Thank you America!

thanksIt is the time of the year where millions of Americans travel across the country to celebrate Thanksgiving.  It is probably the only holiday they can agree to celebrate, no matter which religious belief you might have.  These mass migrations take place leading up to the last Thursday in November, and the entire road, rail and air systems are gridlocked.  They want to spend time with their families, and eat an innocent turkey.

It is a sense of belonging and greatfullness that started back in the day, when the firtst settlers sat down with the native indians to eat food.  And, just because of that gesture by the native indians, the settlers survvied and learned to integrate into the American ecosystem.

The actual meal in itself is ‘just’ another excuse to eat excessively.  There is a large selection of scrumptious pies, multitude of sides, sweet potato mash with marshmallows, and of course the main star of the dinner – the turkey.

The turkey itself is most times larger than the oven.  It is actual difficult finding a turkey less than 18lbs, and I often wonder what they feed these suckers since they are that large.  They are not obese, but nice and firm.

We moved here 5+ years ago, and the US has taken us in and made us feel very welcome.  99% of the people we’ve met are super friendly, and they never question why we are here.

One of the key things my wife and I have agreed upon, is that no-matter which country we live in, we have to integrate.  This integration starts with adoption and celebrating the holidays and key events.  You need to know these and show appreciation of the events.

We love thanksgiving.  We understand why it is celebrated and love the fact that this day is a very important family day.  It makes us feel part of the country and culture, especially when colleagues and friends invite us to their special days.

The other side which we we love is the food. OMG!

The food for thanksgiving is absolutely amazing.  No wonder I have gained 20lbs.  It’s another blog just to talk about food, but it is fantastic.  Many Europeans don’t really understand the excessive eating, but we have fully embraced it.

You will never integrate if you do not participate.  That’s what many foreigners don’t get.  It does not mean you have to give up your national identify and heritage, but merely that you respect the country you live in.  The country that has adopted you and given you opportunities to grow.  That is how you respect and thank it.

But why do we celebrate Thanksgiving in our family, since we weren’t here hundreds of years ago and have limited connection to the history of Thanksgiving?

We are proud to live here.  America has given us opportunities we didn’t have elsewhere.  We are thankful for being allowed to participate, and we are even more thankful for being included in their culture.  Our kids are flourishing.  We have met new friends.  We have a wonderful life.  We love life!

It is not easy to explain, but we feel at home here.  That is why we are thankful.  We thank the American people for welcoming us with open arms.

Thank you ‘Merica!

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Traffic is Evil

Road-RageTraffic!  The Devil’s work.  The path to Zen and one of the many Catholic trials.  Once you conquer the road rage you are on the path to eternal glory.  Or at least that what we should believe instead of hammering frantically at the wheel or stupidly honk the horn hoping that the traffic will magically disperse.  Only your horn can provide the guidance the other drivers need to open up and let you pass.  It is the Devil’s work!

Most people get stuck in traffic at various times, and at times when you least need to get delayed.  Traffic is evil!  It screws with your well laid plans, whether these are business plans or romantic dates with your partner.

Funnily enough, people have different interpretations of what traffic actually means.  It all depends where they live and which areas they have visited.

Take my dad (bless his soul).  We are from a tiny spot in the picturesque Danish rural harbor village, where traffic is measured in how many people you can wave to when stuck at the local traffic light.  And, there are not many traffic lights to get stuck at, but you do tend to know all people who drives around.

One time I was visiting my parents, my dad and I had to go grocery shopping.  This is when I lived in Dublin (Ireland), where the M50 is a well-known car park.  Anyway, on our way to the local market, we got caught by the red light, with about 12 cars in front of us.  My dad instantly broke into cursing, blaming the economy for excessive cars on the roads, the European influence on rural Denmark and that my mum would be utterly upset with this delay.  After a pain staking 7 minutes we finally cleared the traffic light and parked at the super market.

