My 15 minutes

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.

Look out! She's behind you!

Look out! She’s behind you!

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?

Sign me up.

You had me at ‘Nu ja…’

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:

About BerLinda

Adjusting to life in Germany, after living in Latvia for four years. Should be easy, right?
This entry was posted in Beer, Expat, Humor, Humour, Latvia, Latvian men, Riga and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

169 Responses to My 15 minutes

  1. Dear Linda – one easy solution. Your blog is great, humorous and perceptive; do you really care what a complete stranger who has no idea about who you actually are thinks of you? So either don’t read the comments, get someone else to moderate them, or disable the comment facility on the blog. There are so many very, very aggressive and thoughtless people out there (and Latvia is not in any sense different to anywhere else in the world – see the crude sexist threats, including those of overt sexual violence, that were uttered to Caroline Criado-Perez when she dared to campaign for a woman’s face on the new UK banknotes. Or the hate that has poured out over Prof Mary Beard, simply because she won’t conform to standard ideals of how a woman should look). Ignore them – it’s their problem, not yours; unless someone actually threatens violence, in which case, go to the police. Good luck.

  2. Kaufman's Kavalkade says:

    Well isn’t Rael a little bitch with no sense of humor.

    Don’t they see the irony of pointing out that someone else has better things to do than write a blog, while they take time to comment on your blog?

    Guess not, but Rael doesn’t seem that smart.


  3. Guntars Kauls says:

    Great to hear that You are cool with all that “go back to Ireland” situation. Just finished reading Your blog backwards, so much fun

    I have lived for some time in Russia and girls there are crazy about beer. And by girls I mean beautiful women with jobs and social life.

    Not having children was a bizzare thought for me until I have had lived in UK for a week and met few girls over 30 not even thinking about having a kid. It took me a while to wrap my head around the whole thing. but when I saw british kids in sainsburys it all became clear to me )))

  4. Aussa Lorens says:

    Oh! And #5: You make “sad spinster” sexy. That is all.

  5. Aussa Lorens says:

    I still can’t believe how much hate you got, but I am glad to see that you seem to be doing well and moving on in spite of it. I haven’t read the mean comments, but I do know that I am the most important person who comments on here, and my voice carries more weight so this is all you need to know:
    1. You’re a good writer.
    2. The fact you’re living in a country other than the one where you were born and raised makes you a badass.
    3. You’re adorable. Even when you accidentally color the top of your hair red.
    4. If I ever feel like making fun of Irish people I will come after you.

    Have a lovely Christmas 🙂

  6. oh man. this sounds crazy! sending good vibes…ya know, because of the crazies. also, can we get more from that awesome white dress photo shoot up there? please.

  7. Luis says:

    If my name was Janis, if I’d smoke a cigar, had a moustache, an earring and drank beer I think I would be the one!

  8. Omg hax says:

    Nice to hear that you are still happy here. Good luck 🙂

  9. xyz says:

    I stumbled upon your blog just before the famous article on kasjauns was published.
    If we exclude that part about many latvian women being skinny ir order to attract men (as I am one of those ppl for whom it is so much easier to loose weight than to put it on) I really do enjoy your blog. I think you have a talent in writing and have a great sense of humour.
    Talking about THE article. I ve been an expat myself in a country which i first visited as a tourist. and experience of visiting the country for a short period of time and living there for a couple of years were two absolutely different things. so I think you did a good job 🙂

  10. Jude says:

    Dear devil lady,
    Holy smokes love! This explains why I’ve not heard back from you! This is a rather scary and disheartening experience, but if anyone was wired to get through it, tis you! You know I already love, respect and admire you and this just adds another badge to your sash. Can’t remember if you had brownies/girl guides in Eire?

    In any case, you better keep writing!

    • Expat Eye says:

      Ha, yeah, I’ve been a little busy! Will make more of an effort in future though! I was in the Brigíns 😉 We had a hideous brown uniform. There are photos somewhere…
      Thanks for the support! 🙂

      • Jude says:

        Brigins! I love it! My outfit was also brown and hideous but I loved collecting the badges and my uniform is still at my parents somewhere . Totally thought it was a North American thing!

        Merry Christmas love!

