Nostalgia

At the end of the day, life is built on memories. Every new experience, group of friends and places we visit and live shape us as people. We make new memories everywhere we go. We spend 5 days a week for 14 years with our best friends in school, and often spend whole summers with them in between. We head off to college and make a new group of friends, sometimes losing touch with old friends and only consistenly seeing a handful. It’s new and it’s scary but it’s freeing. We have more freedom. Some of us graduate and some of us don’t. Some of us don’t go to college. Some of us move away and some stay at home. Some of us will get married and have children and some of us won’t. In all likelihood, some of us will live happy, fulfilling lives and some of us won’t. But we will all make memories. Sometimes it is good to take stock and reflect on where we’ve come from and where we’re going.

I am lucky enough to hold dual citizenship and don’t have to worry about overstaying a visa. A number of my friends here aren’t in that position and are forced to stay here until their status becomes more positive. I can head home at any time I want while they have to stay which makes me feel a bit of misplaced guilt. It’s not my fault that they can’t leave. The guilt comes from being able to satisfy my nostalgic needs if they get too high. I’m not one to let homesickness get the best of me but if there was ever a time that I needed to go home, I could. Nostalgia is a fickle friend, filling you up with happiness and longing all at once.

I follow alot of Irish tourism pages on Instagram and Facebook. I watch a lot of Irish t.v, sports and documentaries on t.v. and streaming services. I keep in touch with friends from home all over the world, thanks to the wonders of social media. I like to keep up with what is going on and scratch my itch of seeing home every once in a while. However, nostalgia and memories can creep up on you and leave you in a heap. A picture of Cork City from Patrick’s hill recently just dropped me back to when I was 11 years old and going to open nights for secondary school. Christian Brother’s School was on the list. I had a knot in the middle of my stomach as I walked through the school, knowing it was more expensive than the other schools. Even then, I worried about money. I knew this wasn’t the school for me and thankfully, despite one of my best friends going to that school, I chose Blarney, where I made other best friends. I chose Music as an elective even though I didn’t particularly like singing in public and only being able to play the tin whistle at an average grade. That class brought me my first girlfriend, constant laughs and most importantly, two of my best friends. We had trips to Dublin where we played Bullshit on the train and went to operas and didn’t understand them, secret looks that we shot at each other in class and inside jokes we would laugh about all the time. I went to different colleges than those friends from the class and we didn’t see each other as much anymore. I wouldn’t say we drifted apart but relationships and distance didn’t bring us any closer.

Thankfully, through living in different countriess and coasts of the same country, and with the help of modern technology, we’re still extremely close. Any awkwardness or distance is forgotten as soon as I see these two girls again and we go for food and gossip and chats. We talk about old times and new times and new memories we have all made in our respective new homes.
I have loads of other memories with these two and with all my close friends from home that I happen to think about randomly from time to time. I could list off pages upon pages of memories with other close friends but the fact is this particular picture put my brain on this particular path to think of these particular girls who I am very lucky to call my friends.
Sometimes I do feel guilty that my buddys here won’t get to see their homeland as soon as I can, but I know that in the future when we are all there together for a wedding or an event or just a casual meet-up, we’ll make new memories.

