Monday, May 30, 2011

Its not me...its my head.

So we are getting ready for our trip to the states. Running errands, buying tons of goodies, sunscreen, clothes that we can wear in warm weather. (basically things we could never wear in Ireland)

I know that one night on the cruise is a fancy dress night- The captains dinner I believe, and that the dress will be formal. Its no problem for me, I actually had thought ahead before I moved from the States to Ireland and had taken a few formal dresses with me- perfect for the trip! Just pick one and pack it away- simples!

Well on Saturday I dragged James into the bedroom with me to go through all of our clothes (not what he likes being dragged into the bedroom for har de har har) since we plan on buying a lot in the states and replacing things that are worn out, have holes, fuzzballs, stains etc. (we seem to get a lot of holes/ discoloration in our laundry. Either we just buy cheap clothing or I suck at doing laundry...) so I wanted to throw out/ give away anything that we didn't want or couldn't wear anymore.

After cleaning out my closet I see the dress hanging up in the back. I decided to go ahead and try it on while I had a moment just to make sure that it still looked good and didn't need to be pressed. I slip it on over my head and asked James to zip it up for me. I've never had any problems with this dress fitting before so I wasn't concerned about fit at all. Well James comes over and starts zipping the dress. He gets about halfway and stops- he says the zipper wont go up anymore. I started to get annoyed and flapping my hands and trying to zip it up myself (which is pretty much impossible at where the zipper was stuck.) to no avail. The zipper was NOT going up.

Lets just say the next 20 minutes were not pretty. There were tears, they may have been ugly tears. I pretty much freaked out. There were threats of not going on the trip, of me never wearing a dress again, or eating ever again. (I think most of us can say we have all been at that place at one time or another....oy.)

Well the next day my good friend Lisa stopped by the house for coffee and a chat before we left for the states. I decided to ask her to see if maybe she could help me with my dress dilemma since girls are trained to handle these kinds of situations. I try the dress back on and Lisa takes about two seconds and the dress is zipped. I felt like a 20 pound weight came off my shoulders. I knew I needed another woman to help me. I love my husband but he does NOT understand how dresses work, or how to latch necklaces or bracelets, or why high heels hurt so much. (obviously, I mean why would he???) This is why I need my sister to be living near by (HINT HINT)!!

anyways yesterday this post really caught my eye. Lin was talking about body insecurities and man they were weighing heavy on my mind this week. I have some major insecurities and it seems like ever since I've moved to Ireland they have been worse than ever. I'm not sure if its being in a new culture or getting older or the fact that I've never had more trouble losing weight than at this time in my life (seriously its been SO FRUSTRATING). The whole dress drama just brought that fresh to the surface. I know that my husband will love me no matter what size I am, I know that I will have friends and the people that matter will accept me however I look. I need to find someway to learn to accept myself the way I accept other people and the way other people accept me. I have to say that I am my own worst judge and the pressure I put on myself doesn't help matters.

I mean, even if the dress didn't fit, even if anything in my closet didn't fit- I shouldn't be in a place that I can be so upset over it. I should be able to be rational about it, and be proactive. Not reactive. I think even if I lost everything I wanted to lose and then some I would still have body issues because the problem isn't my body, its my mind. Its seeing all of these people in the magazines and on television and hearing what woman SHOULD look like instead of reality. I think that I might start working on the mental side of my body for my sanity and I think James's too haha! (poor James, hes so patient!)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Getting ready to go!

We only have one week left until we go home!

I'm just now starting to get super excited and am starting to feel like hurray I'm actually going!!

Today was my last day off work until we leave and so we spent the morning in town going to the Market to check out the stalls and getting lots of presents to give folks back home.

(and a few for myself, what can I say? its like for for me.)

Of course I have to bring back Taytos for people to try ( I don't think we even have the cheese and onion flavor in the states unless I'm remembering wrong) as they are the original Irish crisp. In fact most people don't call them chips or crisps but taytos. I'm also bringing back Barrys Tea, Cadburys hot chocolate (YUM) some Munster Rugby things, Celtic (book of kells letters) book marks, some jewelry, tons of digestives (james just cant have his morning tea without a digestive) and plenty of chocolate (not pictured or purchased yet...gahhh must get on that!)

