Showing posts from 2014

How to Have Thanksgiving

Since I grew up in America, people frequently ask me about Thanksgiving.  "Its bigger than Christmas, right?" Well, no, not in my family, but I can see how you could get that impression. The curiosity I've frequently come across has manifested itself in more than a few locals voicing that they'd  like to celebrate Thanksgiving, too.  Some restaurants even put on an American Thanksgiving spread.

So for anyone who is interested, this is how Thanksgiving was always celebrated in my family...

My grandma would spend the night as she'd need to put the turkey in the oven by 5am (to be ready to eat by 3pm).  My mom is one of eight siblings, and four of her sisters lived around us so our house was always packed for Thanksgiving.  My mom and dad would go into cleaning overdrive to get the house ready.

On Thanksgiving Day you'd wake up to the smell of turkey roasting in the oven.  People would start to arrive at 1pm and we'd eat about 3pm.  You'd eat a light br…

Parenting: Your Heart Will Explode With Love

There are many moments in parenting that make your day.  That make your week.  But a few of them are so special you know you will remember them forever and that they will become part of your family oral history.

When my daughter was about four, she came home from school and told me "Cian says boys can only marry girls and girls can only marry boys!" This seemed strange to her as I have consistently repeated the mantra that girls can marry girls and girls can marry boys; boys can marry boys and boys can marry girls.  So I looked at her curious, honest face and said, "Well, some people think boys should only marry girls and girls should only marry boys.  But I think people should marry who they want." At that moment, my daughter looked up at me and said, "I want to marry you, mommy." And gave me a great, big hug. And my heart exploded with love.

Last Friday my daughter and I were on our way to school (she's now a few years older) when I was reminiscin…

Alea iacta est (have we crossed the Rubicon)?

The Republic of Ireland came into being on 18 April, 1949.  In our 65 year history, not only have large-scale protests rarely occurred with any frequency (compared to other EU countries such as Greece, France, Spain) but we have been renown for not taking to the streets

But that has changed.  The people, or at least, great numbers of the people are now taking to the streets.  Upwards of 70,000  people marched in Dublin on 11 October of this year to protest water charges (as usual there is some disparity between the diverse groups counting attendees).  

Three weeks later, on 1 November, over 100,000 marched all over Ireland to protest same.  

The Irish government was watching and listening and in an attempt to address public anger changed its water charges policy.  But Pandora's box had opened, vast swathes of the citizenry are still very angry and the momentum built with high public attendance of protest marches continues to grow. 

3 November: David O'Donoghue writes in the Inde…

Where Am I From? Its Complicated.

Its true, I don't like to be asked personal questions by total strangers.  Scratch that.  I don't mind if total strangers ask me personal questions nicely.  What annoys me and what I've come to detest is when strangers or acquaintances demand to know the personal details of my life that are none of their business.

There are particular times when people are much more interested in our lives than they should be.  When you have a small baby and people approach you to offer unsolicited advice (no, I don't need to dress my baby in pink just because she's a girl).  When you get married and people start asking when are you going to have kids (you're that interested in the workings of my uterus?).  Being an immigrant is one of those life situations in which people presume they can ask you (inappropriate!) personal questions.

"Why do you want to live here?" I dunno, why do you want to live in your house?

"Don't you miss home?" Um...this is my h…

The Annals of Nenagh

The below is an essay on a 17th century manuscript I studied while researching my post-grad thesis at Trinity College Dublin.

      The Annals of Nenagh originated at the Franciscan Friary in Nenagh, Co. Tipperary.   Copies of sections of the original document have survived throughout the ages, and it was from these that my document was taken.    While the original document(s) of the Annals of Nenagh have not been recovered, these copies of parts of the original manuscripts survive in the British Museum and Trinity College, Dublin.  One section of the document I received can be found in the Manuscripts department at Trinity College Dublin, in a collection of Ussher’s manuscripts dating from the seventeenth century.  
     The manuscript at Trinity College Dublin is now catalogued by Abbott as 578, was previously catalogued by Lyon as E.3.10, was catalogued before this by Bernard as 193,336, and 421, prior to this catalogued as I.113., I. 112…

Carpe Pecunia: Everybody Hates New Taxes

If you live in Ireland you are extremely aware that we've recently had a property tax come in and are about to be taxed for water consumption.  Both of these taxes are new and have upset great swathes of the population.

I guess hailing from America, where I've always accepted and been prepared to pay property and water taxes, they don't upset me as much (I'm also one of the few people I know who likes paying taxes).  But whatever way you look at it, generally people do not like new taxes.  The Boston Tea party and birth of the United States springs to mind although now, if you live in the US, you will probably pay more varied taxes than in Ireland (income, sales, water,sewer, garbage,  even a 'flush' tax! (in Maryland) etc with no universal health care and third level education rates at least $10,000 per year per child).

We humans have a long history of trying to avoid taxes, or at least minimise our exposure.  A quick jaunt through Dublin's city centre …

Co-Parenting: Its Only Massive

I've put off writing this post because it involves other people.  I don't think I have the right to write about others, especially not their personal lives.  Tempering this is a desire to share what an awesome experience I've had (and currently have) with co-parenting.

Also, one more thing I want to say is that this post doesn't exist to pressure or shame other parents into doing what I'm doing.  Everyone needs to find their own way and although this has been an absolute winner for us, everyone is different.

