Sunday, August 9, 2015

Monday, March 16, 2015

Let's Make the MOST of Our Lives Like We're Gonna DIE YOUNG!


I hear your heaaartbeat to the beat of the drums
Oh what a shame that you came here with someooooone 
So while you're here in my arms
Let's make the most of the night like we're gonna die young!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015. 6:20 pm.

I'm driving from my new 9-5  to my next "job" at my aerial dance studio, where I work the front desk, teach lyra, and take as many pole and lyra classes as my body can handle every week. The new job is kind of intense, and that Wednesday, I was physically and mentally spent. My 2001 Accord, doesn't have an auxiliary port, so I'm forced to play mix CDs  (as if it's 2001) in order to free myself from the maddening cycle of the same seven songs played on mainstream radio when I'm not in the mood for classical music.

That day, I was not in the mood for classical music. I was a bit restless. I wanted to jam in my car while driving through the mothereffing rain that was the teaser to yet another fucking snow storm. I reached for an old favorite, my "Some Nights in Murcia" cd (because all my mix cds have titles, duh) and transported myself back to 2012/13, back to where it all started…Murcia (moorsee-uh).

View from atop the Castillo de Monteagudo
It has been 7 months, 1 week, and 6 days since I  stepped off a plane from Madrid at JFK international with Kona, 4 carry ons, 2 checked luggage, a heart full of memories, and a head full of anxiety after two life-changing years in Spain. In these seven months, my transition back to full time American has been surprisingly uneventful. My aforementioned anxiety largely centered around finding a job. I temped as an executive assistant for six months, and then last month my temp gig finally yielded on its investment, and I transitioned into a salaried, benefit providing, and career forwarding job as a health program specialist. Huzzah! And even before that blessing actualized, I did manage to spend some time with some of the most important people in my life in the tri-state area. I also  succeeded in sticking to my rule of celebrating New Years in a new place, and saw in the start of 2015 in Los Angeles for my first trip to the west side of the sun to visit  my one and only foodie paramour (whom I met in Madrid). That whole hitting the wall of reverse culture shock didn't really happen--aside from my forgetting how insanely large American portion sizes can be, which I can legitimately say blew my effing mind.  I remain horrified that serving me a pound of "food" and half a gallon of drink is considered normal here. But in considering the larger picture, I lived in Spain for two years. I learned a new language. I  climbed mountains, and forded streams, and followed every fucking rainbow!

Archena, Murcia

I kept expecting the, "OMG, you left Madrid to come back to Baltimore, what on earth have you done?!" shoe to drop and hit me in the face. But it felt so normal to be back. It was so seamless a change, that it almost as if I never left, and THAT was the strangest part of my return. 

Or so I thought.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Some Nights in Murcia...

Michiel & me, Granda, June 15, 2013
From the streets and mountains of Murcia, to the sprawling boulevards of Valencia, through the magical gardens of the Alhambra, and in and every damn playground we could find from Spain to Romania, my friends and I treated the act of having fun like a contact sport and a drinking game.

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There isn't much to be said about me reliving my college partying days on an epic scale of  international and therefore ridiculous "come home with the sun" proportion, aside from the obvious in that it was a lot of fun . In 10 months I literally drank more beer than I had in all four years of undergrad (because I didn't really do beer in undergrad and had upgraded almost exclusively to vodka once I got to grad school), discovered the upper limits of my alcohol/consciousness limits...twice (St. Patrick's Day was the set up!), loved and loathed la madrugada, and got to know some of my fellow expat friends in awesome, terrible, and hilarious ways.

Click to Enlarge

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Walking Backwards

Granada (revisited)  June 15, 2013

¡Hola a Todos! So let's just skip past the part about me not blogging for 6 months, and start over from the beginning. Which, because I'm the author of this story, means I'll start at the end. And I don't actually mean the end, because this international love story between me and Spain is far from over...

