Observations on America (from an invisible foreigner)

Early 2012 212That rare gift of being able to see your own culture objectively… I can already feel it waning. But I’m thankful for this time where I can see my birth culture through the eyes of an outsider. And I never want to forget. For me, I am an invisible foreigner. I look and (basically) sound American. But after living 12 years in Ireland, I feel foreign. I keep thinking of the millions of those who have come to this country over the decades and feel compassion for how confusing and tiring it must have been or still is for them.

So, for now, this is what I see. It’s still all very surreal.

This first list is from after being in the US for six days after we arrived on January 9, 2016 to Central PA.

After 6 days in the US:
1) I have rarely been cold indoors. In Ireland I was rarely NOT cold indoors in the winter time (okay, sometimes in the summer time too).
2) Changing cultures is VERY tiring. (Even when it’s your home country (but still a different culture within that country)).
3) People don’t stare at us when they hear us talking, only when they hear us talking about living in Ireland and how it’s different in the US.
4) Even though we are familiar with the US we are totally UNfamiliar with the US. This feels surreal.
5) Lots of food. Lots. We keep ordering more than we can eat.
6) We are starting to adjust to everyone having an American accent. But we still do double takes when we hear American accents, but then realize it’s just how most people talk around 
 here.
7) I am slow at counting out American money.
8) I still call it American money.
9) People will not wait very long for you if you are late.
10) I’m proud of how my boys are doing so far.

** All these observations are only my own experience from my own point of view, yours may be entirely different, mine may even be different a few months down the road. That’s okay. They are observations as a learner and student of culture, not judgments or finality in thinking. 

I Come From the Future…And the Past

So….

I moved…

Across an Ocean…

But it feels like 17 oceans…

Like I am coming from the future…

Back to the past…

But also…

From the past into the future…

Confusing?

I agree!

IMG_8401

Ireland

Three months ago we moved to the US after living in Ireland 12 years. We not only left our adopted country and home, but we moved to a place where started out knowing only one person which we had only met once 15 years ago for two hours.  One. Single. Person.

IMG_8420

Ireland

So we moved to a new country, a new region in that country, a new home in that region, new schools, a new job. It’s all new. Nothing is the same. At first glance Ireland and the US do not seem that different but, they are. They really are. And considering the culture shock for me, imagine the shock for my 11 & 12 year old boys. Their whole lives they have been told they are American. Well, here in America, now they are Irish. It’s the plight of the TCK (Third Culture Kid). You are seen as being “more so” from the country in which you are NOT currently present in. Never fully one or the other.

IMG_0221

Green in Ireland, White in USA

Sure, we took several short trips over the years. We even spent two, four month stints in the US when they were little kiddos.  But trips never cut it in terms of cultural awareness when you move to the place you’ve only ever visited. The didn’t come “home” to America. They are effectively foreigners. And mostly invisible ones. Even the language, though both English, is different enough (Hiberno English and American English are different dialects) that they struggle to understand at times. We all do actually. And the slang? Let’s put that on hold for a while can we?

All this to say,

I’m going to attempt to be writing about this for a while, still interspersing creativity and art and other beautiful things. But for now, adapting to a place that is simultaneously home and a foreign land, and all the observations and crazy stories and misunderstandings and funny happenings that come with it is going to be the hot topic around here for a while.

There is a small window of time after being away from your home country that you get to see things more objectively than we otherwise are able. I hope to capture these moments and note them here. Partly for me, so I can remember, because time passes quickly and it’s easy to forget. And partly, I hope, for you.

IMG_0347 (1)

A New View: Flat, Wide Open Countryside

So whether you are an outsider looking in (which we all are to some extent) or insider looking out, her we go. One particular perspective after living between two particular countries.  I find things like this particularly interesting. I hope you do too.

 

*All photos were taken by me. Copywrited. Do not use without permission.

Hand Sanitizer, A Child’s Sled, Succubus, Semaphore Flags…Say What?!

So what do all those things have in common? A story of course! This week I’m participating in The Iron Writer ChallengeThere are four of us in taking part in Challenge 22. I had 4 days, these 4 prompts and 500 words to make it happen. It’s been a fun experience already. 

Semaphore Flags

Go check it out! If you enjoy my story, The Event, please VOTE. And if you really like it, pass it along to some of your friends. Here’s a sneak peak:

The Event

The wind echoed in the darkness and ricocheted off the surrounding jagged peaks. It was the sixth month of the sixth year. The time had come. Ashal waited. 

 

In the days leading up to the Event those at The Refuge lived on as normal, though it was never far from their minds… 

 

CLICK HERE to read the rest of The Event. (The fourth story listed)

I’d also love to hear your thoughts so if you have anything to say drop me a comment here…or there…you know where to fine me. =)

Voting is open for the next few days. Thanks Everyone!

Weekly Photo Challenge – Color

Colour. Color. No matter where you live or how you spell it, colour is what gives our surroundings oomph, sparkle, and delight.

I’m so glad I can see colour. I’m so thankful there is color in this world for us to see.

In February I was fortunate to be able to visit Malta for a Creative’s Retreat. We spent time together creating and sharing our art. It was really great to have artist’s from different mediums together. It enhanced and challenged my thinking and perspective.

Malta is an island in the Mediterranean Sea south west of Italy. It’s an independent country and part of the EU. It feels like no where else I’ve been in the Europe. With multiple European and North African influences, the palette of Malta reflects all these cultures with beautiful mixes of boldness and subtlety. Sandstone, the most common stone, and used in many buildings, is a beautiful BLOND, TAN colour. It’s very different from the damp GREY stone so commonly seen in Ireland. There are also bright bursts of color in doorways, windows, walls and a miscellany of other things.  The Sea was so BLUE and the fields were already blooming GREEN.When we arrived these colours struck me. It felt bright (and warm!). It’s the sunniest place in the European Union and you could feel it. A welcome change from the freezing temps we’d been experiencing in Ireland

We soaked up the sun and the change of scenery.