      • Expat Eye says:

        Thanks! It’s pronounced like Bridge-eens 😉 Something for you to have a giggle about! I don’t think I learned anything that prepared me for this situation – must have a look through the badges when I get home 😉 I still can’t knit either…

  11. 1WriteWay says:

    You deserve to take a break and I am so glad you will! But I am also glad you have some people who can guest post. Hey, I can write about giant penises … what about me???? Just kidding 🙂 I’ve got enough to do, especially with chasing after four cats. Any hoo … I am glad you can keep your wonderful perspective on all this. You’re a wonderful, creative writer, but the better you are, the more people you’re likely to piss off. Just focus on the positive because your real readers want you to keep writing 🙂 [In case, you’re wondering … I am so tired my face is about to fall on the keyboard … so if I’m not making sense, that’s why 🙂 ]

    • Expat Eye says:

      Ha ha, thanks for staying up for an extra couple of minutes to comment! There will always be a place for giant penises here 😉 Hope you have a lovely Christmas break too! 🙂 Good luck with the cats!

  12. Hello Linda. My wife caught your blog on our second to last night in Riga. Bad timing, because we have been here for the last 7-days. If you have the time, or if you’re even available, we would love to meet you for lunch, coffee or perhaps a drink later, if your schedule allows. I’m was born in Ireland and my wife, her family is from Slovenia. We both thought your blog was interesting and a bit brilliant!

    In case you need to know that we are not mad:




    Paul & Sylvia

    • Expat Eye says:

      Hi Paul and Sylvia, I’ve had enough mad people comment to know that you’re not 😉 Unfortunately, I have a lot of work to get through today so I won’t have time to meet up – shame you came across the blog so late! I wonder if you agree with any of the stuff I’ve written??? 😉 Linda

      • Sylvia Springer says:

        I agree with many things you have written! I enjoy your writing style and candid views. I always dreamed of being an expat, but you bring up great examples of the challenges and realities.
        Have a wonderful Christmas!
        I look forward to checking in on your blog.
        Sylvia and (Paul)

      • Expat Eye says:

        Thank you so much! I hope you enjoyed your stay – I’ve just finished working for the evening so I doubt I’d have been much company anyway 😉 Have a safe trip home and a great Christmas! All the best! Linda.

  13. Luis says:

    The last girl that became famous overnight in Latvia did it by running topless on a football pitch during an international game.
    At least you can be pleased to have achieved such notorious condition for your brain and personality 😉

  14. Oh my gosh, this is still going on for you. YOur poor thing, seriously people have too much time on their hands if they are STILL bothering you. More hugs.

  15. Gede Prama says:

    visit, read the article and thanks for posting your article is quite good and we hope that all our friends all success and thank you all, greetings. (This is a good thing) 🙂

  16. brathahn says:

    “Becoming the most notorious woman in a country ”
    I´m just imagining you sitting in a pizzaria in naples “negotiating” the bribes with a big cigar in your mouth,..
    Thank god you are not living in Italy.Or Russia. or any other country which has a big mafia population (Ugh, just got the corner before insulting someone aswell i guess ) a
    Awesome 🙂

    btw. the guestwriter thing is a good idea to keep the blog going but get some distance for some time.

    • Expat Eye says:

      Yeah, I’d planned it long before this but the timing has worked out nicely! Just hope they send them to me now! 🙂 Quite like the thought of negotiating with a big cigar though – I could bring my friend in the picture along 😉

  17. I love your blog and think you’re incredibly smart and funny! Glad you’re not letting the negative feedback get you down!

  18. Antuanete says:

    Enjoy your holiday and pack your luggage with as much bacon as you can, in case you will have to withstand more trouble like this in future (hopefully not!)

  19. Jānis Juris Valdis says:

    Cheers Linda.

    I found your blog shortly before the media nonsense started and was giving it a skim every now and then. Even though I sort of expected it would happen, I was still sorry to read you got hate mail. What my compatriots did was idiotic and I have no doubt you’re as aware of that as I am.

    Their behaviour is a bit like that of someone who has a major bastard in your immediate family. Even though you’re well aware that they’re being a bastard to everyone, including yourself, they’re one of yours first and a bastard second and it your prerogative to call them on it and noone else’s.

    Anyway, whenever there’s animosity between Latvians and the Irish, I remember this article about Ireland:

    If you switched some names around, it might as well have been written about Latvia, as (ignoring the church influence) there’s a whole fucking lot of parallels between the two countries, especially pre-crisis.

    So there.

