An Ode to the GNIB

This week, I had to go get my Immigration card renewed. Here in Ireland, it takes hours – with people often in line many hours before the office opens – just to get a number. There is no appointment system and most days only 200 numbers are given out. The wait is long, tiring, and involves taking a full day off work. Some years are better than others – but this year – was the worst. I suspect it is – at least in part – due to the number of refugees that Ireland is taking in, but also in larger part to the lack of funding for the department by the government. At any rate, during my extended wait, I chose to write a poem and share the pain of my inner muse with you all.

An Ode to the GNIB
(Written with soul sucking sarcastic glee)

Wake up at 5am
Ugh, why me?
Into the city.
Too tired. Not pretty.
Arrive by 7.
What? Its not even Eleven –
Line 4 blocks long
Jaysus! This is wrong!
They’re taking the piss-
Or am I remiss?
8:30 am and Numbers all gone
A 5 hour wait.
Hey, that’s great.
At least there is sun
And fresh cinnamon buns
From the bakery next door.
5 hours later… #117 and I am #196.
This wait is a chore!
I went to the museum
To fend off the bore
That is made waiting…
At the GNIB.
Someone please save me!

2 more hours
And no flowers
of hope bloom nearby #156.
Just 40 away..another hour –
Waiting on the bricks.
The blue lights in the commode
Make my head want to explode.
What’s up with those lights
Are they hinting “go fly a kite”?
14 desks are there
Staff of four-pulling out their hair.
Boisterous babies, Crying children, frazzled foreigners….
Sleeping students on the floor.
Please let us- just get out the door.
2 more hours to wait…
I think I am learning to hate.
This is the thing made of lore..
The bore
Of the GNIB.
Please, oh Please, someone save me?

Stubborn Suduku,
Bash through the book,
My Torrented TV on repeat.
Deadly Dragons,
Crushing candy,
Anything to pass time…
Isn’t it dandy?
Another hour has passed…
#176 – Just 20 away
Oh how else can I keep boredom at bay?
Phone some friends,
Schmooze with the smokers
Man this place it isn’t for Jokers.
Patience is a virtue
Ignorance is Bliss
When that bell dings -one more..
The continued chore
Waiting at the GNIB.
Please, please, Save Me?

I am still here
Creativity doesn’t stop.
How do you like this ongoing flop?
Since I arrived – 9 hours in
Some would call this a Sin.
My ode to the GNIB
Is now a Saga, you see?
Thanks for hanging out
And learning what torture is all about.
Fifty minutes later
I am nearing the end
#186 -10 more before I am ’round the bend.
The seats are hard,
The floor is worse
The broken chair just dumped that guy on my purse…
Here we go my number nears!
Please accept my paperwork
Or I may use tears.
Oh how I abhore
*Save me?*

Nope false alarm-
The day rages on.
The numbers count slower
Because at lunch the staff count is lower.
Pacing replaces sitting,
Irritation reigns.
Somehow I wonder if they are rattling our chains.
Water dispenser emptied
Rubbish bins fill
Oh how I detest this bitter pill.
Please may they call me
My number’s so close!
Bureaucracy is replete
With lots of standing on our feet.
Documents accepted -stamp 4 for me!
Finally no work permit needed I shout with glee!
Now comes the charm
Of waiting for my new card to be brought from the printer farm.
My name is called
And I have my sheet.
It only took 11 hours complete.
This is the soul sucking story of the GNIB.
Oh thank God they are finally done with me!!
(At least until next year -wash,rinse, repeat!)


Jeanie Johnston boat

I’m obsessed with travel. Always have been, and thank goodness I have had the opportunities in my life to make this happen. I think because of the enjoyment of travel, I also find it fascinating to see all the different ways that people travelled in the past. One of my favorites is by Tall Sailing ship.

Jenny Jameson Boat

There’s an element of romance to the thought of hopping aboard a sailing ship, battling the ocean, the waves, and navigating the world by the stars. The reality, however, is much different. It was dangerous, it was dirty, it was crowded, it was smelly. And more to the point – people did not always travel because they wanted to. Sometimes they travelled because they had to.