And of course a little treat for me...some new books to read on the plane ride/ cruise trip. I can't wait! I've been wanting to get my hands on the latest sookie stackhouse book for weeks now!

And lastly- This really doesn't have much to do with this post but I thought it was really funny...I saw this poster while in town today....Obama was a BIG deal for Ireland. So big it even inspired Supermacs....

Talk about cheesy....har de har har...

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Is Feidir Linn

Is Feidir Linn- Yes We Can!

Obama came to Ireland this week- Apparently he has ancestors from the sleepy little village of Moneygall. I've been through the village a couple of times because it is on the bus route to Dublin. I have to say I don't remember it at all- its one of those "one-horse" kinda towns.

I listened to the radio in the morning before I headed to work and they spoke to one of Obama's relatives....his 8th cousin....8th!!! Talk about distant. Honestly this whole ancestral connection to Ireland is more about tourism and publicity than it is about Obama finding his roots.

Despite all of this- I thought the visit was great! I thought it was really good for Ireland to have such a positive visit from the U.S. President. Obama gave a great speech and it was really uplifting for the entire country to hear the things that he had to say.

He spoke a little Gaelic which has now become something of a catch phrase over here- Is Feidir Linn- Gaelic for Yes We Can...the Irish have taken that and run with it haha!

Here is Barak and Michelle having a pint of Guinness in a pub (perhaps THE pub) in Moneygall (notice how Michelle is having a half pint...I doubt shes much of a Guinness drinker haha)- apparently Obama drank his down in near record time- much better job than the Queen last week who only took a sip!

This was in the paper the day he was in Ireland....

Failte Abhaile means Welcome Home

And of course.....

The American flag on the reverse side! The real reason why I snagged the poster! I never brought a flag with me when I moved from home which I should have done- but now I have one so alls well!

This also brings to mind that I will be going home in about a week and I am so excited! We will be headed to Florida first and will be going on a western Caribbean cruise. We've never been on a cruise before and I'm kinda anxious but also pretty excited. I hear that after you've been on a cruise you never want to take a regular vacation ever again!

After the cruise we'll be driving up to Virginia to spend the last week with my family and going shopping....lots and lots of shopping. This will be my first time going to the states and exchanging money the fun way.....from euros to dollars. The exchange rate is about $1.40 to the euro so we will be getting a lot of bang for our buck. AND with the United States being WAAAYYY cheaper than Ireland we are going to get as much clothes shopping and supply shopping done as possible!

Also- I'm personally looking forward to really hot days and lots of sunshine. I'm actually looking forward to being uncomfortably hot and possibly getting sunburnt. Neither of these things happen in Ireland very often so I'm going to relish the opportunity back home!

At the moment though I'm still working near full time hours and trying to figure out what to pack exactly and what to bring home for everyone. I'm kinda starting to cut it a little close to leaving time but I'm sure everything will get done in the 11th hour....maybe.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The big plunge

Since I have known my husband he has had long hair- actually I remember the first time I met him he said I will never cut my long curly locks (haha!).

Well over the past few months he has been contemplating cutting his hair. and not his normal bathroom mirror- kitchen scissors job, an actual hair grown up hair cut.

I never pushed him into anything, knowing James the more I encourage him to do something the more resistant he would get! (typical mannish behavior!)

Well yesterday He started talking about chopping his hair off again and I decided to call his cousin Vivian who is a hairdresser and is usually available to come over in short notice. I told her that James was going to cut his hair and she came over as soon as she could knowing how quickly he could change his mind!

The Before Pictures....

James with his long hair...usually ALWAYS in a pony tail.

The back of his hair....much longer than mine even!

James only had three requirements for Vivian before she cut his hair....don't make me look like a scumbag, don't make me look like a tinker and don't make me look like a gay man.

To this both Vivian and I cracked up and laughed poor James down. (So supporative and understanding, I know...haha!)