    Keep it up. The good thing about the average hate mail sender is that they have the memory of a fruitfly.

    • Expat Eye says:

      Great article! And you’re right about the parallels – is there a word for ‘cute’ in Latvian with this Oirish meaning? Reading a few of the comments, there’s one in Russian!

      The fuss seems to have mostly died down anyway – storm in a teacup 😉 Linda.

      • Jānis Juris Valdis says:

        I think “slīpēts” (or “slīpēta”) carries pretty much the same shade of admiration for unethical, but as-of-yet benign shrewdness. It balances on the edge between informal and literary though.

  20. TRex says:

    A proper and classy response. It’s a good blog, too bad I found it so late.
    At least the tissue was stuck to your hat and not elsewhere. 🙂

  21. bevchen says:

    Nutritionists? So it’s all that pork that makes you such a horrid, bitter old spinster? 😉

  22. barbedwords says:

    Enjoy your Christmas break, sounds like you need it! Looking forward to your return when you can tell us all about your marriage proposals and how all the dates from the dating site went 😉

  23. Ray says:

    Love the Banshee pic :D)))) proud of you 🙂

  24. Mara says:

    Thanks for following…
    I’m very new on Twitter…actually I discovered you via,that was a shame..i mean not you,but them…I always took them with pinch of salt…she translated and in the process lost your sparkling humor…may be she did this on purpose?..i wouldn’t be surprised..
    You was brilliant,funny still are…same times I was laughing so hard..oo..and comments?!!!..don’t you dare move out from LV….please??..You’re needed here!!!!
    When I started to read your blog I couldn’t stopt…
    …and because of you I’m on Twitter is well…I’m on facebook,but I don’t like f-book…I like maybe because of my age and skills it’s easy to handle draugiem as f-book..
    …this I wrote and send to reply as you’re my follower…but they send it back,so…
    I’m here…
    …ar sveicieniem no Dublinas!!!!!

    • Expat Eye says:

      Hi Māra! Thanks for your comment! I still don’t really get twitter but it seems to be the ‘done thing’ 😉 I only really tweet (I hate that word!) when I have a new post 😉

      I’ll be very careful about having anything translated in future – in fact, I don’t think I will ever let anything be translated in future! But at least it brought me some really nice new readers! 🙂 Thanks for your support! Linda.

  25. Ace says:

    I love your blog and I will continue to read it – your sarcasm and sense of humor is great. And what’s not to love of a pint-sized woman with a pint-sized beer? 😉 As a fellow short woman of Irish decent, I can only hope to achieve “battle ax” status as a grow older.
    While you take your Christmas break, I hope you enjoy it, and I look forward to more posts when you get back. =)

  26. Anna says:

    Whatever ails you, I recommend more pints. It’s a panacea 🙂
    Looking forward to the guest posts, but will miss you terribly!

  27. Enjoy your well deserved break and looking forward to the next amusing adventures from such a “notorious woman!!”

  28. Anastasia Pi says:

    /This has been the hardest person to find…

    Ha-ha. That wouldn’t be me, for sure…

    Glad to know you’re doing good. 😉

  29. Rael says:

    Just wanted to ask. Ever heard about this guy?

    Basically, just anothier expat in Latvia, but he has very different approach.
    Your 15 minutes will come and go. His art will remain.

    • Expat Eye says:

      The point of ’15 minutes’ is that it is fleeting.
      No, I hadn’t heard of this guy. Hard to compare writing a blog and painting but I hope he will be around for a while.

      • Rael says:

        I guess, he’s better things to do than writing a blog 🙂 He certainly could, thou… I mentioned him because I think he’s a good example of a person who’s found his place among foreign culture and its carriers, which is admirable. And what about you, Linda, have you even succeeded in finding yourself? I’ve been looking through your blog recently (yeah, I know, “if you don’t like it, don’t read it” ‘n shit, but what else a guy with CFS can do with his plenty of time and limited possibilities? ^^), it’s all going like – beer, beer, men, beer, hating stilettos, beer, bacon, beer, men, beer, being bored at sight-seeing, beer, hating leopard print, beer, beer, stupid Latvians, beer, oh-so-cool Irish, beer, beer… well, man, that’s all. I dunno, probably there is a gem inside, y’know, like deep interest in quantum physics or such, but it’s rendered invisible, so judging by this blog Linda O’Grady is just another boring and shallow person which decided she has something to say. Had we met, I’d no idea what we could talk about.
        That fuss around you is enigmatic. I mean, this woman said “Latvians should smile and do small talk as I requested, simply because I said so” and they actually give a fuck about it? Really? 😀 Latvians are a strange bunch indeed. Look, she even didn’t addressed any serious problems within Latvian society, like racism an homophobia (too much occupied with leopard print to address homophobia, I suppose), she just consider that not smiling and not asking “How are you?” (which is a source of all what is right in da blessed Eire and beyond) will bring Apocalypse upon our dying world. Godz, have mercy. Amen.
        So, this woman? Really? 😀 We are all nuts and the end is nigh. And nevermind, I’m just being sarcastic.
        Anyway, I wish you good luck. Good luck with this much ado about nothing. I am not a mean person 🙂