Each day we had contrasting word themes to inspire us as we went around and experienced the islands (Malta and Gozo). There was writing, photography, painting and inspiration. There are more things to share about this experience than I will be able to here. But here’s a few more:

Eventually the week ended and we flew home to Ireland. I found it striking how several of us, at different moments, individually commented as we looked out the window at our own very, GREY, yet very, GREEN country, and said “What would we do without the green?!” and “At least we have all this green.”

Sometimes it only takes a few days to make you appreciate something you forget to see.

Beautiful Home

Beautiful Home

I Had A Brother

I had a brother.
His name was Roger.
He was born on April 2, 1980.
I was 2 1/2 years old when he was born.
I don’t remember life without him around as a child.
He was my annoying little brother. We fought and endured sibling rivalry like many do.
I know we played too, although I would have never admitted it when we were young.        He liked to push my buttons like little brothers do.

For a significant portion of my teen years my brother was not around.                          Addiction introduced itself to Roger. They got involved, really involved.                        Things changed.                                                                                                                      It was hard.                                                                                                                              A couple of times it was scary.                                                                                               It was definitely messy.                                                                                                            I was 16 at the height of things. My baby sister was 6.                                                           It was hard – for everybody.

Eventually Roger found a sub-culture he seemed to fit in. For a few years he would visit from time to time when he passed through town.
He met my first son as a newborn and held him so gently and carefully, being aware he wasn’t the cleanest. It meant a lot to me that he came to meet my son and hold him.

Being himself, he would tell us wild stories of the adventures he had. They were never dull. At the same time you could see there were many more stories that went untold simply because they were painful and we became, whether real or perceived, too distanced to relate or even make the attempt.
For a majority of the time since they met, addiction stayed involved.                                  He tried hard, over and over but it’s grip was strong.

Eventually, his addictions caught up with him.

An overdose…revived at the scene…vegetative…1,177 miles from his birthplace…surname given…family contacted…days…decisions…waiting…

I had a brother.
His name was Roger.
He died on April 2, 2004.
I was 26 1/2 years old when he died.                                                                                        I will remember life without him now and wonder what may have been.                                He was my annoying little brother. He liked to push my buttons like little brothers do.

I miss him. Especially today.

Stacey & Roger

Love – Weekly Photo Challenge

Oh man…Love…

I’ve been spending every day since Friday trying to come up with something that isn’t the typical depiction of love. It’s really hard to do that! So far I’ve got….

Nothing.

I’m not happy about that.

I am happy I have so many things and people that I do love in my life. So back to the Weekly Photo Challenge. What to do…what to do…

Here are a few things I love:

I love imagination.

Hello!

Hello!

I love a challenge.

WestSouthWest Trip May '12 601-001

I love rocks!

Burren, Co. Clare

Burren, Co. Clare

I love paths not taken,

and the ones that are.

I love accidental beauty.

Inis Mor Aran Islands

Inis Mor Aran Islands

I love touching history.

and of course I love my guys.

Early 2012 212

Serviettes, Craic, Trolleys and Sessions

photo credit: Sheryl McElwee

It’s not something I’ve written about in too much detail up to now, but I had the pleasure of being interviewed recently over at MOVE Guides on what it’s like to move abroad and live cross culturally. (Thanks Stephanie!) Here’s your chance to learn a little more about me and my experiences moving abroad and living cross culturally. Go on, I know you want to find out more…;-)  Here it is: An American Moves to Dublin

Bonus points if you can tell me what the four title words mean! (No Googling allowed!😉 )

The Landfill Harmonic

Usually when someone asks me, “Hey, did you see that video online…” my answer is, No. The Landfill Harmonic trailer is a different story. Literally.

You don’t have to visit here long to know we’re ALL about beautiful things. Even more so when they have come from unexpected places. This is the epitome of all these things. It’s One Beautiful Thing‘s heart in music and so much more.

See for yourself. It’s three minutes that still have my heartstrings an hour later. I suspect it will for a long time.

The Karate Worm: His Worst Nightmare and His Best Dream – The Drafts

Today is my youngest’s 8th birthday. In honour of him and since Monday is The Drafts, I’m posting a story he recently wrote himself:

The Karate Worm: His Worst Nightmare and His Best Dream

Once upon a time there lived a worm. He was no ordinary worm. He was a karate worm.

A germ was walking and a cockroach ate him.

(I know you think the karate worm should be first, but he’s the third one.)

The cockroach was walking and a karate worm ate him.

The karate worm was walking and a bird ate him.

The bird was walking and a cat ate him.

The cat was walking and a dog ate him.

The dog was walking and a wolf ate him.

The wolf was walking and a tiger ate him.

The tiger was walking and a lion ate him.

The lion was walking and a giraffe ate him.

The giraffe was walking and an elephant ate him.

The elephant was walking and a whale ate him.

The whale was walking and ran into a worm.

The worm killed everybody except the karate worm, because he missed his best friend.

Every worm in the world came to the welcome back party.

THE END

By E. Covell

Weekly Photo Challenge – Renewal

Going places like this…

Poulnabrone Dolmen, The Burren, Ireland

With people like this…

Beara Pennisula, Co. Cork, Ireland

On days like this…

Pulleen Loop, Co. Cork, Ireland