The first big chunk of hair is chopped off! Good bye pony tail you won't be missed!!

Half way done!!

The Final Product.....


He looks great with short hair! I had no clue what he would look like, but I think it looks great, and most importantly, James thinks it looks great!

And an added bonus we wont have to fight over hair bands anymore...hah!

One Year Later

Its been a year....technically its been a year and one month since I've moved to Ireland.

Its been 13 months since I've been home, seen any of my family, seen any of my friends. A year since I've had the greatness which is Wawa iced coffee, driven a car on the right side of the road, walked into a Target, enjoyed warm sunny weather and immersed myself in all things familiar that made up my life as I once knew it.

Some days it feels like this past year flew by and sometimes it feels like its been 10 years since I moved over here.

I don't think Ive learned as much or had as many new experiences in my adult life as I have had in this past year. Its been one of the most exciting and interesting time of my life, while at the same time been one of the hardest things I've ever done.

I wanted to try and make a list of some of the things I've learned in one year as an expat- I'm sure I will leave off plenty of things because I have the memory span of a goldfish but here goes nothing!

- First and foremost, just because you speak the same language doesn't mean that things will be the same. In fact, it may be more frustrating because something that seems so common sense and normal in one English speaking culture means jack squat in another. Some days I feel like I would be more accepting of some differences in manners and actions here in Ireland if they spoke a different language because in my mind that would make them more foreign. (But a different country is a different country. I just need to get that in my head!)

- People will look at you weird when you tell them to have a nice day.

- I learned how to drive on the opposite side of the road. With a stick shift car. Two things I thought I might never be able to do. And I've only turned on the wrong side of the road 3 or 4, or 10 times. (but its always when there hasn't been other cars around- its confusing sometimes if there is nothing to judge it against!)

- My tastes have changed big time. I used to never eat pork products. They always tasted like blood to me. But here in Ireland a lot of them are made different and they are eaten a lot more than in the states. I found that I went from hating most all pork type food to enjoying the rashers and sausages here. Even white pudding! (Not black pudding though...that is actually blood. not happening folks.) Its not just pork though, its plenty of different things, like drinking tea at least once a day, learning to cook different types of food and having substitutes for things that I can't find here.

- I miss my family. I haven't always had the best relationship with them, and I still don't. But I miss them, more than I thought I ever would.

- I'm still learning how to shop over here. Sounds weird, but shopping in a different country is a lot harder than you would think. Clothes sizing is really different, its hard to figure out what shops have the best prices for quality, what shops have clothes that I like and that have good fit, or even where to find a lot of things that may be not very common- like a certain house hold item (I remember once I went to 12 different store to find a trifle bowl and STILL have yet to find one.) that in America I would know right where to go.

- My accent has changed some- I know I still sound very American, but even in myself I can hear some changes, or even feel some changes, in my voice and how I say certain words. Its definitely not on purpose, it just happens when your completely surrounded by people saying certain phrases or having a different accent. I know when I go home it will drop right off though haha!

- One thing I really liked about living over here was learning all the new expressions and slang. Some of it I don't use correctly (much to the annoyance of James), some of it I use without thinking, some of it I don't understand still- but its fun and I still have plenty that I haven't learned yet. It seems like the Irish have a saying for just about everything!

- I learned how much sunshine really does affect me. On those few days that its sunny here I can really tell the difference in my attitude and energy levels. I've become a lot less active since I've moved here and I know a part of that is the climate here. Its hard for me to want to leave the house when its so grey and windy out.

- Ireland has such a pub culture- I don't think i still fully grasp it yet, but I would say about 90% of socializing here involves the pubs. People don't really go out on dates here, they meet in the pubs (even if its just for dinner and a coffee), birthdays are in pubs, baby christening parties are held in pubs, the day after Christmas is spent in the pub, meetings are held in pubs, directions are usually given with pubs as the landmarks, pub pub pubbity pub. There is no sort of bar culture at all in the states like that.

