Where has Billy been?

Where has Billy been?

Not quite Where’s Wally (Waldo) but it has been a couple of months since I posted something here on the blog. A lot has happened and a lot more is about to happen. When I think back just 2 and a half short years and I was just arriving in Atlanta and how much has changed. Do I still call myself a ‘recent immigrant’? Well yes I do because after 2 and a half years I am still learning things but boy have I learnt to be more vocal in things. I enjoy being able to express myself but you still won’t catch me ordering through a drive through! Actually ordering in restaurants is still the one thing that is still difficult and it normally involves pointing to what I want or Leanne doing a quick translation. It’s the accent not the language!

But anyway lets do a quick news update to catch everyone up on what has been happening in our lives over here. So much has happened its hard to know where to start so in no particular order of importance….

  • We are in the final process with USCIS in relation to immigration
  • Our final approval came in to allow us be foster parents
  • Work is work, like best way to eat an elephant…one bite at a time or not at all. Decisions to be made!
  • Have heard of way to many people back home passing away 😦

So lets tackle each of those one by one. We started the visa process in April 2015 when we applied for our K1 visa. Once that was approved we got married and then had to apply for Adjustment of Status, allowing me to work, get a 2 year Green Card and generally move on. Well the final part of the process is to Remove the Conditions from our original visa and adjustment phase. This is another phase that will take a year to 15 months but unlike the original application in 2015, we are together and not waiting so we can move on with getting married. Of course after this I have the option of applying for US citizenship and that’s a decision for another day.

Foster parents, even the phrase scares me slightly but we started the process last October and a few weeks ago we completed it when the State of Georgia approved us and our home as good candidates to foster 2, yes that’s a 2, children. We have requested between 0-5 years old and are open to a sibling pair. The process takes a while and some of it is absolutely brain numbing but it has to be done. Of course we are experts in paperwork these days so I think we shocked the foster agency by having paperwork back to them nearly immediately but it’s what we do. Our home is ready for whatever comes our way, we are ready to and even though I go into this with some fear, I am going into it with the one person in the world I would want to, Leanne. So here is to the future and having a family together, in some form or another.

Now onto work, the one thing I really have difficulty with here in the US, besides ordering food, is a near complete lack of respect for employees, the expertise they bring to the role and some people who are in roles they should not be in but because they work there the longest they get promoted! The job I am in is fantastic, like the actual role is ideal for me, I get to wear a suit, be at a desk, meet people and interact with them all through my shift but some of the external pressures from what should be considered ‘management’ are mystifying. But a decision will be made soon and I will be looking at all options for more career development which I have to say here in the US, if you can get passed the automatic web based filters, you will get a chance.

I am not going to end on a sad note but it would be amiss of me if I didn’t mention some people who were close to my family back home who have passed away recently. 2 were within a few days of each other and were friends of my parents for over 60 years and I had known them all my life. So to Pat Byrne and Tony Roe, Rest in Peace, to their families, our sympathies. Back in February, a friend of mine passed away, quite suddenly and he was not even a year younger than me. We were close friends for a long time, playing football together and generally hanging out. He got the one job I would have loved, a train driver! But when I awoke one morning, I seen a message that he had suddenly passed away, I was in total shock. One of the nicest guys you could meet and even after his passing his friends continued with an event he had planned to celebrate his 50th birthday and all proceeds went to a charity he had already picked. So Rest in Peace Barry Prout and know you are missed everyday by everyone whose live you touched in your short time with us all. Probably the hardest thing about being away from home is not being able to attend the funerals or offer in person support but I hope they know we are thinking of them, their families and friends.

I will wrap up now and try finish on a lighter note. We are looking forward to being foster parents and hopefully moving on to be adoptive parents in the near future. Life is good and it just keeps getting better. A long way from 2014 when I didn’t know what the future really held as I finished college and was working in Dublin Airport. Well here I am now, a content Irishman living in Atlanta, Georgia.

Be back soon…I hope!

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Where has Billy been?

Where has Billy been?

Not quite Where’s Wally (Waldo) but it has been a couple of months since I posted something here on the blog. A lot has happened and a lot more is about to happen. When I think back just 2 and a half short years and I was just arriving in Atlanta and how much has changed. Do I still call myself a ‘recent immigrant’? Well yes I do because after 2 and a half years I am still learning things but boy have I learnt to be more vocal in things. I enjoy being able to express myself but you still wont catch me ordering through a drive through! Actually ordering in restaurants is still the one thing that is still difficult and it normally involves pointing to what I want or Leanne doing a quick translation. It’s the accent not the language!

But anyway lets do a quick news update to catch everyone up on what has been happening in our lives over here. So much has happened its hard to know where to start so in no particular order of importance….

  • We are in the final process with USCIS in relation to immigration
  • Our final approval came in to allow us be foster parents
  • Work is work, like best way to eat an elephant…one bite at a time or not at all. Decisions to be made!
  • Have heard of way to many people back home passing away 😦

So lets tackle each of those one by one. We started the visa process in April 2015 when we applied for our K1 visa. Once that was approved we got married and then had to apply for Adjustment of Status, allowing me to work, get a 2 year Green Card and generally move on. Well the final part of the process is to Remove the Conditions from our original visa and adjustment phase. This is another phase that will take a year to 15 months but unlike the original application in 2015, we are together and not waiting so we can move on with getting married. Of course after this I have the option of applying for US citizenship and that’s a decision for another day.

Foster parents, even the phrase scares me slightly but we started the process last October and a few weeks ago we completed it when the State of Georgia approved us and our home as good candidates to foster 2, yes that’s a 2, children. We have requested between 0-5 years old and are open to a sibling pair. The process takes a while and some of it in absolutely brain numbing but it has to be done. Of course we are experts in paperwork these days so I think we shocked the foster agency by having paperwork back to them nearly immediately but it’s what we do. Our home is ready for whatever comes our way, we are ready to and even though I go into this with some fear, I am going into it with the one person in the world I would want to, Leanne. So here is to the future and having a family together, in some form or another.

Now onto work, the one thing I really have difficulty with it here in the US, besides ordering food, is a near complete lack of respect for employees, the expertise they bring to the role and some people who are in roles they should not be in but because they work there the longest they get promoted! The job I am in is fantastic, like the actual role. I get to wear a suit, be at a desk, meet people and interact with them all through my shift but some of the external pressures from what should be considered ‘management’ are mystifying. But a decision will be made soon and I will be looking at all options for more career development which I have to say here in the US, if you can get passed the automatic web based filters, you will get a chance.

I am not going to end on a sad note but It be amiss of me if I didn’t mention some people who were close to my family back home who have passed away recently. 2 were within a few days of each other and were friends of my parents for over 60 years and I had known them all my life. So to Pat Byrne and Tony Roe, Rest in Peace, to their families , our sympathies. Back in February, a friend of mine passed away , quite suddenly and he was not even a year younger than me. We were close friends for a long time, playing football together and generally hanging out. He got the one job I would have loved, a train driver! But when I awoke one morning, I seen a message that he had suddenly passed away, I was in total shock. One of the nicest guys you could meet and even after his passing his friends continued with an event he had planned to celebrate his 50th birthday and all proceeds went to a charity he had already picked. So Rest in Peace Barry Prout and know you are missed everyday by everyone whose live you touched in your short time with us all. Probably the hardest thing about being away from home is not being able to attend the funerals or offer in person support but I hope they know we are thinking of them, their families and friends.

I will wrap up now and try finish on a lighter note. We are looking forward to being foster parents and hopefully moving on to be adoptive parents in the near future. Life is good and it just keeps getting better. A long way from 2014 when I didn’t know what the future really held as I finished college and was working in Dublin Airport. Well here I am now, a content Irishman living in Atlanta, Georgia.

Be back soon…I hope!

Two years ago…….

Two years ago…….

As the title suggests this post is about two years ago, the day I decided to start writing this blog. So much has happened in that 2 years and I am not going to try condense it all into one post but will settle for a few highlights, a few sad times and a few happy times. When i started this blog my goal was to make it a kind of diary of my thoughts as I embarked on a brand new chapter of my life, the journey it took to get here, but mostly it was to be about this Irishman’s view on how life is here in America for a new but older immigrant, not sure if I have hit these marks but I hope so.

