Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Jim Crow Attitudes for the New Millennium or Why I Prefer to Identify Myself as Jamaican

As reported on tonight's CBS News, Clinton is currently leading 51% to Obama's 35% among African-Americans. But, lucky him, he's apparently "more palatable and more acceptable to larger numbers of white voters". Apparently to some people, he's the "nice black man" to Clinton's evil b__ch.

Sadly though, poor Obama just can't seem to win. On the one hand, he's seen as "not black enough" - white mother and Kenyan father don't equal really Black to many African-Americans. Which would surprise your average white, city taxi driver making decisions on who to pick up. So, on the other hand, we get classic quotes like this one tonight from an only slightly redneck looking, 30-something representative of dumbf__k America - "I don't want to sound prejudiced or anything, but for one, ahm, I'm not gonna... I don't wanna vote for a colored man for President."

What year is this again and why doesn't the news give quotes from intelligent, thoughtful people?

Monday, November 26, 2007

I've Gotta Do This More Often, Part II

For those of you family and friends who are interested, you’ll be excited to hear that I actually got hit on, in a nice way, at the concert. And he asked for my number! How random is that? That sort of thing never happens to me. It turns out to be someone I know casually anyway, but it totally came out of the blue. Cool guys never hit on me in the States. I’m just loving Ireland more and more all the time! :-)

I've Gotta Do This More Often

Last night I went to see the Harlem Gospel Choir on tour in Cork. Maybe not your usual venue for a gospel concert, but these guys are famous and I was really looking forward to getting a little taste of home. OK, so I don’t go to many gospel concerts at home either, but you get the drift, right? I have to say that it was the best thing I could have done for myself. On the bus trip into town, I pulled up my favorite track on my iPod, U2’s I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For from Rattle and Hum. It’s my favorite U2 song anyway, but this is my favorite rendition of it, in large part because of the backing gospel vocals (by The New Voices of Freedom, a separate group) which just makes you want to rock! So, there I was, dressed in my brown leather Italian boots (my new favorite) and feeling fine, bopping along to the music piping into my head, and feeling more like myself than I have in a long time.

I didn’t realize just how constrained and small I’ve been feeling lately. It’s only partly being what feels like the only non-African black person in Cork. I’m used to being the odd one out; it’s more general than that. I think being the new person, the foreigner, always feeling a little off balance and on the back foot, and always just a little aware of being in the spotlight (at least it feels that way sometimes), has caused me to become just a little emotionally hunched in all the time. But, listening to that song on my way in made me feel like I was standing tall again, like I was doing something I love and that felt so familiar. For so many reasons. One, I hear so little about U2 here in Ireland, it’s amazing. In the States, it felt like I ran across references to them all the time. Plus, I have to admit that I kept up with the fan sites much more regularly. I had a lot of time at work where I was just so bored, I had to do something else! Two, Ireland is a very white country. No shock there, I know. But, it’s more than the overall paleness of the inhabitants. Again, I’m used to being one of the few non-pale ones in my circle :-) Nobody bops around here, body language is so restrained. At church, we can be singing these great worship songs, but nobody moves! For a people who love music and dance so much, they’re remarkably still. Maybe I’m just used to the way Black-American culture has infused the larger society. But, even in my majority white-American church back home (admittedly getting more and more international all the time), people would be moving to the music.

I’m feeling more and more of the differences, the longer I’m here, and as I get closer to going home for the holidays. They are just differences, there’s no right or wrong, better or worse, I’m just really craving the familiar right now.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

All I want for Christmas is . . . . .

Folks, it's begun. Now that I've booked my flights for my first trip home, I'm already making lists, my favorite way to manage both anxiety and anticipation. I think there's a little bit of both going on here.

Lists of friends I need to see: you know who you are!

Lists of shows I need to catch up on since iTunes, who I otherwise love, won't let me download the episodes (because my computer is now registered in Ireland. Damn you iTunes!): Battlestar Galactica, Gray's Anatomy, Blood Ties.

Lists of foods I need to bring back with me: peanut butter, mac and cheese, jalepeno red pepper jelly (is that only a southern thing?), Maker's Mark.

Lists of restaurants to visit and foods I need to eat: Fandango Salad and Frontega Chicken Sandwich at Panera Bread; Cabo Chicken Sandwich at Quizno's Subs; good salads anywhere (Ireland is direly in need of good fast food outlets).

Lists of stores I really really REALLY need to visit, even if just to stand and stare in awe at the neverending aisles and overstocked shelves: Bed Bath & Beyond - inexpensive bedding and towels in a plethora of colors and styles, hangars!; Rack Room Shoes - nice selection of reasonably priced (compared to Ireland) shoes; SRI Warehouse - aisles of discounted fashion footwear as far as the eye can see (believe me, the picture is wildly inadequate to demonstrate the beauty that is SRI)

Barnes. And. Noble! B&N itself is going to take me a couple of days.

That all's a lot for just 2 weeks, I know. And I still have more than 6 weeks to go in which to add to the list! Thank goodness the euro is doing so well against the dollar, I'm going to need every bit of help I can get.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Why Ireland reminds me of Jamaica

People always sound so surprised when I make this comparison, but I think there's definite evidence to back me up on this! Consider . . . .
  • Both small to medium-sized islands in close proximity to a larger empire-type nation.
  • A conflictual history with Great Britain: Ireland - repression, poverty and repeated rebellion. Jamaica - slavery, poverty and repeated rebellion.
  • Both have developed their own, highly unique cultural identities of which they're hugely proud and which are instantly recognizable worldwide.
  • Still, neither have been able to escape the British template stamped on parts of the society. Though, to be fair, Jamaica is much prouder of it's British heritage/influence than Ireland is.
  • Both seen as (somewhat) third world by the Brits (e.g., sample comment, one of many by Brits who hear that I'm living here - "You moved to Ireland? Why??" - said in a disbelieving, slightly contemptuous tone as if they couldn't imagine why anyone would do such a thing!)
  • Rhythmic, musical accents that seem to totally reject the "th" sound :-)
  • "Jamaica time" should have an Irish equivalent saying because the same concept definitely exists here. Expect everything to start at least a little late. I've heard 2 stories this week alone (one from an American, one from a native Corkonian) about job interviews starting more than an hour late because the interview panel were having their tea!
  • Looove music!
  • Long history of emigration for greater opportunities. Every family seems to have at least one family member living in the U.S. or England. The big difference is that the tide has now completely turned for Ireland. People are moving back and lots of other nationalities are moving in.
  • Both considered idyllic holiday destinations by the U.S.
  • Beautiful.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Now that's more like it! Today we woke up to sunshine and blue skies. What a contrast to yesterday, which had pretty much sunk me into a 24-hour long well of despair. The clouds may have come in to visit from time to time during the day today, but I can tolerate that. I'm used to that. The old saw about Ireland seeing all 4 seasons in one day is really not too far off the truth most of the time. It's just the days of neverending rain that I know I'm going to have trouble dealing with.

Work was just work, nothing great, but the day ended just as nicely as it started. We had a going away dinner for a couple of coworkers. Drinks in a cosy pub with all the traditional Irish touches, a great Indian meal at Haveli in Douglas, finishing up with drinks at another bar across the street. All in all, we never left the same street corner all night. My walk home took less than 10 minutes - down the lane past the graveyard, then down the hidden stairs to my apartment and into my own private courtyard. Not bad for a Tuesday night :-)

Monday, October 22, 2007


Rain. More rain. Rain all day. Not even a hint of sun breaking through. Just cold, dreary rain under leaden skies. The only upside? I'm finally getting the hang of starting up conversations with total strangers in the unlikeliest of places. It's easy when you have so much in common.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

I've been busy

Yes daddy, I know. I've been bad. No posts for a month! Mea culpa.