Things I’ve Learned – a 24 year old’s guide to nothing

The inevitability of growing old is a hard pill to swallow. We see our parents growing old. We return home to see teachers who once seemed larger than life suffering with the same trials and tribulations of every day life. In the same vein we see educators, coaches and authority figures turn from figures who denoted fear and possibly a lack of fun be normal human beings as we near adulthood. We had an Irish teacher up until Junior Cert who was a hard man, rarely joked and if he did it was at the expense of one of us. Usually one of the lads, a repeat offender. “How do I say, ‘the plane took flight’, in Irish, sir?” Oh, we broke our holes laughing. This teacher just exuded authority and power. He lost his daughter in an accident while she sledded down a snowy hill, lost control and hit her head on a tree. She died a few days later. I think we were sixteen at the time. That really opened our eyes to how short life could be but also to how our teachers were human too. Sure, we had seen them get angry with us and have a laugh with us. We went on trips with several of them, but that tragic accident allowed us to see their proper human side. The side that suffers and has real emotions.
I started thinking about this recently because I cursed one of my coworkers in my head for the fifteenth time that day, wondering how he could be so dense. He had to leave early to help his grandfather with a health issue. I was a bit ashamed at how I had reduced him to just being a coworker and not a fella with problems like the rest of us. We’re all in this together, after all. Shout out to Troy Bolton, high school musical alum. This got me thinking about how everyone fights their own demons. Everyone needs a break. Everyone needs to be alone sometimes and be surrounded by friends and family sometimes. Here’s some things you can do alone or alternatively with lots of people.

 

  1. Go to the cinema alone sometimes. I’m telling you, it is liberating. Up until I was eighteen I had never even let that thought enter my mind. ‘Go to the cinema alone?! But that group of younger teenagers in the back will think I’m a loser! How will I ever go on?’ It’s not an easy lesson to learn, especially in the age of social media, but not everybody cares about you or what you are doing. Not every stranger on the street is wondering why me, a handsome, strong young man is in the cinema on his own. They have their own shit going on. Once you can get past the psychological barrier of watching a movie alone, you can enjoy the benefits, which are plenty.
  • You can go see whatever the fuck you want. If you want to go see Brooklyn, or La La Land, or whatever movie the lads would slag you over, go see it. Let the world know you like musicals and rom-coms set in ‘50s New York.
  • You can eat whatever the fuck you want. You don’t have to get a medium meal because your pal got a small with a water and your other pal is on a keto diet and popcorn isn’t keto. YOU ARE IN THE FUCKING CINEMA! Get yourself a large popcorn with extra butter and a large coke, and give me a big bag of Munchies too, please, while you’re at it. Treat yoself, bitch.
  • You can sit wherever the fuck you want. You don’t have to sit up at the very back in an attempt at nostalgia, reminiscing about the time Johnny Mac an Tracy O’Whatever shifted up the back for the whole movie and missed the plot and had the absolute gall to ask us about it afterwards. I used to work in a cinema and the best seats are in the 4th or 5th row from the back, a little to the right of dead centre. The sound is just right. Quote me on that. Don’t @ me, though. Don’t fucking @ me.

 

  1. I could write a whole post about going to the cinema alone, but I would also recommend going to a restaurant or diner on your own, too. This isn’t revolutionary stuff, lads. A lot of people do this but I’ve had people ask me why I go on my own a lot of the time. It’s partly because I work evenings and nights and my friends and room mates are on different schedules or live in other parts of the city. It’s also because I like going on my own, taking my time and getting to know the servers and waiters. It’s partly because I am an antisocial bastard at the best of times if I don’t have about ten bottles of magners in me and would like to eat in peace. Sometimes, I’ll even bring my notepad or my laptop and pretend I’m writing the next great novel. I’ll puff on my mahogany smoking pipe, take my monocle off and twiddle my thumbs on the edge of my handlebar moustache. Thank God none of that is true.
  2. Take some time off. I don’t mean leave work unannounced. I’m talking about this more in the sense of taking some personal time, away from housemates and anyone else. Not everyone has dark days, but everybody has some bad days. Take a breather. Watch whatever you want on Netflix. Coop yourself up in your room. You don’t have to explain yourself to anyone. Everyone should understand. If they don’t, just turn around and walk away. Wait for them to turn away. Turn around and sprint at them. Give them the RKO and then continue running. This is your life now. You are a vigilante Forrest Gump. The rogue RKOer. You will be infamous wherever you go, doling out RKOs like they’re candy.

