Catch up and Quarantine

It’s been a year since my last post.

Here’s what I’ve been up to:

We Got a Dog!

In June of last year my husband and I adopted an adorable little bichon frisé puppy from the dog&cat rescue near us.

She had been rescued from an animal hoarding situation and had been at the vet for weeks getting surgeries for all the injuries she’d endured. When we got her, she was nearly good as new! We called her Fiadh, which is Irish for ‘deer’. Something about the way she jumps around the place with her tail up like a flag reminded me of a deer frolicking in the woods. She’s going to be two in August this year.

I Got a Job

Found work not far from home, but since March I’ve been working from home due to the Coronavirus. I’m finding working from home to be waaaay better than working at the office. I’d like to stay remote full time.

2020 Happened

I think so far this year can be summed up as ‘what the actual f*ck?’

The pandemic alone is enough, but then on top of that you have how the pandemic was handled.

I’m fortunate to be in Ireland and not back in the US. I’m disgusted with the lack of leadership and attitude of the Federal Government during this crisis. Trump is a despicable human-being. His cronies are despicable humans, and his supporters are fools. I honestly feel like I’m just watching my country burn from afar. It’s sad, to say the very least.

I’ve been pretty ok overall with the quarantine and lockdown. Maybe it’s because I’m really a homebody. I do miss seeing my friends and travelling, but I’m generally content.

I’ve also been FaceTiming a lot more with my Mom, so that’s been nice.

Since I’ve been working the whole time, I still don’t have time to devote hours and hours to a new hobby, but I have started getting a little bit into gardening. Our flowerbeds are lovely and colourful and I’ve started a potted vegetable garden too.

I’m going back to learning piano. My Mom is a piano teacher. Yes, I know, piano teacher’s daughter doesn’t play piano. What can I say? I did violin,flute, guitar, tin whistle, and singing instead. Anyway, it’s good to be back reading music again regularly. I’ve just ordered a Yamaha P-45, so I should hopefully be getting that delivered soon!

Black Lives Matter

BLACK LIVES MATTER

BLACK LIVES MATTER

BLACK LIVES MATTER

Can I be any more clear?

I’m disgusted that in 2020 this still needs to be a thing.

If you’re white, please do the world a favour and educate yourself on Black and POC issues. These are your fellow humans, fellow Americans, your co-workers, people in your community. Stop acting like we’re all the same and are granted the same opportunities. We’re not and there are myriad reasons why. Educate yourself on systemic racism, Jim Crow, Red-lining and a plethora of other policies that are deemed perfectly legal, but are oppressive to non-whites. These things exist and we, as white people, have been benefitting by them.

Look, we all have a hard life sometimes, but being white was never a hindrance to us. This is white priviledge. Let’s use our priviledge in a positive way for once and help amplify the voices of our POC neighbours. Particuarly Blacks, as they are the ones being hurt the most by these systems.

Let’s become aware of our cognitive biases and break them down. Let’s become better people.

Start here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8jUA7JBkF4

I may elaborate more on the above topics in later posts.

This wasn’t the happiest or most entertaining post, but I feel like a short catch up was needed and I also feel like I needed to express where I stand on such an important issue.

Until next time, be kind to one another, be willing to evolve, and stay safe.

Open Cover Letter to Employers

Dear Potential Employers,

Hello, my name is Keely. This is an unorthodox way of letting you know I’m out there and looking for employment, but traditional methods haven’t proven successful, so I’m taking a risk. It isn’t normal to bare one’s soul in an introductory letter to a business, but my soul is my best self, my most authentic self, the real person with whom you’ll be working on a daily basis if you so choose to hire me. I figure it’s only fair to be honest. So here goes!

Who is Keely?

I am a creative, caring, and collaborative person. I love communicating and networking. Good conversation and banter, exchange of ideas and cultures, creating something that benefits people, seeing people improve their lives because of something I’ve helped them with are all things that I thrive on. I love to teach, whether it’s a language, giving life advice, or helping someone tap into their full potential in whatever format that might be.

I am also very meticulous and can be quite pedantic. In addition to the above, I would be well suited to a job that required attention to detail, particularly in the language editing side of things. Any sort of job that requires editing content or proof-reading would be a good fit, so long as it was balanced out with the skills in the above paragraph. I need variety and am constantly in search of intellectual stimulation.

