Becoming the most notorious woman in a country overnight is no fun. I’ve spent hours trawling through messages because, unlike some, I believe that everyone is entitled to their opinion so I’ve published them all – good and bad. It’s been a stressful, rather scary few days. Every aspect of my personality, my looks and my life choices have been dissected in three different languages, across all media.
Much as I wanted to get under my duvet and hide until it all blew over, this wasn’t an option. The weird thing about walking around Riga now is that I can’t tell if the people I pass are scowl-y and growl-y in general or if they know… Although today, I actually got a few smiles from total strangers. I was pretty amazed too – but then I realised I had been walking around with a bit of tissue stuck to my hat so they may just have been smiling at that.
Over the last week or so, I’ve discovered that a lot of people out there are amateur psychologists, doctors, life coaches and nutritionists, diagnosing me with all sorts of problems without ever having met me. However, what I find funny is that, to some, the scariest thing in the world seems to be a pint-sized, 35-year old woman who doesn’t have children and drinks pints. Clearly, this makes me THE DEVIL.
People also seem to think that if I had a man, I wouldn’t feel the need to write about Latvia. I’m not sure how the two are connected. Would this make my life complete?
It would certainly give me more blog fodder.
The reason I started writing this blog is that I like writing. It makes me happy. I didn’t start it to gain popularity, notoriety or anything else. Quite frankly, I never imagined that many people would actually read it.
But read it they have. In droves. And the amazing thing is that the vast majority of the comments have been positive. Anyone who says that Latvians can’t laugh at themselves, should take a look. I’ve had so much support and made so many people laugh – surely that can’t be a bad thing? I’ve even had a marriage proposal – from a guy called Jānis, of course. I said no, in case you’re wondering. Believe it or not, I’m quite happy being a ‘sad spinster’.
My friends are still my friends. My students are still my students. The reaction from the latter especially has been fantastic. Although I did almost get one girl into trouble at work. She started reading and couldn’t stop – her boss tried to get angry with her but then he started reading too. The two of them spent most of the day laughing and doing very little work so I apologise for the lack of productivity I caused.
There have been numerous suggestions on where I should go from here – back to Ireland being one. Some think I should stop writing, some think I should ‘play it safe’ for a while (yawn), some think now’s the time to write even worse stuff. One guy suggested that maybe I should start my own political party called ‘Haters Gonna Hate’…
But I think I’ll just carry on as before – after a little break; not because of this nonsense but because it’s almost Christmas and that was always my plan. In my absence, I’ve invited the Latvians to take over and write a few guest posts for me, which I’m hoping will make for really interesting reading. There will be one from a Latvian girl who left for America when she was 6 but still dreams of returning some day; a Latvian guy who left, came back but then left again; and finally, someone who left Latvia, came back, and is now happy and successful here. This has been the hardest person to find…
So if you like the blog, keep reading. If you don’t, don’t worry your pretty little head about it. Either way, I’m going to keep writing it.
For anyone interested in reading about other foreigners’ experiences here, check out these blogs: