you that even close friends don’t say in America.  They distrust, or frown on people that boast, or exaggerate for ego sake.  This also compliments the lack of importance they place on the famous, and celebrities.  Not all Irish people are big drinkers, though alcohol is extremely prevalent in the culture…
I could go on…
New York is next!
New York is a huge state, 19.75 million people live in the state.  Ireland has a population of 4.6 million! 
Let’s keep that in perspective and continue in the next part!

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Going to Ameri…Ireland! An American Moving to Ireland (Part 2)

Going to Ameri…Ireland!  An American Moving to Ireland (Part 2)

 

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Once I decided to move to Ireland it was time to figure out what I had to do to make it happen.  I didn’t think it would be easy, but I wasn’t prepared for the difficulty awaiting.  From the most basic things, to the complicated official business, it’s a bear!

First, i’ll start with the basics.  One of my businesses is heavily reliant on electronics, not all of which are compatible or convertible to 220-240v.  American voltage on most electronics are 110 volt.  For the smaller things like cell phone chargers and some lower power laptop chargers, this isn’t a problem, just go out and get a different charger, or use a converter.  If you want to use anything that has a high wattage, such as power tools, amplifiers, kitchen appliances, etc… you would have to get a large, high capacity step up transformer.  These transformers are about the size of a small space heater or computer subwoofer and cost anywhere between 200 and 800 Dollars (depending on how many watts you want.)  Some of the audio visual equipment I have can be converted by opening up the case and re-soldering a wire or two to a different location on the circuit board, but not all.  Anything older is more than likely stuck to whatever voltage it was manufactured for.  I have some vintage studio rack equipment that are very rare pieces and super expensive and more often than not, they are from the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s.  The problem with some of these gets deeper in that there is also a difference not only in voltage, but frequency as well.  American electronics, especially when it comes to video equipment, operates at 60hz and euro uses 50hz.  Transformers do not address this issue.  So all in all, for the basic household things, TV, kitchen stuff, basic things, i’m going to sell it and just buy used items from Donedeal.ie (the irish craigslist) when I get there.  Some will say that there is craigslist there, but it’s only in dublin, and not widely used.  I’ve found a great deal of things on donedeal, and at reasonable prices just like craigslist.

While i’m on the subject of online classifieds, i’ll have to touch on the vehicle situation.  In another post I touched on the NIGHTMARE of getting an Irish driving license, but i’ll get onto the vehicle situation now.  In New York i’m used to the annoyance of having to pass an emissions test every year.  Not just an emissions test, but one that requires the service center to connect to the NYS system to pass the vehicle.  It will prevent you from renewing the registration because of this and ANY emission related code, even if it’s not increasing emissions, will fail the vehicle.  There are some loopholes in weight class and vehicle age, but for the most part, you can’t just get your mechanic buddy to slap on a sticker for a few extra bucks (the good old American way!)  I was just struck silent when I read, and heard about the Irish version though.  Not only do they make it really overly complicated (like EVERYTHING the government has there paws in) but it dips into personal freedoms as well in my opinion.  When I get on a rant about anything that has to do with freedom and governmental interference, my wife just rolls her eyes and gives me that “get over it!” look, but as an American, these types of things get right to our very core.  Granted, our country is full of frivolous bureaucratic bull of late, but there are some things that they just don’t touch.  For example, if I want to drive my car without a safety vest or road cones, I can.  If I want to have my washer fluid half empty, or have a temporary, non factory mirror, so be it.  They don’t check your headlight beam adjustment, or your tire pressure.  They don’t check your suspension more than visually or side slip.  They don’t check your exhaust emissions (except if you’re in California) They don’t check your brake balance, or even at all actually, just the brake lights.  Now I think that’s fine, I don’t mind them making sure they work, but sometimes your brakes wear unevenly, and unless you do your brakes every year, Rotors included, you won’t get balanced brakes ever.  They don’t check your doors to see if they open properly, and what if I want to have a custom car with no outside handles like I had in the past?  can’t do it in Ireland!  They don’t check your fuel filler cap.  We also do not check the brake lines and linkages etc under the car.  We don’t check the pedals to see if they are the OEM pedals, and they don’t care if you have a different size tires than the manufacturer specification, because depending on the terrain, season, etc.  it can be better to have a different tire on your car.  In the winter I use different size tires than the summer.  We don’t check the body work because it has nothing to do with anything except cosmetics.  We don’t check the exhaust pipes, only the emissions codes.  We don’t check to see if you have washer fluid.  Some of these things, I can see the safety aspect, but some are just frivolous.  Either way, none of these things are tallied for points or to pass or fail in the US for the most part.  If the inspector sees something dangerous, they will fail or tell you to fix it and come back, but they use common sense and it’s up to them and their knowledge and opinion.  I don’t like the idea of someone telling me what’s safe, or better, according to government and manufacturer specifications and rules.  There are a great many of instances where the government regulations and the manufacturer specifications are not the best thing.  The rules are not made by mechanics usually, and are mainly made so a profit can be made by certain sectors, companies, or unions.  Whatever the reasons, I’ll just have to suck it up and deal with it though.  I just highlight these things, because they are all increases in cost and frequency of costs in maintaining a vehicle in Ireland, thou hath been warned.  Then you have a vehicle tax yearly, depending on the year, engine size, fuel type, etc…  We don’t even have a yearly vehicle tax here. (not overtly at least.)  We pay a standard 60 bucks or so for a registration, and 21 dollars for inspection, and in most states, you do have to have insurance, which is comparable to Ireland.  The tax can be as much as, or more than insurance in Ireland though…that’s a hefty sum for some!  So tally up the Tax, Insurance, and the very high required maintenance costs, and you’re looking at a kick in the pants.  I guess i’ll be a bit better off than most in that I work on my own vehicle, as long as I don’t get in the testers faces!

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Next, let’s look at size…(and i’m not talking about the Irish curse)

I knew very well that Ireland’s streets and vehicles were smaller and cramped as I had driven there before, but I really hadn’t soaked up all the other size differences.  The towns are more compact and centralized.  In towns and cities, the houses are stuck together in big rows, and if they arn’t, there isn’t much space between them at all, not to mention the yard (garden) size is pretty darn small.  Properties are sectioned off to the Centimeter it seems.  and every bit of the countryside is accounted for and worked it seems.  Look at the above picture of Ireland, and now look at this picture of my home town from above. usabove

Most of that land is either state park for public use, or not used at all, or it’s huge swaths of privately owned land that people just use for hunting, fishing, camping and hiking.  And that’s just one very small snippet of one county in one state.  Ireland is about the size of, or smaller than New York state alone, and the civilization is much older.  So you could imagine how it’s all been utilized to the brim.  This creates effects that trickle down to everyday aspects of life.  The way people live together, the way that people live and interact with each other, and even the accents of the language.

