How I See It – 25 days

From time to time I post observations relating to our move back to the US after 12 years in Ireland. From the culture to ourselves, many many things seem different. This is my take on it. Views and observations are my own and only my own. They are simply observations and musings, not facts or absolutes to any one place or environment.

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So many ways to say the same thing. It gets confusing sometimes.

  1. I’m seriously considering carrying a flask with me. A flask of milk. A flask of milk for my tea.
  2. When I ask for “tea” here they assume it’s iced tea unless specified, “Hot Tea.”
  3. It’s possible we stand too close to people in lines.
  4. People seem to need a lot more personal space to pass each other in aisles. I’ll be standing there and someone will be waiting for me to move so they can get by while I’m thinking that two additional people could get by with all that space there.
  5. While in a car waiting to pick up kids from school, people leave loads more space between cars here. I have to stay calm and not get stressed about all that wasted space. We were always in need of more space in Ireland. Always. But not here. There is a lot of space. I still can’t help myself from saying, “Stop wasting all that space!” It’s a good thing my car windows are rolled up or they would be like, “Who’s that weird lady yelling about space over there?” But thankfully, they probably wouldn’t hear me because of all the space between our cars. 
  6. I must remember to smile back when random people smile at me. 
  7. People seem so outwardly friendly. I’m not used to that outgoing nature. 
  8. There are so many different words here that sometimes I can’t talk and people look at me funny. Whoever said, “It’s so good you get to speak English in Ireland” like it’s the same thing, needs to know, it’s not the same English. No joke. *
  9. Where we are located,  it doesn’t seem like people are used to dealing with people who are unfamiliar with how to do things in America. Please be patient with me.
  10. I heard a foreign accent the other day and immediately felt at home and wanted to be friends with them. 
  11. I am tired. Learning a new place and relearning my birth culture (if you can call moving to a new, and very different, region 12 years later relearning. Not so sure about that.) is exhausting. Time for some sleep.
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Nothin’ like a proper cuppa.

 

*The Irish predominantly speak a dialect of English known as Hiberno English.

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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

How Words Became Art I Hold In My Hand

There’s a video at the end of this post…and it’s good too! But don’t skip the words between here and there. They only make the video better!

Conversations|Reconstructed

The Concept

I’ve always been fascinated with the question: “What if?”  What if we did that another way? What if something we value suddenly became something of no value or vice versa? What if the same words could tell a totally different story?

Several months ago, late at night, a ‘what if’ conversation led to an idea…What if I could take apart stories and rebuild them to tell completely different ones? This led to an experiment…which repeated itself several times over…leading to countless conversations…which turned into bigger and Bigger things…until it became…Conversations|Reconstructed.

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For me, I have to pursue writing and art in the same way I pursue breathing.

It must happen to stay alive.

This project is that “next breath” for me, in pursuit of creating, pushing boundaries and collaboration. Myself and everyone involved have been awed by where it has gone, and we are eager to see where it will continue to lead us as artists and creators.

The Notebook Where The Words Go

The Questions & The Details

What if I could take apart some of the greatest poems and use those words to reconstruct completely new stories? Could it be done? Could I do it? Would the words be able to tell different stories? Would I lose my voice if I could not choose my words, not a single one? Do words have enough meaning to tell different stories while they stay the same?

These are all the questions I asked myself as I began this journey. It was frustrating not to be able to choose my words but, as I started doing it, I saw the words, the same words, telling new and different stories.

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Once I completed a couple of reconstructions it became very apparent I needed visual artists to help bring my stories to life. I started searching out artists whose aesthetics, I believed, would interpret well with this project.  As each artist joined the project, (six in all: Illustrator, Sculptor, Graphic Designer, Painter, Lino Cutter/Digital Printer, and Street Artist) a beautiful collaboration began between these artists, my reconstructions and the iconic poets. Not only were we able to bring the poem sets to life visually (“poem set” being the term we use to describe an original poem, de-constructed word list and reconstructed poem), but each artist involved used the words to inspire their own story. 

You will recognize some of the greatest poets of all time in the works: Yeats, Kipling, Henley, Dickenson, Hughes, Frye, Brontë, Poe, Donne, & Frost.

As our team comes from various places in the world, you will also find an international flavour to our exhibition which brings an added dimension to these conversations.

I worried about the constrained creativity this project entailed. I mean, come on, a writer who doesn’t choose any of her own words?! I won’t lie, it was a struggle, and not only for me as the writer but for the visual artists as well. But we discovered even when you put parameters on and constrain creativity, creativity will not be constrained. Words carry meaning individually, and words together tell stories. You take them apart, put them back together and they can tell completely new stories. These stories then take on imagery, collaboration and multiple interpretations. Soon you find you are having new conversations out of the old ones! And…

The words became art we hold in our hands.

This is the true power of collaboration.

Together, more is possible than ever would have been on our own.

Here’s a sneak peek to aid your curiosity:

And here is a sample of a reconstructed poem:

Unto One

One robin fainting in his nest.

Or one heart breaking again.

One life I live in vain.

If I shall stop,

Cool, the pain,

If I can live, can ease,

I shall help.

Not vain or not from aching

unto one.

Reconstruction by Stacey Covell – (Original: ‘If I Can Stop’ by Emily Dickenson)

Conversations|Reconstructed tells beautiful stories, both written and visually, on the power of words. The power they have to change and stay the same, to cross cultures, to exhibit great beauty, to affect all our senses.