It's shocking to me that I've now been here in Ireland three (3) months already! But, I also have to admit that I've started to feel very comfortable here. So much so that I'm having to remind myself that "yes, you are living in a foreign country and those are accents you hear around you!" I'm at a relatively calm stage, in between the initial excitement and relief of finally getting here, and the impending rush of homesickness I can sense somewhere on the horizon. I'm assuming it's going to hit me hard sometime soon. But, what if it doesn't? What would that say about me?

So, how have I been spending my time in the past month? Went dancing in Cork for the first time. Loads of fun and much different from the U.S. The guys here actually join in, even dancing with their other guy friends, instead of sticking to the sidelines searching for the perfect girl to approach. Have flown to London twice, once for fun (lots of sightseeing and also great dancing) and once to attend a memorial service for a family member. That's 2 relatives who've died in London since I've been here! What are the odds?

Managed to lose my favorite bracelet on the hour and a half bus trip through London to the memorial service. I am NOT happy! So far in my trek abroad, I've managed to lose my digital camera, and now my marcasite bracelet I got for a bargain while visiting Heather in San Fran. What's next?!

Attended a friend's son's birthday party - handmade pizza, face painting, and Jack Black! :-) Went to my first grown up party - almost as fun as the 4 year old's. Finally got myself settled in my new office - as of a week ago Friday, I finally have my own office and my own desk! Whoopee!

Went on a date!

Not bad for just one month's time :-)


I'm lucky, I know I'm lucky. I actually have a wardrobe in my bedroom as well as one in the guest bedroom. Considering some of the places I looked at while apartment shopping, that's pretty great. Unfortunately, it's still not enough. Am I that much of a possession hog? I swear I threw out a third of my wardrobe at home and put another third in storage in the U.S., but I still don't have enough closet space here to hang up the stuff that needs hanging. And let's not even think about the shoe situation. I miss my walk in closet :-(

Things I Can Do in Ireland I Can't Do Back Home

  1. Say "Hiya" without sounding like a dweeb.
  2. Schedule 5 vacations and still have at least one week left to use up.
  3. Watch reruns of American TV shows from last season with genuine gratitude.
  4. Walk down a deserted lane with a strange man behind me and have my heart rate speed up by only 50% (he turned out to be the mailman! Though what's up with the lack of uniform?)
  5. Get an additional fix of my favorite acerbic judge, Simon Cowell, and clueless contestants who've been lied to all their lives about being able to sing! (X-Factor - aka "Idol" U.K. style).
  6. Hop over to London twice in one month without it being too much of a major deal.
  7. Attend a 4 year old's birthday party with 5 Australians and one Brit.
  8. Probably go to a festival every weekend - this week it's been the Cork Film Festival, including a walking film showing through the streets of the city. Next weekend it's the Jazz Festival.
  9. Go weeks at a time without seeing a single piece of roadkill or a bird that's not a crow.
  10. Talk about the weather in virtually Every. Single. Conversation!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Gorilla Love

Has anyone seen the new Cadbury chocolate commercial? It's pretty much my favorite TV spot at the moment. Now, I'm not usually a gorilla lover (erm, gorilla joke lover), but not only is this gorilla suit the most realistic I've ever seen (either that or somebody's a heck of a good gorilla trainer), but the choreography to In the Air Tonight by Phil Collins is spot on.

Come on, tell me you've never flailed around air-drumming the build up to that great drum climax? LOVE IT!!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Heart aches and hopes

In the last few days I've gotten the chance to have long chats with one of my best friends (a wonderful, ROFL hysterically funny woman), and my beloved, brave sister. I love Skype! Virtually free calls to the U.S. (2 cents!) and free video calls between computers so I can see my crazy niece and nephew and exchange kisses :-) Last week I also got the chance to talk at length to a long lost friend in Scotland and, again via Skype video, take a peek at his sweet-looking baby boy sleeping the sleep of the innocent.

I can't imagine what life would be like here in a new country (it's been less than 2 months) without being able to have easy contact with family and friends. It's lonely enough sometimes. In fact, this weekend was the first in which I really felt lonely and at loose ends. I think that's why last night, for the first time in a very long time, I dreamt of a dear friend who died almost 9 years ago now. I still feel the ache in my chest from seeing Anthony. I can't believe so much time has passed since he passed! I still miss him.

On the hopeful side, I'm looking forward to the upcoming weekend. I'll be popping over to London for a quick weekend trip to see my cousin and catch a taste of the big city :-) A little bit further afield, my ROFL friend and another member of the Friday Night Girls, the one living every 12 year old boy's dream :-), are planning to come over in January, and my sister and family have just made plans to come for a couple of weeks in June. Yesss! I can't wait. Now, who's next? The calendar's still pretty wide open.

P.S. Don, where's my calendar widget? Are you there? Helloooo?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Soft and Hard

I woke up this Sunday morning to a fine but steady rain, with the wind blowing through the trees and even some gusts at times.

The locals will probably hate me for saying this, but I'm glad! It's been quite strange being in Ireland and yet having dry, sunny weather for the past couple of weeks. It doesn't fit my picture of Ireland at all. Of course, everybody talks about the weather here, it seems to be the favorite way to start a conversation. The main topic has been what an unseemly summer it was because of excessive rain. Since the kids have gone back to school though, we've had sunny day after sunny day. Coming from Raleigh, with it's temps in the 90's and drought conditions, I have to say that, at least for right now, I quite like the rain. If nothing else, it lets me know I'm not at home :-)

I have to say though that I tend to snicker sometimes when I hear the complaints of how bad the rain here can be. People here would freak if Ireland got the kind of rain that I'm used to - thunderstorms and gullywashers, the occasional tornado, and scary rides down the interstate due to lack of visibility. Now that's adventure! :-)

Friday, September 7, 2007

The great and the downright scary

Here's an example of the kind of thing I like best about Ireland vs. my life in Raleigh and the Job From Hell. Today (Friday) at 3:30, I heard the dulcet tones of my coworker voice one of the most beautiful phrases ever - "Hey Jamaican in Cork, you want to get out of here and get a drink?" Now, have you ever heard such a beautiful invitation? And, best of all, we walked out of there with no guilt or worry about what anyone would think - half the office seemed to already have left for the day anyway - walked up the road to the bar/grill at the local golf course and proceeded to start our weekend early! Would this ever have happened quite this way at the JFH? Absolutely not. Would I have felt quite so entitled to enjoy myself without guilt in my life over yonder? Heck no!

Here's the not-so-good part, and one my caucasian friends probably won't get the inherent drama of. Last night I girded my loins and walked into a hair salon to get my hair done. (Here you'll have to close your eyes and imagine scary music playing in the background while the black character in the horror movie screams, "No! Don't go into the basement!", just before he buys it big time. The black guy also gets killed off first, right? Sort of like red shirt on Star Trek). Anyway, it was either take the plunge or give in to the incipient afro action that was taking place on the top of my head!