Driving on the small roads isn’t that bad, but you really have to be on point and can’t be as relaxed as you can be in America.  If you drift even slightly to where a shoulder would be in America, you’ll be in a ditch or hitting a hedge or wall.  If you drift slightly in the other direction, you’ll be asking for a head on crash.  Most roads in the US have shoulders that are half the size of the lane, or a whole other lane on highways, and then after that, you have nice flat cleared swaths of grass in case the shoulder wasn’t enough.  The center dividers or double yellow lines also add another foot between you and oncoming traffic, and the lanes are wider as well.  I’d say that most of the roads in Ireland are about a lane and a half of american road at best.  Get to the back country roads and it’s one lane that you have to squeeze two cars through.  Why wouldn’t they just make them a little bit wider?  They don’t have the expansion capability we have in America.  As I said before, the properties are long divvied up and nobody is about to sacrifice the precious small area they have already.  Not to mention the barriers are pretty permanent.  The permissions for building are ridiculously hard to get around as well.  If they want to build a road, there are so many more roadblocks (no pun intended) to overcome.  Consider the scenery and visual aspects are regulated, the archaeology aspect is considered and can permanently shut down a project, whereas here, they would just send in a team to excavate the site, and then project continues.  Agricultural aspects, private property aspects, you name it!  There is no “Eminent domain” so the government can’t just come in and claim it needs to shave off a few meters of your property, or take it over completely.  And if they can’t do that here, they just buy out the property owner.  In Ireland there are certain laws and agricultural regulations that prevent reduction like this I believe.

Instead of a glut of large, workhorse pickup trucks that make the life of a working person in America easy, and more capable, there are small delivery vans, compact light trucks, and tiny luggage trailers towed by compact cars.  I won’t be able to go and pick up all of the materials I need for a job in one shot, I won’t be able to carry all my tools and ladders I will need for my jobs, and I won’t be able to tow and haul much.  This translates into more trips, more cost, more fuel, more wear and tear, and more time.  All of these things mean less money, in a business climate that doesn’t allow me to charge as much as I do in America already.  In fact, for a job I charge 189 dollars here, the same job in Ireland on average costs about 50-70 euro.  Add on extra operating costs and i’m looking at a huge reduction in profit.  The Economy in Ireland is not doing well, and people are much more frugal.  Unemployment is incredibly high in Ireland as well. I won’t get into why I think that is though, it’s a complicated issue, and has many causes.  Even with these limitations, things still get done in Ireland, and all you need is a little ingenuity and will.  The good thing is, everything is closer in Ireland!

The Cities are all lower to the ground, you don’t have all the big skyscrapers and highrises, the massive underground systems, and massive engineering marvels.  The amount of cars and traffic is at a refreshing level of low!  Every drive I took there was like an easy Sunday drive in my home area.  I love the scenery, and the lack of huge, city sized areas of industrial wasteland.  I love the fact that the hillside scenery is regulated so you don’t see a clutter of massive houses built into the sides of mountains and hills.  I love that Ireland respects and takes care of their farmers!

Usually, portions of food in America are seen to be the biggest in the world for the most part, but I disagree!  Yes, the packaged products such as bottles, candy, and what not, are smaller in Europe, and the choices are much more limited.  I actually like this a lot.  I think we have too many choices here in the US and are over stimulated by them.  The obesity and diabetes rates are higher as well.  Sometimes you just want a king size Reeses peanut butter cup though, or maybe a Coca cola that’s not watered down (I am convinced the Irish produced American brand sodas are more diluted.)  The portions you get for breakfast, or when you eat at someone’s house though….Much bigger than America! (unless you come from an Italian family in NYC!)  I wasn’t able to eat a full fry (Irish breakfast)  and I was struggling horribly to eat the dinner that was literally slapped and piled down onto my plate.  So many SHPUDS!  and apple tart with custard up the whazoo!   Anything that involves in-country ingredients such as meat, bread, dairy, and potatoes…prepare to loosen your belt.

Moving on…  I am used to an extremely diverse culture, a mesh of hundreds of cultures in one crazy mixing bowl.  Ireland is simple to understand and get along in as long as you know a few simple things.  The culture is relatively uniform, and doesn’t change easily or quickly!  You need to know what not to say, who to avoid, and where to avoid.  Before you go to, or move to Ireland, you should learn about the travelers….travelers…well i’ll just leave it at that and let you do the research…….

Shnacks…well…that’s another research project.

Ok, now the more light hearted stuff.

  1. Do NOT ask for a ride, or say, lets take a ride…it does not mean drive.  It is more associated with bedroom or backseat fun.
  2. Mickey is not a mouse. So leave your Disney “I love mickey” shirts at home.
  3. Fanny is not a pack you wear around your waist. or a cute word for a but your grandmother says.
  4. Sorry is not just used as an apology, someone will try to get your attention by saying sorry

Ignorance of the latter did help me once though.  There was a girl of questionable character (see shnack) passing us by on a street and she started saying sorry, then she started screaming it louder as we kept walking. I didn’t know she was addressing me though.  Then she yelled something like “You in the whatever colored shirt! You don’t have to be an A@#hole, I wanted a fag!”  Thinking I was ignoring her.  When in reality, I was wondering why the hell she was screaming sorry in question form.  It was amusing.

There are areas and neighborhoods everyone knows to avoid, but they are in close proximity to everything else, or right in the middle of them, so it’s a good idea to get to know the area you’re visiting, or ask someone you may know, or are chatting with about these no go places.  There is a real Jekyll and Hyde effect in Ireland between night and day in some places.  It can be a nice area, calm, lots of people walking around and no problems at all, then at night….BOOM night of the living dead…seriously.  I saw kids of 17-20 out screaming in the middle of the street, stumbling up to you and I seriously couldn’t tell the difference between them and actors on an episode of The Walking Dead.  When it comes to alcohol…well, it’s part of the culture there, it’s everywhere and always.  Ones work ends, and the mammys, wives, husbands and couples are done making and eating dinner, the pubs all fill up.  In america, there are slow nights more often than busy nights in bars.  The weekends are usually fairly busy, but can be slow as well.  I don’t think there is any night that’s considered a slow night in Ireland.  Every pub is busy at night, almost every night.  If it’s a slow night, it’s remarkable.  And there is no “let’s go out for a drink or two”  or “I’m just having a drink and leaving”  Once the taps are flowing into the pint glasses, they keep going, and going.  if they don’t, the glasses get a few fair bit of fills at least.  The number of pubs is really just amazing really.  I was shocked when I learned that there were 52 restaurants in a SMALL town nearby my hometown.  Take that picture and just change the restaurant to pub, and you’ve got Ireland!  Every block, every street seems to have a few. Even the tiny, one horse hamlets in Ireland have a pub (Usually reminiscent of someones living room with a bar.)  I used to think that the drinking age being 21 in the US was just making alcohol a forbidden fruit that teenagers were just going more wild about because it was forbidden or restricted, and also disagreed with the fact that you could vote, be drafted, or choose to serve in the military, but still couldn’t drink.  If you take the mystery and intrigue out of something here, It doesn’t have the same draw of abuse and binge draw that it would if it was normal and legal.  As I got older, and it seems that people are maturing at a much older age, and began hating the bars that even the young twenty somethings were drinking at…I started to see that perhaps even 21 was too young in most cases!  I wasn’t even close to understanding until I saw the walking dead teens in Ireland, heard about and saw the horrible and annoying effects that it has.  The first time I stayed in my wife’s town, I stayed at a very nice small hotel/restaurant in the center of town.  It was a quiet area in the early hours of the night, and even during the day it was just traffic sounds and talking of pedestrians.  As the night went on, and went into the early morning…It was horrible, I couldn’t sleep a few nights because of the screaming, and I don’t exaggerate here…SCREAMING.  Breaking bottles, and more screaming echoing through the stone and stucco lined main streets.  Then you have the kids that were hitting the windows of shops and setting off the alarms (another topic i’ll touch on next)  And there were no gardai doing anything, or even to be seen, anywhere.  In contrast, if that was America…The police would have been called after a few minutes of noise, and they would respond within 10 minutes, 15 tops.  And it would be rare enough anyway because the kids know that the cops would come right away if they act up like that.  These kids were just sitting right in the middle of the main intersection in town, screaming, laughing for hours.  You would go out, I could yell, and they would just either ignore you, laugh, or go away for 5 minutes, wait for you to go back up and then they would return and be louder.  I didn’t want to get arrested on my trip, so I didn’t go up to them in a physical confrontation.  The gardai in Ireland are pretty impotent, and don’t really do anything about noise or disturbances anyway.  I’m used to seeing a fleet of police cars from 5 different departments patrol constantly at night, and respond super quickly to any call or disturbance.  They patrol areas near bars even more heavily and take their job very, VERY seriously.  Also, people in America are very quick to call about any disturbance of the peace in most areas, save college towns, but even there, they still will be called a LOT!

Every single house and building I saw in Ireland had an alarm box on the outside of it.  I was told it’s because insurance companies either require you to have one, or give you a much cheaper rate and incentives to have one.  Now, I was not only kept up by screaming kids, but alarms that would go off for hours, with a 5 minute break every half hour.  Nobody showed up to check it out, nobody turned it off, no gardai showed, NOTHING, zilch, nada, zero response. by anyone.  I thought that maybe it was faulty, or a rare occurrence, but when a kid passing by threw a beer bottle at another building’s window, and that alarm started it’s many hour shift, I realized that this was not the case.  The next night, another building or two were screaming into the night with no response.  OK.. what is the point if nobody shows to check it out?  Who knows!  So, I learned never to stay or live in the center of town unless I invest in soundproofing. And why rent in the center of town was so cheap!

So I now knew who, what, and where to avoid.  I knew what the business and employment situation was, I knew what the vehicle situation was… now to get into the nitty gritty bureaucratic process of becoming legal and getting permission to stay, work, and live in Ireland.  Yes, I’ve just highlighted a lot of negatives, but the positives, at least for me, outweigh any of these things.  Ireland is a wonderful, laid back, friendly, beautiful place,  with a progressive government and culture.  The history is rich and intriguing.  The lifestyle fits me, and I love it!  It’s a hop skip and jump away from the rest of Europe, and travelling is MUCH cheaper!  The fact that it’s part of the European Union causes some difficulty though.  Since it’s borders are open for all EU citizens to come and work or live, it’s had to legislate to reduce the rate of Non-EU citizens coming to work and live in Ireland.  In order to come and live/work there, you need to have them salivating to hire you, and have the company offering you the job to provide written proof of the offer and salary.  The salary must be over 60,000 euro annually, or be on a diminutive list of rare jobs that they allow offers that pay less.  OR  you have to have 300,000 euro in capital on hand to invest in a business.  Or if you are retiring there, you have to have 150,000 euro per person in your account but i’m young still… Or, you have to be married to an Irish citizen.  I would never have been able to move there if we didn’t decide to get married when we did.  It’s next to impossible unless you have a very impressive CV in a field that is having trouble finding citizen employees, or a whole lot of money.  At least I didn’t find any way.  Of course, there are ways to temporarily stay and work, but only temporary, and they tax you to the point of breaking in that case anyway.  I agree with this policy due to the alarming unemployment rates though, I just think that they should loosen the restrictions on small business startups.  I plan on adding a few jobs to their market, and could do so with a tiny fraction of what they require for capital, and small, local business is the backbone of anyplace these days.

To get married, we had to inform the local office of birth, marriage and deaths registrar at least three months ahead of time.  You CANNOT get married before that three month period is up, probably to reduce the impulse or hasty marriages.  They do take marriage seriously in Ireland, and I love this.  Divorce is much, MUCH less common in Ireland.  I believe the divorce rate is about 13 percent, whereas in America, it’s 53% to 60% last time I checked.  You schedule a date and location for the wedding ceremony within this 3 month period and choose an officiant.  In our case, the registrar did it herself, and we were able to choose a nice upscale, old hotel that was listed as a location, though you can choose your own location and officiant if you want.  We were just choosing to do a small civil ceremony at first and then we can do the big family wedding when I get moved, settled, and working there.  A week ahead of the wedding date, you have to go to the registrar’s office to pay a 200 euro fee, passports, birth certificates, and fill out some forms.  A week later we were married!  It was the best day of my life, and I couldn’t wait.  So many people these days see it as a ball and chain, or the end of your fun years…I can’t understand that.  If you are planning on spending the rest of your life with someone, why would you do it if you thought it was a prison, or mundane, or a negative thing in any way at all?

After the wedding I didn’t just automatically get permission to work, or residence rights.  You have to separately apply at the local gardai immigration office.  You have to register your marriage and meet with the officer in charge of immigration there.  They will review and make sure that all is in order, they may ask you questions to make sure it’s all on the up and up.  I think this is a great thing, as I am very opposed to marriages of convenience, people just using the institution of marriage to get into a country and work.  It takes away from and makes it harder for the people that are doing things for the right reasons, and that really love each other.  It’s hard enough to be scrutinized or have your personal love examined as it is.  Then you pay another 300 euro fee, or 500 euro for long term residency, get your fingerprints taken, your criminal backround checked, Photo taken, and then you wait for your id card to come in the mail before you go down and get the stamp for your passport.  After that you have to go back 6 months later to get stamped, then a year, then three years.. after 5 years you can apply for citizenship.