And so onto the things that have made the last 2 years so interesting and a couple of highlights. The main highlight actually happened before this blog started and that was marrying my sweetheart, Leanne and that shall remain the main highlight till the day I die. But there have been lots of other highlights and I will list just a few and in no order of importance;

  • Our first wedding anniversary spent in Rome
  • Spending Christmas in Ireland in 2016
  • Robert coming over twice but the trip in summer 2016 for 6 weeks was memorable
  • Starting my present job and looking forward to see where it takes me
  • Getting to know so many wonderful people here in the USA that I am now lucky to call friends
  • Everyday I get to spend with Leanne
  • You never know how much a simple message from pals back home will make you smile
  • Buying ‘Our house’ together

Of course through the course of a life there are moments that cause sadness, and we had 2 main ones over the last 2 years. the first was Leanne’s grandmother passed away and that meant I made my first trip up to Michigan but unfortunately it wasn’t for a happy occasion. The second sad moment was the passing of my own Dad, and not being able to travel home for the funeral was probably the hardest decision I had to make in my life but I know it was the correct one at the time considering the circumstances. Its not just family members we have lost, and it started the day I arrived here back in Nov 2015, when our first thing to do together in Atlanta was to attend a funeral. Since then I think we have attended 6 funerals and I have heard of at least the same amount back home. A few close friends in Ireland have passed away, only recently a friend from my childhood passed away just short of his 50th birthday which is later this month, RIP Barry.

Nearly all of the happier times have been spent with Leanne and I loved our time spent back in Ireland, surrounded by our friends in a pub celebrating Christmas in 2016. My 50th birthday was a wonderful week last summer, culminating in a party that was fantastic. I now finally have a table for a model train set and I will be taking my time building it exactly as I want it. Connecting with the Irish community and being able to chat to people about back home is fantastic and we are getting more involved in the Irish community here in Atlanta, its surprising who you meet once you get involved! I have met someone from the Irish Defence Forces, who served in the same unit I started my career in, I have also met a guy who is from an area in Dublin which is literally only 5 minutes from where I used to live! All these connections help me keep in touch with home and my ‘irishness’

As a relatively recent immigrant to the USA I have noticed how much things here have polarized since the election last year but that still doesn’t take away that America is a land of opportunity and if you are willing to learn and evolve you will do OK. My accent still causes some issues but not half as many as it did when i came here first. Does that mean I am losing my accent, I doubt it but I have definitely tailored the speed of my speech so people can understand me better.

As we roll into 2018, cant believe it February already, there are a few upcoming adventures to add to my journey and the most important of them should and hopefully will happen around May, we will become official licensed foster parents! Scary as it that is for me there is no person in the world I would take this journey with other than Leanne.

I am going to mark the second anniversary of the blog sitting at my desk in work on a Saturday morning at 7.00am, a far cry from when I started the blog as something to pass the time during the day while I was waiting on paperwork to come through so I could get a job. I will endeavor to get the blog back on track and get it to a place where it becomes all the things I wanted it to be when I started it. I look forward to travelling home to Ireland sometime in the future but for now I am happy with how life is going here in the USA and from day one I said I would embrace my new life here but keep my ‘irishness’ intact and I think I have succeeded.

Happy Birthday St Pats to Spartans Blog

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Welcome to 2018

Welcome to 2018

Its been a little over 4 weeks since I last posted on the blog. Well it was the Christmas holidays and new year so a break from online stuff is good. My mam and son came over from Ireland and we had a good time together even if we had an event that the least said about it the better but it involved a ladder and a trip to A&E.

So what has been happening here in the USA for this Irishman, well lets go back to Oct when i started a new job as a lead concierge for Concierge Services of Atlanta. I started my training and a couple of weeks later I interviewed for a position as lead concierge in a new development in Midtown Atlanta and was successful. So here I am now , working in ICON Midtown and wearing a suit, shirt and tie into work everyday but at least I am indoors now and I get to wear decent and colorful socks.

As we enter 2018, well we are nearly in February, our lives are really about to change. We are still going through the foster/adoption process but we are hopeful by May we will have a little child to look after, and with a huge bit of luck the wait for our forever child wont be to long. We are looking forward to being parents, even if it does scare the hell out of me, and together we are a strong team.

