Learning the World. – Musings on relocation, exploration and other general oddities.Description:
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Learning the World. #8211; Musings on relocation, exploration and other general oddities.
Learning the World.
Musings on relocation, exploration and other general oddities.
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2014 in pictures
2015 in pictures
Settled in yet?
A friend asked me the other day if I was settled back into Ireland. The question threw me and left me distinctly unsettled #8211; and it took me a while to realise why. I #8217;ve been back in Dublin since December #8211; and I #8217;m pretty settled. I #8217;ve caught up with old friends, got a job, an apartment, updated my Netflix account. The usual.
I have settled back into Dublin, and it has been comfortable and easy, for the most part #8211; like wrapping myself in warm blankets that smell like home. Because Dublin has been my home, more or less, since I was 18. I spent a year in Britain, and nearly 3 in America #8211; so this is actually the third time I #8217;ve moved to Dublin #8211; once in my teens, once in my twenties and now in my thirties, and this is the time I #8217;m probably aware of what I #8217;m getting into. (Someday, I #8217;ll write about the ignorant, arrogant teenager who moved here at 18. Not today though).
So why is this move different? I guess because this is #8230; it. Myself and the husband have made the decision to start settling down. We #8217;re going to (try to!) buy a house, and have kids within the next year or so #8211; which means relative stability for the next five-ten years. And with Brexit now officially happening, my right to live here is #8211; well, not in dire straits, but certainly in mild peril. So to guarantee my rights don #8217;t get fucked with, I #8217;ve made the decision to apply for citizenship as soon as I #8217;m eligible. Making this a pretty damn permanent move.
This in many ways is not that surprising or different. But the thing is, although Dublin has been my home for over 10 years, Ireland hasn #8217;t been. I #8217;m British English, nominally Protestant, and a woman. Ireland has a pretty uneasy relationship with these things #8211; and there have been times when that uneasiness has surfaced into downright nastiness. To be clear, I #8217;ve still had a privileged and relatively charmed life here #8211; I #8217;m aware that many immigrants to Ireland will have experienced significantly more struggles than I have #8211; and many continue to have horrific experiences. But as I made this city my home, this country still wasn #8217;t somehow. I managed to convince myself that I was somehow still apart from it; I used my in-between status as a shield against the things about the country I didn #8217;t like. No, not like a shield. Like blinkers. There have always been elements of this country that don #8217;t sit well with me #8211; but I held myself apart, and reminded myself that this wasn #8217;t my country. I did the same at times in the US #8211; absenting myself from the hard questions because I didn #8217;t have a stake.
Except, of course, I fucking did. I lived there, and paid my taxes, and was part of the system. And I #8217;ve been part of the system here in Ireland for over 10 years now. I #8217;ve always had a stake. And let #8217;s face it, even if I could somehow argue I wasn #8217;t #8211; I #8217;m British. My nation has managed to fuck up a whole bunch of other countries, as well as it #8217;s own #8211; #8216;Great Britain #8217; doesn #8217;t mean the same as #8216;Good Britain #8217; after all. Terrible, but great, as JKR reminds us. I have always been part of a fucked up nation. Saying that, I #8217;m not sure there #8217;s a country in the world that can be 100% proud of its history, even in just the last century.聽[NB: a friend suggested Iceland, but they banned beer until 1989. That #8217;s some fucked up shit.] We are all from places that are complex and complicit in numerous ways. So maybe we should all call it a draw.
The problem with that is that now, I #8217;m not just accepting I have a stake in Ireland, and should be acknowledging that this is my home country. I #8217;m going all in. I #8217;m getting citizenship. I #8217;m buying property (eventually, please tiny sky fairies). I #8217;m raising a family here. I #8217;m raising an *Irish* family here. So I #8217;m not just settling down into comfy ways and patterns. I #8217;m putting all my shit in one place and planting my flag on top of it. [I don #8217;t have a flag. Maybe I should get one though. I swear I didn #8217;t just google #8220;personal flag #8221; and discover it was the name of a racehorse].