The good news is they didn't fry my hair and no major breakage has occurred in the last 24 hours. The bad news is that, despite my being assured by several other customers that this was "the best black hair salon in Cork", the owner went on to a) gush about how beautiful and unusually nice my hair is (mine?!), b) voice her hope that she can someday travel to the U.S. to learn how they do hair so well over there, and c) complain that black (African) women in Cork don't take care of their hair and so she's thinking of giving up stocking supplies for them altogether! What.....?! This does not bode well for my future hair health, I'm thinking. I might have to go back to the idea of doing a regular jaunt into Dublin after all. Surely the capital city of this country would have some hairdressers who are on par with the U.S. Surely?!

Thursday, August 23, 2007


One of the major lessons that's really been brought home to me through this process of moving country and setting out to live the dream is that, even in the midst of adventure and excitement, everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) has both an upside and a downside. Case in point - while I very much enjoy the one-on-one nature of my interactions here (my bank's customer service rep recognized me the 2nd time he saw me 2 weeks later!), that person-to-person style of business goes hand in hand with what feels at times like a massive lack of efficiency.

That's probably my biggest complaint right now, and one I have to remind myself to take in context, but NOTHING seems to get done quickly here! It took me three weeks to get a bank account. Why? Because of just how non-streamlined the banking industry seems to be here. Everything needs to go through your original branch. Even if you see a branch on the side of the road and think, "Oh, I'll just stop in there and take care of a little business", that so convenient stop will cost you, my friend! I went in to do an international transfer to my U.S. bank account. After all the forms, etc, etc, were completed, what did I hear? "Thank you Ms. Expat, we'll send this on to your branch and you'll hear back from them tomorrow." What the .....?!! What did I waste my time for with you then?!!

On the other hand, I do really enjoy customer service people on the phone talking to me as if we're buds and the odd bus-stop companion engaging me in conversation and somehow rooting out quite a bit of "personal" info in what seems to be record time!

Plus, I have to say, I've never met a more generous and giving group of people. And I don't think it's the fact that I'm in a social services field or just that I'm a single woman, alone, who apparently looks a good bit younger than her age I've been driven places, taken out to dinner, offered loans and places to stay when my 1st paycheck got messed up then sent somewhere else, and generally had people put themselves out like you wouldn't believe just because they felt it was needed (even when it wasn't). It's actually been overwhelming at times because it's not what an American frame of mind leads you to expect from virtual strangers at all.

I think it's called the silver lining :-)

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Thank you God!

Thank you, thank you for bringing Borders to Ireland! Even if it is in Dublin, I promise I won't complain about having to travel 2 hours to go to a real bookstore!

People, I've been good. I've muttered under my breath and complained to friends, but held off on any online venting of my extreme displeasure (my only real one so far with Ireland) with the total lack of any bookstores worth the name here! What's up with the lack of selection? Where is the cafe where I can while away a rainy afternoon with a Venti Raspberry Italian soda and a warm chocolate fudge cupcake while leafing through a hoard of books and magazines, all without buying a book?! Why can't I waste away another date-free Saturday night in your cool confines until 11:00 at night? Where, please God, is your designated romance section???

But now, thanks to Liz in Dublin, I have a reason to live! A truly needed American import is here to save the day!

View, oh benighted ones, the true wonder of an American bookstore! Barnes & Noble at Southpoint mall in Durham, North Carolina, I miss you baby!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Familiar friends

Elizabeth, one of my best friends, arrives in Ireland on Wednesday and I can't wait! This was my first real weekend here - I don't count last weekend 'cause I'd just arrived - and I definitely felt the full force of being a stranger in a strange land.

On the bus home from work Friday I felt such a wave of longing come over me. What I wouldn't have given to be on my way to my usual Friday Night Girl outing! Good friends, loads of loud laughter, and a Maker's Mark & ginger or two would have definitely hit the spot. But, I chose to move away from all that, for the adventure, so instead I went back to the B&B and had my adventure emailing friends to tell them how much I missed them! :-)

It's going to be so, so nice to have a familiar friend here in this new place. My first plan for when Elizabeth gets here? Take my first trip to the pub! I've been unable to get up the gumption to go on my own so far. I can move to a new country, but going to a pub by myself? Waaay to scary! :-)

Best. Movie. Ever.

OK, maybe not the best ever, but it felt enough like it at the time that I had no compunctions about teaching this new mantra to my 2 yr old nephew :-) I'm talking about 2005's Pride and Prejudice with Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfayden. Yes, I KNOW it's a couple of years old, but I just saw it, OK?!

I feel sort of disloyal, because I loved the 1995 TV adaptation with Colin Firth (yum). But, I kept flashing back to scenes from it while watching this new version and, sorry to say, I'm having to switch loyalties. This was so well directed and acted, I don't think it could be improved upon. Even though the one kiss happened at the very end - literally, credits rolled right after - this was just so romantic!

Of note: this is another example of why my sister and I are really twins at heart. We both think this movie rocks! Although I haven't checked with her about where P&P fits with our previous favorite movie LadyHawke which is still #1 with me! What can I say? I'm a romantic at heart!

Thursday, July 26, 2007


Beth's recent comment prompted me to start a list of all the language-oriented differences between Ireland and the U.S. that I'm going to have to be on the lookout for:
- extra "u" in color, humor, behavior, etc.
- extra "a" in many medical terms (e.g., "paediatrician")
- extra "me" at end of program
- "scheme" is not a disparaging term (e.g., housing scheme, government scheme)
- "orientated" not oriented (see mistake above)
- "centre" not center
- weird placement of symbols on computer keyboards!
- "take away" rather than take-out

Any others?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Today was my first day of work in Ireland and I LOVED IT! After many, many weeks worth of feeling off keel and at the mercy of forces beyond my control (i.e., packing up my house, work permit getting delayed and so extra weeks of no income, daddy having a heart attack, moving to a new country, staying in temporary housing/B&B, being without a car, not knowing anyone here in Cork yet, etc.), it was bliss to finally be back in a setting where I felt like I actually knew what I was doing. This may be a new job with new coworkers and responsibilities (plus the lack of an assigned office for a few weeks till we move to our permanent location), and I'll certainly end up spending awhile getting oriented to the way the mental health system works here, much less just getting my head around the multitude of ways Ireland differs from what I'm used to, but it was soooo nice to finally feel like a professional again rather than just an overwhelmed supplicant.

Next steps on the road to normalcy - getting an apartment and a car.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

My second full day

Spent the day Saturday doing my first bit of concentrated sightseeing. Low key and a tad lonely, but fun nonetheless.

Notable moments and memories from the day:
- feeling faint and like I wanted to go back to bed only an hour after I left the B&B. Jet lag crashing down? Thankfully, a pot of tea and a scone (with jam and clotted cream, of course!) did much to revive me.

- climbing the narrow stone stairs of Church of St. Anne Shandon to take in the view of the city from the very top.

- wandering Shandon Street in the rain, popping in and out of African shops to get a sense of how accessible some of my more exotic foodstuffs are going to be.

- getting stopped by a couple of confused Irish blokes in the door of a pub on Shandon St. who clearly noticed I didn't quite belong - "Are you alright lovey?"

- finding a cute little jewelry store on Paul Street that I just know is going to feed my craving for amber.

- finding plantains and assorted Jamaican spices in the English Market. Yes!

- sadly, on my way back to the B&B at the end of the day, seeing a normal looking guy smack his girlfriend/wife on the face right in the middle of the street! I was blown away. Is this normal here??