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Its been 13 months since I have been home to Ireland and I miss home and friends but we are now involved a lot more in the Irish community, we are now helping out with the planning and running of this years Irish Fest Atlanta, I have been in touch with Irish Network Atlanta and have contacts within Atlanta GAA. All these things help keep me in touch with Irish people and its good to chat to some of them about things only us Irish understand about being ‘Irish’ and at a pace of speech only we get!

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Hopefully now with a bit more desk time I will be able to post more regularly on the blog….and trust me there is lots i would love to post here but wont and there is stuff coming up that I will post here as we move onto the next stage of our immigration process and foster/adopt process.

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2 Wonderful Years

2 Wonderful Years

Today is our second wedding anniversary and the journey we embarked on then has gone from strength to strength. I am a wear my heart on my sleeve guy and I don’t care what some people think, I am married to my best friend and I will gladly tell the world daily!

So 2 years ago on this day Atlanta treated us to a lovely warm sunny day for our wedding day, well today its giving us wet grey weather, just like Ireland. As we got ready for the wedding we had a few nights of celebrating with friends and family from out of and in town so its a bit fitting that today on our anniversary my Mam and son are both crossing the Atlantic to spend Christmas with us.

It will be my Mams first visit to see me in the USA and I am looking forward to seeing her, its been a year since we last seen each other. My Mam couldn’t come over for the wedding 2 years ago as she was looking after my Dad who was in a nursing home at the time. After my Dad passed away I never thought my Mam would travel over here so it was a lovely surprise in April when she told us she had renewed her passport and would love to come see us. Full planning mode was turned on and with Robert also expressing that he would rather come for Christmas we had a plan quite quickly, they could travel together!

And so on our second wedding anniversary instead of a lovely romantic evening with my beautiful wife, we will be collecting my Mam and son from Atlanta airport at 9pm, sorry honey but I promise I will make it up to you.

The blog posts are becoming fewer and fewer but I will try keep it going. But it will change direction once again as I become more settled into life here in Atlanta. The last 2 years have been a glorious time and I couldn’t be happier. We have traveled , we have wined and dined, we have become closer as a couple, our journey is about to embark on one of lives great gifts and we are madly in love.

I will sign off by wishing everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year, Happy Hanukkah or whatever phrase you want to use, just be happy, be nice and kind and everything else will fall into place. Enjoy the season and be safe.

Nollaig Shona agus Athbhliain faoi mhaise daoibh

Life goes on

Life goes on

It’s been a while since I popped in here to share some things and boy what 6/7 weeks it has been. I reached a milestone of living in the USA 2 years on November 5th this year, had a weekend away in Nashville, (adding another city to my list), got a new job, met the Irish Consul General here in Atlanta, met the Irish Ambassador to the USA, have linked up more with the Irish community here in Atlanta, got back into taking photographs, had a blast at Irish Fest and have completed phase one of courses to become a foster parent with Leanne.

So where to start, I suppose getting a new job is as a good pace as any. I enjoyed my job with Hennessy Ford but there was something I wasn’t to keen on, and it boiled down to a lack of respect and trust. In conversations with the GM we had spoken about a future there for me as the Auto Photographer. So, it came as a surprise to me when the present photographers contract was cancelled, and another photographer arrived, especially as I had just had a conversation with GM a couple of weeks previous. The writing was on the wall from that day on, and then a job I knew I would be good at popped up on my Facebook feed. Talk about fate, well I applied and 2 interviews later I was hired. My new role is as Lead Concierge with Concierge Services of Atlanta working in the new ICON Midtown building.

Before I left Hennessy, I had the opportunity to meet the Irish Consul General who just happened to pick there to buy a car. And a fortuitous meeting it turned out to be, because he took my number and a few weeks later he gave me the opportunity to meet the Irish Ambassador to the USA on his visit to Atlanta. This tied in with a weekend of Irish events culminating in the Ambassadors address in Emory University, but which also included Irish Fest and the Atlanta GAA having a handover of land for playing fields and pitches. Meeting and being around Irish people here in Atlanta was fun and I will be trying to link in with the Irish community here a lot more from here on in.