-The one thing that I truly and honestly dislike about living here (even more than the weather) is this "Ah go on" attitude that a lot of Irish people have. Its so inbred into the culture here. Its not about what you know here its about who you know and a lot of people feel like they can get away with, or do what they want here with no consequences. A lot of people have a very casual attitude to things like the law, rules and procedures. For example its not unusual to see someone just pull over on the side of a busy road (where there is no place to pull over so they are basically sitting in the middle of the road) and park their car and think nothing of creating a traffic problem. A lot of things that people try to get away with aren't illegal or harmful- but its just frustrating to me. Its a really really different mindset than America and for the most part a lot of what people try to get away with here, and usually do get away with, would NOT fly in the states. It just drives me INSANE.

- but in keeping all things fair, one thing I have learned about Irish people is that they are some of the nicest, most genuine people I have ever met. There is no shallowness to their culture, they don't put on airs. They have great hospitality and you always feel at home no matter where you go in this country. There is this feeling of "we are all in it together" and you can meet a perfect stranger and feel like you've known them for years after a short conversation. That has made living here and meeting new people a lot easier I have to say!

There are probably about a million more things I could say but I think I've rambled on enough for one post.
I'm really happy that I've hit the one year mark of living here in Ireland. I feel like I've hit a big milestone and its a relief in a way. The pressure of being able to "make it" is off my back and I feel like each new year I face living overseas will get easier and easier.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Can't get rid of me now! nah nah nah!

Well so it's been one year folks.

I've been in Ireland for a year. Solid. No trips home.

I have to say, I've learned alot, but I'm going to save that for another post.

This post is about the immigration office.

Last year a few days after I moved over I headed down to the Guarda station with James (the Guarda Station is the Police Station. Guarda is Gaelic for police. obvious I know, I'm just putting it out there.) I'm not sure if this is the same all over Ireland, but in Limerick the immigration office is inside of the station.

We sat on the bench along with a variety of people, some waiting for the immigration officer, some who were under arrest or waiting to file a complaint and some, like Jame's new friend, were drunks pulled in off the street and waiting to sober up. It was a fun filled Thursday morning I'm telling ya.

Well so I sat and waited and eventually was called back into the office. A cramped room with two desks and a very intimidating woman. She had a strong accent and I'm pretty sure I asked her to repeat herself after each thing she said. At least twice. She also had the driest sense of humor I have YET to come across and I made myself look like a FOOL. Twice.

The process for me was pretty straight forward since I am married to an Irish national- hand over a bunch of documents, get finger and palm prints done, I think they took some saliva swaby thing (for DNA purposes?? I don't ask too many questions.) and then I had my picture taken and awaited my freshly laminated residency card.

(A side note, it was raining sideways that day- so forget about a decent hairdo.) The picture? questionable at best. The question being who was that woman and why was she so angry. I don't take good offical pictures.

Fast-forward to today. Exactly one year later I head back to the Guarda station, documents at the ready. I'm directed to the Eircom building next door where they have relocated the immigration office (Eircom is a telephone/internet company here in Ireland. They are basically evil. Like Verizon without all of the huge competitors.) Unlike last year though we don't have the pleasure of early morning drunks and slightly scary detainees.

Like last year though I get the same officer. Same sense of humor. (huzzah.) But on a big plus, this time around I could actually understand her!

She begins to go through all of my information, updating some, checking to make sure others is still the same. Then she asks if Dominic is my husband.
Me- ummmm WHAT?
Immigration Lady- We have Dominic listed as your this correct?
Me- NO. Not at all...thats my FATHER IN LAW.
Immigration Lady- oh hmm. Well it is Friday the 13th.
Me- oh yeah. (thinking what in the world does that have to do with you listing my father in law as my husband.) (obviously it was a very bad joke to cover up her mistake, but still.)

So yeah. Yet another screw up- or rather "clerical error" from the government. This one just happened to be creepy in a keeping in the family/west virgina kinda way. Thank goodness James came with me in case anything screwy happened since he had to show her ID to prove that he was the person that he said he was, you know, the one listed under the husband portion of the marriage license.

These kind of "errors" have been so commonplace in all of my dealings with anything official here in Ireland.