Friday, July 20, 2007

Today, the first full day in Ireland

Woke up at a reasonable hour this morning with, for the first time in over a week, no need to rush. Had a wonderful breakfast at the B&B (love this Irish bacon!) and caught a cab to the airport for my first errand of the day. None of the banks in town would change hundred dollar bills for fear of their being counterfeit, so I had to go the the Bureau De Change at the airport to get it done. Spent the day wandering the city center, shopping for necessaries, and generally getting through the first 7 things on my To Do list.

Aside from a little chill later in the afternoon (I forgot my jacket at the B&B's breakfast table), everything went pretty well. That is until my first semi-culture induced occasion for angst on my way home. I caught the bus back from the city center to the B&B - my 1st time on an Irish bus, but I thought I was handling it pretty well. That is until I asked the driver about how much the fare was (each route is different) and heard him say "one twenty-five". As I'd had 1.10 euro ready, I quickly found an extra 20 cents and handed it to him expecting change back. Instead, he asked "do you have 5?" Confused about why he wouldn't just give me change, I reflexively answered "I don't think so", to which he responded sarcastically, "I do tink so!" Still confused and now mightily embarrassed, I stepped aside for others to pass and searched the unfamiliar coins in my purse for the necessary 5 cents. I found it quickly enough, but once I paid him off, I was again caught up by another embarrassing gaffe, having not realized that I had to tear off the ticket. Another passenger had to hand it to me.

Those who know me will not be surprised to hear that I then spent the rest of my 20 minute ride going over and over that short interaction in my mind trying to figure out what went wrong and how I could fix it! Once I saw the price on the ticket (1.35 euro), I figured out the problem. It was linguistic - he'd actually said "one turty-five". I then started fantasizing how I could communicate my new understanding to him and prove that I was not a 5 cent welsher! No amount of telling myself, "Let it go!" or "If this is the worst mistake you make this week, you'll be in great shape" could make me feel better. It's pathological, but the idea of that representative of Irish authority having a bad opinion of me just tore me up! As I was getting off at my stop, which I thankfully figured out before the bus rolled on, I made sure to give a quick apology and explanation, to which he replied, "Oh, aye!", as if to say "What are you talking about you stupid git? Who are you again?" I don't care though, I set the record straight and that was enough for me! Sigh.


On my final day, Wednesday the 18th, I'm stoked up again by 7 full hours of blessed sleep and actually allow myself to go to my lovely gym for the final time and get some non-packing/moving exercise. My body loves me even more. I still don't get everything done that I need to, but "close enough for horseshoes". I'm flying out and anything left to do will just have to be so.

I arrive at RDU airport an hour later than my initial, optimistic plan, but still in enough time. However, despite having culled more than a third of my closet and putting 3 bags of clothing in storage, my 2 checked bags are still overweight, and one is oversized, for which I get docked a huge amount! I pay without argument. After all this though, it turns out that the flight is delayed 3 hours bc of backups at JFK in New York City. I barely make my connecting flight to Shannon. I mean barely! The only reason I made it was by running all the way from the other Delta terminal, with my shockingly heavy carry on suitcase (Thank God for all the exercise I've been getting!), and only bc that flight was 10 minutes delayed by not having enough flight attendants.

Everything goes like roses after this point, however. Somehow I end up in First Class! Which, given how freaked out I am by the whole day, I don't realize till an hour or more into the flight when they tell us that we each have a selection of 6 movies on our personal video monitor and that we get a complimentary drink. How did I not notice the extra leg room, leather seats, and extra wide aisles? Remember my last few days?! I definitely take advantage of the movie and the drink.

I arrive at Shannon airport at 9:00 am GMT (this is only 4:00 am EST) and am met at the airport by the business-suited recruiter who takes control of the cart with my immensely heavy bags, buys me a newspaper and a bottle of water, and brings me to his Irish-sized Land Rover for the 90 minute drive to Cork. It starts to strike me that my agency must REALLY need a psychologist for me to be getting all this star treatment! Thankfully, he's as nice and helpful a guy in person as he has been by phone and email these last 5 months. We arrive at the B&B after only a little bit getting lost in Cork and he lugs my bags up 2 flights of stairs! He then spends the next 5 hours driving me around town to meet with my new coworkers, meet with the HR rep to get the final contract, and then back and forth downtown to help me change money, start up a new bank account, and buy a new cell phone since stupid Verizon's system doesn't work in Europe (or anywhere else in the developed world, given how behind America's cell phone system apparently is).

I get back to the B&B around 5:00, stay up for another 90 minutes or so, then crash. That is until I jerk awake at 1:30 am (still only 8:30 pm at home) and find myself unable to sleep for another 2 hours :-)

That was yesterday.

Last week and leading up to yesterday

So much has happened since my July 7th post that I thought a timeline (recalled to the best of my ability) might be useful:

Tuesday, 7/10 - I email the recruiter agency to follow-up on work permit (Green Card) processing. Receive call back from the recruiter that their person who handles/follow-ups on paperwork is out today, but he will have her call and get back with me tomorrow.

Wednesday, 7/11 - Receive a call from my recruiter that the reason I haven't gotten my work permit yet is bc of a relative trivial discrepancy in the agency's paperwork, but that the HR rep has been on the phone with the govt agency to resolve it.

Thursday, 7/12 - Call 3 from the recruiter saying that they're still working on it, and that it's possible that the paperwork will be processed today. **Keep in mind that I have a plane ticket for the 18th and desperately want to make the flight, so the latter is good news.** The recruiter suggests that I call the govt agency to have them redirect the hardcopy of the permit to his office in Ireland for fear that, when they do process it, the mail may not reach me in time there in North Carolina. It's the end of the work day in Ireland, so I'll have to do this tomorrow.

Friday, 7/13 - I spend 45 minutes on hold with the govt agency (int'l rates!) just so I could speak with someone in person and arrange to change where the permit is mailed. I'm told by the person checking the computer log that it's still being held up by need for certain information from my work agency. I'm crushed. If the Green Card is not processed and mailed out today, then it is likely that I will not have it in time for my flight next week. I'm instructed to fax a letter with the change of address request, which I then do. Less than 30 minutes later, I get a call from my recruiter that the govt agency rep called them to say that the permit will be processed today. Hallelujah! HUGE weight lifted. Disaster averted. I can now breathe!!

I spend the next several days and nights packing madly. Apparently I hadn't done as much as I thought in the past 5 weeks, bc there's still way to much crap in my house that I have to go through. Where did all this stuff come from and why haven't I gotten rid of it before? Plus, everything takes 3 times as long as I think it will. I end up sleeping only a handful of hours in the next several days, all on my floor since my bed and all the real furniture and boxes were moved to storage on the 11th. I also somehow acquire some very colorful bruises. I do do something nice for myself on the day before I leave and arrange a massage with the lovely masseur with the huge, hot hands. My body loves me! I'm also made happy by receiving the scanned copies of my work permit so I'll have something to show the immigration agent in Ireland. By my last night, I've given up on actually cleaning the kitchen - I'll leave that for the rental agency to do and let them charge me for the work. I. do. not. care. Anything to get some sleep!

Saturday, July 7, 2007


So, here I am in Miami and what a surreal week it's been. I drove down here to visit with family and friends since I had all this unexpected extra time to make use of. Thirteen (13) looong hours on the road. And for those of you who know, reaching Florida is almost the worst part. Once you hit the border, there's still five (5!) hours of boredom to go before you actually reach Miami. It's torture!

