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Wednesday, September 11, 2019 5 comments

9/11. We Will Never Forget.

(This is the annual "reprinting" of my inaugural post on Sept. 11, 2011. We shall never forget.)


The thing I remember most about 9/11 is how selfish I felt - at the very beginning.

September 11th was supposed to be the day I paid my debts and made some serious money. I clearly remember the last thing I said as my balding head hit the soft pillow on the 10th: "Tomorrow is going to be a great day, man, tomorrow is going to be a great day."
Source: Anthony Grimley

Five months prior to 9/11 and new to California, I had met several fellow Irishmen at a pub or six, which networked into an interview with a starched suit who looked me up and down to see if I could sell gold coins.

"I can sell a Yankees hat in Boston, or a Cowboys jersey in New York, surely I can sell a little coin over the phone?" I said, full of the optimism of the uninformed American sports fan.

My new boss didn't really care. I'd earn a bare stipend for a couple of months, and then work on one hundred percent commission, so no skin off his nose.

They call the big investors "whales," and it took five months of living off credit cards to reel two in. One lived in New York; the other was in Jersey. I arranged great deals with both retired men; deals that culminated on Monday the 10th, and happy as a pig in a blanket, I later went for a few drinks with the boys, having promised my whales that they'd receive the official paperwork via fax before noon EST Tuesday.

That's the only reason I was up at 5:50 a.m. PST, but as soon as I saw the plane hit the second tower just after 6 a.m. my time, I knew the deals were done - and so was I. (I had no clue how bad it would be - did anyone?)

I wallowed in pity for about thirty-five minutes until I heard another plane had crashed into the Pentagon. Driving to work in my new, unpaid-for Mustang, I jumped up as far as my seat belt would allow, and let out a scream of hurt and anger I hope my ears will never again endure.

As an immigrant with naturalization papers in process, I had no doubt that the attack was on my country (I swore in July 3, 2003,) and my people.

In October 2001, I tried joining the USAF, but the recruiter told me a 19-year-old's pay "ain't going to take care of the credit problems belonging to a 31-year-old."

On 9/11, as always, I'll wear my Liz Claiborne WTC shirt that I bought 'cos the Statue of Liberty looks cool in the forefront (it was 2002 before I "saw" the Twin Towers for the first time.)

I will also reflect on how I awoke thinking only about me, but ended the day thinking only about "U.S." and the thousands whose lives had been destroyed by hate and fear.

May the good God bless the souls of all those lost on 9/11, and Lord, please continue to protect those who, with a servant's heart, always run into harms way while we scream to get the hell out of there.

One of 343 firefighters who sacrificed everything, Thomas J. Foley, 32, Rescue 3, FDNY, died in the collapse of Tower 2, WTC, New York, 9.59 am, 9/11/01. RIP

Tuesday, September 3, 2019 16 comments

IWSG: Bloody hell it's been awhile!


In a previous life, I was a pleasant Stormtrooper for the IWSG. My highest place on the Linky List was in the low 200's, and I think, in those days, there were many hundreds of participants.

And then 2016 came along and everything went to hell in a handbasket.

But what happened? No idea exactly, but I had a huge life change and to me the Blogger bubble burst - and so did my love of posting silly and fun stories three times a week.

Fast forward what, nearly three years later, and this is my first IWSG post (and I can tell because I had that old hesitation of is it "ISWG" or "IWSG!" 

My writing insecurities this month?

The same as the last couple of months, sadly! I'm so conflicted about writing my memoir, which is about the unique life I've had since leaving Ireland 30 years ago. I'm absolutely the shittiest self-promoter and cringe when I hear compliments about my writing (why is that???) so the thoughts of putting out a full book that's all about me.... dear God. Who would want to buy/read that?

However, as I'm not getting any younger and there is a finite opportunity here, I went out of my comfort zone last weekend to be a guest of a regional radio show to see how I'd sound sharing some highlights of my journey.

If you want to hear the hour-long interview (or have screaming kids you need to get to sleep), the link to that specific post and and the interview itself is here.

