An American in Ireland: The First Four Weeks

Check out my preface on my posts about Ireland!

I expected to post earlier about my first thoughts on Ireland, but the first few weeks have been pretty insane. I had to catch up on work after my sudden cross-country trip to San Francisco, and then I got sick for a week. That naturally meant more catch-up work. Plus, we had family visit for several days, and I’m trying to spend some time learning about my new home.

I’m simultaneously not sure what to say and spoiled for choice. There are a lot of cultural differences, to be sure, but I haven’t really run into many that make me wonder “now why is this?” There are a few that stand out, though.

Talking to People

Right now, I’m the one with the “charming accent,” which is nice if a little unusual (since I have rarely found anyone who thought my northern Ohio accent was distinctive). I expected that, with my hearing loss, it would be harder for me to understand people, since the comfortable flow of American accents would be gone. But so far, it hasn’t been much of an issue, and the few times it has are mostly situations where I probably would have issues with anyone speaking to me.

I haven’t had many opportunities to talk to people, though, as I generally work from home. We’ve tried to head from Maynooth to Dublin at least once a week, if only so I can get out of the house and explore a bit, but we’ve also wandered Maynooth a few times (such as the Summer Festival we ran into a few weeks ago). But all in all, while I’m still struggling a bit, it’s not nearly as bad as I feared.

Similarly, the stereotype of Irish humor seems to be well deserved. Many of the people I’ve chatted with will joke around about the weather (“lovely Irish weather” is code for “rain,” by the way), and more than once I’ve been politely ribbed about being American. I find it all quite comfortable, and it’s nice to live in an area where I can crack a joke with a relative stranger, and not worry that they’re going to get angry or upset with me. I’m still very conservative in my joking, as I want to learn where the various boundaries are culturally, but I do find the general trend to be pleasing.

Weather

I have been told many, many times that the weather now is not typical. It’s been fairly warm by Irish standards — in the low to mid 20s Celsius/low to high 70s Fahrenheit. While that seems positively frigid compared to the high 30s C/low 100s F I was enduring in the US, Ireland just isn’t equipped for this kind of weather. Air conditioning, for example, isn’t really a thing except in very specific situations, and the air is naturally humid. So, most of the time I end up cooling down the house by leaving the back door and front windows open to allow a breeze to come through the house.

Similarly, it hasn’t been raining all that much. I should qualify that a bit, however. It’s rained nearly every day I’ve been here, but only in the very literal sense of “at some point in the day, water fell from the sky.” Much of the time, it’s a light passing shower that’s hardly damp, and occasionally I’ve seen it rain enough that getting out the umbrella for a few minutes is worth it. What I haven’t seen is full-blown rainstorms with dark clouds and torrents of water (what appears to be called “lashing rain” locally). It’s been very sunny and generally quite pleasant, if a touch humid.

The “sunny” part is particularly relevant. Today, sunrise was 05:21 (5:21am), and sunset will be at 21:40 (9:40pm). The sun is up just about the entire time I’m awake. I thought it would bug me, but so far it really hasn’t — it’s a little confusing when I have to get up early in the morning to take Murray out, but otherwise I don’t seem to be having problems sleeping or anything.

Shopping

We don’t have a car here, so we rely on walking, biking, buses, trains, and the occasional cab to get around. Not having a car has made me much more aware of how I shop, since I can’t just expect to toss everything into the trunk and drive it home. However, our situation is closer to the norm, and not a strange exception like in the US. Delivery services and online ordering is much more common and robust here. You can even have groceries delivered to your house at a specified time and date, and takeaway/food delivery services are a lot smoother than in my US experiences.

However, I’m still wrapping my head around the money a bit. Using credit cards for low purchase amounts doesn’t happen often, so I generally need to have a little cash on me when I go out. But taxes (VAT) are rolled into the price of items and services here, so when someone says something costs 5 Euro, I hand over 5 Euro, and we’re done. It’s incredibly convenient compared to the “plus sales tax and state tax and maybe a mandatory tip that isn’t actually spelled out anywhere” of US commerce, but I still occasionally have the feeling that I’m getting away with something.

Also, now that I have loose change with me more often, I find I fidget with the coins a lot.

 

July Non-Update, aka “Eddy and Murray Road Trip”

Last month on this blog I mentioned that I would be flying to Ireland on the 15th, settling in, and then diving right back into work, so I would have an update on things this month.

Things did not go according to plan.

If you’re reading this just for updates on my life and work, things are still about where they were before: I’m about to start working on the outline for Monarchies of Mau, I’m still working for clients such as Onyx Path, Earplay, and others I can’t yet reveal, and I have some exciting stuff coming on the horizon. If you’re curious why there’s not much of an update, however, I have a story to tell.

Continue reading July Non-Update, aka “Eddy and Murray Road Trip”

An American in Ireland: Preface

On June 23rd, 2017, I landed for the first time in Dublin, Ireland, to live here with my family. This sub-blog is about my experiences living as an American in Ireland.

If you’re interested in learning more about my life as an expat in Ireland, welcome! However, it’s probably best to set a few ground rules for my upcoming posts.

  1. Currently we live in Maynooth, County Kildare, Ireland. It’s a university town with a large transient population. This will naturally color my experiences.
  2. I’ll often use “Ireland” as shorthand for “my experience thus far with this part of Ireland.” It’s not intended to imply that my experience is completely correct, nor should it indicate that things are the same across the entire country.
  3. I’m going to get things wrong. Please don’t assume ill intent if I make a mistake — I’m always willing to learn new things!
  4. As part of the “Americans getting things wrong” portion, non-European readers should know that Ireland is not part of the UK. You might be thinking of Northern Ireland. This is an important thing to get right.
  5. I’m going to compare my experience living in America with my experience living here. There will likely be value judgements. That isn’t to say that one country or the other is objectively better at something (unless I explicitly say that). Rather, I’m just comparing what I prefer. You might disagree!

I’ll update as the muse takes me. If there’s something in particular you’d like to know about, let me know and I’ll see if I can scrounge up a post about it!

June Update

Not a lot to update this month, for three big reasons.

Ireland

I’m getting very close to the move, so naturally things are hectic and busy. My wife is already over there to nail down housing and immediate needs, while I stay behind to handle last-minute tasks here at home, as well as Murray the Pug’s health screen and flight process. Once I fly over there (on the 15th), I’ll be settling in and catching up on things.

I’m actually considering converting a portion of this blog over to talking about what it’s like to be an American expat living in Ireland, particularly from a freelance/game designer perspective. If this is something you’d be interested in, let me know!

Monarchies of Mau

The second reason is that we’re in the middle of the Monarchies of Mau Kickstarter, the second game in the world of Pugmire. At the time of this writing we’re over $92,000, and there are still some prime backer slots available. Check it out!

Non-Disclosure Agreements

I’m also working on something like five or six other things that I just can’t talk about yet. It seems there’s a cycle of these things — I do a lot of work I can’t talk about, and then a bunch of things all get released at around the same time. I’m deep in the “working hard on things” stage, which seems like nothing’s going on. But hopefully some of these projects will reach the light of day soon!

May Update

Things have been getting steadily busier for me. But I still have a little time for a quick update!

Moving to Ireland

The move continues forward. Getting rid of excess stuff, selling our house, arranging transport for Prince Murray Pug of Pugmire, and consulting with experts about what business actions I need to be taking… there’s a lot left to do! Right now I’m looking at mid-June for the real move, but there are plenty of things my family and I need to handle in the meantime.

The whole situation is stressful, but I’m slowly moving from “anxiety” to “excited.” There’s still plenty that could go wrong, but I’m looking forward to living in a different country, and all the opportunities (and challenges!) that brings. Of course I’ll miss all the friends and contacts I’ve made here over the years, but I really do think this is a great next chapter for everyone in our family.

Pugsteady

I’m still deep in the research/exploration phase of things, but signs still point to me being able to run Pugsteady much as I already have. There may be some value in opening a “Pugsteady Ireland” branch, but it really does look like I’ll just have to handle a little paperwork to keep doing what I’m doing. And I may not even need to do any of it right away.

Further, I’ve managed to pick up some steady contract work for a while. Having a regular income will be really helpful for a while as we settle in. I’ve also got some more one-off contracts since I last posted, which are always exciting. And that’s all outside of an upcoming Kickstarter!

Monarchies of Mau

Yes, the next step in the world of Pugmire is on the horizon. Hopefully very soon will be the launch of the Kickstarter for Monarchies of Mau, the companion line for Pugmire. This is more than just an add-on to play cats in a dog’s world — it’s a whole new brand that co-exists with Pugmire but has its own style and direction. If you love cats and you love Pugmire, I’m hoping you’ll really love Monarchies of Mau!

