Ageing…Vanity…Mortality…Oh MY!

I got my first wrinkles at 38… Fuck me

The morning of my 38th birthday I woke up looked in the mirror and saw it… my first wrinkle on my face… I had a laugh line… happy birthday to me.

What the fuck kind of timing is that? You can’t tell me that Mother Nature is not real and that she doesn’t have a twisted sense of humor… she is and she does.
That is some fucked up shit that you never forget, to wake up on your damned birthday and find a crack in your face!

The good news is that I now have a matching set but I can’t tell you when the second one appeared exactly… all I know is that now at least there is balance to my face with 2 laugh line cracks on each side of my aging face…ugh

I will be 39 in 3 months and let me tell you, I am not looking forward to what that bitch plans on giving me this year… maybe it will be something fun like fucking liver spots…

Oh but that isn’t all folks. My hair has thinned and has started breaking off  which has a lot to do with my diet and PCOS as well as with ageing. So after having grown it out nice and long the last year and a half I now have to chop it off in hopes that it will grow back fast. I have started to take Biotin which is supposed to help, wish me luck!

I also have begun to see the skin under my eyes thin and tiny little lines are there too.. yes, more wrinkles…WTF! Yes, I am putting myself under a microscope every time I look in the mirror, I cant help it…

I understand now why my mom, aunt and grandmother always talked about how they wish they could get plastic surgery… they always talked and still talk about getting face lifts and I always told them that was ridiculous. I always told them that wrinkles was a part of life and everyone gets them…and now I understand why they were so bothered…every time I look in the mirror I see my youth escaping me, I see my mortality and so did they…

I get so much now that I am older and experiencing so many changes. So it is not that I am vain, it is that I am sad to see my youth that I wasted has begun to leave me and that the physical beauty we are afforded with our youths is going along with it. It is especially hard for me because growing up, and well basically my whole life until now I never thought I was beautiful..in fact I always felt ugly.

I say I wasted my youth because I never saw myself the way I do now, I never appreciated what I had and I never enjoyed it. It is funny that now, finally, after 38 years I finally get into shape and start a fresh new slate in life that I finally see myself differently, I finally feel beautiful and confident only to have it start to fade away in the mirror.

So for those of view who judge me and make snide comments when I post my “selfies” you can just shove it because I am not doing it for attention, I am doing it because for once in my life I am proud of how I look and I worked really hard to get here.

I am finally after 38 years happy to get dressed in the morning and I know that these next couple of years are all I am going to have to record these last moments before I have aged more and before more wrinkles take over my entire face and body…

So before you judge me or anyone else try and not judge them because you have no idea why people do the things they do and maybe people are doing it for themselves and not for anyone else.

So there are a lot of things I am going through with my hormonal/emotional changes and my physical changes and also with the changes I have made in my lifestyle this past year. So if you are walking into the current chapter in my book of life you have no idea what it took for me to get here so try not to judge until you have stuck around for at least one full chapter.

As always thank you for stopping by and taking the time to read my inner most ramblings,

My love to you all ❤

 

I hope the doctor’s are wrong…

I refuse to believe that this is the last Christmas I get to spend with my grandma.

Her doctor told us she wouldn’t survive another year but I don’t believe it. She seems so much better than the last time I saw her. I thought it was going to be hard being here knowing this and it was but now I think they are wrong.

I’m not going to let myself be brought down because I really feel like she will be here next year…is it wrong to be optimistic?  Am I setting myself up for dissapointment ? Maybe…

So maybe I am in denial just a little bit but I know doctor’s are not always right and she seems so good right now…

Maybe it’s just too hard to believe that when I walk out that door tomorrow and drive back to Ohio that I may not see her again…must every goodbye be a tearful heart wrenching one?

Whatever happens I’m glad I was here… 20151225_104437.jpg

My Last Christmas with grandpa was the most memorable one of my life…

I did not know it would be the last Christmas with my grandfather, I wonder now if he knew it would be and that was the reason he tried to make it so special?

