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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And I am back

And I am back

So after a month away from posting here on my blog I am back. So much has happened I think I have to make time to post. This blog serves numerous purposes; sharing my life with friends back home in Ireland, with friends here in the USA and further afield, being a diary for myself to look back on and just charting my life here in the USA.

What has been happening these last 4 weeks? Well I had my 50th birthday at the end of July and a great social gathering at our new house, surrounded by friends, to celebrate my milestone birthday. One of my gifts was a table, well the process of building a table, for my new model railway layout. This has always been a dream for me to have room to do an expanded layout, not just 6×4, and now we have that room in our new basement.

New Model Train

As we entered August, Myself and Leanne put something we had talked about for the last few months and years into motion. We started the process of Foster to Adopt a child. We can’t have children of our own and we both want to give some child a new start or at least a helpful lift up in life. Does it scare me, yes but I have the support of my wife and we will work together to make it work. And the agencies have picked to work with do wonderful training and are always on hand to help. 

In my own work life I am still trying to settle on a career. I love my job here at Hennessy Ford in Atlanta but has it got enough career options for my own personal growth. Well just as I start to look around at options, my boss here comes up with a plan for me and a substantial pay rise. So I think I will bide my time here and see what the rest of 2017 and early 2018 has to bring. 

Amd lastly, the main gift for my 50th birthday was a 4 day trip to New York for Labor Day weekend, this weekend. New York has always been a place I wanted to visit but never got the chance. I will have lots more on our pre trip hassles and hopefully our actual trip in a couple of later posts this week and weekend. 

It’s good to be back and I hope people share this blog and keep reading as I think I have found a way to refocus and keep posting. 
Slán agus beannacht

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. 

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.

St Patrick’s Day 2017

St Patrick’s Day 2017

So tomorrow is St Patrick’s Day and as I will be working till the afternoon the celebrations back in Ireland will be nearly over by the time I get to have a few beers and celebrate our national day. 

It’s funny though, I have been living g in the USA now for 16 months, and this will be my second St Patrick’s Day as a resident in the USA and I still haven’t gone to a St Patrick’s Day parade. Before I moved here I had attended and taken part in a good few parades over the years since my first one in Newport, RI back in 2000. I have taken part in parades in Worcester, South Boston, Savannah, Tybee Island, and Newport. I was in the Savannah, Worcester and Newport parades twice. 

Tomorrow is a day to celebrate being Irish, or being of Irish heritage. I am proud to be Irish, it definitely defines who I am and how I handle things. Being from Ireland and now living in Atlanta is a huge change, it’s not like Boston, New York or Chicago where there arw huge Irish communities. The Atlanta Irish community is quite small in comparison but us Irish always find one another. My next door neighbor is from Kildare and one day in the local supermarket a guy from Dundalk said Hi as he recognized my St Patrick’s Athletic jersey. 

I am looking forward to heading into MacMcGees in Decatur after work tomorrow with Leanne and celebrating everything about Ireland and home. 

Be safe, have fun and Happy St Patrick’s Day. 

Lá fhéile Pádraig sona dhuit

Onwards and Upwards…… with a little sideways shift 

Onwards and Upwards…… with a little sideways shift 

Before I start, the last 2 weeks have been the most challenging and tiring I have encountered in a long time. I have learned to handle stress and disappointment and here I am back in Atlanta after missing out on advancing in my training to be an auto damage adjuster by just a few percentage points. But it wasn’t to be and now it’s time to dust myself off and get back to doing something I did enjoy, working with Hennessy Ford. 

Don’t get me wrong, the 2 weeks down at the Auto Damage Adjusting school in Macon were fantastic, the staff excellent and my classmates a pleasure to meet and study with. But it was just to much info in such a short space of time. And if this is the only disappointment I encounter for another few years I will be in a good spot. 

So a small sideways move back to my old job at Hennessy and driving new cars for a living and working with another lovely bunch of people. Is this where my career is meant to be? maybe or maybe not but let’s see what the next few months bring. 

And now on another subject altogether; Ireland, Irishness and St Patrick’s Day. I have encountered and covered this topic more than once, the Irish American, American Irish question and St Patty day and I am not going to get into it again. I posted the following on a Irish Around the World FB page earlier today, and it doesn’t mention any of the above questions and even though I have covered them in this blog before, they are not life or death topics, they are light hearted subjects and if anyone takes offense, well then maybe they aren’t Irish at all 🙂 This is what I posted and it was a kind of intro to me and who I am 

 I was born and bred in Dublin, living there for 48 years of my near 50 years of life, emigrating to the USA in 2015 to marry my best friend, partner and now wife. I literally packed my whole life into 2 suitcases and a dog crate for my border collie. It was the best decision I ever made. There are times I miss home, find myself looking at all my old photos of Ireland and just searching the web for ‘Irish’ stuff. In this little jar (photo below) is my little piece of home. It contains sand from beaches in Mayo, Galway, Dublin and Wexford. Pebbles and shells come from those same beaches as well as some from the banks of the Shannon and one from my old house in Inchicore. Home is where the heart is and mine is now Decatur, outside Atlanta, Georgia but Ireland will always be the land of my birth and make up who I am. I am a proud Irishman learning to live life in America.

In saying all that, I have no issue with anyone saying they are Irish American or American Irish, but please don’t say St Patty’s Day, or I will start referring to July 4th as Wednesday (or whatever day it falls on). 

Have a great day, week and month and March is Irish Heritage Month, so be proud and make Ireland proud of its heritage, it’s emigrants and you. 

Slán agus árd mór

Billy

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.