Choosing your citizenship is different to accepting the citizenship of the place you were born or raised. It #8217;s like the difference between getting along with your siblings and choosing a life partner. You love both (in different ways) but a place you choose to give your allegiance to is never the same as a place you were born into. And choosing to spend the rest of your life with someone means choosing ALL the things about them #8211; including their nasty habits, and weird superstitions, and daft ideas about things you never knew you cared about. Choosing a country to make your home in is #8230; kinda the same thing. I choose this country because I love it, in spite of all its flaws. Its flaws are fucking big like. But since I #8217;ve gotten back here, this time, I #8217;m not ignoring them, or absenting myself from the conversation. I #8217;m (trying) to step up and pitch in. I believe abortions should be as early as possible and as late as necessary, that religion has no place in education, that everyone deserves a place to call home and a living wage, that refugees are welcome, and that every person in this country should be valued. If this is going to be my Ireland #8211; and I hope it will be #8211; then I want to be part of making it better.
April 6, 2017
I have been back in Dublin for about a month #8211; apart from a Christmas jaunt to the UK to visit family. I am just about getting settled into feeling like I #8217;m back living here, rather than just on an extended visit.
Continue reading #8220;Welcome home? #8221; rarr;
January 15, 2017
Say hello, wave goodbye
2016 is #8211; thankfully #8211; nearly over. It has been a hell of a year to be an immigrant in the US. When I moved here three years ago, I never thought for a moment that they would be inaugurating President Trump in 2017.
I swear I was leaving anyway.
Continue reading #8220;Say hello, wave goodbye #8221; rarr;
December 15, 2016
Love trumps hate?
I have been putting off writing this post. I didn #8217;t want to write it #8211; I didn #8217;t think I #8217;d have to. I thought, in the days following November 8th, that I #8217;d be able to write something about glass ceilings, and the women who waited 96 years, and the US joining the growing community of nations with a female head of state. It would have been schlocky, probably. Screw that #8211; it definitely would have been overly sentimental.
But instead, the American people made a choice that I don #8217;t think I will ever really understand. And so we face an uncertain and terrifying future, with a racist, xenophobic, misogynistic homophobic, you #8217;ve-been-Tangoed personification of a YouTube comment thread poised to take the helm.
Continue reading #8220;Love trumps hate? #8221; rarr;
November 26, 2016
I have written and rewritten this post a few times now; I #8217;m giving up on trying to say anything coherent. Election years are always somewhat bombastic over here #8211; and this has been a particularly turbulent one. I have a lot of feelings about this election, and I don #8217;t seem to be able to verbalise any of them adequately.
So I #8217;m just going to say that this is an important election #8211; not least for my fellow immigrants, many of whom are not as fortunate as I am.
So for those of us who can #8217;t, and who will live with the consequences, vote.
November 7, 2016
The weight of history.
Different people want different things from travel #8211; nature, culture, nightlife, history. When I travel, I like to understand a bit of the social history #8211; how people lived, that kind of thing. So it is perhaps inevitable that we made the decision to visit a slave plantation while in Louisiana.
Continue reading #8220;The weight of history. #8221; rarr;
October 28, 2016
Road tripping #8230;
We #8217;re about half way through a 10 day road trip across three Southern states. Such a trip deserves a lengthier reflection than this, but a morning of driving and listening to the blues has made me pensive.
Things are different here. Gas is less than $2/gall, for starters, and I paid $2.47 for two donuts and two coffees. Best donuts in Greenville, MS. Trust me.
Continue reading #8220;Road tripping #8230; #8221; rarr;
October 26, 2016
Abortions for some, miniature American flags for others #8230;.
Of the many things that are difficult while living abroad, politics can be the thorniest to negotiate. My convoluted status as a non-resident, non-immigrant alien means that I can #8217;t vote here in the US #8211; no matter how many times Facebook exhorts me to register #8211; and that #8217;s an uncomfortable place to be in an election straight out of the Twilight Zone. There have been important political happenings in my home country and adopted nation too #8211; Brexit and the Irish marriage equality referendum, most notably #8211; which have emphasised my feelings of disconectedness.
Continue reading #8220;Abortions for some, miniature American flags for others #8230;. #8221; rarr;
September 25, 2016
I have half a post waiting to be written. It #8217;s about trains, and my love of Amtrak and the National Parks Service. But that #8217;s going to have to wait.
Today, I had an appointment with a USCIS (US citizenship and immigration service) about my employment authorisation document (EAD). This is the little #8211; but oh so important #8211; card that says I #8217;m allowed to work in the USA. I #8217;ve mentioned my troubles with this before; as my application had been pending for more than 90 days, I was advised by the immigration lawyers that I could make an appointment in person, and plead my case for expedited processing. It was a long shot, they said #8211; but I had nothing to lose.
Continue reading #8220;Immigrant woes #8221; rarr;
July 25, 2016
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Learning the World.
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