Until I started writing this story just now at this moment, it never occurred to me that he might have known he had cancer and was dying that winter because the following summer on my 9th birthday he died.

I was 8 years old and I was in West Virginia visiting my grandfather with my grandmother. My parents hadn’t arrived yet; they were coming down on Christmas day. I remember the thick green shag carpet and the smell of cigarettes and cologne that permeated the walls like it was yesterday.

My grandfather was a collector of Avon cologne bottles… many of you may not know this unless you are my age or older but back in the day Avon used to sell these really cool bottles of men’s cologne and it stank but the bottles were what you wanted. They came in all shapes and forms and he had them all. He had these shelves that lined his living room back wall and they were stacked full of them, I used to play with them when I visited.

I would set up my Barbie’s and pull down the bottles shaped like cars and horses and play dolls with them. He had this one that was a made to look like a western gun that I kept when he died but it was lost in the shuffle of moving one year… I still have one of them though, the Moose! I will post a picture of it later when I get home… it is the only thing I have left of him besides a gutting knife he used when he would go fishing and it’s such a great thing to have because it was a part of my childhood playing with that moose bottle.

Well to get back to my story, I eight years old and nearly out of my believing in Santa phase, in fact that was the last Christmas I half-heartedly believed. I was laying on the green shag carpet playing with his bottles and my dolls while we watched some holiday program and it was xmas eve and dark outside. My grandpa got up and went to the bathroom, all I will say about that is that when he went in there he was usually gone for a while so what happened next was both confusing and exciting.

All of a sudden I heard bells and what sounded like footsteps on the ROOF! I sat up and listened and looked at my grandma, “did you hear that?” I asked as I looked around the room as if to discover the bells behind the curtain’s… There it was again, bells and footsteps on the roof!!! I ran to the front door and looked out the window and didn’t see anything… I wanted to believe it was Santa but where was grandpa I asked? As I ran around the house like a lunatic…I was too excited at the possibility that it was Santa that I gave up on the notion that it was grandpa and let myself believe he was in the bathroom missing all the fun.

My grandma ushered me to the back door and we went out onto the porch and to my surprise and amazement there was a large sack of gifts sitting there! I had never seen anything like it in my life! I had never been so excited and happy in all my life (as short as it was at 8 years old)

When we came back into the house with the sack of gifts my grandpa was sitting back in his chair in the living room…I can still see his face and the way he looked at me down over his glasses when I ran in followed by my grandma and the sack. “Well, he said… what are you waiting for?” I ripped into that bag and opened those gifts as fast as my hands would unwrap everything. Of course everything I asked for was in that bag, Santa knew what I wanted. It was the most exciting Christmas I ever had in my whole life and I was 8 years old.

It was the last Christmas I ever got to spend with my grandpa…and part of me thinks he knew it would be…part of me knows that he wanted to keep the spirit of Christmas alive in my heart and for me to believe in those magical moments and that is why he put on a show for me and made it the most memorable holiday of my life.

My grandmother told me a few years later when I asked because I had realized what really happened that when we went onto the back porch he snuck back in through the front door and that was how he was there waiting when we came back in…

I like to think that he is up there somewhere watching over me and that he knows how special he made that last Christmas and how it has never left my heart and how I think of it and remember him each and every year.

Here is the Moose cologne decanter… I wish I had pictures of all the ones he had, they were amazing.

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The Mulberry Tree Stains…

When I was little I lived on a street full of kids that were all around my age. It was really a great street to grow up on for that reason alone, even if we didn’t all get along all of the time.

One of our favorite past times was riding our bicycles around the neighborhood, I was not allowed off of our street, I could only ever ride from corner to corner but there were times when I would sneak my way around the block.

