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.

 

 

 

 

Paris, part deux…

Earlier this week, an interview I did about my month in Paris last November was published on the website Bonjour Paris, rather synchronously, as I spend a second extended sojourn in the City of Light.

I have been back in Paris for two weeks and will be here for four more. So far, it’s been fairly awesome. And here are some of the reasons why:

  • My view of the (top of the) Eiffel Tower from the skylight in my bedroom. Most nights, I watch it twinkle at the top of the hour before I go to bed.
  • The fresh flowers and bottles of wine my Airbnb host left for me as a welcome gift.
  • Being here for the May 1st holiday and buying myself some Lilies of the Valley, as tradition dictates.
  • The way the tree outside my living room window sways in even the slightest breeze.
  • The picnic at the Parc du Champ De Mars last Sunday with friends.
  • Having an office to go to in Neuilly-Sur-Seine.
  • Making a restaurant reservation over the phone, in french.
  • One of my best friends in Dublin flying to Paris just to celebrate my birthday with me.
  • The classical music concert at Saint Chapelle with that friend.
  • The “Ça va?” I get from the waiter as I walk by the cafe where I am a regular.
  • Writing jokes in french as part of my language class assignment, and getting laughs from my classmates when I read them out loud.
  • The magical thunder storm on Friday night. I opened my windows wide and just listened and breathed in the air.
  • The dinner party last night where our host made “french mex” (it was delicious!).

Now, I’m off to add enjoy this beautiful day and add to the list.

Bon dimanche à vous!

 

 

 

 

Making my world work…

Earlier this month Facebook declared February 4th Friends’ Day. And even though it was a fairly obvious publicity stunt, I liked the idea of it. After all, friendship is something that should be celebrated. As Mr. Zuckerberg wrote in his post announcing Friends’ Day: “Friendships make the world work.”

I’ve never been one who made friends easily and this was a real worry of mine as I started my expat journey. When I moved to Dublin nearly three and a half years ago, I knew that I was going to have to put myself out there and make some friends and that made me very nervous. (I wrote about it here.) But I knew that making friends was going to be the defining factor in whether I would have success as an expat. One can get along just fine without a significant other (lord knows, I’m a prime example of that) but can you imagine living a life without friends?

Last weekend, a friend that I made during my month in Paris came for a visit – and she brought a friend that I instantly hit it off with. So, two new friends! Making these friends was a nice surprise for me. When I went to Paris, I didn’t make a concerted effort to  meet people or make new friends – that wasn’t the purpose of my time there, and my stay there was temporary. So making these friends was an unexpected bonus but one for which I am very grateful.

And this weekend, I was out with a bunch of the first friends that I made in Dublin. They are people that I met through my first job here. I’m no longer at that job, so I don’t see them every day anymore but we all manage to get together every so often and have a nice time. And I really look forward to those nights. Not only because  I know it will always be a good time but because those people, those first friends I made, are very special to me.

Though they probably don’t realize it, they are the people who made me feel that I hadn’t made the worst decision of my life in leaving everything and everyone I knew and moving to a city I’d never even been to before. They are the people who made me feel like I belonged even though I was an outsider. They are the people who formed the foundation of the life I was starting to build in my new city. I don’t think they have any idea how important they were to me in those early days but I am forever grateful that they became and still are a part of my life.

After more than three years as an expat, the friends that I have made, in Dublin and beyond, are quite simply, awesome. They are people I share interests with. People who make me laugh. People who help and support me. People I like being around.

And they certainly play a huge part in making my world work.

Bonne Année…

New Year’s Eve. Not my favorite holiday to say the least, and I am definitely not a fan of resolutions.

Last year, I came upon an alternative to resolutions and their inherent failure. Instead of making (and breaking) them, this past year every time I accomplished a goal, or did something I was proud of, or even did something that was just a lot of fun, I wrote it on a slip of paper and put it in a jar. I just finished reading what I wrote on those scraps of paper. And you know what? It was a good year. A fairly awesome one, actually. It wasn’t perfect, of course. But in my third year as an expat, I did my best to embrace the uncertainty that is ever-present in my life and take advantage of the freedom that uncertainty gives me.

The biggest way I took advantage of that freedom was in moving to Paris for five weeks to see what it would be like to live and work there. I knew it would be incredible. Of course, what I didn’t know was that my beloved Paris would come under attack by terrorists, with 130 lives snuffed out in the blink of an eye. I’ve written about how the terrorists attacks made me angry but not afraid. And being in Paris during that time has made me more determined than ever to (forgive the cliché) carpe diem.

I am lucky enough to be ringing in 2016 tonight, something that those 130 souls who went out in Paris on a Friday night probably thought they would be doing as well. It really is just luck – nothing more than that.