To that end, I will be pursuing a Higher Diploma in Computing and Data Analytics in 2020. This is to expand my skillset in order to thrive in a more and more technology dependent society. The human side of big data is something that has recently piqued my interest.

I am a singer/songwriter, though you won’t find my music on the interwebs. Maybe one day you will. I am a writer who has written much more than what you’ll see on my blog. Again, maybe one day I’ll be published.

Mostly though, I am someone who wants to be part of something bigger than myself, a beacon of light in a world that at the moment seems consumed by darkness. I’m a team player who wants to work to make the world a better place, be an influencer for good.

Soft Skills (copied from CV)

Adaptability

Creativity

Genuine enthusiasm

Ability to lead and manage others

Passion for lifelong learning

Great organization and time management 

Exceptional public speaking and presentation

Ability to communicate complex things in a simplified way

An understanding of why people behave the way they do

Ability to collaborate and work alone

Excellent writing skills

Remarkable patience

Astute attention to detail 

Technical Skills

Microsoft Word

Microsoft Outlook

Microsoft Excel (not a whiz, but can get around)

Basic HTML5 (again, not a whiz, but I can use it and know where to find help with it)

Open Office

Google Drive

Google Docs

Familiar with both Windows and Mac OS

WordPress (I have my own personal blog website with them)

Languages

English (Native speaker)

French (CEFR level B2)

Who I Would Like to Work For

I want to work for a company that supports and encourages its employees to fullfill their full potential.

A place that encourages questions and collaborative solutions.

A place that values their workers, not just as employees, but as people.

A company that ‘goes with the flow’ and grows with an ever changing world.

A place that never stops learning.

Conclusion

If you’ve made it this far into this post, I hope that means you’re intrigued. I don’t know if there is any one job or position that perfectly suits my skillset thus far, but that’s ok. I don’t mind wearing many different hats. In fact, as I said above, I like variety. If you are a company that espouses the above criteria and is looking for someone like me to work for you, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I look forward to hearing from you!

Kind regards,

Keely

 

Centering

Hello interwebs. It’s been a long time. So much has been happening in my life and I will eventually update here in subsequent posts, but for now, a more introspective post about my processing.

I’ve left a job I loved. A job that gave me a tremendous amount of fullfillment and purpose. A job I was passionate about, good at, and for which I was appreciated. I didn’t want to leave, but the lure of more money, potential stability, and maybe a pension, paid sick days, and pay for all the hours I put into it made me leave in search of something else. My chosen industry failed me, so I had to move on to another, foreign one. I decided to leave TEFL for Tech. It may have been a mistake.

I took a job at a tech company that was really just BPO for other tech companies. I worked on projects for their main client, we’ll call them…Banana. I was a transcriber for Banana’s virtual assistant, we’ll call it Zero. As employees for this company, we signed a pretty hardcore NDA prohibiting us from discussing our projects with ANYONE not our coworkers, not our PMs, not our friends, family, dog, the mirror, inner voice, or God. In addition, we were micromanaged constantly and were always in fear of losing our jobs. Targets were of utmost importance. The turnover was extremely high. Technically, I still work for them. But, someone leaked to the press what we do. We listen to Zero, well, recordings collected by Zero from users, and help Zero to understand language better. Yes, real humans listen in on what has been said. I’ve heard some interesting things, disturbing things, funny things.

Anyway, our project has been suspended due to the press leak and now all our jobs are on uncertain ground. We’ve been on paid leave since the story broke. I already wasn’t happy there, so the time off has given me the opportunity to do some thinking and centering. What’s really important to me? What’s most important for my family? Fullfillment and passion won’t pay the mortgage, so do I really need to take a job I hate in order to have that security? The obvious answer is ‘yes’. I’m fortunate though, I’m coming at this from a place of priviledge. I have a husband who has a stable job that he loves. He has the pension, the paid sick leave, adequate pay for hours worked. His salary can pay the mortgage, the diesel, the insurance, the groceries, all the necessary things. No extras though, nothing that gives us financial independence from each other. A strange thing to say as a married person, but it’s important. Then there’s the mental health aspect. Me being sad or upset all the time puts more of a strain on my marriage than lack of funds.

Limbo isn’t good for anyone. What am I doing with my time? Writing a blog post. Staying in my pajamas for far too long. Really getting into my forced vacation. Sending my CV around to various places. Going to a job interview. WHAT DO I WANT? Honestly? I wanted my teaching job to give me adequate compensation. That was the only job I genuinely loved.

Watch the space.

Keely

Happy St. Patrick’s Day/10 Things I love About Ireland

Hello! In honour of St. Paddy’s Day, I’d like to post a list of reasons why I love living in Ireland. Here goes:

1) The scenery. Say what you want about all the rain being annoying, but Ireland on a sunny day is the most beautiful place on the planet. The green fields, stunning beaches, mysterious ruins, idyllic pastures full of cows and sheep, old cottages, and charming colourful towns are a feast for the eyes…and the soul.

2) The craic/Fun. The Irish are definitely blessed with the gift of gab and a quick-witted sense of humour. I’ve never had better banter anywhere else. Hilarious!

3) The music. I’m a sucker for Irish trad music. The liveliness of the melodies and very danceable rhythm just makes me happy. The music really suits the land. If you’re ever travelling around the country, I highly recommend putting some trad on as a soundtrack.

4) The safety. Ireland is a very safe country. In most places, I feel completely safe walking around alone, even at night. It’s a nice break from the States, where I feel like I’m looking over my shoulder all the time.

5) The Ancient history. Drive around Ireland and it feels like you find an ancient ruin around nearly every corner. Old monasteries, castles, abbeys, stone circles, you name it, it’s here. Amazing how things that are a millennia old are still here in the 21st century.

6) The Modern history. Despite having an ancient past, The Republic of Ireland is actually pretty young. The Easter Rising was in 1916, they gained home rule in 1922, and officially became a republic in 1949. It’s fascinating to witness a country that is very old, find its feet in the modern age on its own terms.

7) The Irish Language and Hiberno-English. The Irish language is alive and well here. Smatterings of it are heard and used on a daily basis, it’s on signage, and it is an official language of both Ireland and of the European Union. While it’s dying out as a language people are fluent in, the government and other organizations are working to promote Irish and keep it relevant. There are schools called ‘gaeilscóils’ where kids are educated in all subjects through Irish. Hopefully the younger generations will keep the Irish language alive in the future. Hiberno-English is the dialect of English spoken here. It’s essentially the English language using Irish syntax. Pretty cool mix!

8) The relaxed lifestyle. No one is in a rush in Ireland. People work to live, not live to work like they do in the States. I find people to be much less stressed and burnt out. They also have plenty of vacation time and Bank holidays to enjoy throughout the year.

9) The beer/pub culture. Pubs are places where everyone goes to socialize and get the gossip. You’ll find families, friends, and neighbours hanging out together. Throw in some banter and a bit of trad to boot, you’ll have a fine night out where the craic is mighty! The beer here is excellent as well. It’s not just Guinness. Ireland has an amazing craft beer scene too, if that’s what you’re into.

10) The mythology. It was a book of Irish myths and legends that made me fall in love with Ireland when I was eight years old. The stories and sagas have even the Vikings beat in my humble opinion (though the Norse stuff is pretty cool too). Still, the stories of Queen Maebhdh, Cú Chulainn, Fionn MacCool, and the Tuatha dé Dannann are second to none.

Well, thanks for reading, lads! Happy St. Paddy’s Day!

Cheers,

Keely

Homesick/10 Things I Miss About Living in the USA

Hey interwebs! Sorry I haven’t posted in awhile. Life has been a bit hectic with the move back into my in-laws house whilst hubby and I await completion of our house. I also haven’t really had any ideas of what to write about. That is, until a few days ago when I really started getting ‘homesick pangs’. Homesickness happens to me every 3 to 4 months on average and some times are more intense than others. I genuinely love living in Ireland, I prefer it actually in a lot of ways to living Stateside, but every so often I’ll get hit with a longing for the ‘Land of the Free’ that usually feels like a punch to the gut. So, without further adieu, here are 10 things I miss about the good ol’ US of A.

10 Things I Miss About Living in the USA

  1. The optimistic outlook. Americans are known for our ‘can do’ attitude. Nothing is impossible. We’re brought up being told that we can be anything we want to be, do anything we want to do. Hard work and persistence are rewarded. A smile and a firm handshake can take you a long way. Even if the economy tanks, or a natural disaster occurs, we always rebuild and come back stronger. Not so much here. The Irish are more pessimistic/realistic. No definite ‘yes we can’ type rhetoric. It’s more ‘well, I suppose’ or ‘definitely maybe, like’.
  2. Iced Tea. Seriously, there’s one place, ONE place I can get real, freshly-brewed iced tea in Cork. It’s sad. And what’s worse, if you talk to any Irish person about iced tea, they splash you with holy water and say the rosary…nah, just kidding, but they do look at you as if you’re committing a mortal sin.
  3. Diversity. I live in a tiny town in West Cork. So far the only POC I’ve seen here are the fellas who work in the chipper. Rural places in Ireland are getting more and more diverse with the influxes of immigration these days, but it’s still pretty white. Coming from a place as diverse as the greater Baltimore area in Maryland, it’s strange to mostly be surrounded by people who look just like me. I also miss the melting pot of different cultures. Sure, I hear different languages being spoken sometimes, but I miss hearing random bits of Yiddish in everyday conversation (there are like two, TWO Jewish families in Cork city at the moment). I’m not Jewish myself, but I grew up around a lot of Jewish people and it’s really odd not to have that influence nearby. I also really miss authentic Mexican – or even authentic Tex-Mex – food.
  4. American Business and Customer Service Practices. In Ireland, things move at a much slower pace. While I appreciate the work/life balance here, copious amount of holidays, maternity leave, among other benefits, I really get annoyed by the lack of hustle when it comes to doing business here. I feel like if you’re going to do business, do it right, do it well. I shouldn’t have to wait thirty minutes to be given water or a menu in a restaurant. Also, if a deadline for something is set, or an agreement about something is made, stick to it, or at the very least, be upfront about any delays or changes. I hate guessing games.
  5. Military Aviation. Okay, so this is an obscure one, but I love military aircraft. I’ve been going to airshows since I was a kid, and I just love watching military planes do their maneuvers and feeling the ground rumble from the power of their engines. Nothing gets the blood pumping quite like watching the Blue Angels fly whilst hearing some sort of rock/country patriotic music playing in the background.
  6. Openly expressing yourself and being direct. People in Ireland are pretty reserved. While the Irish are known around the world for their friendliness and hospitality, they aren’t always the most open when it comes to expressing their feelings or opinions in public. Making any sort of a scene is taboo here. They are also very tight-lipped about what they actually think of you, but there are certain tells if you pay attention. For example, if an Irish person likes you or dislikes you, they won’t tell you to your face. In general, if an Irish person is mercilessly making fun of you, they like you. If they are super nice to you, they probably don’t like you at all and are most likely talking smack about you behind your back. I think centuries of oppression from the English did horrible things to the Irish people on soooo many levels. Fear of expression is just one of the many side effects that has carried over even up to now. In the United States, however, especially on the East coast where I’m from, people tend not to hold back. Us East-coasters will tell you upfront what we think of you, no fucks given.
  7. Free re-fills. I need more than just one small glass of whatever I ordered to drink to last me a whole meal. No, I don’t want to pay another €2.50 for my second tiny can of Diet Coke. Plus, when I can finally have my iced tea, I want LOTS OF IT!
  8. Ice in Drinks. Can somebody please tell me what European countries have against ice???? Am I the only one who thinks tepid water and soda is kinda gross??? GIVE ME ICE!
  9. Thanksgiving as a National Holiday. So, I’ve mitigated this one a bit. I celebrate Turkey Day every year, regardless of whether or not I’m in the USA. But, I do miss celebrating it as a whole with my country sometimes, and I definitely miss having the day off.
  10. Straight, Wide Roads/Highways. I’d give my right arm for an actual road! If you’ve read my previous blog posts, you’ll know how I feel about Irish “roads”. I miss being able to get into a car and just go for miles without having to stop abruptly or barely squeeze by another vehicle coming against me.

That’s it for now! Time for bed. Goodnight folks!

Cheers,

Keely

Getting Out of the Driver’s Seat

Hello World! Despite the title of this post, I’m not going to be talking about driving in the literal sense. I’m feeling rather introspective and contemplative today, if not a little melancholy. I’m in limbo. Well, my husband and I are both in limbo. We’re in the later stages of buying a house and are in the middle stages of moving out of our current apartment. Two kinda big things – albeit exciting things – happening at once. We’re super excited for the move, but I’m personally finding the transition to be a bit emotionally draining. Added to that, my teaching job has rather low (read: nonexistent) hours at the moment. So I’m a housewife until there’s more enrollment at school.

Anyway, despite having a clear enough plan on what we’re doing, emotionally I’m all over the place. Silly, right? I’m fine. Nothing bad is happening. Money is a little tight without me working, but we’re still okay. I’m keeping busy with blogging, learning code, laundry, washing dishes, going through my things and making purge or pack piles, et cetera. However, I’m still feeling bored and like I’m wasting time. Maybe it’s the American ‘must always be doing something productive’ mentality that I grew up with kicking in. Maybe it’s because I’m thirty and feel lost without a purpose (read: job) that has me getting out of the house and working. I’m thinking too much. It’s always my mechanism when I feel like things are out of my control. So I control by worrying and over-thinking. Well, in addition to taking action via the above mentioned activities. I should be grateful for the time of rest. Life will get busy again, but for now, I must let go. I must trust that what’s meant to happen will happen. I need to get out of the driver’s seat and let the Universe work.

I know this is temporary. I know I’m coming off as rather whingy. I guess I’m venting. Anyway, in my cloud of melancholy, something I wrote to a friend a month or so ago popped into my head and I felt inspired to post it here. I’m dedicating it to anyone who feels lost, confused, or in limbo. To anyone dealing with endings and new beginnings, transitions. I hope this lifts you up a little as it has lifted me and my friend.

Giraffe

It was 2014. I was babysitting the seven year old daughter of friends of mine. Now, at this time I was in an awful telemarketing job. It was so bad that I would feel physically ill just going into work.

So I’m here with this seven year old girl. We’re outside and she was playing, building faery houses out of twigs, leaves, grass, etc. After awhile she started talking about how frustrating it is being a kid. All these rules! Having to do things you don’t want to do! I laughed and said that I understood completely.

Then she said, speaking with such conviction, “Sometimes I wish I were a giraffe.” I laughed out loud and said, “A giraffe?! Why a giraffe?” And then she replied with the simplest, yet most profound answer: “Because they can see everything.”

Giraffes at Fota Wildlife Park, Co. Cork, Ireland. Photo credit: KeelysMusings

Because they can see everything.

Now, she had no idea that I was in probably the worst point in my life at that time. She hadn’t a clue that I was constantly fighting back tears and that all it would take is someone asking “are you ok?”to send me over the edge of total breakdown. She was seven. But at that moment, in our own separate “worst” moments, in our frustration, our pain, our anger, we were kindred spirits.

She was frustrated with following the rules that her loving parents set for her. Rules that would help guide her through her life and to help her become a great woman one day. But she couldn’t see that.

I was in the worst job I’d ever had. My first ‘grown-up’ job and I was failing at it. I felt like I’d hit a wall. Crashed and burned. I couldn’t see the purpose, couldn’t see what was coming next. And, at that moment, I also wanted to be a giraffe. Because then I could see everything.

Fota Wildlife Park, Co. Cork, Ireland. Photo credit: KeelysMusings

Giraffes are strange animals. I mean, really. Necks and legs a million miles long, massive, thick, black tongues, funny little horns on the top of their heads, spots. They can’t even bend down without spreading their legs! When they run, they look like triangles falling down a staircase. Random, weird-looking things, but probably the cutest creatures on the planet. All of their ridiculous, strange-looking parts come together a make something beautiful. Something beautiful that can see everything.

Giraffes are a metaphor in two ways. First, they are a metaphor for life itself. All those crazy, random, trying, ridiculous moments we call experience are woven together to create the beautiful journey of life. No two giraffes are the same, no two lives are the same. But thy are all beautiful.