There was a young couple who lived near us and they had not had any children of their own yet and looking back I would have to say they were in their early 20’s… the wife “Olga” would sit outside and talk to us and play with us, mostly with me. I was drawn to their house because her husband was a trumpet player in a salsa band (they were both from Puerto Rico) and my father was also from PR so I loved the music and could hear him practice in the summer when the windows were open.

I would walk or ride my bike over to their apartment and sit outside their door on the stoop just to listen to him practice. I always got in trouble because I was supposed to stay in sight where my mom could see me and so as soon as I heard my name being yelled I had to leave but there were a couple times Olga saw me out there and would invite me in and that was the best to be able to actually see him play.

She had a bicycle and rode it around the neighborhood and took all the kids on little bike rides but I was never allowed to go…I was determined to go with them all this one day though so I didn’t tell anyone and just got at the end of the line and followed them as they rode a few blocks away to the parking lot of a local elementary school. Everyone got off of their bikes and started climbing this massive mulberry tree… so I did too. I had never done that before, I had never even seen a mulberry tree before so I had no idea that I was leaving evidence all over myself of where I had been.

I remember that I was 9 years old because of the gym uniform top I was wearing that I ruined. When I came around the corner as we rode back to our houses I saw my mother standing at the front door, she saw me.. I was busted. We lived right near the corner, there was no way to hide or lie about leaving our block now. When I got home I quietly rode my bike to the garage and put it away and before I knew it my grandmother was standing at the back door with a cross look on her face. “Where have you been?” she asked with a sternness in her voice, I knew I was in trouble. “Just riding bikes with the kids” I replied

She opened the door and held it open and said “Get in the house” the fear was in me, I am pretty sure I was shaking. She stopped me on the back porch and looked at me, I think her jaw fell open as she looked me up and down and before she said anything else to me she yelled to my mom “Crystal! Come look at this”

My mom came to the porch as my grandmother pointed out that my shoes, my clothes and even my scalp was stained blood red/purple… You tell me where you were right now! She said almost yelling, her voice so full of anger that I started to cry. “I was just riding bikes with everyone, we followed Olga to the school and everyone climbed the tree I whimpered.”

She made me take my shoes off and then took me to the bathroom to disrobe and put me in the tub and tried to scrub the mulberry stains from my hands and scalp. My clothes were ruined and my shoes were stained, we were poor and so I had to wear those stained shoes but she had to replace my gym uniform. I can understand now why she was so upset, not just because we were poor and she couldn’t afford to replace my clothes and shoes but because for however long I was gone she was worried. When they yelled my name and I didn’t pop out of someone’s driveway they had no way of knowing where I was.

Those were the days before cell phones, the days when you came inside when the street lights came on and you didn’t roam further than your moms voice could yell because you had to hear her OR ELSE. I miss those days sometimes; things were so much simpler in a lot of ways… of course there is a convenience to technology that I love now but I love living in the days before we had all of this… I love knowing a life before computers, cell phones, and social media… it makes me cherish the memories of my youth even more.

I never rode with Olga again, they moved the following summer and I never got to hear her husband play his trumpet or ride bikes with her again, I was sad when they left for a long while…even thinking about them now I wonder what happened to them. I wish I knew their last names so I could look them up. I wonder if we reside in her memory or left as much of an impact as they did on mine. Where ever they are I am glad they are part of my most cherished memories.

Thank you for the mulberry stains Olga, if not for those stains I might not have remembered our adventures … thank you where ever you are.

 

 

How I moved to Ireland …

When I was 24 I decided to go on my first real vacation, I was single and had disposable income…what I didn’t have were adventurous friends or family, at least any that could afford to do the things I wanted to do. I tried to wait it out until someone could go someplace fun with me, some place out of the country, which was a first for me.

I had a few bites; I mean who isn’t interested in going someplace new and exciting? Well, in the end no one came through… as was always the story with me. I always had the good ideas and made the plans and did the things but never seemed to be in the right group of people that could join in on my fun so I always did everything alone… I got used to doing things alone.