On a personal level one November is like anniversary month, I have 3 important ones and they are all linked, because without one or the other, another one may never have happened. Let’s go back 30 years from today (Nov 20th) and its 1987 and I am a young 20-year guy who is about to embark on a new career, I enlisted in the Irish Defence Forces and this gave me the opportunity to travel the world as a photographer but also as a member of the Air Corps Pipe Band. Fast forward to 2001 and I am in Savannah with the band and I meet a lovely girl who would become a great friend with a special attachment. The next important date was Nov 9th, the day my divorce in Ireland became final and destiny was now waiting for me around the corner, even though I didn’t know it then.

The lovely girl I had met in Savannah in 2001 was a great friend, we remained in touch without the social media presence that exists today, shrinking the Atlantic Ocean to an inconvenience. But as time moved on destiny made her move, Leanne (that lovely girl) and I had a chat and we made plans to see what we would do about the inconvenient ocean, or pond as we called it. I visited in early 2015, Leanne came to Ireland in Summer 2015 and our visa application was approved around the same time and that led plans for the final important date, Nov 5th.

And so it was on Nov 5th 2015, I packed my life into 2 suitcases, a camera bag and a dog crate for Lassie and moved to the USA and start my journey through life with my best friend, my soulmate and who in December 20th 2015 became my wife. The last 2 years has been a journey of discovery, finding myself in a new country, trying new things, talking slower, getting to know my way around, finding my feet in life but with Leanne’s support and the rest of the support network from family and friends I feel I am settled. There are still things I won’t do like order at a drive through because I have no idea what I will end up getting in my order but mostly I manage. I have mentioned I have linked up with the Irish community recently and I look forward to meeting up with them on a regular basis, just a little touch of home to hear all those Irish accents.

Now if you are still reading and paid attention to the last remark in the first paragraph (go on scroll back) I mentioned something very important. Leanne and I are in the process of becoming foster parents with the view to becoming adoptive parents soon. This is something we have talked about a lot from early in our serious relationship and even though it is a bit scary, sure haven’t I already moved continent, so we go into this fully aware it will change our lives, again.

So that is coming to us in the future, hopefully quite soon and we can start to grow as a family. Talking about family in 4 short weeks my son, Robert, and my Mam will make the trip across the pond to be with us for Christmas and we are looking forward to their visit. It will be Roberts second visit, but it will be my Mams first trip outside Ireland since my Dad passed away in July 2016.

Oh, I nearly forgot, I did mention we had a weekend away in Nashville a few weeks ago and it was all about going on a full day railway excursion and it was fun. My love of trains goes back to my early childhood and now I am also building a large model railway in our new basement. We had a great time in Nashville and even though it was railway themed weekend we did get to sample a lot of the live music that Nashville has to offer. My list of cities visited is continuing to grow and I look forward to our next visit to a new city.

It’s time to sign off now and I hope this brings everyone up to date on what has being going on in the life of this Irishman in Atlanta.

I have a new motto in life now……. Don’t be afraid of change, don’t be afraid to take a educated chance, live life to the fullest and most of all, smile and be happy.

Social Media

Social Media

Where would we all be without social media? Is it better to have some or none? Each individual can only answer those questions for themselves but I will try answer them in the context of the journey I have taken over the last number of years.

I met my wife in 2001, email was just about kicking off, mobile phones were still new and FB, Twitter and Instagram etc were just pipe dreams for their makers. But we managed to stay in touch across the ocean the old fashioned way, a card here, a call there and as our lives evolved we realized we were nearing a conversation about our future.

In 2008 we had become FB friends and this allowed us to become more connected to each other, this followed with chats on Google Hangouts, even though Google wouldn’t really take off till 2014 for us, it actually became our defacto way of messaging each other. We both use FB, probably a bit to much, but it allows us to keep in contact with friends on both sides of the Atlantic and throughout the USA and world.

Now as usual I started off wanting to do one thing with this post and just started rambling. The whole idea of this post was to actually point out that StPatstoSpartans is available on FB, Twitter and Instagram. I use these 3 forums more than I post on the blog, so please feel free to add me on each forum. The Instagram account is quite new as I didn’t want my everyday life photos going on my A Man With His Camera page.

Instagram username is stpatstospartans

Twitter username is patstospartans

Facebook is St Pats to Spartans

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