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!

Advertisements

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

2_years_old_sticker

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.

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. 

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 

Life carries on…… 

So here I am working away and enjoying my new life here in the USA, having fun having Robert visiting from Ireland, keeping in touch with family back home, married to my best friend and my fledgling photography business making small headway. 

I am still figuring out things after the passing of my Dad on July 21st and I am not sure in myself if I have properly felt the pain of grief yet. Yes, there has been tears, I said my goodbyes last November before I left Ireland and when I make the return trip in December it will probably hit me more as I won’t be able to visit my Dad in the care home or see him alive again. 

Our plans for a return to Ireland in December have firmed up and I am looking forward to seeing my family and friends, especially my Mam. Next week Robert travels back to Ireland and starts on an exciting new chapter of his life, college. Of course he has to get his results first but hopefully he gets enough points to get the course he wants. Robert has explained the system of doing the Leaving Cert, getting results and points, receiving college offer and accepting place and going to college to so many people here over the last few weeks. Once back in Ireland, Robert will get his results on Wednesday, college offer on Friday and will have his first day in college about 4 weeks later. So much different to here in the USA, and it’s mind blowing to some of my friends here how the Irish system can work. But it does work, with some glitches, but overall it works. 

As I said in the title of this post, Life goes on. I am working, Robert is getting ready for college, we are planning a return to Ireland and Leanne and I have family weddings here in the USA to attend. Even though life does go on, every day I think of my Dad and how his passing, even though a blessing, is hard on my Mam and the rest of my family.