So I said fuck it and got my passport and bought a ticket to Ireland. I had never been anywhere outside of west Virginia by myself, so taking a trip to another country all by myself was kind of a big deal. My friends and family couldn’t believe I was doing it, I had more to shock them with when I came back but let’s not jump ahead.

So, while I was planning this trip I have to admit that I had a little motivation, you see I had made 3 online friends who lived there. Each one of them were in a different part of the country, one south, one west and one east. So I got to see the whole country when I went over just about. I had planned to meet each one of them on different days; the first person I met was my good friend to this day Niall. Before I get to Niall let me back up to the drama surrounding the trip…

You see, I bought my ticket about 6 months before the trip and so the events that were to come were unknown to us all. My trip was to take place on November 12th 2001 … just 2 months after the tragedy of 9/11

Shortly after the attacks in NY I had a dream that a plane would crash on the day of my trip… I did not think it would be my plane exactly I just knew that after the dream I was uneasy every day until the trip. I did not sleep the night before my trip, not one wink. I was up all night full of nerves. My flight went from Cleveland to JFK in NY… American Airlines. When I walked through the airport in NY I got sick, I never had a migraine like that in my life ever before or since… If you do not know what happened that day yet just wait…I will get there.

I have to mention here that I did a stupid thing the night before my trip and watched the movie “Final Destination” yep, I did. That didn’t help my nerves at all lol. The day of the trip I am sitting at the gate and realize that oh my god I forgot my makeup bag! I didn’t have my makeup on this trip to another country where I would be meeting these 3 guys I had been writing to for months! I look up at the clock for the first time since I have been there, the big digital clock on the wall in bright red numbers and what time do you think it was? 9:11 am 911! I walked to the payphone and called my cousin and completely freaked out.  No makeup, no sleep, a creepy movie and nerves on end… she calmed me down and told me I could buy some makeup at the New York airport… I did but it cost $30 for concealer that turned out to be the wrong color for me, I was a pasty white ghost the whole trip lol

When I finally made it to Ireland I had been awake for 48 hours and I still had to rent a car and learn to drive on the opposite side of the road, wow was that a learning experience lol My B&B was only 15 minutes from the airport but it took me 2 hours to find it… yep. I was so dead tired when I finally got there that I showered and sat on the bed and passed out with my towels still on my head and body… I woke up 12 hours later to my room phone ringing. It was my friend Niall calling to make sure I was there and ok… the first words out of his mouth were, turn on the tv… I searched for the remote and asked what channel; he said it’s on every channel. Then I saw it, American Airlines Flight 587 that left the ground the same time my flight did crashed killing everyone on board.

I remember walking by those passengers, right before I got sick. The first thought was oh my god, my family! I hung up and made some calls, my family was frantic… they hadn’t released information on the flight yet so my family had no idea if it was my plane. I can’t even imagine what they were going through. After everyone was updated to my safety I got dressed and went back to bed, now that I was wide awake it was still only midnight there and I had no choice but to try and go back to sleep.

The next few days I spent with Niall who showed me all around the eastern coast and was so kind and really made my trip special. In fact I took his kindness the wrong way and had to make it weird by telling him I had a crush on him but alas the feeling was not mutual, it is all good though because we have remained good friends all these years and I am glad we did because he is a wonderful person to call friend.

The next visit was to my friend Cathal in the west and also drove me all over the countryside and showed me such a great time…and yep you guessed it, I also had a crush on him lol hey, I was a young impressionable and naïve girl in Ireland surrounded by hot guys with irresistible accents lol So anyways this time I actually thought he might like me too and so I left him a little note, ok it was like a 5 page letter lol He too did not feel the same way and he too remained friends with me over the years until these last few when he married and became too busy with life, which happens.