So far:
-Ive been married to my father in law
- Divorced from James
-Told I don't exist
-Denied a claim since I was an asylum seeker (what??)
-Told I don't live in Ireland. ( while in IRELAND. how does that work when I'm showing you current payslips and proof of, I don't get it either.)

I know there are others but I can't seem to remember them at the time being. It's actually almost funny at this point all of these huge mistakes that they have in my paperwork. I've learned to come prepared for pretty much everything anytime I need to get something done.


Long story short I was able to get my file fixed and get registered for another year of living here in Ireland. I got a shiny new card with a new picture, which shockingly enough, is actually good. I look mostly human in it!

so now I only have 2 more years of waiting before I can begin the lengthy, expensive process of applying for citizenship.

all of the sudden I have a raging headache.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Great Limerick Run

This Sunday we participated in the Great Limerick Run!

There are three races, the marathon, half marathon and the 6 miler. As you can guess I am in no way ready to do a marathon much less a half marathon so the six miler it was!

A large group of my friends were all participating- the majority of us did the 6 miler but two of our group took on the challenge of the half marathon (and they did it as smokers as well- I have NO CLUE how they didn't pass out mid way through, but they made it with no problems!)

Here is the starting line at a place in the center of the city called Pery's Square. Its a great location right next to the peoples park with a large church at the end. There were about 4,000 people packed into this little square at the starting time. You seriously couldn't blink without touching someone else!

Here is the group of us who did the six miler warmed up and ready to go! (and it was mostly sunny the entire race! Thanks Ireland!)

An hour and 28 minutes later the finish line! It was right on O' Connell street, which is the main road through town (Little Irish fact for you, there is at least one large street in each city/big town that is called O' Connell street. I believe O' Connell was a major figure in the revolution here in Ireland. I should really know this by now haha!) It was so cool running through the cheering crowds to the finish line! Here are James and I with our friend Lisa sweaty and red-faced after the finish!
We all got really cool medals for finishing...they were shaped like the Treaty Stone, a major monument here in Limerick. I've never actually seen it, but I've walked past it about a million times. And I apparently cannot put on medals the right way round. Here is me fixing it and pretending I don't look like a mad scientist with all the hair.
Here is a group of us with our friends who ran the half-marathon all delighted with ourselves for a great finish!
We were running for the Everest 2011 campaign to support our friend Mark- He has been getting plenty of local press lately on his ascent to the summit- how cool is that?
And of course, the after race pints! I could only stay for one because I had to go and work after the race (and that sucked big time!) But all in all it was good times!
I'm really happy I participated in the race- It was my first time doing any sort of organized run and I had such a great time. I saw a really good side to Limerick that I hadn't seen in a long time, or really ever. I think it was really good for me to experience that because Limerick is my home now and I need to get some hometown pride! Honestly even though I was pretty tired after the race and working all night I was in a great mood, happier than I've been in months. I was so proud of myself, James and everyone who participated and I plan on doing the race again next year, and this time I want to run the entire 6 miles!

What were they thinking?

I'm sorry to be getting all political on you guys these last two posts, but I couldn't NOT put this out there....and how very angry I am.

Apparently yesterday a vote was passed in congress that changes the definition of rape.

Now you no longer are a victim of rape if you didn't fight back verbally or physically. You no longer have been raped if you were drugged. If you are a minor and become pregnant by an adult that is no longer rape.

excuse my french but, WHAT THE FUCK.

I cannot- CANNOT believe in this day in time a law like this could be passed. It takes us back through years of fighting for our rights as women, as human beings. How in the world could this law be passed?

In addition to the new "definition of rape" There are new laws being passed about abortion. You can only get an abortion now (that you don't have to pay through the nose for) if you can PROVE that you have been raped, if you are already a mother and you can PROVE that you will die, or you can PROVE incest.

So i guess that explains the reason why they narrowed the definition of rape. If you don't fight hard enough then you deserved it?? And if you are unfortunate enough to conceive in your "non-rape" then you better have plenty of money to pay for it. If you are even eligible to have one.