So now i’m legal, what now?  Well, I still have to sell most of my things, close my business, save enough money to cover a few months of rent, a vehicle, living expenses, and cushion money in case the money doesn’t start rolling in soon enough.  Rent is fairly cheap in Ireland, especially outside of town, but you really need a vehicle in Ireland unless you live near your workplace.  I have to have a vehicle for my business, and wanted one to increase my chances of employment if I have to get another job in the mean time.  The public transportation is ok, but not great, and doesn’t go everywhere.  It also doesn’t run around the clock.

I’m still trying to figure out how to make the move as seamless as possible, finding housing, and taking care of finding and registering a vehicle before i’m in country.

I also will write about finding health insurance, doctors, and other mundane tasks soon! I haven’t been able to find any concrete info, nor people that have written about any of these things in detail.  Getting information from any public office in Ireland is also a nightmare, and very, very, very, very inconsistent.  You’ll get five different answers from five different people if you get a response at all.  Most of the time they just say to come in person when I arrive.  Also, finding housing is not easy when i’m in a different country, as most people want to meet you in person understandably.  I’m going to find out options and share them.

So that’s my boring blog post for the week, i’ll add something a bit more colorful next time.  I’d love to hear any questions or comments as well, so feel free!

 

 

Lost and Found (Life after a Traumatic Brain Injury)

Lost and Found (Life after a Traumatic Brain Injury)

I never saw my life being completely turned around in such a short time, but when your reset button is pressed against your will you never know what you’re going to get.  I think it’s helping me embrace and learn the new culture i’m moving into as well.

About two and a half years ago I woke up on a train.  My knuckles were all cut and skinned, my ribs were killing me, and I was in a haze.  I had no idea what I was doing on the train, where I was going, or where I was coming from.  After a few minutes I became even more disoriented as I realized I didn’t even know the most basic information like time, date, and where I lived.  My phone was nowhere to be found, but somehow I had my wallet.  As I sat staring out the window at one of the train’s stops, someone familiar looking came onto the train looking around frantically until her eyes stopped on me and she rushed over to me. The jet haired young woman looked like she had just been through the ringer.  Her grey eyes were bloodshot and teary, her hands shaking.  “We’ve been searching all over for you!” She cried.  “Why did you leave!?”  I had no answers to these questions and thought “That’s a good question, I was just wondering that myself.”  I couldn’t concentrate on what she was saying, almost like a bad cell connection causing missing words.  I was led off the train and into a waiting ambulance and whisked back off to a hospital that I was apparently absconding from.

I remember bits and pieces like this, but not nearly everything.  I couldn’t stay focused, nor could I speak properly.  I had just woken up in a hospital and walked off.  I still didn’t know why I was in the hospital, but I kept forgetting that as well, so it didn’t really seem pressing to find out why.  I just wanted to go home.  Whenever I asked about going home, the girl with the black hair kept telling me to not think about that right now. “Everything will be ok.”  Physically, there was nothing really wrong with me aside from my bareknuckle boxer hands and the stitches between my ribs.  I was told finally that someone had tried to rob me when I was coming out of a jeweler.  I apparently beat the living hell out of the guy, but in the process the fake gun he used went off.  Blank rounds can cause damage too if there’s anything between the powder and you at close range.  Long story short, a clot formed and worked it’s way to my neck and it took a bit for them to figure out what was going on, and boom! Funny brain time!

I was released that night and was driven to the black haired girl’s house.  I asked why I couldn’t go home, but I had to fight for an answer.  What I didn’t know was that my girl had left me during all this, no reason given, all of a sudden after 3 years.  I honestly couldn’t even process this info at the time, hell, I couldn’t even remember this girl’s name and she was apparently one of my best friends!  I settled onto the couch and fell asleep under a watchful eye…someone was looking out for me…that’s something isn’t it?   I didn’t know I had a studio and production business that took up most of my days and nights, an assistant that all of the horror occurred in front of on her second day working for me, who my friends were now, and so much more.  I had to be escorted around for months due to my constantly forgetting where I was and what I was doing.  Traumatic brain injuries can be very strange.  I met another person recently that went through one and we talked about the similar experiences we went through.  The most strange thing, we both agreed, was that people wouldn’t believe us when we told them about our problem.  When you forget faces, get mixed up, lost, confused, it seems like an excuse, or too strange? We couldn’t figure it out, but that’s the best explaination.  she forgot what gum was..chewing gum, and how could you forget what that is?  she must be making it up.  I forgot how to use my credit card, how to bias vacuum tubes, what the capital of New York was…It’s all very random and chaotic. You don’t just forget chunks of linear time, or groups of things.  Memories are not stored in one section, or even multiple sections of the brain.  Your memories are patterns in neural firings and just like a road, if a section washes out, the traffic has to find a new path.  Sometimes this happens over time, sometimes it’s just gone baby gone!  So Sue would have to deal with me calling her Debbie, and my toaster oven would have to deal with me staring at it blankly for a while.

All of these things were very frustrating, especially when I started remembering things that I knew I could once do, and now couldn’t, like trying to get your hand to move when it’s completely dead.  I still don’t know what i’m missing, maybe there are some memories that are completely gone, some may be hiding, I don’t know until I come across someone that remembers, and I don’t.  After a while, I learned to laugh at my new found quirks and began to find my getting lost, my face mixups, my blank stares at everyday objects, funny.  This made things so much easier.  Another frustrating aspect of this whole debacle was when I would remember things that didn’t happen, or didn’t happen the way I remembered.  How was I supposed to ever know what was real and what wasn’t?

As I said before, the reset button was pressed, and I now think it was a good thing.  Why? Well, before all of this, I was apparently a very stern and stressed man most of the time.  Consumed with business and my hectic life, unhappy in many aspects, working all the time and running short on patience always.  Now, I could care less about all that rat race crap.  I look to my future, bettering my life, getting back to my new home in Ireland with my soulmate…I have patience…I actually smile (good luck finding even one single picture of me smiling prior to this “incident” as I call it. What better way to start a new life in a new country?  With a completely open mind, soaking up life and it’s joys.  Loving new experiences, learning new (and relearning old) things are what fill my mind now.

