Back to the beginning

Back to the beginning

Today marks 18 months since I married my sweetheart here in Atlanta and so much has happened in that time. So maybe now is a a good time to go back to the beginning and update what has happened over the last 18 months and some plans for the future. This blog has been charting my life here in Atlanta since I moved from Ireland in November 2015 as well as just being a place for me to ramble about stuff in general. I do try to avoid politics, religions or anything that can lead to controversy but sometimes I will mention these topics. 

Anyway, let’s take a step back in time to what led me to leave the country of my birth after 48 years. Well to put it simply, the love of a great woman. A relationship that had simmered as friendship since 2001 turned romantic as we found ourselves in the same place emotionally at the same time, it was kine everything g just aligned at the correct time so we could be together. We still had a K1 Visa process to sort out and after a few months of waiting and a little help we were approved in July 2015 and out wedding date was set, December 20th 2015, 18 months ago today, happy 18 month anniversary honey! 

Married life has been fun, exciting and sometimes challenging. We had to learn how to live together, with me also learning a while new culture here in the USA. We have a great support network of friends here in Atlanta as well as family on both sides of the ocean. We have had some really good moments, Robert visiting has to be a highlight, as well as some low moments, Leanne’s grandmother passing away and my Dad passing away last July. But we got to go to Leanne’s grandmother’s funeral in Michigan, which marked the first time we traveled on a plane together, and in December 2016 we got to travel back to Ireland to be with my Mam for here first Christmas without my Dad. The visit to Ireland led to another highlight, travelling to Rome for a few days to celebrate our first wedding anniversary. Our sending anniversary will be a little different, my Mam and my son, Robert, will be arriving in Atlanta to spend Christmas with us that day. 

Recently we moved into a house that we both picked and is now ‘our’ home. When I moved over here we lived in the house that Leanne had owned for nearly 14 years and even though we had no intention of moving, once we seen this house we both knew it was the house we wanted to call ‘our’ home together. 

We have some exciting plans for the remainder of 2017 and onward as soon we will be looking into adopting a young child. We both feel we can give something special and bring joy to a young child  who otherwise may not get the chance. It will bring challenges but nothing we can’t overcome together as we start to build a family. 

So just to end up for now, it has been a whirlwind 18 months of marriage, 19 months of living in the USA and life is good. I couldnt be happier and I look forward to the future and whatever it may hold for us. 

State Exams! 

State Exams! 

Well today marks a very important day back home in Ireland, the state Exams start. Traditionally this was a day that the weather was always lovely, sun shining and clear blue skies would bless Ireland for a week or so as the students in secondary (high school equivalent) schools suffered through their exams. The Junior cert, for students half way through secondary school, is just a stepping stone exam to the Leaving cert two years later. 

Now the Leaving Cert is a whole different kettle of fish. It decides your college placement, if that is the route you choose and most do go that direction, but I don’t think it is the be all and end all that it is made out to be. Yes, kids should study and try to do the best they can, but the stress put on some kids is unreal. 

Back in the time when I sat the Leaving Cert, college wasn’t an option, unemployment was quite high among school leavers and immigration was a huge option for lots. I was lucky and got a job straight from school and worked constantly till I retired from the Defence Forces 25 years later. Did I have a brilliant Leaving, not a chance as myself and school never really seen eye to eye. I done what I had to do to get through it and get out the far side. I passed the exams with the minimum requirements and it was done. It would be a little over 20 years later that I would return to education and go to college. 

So the question is, did the leaving cert help? Of course it did, it gave me basic learning skills, reading, writing etc, it gave me discipline to get up every morning and go do something, it taught me how to behave and it gave me friends I still keep in touch with now. 

And back to today, my son sits his Leaving for the 2nd time, making a decision last August to give it another shot rather than go to college and do a course he may not have been happy in or liked or just take a year out altogether. I admire him for making that decision and it couldn’t have been easy. But he is now a year older, a year wiser and knows what to expect from the 2 weeks of exams. 

