Saturday, July 23, 2016

Back in the saddle again.

It's been entirely too long since I made an update here. I'm aware of this. Every time I sat down to write something I got distracted or saved an entry and never updated it. The photos I took in Granada and Málaga were supposed to be uploaded, but now they may be lost forever, and it's my fault. So I'm taking this time to re-evaluate the site: What I want to to with this space, what I want to write about, and what I want to put up here. I know I want to share more of my writing (now that I'm writing again), and my recipes. So here, I want to make a commitment to you and myself. I want to upload something AT LEAST once a month. I want to write more, cook more, share more and learn more Spanish!! 

As I prepare to enter my third (OMG can you believe it!?) year here, I'm setting more goals and making a plan to make my life in Spain continue to grow and prosper. So there. Here's to my return to writing, creativity, and remembering how great life can be. Cheers!


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Real Talk

     When living abroad, it's easy for others to believe that your life is all rainbows and sunshine. After all: You left the country! You're taking pictures from all these exotic locations, and filling social media with pictures of amazing food. Why wouldn't your life be something from a fairy tale? It's easy to pretend that going abroad and “living the dream” is where your problems end, and for a lot of people, that's all they want to hear. However, there is a dark side to all of this. There are things that make it hard to be where you are, and certain things you must accept in order to make this choice.

     For example: My mother has been in the hospital twice this year and now my grandmother, her mother, is in the hospital. And there is absolutely nothing I can do. I can only sit here, make calls over the internet, worry, and cry. Don't forget the crying. When you move to another country, you accept that things will happen at home, and you won't be there. We watch our friends' and families' lives: engagements, marriages, births, and deaths, over the internet. It is a decision that we make, and a choice we must live with. There is no easy way around it. 

      Living as an expat is not always fun. You have the same things to deal with in your home country. Sometimes it is in a different language, thus increasing the fun (just kidding, there's nothing fun about opening a bank account, renting an apartment, or other fun stuff in a language you barely speak). No one mentions the things that also come with being an ex-pat: The isolation, the comments, the stares, the homesickness, the depression, the helpless feeling when something happens at home, the uncomfortable feelings when encountering cultural norms, etc. I plan to talk about these things more in this space. There have been some AMAAAAAAZING times I've had here in Spain, and there have also been lows. They are not uncommon, but I don't always know how to deal with them. I will find a way to overcome certain things that [occasionally] make me forget what an opportunity I have here. I will find a way to deal with my decision, even when I have to return home to bury my dead. 

     Sorry for the morbid post. I told you: It's not all rainbows and sunshine. 
-K-

Saturday, May 16, 2015

De Los Estados Unidos

15 September, 2014
"Fear and Loathing in the United States

Well, it's finally come. After 2,5 months with my family and friends, I am returning to Madrid. There was a lot (I mean a LOT) of drinking, dancing, and travel. And somehow I STILL never managed to see everyone I wanted. Some were too far away, some I was too exhausted to get to (I'm so sorry.), and some just made no effort to call me at all. Whatareyagonnado?

It was great to see everyone, but I also learned a lot. It's interesting when you see things with fresh eyes. It's interesting how many things change when you go away, and how many things stay the same. Although it was nice being back with family and friends, in my home country, there were so many things that showed me that I made the ABSOLUTELY correct decision.

Por ejemplo:

- Safety: Not many people know this, but I was a witness to a shooting when I was 17 years old.  It was an attempted murder/suicide that involved my then boss and the man she was seeing.   I'm not going to get into the gory details, but it actually happened at my job. She broke up with him. He didn't like it.  I saw him run into the store, I saw the gun, and I hid behind the counter. She lived. He didn't.

There's also the: I'm from one of the worst parts of New Orleans thing. I have heard of and seen more crime happen in my city, than some. I have lived in a place where hearing gunshots is normal

From the moment I touched down in the U.S.I felt a fear that I´d never experienced before.
In Spain I´d rid myself of certain habits, like constantly looking over my shoulder to see who was behind me. Looking in the reflections of store windows and cars to make sure no one was sneaking up on me. Watching shadows on the ground, to see if anyone was behind or near me. Sizing up everyone I passed on the street, like: "I can kick his ass... I can kick her ass... I can DEFINITELY kick that old lady´s ass..."

I was back on U.S. soil for 24 hours, and woke up to the news that 9 people were shot in a nightclub on Bourbon Street. Welcome home, KC. You just left a country that had 7 shootings this year. Your mom´s apartment complex had 3 last night. Good job, buddy.

So it was such a relief when it came time to leave and return to Spain. It was also just so strange. I´ve always known that NOLA was dangerous. Atlanta didn´t have the greatest track record, either. But this was the first time I was truly afraid of the cities I called home. I´d been reading about the crimes happening back in New Orleans. and I had no desire to be back in that environment.

If you haven´t left the U.S. and experienced what it´s like to have that kind of security, then you can´t understand. It was hard to explain to my Spanish friends what it was like to constantly watch where you walk, or just having the fear that you could be shot at any moment. People in my country are allowed to openly carry guns. and they are not afraid to use them. So it makes you a bit shy. That dude who just stepped on your foot could be carrying. Road rage takes on a whole meaning, when there are pistols involved.

I´d seen stories about a few women who were dragged into alleys and raped in the French Quarter, rapes/sexual assaults in the LGD, and now people wanted me to walk through the Bywater (alone) to meet them on Decatur Street... They didn´t seem to understand my reluctance (or flat out answers of "FUUUUUUCK NO!")  and I didn´t understand the sudden fear of my birthplace.

Look, New Orleans is dangerous. It´s always been that way. We know damn good and well that we don´t live in Disneyland, and we´ve always known that. But after living in a place where being gunned down on the street just doesn´t really happen. You can´t buy piece of mind like that. You can´t appreciate it, if you always had it , and you can´t reclaim it once you´ve lost it. I  guess it´s hard to explain, if you haven´t been there. I can only explain how I feel.
I breathed easier once I was in the air, leaving that behind.

 I miss my home, my family, my cat. But I don´t miss the feeling that I was compromising my safety just by leaving my house. When I lived in New Orleans, I had a ritual before I went out into the world. I would kiss Avon (my cat) on the top of the head, scratch his ears, and tell him I loved him. Just in case I didn´t come back. I wonder if I´ll do the same once he comes to Madrid...


Saturday, September 6, 2014

Dónde está mi escuela!?

SOOOOOOOO I am no longer homeless. I checked out of the hostel, and made my way to Barrio del Pilar. I decided to skip the Metro and take a cab. This turned out to be a HUGE mistake, as when we got to my piso, my card was DECLINED. Oh. NO!!! Turns out that in withdrawing my deposit and first month's rent, I reached my limit and my card wouldn't. work. Long story short: the cabbie was pissed, I didn't know what to do, and thank GOD my roommate was able to bail me out. I was practically in tears, and breathing into a paper bag at this point. GREAT start.

After a couple of days I learned the layout of my neighborhood, Barrio Del Pilar. There is a MALL (AIIIIIIIEEEEEEE!!!!!) called La Vaguada only 20 minutes away, and all kids of great places nearby. Awesome. Before I knew it, it was the 8th of enero (January) and I had to go to my new school. Thanks to the previous auxiliar, I knew which bus I had to catch, but I had no idea how to get there. After consulting with a nice man at Intercambiador de Plaza de Castilla, I had a list of buses I needed to take. I was extremely proud of myself, because I barely knew what to say and he spoke no English. Awesome! Out of all those buses I had to take, only one was actually running so I made my way to the bottom of the station, walked around lost as hell (LOST, y'all), and finally found my terminal.
...only to be turned away because I had a 20€ bill, and the bus doesn't take more than 10€ bills. Party.
I hauled ass downstairs and bought a cafe con leche, then ran back up to my bus. I paid the 5.10€(DAMN, SON!!!) fee, and we were OFF! I could not stop staring at everything around me.







There was so much to see, that I lost myself in the sights. I was lost in the sounds. I was lost in the cobblestones and people, and graffiti, and mountains, and then I realized that...

I was just plain LOST.

You see: because I am a moron who doesn't pay attention, I missed my stop. I did the one thing I do best: I panicked. In my best terrible Castellano, I stuttered that I was looking for La Cabrera. The driver apologized and said that we'd passed it already. Oh, joy. This is where it gets interesting. We continued to the next town, and the driver wrote a note for me. I was to get on the returning bus, and give the note to the driver that said where I was going. I could only read some of it, but it probably said something like: "This idiot American is going to La Cabrera. Please help the big dummy find her way, because she doesn't speak a word of Castellano, and I don't know what she's doing here. I literally can't even with her, and now you're stuck with her. This is me laughing at your misfortune. HA."
Or something like that. It may have been nicer.

