Carrick: A Tribute

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Today marked Michael Carrick’s last game for Manchester United. It is fitting that he played his final appearance in the Premier League at Old Trafford, the home of the club where the supreme passer won a fantastic haul of silverware. In his twelve years at the Theatre of Dreams, Michael Carrick won five Premier Leagues, three League Cups, one F.A. Cup, one Champions League, one Club World Cup, one Europa League and several Community Shields, which we all know are the most important. This is obviously an impressive resume for United’s new coach.

Carrick’s final season was cut short in September of 2017 after finding an irregular heart rhythm to be the root of his discomfort on the field in a cup match against Burton. He made the tough but ultimately right decision to hang up his playing boots and put on his coaching boots. Unlike Mourinho and Rui Faria, the assistant coach, who have both never played competitive football, it is fair to say that Carrick has a wealth of experience on the pitch. This will ease his transition into the coaching role. Carrick has also always been an extremely gifted technical player with an eye for the killer pass. His guidance and knowledge of the physical Premier League will help young talents like McTominay and Rashford continue their impressive respective starts to life in the Premier League in the seasons to come.

Please enjoy this video with depressing music. Happy Sunday, you go back to work tomorrow!

Carrick has been a favourite of mine since his arrival at the club in the summer of 2006. As an Irishman, I was wary of anyone who was taking the number 16 after the departure of Roy Keane a year earlier. I had seen Carrick inĀ Match! magazine in an article about his range of vision and passing(Jaysus, Match magazine was unreal, wasn’t it?). Immediately you could see why he was signed. His passing and vision was one thing, but his ability to move the ball out of seemingly impossible situations as well as defend impressively too were more tools at his disposal.
And he could score too! I’ll always remember his two thunderbastard goals against Roma when United demolished them in the Champions League were unbelievable. I watch the highlights of that game every once in a while just to watch Carrick fire two unstoppable shots into the top right corner in each half. He was part of the sensational squad that won the Champions League in 2008 against Chelsea, and was vital in United reaching two more finals in the next three years.

In the last few years at the club, only Rooney rivaled him for composure on the ball and that trademark curling ball to the wing from midfield remained everpresent, even in today’s match against Watford. After Rooney left, Carrick was named club captain, a sign of respect for the man and his achievements at the club. I for one am sad that he did not get more time to play with Pogba this year. Despite Pogba being disappointing, which goes for most of the team, playing another year with the calming presence of Carrick would have greatly benefited him. I do remain hopeful for next season with this current bunch of players, providing they step up and actually want to win games. And with Carrick now providing advice full time from the sidelines, it might be a more attacking style of football we play.

All in all, it is a sad day as the last member of the UCL victors of 2008 leaves the team and the game. Although he is staying in the dugout, we will miss his loping runs and perfect passes. Michael Carrick, we salute you!

Minnesota

Two weekends ago marked the beginning of my travels. I don’t know how long I will stay in the States but I haven’t seen much in the 11 months that I’ve been here. That goes for across the country or in New York itself. New York is so close to so many places around the States buy bus and train but also by plane, so my choices really were endless. I knew, though, Minnesota was first on my list. I first met Hannah in college when we were living in the same house. We got on like a house on fire and did so for the next four months. We saw each other again two years later for a weekend and then an agonizing two and a half year wait elapsed before this trip. As she is one of my favourite people I thought it was a great idea to go to the searing cold North in February! Good man, Cian!

On Friday we went to her parent’s house near Sugar Lake. It was a twenty minute drive from the town of Annandale and about an hour drive from Minneapolis. Sugar Lake was the jewel in the crown that was the Minnesotan countryside. The drive to the lake was something reminiscent of the Irish countryside. The roads were long and winding, sparsely populated by grand houses, fields and lakes. Hannah’s parents house was right on the edge of this impressive, frozen lake.
Her family were obviously extremely nice and welcoming and we spent the first night getting drunk, playing shuffleboard and virtual golf (losing at virtual golf, in my experience). The next morning and afternoon were spent out on the frozen lake. Her Dad, Jeff brought me out first on the back of a quadbike to show me that the ice was solid and pointed out various places of interest. I clung for life for the initial part of the journey but managed to calm down after a while and stop looking like I was his girlfriend out for a drive.
We fished for ice and didn’t catch anything but all had a good time doing so. I did two of the manliest things I have ever done in my life so far; I drilled a hole in the ice; and I drove the quadbike myself over the frozen lake… I’m a pretty big deal now.
I was glad to be seeing more of Minnesota over the weekend but I was sort of sad to leave the icy refuge of Sugar Lake.

