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Entries tagged with “expats in Dublin”.


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For the first year I lived in Ireland, I mainly worked from home. While I loved the freedom (making my own schedule, staying in my PJs, etc.) it wasn’t the best way to socialise myself in a new country.

Though I had a small group of friends in Drogheda (where I lived back when I first came here), I was starting to feel pretty lonely working at my dining room table most days with little to no interaction with other human beings. It was so depressing that at one point, I was putting on makeup and getting excited about a trip to Tesco for milk and eggs. At least I could talk to someone, even if the interaction was limited to a 3-minute chat with the check-out lady.

After relocating to Dublin and moving in with Mountaineering Man, I took a job at a digital creative agency in town. As with most agencies, the hours were long which meant that I spent more time with my 50-odd colleagues than I did with MM or anyone else in my personal life.

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The people who really became my family there was my workgroup – the Social Media team. There were four of us for most of my time there and I was the only female in the bunch. We were a scrappy lot, and I mean that in the best way. Philip – a long-haired thrash metal rocker with a sharp wit and a thick Northern accent – welcomed me into the fold with a typed-up list of recommendations and advice. “Don’t ever, EVER eat at the Bridge Café,” he wrote, referring to the greasy spoon deli and one of the only choices for food near the office.

To this day, I’ve never eaten there – despite the fact that Philip has gone against his own advice and eats there almost DAILY now (“I was wrong about it!” he claims, though I attribute his change of heart to sheer desperation thanks to a lack of decent eateries in the Ringsend area). Philip is the master of the hilarious yet thought-provoking quip (“Some day soon, somebody is going to print a 3D printer on a 3D printer and the universe is going to implode”) – and so-bad-they’re-good jokes.

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Yep, you read that right – today, I’m officially 40 years old. (Took the pic this morning, the first of my 40s!).

Gulp.

In all honesty, I’m not embarrassed to admit it. In fact, I’m embracing it. While it would be great to shave a few years off that number for the sake of grey hairs and a few laugh lines, I like myself better now than I did in my 20s.

I feel better about the choices I make – there’s a certain confidence that comes with age and experience. The things I used to obsess over when I was younger don’t even occur to me anymore, maybe because there are a whole slew of NEW things to obsess over now (like grey hairs and laugh lines!).

I remember in my 20s and even into my 30s I spent a lot of energy worried I’d miss something. It was hard to say no to invitations – what if something amazing happened and I wasn’t there? It was very important to feel included, whether it be in a club or in the telling of a joke. I hated missing out. You know the saying, “She goes to the opening of an envelope…?” Well, that was me. These days, I miss a lot of things…on purpose. I leave the bar after a couple of drinks. I politely decline invitations on a regular basis; my favourite Friday nights are the ones I stay in with Mountaineering Man with a bottle of wine and some home-cooked food.  If I walk into a room and have no idea what the conversation is about, I’ll leave it.

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I’m much kinder to myself today than I was when I was younger; the constant self-loathing and beating myself up…what was that about? I was my own worst critic, even if I didn’t show it to the outside world. Too chubby, fat arms, not smart enough, not interested in the right things, not interesting to the right people, too mainstream…these phrases were a regular part of my internal monologue for many years. It was exhausting.

I was painfully insecure, though I often acted the opposite. When I think about how that lack of confidence manifested itself back then, I cringe. I used to manage a group of designers at a job I had in my late 20s and during my most insecure moments I pulled rank with them. I tried to prove my authority and demand respect rather than earn it, and needless to say it didn’t work. Now I see the people I manage as equals and we work together and help each other out. It’s more productive and frankly, a hell of a lot more fun.

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Resolutions – everyone has an opinion about them. Some friends of mine refuse to partake in this annual New Year tradition while others write entire lists of what they’d like to accomplish over the next year.

Me? Well I personally like to take advantage of that bright-eyed, optimistic feeling that comes with every new year. And I like to go big – I mean, why not? I think the last few years have taught me more than anything that aiming high and dreaming big can only lead to great things; less than three years ago I was a single gal living in LA, frustrated with dating and wondering where my life was going. Today I live in Dublin, an married to an amazing man and work in the digital creative agency business. I find myself smiling sometimes when I’m walking down the coast road, looking out at Howth from Bull Island and buttoning up my coat thinking, “Wow…this is my life.”

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I guess my point is that if you aim for the stars, you might just reach them – and even if you don’t, you may reach the treetops, a mountaintop and maybe some low-level clouds, and that’s higher than you were before.

