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.

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North and South, or Left and Right – How to give directions! 

North and South, or Left and Right – How to give directions! 

Atlanta hasn’t had a good time with traffic recently, with i85 bridge collapse, i20 buckling and 285 just being 285. Add in i75 and the traffic around the new Braves stadium and traffic is nearing meltdown but it seems it always is close to meltdown and manages to survive by the skin of its teeth. And all the above mentioned things have certainly pushed the traffic to the brink as well as drivers to the brink of insanity. 

Anyway, today’s little post is all about directions and how Americans give them and how it differs to back home in Ireland. Here it’s all about the compass direction of travel, turn north on 285, follow it till 85 south etc. This is great if you have a compass, or have an idea where you are going to start of with. In fairness most cars have a built in compass or at least a direction of travel light. I remember back home getting asked where the N17 was, have absolutely no idea until the person mentioned where it headed to. After that giving directions from Dublin to a road have way across the country was easy. 

If you tried the Irish way of giving directions here in Atlanta it would end in absolute failure. I can imagine telling someone to go straight as far as the the big church, turn left followed by turning right at the red pub, follow the road till you reach McDonald’s, turn left and when you get to the church at the roundabout take the first exit till you get to another pub, your destination is about a mile up the road from the pub. Well for starters there are so many churches and McDonald’s here those directions would be useless. So it’s back to North and South using road designations. 

Have fun, be safe and don’t ever drink and drive or text and drive! 

Life is hectic….. But fun! 

Life is hectic….. But fun! 

So where have I been for the last 3 weeks since my last post on blog. Well it has been a full and interesting 3 weeks. Let’s go back to the beginning of February when life just got a bit more full of things to do. Everyday stuff like work, walking the dogs, meeting friends etc continued. We had just watched Atlanta lose the Superbowl on heartbreaking fashion with our friends so instead of a big party it kind of just died off. 

But life goes on, sport will always give you great enjoyment, some horrible heartbreak but at the end of the day, life goes on. As an Irishman here in Atlanta I was delighted to see a city of 6 million getting behind Atlanta, now if only people back home would get behind their local team in football ot would be fantastic. But that’s a rant for a while other day. 

February consisted of 2 concerts, one theater outing and a movie night. So let’s start with concert number 1, Bon Jovi in the Philips Arena in Atlanta, well let’s just say the rockers rocked Atlanta in what was a brilliant performance. We followed that up with the Atlanta Symphony playing the tunes of my favorite artists, Simon and Garfunkel. If Bon Jovi rocked it, the Symphony absolutely nailed it with their performance and the duo singing the songs were superb. We end our month of culture tonight as we head to the Fox Theater for Phantom of the Opera. 

Why do I mention all this, well it shows how different my life is here than to back home in Ireland. I may have attended a concert every few years, but I never would have gone to the theater or symphony. These opportunities are available because I am married to a wonderful woman who loves these things and I have embraced everything from she loves and I am loving it. 

As an recent immigrant, I find that by embracing the culture that you are surrounded by certainly helps with the transition into American life. When I came here I hated ordering in restaurants as they couldn’t understand me, even though I did speak English, but now I am more comfortable even if they don’t get what I am saying for sometimes, it’s just the way it is and I am getting used to it. 

But back to the hectic life of the last 3 weeks. In January I was going through an interview process for a new job which entailed numerous tests and intercession and I made it through the selection and next Monday I will start my new job as a trainee Auto Damage Adjuster with Geico insurance. This will be a challenge involving learning a whole new skill set to add to the skills I already have. I will miss working with a great bunch of people at Hennessy Ford but the opportunity to change jobs and have a career with Geico was to good to turn down. 

And kind of finally we do have one more piece of news. The house Leanne has called home for the last 13 years and has been my home too for the last 16 months is on the market for sale as we are about to purchase our first home together. This is a huge step for both of us, Leanne leaving a home she thought she would always live in, me leaving a neighborhood that has made me so welcome and us both putting our names on the mortgage of a house together. 

So it has been hectic, it has been fun and exciting times lie ahead. It has been a journey and a half over the last 2 years and it continues to be enjoyable, some challenges and lots of laughs with huge amounts of happiness. 

Till next time, Slán agus Beannacht. 

Superbowl Sunday

Superbowl Sunday

This time last year I wrote about my first Superbowl Sunday here in America. It consisted of a group of friends getting together and enjoying the game and the adverts! Yes, the adverts during the Superbowl along with the half time show can be the highlight of the Superbowl. This year though I think will be slightly different as the Atlanta Falcons have made it to only their 2nd Superbowl and it is a well deserved appearance. 

They will come up against the New England Patriots, and they are the team I followed when I lived in Ireland but my allegiances have switched to my new home town, so I will be cheering on the Falcons. 

Superbowl 51 pitches the best defence (Patriots) going up against the best offense (Falcons) so it will be an interesting game. With possibly the 2 best QB’s playing, the legendary Tom Brady v the new league MVP Matt Ryan it could be a shootout between these two. Looking forward to a exciting game and hope Falcons manage to pull it off, but won’t be overly disappointed if the Patriots win. 
It would be fantastic for Atlanta to win and the excitement has been building for last few weeks through all the play offs and now to the final game of the season. It reminds me of home and when St Pat’s made it to the cup final and the build up would start a couple of weeks before and by game day I would be a nervous wreck. 

It was hard to know how to feel when we lost a cup final and we certainly did lose a few but the camaraderie of fellow fans who were feeling the same always helped, along with a few tasty pints of Guinness. But St Pat’s finally did win the FAI Cup and I have to say it is still and probably always will be one of the highlights of watching my local team in my life, and we have won leagues and other trophies but to finally win the cup after 53 years of waiting was just a fantastic moment.  