Personally, I did the ironing for an hour while I listened to myself and it was cringe-worthy (that accent!!) at the beginning, but by the end, I had 8 freshly ironed shirts and the interview wasn't as bad as I thought (how many times can someone go "Uhhh" and "Ehhhh" .... answer is lots and lots :)

I know this is a big ask, (and apologies for repeating myself,) but if anyone does listen to the full interview, I would be eternally grateful for your writer's point-of-view feedback.

Would you want to read my memoir?
Monday, September 2, 2019 5 comments

"Life Stories" Radio Interview


For awhile, I've been mulling writing my memoir about leaving Ireland and the twist and turns that led me back to Spain, but I'm not sure people would want to read my story. It's an interesting journey, but is it a great story?

So, when I saw a recent request on Facebook for guests for a regional radio show on Talk Radio Europe, I said well, that's a good idea and something I'd like to do!

I put myself out there and the presenter, Ian Rutter, was gracious enough to invite me on the show.

The interview aired on the radio yesterday (and will again this Wednesday), but CLICK HERE for the link if you'd like to listen to the hour interview while you're driving or doing the ironing, which is what I did!!

Can I ask a favor... I'd love your feedback. What do you think?

Would you read the book?
Wednesday, August 28, 2019 6 comments

And Now, For Some Good News...


So, like I was thinking the other day that I've written several posts about the "bad" adventures I've had over here, but I haven't shared enough of the good experiences. That's not fair and must be rectified forthwith!

The main thing I've come to love about life in Spain, at least here in Andalucia, is that it's a simpler, slower pace than in the States. No matter what the "it" is (paperwork, cup of coffee, opening times, etc.) it will either happen on time - or it won't - and if it doesn't, it may happen on time tomorrow.

Which translates to "it depends," and is normally accompanied with a shrug of the shoulders and sometimes a smile. At first, getting a depende was head-scratchingly difficult, but now I factor it into my expected timeline and all is good with the world.

There's even a song about Depende by singer Jarabe de Palo!

Now, all this, is of course, my humble opinion, but after more than 22 years living and working around the U.S., the difference in "life-speed" is remarkable. Here's a few, little things that bring a smile to my face.

For example, my bus home is never on time. I mean never. Instead, it's always 11-13 minutes late, so now I get there at least 5 minutes late so I don't have too wait too long. Bizarre, but it works everytime.

Credit: Nexotrans.com
The same driver normally works the afternoon shift and we share a "hola" and a manly, half-nod of the head, but the other day, I had my back turned to traffic and I heard a horn beep. I turned and saw the bus was there, with the door opening. That driver could easily have driven on by, but he didn't, which was very, very cool of him.

On one of my first days at my office job, I asked how to access my internal email from home so I could do some work in the evening. My colleague looked at me and shook his head.

"Work is work, and home is home. We focus on quality of life here, so keep the two apart." I couldn't speak for a few seconds, as it was quite a surprise to hear that. I thought he was joking, but he was serious and it's lovely to leave work and not worry/think about it until the next morning.

The vast majority of individual stores, bars and restaurants close between 2-5 p.m., mainly because it's way too hot, and there isn't much foot traffic anyway. I've no idea if many people still take an official siesta, but it's good to know I can run errands in the morning or early evening when it's not baking hot. (But make sure you run those errands Mon-Fri, because businesses tend to close Saturday afternoon by 2 p.m. and won't be open again until Monday at 9 a.m.-ish.)

I walk to the Metro early and every morning I pass an old man (who scared the crap out of me the first time he appeared ghost-like out of the dark!) I got a gruff grunt out of him (possibly in reaction to my high-pitched girly-girl squeal) that time, but now his stick goes up in the air, my hand lifts up and we share a "buenos dias." (The funniest thing is I ever saw him in the light of day, I probably wouldn't recognize him as I've never really seen his face!!)

Local Townhall at 7 a.m. (and no fiestas going on :)

My favorite is when I drive a 2+ lane freeway/dual carriageway, and the left lane, which is meant for overtaking, is actually used for this purpose. It's fascinating to see!
Someone will zoom up behind me, I indicate and pull into the right lane, the driver goes by and the next car indicates and goes right, too. And, EVERYBODY does it. Cars, vans, buses whatever pull over to let me speed on by, too, when needed, so there are never any slow cars in the fast lane. Pure driving bliss.

Oh. And the weather is nice here, too.

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