I think Ireland is also much more forgiving and the people much more easy going when it comes to quirks like this.  People are much more able to laugh about things and “take the piss out of ya” if you mess up or do something strange like forget your name briefly.  These days, I feel mostly healed, and most of my faculties have returned.  I’m ready to keep on keepin’ on.  I’m also very grateful that there were a few good people left around me that didn’t jump ship.  Things can get weird folks, very weird.  Embrace weird, it’s good for you.

(don’t try this at home)

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Not rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor the Irish Government…

Not rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor the Irish Government…

The US postal service won’t be stopped, and neither shall I!  I’ve been away from my beautiful bride for far too long.  Yes, it’s much easier being able to see her and hear her all day every day, but it’s not the same, of course, and i’m anxious to continue my life and turn my plans and dreams into realization.  Even if we were to decide that it would be more feasible for her to move here, I would still choose Ireland without hesitation.  I love the country, the people, the culture.  Irish people are much more easy going in general, more friendly.  It’s not a false front either usually.  Here, people are harder to gauge and navigating the social world can be confusing, angering, and tricky.  I’ve always been a study of human mannerisms, behavior, and psychology.  I observe my surroundings and study people, and have since I was little.  I studied psychology in college, before realizing that I really don’t want to listen to nothing but problems for my career.  In New York, it’s pretty handy, granted, other states are different and in many areas, people are very up front and friendly like Ireland.  When I meet people around the town i’ll be living, and when i’ve met my wife’s family and friends, I felt genuine friendliness and interest, as well as generosity.

People of Ireland:  I absolutely love the fact that you take bank holidays so seriously! We have federal holidays here, but not nearly as many.  And never for just no reason but that it’s a “Bank Holiday!”  Store hours are also much shorter in general, there are very few 24 hour businesses of any kind, and the overall pace (outside of Dublin) is a much slower paced life than i’m used to.  The pressure and stress seem to just fade into the background when i’m in Ireland.  No, i’m not being an idealistic fool that’s in love and enchanted by the country and it’s touristy charms… IMG_8522I know it’s a cloudy, rainy, windy, and stressful country just like any other.  I suppose it’s when compared to the American way of life, and work culture, it’s just right for me, while it may not be for someone else.  Another favorite thing of mine is when the clock hit’s about 1700 or some other number that feels right for the day, the streets start emptying as everyone filters home and to the pubs, maybe to a match.

I have been finding things that really make me want to start knocking my head against a brick wall though.  BUREAUCRACY! I thought it was bad here… my GOD Ireland, why have you forsaken me!?  You’re rebels of the toughest sort… and your constitution is progressive for it’s time, how did this happen?!

I’ll give you an example.  My wife needed me to get my tax and income info to her for something, so I sent it and thought it would be the last I heard about it. HA!  A few days later I had to send more info, as well as bank statements.  A few days after that, I forget what else they asked for, but they did ask.  I’d say it was about a week later, they started asking her for my PPS number.  She explained to them AGAIN, after they had my address in the US, bank statements, and IRS official tax forms, that I was an American citizen, and not yet living in Ireland.  “HE LIVES IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!”  This did nothing but confuse the woman on the other end of the phone, and she told my wife that she would have to call her back once she figured out what to do next.  They called again in a day or two and another person asked for my non-existent PPS number AGAIN.  The boss (my wife) told the lady on the other end of the phone everything that had happened and that I “was American, blah blah blah”  and the woman told her that she’d find out what was going on and get back to her.  She was told that I need to get a PPS number, and sent me an application to fill out.  So I filled out the application with no room for misinterpretation, included the necessary documents, and sent it off to a government office to be processed, the same government body that requested I get the PPS number (Keep this in mind.)

A week later I get a reply, stating that they are denying the application because I needed a written request by someone stating that I need a pps number for their purposes, like a letter from a solicitor about probate, or buying property, etc.. !

So…I call my wife, confused as to why the same people that were asking for me to get a pps number, were denying my application because I needed reason for one!  She called them back and was told that they don’t understand why, and that I should state why I needed it, and that it was for the office.

I sent the forms back out AGAIN.  This time, a week later when the forms arrived back to me denyed for the second time, none of the reasons for denial were checked…So now they were denying it, but didn’t have a reason! They just included a form that said that I needed to go to my local office and apply in person.  You read that right, yes, they sent me a letter, to the United states, which requires a bit more effort on their part, saying that I should come on down in person and apply!  I stared at it in disbelief and literally stared for about 2 minutes or so with my mouth open.  Then I laughed.  It was hilarious at this point.

My wife called them very frustrated this time and made sure she talked to the higher up to tell her what was going on.  The woman was nice, and did take an interest in the case.  She gave us the email of a gentleman in her office that would take it on and I could email him directly instead of mailing the forms back and forth since they were already stamped and ready to go, minus the request they needed.  I know that at least once I had to go through it with him as well, until the lady my wife talked to jumped in and talked to him herself.

Many weeks later with no contact from them, I finally got my PPS number in the mail!  So, this is what i’ve learned:

  • The inter-government communications in Ireland are non-existent.
  • There are too many stipulations, rules, and fine print in even the most basic transactions when the government are involved.
  • Someone at the office in C****** ** ******* has a vendetta against O’Briens
  • I have to take up meditation regularly.
  • i’m going to have white hair by the time I get my citizenship.

I proposed to my wife knowing that any problem we would face, we could tackle it together.  We weren’t to be deterred by a little ocean between us; so why would we let anything else get in the way of our happiness and what we knew was right and meant to be?  A little while later, when I was back home in the US, she came out of nowhere and said:  “let’s just do it.”  No waiting, planning, big family wedding (YET…) She wanted to be married to me, and I, her.  I couldn’t have been happier.  She already had accepted my proposal when I was just there, but we didn’t want to wait a couple years to get married.  We decided we would get married when I came back next.

Let’s set aside that mushy stuff though and take a look at Ireland’s immigration policies, which all this has been leading up to.

Ever since Ireland was one of the first countries to join the EU, a gradual tightening of immigration laws has been happening.  With the borders open to other EU citizens, many more non-Irish people were coming to find work and a living in Ireland, among other places.  With a global recession in the 2000’s came the need to even stronger measures as unemployment started to get to a high level, and the economy was taking a downturn.  “The Troubles” were becoming a more distant memory but not distant enough, and the celtic tiger was losing it’s stripes… and the amazing improvements in the educational system were going to take much more time to show results.  In 2009, many strict laws were passed that made it extremely difficult for non-EU citizens to get work permits in Ireland, amongst other things that got more difficult.  If you want to move to Ireland as a non-EU citizen, you have to have a job offer on the table for at the very least 60,000 euro a year on paper from the employer.  This requires extra work on the employer’s part, so unless they are salivating to hire you, you have a very unique or in demand skillset, and they can’t find anyone in the EU to hire, forget about that road.  There aren’t many jobs being listed at that pay grade anyway, and that’s not even taking into account that 60,000 is just the base level, they won’t even consider you if you have a job offer for less, unless it’s on a list of very specific careers (there aren’t many jobs on that list and they are things like aeronautical engineer, and  Jesus)

Ok, so that option is out, I’ll just start my own business!  NO! don’t think that you can get away that easy!  You have to have at LEAST 300,000 euro to invest in your new business venture, capital.  Small businesses that are doing well don’t even have that kinda dough usually.  They want companies like google, pharmaceutical companies, manufacturing, etc.  Not a guy that’s going to just create a few jobs.

