The 23rd of February 2014 marked my second year in America. It hasn’t been a sob story, I didn’t move here to escape the hell of Ireland. I moved for a lot of reasons, I will routinely shit all over Ireland on this fine blog. Pretty much since the day I left, any negative remark about something to do with Ireland has been met quickly with an Irish person pointing out a perceived flaw with America…there’s no need to be so defensive! I don’t hate Ireland, I don’t think Ireland is a hole, I don’t think it’s inferior to the US. If I didn’t care about the place I wouldn’t seek out information about what’s going on, I wouldn’t spend over a grand every year to go home. I still love and miss Ireland. With that said, I honestly don’t know if I’ll ever move back.
I was convinced after about 6 months here that I belonged back home. I hated the American work environment. I hated having Easter Egg Hunts, Social experiments between the group, themed days etc. I consider this forced fun. It really grinds against my less than sunny disposition. Working in retail for years gave me a major chip on my shoulder and coldness towards the human race. It’s not unique to me, I think anybody who worked for 5 or more years in retail likely feel the same. BUT at the same time, Americans are demanding, in some ways this really gets on my tits too. I hate seeing people in the service industry having to bend over backwards to please some fat, greasy slob who barks orders at them and raises holy hell if her eggs aren’t just a little bit runny but not too runny and the toast a light shade of brown. Don’t even get me started on a lot of peoples warped views of fast food workers here…but that same level of expectation seems to ensure a high level of skill in the work force. I get challenged in my work and that’s satisfying, I get pushed to achieve. I guess that’s part of the reason why so many innovations have come from this country and why it’s a super power.
I have this pipe dream of buying a place in Galway and renting it out during the college year but staying there myself over the summer. But that’s not something a 29 year old can do in reality. It’s getting close to the time that I need to put down sticks and settle somewhere. It makes me feel very uneasy…I still miss Ireland a lot but it’s not looking like an option any more. Not only is the work not there but the money is not there. Am I that shallow? Well, hold on just a minute. I don’t need big money for the rest of my life. What I do need is the ability to afford security. I want to be able to buy a home and have an affordable mortgage. The house prices in the areas of Ireland that I’m interested in are still expensive and to me, it’s complete bullshit. When I graduated I wasn’t on 35-40k a year like those that graduated a few years before me. The economy was weakening, by the time I completed my first year, the world economy hate taken a huge shit and the Celtic Tiger was being skinned for it’s fur. There was no bonus that or any year, there were no nice raises. Even when opportunities arose for me to earn more, it was pointless because I would lose most of it by entering the larger tax bracket and have to pay 41% tax. My earnings and earning potential was non-existent. I assume this is the case for all or most of those who graduated around the same time as me. I know it got worse afterwards, I know people who started on 19-21k. All that means when you do get a raise, it’s not going to be significant.
Why won’t it be significant? Because the cost of living hasn’t fallen enough in Ireland. I look on Daft.ie all the time, I’m a little obsessed. I would love to buy a place in Co. Clare to retire in some day. I’d love to even move there now, but it’s not possible. I’ve been keeping my eye on places in Clare, Galway, Mayo and Dublin and the prices just don’t make sense for my generation, we would have to work the rest of our lives to pay the mortgages off IF, IF!!! we got granted one. Hell, even rent in Galway has barely budged. Commerical renters have been booted out when asking for their rent to be lowered. It’s insanity. The sad fact at least in my head is that the banks need to start foreclosing on homes. The only way to right the ship and make the future viable for the next few generations is to start from the lower rung again. We’ve done it before and we can do it again. But anyways, you motherfuckers in Ireland don’t like me commenting on this so I’ll move back on to American stuff.
I have a very strong dislike for radio commercials over here. To the point that it almost counteracts the greatness of actually having classic rock stations, something we don’t have back home. Ditto for television, the ads are less annoying but I couldn’t bring myself to pay for cable here anymore. It seemed like such a rip off, for most of the year back home we got new programming, either delayed runs of American shows or new runs of English shows or whatever. Here you only get new shows when new seasons come out. For a large part of the year you get re-runs and you still pay the same monthly fee as you do when there’s new seasons. There’s only so many times I can watch the same episodes of Law and Order! I haven’t had cable or any tv channels in over a year. I listen to Podcasts and watch South Park and Colbert online.
This idea of freedom people tout here is a crock of shit. There’s so many contradictions that I just laugh when somebody mentions it. I will say this, I like the break down of the different levels of government. I like that there’s state legislation and different tax rates in different areas and different leaders in different areas. We have something similar in Ireland but it just doesn’t seem as effective. Driving in Arizona is fuckin’ amazing. And I can’t say that for all of America because driving in California, Massachussetts and other places is a big bag of wank but Arizona is perfectly laid out. I got a tax rebate for my second year in a row here. Last year I spent it all and then some on charitable donations. I think it’s cool that I can keep more of my money and give it to causes that I deem worthwhile. Ireland actually benefitted from this for the most part since I gave most of it to Irish charities.
A weakness that Ireland and America suffer from right now is acceptance. It seems as though all of us kind of just accept the shitty leadership and corruption in our political systems. America has some really blatant propaganda like the whole support our troops, Ra-Ra Number 1, Fighting for our freedom etc. Which masks some of the shortcomings…why do a lot of people even join the military here to ‘fight for our freedoms’? They do it to afford an education. Why do they have to do that? Because a good education costs a small fortune here. The debate right now is actually whether a college education is worth it over here anymore…which I believe should be the question in Ireland too, but for other reasons. How come I have the freedom to not wear a helmet while driving a motorcycle but I can’t play online poker? it’s not freedom people! Wake up. Ireland, well, in Ireland we’re the most privileged, entitled lot you’ll ever see. It’s difficult to see a bright future for Ireland as a country when those leading are so corrupt and when the people themselves are all out for their own hides. It’s all about what I can get for myself rather than what I can earn for myself. If this attitude doesn’t improve, I think we’ll be in much worse shape in a few years. On the plus side, in 18-20 years when the babies of today grow up, they might benefit from a different upbringing and not expect so many handouts since soon there won’t be any to give.
And that’s the bottom line!