I will finish by wishing everyone doing exams the best of luck and just do your best. It isn’t a life defining time but give it your best and see what transpires at results time in August. 

Hitting the reset button

Hitting the reset button

When I started this blog a little over a year ago, the aim was to chart my life here in the USA as well as telling the story of how I got here and how myself and Leanne became a couple, eventually married and our lives together. I also wanted to show America through the eyes of an Irish man who emigrated late in life to start all over again, hitting the reset button. 

Well the blog morphed into something else while still sort of holding true to what my aim was at the start. What it morphed into I am not to sure but it seems to be a good thing as I go through life here. But I find myself asking is it time to go back to the blogs roots and just tell the story of my life, hitting the reset button. 

It’s only been a little over 2 years, Feb 2015 to be exact, when we decided we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together. I have charted that journey in lots of previous posts on the blog so won’t go into all over again. 17 months ago we got married and it has been a wonderful journey of love and discovery as our lives are now joined and not separated by the Atlantic Ocean. Once I moved here in November 2015 it was kine a whole new beginning, leaving home after 47 years, learning how things are done in the USA, talking slower, entertaining at home, making lots of new friends and being happily married in December 2015, just like I hit life’s reset button. 

I don’t get to post on the blog as often as I would like to but I am happy in how my life has turned out, happy to be sharing this journey with Leanne, happy to have met some wonderful new friends, happy to have new family here, happy to be able to keep in touch with back home and happy to be working in a job which may lead to something else further down the road. Maybe it’s time not to hit the reset button but just continue on this road and see where the journey takes me. 

Slán go fóill 

Driving safety announcement! 

Driving safety announcement! 

So as I sit here waiting on my car tires to be rotated I have time to ponder the last few weeks of driving on Atlantas messed up road system. With the bridge collapse on i85 making the traffic even worse its a pity the people in a lot of cars are complete and utter idiots. 

And so onto to the public safety announcement, car manufacturers go to a lot of bother to make cars safer, mainly because of the idiots, but years ago lights on cars became compulsory and turn signals form a very important part of the lighting system on a car. So a bit of advice to the idiots out there that think they are a fancy colour decoration on your car, feckin use them and don’t just fly from lane to lane as if you are invincible. 

Firstly you aren’t invincible and you will either be killed someday or cause someone else to die on the roads needlessly. Secondly, turn signals should be used in conjunction with that other amazing device on your car, mirrors! They are not just for looking at your ugly mug in, they help you see other traffic, you know the other people you share the road with. 

Oh wait, you don’t share the road with anyone, because you are to important. Well let’s stop the presses just there, you are not important, you are a feckin idiot. Other cars have to slam on their brakes because you do something else stupid. So do us all a favour, please just stay at home, sell your car and feck off so we can all get to where we want to be safely and without having to deal with you. 

Documented Immigrant

Documented Immigrant

I have always tried to avoid politics, and religion, on this blog but sometimes something comes along and it sparks an something in where my journey is now. I am a ‘legal permanent resident’, thus making me a ‘documented immigrant’ There is so much in the news and being mentioned in political circles about immigration these days maybe it’s time I mentioned it here on my blog. 

I would never ever have attempted to come to the USA undocumented. Even in the early days of our planning we went through the stress of applying for a K1 Visa, even though it put our wedding date at risk. But we wanted to do things correctly and not take any chances. 

After our wedding we applied to Adjust our status, from an engaged to married couple, thus allowing me to apply for my Green Card and start working and become a legal permanent resident. Our journey through the visa process isn’t over yet as next year, Feb 2018, we have to apply to have the conditions of my visa and residencey removed, another process that will take approx 14-18 months. All these processes are stressful and we have to meet certain criteria for the removal of conditions to prove our marriage is a bona fide one. 

All this is because of fraud within the Visa system, but at the end of it all we will have followed all the rules and have done everything requested by the US government. After that the path to US citizenship opens up and that will be a path I will more than likely go down. 