Once it’s live, I’ll post it everywhere I can, so you won’t miss out. I’m also partnering with some blogs and other media outlets so we can make a huge splash on day one. If you’re a blogger or reporter and want to get involved with the pre-launch blitz, let me know!

ECGC

Earlier in the month I went to the East Coast Game Conference. Last year I really enjoyed going, and this year was no different. It was great to hang out with old friends and meet some new ones. Further, my talk about audio design for people with hearing loss went over much better than I expected (feared), and led to some great side conversations with some passionate and excited audio people. It was a great time, and I hope I can go in future years (although maybe not as often, travel permitting).

In the aftermath of the show, I have thought more about how to increase visibility of hearing loss in fiction and entertainment media. Nothing is fully formed in my mind yet, but I think this is a topic I’ll be focusing more on over the next few years. (Which reminds me, I should probably look into Irish advocacy groups for those who are hard of hearing.)

What Do You Want To Hear About?

Is there something in particular you want to hear about? Leave a comment or use my contact form, and I’ll consider it for my next post!

April Update

Last month I mentioned that there was a lot of awesome stuff happening, but I couldn’t share much of it. Well, some things have shifted, so I can start talking about some of it.

Moving to Ireland

This is one of the biggest ones. My family and I are moving to Dublin, Ireland in a couple of months! It’s been a family goal to move overseas for over a decade now, and the move finally makes financial and logistical sense for us. I’ll be a big ball of anxiety for a while, including where Pugsteady is going.

Pugsteady

Luckily, all my initial research seems to show that I can continue working as Pugsteady. I have appointments with my lawyer and my accountant to discuss the details and ramifications, but thus far it looks more like making sure I file the correct paperwork and not being unable to run as before. I am looking for steadier (contract) work, admittedly, as having a stable income while we settle in a new country would be supremely helpful. Further, Ireland has a tax exemption for artists, which could be a huge help!

In the meantime, however, I do have a few non-Pugmire projects I’m working on at the moment. So I’m certainly staying busy!

Conventions

The downside of the move is that, between needing to be more frugal with my finances as well as general uncertainty about my living conditions, I’ve scaled back on my convention travel. But I haven’t eliminated it!

  • I’m confirmed to speak at ECGC in Raleigh, NC on Wed, April 19th. My talk is called “I Didn’t Catch That,” about designing audio for people who are hard of hearing.
  • I’ll also be at Gen Con 50, promoting the hell out of Pugmire and Monarchies of Mau. I didn’t apply for the industry insider track this year (wasn’t sure I was going to be able to make it when the deadline rolled around), but I’ll certainly be busy demoing the games and talking them up! I’ll likely be on some panels as well.
  • A couple other events are still being discussed. Also, Europe has a ton of great conventions I’ve never attended, so I’m hoping to get involved with some of them as well!

Pugmire

Some exciting updates on the Pugmire front — keep an eye out for the Kickstarter update coming soon. There will also be an update from Earplay as well!

What Do You Want To Hear About?

Is there something in particular you want to hear about? Leave a comment or use my contact form, and I’ll consider it for my next post!

March Update

February has been one of those months where a lot of awesome things happened, but there’s not much I can share. But still, I’ll update what I can!

Pugsteady

One truism about the freelance lifestyle is that things are rarely steady. Granted, I got spoiled for close to a year, but last month I was hitting a bit of a drought. Now I’m back on top of things, and some of the upcoming opportunities might even turn into actual working-as-an-employee-to-another-company work! It helps that I have some really great friends with the means and opportunity to get me involved in some amazing projects. On top of it all, I’m going through a life change that’s exciting and scary. It’s all hush-hush at the moment, and there’s certainly still a lot of Pugmire stuff on my plate, but potentially some very cool things are happening!

Pugmire

The Kickstarter backer PDF went out, and I got some great errata. It turns out I was nervous for nothing — everyone seems to be really enjoying it, and the errata were relatively minor.

Monarchies of Mau Early Access manuscript went to layout and art direction, so we’re in the midst of discussing cat art and look. Now that the text of the book is locked down, we’re also moving on ancillary products, like dice, Guide screens, and cards. It’s great to see progress!

What Do You Want To Hear About?

That’s honestly all I can talk about at the moment, but hopefully I can discuss more next month, since some things are on the cusp of being out there to discuss! Is there something in particular you want to hear about? Leave a comment or use my contact form, and I’ll consider it for my next post!

Writer. Gamer. Sherlockian. Usually Not Dead.

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