I have been co-parenting (one week on, one week off) with my ex-partner for the last four years.  I had some doubts going into it, like, 'surely a child needs to have one home for stability?' Not only have my doubts been proven wrong, but my daughter is secure in the fact she has two homes (not just one).

The once-a-week drop off/pick up also makes things a lot easier.  We had tried different schedules before co-parenting and this has been much more s…

3 Years Sober

Today I am three years sober.  Anyone who knows me is aware of my story.  I came out of the alcoholism closet here and wrote a bit on recovery here.

Essentially, I'm an add-water alcoholic.  From the time I started drinking (around 15) I never wanted to stop.  It filled up a void inside me.  I protected and justified my drinking with doing well in school, in university (two degrees), being successful and appreciated in my career, never losing a job due to drink, never being in an accident etc.  But the mental torture was killing me and I was drinking more and more, (at the end, around the clock) so eventually, at the age of 31, I limped into recovery.  That was way back in 2003.

My experience in recovery has had both ups and downs.  I got married while sober (great!), I was pregnant and had my daughter while sober (awesome!), my marriage didn't work out (not great!), I went back to work full-time while being a single mom (stressful!).  For a two year period between 2009-2011…

Knowledge My Gran Passed Down

My gran was born on 27 August, 1919 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  She passed away at the age of 92, three years ago.  I was lucky to have spent a lot of time with her growing up.  These are some of the things she taught me...

There's no excuse for being racist.  My gran led a girl scout troop in the 1950s which two of her daughters were in.  As she started to desegregate her group (part of a national movement) she received angry, threatening phone calls from white parents.  This did not stop her from integrating the troop.  So whenever I hear white people excusing racism in older white people, I get a cramp from my eyes rolling back into my head. People have always had a choice whether to be racist or not, regardless of the decade they were born in.

You should raise your girls just as you would your boys in regards to education, chores, and accomplishing their dreams.  She also taught me that in regards to having sons, when they are grown you should be happy for and accept the woman …

Debunking the Myths: Living in Ireland 2

A great amount of traffic I receive on this blog is from Americans curious to live in Ireland.  I hope you enjoy this, on dispelling myths and imparting a sense of what its really like to live in Ireland.

1) This is not the Ireland your Famine ancestors left.

Not only are we a highly educated & technologically advanced country but we are much less homogenous than we used to be (I would argue that people have always traveled and migrated). According to our 2011 census, 766,770 people residing in Ireland at the time of the census were born abroad (myself included!).  That's out of a total population of 4,588,252 (over 16%). There are more Polish nationals (122,585), Nigerian nationals (17,642), Indian nationals (16,986), and Filipino nationals (12,791) than US nationals (11,015) living in Ireland.

We are (wonderfully) becoming more and more diverse. At my daughter's school I have heard other parents speaking to their children in Farsi, Polish, Hebrew, French, Italian and K…

The Poetic Soul

I'll admit it - I strive to have the discipline to sit down and write more often so that I can focus on the two works of fiction I am creating. This rarely happens.  Its not only a question of discipline, but that fiction writing doesn't come easy to me.  Poetry does.  Of course, I don't really want to write poetry. *shakes fist at Universe* But it is what it is.

I've decided to come out of the poetry closet and include some of the bits I wrote a few years ago here. Just because it comes easily to me doesn't mean its any good.  But these I quite like.

[No Title]
little girl
its not easy growing up
the pressure to conform
                    to be skinny
                    to be dumb
whatever hurdles you must jump
whichever battles you win or lose
your mama is there
holding up your true self to you
you can be a woman and be strong
you can be whatever you want to be
Because your mama loves you for who you are
Because your mama believes in you as you are
there is n…

Dreaming in Irish

Note: I would like to thank Tuigim An Croi Ait (@Tuigim) as I am inspired to write the below because of a conversation we have had, as Gaelige. 

 My great-grandmother, Anna Peterson (nee Thorsen) was a Norwegian immigrant to America at the beginning of the 20th century.  When she arrived, she spoke no English.  Becoming fluent in English was no easy task.  Initially taken on as a domestic in genteel Boston, she was let go from her job and sent 'to be with the other heathen Scandinavians in Minnesota' after an incident on a tram (she accidentally stepped on the skirt of the woman in front of her when boarding, causing the skirt to detach and momentarily forgetting the English for 'I'm sorry' waved her hand frantically and said 'never mind, never mind.' Her employers were not impressed.)

But its fortunate she was cast out to Minnesota as that's where she met my great-grandpa, Hans (Aas) Peterson.  They had three boys.  Although Hans wrote poetry in Norwe…


So earlier today I had a conversation with someone about addiction & recovery and it really reminded me of how difficult it is for anyone to face their addiction(s) and in general, how scary it is (for the average punter) to talk about their experiences in recovery.  Especially in Ireland.  Unlike The States, where when I assert that I am a recovering alcoholic and people respond positively ("Oh, wow, that's great!", "Good for you!", etc.) when I come-out to people in Ireland the response I get is typically one of abject fear, judgement & resentment.  People will usually take a step back from me because you know, the alcoholism.  ITS CATCHING.  Or they'll automatically assume they're morally superior to me and/or I'm a vulnerable wreck to be pitied.  Nopers.  Or they'll begrudge me for leaving The Team.  Its a small minority of people I call friends who accept me for who I am without judgement and applaud/support the work I've done.