Now the elephants in the room, illegal immigrants and politicians. Both affect how our process goes, politicians by saying uneducated things, trying to be popular and playing to the crowd and illegal immigrants by not doing things the correct way in the first place. Both have reasons for doing what they do and some have no choice but to either play to the crowd or be illegal but sometimes the knock on effect isn’t what they expected. 

I look forward to the day that I am finished with the Visa process but even when I apply for US citizenship I will always be an immigrant, but fully documented from day 1. 

Ireland/America

Ireland/America

A month ago we moved into our new house and tonight Leanne’s parents will come and visit and stay with us for a few days and will get to see our new house in real life for the first time. Hopefully my Mam will travel over from Ireland and get to see the house at Christmas this year. 

We are all settled in, all the furniture and appliances are delivered even if it took a few attempts by the shops to get it right! Photos are on the wall, flag pole for the Irish and American flags to fly is up, flowers are in the pots and the front yard is looking well for the ‘in-law’ inspection over the next few days. 

And that leads me onto the purpose of today’s post, my new in laws here in the USA. Bob and Terri, Leanne’s parents, have been absolutely brilliant in their support of us from day 1 when we first mentioned our plans for getting married and even getting this new house. I always love to have them visit and enjoy chatting about all sorts of stuff with them. It has helped me acclimate to US culture having those conversations, learning to understand how life and culture of things work here. 

It was completely different back home in Ireland as I took everything for granted as it was how I had lived my life for 47 years. Moving to the US was a huge step, a bit of a leap of faith but having the support, assistance and guidance from my in laws, as well as friends and family on both sides of the Atlantic certainly helped. 

I have noticed that I think of Ireland and home a lot but the little bouts of missing Ireland and being homesick are less and less. It will always be home, it will always be the country that helped make me who I am today but now I am lucky enough to experience life in a while new country and culture with my new family, and for that I am thankful. 

My new Irish flag will arrive on Thursday and I will fly it outside the house with pride and when it comes to change it to the USA one for certain holidays, Memorial Day, July 4th etc I will proudly fly the flag of my new adopted country outside our house. You may be able take the man out of Ireland but you can’t take Ireland out of the man.

A little Irish fun

A little Irish fun

Just something different as the week and the month of April end. Just a few little ‘Irish’ hints for those that may visit Ireland in the future or wish they were actually Irish. 

Anyway, hint number 1 is a simple but easy to forget one. Leprechauns are real, but are only visible to real genuine 100% Irish people. Only we can converse with them and see them so don’t waste your time trying to see them or talk to them or asking can you meet one, it will only make you look foolish. 

Hint number 2 relates to some Irish sayings you may have been told Irish people say, example is Top O the morning or begoraah. These are phrases only used by the above mentioned Leprechauns when talking to each other so don’t use these phrases when talking to real people as it again will only make you look foolish. 

Hint number 3 relates to food. Irish people do not only eat bacon and cabbage, actually it is very rarely on the menu and if it is it’s because the local Leprechaun Mayor is visiting and it is their favorite food. We do eat a lot of potatoes but we also eat pasta, vegetables and menu items from around the globe, the famine was in 1847 not last year! 

Hint number 4 relates to politics, Irish people love nothing better than to talk politics, solve the problems of the world and explain the intricacies of the Irish system and the ongoing peace process in Northern Ireland over a few sociable beers. Ireland, North and South are not a war zone so don’t assume they are as again you will be made feel foolish. 

Hint number 5 is all about those wishing to be Irish, this is quite simple. You are NOT, your ancestors may have left these shores but you are either American, English, Australian or wherever you were born. Be proud of your Irish heritage but don’t claim to be Irish, it will get you branded as a plastic paddy or a wannabee and you will again end up looking foolish. 

And the final hint for today, go enjoy Ireland and everything it has to offer, have a pint of Guinness, enjoy the friendly people, the fantastic scenery and if you travel to the west coast, go to the Gealteacht and try same some of the Irish language. And if you get chatting to a friendly Irishman or woman, watch for the sense of humour and sarcasm. 

Slàn agus beannacht