We are eagerly awaiting April 1st when we get into the gallery for set up and open the Exhibition a few days later! There is an opening evening reception on April 4th (RSVP). The exhibition then runs until April 19th. If you are in the area please stop by! Otherwise I hope you’ll visit via here or the exhibition web page.

If you like what you see why not consider donating to help fund this project. Costs cover venue, to the production of our Art Book and promotional materials, to hopefully being able to tour the project! Check it the specifics on the indiegogo fundraising site. There are loads of fun rewards you get for contributing too! You can also share and follow the campaign and exhibition there (under the video on the indiegogo page).

Here’s the link: http://igg.me/at/conrecon/x/5548328

You can also subscribe to the Conversations|Reconstructed webpage & blog, www.conversationsreconstructed.com, to learn more about the artists, keep up to date with the exhibition, and see behind the scenes pics!

And now, here’s the promised video. Benoit did an amazing job! Hope you enjoy it!

What do you like most about what you see? Leave a comment below. I’d love to talk more!

Conversations|Reconstructed

1 Exhibition

1 Writer

7 Visual Artists

10 reconstructions

20 poems

1,048 words…x3

4 April-19 April 2014

The Culture Box, Temple Bar, Dublin, Ireland

Dublin Ireland

For the next few weeks I’ll be talking more about this exhibition, its artists, the art, the words, the poetry, the places…It’s all very exciting!!! Hope you’ll join in the fun!

Perspectives

Isn’t it interesting how things can change when we look at them with a new perspective?!Perspectives

Each year brings with it new goals; some new dreams and desires. Each year that passes also gives us new perspectives. Some are of those are positive things, some are skeptical and some even negative. What I hope for this year for myself and for all of us is that we gain more perspective on who we TRULY are.

That we be ourselves…

Laugh uninhibited…

Cry freely when we are sad…

Forgive ourselves when we mess up, or fail at our goals… (because, yes, it’s gonna happen!)

Forgive others when they mess up and fail… (because, yes, that’s gonna happen too!)

And that we take more time to…

Spend more time with the people we love.

Doing the things we love.

What do you think?

(Image credit: Pencil Me In – Bloglovin: http://bit.ly/1aoI198)

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

The Writing Room (continued…)- The Drafts

Well, after 4 (yes! FOUR!) coats of paint, the job is done! The walls are now white and I’ve spent part of yesterday and today making the space functional. It’s taking shape as I imagined it. There’s still organising and adjusting to do but the hardest part of the project is behind me.

The Writing Room

The Writing Room

There are a few more things I am excited to share about this space but that will have to wait for now…

I’ll be seeing you in The Writing Room from now on.

I Need A Name – The Drafts

The DraftsI’ll be honest. I’ve been having a hard time lately. It seems when there are certain challenges going on in my life I find other things that normally are very enjoyable to me, overwhelming. This is where I’ve been at with posting lately.

But by no means are things here, or YOU, forgotten!

So, back to The Drafts.

On a very happy note, I’ve submitted a short story to two journals. Now I will wait the 11-12 weeks to hear a reply. Since it’s the first I’ve done this I’m holding things very loosely. Mostly I needed to do it to have the experience of submitting a creation of mine for unknown eyes to read (and evaluate). That’s worth a lot to me no matter what the outcome!

Today I’m going to share the opening of a short story I’m working on. It’s very new and it’s already been causing me a lot of tension. I’m hoping that’s because it’s going to be important. Again, time and putting in the effort will tell. 

It still needs a name. Leave a comment giving your suggestions! It will be a challenge with just this little peek but that will make it all the more fun!

Also, tell me what you see when you read it. What do you imagine the main character to be like? What does the apartment look like? Where do you think the story is headed?

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He didn’t need anyone to lay next to him most nights. His heart was full. It didn’t matter if she was near or far. It didn’t even matter that she didn’t know this. He loved her. And each day of doing that was enough to fill him for the next. Sarah was the most beautiful creature. She was strong and virulent. She felt things greatly and inside out she was wonderful. There was nothing about her Luck didn’t love. Each day with her made him a better person; more whole, more complete. He would never forget the day he met her. She’s been walking down the road. He’d been walking down the road at the same time and came upon her since he’d been walking faster than her. They both turned to go into the coffee shop to their left. She’d gotten to the door first and was attempting to open it. He’d been able to reach out and hold the door for her.

“Well, aren’t you the Renaissance man. It’s not like I need you to do that for me or anything,” she’d said. He had smiled and she walked right through the open door.

That day had changed everything for him. Was it love at first sight? He wasn’t sure. But he was sure he was now different now. It was at that moment that he’d felt himself start to become more himself. His true self, there all along, but had lain stagnant since the times he’d had to set it aside to survive. Sarah was fire. Or better put, she was the heat source.

Stretching Luck got out of bed, pushed the curtains open and opened every window in the apartment. He loved morning air. It was the first air, the freshest air. Humming along as he went, he showered, dressed.

“What the hell Luck!”, His roommate said coming into the kitchen, “It’s freezing in here! Close some of those damn windows!”

“Don’t you just love the first air in the morning?”

Ooooh No!” We are NOT having this conversation again! Close the damn windows before we all freeze to death!” James said as the door to the bathroom closed behind him.

Making some toast for himself he took in the sun streaming in the windows. It wasn’t sunny everyday but when it was the apartment lit up inside. It was sunny the day he’d viewed the apartment and was probably the main reason he’d bought it. He finished his toast and then for James’ sake, he closed the windows. All but the one right outside the bathroom door.

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Talk to me in the comments!

See you there!