One of the small benefits of the last 18 months is that a lack of things to do and places to go has meant it’s been a good opportunity to save money. Steve and I have been busily building up our savings for our wedding next year and for a deposit on a house, so we’ve been doing what we can to avoid unnecessary expenses. We’ve been lucky enough to be able to live with his parents since moving back to Ireland, so that’s also helped a lot, but in the day-to-day the lockdown has definitely made a difference in not spending money on travel and bars.
Still, even when saving as much as possible for important things, it’s good not to deprive yourself entirely of little luxuries, if you can swing it. And there are a couple of things I’ve bought in recent weeks that are well worth the money.
Continue reading “Money well spent: 4 recent things I’ve bought and loved”
One year ago this week, I arrived in Ireland, landing at Dublin airport at 4.15am and blearily informing the immigration officer that I was intending to stay. Steve collected me from the airport and then it was across the country to Kerry. Two weeks later, out of self-quarantine and spouse visa in hand, I started applying for jobs and exploring my new home.
A year and several lockdowns later, this is the longest I’ve lived anywhere since the last time I lived in Ireland 6+ years ago. East coast US, west coast US, Canada, across the States in a van, east coast US again, New Zealand, Australia, travelling around Southeast Asia, east coast US once more… and then finally over here. It’s still too early to say “for good,” but I was approved for a three-year residency card renewal the other day, so, we’ll see.
The past year has obviously been weird, but despite the stress of a global pandemic, moving internationally again, looking for work in a small town that mostly runs on tourism, and so on, it’s been mostly good. I’ve gone for a lot of hikes, read a lot of books, written less than I would’ve liked but still a good bit, and even managed a few adventures when lockdown rules allowed.
On the horizon? A vaccine (finally—by the end of this month, if not sooner), a trip home to the States for a month in August/September, and hopefully things going back to normal in the not-so-distance future. Looking forward to see what the years to come will bring.
Last week I hit two milestones on Duolingo: I reached a 365-day streak, and I completed the Irish skill tree (finished all of the lessons for the language, for those who are not familiar with the app). I started doing a few Duolingo lessons a day at the start of lockdown when I first arrived back in the US from Southeast Asia and now, a year and change later and still in lockdown (although now in Ireland), I’ve managed to keep the streak going and also complete every lesson on the skill tree.
Despite being one of the official languages of Ireland, a history of oppression in which the use of Irish was forbidden by the English and Irish words and particularly place names were haphazardly Anglicised (in college I read Brian Friel’s Translations for a course and have been fascinated by this ever since) means that bilingual speakers are a minority. It is estimated that only 40-80k people in Ireland are fully fluent in the language, and in the 2016 census only 6.3% of respondents said they speak Irish weekly (with only 1.7% reporting speaking it daily).
While there are a few jobs that require a level of proficiency in Irish, for the most part you could go your whole life without ever needing a word, especially as an immigrant.
Continue reading “Táim ag foghlaim Gaeilge le Duolingo”
This week Krispy Kreme announced a promotion: show your Covid-19 vaccination card and get a free donut every day for the rest of the year. A playful way to urge folks to get their shots and a fun way to reward people for doing so.
And apparently a sign of the end times, if you listen to any number of busybody doctors and busybody wannabe doctors on twitter and elsewhere, who were quick to tell people that they might be saved from covid but would undoubtably die of heart disease from eating donuts every day. The promotion, these folks seemed to take great pleasure in assuring everyone, is more evidence of America’s unhealthy obesity culture.
Paired with a number of articles that have just come out analysing the number of pounds we’ve all packed on over the course of the pandemic, it was a great week for people not minding their own fucking business.
Continue reading “Let people enjoy their damn donuts”
I think we’ve all hit it in the last few weeks. The reason is obvious, and so is the timing. We’re coming up on a year of Covid and lockdown, we’re facing some of the worst weather that keeps us even from our fresh air and vitamin D, and we’re reaching the realisation that even this summer might not be enough time to give us the fragments of normalcy we hope to grasp for.
And yet it still feels like there’s more to it. I’ve heard it from so many people, friends in all countries, all situations. Those who have lost their jobs and those who are working away from home. Those who have already received their vaccines (jealous!) and those who have no idea if they’ll even be on the list this year (hello). Even friends in New Zealand, where post-Covid life looks almost the same as pre-Covid life with a few more QR code check-ins, have noticed it.
Some people have hit the wall sooner than others. Some are doing what they can to stave it off—I sleep well, drink lots of water, walk almost every day, and yet the wall is still in front of me, my toes still bashing against it when I move to take a step.
This piece by poet Donna Ashworth really resonated with me the other day:
I’ve been having trouble sending or responding to messages, whether in direct conversation or through releasing them into the world via this blog. My anxiety tells me people won’t understand, but I know we’re all in the same boat. And when the flood of words comes, we’ll accept them with open arms.
We must remember that we are not alone. Although of course I don’t want any friends or strangers to find themselves up against the same wall as me, it helps to know that it isn’t a personal wall; it’s not a barricade just wide enough to keep only me from moving ahead. A wall that is wide enough to hold us all back is a wall that has plenty of space for cracks and fissures if we know were to look for them. It helps to know that we can still knock it down together.
I started this blog in 2012, just before another milestone birthday (my 21st). I’d shadowed an Ithaca College and Park Scholar alum at work on a trip to New York City and one of his colleagues had recommended I start a blog as a good source of writing samples to show potential journalism employers. I immediately jumped at the idea.
I’d already had years of blogging experience on various platforms (xanga, blogspot, livejournal, and tumblr) by that point, but I wanted to have a little spot on the internet to call my own. This was back when a lucky few were able to turn blogging into a full-time living before it all moved to Instagram (I’m not knocking influencers; I just don’t have the fashion sense or budget), but I was never interested in that.
I just wanted a place to write without the constraints of an academic essay or the AP Stylebook (as much as I dearly love both). I had lofty goals: at least one blog post a week (something I still have yet to achieve in any year so far; perhaps 2021 will finally be the year). The journalism didn’t stick, but the blog did.
Continue reading “Thirty, flirty, and just about hanging in there”