Ok, so what’s left?

Not much… asylum, or pray that I can find some documentation of my great grandfather that wasn’t burned by the English and claim citizenship that way.   So I was getting to an impasse, I didn’t like how it would look to other people if we got married before I got there, even though we knew it was right, and our reasons were pure enough, nobody else would see that.  We decided to do it anyway already, so it made things easier.  For this, I am fortunate.  I don’t know if I would have moved to Ireland if it wasn’t for my wife, even though I have always wanted to live there.  I would have just had to tuck tail and run back to America!  I feel for the people who don’t have a spouse who is an EU citizen yet want to move to better themselves.  There are SO MANY small business opportunities across the country!  Too many empty storefronts in every town, too many unemployed people to go with them.  Why only create a whole bunch of minimum wage jobs, when there are plenty of places for small business entrepreneurs as well?  I am looking forward to the day that I can contribute a few jobs created into the market.  I want to contribute more than just taxes and my dashing good looks to Ireland 😉  It’s my new home, the place I want to raise a family.  I love it already, and it seems that Ireland has been trying to do everything it can to keep me away.

That’s not going to happen Dail, county council, etc… so give up already!

 

 

Traffic is Calming, my patience isn’t.

Traffic is Calming, my patience isn’t.

I thought that sign was absolutely hilarious, being from New York and all.  Here it would probably read “Traffic Slowing” or rather, “Speed limit reduced ahead” And Traffic is everything BUT calm!  Even if you aren’t late here, you drive like you are, impatience is the defining characteristic of New York drivers.  New Jersey drivers are a whole different breed, as are Boston drivers.  Irish drivers are actually pretty good compared to most countries, they can really whip around those narrow back roads, and I don’t see the stupidity I see here and other places around the world.  I would hate to credit the stringent driving licensing process, as i’m about to go on a rant about it, but I guess it could be part of the reason for the pleasure of driving over there. (Ignoring the tractors and haywagons you get stuck behind constantly.)

I’ve been driving, without accidents, or a single speeding ticket (God only knows how that’s the case), for 15 years.  I’ve driven in multiple countries, and Ireland is definitely one of them.  I thought that because I didn’t even need an international driving permit to drive in Ireland, that my license would transfer fine.  Perhaps I would have to take a quick test, written or driven, but how hard could it be?  If I were to just be visiting Ireland, my license would be good for one year of driving, no problem.  In my case, I would be staying permanently, so I don’t get 12 months, I get none.  I would have to apply for a LEARNERS PERMIT, then PRAY that they waive the 6 month mandatory waiting period before I could sign up to PAY for 12 lessons at 50 Euro a lesson, that’s 600 Euro altogether.  These lessons are also supposed to be spaced out by two weeks each, and i’ve been told there’s no guarantee that they will allow me to take them more quickly than that.  Then, I have to pay 80 somthing euro to take the driving test.  The driving test centers can only pass a certain number of people per day, so some people get failed for very stupid reasons and are forced to pay the fee again to re-test.  I forgot to mention, you also need to pass a written test (that’s fine, how hard could it be?)  You also need: Your application, ID of course, NDLS medical form (what’s that?)

Evidence of IBT (what’s that?)

Evidence of CPC (you lost me…)

Evidence of Address

Another fee….

ARGH!!!!!

And….. A PPS NUMBER! YAY!

The PPS number was a nightmare, but probably only because I didn’t request it because of this.  I’ll get into that later.

 

So… You expect me, A man with my driving record, also trained in high speed maneuvering and pursuit, who has driven almost every kind of vehicle at some point, Tanks, planes, motorcycles…to pay for some poor soul to teach me which pedal is the brake pedal, how to share the road, and where to put my hands on the steering wheel?! I think  not emerald isle, I think not.   It’s not just because of my pride, though, I do have some of that rattling around somewhere…it’s the extortion aspect of it all.  There is no way that all of this is ANYTHING but EXTORTION!

I hate having principles sometimes, but there you go…

I would not be able to move to Ireland for a while if I were to go through all that, my work depends on being a driver, being mobile.  It would be one thing if I lived in Cork, or Dublin, but i’ll be working all over Tipperary, all small towns, and my house will be outside of town anyway.    I can’t live off savings for months at a time, bleeding money, to go through that.  I would have to hope to find a job in small town Ireland.  Currently, there aren’t that many jobs, decent paying jobs, in Ireland to begin with.  Add all the other expenses in, and my wife being in a difficult position currently, and you get a disaster and hardship waiting to happen.

I’m lucky enough to only be 6 hours away from a country that Ireland actually wants people from, us yankees don’t get a free ride anymore!  I will just have to update when I find out if my plan to take over works.

I’ve been running into roadblocks the entire way! I suppose it’s time to get back to those roadblocks on another post!  Thanks for stopping by kids!  Check my next post to find out about more fun I had in my process!

Go-wan, make my Tay!

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I’ll return to my American Expat in Ireland journey next time, today, I was reminded of some differences I thought might be worth sharing.

Sometimes, the differences in culture are not overt. I have always blended well into the cultures around me, taking heed of the differences, as best as possible, at least, but there are differences that are fundamental to a culture.  You can’t always get by learning how to greet people, what gestures not to make, what words not to use, etc…  As an entrepreneur, and small business owner, as well as someone who has worked for, and represented other people’s companies, I have to be more diligent.  In the U.S. most people, no matter how small their business might be,  present themselves in the most professional manner they can.  A certain distance, or “bubble” is maintained, though in some places and situations, it’s ok to be more personal and relaxed regarding interactions with your customers.  This attitude and practice is familiar and expected, and if not maintained, can result in customers feeling they should be getting a better deal, getting lax on payment, scheduling, and the likes.

Ireland is fundamentally different.  I’ll use one of my businesses, the one that I plan on resorting to when I finally get back to Ireland, as an example.  I’m a chimney sweep amongst other things, and I deal with people in their homes most of the time.  I will greet them briefly, and get right down to business quickly.  Most people like this as customers, or they are indifferent about it.  If I were to do that in Ireland, without chatting with them a bit first, and being offered tea about 10 times, It would be viewed as almost rude, or suspicious in a way.   So here lies a problem for me…  Tea… I don’t really drink it much,  I don’t drink coffee much either, to be honest, but I do enjoy a cup of either occasionally.