So now it is time to get ready, put on the shirt, go to friends house, and settle down and watch the game. And may the best team win which I hope is the Atlanta Falcons. RISE UP!!! 

One year in the USA

One year in the USA

I never got a chance to post on Saturday to mark my one year anniversary of moving to the USA so here is a little post to mention some highlights from the last 12 months. 

The number one highlight has to be our wedding day last December. Surrounded by new friends and family it was a brilliant day and weekend. To finally be able to say ‘I Do’ to Leanne was a special moment that will always live in my memory. 

Getting to spend 6 weeks with Robert during the summer was another highlight. He is 18 now and the days that I will be able to spend 6 weeks with him will get less and less so this summer was special. His visit coincided with the passing of my own Dad and it was nice to have him here then so we could share it together. 

The numerous family get together have also been a highlight. My in laws have made me feel as a part of the family since ai first arrived here a year ago. From meeting my new parents in law just before Thanksgiving a year ago to spending a week in Michigan visiting them, attending 2 family wedding, one being my now sister in laws, and my mother in laws Mams funeral, we have seen a lot of each other over the last 12 months.

Some  of the things that I am now used to are Supermarkets and the wide array of choice, driving on 8 lane highways, not going to the pub just for beers, and having a busy calendar. 

Being an immigrant isn’t easy, it involves a lot of changes, some risk in settling into a new culture and a little luck in finding work. I had great support from family and friends and even though we are still in the Visa process things are moving along. There are times I think it home, my friends back in Ireland, my family, especially my Mam and miss home. It’s not homesickness but it is a little bit of just missing the familiarity of Ireland. But Atlanta is now home and I am slowly becoming more familiar with how things go here. People still sometimes don’t understand what I am saying and that’s something I am just used to now. 

Just to sum up, the last 12 months have been a wonderful time with lots of new memories made bit still time to reflect on old memories and of times spent back home. But as I said earlier, home is now Atlanta and I couldn’t be happier. 

Sporting events 

Sporting events 

So far I have attended an NBA (basketball) game involving the Atlanta Hawks, an NFL (football) pre season game involving the Atlanta Falcons, a MLB (baseball) game involving the Atlanta Braves and last night I went to my first college football game as Georgia Tech played Clemson in Atlanta. 

Each of these were different in their own way, the basketball was my first major sporting event to attend with Leanne here in the USA and I was still in awe of a lot of Atlanta and the Hawks managed to win and overall it was a great event. The Braves game was equally a good night, we had Robert with us and it was fun. The Braves PR team even made it better by giving us free hats and t-shirts as it was our very first baseball game to see. Kudos to them for that gesture. The NFL game was a pre season one for the Falcons so was quite a lack luster affair but again we had fun as myself and Robert went with our Irish neighbour. 

And so last night it was time to experience College football. The fact that the stadium probably holds about 80000 and was about 3/4 full on a Thursday night absolutely astounded me. With Leanne being a Michigan State fan, and me as well by default, I knew the stadiums were big but to actually walk into one was amazing. It is a full blown production, big band, cheer leaders, fireworks etc. Unfortunately Georgia Tech lost last night bringing an end to my unbeaten event attending, the Falcons, Hawks and Braves all won when I attended.

At the Georgia Tech game

Now compare these sporting events to back in Ireland. Probably nothing can compare to the production, pre game and during game entertainment to off the pitch. But on the pitch games at home are much more exciting, less stopping and starting, play is more involved. But is one better than the other, No, not at all. I do love all sports and I do miss attending St Patrick’s Athletic matches at home with our little crowd of 1000 but I have also enjoyed all the sporting events I have gone to so far in Atlanta. 

There are a few more on my list to attend, an ice hockey game in Detroit, a Michigan State football game, an Atlanta United soccer match when they are up and running and a USA international soccer match as well. Which one gets my vote as the most enjoyable so far? Well that’s a tough choice, the Braves looked after us and Robert was able to attend, the Hawks as it was my first game to go to with Leanne, Falcons as it was first NFL game or the College football? I will have to go with the college football and its more to do with the off the pitch stuff. The band played practically non stop for the full night, the student fans made lots of noise and they had a white out night, where everyone wore white, and it all added up to a great occasion. So Georgia Tech lost, but the night, the event, as a whole was superb. Oh and I have to mention traffic management, at home traffic basically comes to a standstill after events, here the traffic management is excellent and everyone gets away and home quickly and efficiently. 

So I look forward to lots more sporting events, enjoying this particular aspect of my new home, and maybe becoming emotionally attached to a club so I can cheer them on just like I did at home for St Patrick’s Athletic. 

I have a job!

I have a job!

So things have been a bit hectic the last week or so. Last Wednesday I started my first ever job in the USA. It is with Lanier Parking Solutions and it is a grand job to get used to the working culture within the USA. As someone who has worked since he was 16 not being able to work was tough.

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View from my work

But all the paperwork is sorted and it’s time to start to earn some wages and restart my life of employment. My first few days at work were a bit strange, my broad Irish accent meant a lot of people didn’t understand what I was saying! As I mix more and get to know more people outside of our social circle here my accent will mellow a bit. I don’t want it to disappear as it is something that helps define who I am and where I came from.

Today also marks 6 months of marriage to Leanne. It has been an eventful and fun six months and the journey we have embarked on is still in its infancy.

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6 months ago today.

I will try develop out this post more over the coming days as life now takes on a more normal day to day routine.