Giraffes are also a metaphor for guidance and vision. Standing tall over the African Savannah, they are both part of the landscape and apart from it. The ever quiet, omniscient presence seeing all that is happening and all that will happen, guiding the rest of the animals as needed. The giraffe sees everything.

So when we’re in the thick of it, whatever “it” is, and we can’t see the purpose or what happens next, we must trust that the giraffe, whatever that means – God, a mentor, a best friend, your inner voice – can see the next chapter and will guide us to the right path to follow that will take us to where we need to be. Because he/she/it/they/the giraffe can see everything.

Well, I feel better now. I hope you do too.

Cheers,

Keely

Mountain Driving

A few weeks ago, I went on a road trip to the Cork/Kerry border. The purpose of which was to give me driving experience. It was also the brainchild of my cousin-in-law’s husband. We’ll call him Al. So, Al has been my driving practice buddy for awhile now. He does rally driving as a hobby and is also an amazingly kind and patient man for putting up with me whilst teaching me how to drive a stick shift.

So Al suggested that a road trip would be a good idea. My husband and I agreed. Well, I agreed…so long as the itinerary was kept secret. See, I find driving stick stressful, so I’ve found that unless I ask to drive, it’s better for me to be met with a baptism by fire situation where I don’t have any choice but to drive. That way, I don’t have time to stress out beforehand. Fortunately for me, Al is the MASTER of putting me in baptism by fire driving situations. Buckle up, folks!

Friday night, hubby and I spent the night at his parents house in West Cork. Saturday morning around 10:30am, Al came up to the house to collect us. Road trip time! Al drove first. We headed West along the N71 toward Bantry. It was a lovely, dry day and the sun came out occasionally. Pretty typical Irish weather. Luckily no rain. Anyway, past Bantry , we veered off onto some pretty tiny boreens. We drove through farms and seemed to mostly be driving uphill. I’m not a fan of heights. Not. At. All. As we climbed higher and higher on twisty, windy “roads”, I grew more and more nervous. Luckily, there weren’t many other cars on the road. We were well off the tourist track, well, off of any track.

Al stopped after awhile at the top of a really high hill. In fairness, the scenery was beautiful. Absolutely breathtaking. But so was the wind, so I opted to stay inside the car while himself and my husband got out to take photos. The place was called -Al told me later- Priest’s Leap. Legend has it that back in the 1600’s, a priest, who was being pursued by soldiers, miraculously escaped them by leaping off a cliff. Also miraculously, he supposedly survived the fall. Good for him. I, on the other hand, was ready to get down closer to sea-level. Al and my hubby got back in the car and we started our descent.

Once we were back on flat land, Al had me take over. I was flying it! Open road, virtually no traffic, mainly stayed in fourth gear most of the time. I was in my element…for about 45 minutes. Then he had me turn off the main road. I quickly noticed the incline. We were heading…BACK UP INTO THE MOUNTAINS! Oh no! Oh nooooooo! I still managed to stay in fourth gear for awhile. But then, the car started to struggle. “Put her in third, Keely”, my husband called from the backseat. “She’s gonna stall otherwise!” I quickly stomped on the clutch and changed down to third. Phew!

I was quiet as I drove. Gripping the steering wheel like my life depended on it, and praying that I wouldn’t meet any oncoming traffic. Fortunately, I didn’t. My eyes were fixed forward. I’d only barely shift my focus to check the mirrors every so often. The whole time I was desperately trying not to look down. After awhile Al asked, “are you alright?” My hubby answered for me from the back seat, “Al, she’s terrified.” I was indeed. I was mostly focused on breathing and positive affirmations. Mainly breathing. If I can survive this, I thought, I can definitely manage the driving test! I began to relax when the road went downhill again. I’m not sure how long I was driving in the mountains. It could have been twenty minutes or even thirty minutes. All I knew was that I was ready to be a passenger again.

When we were back on flat land, Al took over again and we turned back via the main road toward home. We stopped for lunch in a lovely West Cork town called Glengarriff. I was happy to be out of the car for a bit. Once back in the car, Al drove us back through Bantry again (I was NOT in the form for driving through a busy town), then I took over and drove us the rest of the way home. I took the main road all the way back. Success!