I subsequently tried to explain to my dad that this was nothing compared to the M50 / Dublin city traffic.  It would take me an hour to drive 10 miles to work, each way, going about 20mph at top speed.

nyc_trafficWithin a few months my parents visited Dublin, which fueled pure road rage in my dad.  I’ve seen him upset before, but this was Saddam Hussein rage.  He was ready to nuke East coast of Ireland, and would happily live in the nuclear winter that follows just to avoid traffic like this ever again.  Needless to say we had a few pints when we finally made it back to the house and WALKED down to the local pub to watch Chelsea beat Arsenal (Gunners) – what a day!

Today we live close to New York City.  Population = 8.4 million souls … almost double size of Denmark’s entire population.  As a result, traffic is bedlam.  Sorry, let me rephrase that. Traffic is absolutely shite.  Please consider that this is the city that never sleeps, so there’s always traffic.  However, on the few occasions my wife and I went on date night to the city, we’ve got stuck in traffic.

  1. If/Then show on broadway – it took us almost three hours to snail through 6 miles down to Broadway, which resulted in us missing dinner, and had to settle for a lovely drive muffin as the door opened to the show
  2. Black Keys (Barclay Center, Brooklyn) – traffic prevented us from enjoying a romantic dinner, but thanks to “awesome” chicken at Barclay Center
  3. Ed Kowalczyk (City Winery) – we had ‘meet ‘n greet’ tickets, but missed the opportunity to meet the dude himself, but did have lovely Peruvian dinner

My dad is most likely sitting in the sky cursing, much to the amusement of St. Peter, blaming anything from Obamacare to Siberian Northern Lights that the traffic is not flowing well, almost causing his son’s (me) to miss out on romantic times with his beautiful wife.

Take care of each other.  Don’t let traffic bring out your bed side.  Be Zen. Be happy and avoid using the horn … it only brings more anger.  Anger leads to the dark side 🙂

Three Years

danishamericanirishIt’s not exactly a tale like Brad Pitt’s ‘Seven Years in Tibet”, but I can’t believe it has been three years since we arrived to the US and were greeted by the gorgeous Lady of Liberty.  Greeted by 36 degrees celsius (95+ F) as we disembarked the plane.  Not too sure why we had to get off the plane a mile from the terminal, but I suppose Aer Lingus was either late on arrival or hadn’t paid its fees.  I’m sure it was just due to the delay, and we had enjoyed our first flight ever on business class.  It makes travelling so much more comfortable 🙂

The first 18 months had many ups and a few downs.  I suppose that’s what to be expected when you rip up your life as you know it and move lock stock and barrels to another country.  You don’t realise how comfortable you were until you start over.  And, the US has so much to offer, but sweet lord, it has so many interesting challenges for a new family.

It’s amazing how quickly our kids settled into their new life, gained new friends and improved confidence in the speed of light.

My oldest girl amazed us by quickly adopting the American life style and accent.  She no longer has her Irish twang, other than when she says bollocks, Dublin, Tayto, deadly and a few other expressions.  But, as soon as we meet up with our new friends (from Ireland) in the US, she reverts back to her cute Irish words.

My son has jumped leaps since arriving here.  Born with Down Syndrome was not ideal in Ireland.  Although the Irish health system tried to do as much as possible, resources are fairly limited, and what he received in services in a year in Ireland, he receives in a few days in the US.  For that alone the move was well worth it.

My youngest adventurer is American.  She was born in Ireland, but learned how to talk and walk here, so for her Ireland is just a distant memory.  I doubt she would even recognise the homeland if we went home to visit.

We love it here!

The home of the free, the brave and other amazing folks have truly made our life better and helped us along this journey.  We have met so many wonderful people in this country, and they have mostly been welcoming us with open arms.

We have our green cards, which are actually green, and look forward to when we can apply for citizenship.  This is absolutely our home and country.  We are prod being residents in this wonderful land of opportunities.

I still haven’t adopted NFL, MBL and MSL – I still support my might Chelsea and love the fact that I can see most games … KTBFFH (keep the blue flag flying high).

Thank you America, for taking us in and making our move feel easy – we love you!