My 3rd visit didn’t happen, I went south and tried to get a hold of my friend Derek but we never managed to hook up so what happened, my friend Niall came to my rescue! He took me to stay at his brother’s house that lived nearby and made the end of my trip absolutely wonderful, I came to know his family and they are such wonderful people who I hope to see again someday soon when I return.

So the trip turned out great after a rocky start…so great in fact that I decided I was going to move there. I felt like I was at home the whole time I was there, it was amazing.

The very day that I got home I called the Irish Consulate general in Chicago (because that was the only thing I could think to do) and asked what I needed to do to Move to Ireland. They gave me a little info and set me on my way.

I started saving every extra Penney I made, I sold everything I owned and what I didn’t sell I put into storage. I applied to jobs almost every day and I got a rejection letter for every application. Finally after about 9 months I got a bite, which was all I needed. They set up an interview with me and I booked my flight. I rented an apartment and left with hopes that this interview would be the job that would allow me to stay there. There was so much I didn’t know, I cannot even begin to tell you the things I did not know. I learned so much from this experience, more than I thought I would ever learn that is for sure.

I never even got to sit for the interview; they turned me away in the waiting room when they heard my American accent. She said, oh I am sorry we do not offer work permits here… I said, but I was very clear on my CV that I was an American who needed a work permit. She apologized and sent me on my way… that was the biggest bubble that had ever been burst in my life up to that point.

I felt dizzy as I walked out of there, I walked to a little café and messaged a friend of mine I had just made and he came to me straight away, Colm…you rescued me that day. I admired his knowledge; he is one of the smartest people I know. He walked me around town distracting my despair by filling my head with facts and history of the city. He would rescue me again before the end of my time there; I really owe him so much.

So for those of you that do not know here is the deal with work visas and permits. There are only a few professions that allow for visas, at the time there were only 3 and I qualified for none. That means I needed a work permit which is something that only the employer can buy for the employee. They have to pay a large fee; at the time it was 600 euro. Then they have to file paperwork with the courts proving why I am more qualified for the job than an Irish citizen tat applied… so you see the red tape is crazy and that is why I was never going to be hired by anyone. I didn’t know any of this before I went there.

I had to find a new way now; I already paid for my apartment through December so I was determined to make this work. I would live off of my savings until I found a job or went broke and went home with my tail between my legs. Well, the whole apartment situation became weird and I was forced to leave. What happened you ask? Oh, well my flat mates turned out to be a little coocky… the guy was ok and super nice but the girl… she was off her damned rocker. You see, they used to be a couple but still lived together, separate rooms etc… well she had it in her head that I wanted her man or that he wanted me and that set her off the edge. She started throwing shit and fighting with him and banging doors etc… the last straw was when she started acting like an asshole towards me, I do not play that shit.

So I asked for my money back for the remainder of the time there and he gave it to me. I moved in with a woman I had met online who needed a nanny to live with her and cook, clean and watch her 3 kids as single mom she needed help and I needed a rent free room and it paid so I took it. That was a mistake, a big mistake. Another lesson learned though, I lasted there a month and then fled, like I literally ran out of there with my bags trailing behind me… it was like living in a carnival of horrors … a whole other story unto itself.

This is where Colm comes to the rescue again. He rented me a bed in his flat mate’s room… Bubbles and I shared a room and almost shared a last name… but not how you think. OK Maybe it is how you think, if you are thinking green card marriage then ya that’s how. Lol

He sympathized with me and my situation, not wanting to go back home and not being able to find legal work being a non citizen so he offered to marry me to help me stay and become a citizen. I accepted and we registered to get married on Valentine ’s Day. Cheesy I know, remember I am still a young dumb naïve girl trying to live her dreams in a foreign country and trying my best not to fail so I wouldn’t have to go home to all the “I told you so’s” that I was sure awaited me.