      • Expat Eye says:

        With all of this time on your hands, maybe you should start a blog about racism and homophobia? Considering I nearly got lynched for talking about leopard print and smiling, perhaps someone else could tackle the ‘serious issues’? Or maybe you should just set up a fan club for this artist? Aw hell, why not do both! Go nuts!

      • Rael says:

        “With all of this time on your hands, maybe you should start a blog about racism and homophobia?” (Linda)

        I do smth similar at 🙂

  30. nancytex2013 says:

    Hey, easy there sister! I believe I was the first commenter to tell you Haters gonna Hate, so before you start naming all these others as your business manager, I am taking credit where credit is due.

    p.s. My actual title would be your Bidness Manager. Get it right.

  31. Gerbil With Jetpack says:

    I see the worlds’ best Learn-English TV show. Might run between Panorama and Sporta Ziņas.

  32. Horny too long is a most interesting and imaginative concept … I can’t keep my wandering to places it just shouldn’t go 😉 I mean, how long does it have to be in order to be horny? Actually, I admire you, that’s what I wanted to write and say. I can’t publish everything people write as comments … I just can’t, really. But you are the woman and I think you’re pretty darned spiffy ! Hugs, Luke.

    • Expat Eye says:

      Aw, thank you hon! 🙂 I am be horny very long time – maybe it’s affected my judgement 😉 The people who wrote nasty comments are really only showing themselves up. I didn’t justify all of them with a response though 😉

  33. Jazeps2 says:

    Important Q – what’s your favorite latvian beer?

  34. MrJohnson says:

    “pint-sized, 35-year old woman who doesn’t have children and drinks pints.”

    This is basically the woman of my dreams

  35. What? We were meant to diagnose you, and I missed my cue! Must remedy that immediately. Pardon the pun.
    I diagnose severe chronic hilarity disorder, exacerbated by acute bouts of sarcasm. My prescription: Daily venting.

  36. rigaenglish says:

    Some great complications though! Marketing Manager at O Greidija international. Could have a pitchfork bursting a bottle of Balzams as a marketing symbol…

    • Expat Eye says:

      There you go again with the great ideas! 🙂 Maybe I could whip up some beetroot soup using only my tail 😉

    • I really cant stand the translation of persons name and last name as well as city and country names the way latvians do.
      Sorry, nothing personal 🙂
      Linda, are you used to your new last name? Luckily your name is simply Linda instead of Aisling or Aiofe or Leah or Grainne or Lochlainn 🙂 or any of the hard pronounced irish names 🙂

      • Expat Eye says:

        Ha, nobody’s actually done that to my name – not that I’ve seen anyway! I just joke around with it sometimes 😉 And yeah, Linda works pretty much everywhere! 🙂

      • rigaenglish says:

        But Latvians aren’t the only ones that do that. The garumzīmes in Latvian names get dropped almost everywhere outside Latvia. English, and pretty much every European language, changes most country names and a lot of city names get changed or pronounced in a way that fits English better. Munich, Warsaw etc.

  37. rigaenglish says:

    In Kazakhstan if you’re over 21 and not married you’re automatically classified as impotent, mentally retarded or gay, LV is a wee bit more advanced that way. You like that guy with the cigar, I think is because You is horny too long. There are at least some great t-shirt possibilities out of all this. When is the Haters gonna hate mug going on sale?

    • Expat Eye says:

      Do you want to be my business manager? You’ve got a lot of great ideas 😉 But then, I is horny too long so there might be all sorts of complications for you 😉

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