16:50 Tuesday, June 25, 2013

So there I was in Madrid's Puerta de Atocha Estación de Tren. With the aid of a kind stranger, I had just stepped off the train with three, overstuffed pieces of luggage, two carry on bags, AND Kona in his travel carrier (which he loathes traveling in).
My struggle was so much worse than this. My suitcases were twice as big 
 Ignoring the puzzled look on people's faces as they watched me on the platform, I put forth my best "I can do this shit" attitude, confidently assembled my bags for exit, and 5 minutes later was smoothly walking backwards towards the escalator. And then I got to the escalator and realized I was majorly fucked. 'Cuz ya know, escalators are moving stairs, which created the very real danger of me falling face forward as I tried to haul my crap while walking backwards. I tried not to panic, but I was at a loss of how I was going to make it work AND I was blocking the escalator. Another kind gentleman witnessed my dilemma and helped me get on the escalator without face planting. We got to the top of, he helped me get my bags off and just barely out of the way of the travelers who had been trapped behind my little sideshow, and disappeared. Considering that when I got on the train in Murcia, and was fighting the good fight to lift my suitcases into the hold and NOBODY helped me, I was grateful. But then I looked at the 1000+ feet journey just to get to the main vestibule of the train station and my heart sank a little.  I made several attempts to walk facing traffic with my bags behind me, only to lose control of them and have them fall sideways nearly taking me down with them, so I surrendered my pride to what worked. I have to say that walking backwards with 200lbs of luggage and a dog through Spain's largest train station was probably the longest 20 minutes of my life. By the time I made it through the main terminal and outside to the taxi stand, I could barely stand upright or even speak. But I stammered out my destination address, collapsed into the taxi, and exhaled. I was I halfway to on my way home. In two days I would be in Madrid's airport and heading back to the U.S. for the first time in 10 months. I had made it! So let's go backwards a little more.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Bizzaro Land Christmas. And I Roasted a Chicken!

Christmas Land in Murcia. Polar Bears I get. The Panda Bear...not so much. There was also a clown among other randomness..

So this is a Christmas post in February, and the longer I live in Spain the more it becomes evident that this country is basically bizzaro USA. To be clear, this is not actually my homesickness talking right now--though I would like to point out that homesickness is a very real and insidious condition that seeps into your bones and spreads through your entire existence like a cold, cancerous tumor which poisons your spirit and shrouds you and everything around you with an inky blackness on even the sunniest of days. [In case you didn't know this, I'm a bit of a drama queen. Sue me.] But back to bizzaroland España--a first world country with third world tendencies--a land where the local government thinks it's perfectly acceptable to not pay me for three months at a time, banks and government offices are operational just 5-6 hours (if you're lucky) a day, supermarkets are closed on Sundays, teenagers dry-hump each other against the walls of the convent that's just 4 steps from my front door, and the Christmas holiday season is a mere fraction in size, commercialization, and obnoxiousness that we've all come to know and love/loathe stateside.


Monday, January 21, 2013

Lost in Translation::Pollo al Horno con Puerros de Mantequilla

After four months of living in Spain, you would think that by now, I would have fully adjusted and settled into my new life here. But the reality of the situation is that it's taken me just that long to feel as if I've found some semblance of balance and/or normalcy. And keep in mind the operative term of "semblance" because both my definitions of normal and balance seem be in a constant state of change. In any event, for many reasons, including this period of adjustment, I've been remiss if not purposely avoidant of updating this blog. 

As you can imagine, there are lots of things that get lost in translation when one packs up their entire life and moves to a new country, and transitioning a domestic food blog to describe an international life is one of them. I have struggled here, not only with the language and from time to time, the distance from home, but the question of how to express myself in that full-on Bernadette way--complete with inappropriate levels of profanity, butter, and bourbon, whilst sharing the good, the bad, and the absurdity of my life in Spain. 

January 13. on the beach!

Monday, December 10, 2012

An American Macaroni & Cheese in Spain

What happens when, while living abroad, you make one of the most American foods ever, which happens to be the most important side dish of the dinner of the second most American holiday in existence¹, for a quantity of no less than 30 people from six different countries, in a house in the mountains, where eating, boozing [repeat and repeat], laughing, hiking, and fighting the dog for stolen turkey bones from the garbage commence for approximately a weekend? You get zero pictures of the finished product in all it's magnificent glory, and are forced to steal any photographic evidence of its cooked existence from other people's facebook albums. And contrary to what you may initially have thought, your Thanksgiving in Spain is pleasingly similar to Thanksgiving at home, with the hilarious exception of the entire "family" getting plastered and the addition of a resplendent mountain backdrop and a pool. Basically, my Thanksgiving in Spain was amahzing, but more importantly my Spanish rendition of Linda's [mommy] famous macaroni and cheese was a success!

For starters, I must talk about the Españification of this American classic, because while the Spaniards are quite fond of cheese, they are not quite so fond of variety or importing good American cheddar. And though my Spanish is still not where I want it to be three months into this adventure, I was still able to clearly communicate with the guy at the carnicería that a gub'ment cheese-looking block of mild cheddar was not hell what I was looking for.


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