But, I'm getting distracted. What's made this such a strange week is that as soon as I walked into the door at my sister's home last Sunday, she told me that my dad in Jamaica had had a heart attack the previous night and was in the hospital, status unknown. I've never been so scared. There was no time to indulge though. I had to go straight into numb, problem-solving mode. While my sister worked the phones to figure out who knew what, we also immediately went online to find her flight down to JA that night. I spent the rest of the week taking care of her 2 kids (a great distraction) while she shuttled back and forth between Mandeville and Kingston, talking to and haranguing doctors and paying for procedures. Thank goodness she's a medical professional and up on all of this stuff.

To make a long story short, my dad is stable. He just came home from the hospital yesterday. His cardiac cath showed a blockage, but unlike in the U.S., the cardiologists there are holding off on doing an angioplasty while they observe him. In the meantime, my sister and I are looking into possibly bringing him here to the U.S. to get the angio done. Daddy is at home working on minimizing the seriousness of all this and being (almost) as stubborn as ever! :-)

What a blessing in disguise it was that my work permit was delayed! What if I'd already been in Ireland when I heard about this? Think how horrible that would have been. It was hard enough being the one who stayed "at home" and waited to hear updates :-( Being so much farther away and trying to start a new life while being weighted down by worry would have been insupportable!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Storing up memories: The Beach

Flashes of old images, melodies, yearnings, group laughter. Memories of falling asleep to pounding waves, windows propped open to catch the wild breezes, white curtains dancing. Staying up late to play endless games of Hearts or Spades, or dozing off to the voices of old friends having new conversations. Endless summer days of sun and sand and beer, with all the drama saved for dinner time ("So, what's the plan for tonight?"). Long evenings spent rocking steadily on porches, vision captured by the waves, with the moonlight seeming to beat a path straight to us, our own personal beacon.

My memories of the NC coast are bursting with sweetness, yet tinged with the sadness of loss. They run one right into the other, year after year. Seventeen years worth of treks to Nag's Head, Ocracoke Island, Oak Island. Hours spent in the car listening to Ella wail that "Ms. Otis regrets", watching marshes, fields of tobacco and pine barrens stream by, crossing bridges over impossible lengths of Sound and waterways. Narrow beds, hard beds, wood paneling in every room, outside showers and screened in porches. Orderly lines of seagulls pass straight overhead, silhouetted against Carolina blue skies.

The mountains and Blue Ridge Parkway evoke awe and wonder, but the Outer Banks .... that's where my memories lie. Good friends are a true gift from God. Good friends with beach houses? .... Priceless!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Saga of the Monkey Cat and other updates

I can't believe it's been so long since I've posted an update. Sorry folks, I've just been busy, busy, busy!

OK, so as of our last installment, I was happily anticipating the end of work at the Job From Hell (JFH) and of starting to get packed up to make my move. Thankfully, the end of work came quickly enough for there to be no dead bodies, though it has been pretty surreal being unemployed. It's only been 3 weeks, but I've never been out of work for so long before! It's been a real battle to not wallow in self-imposed guilt for not packing fast enough and for "wasting time". In my own defense though, it's pretty hard to push myself to pack consistently when I haven't known exactly when my leave date is. This also makes it hard to deal with people's excited but frustrating (because I just don't know!) and inevitable question - "So, when are you leaving?"

My understanding of the time frame had been that I would be getting my Irish work permit just about.... oh, like NOW! And, had been expecting to buy a ticket to fly out at the end of June. However, I've fallen afoul of the bureaucracy gods, and I can't even blame the government this time! I got a call from the recruiter yesterday letting me know that the Work Permit Authority didn't receive the application till June 7th and so anticipate that it will be another month!! That is so not what I was expecting to hear. What this tells me is that my new agency's HR department sat on it for almost 4 weeks (!) between when they got it from the recruiter with all of my information, accompanying documents, and Fedexed signature and when they deigned to submit it. What the heck were they doing with it all that time?

So, I'm probably not going to get the work permit for another 4 weeks!! What do I do with myself that long? I certainly didn't plan for this long of a "vacation" and, if I'd known they were going to sit around scratching their ***, I would have stuck around at the JFH for another 2 or 3 weeks and made some much needed money! That's the other big problem, I thought I was being cautious in my estimates, but did not budget for this kind of delay.

So, long story short, yesterday was a bad day. Today is better - I vented to my sister and cousin, and did a not so quick and quite intense supplication to the man upstairs for some major guidance (and maybe a nice lottery windfall). No windfall yet, but I have decided on a couple of things. I'm going to take some friends up on their invitation to their beach house for a couple of days next week, will now be packing like a madwoman to completely clear out my house by the end of next week and leave it available for new tenants starting July 1st (I'm already selling off some stuff through Craigslist - the dining room table goes tonight), and plan to trek down to Miami for the week of July 4th (Independence Day) to hang out with family and friends and eat cheap :-) In the meantime, there's still a million and one things to do. I think I'll be taking up my friends on the offers of packing help in the next several days and making a few trips to the storage place.

Thankfully, my sweetie, the above referenced Monkey Cat (as a kitten, she looked just like a lemur), does have a place to stay for the 6 months before I can bring her over to Ireland. It's not free (my cousin's daughter "decided" to get asthma, so no free family visitation for the MC), but is still cheaper by far and a whole lot more humane than the worst case scenario, which would have been placing her in a kennel. Small wire cages and once a day free time, what a nightmare that would have been for her! In the meantime, I've gotten the initial microchipping and extra rabies booster done (more money draining from the overloaded wallet) and we're now waiting a couple more weeks before I have to take her back to the vet to get the blood sample, which I have to pay to be sent to a special Kansas (?!) lab to verify that her blood levels are optimal. After that, nothing to do but wait out the 6 month holding time before I can finish up the paperwork to bring her over.

Here's a picture of my baby. It's a little blurred, so it doesn't really do her total and complete cuteness justice!

Pretty much the last thing that's still hanging in the air for me is my car. Still no takers for assuming my lease, so I went ahead and listed it for sale yesterday. I would probably make enough to cover VW's payoff amount. Even if not, the remaining amount shouldn't be higher than it would be for me to continue to pay for the lease for several more months. We'll see.

Thankfully, not everything has been stressful. I have had a couple of extremely fun Bon Voyage parties (yeah, me!) and had a chance to hang out with some great friends at the local Irish pub "practicing" :-) I actually have another party on Saturday. Eating deep fried whitefish and hushpuppies while sitting out on the deck in the middle of the country. Darn, I really love the South sometimes! :-)

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Circle of (hair) death

Is it possible to brush too much hair from your cat or is there some sort of natural hair-retention mechanism so that only dead undercoat gets taken away? This question was brought home with much urgency earlier tonight when I decided to actually be a proper mommy and give The Monkey Cat a brushing, something I've gotten out of the habit of doing regularly. But, it is summer and I'm sure she's got some she needs to get rid of. Well, instead of using the regular brush, I used my new pseudo-torture looking tool and OMG! Wads of hair!! I swear, I didn't know it was possible for her to have that much undercoat. Is that natural? I'd have been afraid that I was hurting her, except she loved it! She just kept rolling around trying to get me to attack her with the circle-of-hair-death-device (COHDD) again and again!