We drove to Minneapolis, where Hannah lives, on Saturday evening. The Hamilton soundtrack played for the first of many times that weekend. That night I met Hannah’s roommates and friends in one of the local breweries. There are plenty of breweries around Minneapolis and Minnesota to keep a fair weather craft beer drinker like myself content for a few days. I think that I am going to have to revisit my Lenten promise to drink less next Lent because I am fully set to fill myself to the brim with lagers aged in a barrel of whiskey for another ten months.

Sunday was probably my favourite day of the trip. We went to the Mall of America, America’s largest mall, in the morning and in the afternoon saw the ice castles in Stillwater. These ice castles were man made and are a tourist destination in Minnesota. Families, couples and groups of friends alike all enjoyed this amazing feat of human architecture. After the snow and ice had turned my Vans into little boats we went to one of the local breweries, a great end to a great day.

Monday, my last day, was a surreal day for me. We drove to Duluth, Hannah’s college town, in freezing weather. Literally freezing as we had to stop on the way to allow Hannah to scrape the ice off the windshield while I sat snugly inside. It was an emotionally heavy day as it was my last. I hadn’t seen Hannah in almost three years at this stage and I didn’t know when I was going to see her again. The trip had made me realise I missed her more than I knew and that I missed some friends at home more than I let myself believe. However, as we talked about old times and memories and plans for the future I knew that it was just a part of growing. I had struggled in the past few years since college with the fact that good times end and you don’t get to hang out with people 24/7 the way you’re used to.

But onwards and upwards. More trips to plan and more posts to write. More nights to work.

Living

It was a rainy evening on Martha Avenue when the topic arose between my housemate and I about living in and around New York city. We talked about the advantages of living closer to the city and the veiled disadvantages of living in nicer places further upstate. I played Fifa 18 for the fourth straight hour that day. In a few hours I would have to leave for the night shift at work. At one point in the conversation, my housemate said, “I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else!”. I mentally scoffed as this housemate doesn’t do much bar the same routine week in and week out. The idea of calling that, “living”, was preposterous to me. It wasn’t until I scored a fifth goal and the game was growing boring that I realised what irony was unfolding. In my almost ten months “living” in the States, the most I had done to break routine was to receive different shifts in work. That was completely out of my hands. Incidentally, this is happening again in the coming weeks and I refuse to sink into that routine and do nothing but work, eat and drink.

I turned off my game of Fifa, feeling bad for inwardly mocking my housemate. It was and is true that both of us, and many more in New York and around the world are more existing according to a job and routine rather than living for ourselves. I try not to sound preachy and holier-than-thou when thinking this in my head and writing it down but a lot of us are slaves to what we think life should be like. I have many people telling me to go on and manage my own building in a few years and make money and settle down and move up the corporate ladder. Forgive me for being a bit dramatic but if that ever happens I will be found swinging from one of the light fixtures in one of the penthouse apartments. “Oh don’t mind the foreboding sense of dread and the ominous presence of anxiety in your living room. That’s just where the old manager did away with himself when he found himself in a well-paying job in one of the toughest cities in the world.”

I guess I just don’t want to be measured by my money, title or position. I want to write and tell stories. Even if my life is spent in an office doing that I wouldn’t mind. It’s the hostile, time sensitive and rat race office world that I don’t want to live in, or exist. I’d rather take a stab at something I love or like than melt into my desk after so many years of promising that this year I would chase the dream.

It’s not even about chasing the dream. It’s about doing something worthwhile. I know there are people out there who do enjoy the corporate world and are ready for the sacrifices. However, when I see disheveled and tired faces stumble into the building at 3 a.m. on a Tuesday morning only to leave the building again at 7 a.m. to catch a train, I feel better about mine and my housemate’s routine of enjoying our time in NYC.