Here in Dublin, there’s a replica tall ship that sits in the harbour – named the Jeanie Johnston.
Back in February, I took my friend’s daughter on a little adventure to go check out the ship and take a tour.

Me & Charlotte

The Jeanie Johnston is an exact copy of a 408 ton cargo ship purchased in Liverpool in the mid 1800’s. As famine gripped Ireland, the “original” ship ferried over 2,500 immigrants from Ireland to North America to start a better life. It was captained by James Attridge. Inside the boat, there’s a museum of how life was with several mannequins in various positions. You go in with a guide, who was pretty cool because he took an hour telling the group lots of stories of life on the boat and the passengers lives before, during, after they arrived at their destinations. This included stories about how people crammed 6 – 10 to a bunk (see the feet behind the mannequin) and slept in shifts to make due as they crossed the Atlantic. The center “tables” were designed for eating, entertainment, and sleeping on.

Inside the boat

Inside the boat 4

There were plenty of things onboard that were prohibited for the safety of passengers and crew. Things like open flames and fires, fighting, cursing, gambling, spitting, and alcoholic beverages.


One of the most impressive things was the story about how the captain hired a surgeon, named Dr. Blennerhassett, to travel on the boat – to take care of the passengers – and make sure everyone stayed healthy. The captain did this out of his own pocket and because of this – the boat is one of the very few who can boast that no life was ever lost on board the ship.

For more information, please see:


Tell me Something I don’t know

A new study out this week highlights how popular Berlin has come for foreigners. The City’s Fast Paced urban lifestyle has been compared to New York City of the 1980’s and this study is simply more to reinforce (as an American living in Berlin) something most of us immigrants already knew – one in four people living here are not native German.

From The Local (a German English Newspaper) at:

Of the capital city’s 3.35 million residents, 863,500 have “immigration background,” the city-state’s immigration and integration official, Günter Piening, said in a statement. This 25.7 percent includes foreigners, naturalized Germans, and their children.

The city’s central Mitte district has the highest proportion of residents with foreign background with 44 percent. The Neukölln and Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg districts are follow closely with 38.7 percent and 36.6 percent of residents boasting non-German heritage. In these three districts, a surprising 60 percent of children under age 18 are part of immigrant families.

That being said, Germany has policies related to something called Integration Policy and Law, and a whole industry has sprung up around it. In essence, there are several requirements – including 600 hours of German Language courses, many hours of integration courses (where you learn about German culture and how to do things the German Way), 60 hours of German History, all commonly paid for by the person who has come to the country – if they want to stay more than on a single year visa. While some countries are exempt to portions of it (thank goodness the USA is one of them because I can’t afford the classes which must be done in your first year) others, including mostly middle eastern ones are treated quite differently and resent this effort at “forced” integration.
So, why are so many immigrants coming to Germany? Its central location? Mild climate? Guest Worker Program? Fabulous nightlife? Hard to say since my job transferred me here. As best as I can tell, Germany has an aging /declining population, and a simple need for skilled workers that are willing to go above and beyond. (By Above and beyond – in my case I mean high productivity and long hours – and on salary no less because of our different working philosophies.)

Now, being an American and seeing the debates about stopping illegal immigration to the US, including building a wall to prevent people from entering into the country and so on – I think some of the German efforts are good (language courses) and others bad (really, how many people want to become more German?) -it has me pondering what the US itself could do to help and offer services to immigrants (legal ones) arriving in the USA.
It also has me questioning is the German method of “forced” integration really the best way to handle things? Does it encourage or discourage those who come from a foreign country and are trying to make a life here, or simply discourage and frustrate them and have the opposite effect (thereby making the foreigners become even more entrenched in their own culture, language, and etc.)? In some ways, is it not offensive for the German government (and population behind this) to say you must become more German – as if your own homeland and/or culture isn’t good enough?
Many questions, yet no answers are arising, and most likely won’t for quite some time.
Otherwise, for a copy of one of the English websites (link for English at top) on the German integration policy and law, you can check here: