To Dublin, with love…

I was supposed to be living in Paris by now. My boss is based in Paris and, though I can work remotely from anywhere, all signs pointed to this being the time for me to make the move. It was nearly done and dusted – just needed to dot some i’s and cross some t’s. But for reasons I both understand and don’t understand, that final i couldn’t get dotted and my move to Paris evaporated.

I’m not going to lie. It hurt. I was nearly there, and then I wasn’t. And in between all that there was six months of emotional ups and downs as my boss and several others did their damnedest to make it happen for me. By the time I got the final FINAL word (and that word was “no”), I was utterly exhausted.

So, it looks like I’m staying in Dublin. And that isn’t a bad thing. But, in my mind, I had already relocated to Paris so when that notion went bye-bye, Operation Re-embrace Dublin commenced.

Working alone, on my living room sofa, has left me quite isolated over the past year. One of the reasons I wanted to move to Paris was because I would be able to divide my work time between home and the Paris studio.  But now that I am staying in Dublin, I have made a very conscious decision to really “be” in this city, to get out and spend time doing the plethora of things Dublin has to offer, to do things I had put off because I wasn’t sure if I’d be staying and also to go out and spend time with my people – the friends that I’ve been lucky enough to make while living here, but that I’d gotten into the habit of seeing very rarely. (I’m a hermit by nature, don’t judge.)

The day after I found out Paris had fallen through I went out and bought three things: a new living room rug, a new vacuum cleaner, and… a fiddle. The first two I really needed but it didn’t make sense to buy if I would be moving. But the fiddle? Well, that’s something I’ve wanted to learn to play since I moved to Ireland, yet something always stopped me. But now, fuck it. I’m going to learn to play the fiddle. I’m three lessons in and I’ve mastered “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and have moved on to the “Newmarket Polka”. When I play, it sounds like I am killing cats and my poor neighbors probably want to turn my fiddle into kindling. But I love it. I suck, but I love it.

My hermit-y nature means that I’m usually fine with not venturing out much but I’m actively putting a stop to that as well. Sitting on my sofa, I could just as easily be living back in Buffalo. But I’m not in Buffalo, I’m in Dublin. And I’m going to start making more of that, and really seeing and exploring the things this city has to offer. A couple weekends ago I took myself to the Little Museum of Dublin, a quirky place in a Georgian mansion right across from St. Stephen’s Green. I’ve been meaning to visit it for about four years now. I loved it. And last weekend a friend and I went to the breathtaking Caravaggio exhibit at the National Gallery of Ireland. It was utterly not quirky, but sometimes one really just has to get their art on, and this exhibit did it for me. It was amazing. So, look at that – two distinctly Dublin museums in as many weekends. And so many more to go.

And then there are my friends, my people. When I moved here more than four years ago, I knew no one. Now, I have a lovely circle of friends but, as I said, I’d gotten in the habit of staying home rather than going out to spend time with said circle. Last Thursday evening, I had to go out. There was a Women in Animation Ireland event and I’m a committee member – I had to be there. I planned on going, having a much-needed glass of wine and leaving after an hour, maybe two. But then something happened – friends that I had not seen in a really long time showed up. And you know how it goes – everyone takes turns buying the next round of drinks and before you know it, you’re stumbling home at 2:30am.

At one point during that evening, I realized, rather immodestly, that of the five people sitting with me, I was directly responsible for all but one of them being a part of this group. Two I had hired back when I was in my first job as a Producer, convincing one to relocate from Scotland and the other from London. Two others I’d met at previous Women In Animation events – both were just getting started in their careers in Dublin and I actively endeavored to help them get work. They are now both working with the studio where I had that first Producer job. Spending this unexpected time with these five people just drinking and talking about stupid stuff was, in a word, fun. And in another word, needed.

And then a couple days later, I had a Girls’ Day Out with two of my very best friends, not only here in Dublin, but in my life. We started at a pub at 1pm with cocktails and prosecco and didn’t finish until nearly midnight at my house with doritos, beer and warm white wine. Amazing on so many levels. And again, fun and needed.

Both of these events were something I really needed in the wake of my Paris debacle. I needed to be reminded that I have people here. Amazing, funny, supportive, fun people. And I love my people.

I still don’t know what the future holds for me, but Dublin feels more and more likely to be part of it in the long-term. I qualify for Irish Citizenship in November, and I am absolutely going for that. Some people collect magnets, I collect passports (and magnets, actually). I’m even kind of, sort of thinking about buying an apartment or a cottage or something here. That would require adulting on a level I’ve yet to do in my life, but there’s something about the idea that keeps calling to me.

So far, Operation Re-embrace Dublin is proving rather promising. Right now, I am where I am, and more than happy to be here.






A Girl with Two Countries

This past week, an American expat friend of mine got her Irish citizenship – on July 4th of all days – and that got me thinking about what it means to be a citizen of two nations.

For me, I desired dual citizenship because I wanted to be able to live and work in Europe and I knew the chances of me getting a visa were next to zero.  Let’s face it, for many Americans who dream to live overseas, visa is a four letter word.

Lucky for me, I am of Italian descent and Italy allows citizenship via jure sanguinis, that is by “right of blood”.  My Maternal Great Grandfather never became an American citizen, which means he never renounced his Italian citizenship, which means all of his descendants (including me) are actually Italian citizens – I just had to get that citizenship recognized by the Italian government.

The day I got the letter in the mail from the Italian Consulate saying that I was now an Italian citizen was one of the happiest of my life.  I imagine it’s how Charlie felt when he opened that chocolate bar that had the golden ticket inside.  This was my golden ticket – now I could live and work just about anywhere in Europe!

But what does it mean, for me, to be an Italian citizen?

When I got my citizenship a lot of people assumed I would move to Italy, which is a logical conclusion.  But I didn’t consider that as an option for very long – I’m just not that employable in Italy.  Because I got citizenship that I was born with recognized rather than having to apply to  become a new citizen, I didn’t have to swear any oath of allegiance to Italy – I guess it’s implied.  I received a ballot in the mail to vote in Italy’s latest election, but the ballot was in Italian (duh!) and the only name I recognized was Berlusconi – I figured it was safer for Italy if I didn’t check any boxes.

So, being an Italian citizen has not really changed all that much about me – except for where I live.  But even though I can’t speak the language, don’t live there and didn’t have to put my hand on my heart and recite an oath, that does not mean that I am not thankful every single day that I am an Italian citizen.

I have a friend who needs to get a new job in the next few months so that her visa can be renewed or she will have to leave Europe, I have another friend who would love to return to Europe but can’t without a work visa, and I have many, many friends whom I think would love to have the opportunity to be an expat but it just isn’t an option that is open to them.

I consider myself very lucky to be descendant from a country that is so open to recognizing  citizens that may have been born elsewhere.  Because I happen to be of Italian descent and Italy happens to have this jure sanguinis policy, I got to realize my dream of being an expat in Europe.

And for that I would like to say…  Grazie, Italia!