After the road trip, I felt really accomplished. Naturally, I busted Al’s balls about making me drive up mountains and I was rather liberal with flipping him the bird at various points throughout the journey (I told you Al is a very kind and patient man for putting up with me!). But ultimately, I know he’s only putting me in scary situations to help me rise above my fears of driving a manual transmission and getting me used to Irish roads. He’s a brilliant coach really. I’m incredibly grateful. So is my husband.

Well, that’s it for now! Hope you’ve enjoyed my latest driving adventure post.

Goodnight!

Keely

Learning to Drive in Ireland

Hello! Back again. I am many things, I have many skills. Driving a manual transmission was never something I had in my skills toolbox. I’m an American. In America, we mostly drive automatic transmission vehicles. When I was learning to drive in the US, neither of my parents owned a stick shift, so I was stuck with the ‘easy’ way of learning to drive. Still managed to fail my theory and driving test on the first go, but that’s another story.

Fastforward to my late twenties into age thirty, and I find myself learning how to drive again, this time in a new country, with new road rules, and a manual transmission. ‘This shouldn’t be too hard’, my optimistic American inner voice tells me. Boy was that inner voice wrong! First of all, it’s not just a matter of learning just one new thing. it’s learning ALL THE NEW THINGS.

In America, we drive on the right. In Ireland it’s on the left. In America, we have nice wide roads that are made for cars. In Ireland, we have … “roads”. These things that the Irish refer to as ‘the main road’ is like a secondary road in rural America. Essentially a back road or ‘the scenic route’. A back road in Ireland is the equivalent of someone’s driveway back in the States. A two-lane road, no lines down the middle most of the time, and the entire width of the road would be the width of one lane in the US. In America, we either have cycle lanes or people have enough sense not to ride their bike on the road for self-preservation reasons. Here in Ireland, encountering a cyclist on a back road, or even the main road is a common occurrence. Not to mention tractors, hedge cutters, walkers, sheep, cows, horses, and god only knows what could be around the next bend.

After getting past the above mentioned differences, is the manual versus automatic transmission transition. HOLY MULTITASKING, BATMAN! I’m used to the ‘get in and go’ mentality of the automatic driving routine. The one where you get in, put it in drive and go forwards. Or put it in reverse and go backwards. If you want to stop, you hit the brakes. That’s it. Not with a manual. If you slam on the brakes in a manual without first slamming on the clutch, you stall the car. If you drive either too fast or too slow in the gear you’re in without changing, you stall the car. If you start the car and take your foot off the clutch too fast or don’t ‘get to the boiling point’ (the balance between gas and clutch) before taking off, you stall the car. If you need to go faster, you have to put the clutch in and change gears up, if you need to slow down or stop, you have to gear down or ‘downshift’ (this is the worst for me. I just wanna hit the brakes!)

I’ve got past stalling the car. I’m not too bad really, but I still struggle with coming up against unexpected things in the road. It’s stressful! I find I can’t enjoy driving here like I did in the States. When I get a rare, nice stretch of empty road, I have to remind myself that I’m in a manual and that if I need to drastically slow down or stop, I’ll need to downshift. Also, facing oncoming traffic on a tiny road (known over here as a botharín or boreen), is absolutely terrifying! I’ll be posting more of my driving adventures here in the future. This is the back story though, so stay tuned!

Cheers,

Keely

Made for the movies

Hello! Back as promised with another post. In my last one, I ended with a question: How is it that an American, such as myself, ended up in Ireland?

The simple answer is that my husband is Irish and we decided to live here in Ireland instead of in the US. That’s great and all, but not the most exciting story. The longer version is much more interesting. Here goes!

Back in the 2011-2012 academic year, I was in graduate school at University College Cork. While there, I met the man who would become my husband. We were introduced by a mutual friend. First meeting was casual enough. Myself, my future hubby, and our mutual friend met up for drinks at a well-known brewery in Cork, the Franciscan Well. Nothing mad happened that night. Just three people hanging out and drinking beers. Privately, I’d thought Future Hubby was kinda cute, but I was in a complicated situation with an ex at the time, so I stored that thought far back into the files of my mind. We got on well enough though, so I left the night with one more friend than I had before the night began.