Home at Last

In less than 24 hours I will be back in Cork. In my eight months here in the Big Apple I have rarely missed the actual place that is Ireland, only the people. In the last few days, however, I have been filled with an excitement like the one we used to get on Christmas Eve. No chance of sleep until the early hours of the morning. The first few minutes of being woken by your parents or siblings to be told, “Santa’s been here”, are a foggy mess as you navigate your way downstairs through bleary eyes and badly lit staircases. As soon as you reach that tree, though, your fatigue is gone and you are ready to enjoy that fantastic day.
That’s exactly what I’ve felt for the past week. Although I’m an adult and I realise now that sleep is key and not a punishment from our parents, I just couldn’t get a proper dose of shut-eye in the lead up to my Christmas trip home. Technically I will miss Christmas itself but I don’t care. As I was thinking about this post I remembered the countless people who are out here illegally and cannot return home for fear of deportation, a number of my friends included. It’s a deeply sad issue but it also means that I will have a second family here at Christmas, ready to give out about work and get drunk with myself in the local bars.

Despite missing the people from home intensely for the last while I have now recently begun to yearn for the polar opposite of New York. Sometimes busy but never quite as busy, Cork will always be home. A part of me almost wishes that I am moving back for good. Another bigger part of me knows that I love it here in my birthplace and that I have had the best eight months of my life.

When I purchased my ticket to fly out here back in December of 2016, I booked a return ticket also, just in case I didn’t like it. As with any new city that I was going to be living in I took it handy at first. For the first month or two I wasn’t quite sure about this place and could never have envisioned myself staying here for longer than the agreed upon time with Aer Lingus. Now, I can’t wait for the next year and to see what it will bring and what I can achieve.
Right now I am just a doorman and haven’t fully realised what it is I could also do out here. New York city is the place to put the hard graft in. While you might yearn for a break and lament your lack of free time, you get out what you put into it. Work hard, Play hard, as the motto goes.

I have promised myself that next year I will do more in New York city, culture wise, but I will also do more work that is handed to me. I will write more frequently on this, take some writing courses online and in the city, and I will apply for work in some of the local papers. I can’t keep telling myself that I will do it later, or next week, or next month. So as soon as I am back it will be all guns blazin’.
I also will travel America more, and come next August, when I plan to return for a Masters and more travel, I will be able to say that I survived New York city and that I grew in terms of work ethic and responsibility.

As for now, I am extremely looking forward to coming home for a few weeks. A few quiet pints down the Squire and a big weekend with the lads in Waterford, interspersed with some quality family time are on my present to-do list, and that’s the only list I care about right now.

6 Months In.

Jaysus. It’s been 6 months since I moved over to the states. Months are starting to blend into each other fairly quickly now and time slows down for nobody, especially in bloody New York city where everybody is in a rush. In two months time I will be relaxing in Cork city bai; feet up watching reruns of Friends with a lovely cup of proper tea; as opposed to sitting behind a desk not doing much watching reruns of Game of Thrones on my phone. The two countries are truly worlds apart.

I haven’t actually done much by Irish people standards since I’ve got here. I’ve worked and I’ve drank. Don’t get me wrong, I’m enjoying myself but the shifts I work don’t allow me to do much else. Weekends and nights restrict your opportunities for travel. Hopefully I’ll get my weekends back and be able to jet off to friends from college all around America. San Francisco and Minnesota top the list because of friends living there but I also want to see more of New York city and places like Boston, Washington and Connecticut. So let me tell you what to expect of New York if you stumble across this blog in a few years time because I clearly know everything after six months.

This city is tiring. It’ll chew you up and spit you out. I couldn’t recommend living here more, but be prepared for days off that you planned a sightseeing tour of the city or preparing for a night out with friends to end in you not being able to budge from the couch. My job isn’t hard; I’m a security presence that hands out packages and takes shit from wealthy residents; but working so much and taking into account the time it takes to get home on a somewhat unreliable subway service, it wouldn’t be long before you’re cursing the very thought of the city and of work. Rush hour subways in Grand Central are special type of hell. More often than not you’ll be almost nose to nose with someone in as foul a mood as you are.
No matter how generous and humanitarian you may think you are, you will also get sick of the sheer amount of homeless people in this city and on the train. In relation to this, if you catch someone staring at you, determine whether you could take them in a fight and continue to stare at the ground until your stop or that person gets off. Chance a look every now and then to see if they’re still interested in what the top of your scalp looks like. There is literally no point in staring back at them as they take it as the invitation they never received to freak the shit out of you. I made the mistake of looking at a rotund Asian man on the 4 train home one morning and he proceeded to stare into my soul. I couldn’t look away. I fell in love that day. I never saw him again. But that’s just one of the dangers of the subway.
Invest in a good pair of earphones or if you prefer, bring a book. You don’t even have to read it, just look at it until you get to your stop.