And for all of the women who have had experiences, who have been sexually harassed, raped even- what does that mean for them? Do their experiences not matter anymore? Should they get over it because guess what? It really wasn't rape. Your congressman says so.

Absolutely disgusting. I thought America was a country that supported its citizens and was looking for the best interest and protection of all that call it home. Right now this law is making even a Catholic country like Ireland, where abortion is illegal, look pretty damn progressive.

What are your thoughts? Am I over-reacting or is this really as horrible as I think it is?

I'm of two minds.

"I will mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that."
--Martin Luther King Jr

I am not normally a quotes kind of person, but I thought this quote was so fitting. I'm a few days behind the times, but I've still been chewing over the announcement of the death of Bin Laden.

There is a part of me that feels, as an American, I should celebrate the "victory" for our country and the "justice" for the thousands of families whose lives have been altered by the actions of a sick and twisted man. Then there is another, perhaps louder, part of me that feels that this is not something worth celebration. At the end of the day its a death. Yes this man did some terrible things. Yes he had ideals that are controversial and that are considered evil by the majority of the western world, but he was still a person and he died. I don't think any death is worth a celebration.

Don't get me wrong, I'm in no way condoning his actions and I am not mourning the loss of his life, but I just feel that no good can come of celebrating it.

I guess my thoughts are a little muddled on the entire subject. I think a big part of that is that the rest of the world is so judgemental of the United States. I feel that every move America make is criticized and nit picked to pieces. I hear so much criticism of the United States, yet they accept so many influences from our culture and media (of course when you bring this point up people say that these influences are forced on them and they hate they wear their Levi's and drink their coke....but i digress.) I feel like celebrating the death of this man is like taking one step forward and then two steps back. But I am also proud of my country and feel very patriotic and homesick and wish I could be in America to feel that....."vibe". You know the one I'm referring to, like after 9/11 that feeling of togetherness and mutual love that was in the air, for weeks, months afterwards.

I've had plenty of people here in Ireland ask me my thoughts on his death being an American and all, but I've kept my opinion to myself. I don't feel like I could give anyone a satisfactory answer to that question. Should I give the expected answer or the truth?

Either way I'm glad that the military was able to carry out the mission with success, but I fear its like pucking a hair, seven more will come up to replace it.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

What its not april anymore?

So April was kinda a crapshoot. Especially for me blogging. So I apologize for all 2 of you that actually read this thing.

Honestly though? What happened to April. Thats supposed to be a long month right? I'm still stuck in the march phase. Anyways now its May. I've decided April didn't happen. I don't think I even did anything in April. I can't even remember the month. Didn't happen.

Oh wait, I spent basically the entire month of April with a cold. Awesome.

I did do some exciting things in my absence though!

Last weekend James and I walked/ran a 10k for the Shane Geoghegan Trust/ our friend Mark who is Attempting the Summit of Everest right now!

We bought our plane tickets for America!! (thats right people, in one month I will be stateside woot woot!)

We got patio furniture.....and a grill. I almost feel like an adult. Seasonal furniture. For the 3 nice days of weather that we get here in Ireland. There will be pictures. Most likely of us in coats pretending to be warm.

Good Friday, which my friends refer to as Great Friday, was amazing. I will have to explain the history of Great Friday in our circle of friends and why it is pretty much Christmas, fourth of July and my birthday all rolled into one ball of awesome.

Some not so exciting things would be like the time my car, The Jellybean of Death, tried to do me in.

Also I started the Couch to 5K program- yesterday was day one, and honestly it wasn't as hard as I thought it was going to be. I heard a lot of people say that it was pretty grueling the first week, but i felt really good after I finished my 20 minutes. Here's to hoping the rest of the week goes as good and that I can keep up with all nine weeks of the program!

And lastly this is my last few days of being 25. My big 2-6 is Saturday. I'm starting to feel the pinch of time. I KNOW I KNOW I am young, but im just now getting to the age where I'm not so over the moon about the prospect of turning another year older. Mostly, I'm looking forward to a guilt free day full of cake. Cause calories don't count on your birthday.