It all seemed like a great plan until I dug deeper. Divorce is a new thing in Ireland, in fact it is so new that at the time and perhaps still to this day they have a rule about it. You must remain married for 5 years before you can file for divorce… five whole years married to a man named “Bubbles” ya, he changed his name legally to piss of his dad. He also thought getting hitched to an American would piss him off too by the way. Don’t get me wrong he was the nicest of nice guys and I appreciated the offer and everything he did but the more I thought about it the more wrong it felt. When I told the boyfriend I had at the time of my plan to stay in the country I thought he would be excited since it would mean me not having to move 4,000 miles away from him but he was not happy, in fact he was a little upset. That was the beginning of the end for us…I mean I get it now, who wants their girlfriend marrying some other guy even it is was just for a green card. At the time I expected a little more encouragement though, a little more of “whatever you have to do to stay with me” kind of shit … man I was so ignorant… or maybe just so young.

In the end I decided to go back home when my money ran out, which it did pretty fast. I literally had $5 in my pocket, the only thing left to my name and I arrived just in time for Christmas. I felt like a bum not being able to buy gifts that year so I made my stories of all my adventures around the table my gift and to everyone else apparently the only gift they wanted was having me home. I didn’t get any I told you so comments, only hugs and gratitude that I was back.

I learned a lot from that experience and I wouldn’t trade a single moment of it…I would do it all again because I learned the most important lesson of my life at that time, I was humbled. I learned that what I had wasn’t so bad after all…in fact it was pretty great and it still is.

 

 

 

 

My First and Last Drag Race

It was July of 2004 and I just got a fun little sports car. It didn’t have a fast engine but it had a turbo boost and rode low, fast and took curves easy. I found my foot became heavy every time I got behind the wheel.

The fast & furious movies were popular and there were secret drag races happening all of the time.

I found out where and decided to join in for the fun. They took place in an old abandoned industrial parkway in a deserted area that never saw traffic. The street was long and nowhere near a residential area. It was perfect.

My cousin agreed to race me.

How it worked was, you arrived with the car and who you were racing and you didn’t stop to sign up or show your face, you arrived at the spot, you raced and then you got out of the way. Period.

We decided to go down the day before and do a trial run. She thought she was going to beat me in her little Mazda, and she should have with its bigger engine, but my quicker reflexes and driving skill won the race.

I thought that trial run prepared me for the following day but I hadn’t known just how many people would be there, how many cars would be lining the street and how much pressure I would feel when I got there.

We knew what to do, you rolled up to the stop sign and as soon as your racing buddy was beside you, you floored it.

My hands gripped that wheel so hard not only were my knuckles white but when I peeled my hands from the wheel a short minute later the driving wheel cover left a nice little imprint on my palms for a short while.

The race didn’t last long, we went flying down the street as the blur of people we passed cheered and waved. I beat her again, but that was the last race and last time I would be driving that car…I pushed it too hard and busted the engine block. I didn’t know this until that long ride home though…

We backed our cars up onto the sidewalk at the end of the line and sat on the car hood waiting for the next race to start. We had our music playing loud and were talking and laughing with the people around us until we heard it…the “whoop whoop” of the CCPD.

It all happened so fast, everyone ran to get into their cars and pulled out into the street all at once, making it impossible to drive anywhere.

I saw a few people drive up onto the sidewalk and go around, I followed. There was only 4 ways out and the cops had every exit blocked…they had been tipped off and they had us all right where they wanted us.

At the time I hadn’t realized there were only those 4 ways out so I kept following the cars on the sidewalk who took a sharp left onto this road which I thought must have been a back way, a 5th way out…

We raced down the gravel road, dust flying around us and lights behind chasing us.

I soon realized where we were, and how screwed we were.

We had taken the road to the gravel mounds where they piled up gravel for construction of whatever the hell they use it for.

My cousin was in her car ahead of me and drove as far as she could then backed into a spot in the dark by the trees behind a mill; I backed in next to her.

Of course they found us, they knew we had no place to go…and now they had us for evading.

