It's here, the day you've all been waiting for. Your favorite holiday that, (although you won't admit it), betters Thanksgiving and comes just after Christmas on your top hits, because hey, there's more alcohol.
I've been in New York for a year-and-a-half now and given that my last St. Patrick's Day here winded up in da club with Conor Mcgregor and a gaggle of his adulating fans (by accident), this one promises to be just as entertaining, because it's on a Saturday. I've rounded up a preliminary guide to your day in the city, which is just some friendly advice from mine to yours, and included a smattering of photos of mine from over the years on the day in question for your entertainment.
1. It's St. Paddy's, not patty's
I would like to state on the case of St. Patty's -v- St. Paddy's, that you have been deceived your whole life into thinking that the day was synonymous with a patty ( a.k.a a burger). “Paddy's Day" is short for St. Patrick's Day. In colloquial Irish parlance, Paddy is an abbreviation of Patrick. And for anyone who tries to push their feminist agenda (with 'patty' rather marginally sounding more ladylike than Paddy), on the holiday, please refrain. St. Patrick was a man, ladies, get over it.
2. Start early
Start as you mean to go on. Ireland will play England in a rugby match at 9AM E.S.T, and it provides a great opportunity for an early opener to the day.
Now, while rugby might not be your cup of tea (and that should be Lyon's Irish Breakfast Tea on Saturday, not Barry's, in my honest and completely biased opinion), the fact that Ireland are playing England always makes for a great, atmospheric watching experience. The age-old rivals, (England presided over Ireland's governing for 700 hundred years), will go to battle in what could be an extremely momentous rugby occasion for the boys in green.
Ireland have a chance to win 'The Grand Slam' having beaten every other team in the Six Nations tournament. You won't want to miss this one if you're an early riser, and The Long Hall in midtown is always a safe bet to watch the game.
3. Eat an Irish breakfast
While you might think black pudding (blood sausage) is particularly daunting, the rest of an Irish breakfast happens to be very pleasant. Irish sausages and especially Irish bacon, which is immensely superior to that of the Canadian variety, make up the best of the dish, which (should) also include beans, toast and eggs.
If you've never tried it before, surely this is the day for you.
4. There's never too much (or too little) green
My darling latina editor told me that when she was younger, if you didn't wear green on St. Patty's Day, you would get pinched. This, funnily enough, is an entirely American tradition which began in the 1700s and has something to do with leprechauns. If you don't wear green in Ireland, you certainly don't get pinched.
I will be trying to squeeze an element of green into my outfit on the day, and admittedly there are years I've gone overboard (cue horrifying flashbacks to electric green, skin tight leggings and velour emerald bodysuits), but accessorising for the day is just as fun. In fact this year, in one (slightly awkward) holiday package sent to the office, we received shamrock-shaped nipple stickers, because who couldn't do with a pair of those during a girls-gone-wild moment on the day.
My favorite thing to do for the day however? An irish-flag themed manicure.
For every (American) pint (an Irish pint is larger) / glass of wine / vodka-soda / gin and tonic / shot you do, drink a glass of water. This is not child's play, you'll want to at least last until 4pm, otherwise it's all you'll be hearing for the next week in your group chat. Some of the most lauded stories of my friends' childhoods are those from Paddy's Day, during which they've over-consumed alcohol, under-consumed food and water, and have lived to regret the mistakes they made neglecting their liver (and self-respect) in the meantime.
6. Don't ask an Irish person to speak 'Gaelic'
Hold your horses on this popular instruction from across the bar. As children in Ireland, we're taught our native language, Irish, otherwise known as Gaeilge. Gaeilge is to Irish as Hola or Bonjour is to hello. 'Gaelic' is a language that predates rhyme and reason, and is akin to Old English which, if you've ever seen an original Beowulf text, is mostly incomprehensible to the modern reader.
We will however be glad to share a line of Irish with you, considering it will probably be an insult dripping with sarcasm in the form of “kiss my ass," or, “póg mo thóin."
7. Know your haunts
Word on the street is a Saturday St. Patrick's Day trumps NYC's Santacon for citywide craziness, and I absolutely believe that.
I plan on hitting midtown for a midday peek at the parade and spending a little time on in the row of pubs on 2nd ave. from 49-55th st. These bars (Draught 55, The Horny Ram, Murphy's, Jameson's) are generally pretty quiet and very low-key, so it'll b interesting to see the difference a day makes, but beyond that I'll be staying downtown. Stone St. will provide ample entertainment for any party goer new to the city as will the likes of The Swift Hibernian in Noho or the esteemable Dead Rabbit (which happens to have a larger than usual female staff leading the charge behind the bar). For late night revellers, The Mean Fiddler and Fiddlesticks will expect you.