Celebrating Independence

4 july small…or properly more accurately, the US is celebrating kicking out the British while holding hands with the Irish who also kicked out the British.  In reality, the British are most likely not too happy about being reminded about this every year, but tough!

Normally 4th of July is celebrated across the US using amazing fireworks, mouth dripping BBQ, loud music and family reunions.  It’s a time were neighbours reach out and get together for food and kids playing.

And this year would be no different if it hadn’t been for the arrival of Hurricane Arthur, who decided to kick off the hurricane season a little early by battering the East Coast.

We use 4th of July to celebrate our arrival to the US three years ago and a new chapter in our family adventures.  We still have many more chapters to write, but it has been a wonderful journey to date.

We can proudly say “Happy 4th of July” to all of our American friends, family, brothers and colleagues.  It has truly been a pleasure to get to know you and thank you for greeting us with open arms … especially after a few sips of the local moonshine 🙂

Every good citizen makes his country’s honor his own, and cherishes it not only as precious but as sacred. He is willing to risk his life in its defence and is conscious that he gains protection while he gives it” – Andrew Jackson (American 7th US President17671845)

15 Years!

Not too sure if I should be worried or delighted when I recently received a mail from the company I work for, congratulating me for having spent the past 15 years with them.  Should I be worried that I had been with them for 15 years or delighted that I have been there for 15 years?

Well, I choose to be delighted.  It may sound corny, but for me it has been a great journey – a journey that many of my colleagues over the years have expressed amazement.

OfficeSpacePicYes, I have been ridiculed for being a company man, but I’m actually proud of that.  To me it shows that they believe in me just as much as I believe in them.  The more cynical would say that I’ve been stuck in the Matrix and that I have not lived.

For the cynical, as we say in Ireland, well feck ya!  I’ve had a blast and I’ve met so many wonderful people … and some have even inspired me to do better.

The year I started my job the Celtic tiger was still alive and roaring across the Globe.  We had a fantastic life inside our little Leprechaun world, where most bankers would give you a 110% mortgage, the credit cards limits were increased weekly just for being happy and the only house common people could afford was 15-20 miles outside Dublin City … unless you of course didn’t mind buying an overpriced town house that would eat away at both your incomes.

A lot of Irish people who had left the country in the mid 80’s came back to their homeland to take part in this phenomenon, trying to reach the pot of gold.  But as many found out in recent years, we got somewhat shafted by the same generous bankers and people ended up leaving again.

During the 15 years I made great friends.  Some are more than friends, but that’s because we grew up together, started families, had kids and got older.  At times I spent more time with my colleagues than at home, and our partners participated in various corporate events.

The worst memory of my working life was in 2008 when we had to make a number of very hard decisions.  At this point in my career I had made it to senior management and was now faced with some harsh realities of management.  We had to reduce our team by 25% and I was part of the team having to share the news with the individuals.

That afternoon, after having told friends they were no longer with the firm, I spent good parts of 15 minutes crying.  Many might think it’s easy being management, but it breaks my heart to send people into the job market, especially because we weren’t parting ways because of poor performance, but because some twats in banking society had started the killing of Celtic Tiger.

A few years later I was offered a great opportunity to move to the US and be part of the Global organisation.  Professionally it was a side step, but I’m willing to work hard and become part of another great team.  More importantly, it was a fantastic opportunity for the family to improve our quality of life.

The only laughing matter was how the company would actually thank me for all these years?  Was I really at the age where they would dish out the traditional gold watch or would I just get a free meal in the canteen.  It didn’t really matter to me, I was just happy to have been able to contribute to the growth of the organisation over the years.

I was utterly amazed with the selection of gifts I could select from; iPod, Bose sound system, TV, bicycle, lamps, etc.  In the end I decided to get a pool table.

We don’t really have space for a pool table, but that’s a minor detail.  We just have to buy a house that has the necessary space.

Roll on the next decade and may I find new opportunities to grow professionally, and I’m certain it will continue to be an adventure.

How long have you been with your company?  Are you prod to work for your company?  Or do you work to live?

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