With that in mind, I’m starting the new year off by aiming to shed the extra weight I’ve been carrying for a number of years. I’m not seriously overweight or have any weight-related health issues, but if I’m being honest I’d say I could stand to lose 20 lbs. (about 9 kilograms) and moreover could do with some toning and strength training. I have some back issues and tennis elbow problems (not from playing tennis but from repetitive typing) and getting into better shape will help alleviate those issues. I also desperately need to finish a book proposal I’ve been working on for far too long and get back to blogging on a regular basis.

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Though I would never refer to myself as a health nut, both Mountaineering Man and I generally prefer clean foods – ones that are not from a tin can or that have a list of hard-to-pronounce ingredients that are likely produced in a lab somewhere.

Instead of sliced, pre-packaged sandwich meat, we bake free range, organic chicken breasts for sambos. Rather than buying bottles of salad dressing, I make my own. We buy our bread from bakers we know don’t use additives to speed up the rising or baking process. We frequently make veggie tacos using real corn tortillas and fresh guacamole over the more traditional, meat-based version.

So I was thrilled to discover Nobó, a new Irish line of dairy-free, all-natural frozen treats. It’s basically ice cream, without the cream and additives (many ice cream companies add gums to keep their frozen treats easy to scoop and not rock-solid).

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“Did you put a clean tea towel in the kitchen?”

It’s a Saturday afternoon, and Mountaineering Man and I are doing a full house cleaning in preparation for his parents’ visit. While I’m in the bedroom primping the bedcovers, he’s finishing up the kitchen.

“Yep, all done!” he says.

“Is it the dark blue one with the stripes?” I ask.

“Yep!” says he.

“Noooo – not that one,” I said, before grabbing another tea towel from the hot press and running off to the kitchen.

MM looked confused, and understandably so. The blue striped tea towel was clean, and fresh from the press. But what he doesn’t know is that this particular tea towel is a mockery of a tea towel, or any towel for that matter. It has a large weave and a very rough surface and is cheaply made. When you wipe it across a wet surface, it doesn’t soak up any moisture; it merely spreads the water around, creating big streaks of wetness across the counter – the kind that dries into a pattern of unattractive water spots, ones you have to then wipe over again. To add insult to injury it lost its rectangular form after the first wash; it’s now just a sad, shapeless version of what it once was, when I first spied it in the kitchen aisle at TK Maxx and thought it would go nicely with some navy oven mitts I already had.

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When I was 15 years old, I worked after school and weekends at a girls’ clothing shop called Wet Seal. It was the perfect job for me at that age; as a Southern California teenager, I spent most of my free time at the mall anyway, so getting paid and receiving big discounts on Wet Seal purchases made working there a no-brainer!

I enjoyed the customer service work; I didn’t even mind cleaning out the dressing rooms and organising the hundreds of items of clothing in the shop. And I did really well. I always hit my target numbers and frequently made the top sales slot for the days I worked.

However, my manager never seem to notice or acknowledge my contributions and this was a great source of stress and irritation for me. Her name was Heather, and she was a typical LA blonde; your basic, obnoxious Valley Girl nightmare. Whether it was jealousy or flat-out stupidity (or both), she never complimented my work and often gave me a hard time about the smallest missteps.

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Pho Beach

Took this during my shed time yesterday, which involved a long walk on the beach with my friend Ela.

When I first moved to Ireland, I observed a noticeable divide between men and women when it came to socalising. Every time I’d go to the pub with my friends (back when I used to live in Drogheda), the men would separate from the women seconds after walking into the bar. For the first hour or so, it was guy talk on one side of the room and girl talk on the other. Once all the catching-up was done, everyone mingled.

On the surface, I suppose this scene would seem a bit antiquated. And if I’m honest, I found it slightly jarring at first. But lately I’m beginning to appreciate this understanding that guys need their designated guy time and girls need theirs – I’m not sure why but the Irish seem to get this better than most Americans I know. There’s no offence taken or need to make excuses or apologise, which is refreshing.

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Mountaineering Man’s dad meets up with a couple of his buddies at a café every weekday morning. He explains it as a time to just talk shop with the fellas. MM’s mother has a regular weekly card game with the ladies. My dad has lunch twice a week with a couple of his friends, and my mother has dinner with her Zumba class friends after a workout once or twice a week. I like that they don’t feel the need to make their plans opposite each other’s; there’s none of this “Well since you’re having a guys’ night I’ll go out with my friends” tit-for-tat style competitiveness; they understand that each person having his/her own time makes them better as a couple.

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