I live in Woodlawn in the Bronx. The part that I live in is a predominantly Irish area. Prepare for some Irish people you meet that are living in different parts of the city and the state to scoff at the idea of moving from Ireland to an Irish village situated in the Bronx. They will take their monocle out to get in a good, proper laugh at the nice area, cheaper rent and great social opportunities. Prepare for a lot of the people you meet living in Woodlawn to profess their hatred for the place and how it sucks you away from the real experience of New York. Prepare to see the same people out drinking in Woodlawn and having the time of their lives. Revel in the fact that you are not experiencing noise pollution like that of the city or the boroughs closer to the city like Queens and Brooklyn. Cry the next day when you have to leave for work at least an hour and 15 minutes in advance because you’re so far away from Manhattan. Soak it all in and enjoy it. Ride the gnarly wave of the hangover and force the fear back down into the blackness of your soul from whence it came.

I’m sorry about the way this post is laid out and paragraphed. I’ll set a plan for tomorrow’s post. If anyone reads this and if, by a slight chance it affects you in even the slightest way and even if it doesn’t and you made it this far just take one thing home with you from this long-winded post of me complaining: accept that you’re tired, make your peace with it and prepare to be tired all over again. I’m still young but a big part of growing and maturing is admitting to yourself and anyone within earshot that you’re a.) wrecked b.) work was some balls today c.) work will be a balls tomorrow, and finally d.) nobody likes their job and if they do they’re either lying or they are new and haven’t found out everyone can be a dickhead for no reason. Or at least that you think everyone’s a dickhead on this given day. Opportunity is plenty here but don’t expect it to be easy. Especially if you’re burning the candle at both ends by working six days a week and drinking for four of those nights. That’s definitely not me by the way. I don’t have a problem, fuck you!

Choose to work. Choose to go out too much. Choose that last shot of tequila that you know will set you over the edge. Choose the cigarette that makes you twice as drunk, especially since it’s the first air you’ve gotten in hours. Choose to work that extra day even though you’ve been complaining about lack of days off for weeks now. Choose the dodgy hot-dog from the dirty cart on 25th street because you’re hungry, broke and you just don’t care. Choose loving that hot-dog. Choose bonding with fellow Irish and other immigrants over how the city is too busy and realising you miss the people from home and not so much the place. Choose blogwriting as a suitable medium for your thoughts and pent up anger towards everything. Choose stealing directly from Trainspotting, which is a fine film. Choose New York City. Choose Life.

 

 

Here Goes Nothing

Well, what’s the story? Like thousands upon thousands of others I’ve decided to start a blog. Everybody and their mother seems to have a blog these days so I thought it would be a good idea to add my mundane thoughts into the endless void that is the internet. Perhaps when somebody has finished a post about someone’s time studying abroad in Ireland they might happen upon my humble page and have a read. Perhaps I’ll write two or three posts and become lazy as always and just stop. I’m no betting man but I’m betting on the latter.

I joined WordPress because I want to write for a living; be that in journalism or in creative writing. I’m not too pushed but I’ve seen the power of the blog and what it can do for your career. Take Retro-Flame, for example. A Kerry girl and one of the biggest success stories out of Ireland started with a blog, giving lifestyle and fashion tips among other things. I read her posts occasionally because I’m genuinely delighted that someone so young is making it so big in New York. I am also making it big in New York, but in the sense that I drink too much on the weekends and eat too much on the weekdays, leaving me pondering why my 38″ pants are a bit snug even without a belt. We’re both making it big is the point I’m trying to make.

While I do enjoy an aul lifestyle post every now and then, especially when my head is absolutely banging from a hangover, this page will probably be a collection of random posts concerning my love/hate relationship with New York, my love/hate relationship with Ireland and finally, my love/hate relationship with myself. I love a bit of film, t.v. and sport so I might throw in the odd page of shite-talk about that part of my life too. Maybe.

In all seriousness though, I do want to write for a living someday. I don’t want that living to be in a crap studio apartment in Manhattan which I share with three other lads all living off the one can of beans before payday. I want a nice apartment or house somewhere in the world where I can write for the day while watching episodes of Hardy Bucks and Match of the Day in my jocks. I want it all and I want to put in just enough effort to get there.
So here goes nothing.

See how I made the ending of that match the title. I’d say I’ll make it big lads. Lads?