A week or so later, the three of us were meant to meet up again and hang out, again at the Franciscan Well. Unbeknownst to myself and F.H., our mutual friend bailed and it ended up just being the two of us. Not gonna lie, it was a little awkward at first. I could tell he kinda liked me and I’d already made the decision not to go anywhere near pursuing anything more than friendship, but I did really enjoy hanging out with him, so I was determined to have a lovely night out with my new friend. We did have fun! It was really chill and we were able to be quiet together without it being awkward, and having a series of brief conversations in between the silences was comfortable. After we left the pub, he walked me home. I invited him in and we ended up talking for hours about everything under the sun over copious cups of tea. We agreed to meet up again the next day in the centre of town.

Our town meet up was great! Lots of banter, puns, and casual talk about our interests etc. I found out he was into anime and I asked him if he was familiar with the series Inuyasha. He hadn’t seen it. I excitedly invited him to come over to my place later that night so we could watch it together. We ended up watching it from about 7pm to 2am-ish. He crashed on my couch.

The next morning I freaked out! It was soooo clear that he was into me and honestly, at a very deep level, I was into him, but I was also deeply in denial. So later on after he left, we talked and I put him firmly in the friend zone. He became the best friend I’ve ever had. We kept spending time together until I had to move back to the US after my program ended. The day I left, he sent me a text message that had me questioning all my life choices. He was in for the long play.

About a year after I moved back to the States, I finally admitted to and came to terms with my feelings for F.H. We had been keeping in touch over Facebook and Viber on nearly a daily basis and I decided it was time to test the waters. I sent him a postcard from my beach vacation and I also sent a card for him to his parents address (I knew what I was doing!). Well, he kinda figured out what I was doing too…let’s just say it was his turn to put ME in the friend zone. We got into a bit of a spat some time after that and didn’t talk again for a few months. I had a feeling it wasn’t over though.

Sure enough, after about three months, he was back in my life. We were both seeing other people at the time, so we reaffirmed our friendship and it continued to deepen. Then his relationship ended. About seven months later, my own relationship ended as well. It was now or never. Once we were both single, we both started testing the waters again in our own ways. There was a little flirting, an occasional kiss emoji. I waited two months until after my break up to explicitly say something because I didn’t want him to think he was my rebound. He was the real deal. In December of 2014, we finally expressed our true feelings to one another and decided to date. Three months later, he came to visit me and we had our first kiss, our first ‘I love you’ among other things. We also chose our wedding date, even though we weren’t officially engaged.

September 5th, 2015 he got down on one knee and proposed. I gave him an emphatic ‘yes!’ We always knew we’d settle in Ireland, as I’ve loved the place since I was a child (I’ll do a separate post about my love affair with Ireland). May of 2016, I moved back to Ireland, this time to my hubby’s hometown in West Cork. On August 6th, 2016 we got married! He truly is my best friend, my partner in crime, my goofball. *cue sappy music*

Nearly three years in and we’re still having fun!

Well, that’s my ‘why I’m in Ireland’ story. Not sure what I’ll write about next, but I’ll try to come up with something interesting or at least amusing.

Goodnight, interwebs!

Keely

First Time for Everything

Hello World! Welcome to my first ever blog post on WordPress!

I don’t really have a plan for this post, so this is rather off the cuff. It’s just after 9:30pm Irish time and I’m procrastinating getting into bed. Yes, the electric blanket is on, but I’m not ready to admit defeat and slide into the warm bedclothes just yet. See, I’m starting a blog.

I’m not really sure what will become of this. I had a blog once on another site which was meant to document my life between three countries; the US, France, and Ireland. Cool idea, right? Well, some of it was about my intended subject, but what it eventually morphed into was a journal chronicling some rather emotional (and sometimes silly) ups and downs in regards to relationships. That won’t happen here. I am now happily married.

I guess since my tag line alludes to life, family, and adventures, I’ll try my best to keep to those topics- at least initially- until I gain some traction here on WordPress. As I write this post, I’m already feeling some ideas for subsequent ones come to the forefront. Alas, it is getting late and I must crawl into the afore mentioned heated bedclothes. However, I will leave you with a question to ponder: how is it that an American, such as myself, ended up in Ireland in the first place? The answer will appear in my next post.

Goodnight interwebs!

Keely