I had never been so scared in my whole life before that moment.

I called my boyfriend who offered no words of support; that jerk.

I was scared they would be taking me to jail…I saw them loading people into the back of cruisers already, oh god!

Here it comes; the officer walks up to my door and asks me to step out of the vehicle then asks for my license and registration.

I had it ready and handed it over. He took it over to a squad car and handed it to someone inside who proceeded to turn his bright car light thingy on me so that all I could see was blaring light and then got on his loud speaker and said, “Ms. Santiago, what are you doing here?”

I blurted out, “I heard about what was going on and just came to watch”

He replies, “Aren’t you a little old to be doing this kind of thing?”

That really stung. I was only 27 or 28 then but realized that everyone else that was down there was much much younger, mid to late teens early twenties maybe.

I said nothing.

“Ms. Santiago, am I going to catch you down here again?” still on loud speaker

“No sir”

He turned his light away from my face and handed my license back to the officer who walked it over to me and told me to get out of there.

I turned to look at my younger cousin who was not so lucky; the officer was writing her a few tickets to take away as a parting gift.

I gave her the “I’m sorry” look and got the hell out of dodge. I got off lucky, I know I did.

Well, maybe I got lucky with the law but that race cost me a whole new car and $800 to a scam mechanic who locked up my car, took my money and then flew to Puerto Rico.

That car never got fixed, I never got that money back and I never raced again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holidays Abroad

It never occurred to me that moving to another country would mean no turkey dinner on thanksgiving.

I was 25 and still figuring it all out. Of course I know that Thanksgiving is an American holiday. It is one of those things you know but never really apply to the world outside until you are on the outside.

I decided to move to Ireland and in early September I had my bags backed and my plane ticket in hand.

There were a lot of tearful goodbye hugs and sure the holiday season was coming up but I was more excited about the adventures that awaited me.

I rented my apartment ahead of time and was about to meet my new flat mates. They seemed like perfectly normal nice people during our Skype chats. I paid for three months of rent ahead of time so I was sure to have a roof over my head until I found a job.

Finding a job, who knew it was going to be that difficult.

I have a drawer with no less than 100 rejection letters. I finally called one of them up and expressed my despair and explained my situation. The woman on the other end of the phone sympathized and finally told me the truth of the matter.

I am American and I do not have a work visa, I did not qualify for one. So to work there I needed a work permit, only granted by employers willing to hire someone. I knew I was qualified for the work I was applying for but she further explained that in order for a work permit to be granted an employer must file with the government explaining why this non-citizen is more qualified than this Irish citizen. Boom, there it was, the bomb had finally dropped. I was never going to find a job here…a legal one anyway.

I soon discovered that my flat mate’s who played a good game of normal on Skype were actually a little bit Looney… ok a lot Looney. The man would pull my underwear from the dryer and fold them neatly for me, even after I asked him not to. The woman thought I was trying to scam on her man (they were exes with separate rooms but I had zero interest, ZERO) She started fighting with him and breaking things accusing him of flirting etc… needless to say after one month I asked for my money back for the next 2 months and got the hell out of dodge.

A friend I met made an offer that I could not resist. She needed a nanny and I needed a place to stay. I lived there rent free and got paid, all I had to do was cook, clean and mind the kids. Sounds great right? It was great for a day, one single day. Each day after that only got worse…I mean nightmarish.

I soon found out that these three kids and this single mother had gone through a nanny every month since her husband left her. I now know why none of them stayed. At first I felt sorry for the kids, I knew they were acting out because their mother neglected them and wanted a nanny to raise them for her. In my life never before or after then have I come across kids in real life who were as awful as they were. On TV sure, in movies and fictional stories sure. No, this was real. I was living on a hidden camera show I thought, this cannot be happening.