Let me pose you a question.  What do you think the end result of 4-6 house calls a day would result in?  TAY!  more tea than I would drink in a year, in one day!  Irish women especially don’t seem to be able to hear the words “no thank you” when it comes to just about anything.  They just look at you with the eye of a CIA operative grilling a terrorist with rose colored glasses, and ask again, and again….and again….because obviously you must be mistaken, or confused about your want for tea, or spuds.   I’ve said no thank you to tea, just to find a freshly poured cup in front of me before I could finish saying: “No than…oh fine.”  Ok, so I had my first non-consensual cup of tea already today, now that i’ve processed what’s happened, I have to figure out what this story is that she’s already in the middle of telling me.  It’s got to do with someone named Mary, or John, something about mass, and a baby.  Forget it, you’re already lost, try to catch the next phase.  Oh no! She found out my last name is O’Brien,  There’s no way that an American can have a last name like O’Brien, so they ask if i’m sure i’m American, and then jumps into a story about one of the million O’Brien’s she knows.   Mind you, she knows my ancestors i’m sure, as my wife says, get a few of the old townswomen together, give them a few pots of tea, and let them at it for a few hours, and they’ll have traced my ancestry back to the baby Jaysus’ time.  Now i’ll have no Idea what time it is, how long i’ve been there, and i’m really itching to get started on the job so I can make my next scheduled client.  IF I make it out of there, I’ll have to do this all over again at the next stop!  Keep in mind, there’s going to be a bit of chatting after the work is done, and the vacuum can’t drown out the conversation anymore.  I’ve found that in foreign countries, i’ll be getting extra chatting to because i’m a foreigner, there are always questions and interests regarding that you can count on.

Normally, I wouldn’t mind a bit, really!  I love talking to new people, and hearing their random stories.  In my other business as a recording/audio engineer, I started a project where I set up a microphone at a random location, bar, park, street corner, and recorded random stories people had to share.  This world is full of stories, color, ideas to be heard and shared.  When it comes to getting work done though, this whole Irish tea and chat thing is becoming a foggy labyrinth that I have no idea how to begin to navigate.  I’ll have to figure out a whole new bag of tricks to move things along, but remain polite and personable.  I can’t drink that much tea, so i’m not sure how i’ll pull that off, maybe a hidden bottle to siphon the tea into, I don’t know, and I try not to think about it right now as I struggle enough with getting ready for the permanent move.

In the next post i’ll have to get into all the nitty gritty details, loopholes, and finagling that it’s taking to get over there, and what it took to become legal in the first place.

I’ll need to consult a sage on how to solve this tea debacle though…

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Going to Ameri…Ireland! An American Moving to Ireland

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I think i’ve always wanted to move to Ireland.  I was born an O’Brien, proud of his Irish ancestry, in Hurley, New York.  The history, mythology, culture, accent, attitudes, all appealed to me from a young age.  This dream never seemed realistic to me until I met my now wife, who is born and raised Irish.

Here in The States, anyone with an Irish last name, is “Irish” though, if one of us American born were to say such a thing to an actual Irish person, well, I’d just recommend you don’t do that!  We come from so many different countries, rather, our ancestors did, and though we are Americans, what the rest of the world doesn’t seem to understand is our connection to our roots, and yearning to understand more and feel a connection to our mother countries.  We don’t have much history compared to most countries in the world, and I feel that the countries that our ancestors came from ARE part of us, and our identity.

When I met my red-headed, Aran jumper wearing, no-nonsense, bride, I was in limbo, recovering from a brain injury, and lost.  She was in a similar lost and despondent state, (minus the brain injury.)  We “met” in a very unusual way, we were penpals.  I always scoffed at these relationships, and never really heard of any that succeeded or that were genuine.  I had enough trouble with long distance relationships when they were in-person meetings and then forced into long distance mode, let alone an international one, where we had never even met in person!  Let me say now, the digital age is amazing.  In fact, i’d actually say to any TWO people that find themselves equally and completely taken with eachother.  We both knew almost right off the bat, that there was something amazing about this thing we found.  and I mean days.  Days of constant emails, every moment we had to write, we did.

Why would I recommend it?  WELL…You do not have the full force lust factor involved.  Yes, we saw eachother’s pictures a day or two after we started corresponding, but that’s just a general idea, and the natural human instincts, the physical body right in front of you, the smells, the voice, they are all hidden, or filtered through a screen and frozen in time. You really concentrate on the correspondence, we both can express ourselves better in writing anyway.  I don’t remember how long it took for us to video call for the first time, but it was a while.  After we both realized that we loved eachother.  I started recording my thoughts via my studio’s microphone after a while, and then she started recording her voice soon after.  I remember the first time I heard her voice, and saw her moving image on the screen, nervous, beautiful, and incredible.  It was a short video, she was just sitting on her bed, as she still does to this day, and said that I might like to see her and hear her to return the favor.  That was it, maybe 15 seconds long, but it will be in my head for the rest of my life.  We took one step at a time, Email, Whatsapp text, recordings, video, then video calls.   The video calls went from short ones, both of us nervous and excited, to longer ones as we lost track of time.  Today, we have been married for 7 months and have video called just about every single day since then, and we leave it running at night even so we can glance over and even wake up seeing each-other, but that’s what we have right now.  I still record my thoughts for her before I shut my eyes so she can listen when she wakes, just as I have done almost every single day since we met a year and months ago.  We talk to eachother more than any married couple I know.

I’ll talk more about the relationship some other time, I’ll get back to my decision to move.