Luckily I chose to conduct the hair-removal procedure inside the tub, because the fur was flying everywhere! I even got some in my own hair. This thing is efficient, I tell you. The final result was massive, and sort of icky. Sorry, but it was so amazing, I had to share :-)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The ostrich system

I'm outing myself, but I have to admit something that those people who really, really know me well (as in know my dark side) have already figured out, which is that my default method of coping with stuff that I feel totally helpless, hopeless and/or inadequate about is by sticking my head in the sand and not picking it up till the world gives me a kick in the ass and I have no choice but to deal. This isn't the hating confrontation issue, another wonderful trait of mine that I'm sure I'll get to later. No, this is more the "maybe if I ignore it, the world will end I won't have to deal with it at all" strategy that I always tell myself I'm going to be mature enough to stop using. But, I never do.

The most recent example of this is my as yet refusal to start trying to figure out what I'm going to do with my cat once I move. Meesha is a neurotic, slightly manic-depressive tortoiseshell beauty who I alternately grumble at and attack with kisses because she can be just the sweetest most loving thing ever! [I'd insert a picture of my sweetie here if they weren't all taken with the film camera and so, as yet, not available digitally] And whoa betide the family, friend or acquaintance who dares to comment on her minor social skill deficits or tendency to nip when playing. This is my baby and I'll defend her till death! She may be "slightly" neurotic, but she's my neurotic.

OK, so back to my own neurotic-induced crisis. The thing is that, before I can bring Meesha over to Ireland, she has to go through a 6 month process here of microchipping, vaccines, tests, then a 6-month wait to make sure that she's not rabies infected. What that means is that she's going to have to stay with someone here while I'm getting settled in Ireland. Unfortunately, my cousin who I'd drafted to do this, had the nerve to somehow convince her daughter to come down with asthma! Which means, no free cat sitting. The nice thing about family is that you can browbeat them into doing all sorts of things. The bad thing is that you sort of have to take their word for it when they say their child could die! Unfortunately, substitute cat sitters who are pet-less (Meesha does not play well with others) are short among my pet-loving, baby-producing friends.

I should have already started researching my other options - tap into my other social networks, actually pay someone to foster her, try to convince my mother in Miami to take her? - but instead have apparently been just hoping that the right answer would appear out of the blue and I'd be rescued from actually having to deal with this myself. Unfortunately, I'm not the type of girl who gets visited by the chivalrous knight who's just begging to ride me off into the sunset. Maybe I should just pretend I'm a mature, independent-minded adult and actually try to deal with this like a manageable problem that has real solutions? Shrink, heal thyself! The sand in the hair look is just not a good one on you.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

There's no going back now

So, the round of goodbyes has officially begun. Last Friday, some wonderful church friends gave me a send off dessert party. It was intimate (read "small"), though I've been assured that most people didn't actually know it was happening! Apparently, I'm the only one who reads the church bulletin! :-) Nevertheless, it was a wonderful experience. I was reminded again what amazing, funny, intelligent and giving friends I've racked up at CHBC over the years, and I was made to feel loved and appreciated in a very concrete way. That's not to say that I didn't already know that my participation, personality and talents were valued, but it's very affirming to have people actually say such things to your face, to be actively loving in a way that we often forget to be with each other.

It's interesting because the message last Sunday was about the (assumed but often ignored) centrality of the relationships among and between members of the Body of Christ as the way we grow spiritually. Certainly, that's been true for me. However much I gripe and complain sometimes about how much I miss having someone like my dancing partner Heather to sit with on a Sunday morning, now that she's abandoned me for San Francisco (so what if she got married!), the truth is that this church family has been my home for more than 10 years and it's almost impossible to imagine myself without it.

This Saturday, I'm being given another party, this one with a wider range of family and friends. Even my mom is coming up from Florida. Yeah! I'll get to see friends I haven't seen in many moons and get to hang out and soak in all the lovingness :-) How cool is that?! Of course, as someone who shall remain nameless was snarky enough to tell me at the church party, this means now I've got to leave. I've had my party(ies) and no changing my mind is allowed! You'd think church people wouldn't have such sarcastic senses of humor! Of course, hmmm, we pretty much have the same sense of humor. Oh well, there goes another stereotype :-)

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Slightly impulsive

OK, the truth is I couldn't wait one bit longer! I finally gave in my resignation to the JFH ("Job-From-Hell") yesterday, and it felt gooood!! My recruiter advised waiting till next week when the visa application will actually be submitted, but I've been bursting to tell the job trolls for months now, and I couldn't wait even a few more days. Impulsive? Probably. Dangerous? Probably not. I just really needed to finalize things here and convince myself that the long nightmare is (almost) finally over! [Deep, heartfelt sigh]

I set my last day of work for the 31st of May, which should give me another 3-4 weeks to close up the house, etc, etc, before flying out. I can't say enough about how much I'm looking forward to not having to go into work to sit and stare at a computer all day! This is my definition of absolute, stark raving boredom. Ugh! I'm looking forward to sharpening my clinical skills even more and actually interacting with other professionals, rather than being indentured to a bureaucratic, paper-pushing system that could care less about clinical values. OK, enough ranting. I'm supposed to be feeling happy here.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Woo hoo!

I've been grinning so hard the last couple of days, it's a wonder that my face hasn't frozen in that position! Yes, it's true, the final (almost) hurdle has been overcome. I heard from the recruiter yesterday morning that I am officially "validated" to work as a psychologist in Ireland. As Michele says, Woo hoo!! Nothing can stop me now, well except for waiting for the work permit (Green Card) to come through. But, that's basically a formality in the process. My big worry had been that somehow, Ireland's psychologists would say that my training was somehow lacking (that's crazy talk!) and tell me I needed to have some extra training/classes/ whatever. Silly worries, I know. I'm a highly trained and very experienced professional after all, if I do say so myself. But I've heard of crazier things happening and, this is me after all, not heretofore the luckiest person in the world. But, things are looking up!

So, what this means in the immediate future is that I can FINALLY give in my notice at the job from hell. [pause to allow me to do the crazy, happy jig dance] And, uh oh, there goes that darn grin again! My plan, unless someone I trust talks me out of it in the next couple of days, is to give in my notice when I go back to work on Tuesday, then work out the rest of the month. That would give me 3 weeks or so to pack up and close up the house, start showing it to potential renters, and do all the other tiny, little leaving-the-country tasks, before flying out. I'm estimating I would be leaving here around the 3rd or 4th week of June, unless the work permit takes an overly long time to come through. Worst case scenario, I'm left waiting around an extra couple of weeks with nothing to do and no salary. Again, the lack of control issue rears it's ugly head - I have no way of knowing how long it takes to get the Green Card. It's such a new scheme (i.e. "program" for you other non-Irish readers) that it's not clear how long it takes. I've read of some people getting it in 3 weeks, while others say 8! But, I'm determined to think positively. After all, I have been lucky in some things so far, even if the validation did seem to take forever.

All in all, I'm still doing a little jig in my heart :-)

Saturday, April 28, 2007


A friend asked me last night whether I wasn't anxious about the idea of living in Ireland. I had to say "no, I'm not." That came as somewhat of a surprise to me too, but, on further reflection, I have to say I'm really not. I know it's going to be a major culture shock - Ireland is not America, no matter that they're both English-speaking - and I'm going to be starting a new job, finding an apartment, making new friends, etc. But, the truth is I know I can do it. I don't have any real concerns in that regard. The real issue for me right now is just not getting too caught up in all the inevitable hitches to go along with changing jobs and moving country.