Moral of the story is: before you head out for your celebrations, know what you like - pubs big or small, uptown or downtown - and figure out the general area you would like to be in. From there, you can't go wrong!
Lá Fhéile Pádraig folks, or, Happy St. Patrick's Day
In 2016, I finally found my voice. I always thought I had one, especially as a business owner and mother of two vocal toddlers, but I had been wrong.
For more than 30 years, I had been struggling with the fear of being my true self and speaking my truth. Then the repressed memories of my childhood sexual abuse unraveled before me while raising my 3-year-old daughter, and my life has not been the same since.
Believe it or not, I am happy about that.
The journey for a survivor like me to feel even slightly comfortable sharing these words, without fear of being shamed or looked down upon, is a long and often lonely one. For all of the people out there in the shadows who are survivors of childhood sexual abuse, I dedicate this to you. You might never come out to talk about it and that's okay, but I am going to do so here and I hope that in doing so, I will open people's eyes to the long-term effects of abuse. As a survivor who is now fully conscious of her abuse, I suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and, quite frankly, it may never go away.
It took me some time to accept that and I refuse to let it stop me from thriving in life; therefore, I strive to manage it (as do many others with PTSD) through various strategies I've learned and continue to learn through personal and group therapy. Over the years, various things have triggered my repressed memories and emotions of my abuse--from going to birthday parties and attending preschool tours to the Kavanaugh hearing and most recently, the"Leaving Neverland" documentary (I did not watch the latter, but read commentary about it).
These triggers often cause panic attacks. I was angry when I read Barbara Streisand's comments about the men who accused Michael Jackson of sexually abusing them, as detailed in the documentary. She was quoted as saying, "They both married and they both have children, so it didn't kill them." She later apologized for her comments. I was frustrated when one of the senators questioning Dr. Christine Blasey Ford (during the Kavanaugh hearing) responded snidely that Dr. Ford was still able to get her Ph.D. after her alleged assault--as if to imply she must be lying because she gained success in life.We survivors are screaming to the world, "You just don't get it!" So let me explain: It takes a great amount of resilience and fortitude to walk out into society every day knowing that at any moment an image, a sound, a color, a smell, or a child crying could ignite fear in us that brings us back to that moment of abuse, causing a chemical reaction that results in a panic attack.
So yes, despite enduring and repressing those awful moments in my early life during which I didn't understand what was happening to me or why, decades later I did get married; I did become a parent; I did start a business that I continue to run today; and I am still learning to navigate this "new normal." These milestones do not erase the trauma that I experienced. Society needs to open their eyes and realize that any triumph after something as ghastly as childhood abuse should be celebrated, not looked upon as evidence that perhaps the trauma "never happened" or "wasn't that bad. "When a survivor is speaking out about what happened to them, they are asking the world to join them on their journey to heal. We need love, we need to feel safe and we need society to learn the signs of abuse and how to prevent it so that we can protect the 1 out of 10 children who are being abused by the age of 18. When I state this statistic at events or in large groups, I often have at least one person come up to me after and confide that they too are a survivor and have kept it a secret. My vehicle for speaking out was through the novella The Survivors Club, which is the inspiration behind a TV pilot that my co-creator and I are pitching as a supernatural, mind-bending TV series. Acknowledging my abuse has empowered me to speak up on behalf of innocent children who do not have a voice and the adult survivors who are silent.
Remembering has helped me further understand my young adult challenges,past risky relationships, anger issues, buried fears, and my anxieties. I am determined to thrive and not hide behind these negative things as they have molded me into the strong person I am today.Here is my advice to those who wonder how to best support survivors of sexual abuse:Ask how we need support: Many survivors have a tough exterior, which means the people around them assume they never need help--we tend to be the caregivers for our friends and families. Learning to be vulnerable was new for me, so I realized I needed a check-off list of what loved ones should ask me afterI had a panic attack.
The list had questions like: "Do you need a hug," "How are you feeling," "Do you need time alone."Be patient with our PTSD". Family and close ones tend to ask when will the PTSD go away. It isn't a cold or a disease that requires a finite amount of drugs or treatment. There's no pill to make it miraculously disappear, but therapy helps manage it and some therapies have been known to help it go away. Mental Health America has a wealth of information on PTSD that can help you and survivors understand it better. Have compassion: When I was with friends at a preschool tour to learn more about its summer camp, I almost fainted because I couldn't stop worrying about my kids being around new teenagers and staff that might watch them go the bathroom or put on their bathing suit. After the tour, my friends said,"Nubia, you don't have to put your kids in this camp. They will be happy doing other things this summer."
In that moment, I realized how lucky I was to have friends who understood what I was going through and supported me. They showed me love and compassion, which made me feel safe and not judged.