So, for those of us lucky enough to be celebrating a New Year tonight – I wish you happiness, health and as an old Irish saying goes:

“May your pockets be heavy and your heart be light.
May good luck pursue you each morning and night.”

Merci Paris…

This is the third thanksgiving I will celebrate in Paris. Actually, my first trip ever to Paris, fifteen (gasp!) years ago, was on Thanksgiving weekend. It was then that Paris first captivated me, and it has kept me enthralled ever since.

Over the past decade and a half, this city that I love more than any other place on the planet has motivated me, guided me and inspired me. Ever since that first visit, it has been a dream of mine to live here. My writing partner and I even named our production company Apartment in Paris Productions, because that was the goal – to make enough money writing to be able to afford an apartment. That didn’t quite pan out, but still, I can credit Paris with getting me started writing. I’m still writing, and even getting paid for it. Just not enough to afford to buy an apartment here. Yet.

If it wasn’t for Paris, and my desire to live here someday, I never would have looked into getting my Italian citizenship. And if I didn’t have that carrot dangling in front of me, I’m sure that I would have given up when things got tricky. Instead, I just hired someone to help me with the tricky bits because I was keeping my eyes on the prize – a European passport.

So, in a way, I have Paris to thank for the awesome life I now have in Dublin – the wonderful friends I’ve made during the past three years, the amazing, creative work I get to do, the pretty cool life I’ve managed to set up for myself. I wouldn’t have had any of that without first having fallen in love with Paris.

Paris has, of course, been on a lot of people’s minds of late. Nearly two weeks on from the horrific events of November 13th, Paris is indeed living up to the words emblazoned on its coat of arms: “Fluctuat nec mergitur”. Tossed but not sunk. And I am happy to be celebrating another Thanksgiving in this amazing city, even as it goes through such a difficult time.

I have so many things for which to be thankful, but this year I feel compelled to give a special shout-out to this city that stole my heart so many years ago and has shaped so much of the life ever since.

Merci Paris.

Not Afraid…

I wasn’t feeling well on Friday night so I was fast asleep at 10 pm. About twenty minutes later my Nexus tablet started vibrating as it does each time someone posts on my Facebook page. Annoyed, I got up and put the tablet in the other room. Then, at about 10:45pm, I got a text. I saw that it was from my friend, Heather, who lives back in the States:

“Just catching the news. Are you okay?”

Confused, I quickly texted her back to let her know I was fine, and then logged onto my computer to try and figure out what had happened. The news was spotty but it was pretty easy to figure that Paris was under attack, that dozens of people who were guilty of doing nothing more than enjoying a Friday evening out were dead. Everyone was ordered off the streets. A curfew was put in place. Paris was in lock down.

Right now, I am a Parisian. I am living and working here. So, much like when I was in New York for 9/11, this was an attack on MY city. And all I could think as I watched the news reports and messaged friends that I was okay was “How dare they.”

And again, much like NYC after 9/11, I find myself loving Paris even more now. There is no place in the world I would rather be today. Paris may be bleeding. Paris may be weeping. But Paris is still Paris. I feel privileged to be here to mourn with the rest of the city, to show the world and, most importantly, the terrorists, that they can’t break us. That liberté, égalité, fraternité is far stronger than religious extremists who hide behind guns and bombs.

I am angry. I am sad. But what I most decidedly am NOT, is afraid.

Je t’aime, Paris.

La Nouvelle Parisienne…

In just a few days I will go from being “The New Dubliner” and become “La Nouvelle Parisienne”, for a month. I made the decision to go for it and booked my airbnb on my birthday back in May, so I’ve been building up to this for a while. It’s hard to believe that the time for me to go is nearly here. (BTW – for anyone interested in following my little adventure, I will finally be embracing the hashtag and posting daily photos on Facebook under #mymonthinparis.)

Hands down, the question I get asked most often when I tell someone my plans is “why?” – to which I answer, “Why not?!”.

There is an article that has been making the rounds amongst my travel-minded Facebook friends that there is scientific data indicating that It’s Okay To Spend All Your Money On Travel – to which I say, I KNEW IT!

I’ve always been someone who prefers experiences over stuff. My television is laughably small, I buy most of my clothes from Target or Kohl’s and my furniture is IKEA all the way. In fact, when I sit down and actually think about it, I don’t really own anything that is worth all that much. And honestly, that is fine with me.

But what I do have, and what the article reveals is actually more valuable, are experiences. I’ve climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge and snorkeled at the Great Barrier Reef. I’ve cooked paella in Barcelona and sipped wine amongst the vineyards of Austria. I’ve seen the Northern Lights (twice!) and eaten pyshki in St. Petersburg.

And to all these adventures I will be adding a month of living and working in my favorite city on the planet. I have no idea what is in store for me, but I’m fairly certain it will be another priceless experience.