Actually, one thought I have been having about Ireland is the strangeness of having so little direct contact with my soon-to-be employer. All the nitty-gritty details are being handled by the recruiter, and a few by the HR department. But, except for the Skype webcam interview I had, there's been no direct communication with the actual unit I'll be working with, and even that whole interview process was managed/directed by HR. That's so strange to me. With psychology jobs, I'm used to dealing directly with whoever the head psychologist is of the unit, mano-a-mano/shrink-to-shrink, with HR only coming in at the end to handle the necessary paperwork. This process, on the other hand, has been much more driven by the paperwork and less by the professional side of things. Don't get me wrong, I'm extremely thankful for the involvement of the recruiter and all they're doing (except in some cases, see previous past), but it also feels like they're the guard at the gate. Hopefully, once I have the final contract offer, the paperwork will stop being such a barrier and I'll finally feel like I have access to the unit/program itself.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Funk-induced ranting

Remember my earlier post about things I hate (see #3)? Why do people, even professionals in a business environment, think nothing of backing out of their given word? In the last 4 days, I've had 3 specific promises broken outright by the paperwork facilitator girl at the recruiter's office. After telling me time and time again, "I'll call you at such and such a time. Is that OK?", she then proceeds to NOT call! These are not promises I've solicited, but completely spontaneous on her part. Don't tell me you're going to call if you're not sure! It just makes me MORE anxious! Don't you get it?! Yesterday, I fell into a huge funk because I was on edge waiting for the 2nd (or was it the 3rd) promised call that never came. I was so preoccupied and disappointed that I couldn't even enjoy the work "party" we had. I even refused cake!! When I saw today's email, again promising a call later today, my immediate thought was "You lie!" And, I was not proven wrong.

The long and short of it people, is that I still don't know what the outcome is of the big review meeting (for Irish professional licensure) that was held on Friday. At this rate, I'll get the d-mn notification in writing before I hear anything from their "inside source".

Monday, April 23, 2007


It's been awhile since my last post, I know. I was 1st preparing for and then spending time with my sister and her family who've been here for the past week. Whew! I love having them here but kids definitely make their presence known! I spent all this time cleaning in preparation for their coming - it's really the only way I can get myself motivated to clean the house - and then, literally within 60 seconds, there was stuff everywhere. There's only so much you can do to keep up with the crumbs and papers strewn everywhere, not to mention the unidentifiable sticky stuff :-)

Well, it's all been worth it to spend time with my sister and 2 loving kids who think I'm the greatest. It's nice being the aunt :-) My sister and family finally left at midnight last night and it was very sad. This is the last time they'll visit me at my house here, at least for a very long time. I expect to see them at Christmas though, so it won't be too bad, and there's always Skype and the webcam for video calls.

I had a brief episode of "freaking out" about the move last week when I realized how close the date for the Psychological Society's meeting to review my qualifications for Irish validation. This led to a brief flurry of emails and calls with the recruiter who did a great job reassuring me and calming me down. Then, Friday came around and I completely forgot that that was the day! Of course, that was largely because my sister and I had been spending the previous couple of days identifying and tagging items for my yard sale on Saturday. This generally went well, though I did have a bit of a sulk (she would say that was understating things a bit!) about having to get rid of so many of my books. My babies! She just doesn't understand why I need to hold on to them after I've read them, not understanding the appeal of having familiar "friends" to turn to when I'm bored, anxious, or just need an escape. Well, she got most of her wish, though I still refused to give up any of the ones by my favorite authors and I still have quite a pile left, if much reduced from before. The yard sale wasn't a roaring success just because the committee (this was a community yard sale) did a poor job of advertising it beforehand :-( I made more money than I thought though, and I'm motivated to doing another one by myself soon.

Today, I'm supposed to get updated by the recruiter about how Friday's big meeting went, so right now I'm on pins and needles! Best case scenario, everything went well and my qualifications got approved. Then I'll be able to give my notice at work at the end of this week or the beginning of the next, and plan to make the move 6 weeks after that! It's actually pretty frightening how fast things are moving. I could be in Ireland by June! And, I have so much left to do. Help!!!!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

A light workout

I think I'm going to need drastically step up my exercise routine at the gym. Apparently getting myself to Ireland is going to take more effort than I thought. Check out step #29!

Aarrgh! My link didn't work. But it was really funny, I promise! You can try it yourself by going to Google Map and getting directions from Raleigh to Dublin.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Things I Hate!

1) Companies that withdraw my favorite products/items. Am I that odd that nobody else likes the things I'm addicted to? I still miss, crave (and complain bitterly about every chance I get, even after almost 10 years) Ben and Jerry's Dastardly Mash ice cream. A combination of New York Super Fudge Chunk and raisins. Mmmm, creamy goodness! What is it about raisins that just makes the world a little brighter place?

Panera Bread also episodically will remove my favorite salad, the Fandango. And, now, Quizno's Subs has decided, in some flash of stupid corporate reasoning, to phase out the Cabo Chicken sandwich. It's the best thing in there you stupid, bureaucratic numbskulls! OK, maybe it's only my opinion, but there must be someone else out there who agrees with me? Tell me I'm not crazy and that that combination of chicken, bacon, chipotle mayo, cheddar cheese, spring mix and guacamole doesn't completely do it for you?!

2) Drivers who don't use their indicator. It's basic courtesy and consideration for everybody else on the road. Didn't your mother teach you any manners?

3) Unprofessional behavior. Getting back to someone in the timeframe you specifically promised, or at least letting them know that things are delayed, is also simple, basic courtesy. I got an email today telling me that the Saudi Arabia job I'd applied for 2 months ago is now approved. For all the money I could have thought to ask for! $97,000 in a country with no taxes would be equal to about $126,000 (gross in the US) + free housing and no transportation costs. If I'd received this offer 2 months ago, when they were supposed to get back to me, I would have been hardpressed not to accept. Of course, I would be having some second thoughts now, what with Iran rattling it's sabers and the rest of the Gulf states buying up weapons at an increased rate. But still, it would only have been for a year or two! Hmmm, and I've only accepted the "temporary" offer from Ireland, nothing's permanent yet.... I can almost hear my mother crying out, "Nooo!!!" Don't worry mom, I remember what you taught me about keeping a promise :-) Plus, now I'm already emotionally committed to Ireland. And, really, what's a few more bucks anyway?

I have to think that this is the Lord's leading, telling me that Ireland is where I'm supposed to be. And, in a way, I guess I get the best of both worlds - after years of feeling like I had so few options in terms of job availability in the U.S., now I know my skills are wanted somewhere!

OK, so I know there are only 3 things on this list, but it is Easter, so I'm trying to be thankful for all my gifts. Still, these 3 had to be said.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Ups and downs

Another of life's little humiliations: Volkswagen has kidnapped my car for the next week while they wait for the new version of an obviously defective ball bearing, so I'm driving a loaner. Lucky me that the local dealership's advertising strategy is based on egomania. For the next week, I'll be driving around town in a car with their logo and the title "Loaner" emblazoned in foot-high letters in the rear window! Now, I not only look like a geek, but I also can barely see what's going on behind me. Grrrr. If they'd listened to me 6 months ago when I complained (admittedly in girl terminology) of the "growly" engine sound, this would have already been taken care of!

