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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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

November 19th 2009!

November 19th 2009!

So over the last year I have had lots of firsts in my new life here in the USA. But there is one day in my past that if it hadn’t had happened my new life here would never have been able to take place. I am talking about the day my divorce got signed off and finalised.

I am no stranger to long drawn out processes because my divorce took over 5 years to finalise from the time we started the process to that day in November, 2009. I am in the middle of another process that can take up to 4, or maybe 5 years to complete. My USA visa/citizenship process has already taken nearly 18 months and the process isn’t quite half way through yet. 

But back to my divorce, I think I have mentioned in a previous post, that my first marriage in Ireland ended in the early 2000’s but in Ireland divorce isn’t easy or quick unless you have lots of money to bypass the system. So after 5 long years, a drawn out and a needlessly expensive process, the divorce was finalised but the process will continue to have an effect on things I do for another 4 or so years due to arrangements enforced within the divorce agreement. Funny title that, divorce agreement. It was more a judge made a decision which I had really no choice but to accept. 

I went through some very low times during the 5 years it took to get the divorce final and it was only because of support of family and friends that I came out stronger and better on the far side. It’s an emotional Rollercoaster, a financial black hole and just not a nice process. 

But things are so much better now. I am happily married to the most wonderful woman in the world. I learnt some great lessons from the whole divorce, first marriage and the journey I took over the years from the early 2000’s to now. Thst journey has definitely made me a better and more rounded person even if at the time I didn’t recognise it. So really what doesn’t break you, really does make you stronger. And not only that, but it has made me happier. 

There is another anniversary this weekend, on November 20th 1987, yes 29 years ago, I entered Cathal Brugha Barracks in Dublin and signed on the dotted line to begin my 23 year career in the Irish Defence Forces. So these 2 dates in November will always hold a special significance for me and both for reasons that helped shape who I am today. 

Weekend in Blue Ridge 

Weekend in Blue Ridge 

This past weekend was spent by the lake up in Blue Ridge with a fantastic group of people who I am lucky enough to now call my friends. Leanne, Robert and myself headed towards Blue Ridge last Friday after work and a 2 hour trip took us just over 3.5hrs due to Friday traffic and roadworks around the new Atlanta Braves Stadium. But the roadworks and Braves Stadium is a story for another day.

The weekend was filled with good food, good company with lots of laughs, time on the lake, late nights and lazy mornings. Any weekend that includes 9 children and 11 adults that has zero drama is always going be a good weekend.

Below is a gallery of images from the weekend including some on the lake as the kids had fun, some as I got to watch the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway depart and some scenery shots I took and over edited for some dramatic effect.

Gallery of Images from weekend

 

 

 

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.

Just a fun post

So it’s Friday and my wife is off work and we have a weekend together with nothing planned, so a weekend just to spend time together and enjoy each other’s company. We will sit, watch tennis, chat, laugh, watch football and walk the dogs a few times as we spend the weekend together.

Anyway this post has two reasons, one a bit of fun and the other is a bit of irony. The fun bit first. We all see the t-shirt adverts that pop up online every now and then and sometimes they have great little slogans, and I love my t-shirts. So this morning I seen one that actually resonates with this blog.

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Of course I would need a second one saying ‘My story continues in the USA’. My story did start in Ireland and I am proud to be Irish, our story started in the USA and our journey spanned the Atlantic for a number of years before joining up in Atlanta and now continuing here.

On to the more ironic part of this post. Strange the things I work out. Last night while trying to sleep I figured I was close to my longest time without a job/full time college. Well it’s now 215 days, my longest was 218. Of course there was days thst were either by choice or rules stopped me but it’s funny that it is nearly the same now. Hopefully it will stop at 218 this time too or very close to it as I am near to starting employment and helping to contribute to the household and my local economy. Overall 440 days unemployed since I was 16 isn’t to bad in this day and age so I am quite proud of my work record. Now to get back to it and start earning.

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