I lost myself for a minute at the end. Although I am only a young fella and I have done next to nothing in the grand scheme of things, please heed my advice. Lolz. I look a lot older though, through years of drinking whiskey and smoking, so taking my advice is like taking it from a half-drunk, middle aged man sitting at the end of the bar on his own. You didn’t want to talk to him and you didn’t invite him to stand right in front of your face as he tells you to, “Get out of Woodlawn, man. There’s so much more out there.” But you’re stuck with him for another hour as he buys you bottle after bottle. Take this bottle from me. Keep the head up anyways, lads and girls. I’ll be back with ramblings on football, hurling and soccer after the World Cup. That coworker is still a tit, though. His grandfather is fine again, so no worries there.

Thank God that’s over!

Image result for F.A. Cup final

It has been a miserable few days in New York. Thunderstorms and lashing rain replaced the scorching weather we had in previous weeks. I missed the first ten minutes of today’s F.A. Cup final against Chelsea because two pubs were packed due to the rain. After the final whistle went I wished that I had stood on the corner of 6th ave., letting cars splash filthy New York rainwater onto me so I could come down with a debilitating flu and forget the past footballing year.

The first half went by in typical United-under-Mourinho fashion: play the ball around defence and midfield, defend wildly when attacked and possibly let the other team score. Then, and only then, will we attack. You fools! MUAHAHAHAHA. You’ve played right into our trap. Alternatively, and this only used rarely, United could score and park the bus for the rest of the match.
I am a typical bitter United supporter. If the result had gone the other way I would probably be writing an altogether different post. But the fact of the matter is, United played poorly today, the better team won and big players went missing and spurned great chances.

United sat back and the utter mismatch in pace between Hazard and Jones proved decisive. Jones’ clumsy tackle from behind could have been a red if he wasn’t adjudged to have played the ball, leading Michael Oliver to send Conte into fits of rage by awarding a yellow only. Hazard coolly sent De Gea the wrong way, his questionable man bun/ ponytail flapping in defeat. Chelsea could and should have been awarded an earlier penalty when Matic brought Rudiger down inside the box. Thank you again, Michael Oliver. Alexis Sanchez went down softly at the other end after he was pulled back by Moses. A scrappy first half was capped off by an abysmal, funny if you’re not a United fan, attempt at a shot by Rashford. Despite this, I went into the second half feeling optimistic that a rejuvenated United side would appear to win some silverware.

 

I was wrong. Yes, there was some chances and flashes of quality. The introduction of Martial and Lukaku in place of the disappointing, Russia bound duo of Rashford and Lingard gave some sense of focus and direction. It was too late. Sanchez kept running the ball into impossible areas and despite Pogba’s impressive use of the ball and distribution to the flanks, he spurned United’s best chance of the game. He missed a free header from three meters out. The header was so wide in fact that I thought it was a pass to the onrushing Phil Jones, the earlier villain of the piece.
After scoring the penalty in the first half, Chelsea sat back and defended for the rest. Online, United fans jeered and brandied about the ‘park the bus’ taunt that we have endured for the past two years. The bitter pill to swallow, and something I’m sure we all know, is that if the tables were turned and Rashford had sent Courtois the wrong way then we would have sat through United defending like that.

It’s hard not to feel pessimistic about United going forward into next season. This was the last chance for silverware. Finishing second was not much of an achievement when you realise that Manchester City had a 19-point gap as leaders. Liverpool are contesting the Champions League final, a game against Real Marid which they could just as easily lose or win. Forgetting these petty facts and looking at the real picture is important. Manchester United are still one of the top teams in the Premier League. The record against the top 6 this season wasn’t bad and a final appearance in the F.A. Cup is not to be laughed at. However, they are not a joy to watch anymore. Far from it. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Martial and Mata leave the side this summer. Why should they stand being used as last call reserves when they should be on that pitch from the start? Sanchez needs to buck up too and stop blaming officials for him losing the ball.

I had to leave the Storehouse Bar on 23rd st. straight after the match for work and was only drinking coffee due to being on the front desk for the next eight hours. But by God, do I wish I was sinking pints and throwing back whiskey.

Carrick: A Tribute

Image result for michael carrick

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 in 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!

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?