Went to a reading by one of my favorite authors tonight. David Sedaris rocks! I didn't even mind sitting alone across the auditorium from my friends. We spent the whole hour and a half drive home repeating back our favorites of his stories and laughing helplessly anyway. My favorite ever? - 6 to 8 Black Men. A Christmas story with a twist!

Unfortunately, going to hear David meant I couldn't go to Maundy Thursday service tonight. Maybe I can find a Good Friday service tomorrow?

I got my first sign today that someone other than family and friends has read my blog. I firmly believe that this now moves me out of the realm of online diary cum newsletter to (self)published author. Literary world, here I come! But, uhhm, where's my advance?

My reader assures me that I'll still get to watch my favorite TV shows in Ireland, albeit a little delayed. Sweet! Even better, apparently there are hairdressers who know how to do black hair in the Cork area. Does this mean I don't have to go afro?

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Fool me once

I have egg on my face. I am so not up on numbers and money issues! It turned out that the amount VW had listed as the residual owed on my lease isn't actually the "payoff" value. That's $10,000 more! So, selling it isn't an option. I'm going to have to go with the swap-a-lease option. Not as easy. More fuss. Sigh.

Monday, April 2, 2007

The time, the time!

It's April already! My To Do list is already long and getting longer all the time. I'm still not sure exactly when I'm leaving, but my best guess is sometime in early to mid-June. So much to do, so little time! Thankfully, my sister just informed me that she, hubby, and the kids will be descending upon me in a few weeks. I can't wait! I get to play with the cutest kids in the world and practice being the cool aunt, hang out with the best brother-in-law in the world, and soak up the presence of my "favorite" sister! :-) Plus, I'm really looking forward to having my sister help me sort through all my books (something she's been begging me to let her do for years!) and having my brother-in-law around to help with all the stuff that testosterone is good for. There are reasons why men are useful to have around! :-)

Better than a funeral

I'm getting to like this idea of moving abroad more and more. It's like having a funeral, only better! So many friends telling me how much they'll miss me. People making an effort to come and visit me, take me out to dinner, ply me with drinks, promising (threatening?) to come and visit once I get to Cork! And, unlike a funeral, I get to be there to enjoy all the eulogies! :-) Seriously though, I guess it takes a big shift like this to make it clear to you how you're appreciated by the people in your life. I should have done this years ago!

Practicing stick shift continues whenever I have the nerve ... actually, at least once a day. I've been doing it by halves. I haven't gotten a chance to practice in my friend's old Beemer again (she assures me it's still running, at least as well as it was before, so I didn't really kill it!), but I realized that my Passat has a Tiptronic transmission which gives me the option of manually shifting the gears when I'm in Drive. I've been practicing on the way home from my practice, and anytime traffic isn't too hectic. It's oddly seductive. Now that the initial terror has faded and I can practice this piece by piece (i.e., no clutch), it's much more interesting than I'd expected. Maybe I'll even come to prefer a manual transmission, who knows?

More good news about the car situation. I found out that I'm not stuck with trying to get someone to take over my lease on the Passat. I can sell it! Volkswagen doesn't care - as long as I get enough to pay them off, they don't give a hoot. Such a relief for me! I'm thinking I might just wait till the last week before I leave and sell it to CarMax. No muss, no fuss. I won't make much (or much of any) profit, but it'll be off my hands. Whew!

So, I've pretty much told everybody about The Big News. The only people still in the dark are my supervisors/administration at my day job and my private practice clients. They won't get the news until all the paperwork is finalized - I'm only waiting on the psychology/government folks in Ireland to approve my training and degrees ("Yes sir, I'm a real psychologist and I might actually know what I'm doing") and then I'll be eligible for my work visa and can start winding things down here.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

What friends are for

Encouraging. Holding your hand. Telling you that you can do it. Not blaming you when their car explodes!

It's been brought home to me even more sharply this week just how great my friends are. Whether they're far away or near, in touch with me daily, weekly or just every few months, blood or just "as good as" blood. Every time I've told someone new about The Big News, I've gotten only positive affirmations and expressions of support. Not to say there haven't been some jaws hitting the floor, but not one person has pooh poohed my decision or told me I'm crazy. Quite the opposite, I've gotten offers to help me pack, to sit with me while I'm sorting through crap I should have thrown out long ago, to send me care packages once I move, to come out and visit me once I'm there (I've gotten LOTS of those!), and to help me build up my tolerance by trying out various Irish pubs in the area (a friend's gotta do what a friend's gotta do, right?). That's not including the especially longsuffering friend who willingly got into her own car, admittedly one on it's last legs and not in use, to teach me how to drive a stick shift. She was kind enough to tell me I did quite well for a first-timer, even after the poor car started smoking and giving up the ghost! :-)

So tell me, who could ask for better friends?!

Thursday, March 22, 2007


I'm in absolute shock! No, more than that, I'm totally flabbergasted!! When I opened my mailbox tonight, what should I see but an envelope from the U.S. Department of Justice. Now, at any other point in my life, such a sight would have turned my bowels to water. But, given the surreal situation I now find myself in, I instead found myself laughing with joy! Weird, huh?

So, why all the excitement? My FBI police clearance came in! After only 2 weeks!!! That's just almost inconceivable. Why am I so shocked? Well, the FBI website says the process takes 16-18 weeks! I was sure this was going to be the big hold up in the whole process. In my hope of finding some more reassuring information than that, I'd spent at least a couple of hours surfing various websites and discussion forums from all over the world. The best news I read was a single individual who said she'd gotten hers back in 3 weeks. I took that to be a futile hope. Most sites' predictions fell in the 6-8 week category, with a few saying 4-6 weeks if you made sure to request expedited processing. Well I did that, but the quickest I dared ask for was for a 4 week processing time. Well, for once a government bureaucracy has exceeded my expectations in a positive way!

Of course, as if to contradict this amazing news, I also got some not so happy news from the recruiter today. My application for Irish validation of my professional qualifications is going to take longer than I'd hoped. Apparently, I got the application in just a leetle too late to be reviewed at their March meeting, so it's going to have to wait till the April review date. Bummer.

Oh well, I'm still stoked about the FBI's shocking user friendliness. Plus, I got my pre-employment physical today and everything went well. Apparently, I'm "normal" in every way that counts and thus "fit for duty" :-)

So, what all this means is that I've done my piece. Now it's all up to the recruiter (to check my references) and the Irish government (professional validation and work visa). Sigh. I hate not having control.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Biting my nails

Yippee! I got the job!! Now, for the terrifying part - actually making the move to Ireland.

Now that I've submitted my acceptance to my new job and started telling friends and family that I'm definitely making the move (most say they admire my adventurousness, but I know a couple just think I'm crazy), my stomach has begun tying itself into major, horsepill sized knots! So many decisions to make: do I rent or sell my wonderful little townhouse? What do I do about my car lease? Am I going to run out of money before I get there? Will I be able to find a good, nondenominational church to join? But, those are the big (i.e., "grownup") questions. Maybe just as important - how do I keep up with my favorite TV shows (Grey's Anatomy, Lost, Battlestar Galactica) without paying an arm and a leg for iTunes downloads, and are there any hairdressers in Ireland who actually know how to do black hair?!

So far I haven't found any answers for the latter questions, but I have found a great website with answers about a lot of the nitty gritty, practical questions I wouldn't have a clue about. You have to pay a fee ($40) to join the full version site, but I think it was worth it - check it out here