A few examples if you will. I tried bonding with the kids by getting them pumpkins to carve for Halloween, something to my surprise, they had never done before. It started out ok, and kids will be kids right. I knew there would be some mess with the gooey insides. These kids took handfuls of the pumpkins insides and ran around the house throwing it on the walls and floor and ceiling…The CEILING!

Guess who got to clean that up? You guessed it. Guess who never did anything nice for those kids again. I wasn’t mean to them; they had their mother for that. I just did my job. I did my job while they opened the bay window at the front of the house and jumped out of it, at night. I did my job while they jumped on top of the dining room table during dinner and danced knocking their food onto the floor. I did my job until the last straw.

The mother decided to go out of town for the weekend with a friend and decided her friends children would stay at her house. There were now five kids in the house who did not think they had to listen to me and who ran wild day and night, when I say wild please use your imagination here because I cannot bring myself to drudge up the memories. I think I even blocked out part of that weekend because all I can remember is packing my bags and leaving the day the mother came home.

I called a friend who offered to rent me a bed in his shared apartment. I left her a note telling her she was lucky I didn’t report her to the authorities and never looked back. It was then that I also decided I was never having children, or watching anyone else’s ever again.

I finally found peace living in a flat with two guys. They were pretty easy going and decent. I was finally able to enjoy the time I had left there. My plan to live there permanently was not working out so I knew that soon I would run out of money and have to go. Then something funny happened, a marriage proposal…and not from the guy I was dating.

My flat mate knew of my situation and my not wanting to move back home so he offered a green card marriage. I said yes. He applied for the marriage certificate and the wedding was slated for Valentine’s Day…to make it look like we were in love. I was so, so naïve.

We spent time learning about each other so we could answer the questions we would surely be asked by immigration. Everything seemed to be working out after all. Then I found out the “catch” not just for me, but for him. In Ireland divorce is a fairly recent thing that is allowed but is not taken lightly. If we were to get married and I got my green card and got my job and lived happily ever after we wouldn’t be allowed to divorce for five years…five whole years!

Did I mention that my flat mates name was Bubbles? Yes, he legally changed it to bubbles to piss off his father. This is who I would be married to. If I wanted to move back home or marry someone else or if he met someone else we would be stuck. It was a lot to consider and I was running out of money.

Thanksgiving arrived. Did you know that they don’t sell turkey there? I didn’t know that either. At least they didn’t when I lived there.

I made my daily walk into town and proceeded to have my thanksgiving dinner at burger king. I had the chicken sandwich, the closet thing I was going to get to a turkey dinner.

I then went and called my family and they passed the phone around to everyone. When I told them I had burger king for dinner they had the same reaction I did, what no turkey?

It’s not something you think about, who would? How could you know until you were in that situation? In another country while back home your family celebrated an American holiday. I felt the deep pang of homesickness on that call.

Would I want to sit in this internet café calling my family at Christmas too? How would they react to the news of my marriage to Bubbles? What about my Irish marriage enslavement period of five years? All to just be able to get a legal job that paid enough for me to live there while I figured life out. I would like to mention here also that Bubbles and I had no romantic feelings towards each other at all; it was strictly a platonic green card arrangement.

It turns out that through all of these events I was already figuring things out. I was learning one of the most valuable lessons of my life, but I wouldn’t realize that until later.

I thought that the grass really was greener on the other side like so many young impressionable and ignorant kids before me.

I found out that yes, in Ireland their grass is greener because it rains every single day. My problems and my life however did not get better and life did not magically make everything into rainbows and unicorns because I moved across the ocean.

I had some great experiences and adventures during my four months there, and some pretty not great ones too. I made a lot of new friends and learned a huge life lesson; and I would do it all over again.

In the end I decided it was too huge of a sacrifice to make, five long years married to Bubbles. So I packed my bags and promised I would come back, but I think he knew I wouldn’t.

It was the right thing to do and I got home just in time for Christmas with $5 to my name. That was all I had left in the world, $5.00 and the tales I had to tell to my friends and family at Christmas dinner.