So I get dropped off in the next town with three elderly Spanish ladies, who have apparently made it their jobs to make damn sure that I get on this bus. The first woman looks at my note and says: "Mira... Hay cuatro paradas en La Cabrera. Necesita la segunda parada..." I didn't catch much after that, but I had another moment where I was like: "Wait... I know what that means: There are four stops in La Cabrera and I need the second one! I UNDERSTAND (kinda)! Hallelujah!!!" I was actually able to fumble through a conversation, telling them where I was from and how the hell I ended up lost in a part of Spain that I never knew existed. They waited with me, and asked more questions, until the return bus came. When I got on the bus, one of the women explained my dilemma and handed the driver the note. (She took it from me earlier, making a "tsk tsk" sound as she read it.




WHERE THE HELL AM I???



THE NOTE!!! (You know what's funny? I actually did get the jist of the note. I can read, y'all!)

Fasten seat belt (and try not to get lost again, moron).

I didn't know where I was at the time, I was too busy composing my sure to be famous country song 'Perdido en un Pueblo sin Nombre'. but I found out [five minutes ago] that I was in a village named El Berrueco.  So many thanks to the people of El Berrueco for their kindness. It is much appreciated.

I managed to find my way to my school, and was immediately meet with the friendliest smiles I had ever seen. Everyone had been expecting me, and they could not have been more kind. I had to wait on the English department head, so I was introduced to a few other teachers. Who all spoke Castellano, very very fast. My head = spinning. I finally was introduced to V., the head of the English department, who was shocked and amused (mostly amused) to hear what happened on the bus. We went to the cafeteria and had a coffee, and I was able to meet more of the staff. After a while V. was done with her classes, and nice enough to give me a ride back to San Sebastian de Los Reyes (now to be known as San Sé, because that is a LOT to type. ) so I could take the Metro back to Madrid. I took my first ride on the everlasting Metro [OF DOOOOOOM!!!], and took my tired arse home for the day. I had a big day tomorrow. It was time to meet the kids. Word.

This is how it goes...

Present day: 6 September, 2014

I am back in the United States, and I return to Madrid in 9 days. I plan on keeping this blog up and writing as I go along. I still have so much to post, and I'm looking forward to sharing my pictures and life with you all. Madrid 2: the Saga Continues is about to be in full effect. I apoligise for the confusion as it seems that my blog will be a mixture of old ad new posts. So I will be adding the tag #throwback to let you know when a post pertains to my first year in Spain. Thanks for sticking with me. Take care, y'all.


Friday, July 18, 2014

Musings from a Strange Land 2

Random thoughts from my first weeks in Madrid (and the many places I got lost in):

1 January 2014: 

Who would have guessed that I would be ringing in the new year from Madrid, Spain? Certainly not me. Wow.

Feliz Nuevo Año to my friends back home. May 2014 see you reach the place of your dreams as well!


3 January 2014:

Rainy day in Madrid (Yes, Madrid! Madrid, SPAIN! HOLY SHIT, I'M IN SPAIN Y'ALL!!!). The apartment hunt continues. I have 3 more places to look at, but they will have to be amazing to top the one I just saw.

Holy Shit, son! The bus has wifi!? Sweet!

What the hell is a "wee-fee"? Do I have to pay to use the bathroom here!? That's some bullshit.


5 January 2014

Fancy-pants McDonalds is totally a landmark now. Deal with it.


6 January 2014

What, He wants to buy me a drink? But I already have a drink. I'll take some wings, though.

Street musicians have to AUDITION here?? What, like American Idol style? Do they walk into the room, and there's Ana Botella and some other random ass dudes just chillin' at a table? OMG, who's going to be Simon?

8 January 2014

LEARN A FOREIGN LANGUAGE, KIDS! No matter how many people tell you: "Why bother? Everywhere you go, they speak English.", it is simply not true. Not at all.

I'm going to write a country song called 'Perdido en un Pueblo sin Nombre'.

Listening to Quickie Mart and doing a presentation introducing me and New Orleans. I meet the kids tomorrow. Here goes something!!

10 January 2014

I miss Avon (my cat) so much


******
That's all for the first few days in Madrid. More to come, my loves! 
-K-

Update from the Present.

I got a message asking what was up with the 'Musings in a Strange Land' posts. Long story short, it's the weird shit that goes on in my head, that I put on facebook instead of here [where it belongs]. I returned to the United States on 27 June 2014. As most of you know, my blog is very VERY behind.

I told my friend Gonzalo (I HAVE FRIENDS, Y'ALL!!) that I felt bad, because I hadn't kept up with things over here. He replied that I couldn't write about all of my times in España, because I was too busy living them. I hate it when other people are right. BOO THIS MAN! BOOOO!! ;-)
Anyway, now I'm back home, and back at the keyboard.I plan to use this summer to catch up on this blog, my writings, and prepare for my next adventure. Which adventure, you ask? You will find out soon. ;-)
-K-