We “met” in January, and I was on a plane to actually meet her in April.  By this time we knew this was IT for the most part, but we were both sensible people, (despite what you may think about our unique circumstance!)  So, we had to meet of course!  I wanted to go to Ireland anyway, and this was definitely reason better than any other.  I got on a Boeing 747 headed through Heathrow to Cork at night,  I love flying at night, the moon lighting the clouds below, the stars shining clear and bright.  The lights of New York City shimmered below in an orange and white ant colony below.  I saw them scroll off the window to the left and saw the moonlit Atlantic below.  The statue of Liberty, that so many millions of immigrants saw welcome them to this amazing country waved goodbye to me, and we were off across the sea.   I could not sleep, though I had been up for 20 hours already, the excitement was soaked to my bones.  The flight was calm, quiet, and comfortable, and it “flew” by much quicker than I thought it would. (pun intended)  It was still dark when Ireland appeared below.  The lights were further apart, scattered, disordered, the landscape was rolling and old.   The sun was about to start peeking around the horizon, but it was already brightening the sky halfway through our flight over Ireland.  I wish they could just land straight in Cork, but there were no flights directly from New York to Cork.  Cork being a small international airport.  I didn’t seem to hear her when she told me that I could get a bus from Dublin, straight to her town in Tipperary for only 20 Euro!  I wouldn’t make that mistake again!  Anyway, by the time we crossed the channel into English airspace, the sun was dawning and fog covered the land below.  We landed in Heathrow, and the sunny day, and crisp air woke me up the rest of the way.  I had enough time to get to my connection and grab a sandwich before heading to the next terminal for my half hour flight to Cork.  I texted my girl, who was waiting in Cork for the bus (she doesn’t drive.)  As I went through the UK border, the officer asked me a few questions, where was I going?  What was the purpose of my trip? do I have anything to declare?  He then proceeded to smile and say that he has family that are O’Briens, and joked about me going home.  I made brief small talk, and gathered my things, but started to feel like I really was going home.  I got onto the plane a little while after and was off to Cork!

When I arrived in Cork, I went through the Irish immgration station, and the officer there, then proceeded to tell me that he was an O’Brien as well, and said “welcome home!” I laughed and gathered my things, put on my belt, zipped up my boots, and made a “Bee-line” to the baggage claim, which, in this small airport, was almost straight ahead and in view.  I walked only a 100 feet then, through some red doors and saw a stunningly beautiful redhead sit down in a seat facing away from me just before I opened the second door.  I paused so she wouldn’t see me before she sat down because I wanted to surprise her.  It worked! I walked right up next to her and just stood there looking down until she looked up.  She was listening to Pride and Predjudice (her favorite book) in her earbuds, and was surprised to see some boots right next to her!  She stood and we immediately hugged so tight, and lingered as I smelled her hair, and whispered to her.  We then just started walking towards the exit as if all was familiar and normal.  We walked through the doors, and I was hit with a fresh air, mingled with the smell of a farm I remembered so well from my uncles organic farm in Pennsylvania.  There were no beeping cab horns, yelling pedestrians, vendors, police whistles and sirens… just fields and cows. I remember thinking “this is my kinda place!”  We stood in the smoking corral as I had a very much wanted cigarette, and I put my arm around her waist as I stood behind her.

I had no euro currency, as I thought I’d be able to exchange some when I got to Ireland, but not realizing it was a bank holiday there which the Irish take very seriously!  In America, i’m used to those types of services in airports and cities, to tbe open even on most holidays.  So it was a good thing she met me there, as I couldn’t even afford bus fare until I could change some money, my credit card stopped working when I got to Ireland, and I think it may be because I just used it in England an hour before.  I’d have to find somewhere, or hope that the hotel would allow me to just pay after my stay or until I could get money exchanged or my card sorted.  We got into cork city center, and were to meet up with her two friends that were with her in Cork to go out the night before.  I remember the sun being much brighter, but not as hot.  It seemed less filtered almost.  maybe it was the lack of humidity and smog, but also the latitude possibly.  We walked around a bit to find a pub and possibly a place to exchange my money, and ended up parking my suitcases in an outside area of a pub while she went in to get us pints.  We sat outside in the bright sun, talking and commenting on people walking by.  The owner of the pub came out and told me that I had to move my suitcases, they were taking up too much room apparently, though they were in between us and not in anyone’s path.  I must say that this put me off, and stuck in my craw a bit, but I can’t stand that kind of illogical act that is more than likely because he didn’t like the fact that I was an american and probably though t we were both tourists.  Who knows, I was just happy to be there with her relaxing on a sunny day in Cork city.  (Which is a rare enough thing!)

After our pint,  her friends showed up for another, and we drank, introducing ourselves and chatting for a bit before heading into town a bit more to look for food and a place to change money.  I was directed to a small internet cafe and print shop, and they were able to change some money for me, though it was at a fairly steep percentage!  Keep in mind that when you want to change money, it’s best to just go to a bank in a town somewhere, not in the airport or nearby, the percentage and fees are much more reasonable in the banks.  So, I had money, two pints, this amazing woman beside me, and annoying suitcases.  We had some time to kill, so we grabbed a hot chocolate and iced coffee drinks, and then headed to the bus after.  The bus ride to small town Ireland, in south Tipperary, was a beautiful, scenic one, it was short as well, in American standards.  I remember looking over at her, putting my hand on her leg, and holding her hand occasionally, there was a need to keep contact with her now.  The sun was starting to set, and the light a bit more orange than bright white and yellow.  The grass was so much greener, they don’t call it the emerald isle for nothing!  We got off at the bus stop and started wheeling back into the center of town to the small 8 room restaraunt and hotel I was staying at.  I arrived, and they already had my card info, so they gave us our keys and we headed up to the room to drop the suitcases and get ready to go back out.  It was so relaxing, we just wanted to lay there, quiet and content, and slightly tired from the journey and day, but I got changed, and refreshed, and we headed out to a local pub.

The town was beautiful to me, nestled in a valley near slievenamon, and on the river suir.  We walked around a bit and went to her favorite pub, a small antique pub in the center of town on a narrow street.  This is not a tourist town, so I was now getting the true, unfiltered. unedited Irish experience, I wasn’t there for tourism, but to see where she lived, her natural habitat, if you will.  We had a great night, and briefly headed back to my hotel before I walked her home, as she had some things to do around the house in the morning for her mother.  The weather had suddenly changed cold, the mist in the air was almost frosty, and I needed a jacket all of a sudden.  I was told the Irish weather changed very rapidly, and now knew, only slightly, what that meant.  We walked past a group of screaming teenagers, the pubs were all closed, and it was about 0200, but they were screaming none-the-less.  I was put off by this, an normally would have said something to them, but I was content, happy, and didn’t want any trouble to spoil my time.  We walked a few more blocks, slowly, and without a care in the world.  After I saw her safely home, I strolled back with my hands in my pockets, looking all around me, breathing deep, relaxed and content.  The kids had gone, and all was silent by now.  I thought how even in the small city I lived in upstate New York, there are 24 hour stores all over, and cars going every which direction.  Here, there was only one 24 hour store, that was a 20 minute walk, and closed it’s doors so you had to order through a window, but since I didn’t know what they had, or any of the brands, I just ordered a good old coca cola, a bottle of water, and left it at that before strolling back into town.

I went back to the hotel, and continued texting her until we fell asleep.  I would see her in the morning.

This was going to be my new home, I decided to move to Ireland for sure that night, and next, i’ll get into the process more, and all the things i’ve learned along the way.

To Be Continued…