Monday, April 27, 2009

A bit gray

No sugarcoating- I'm a bit sad.
My lil sister celebrated her 22nd birthday over the weekend by being a part of The Rescue (her first protest) and graduated from college today.  And I missed both.  I try not to ponder all that I am missing by embarking on this transatlantic journey but I couldn't help thinking of my sister.  She has grown up so much.  When she loves a quilt with stars and primary colors its difficult to remember that my little sister isn't really little.  I wasn't there when she had her first boyfriend or break-up.  I missed her 18th birthday, her first day of college, her first college-related freakout.  I missed it when she shed her faux shy exterior and boldy preached her heart out from the stage. She isn't the 16 year old she was when I left the first time around. I miss my sister.  But more importantly, I am proud of her.

I know I would still win in a tickle fight, wrestling match, or some combination of that in the snow (in my objective memory I am undefeated) but I'm proud of not-so-lil-sis and I love her.  And I would so invest a dime and call her up.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

I'm Such A Fatty

In my family we grew up playfully using the word "fatty" as in saying "I'm such a fatty" after eating Thanksgiving dinner. Well after my lunch on Friday, I can definately say "I'm such a fatty" and I know that my family will agree with me.

I aimlessly wondered around Madrid for a few hours on Friday in between meetings. I decided to start my time in the city with a typical Spanish lunch. Lunch here is usually a menĂº which typically means :

Appetizer, Bread and Drink

First Course, (Paella Mixta)

Second Course, (Pollo Asado)

and Dessert (Natilla with cinnamon)

I honestly don't know how Spaniards eat that much food and yet stay so thin. I ate most of it and could have stopped halfway through the paella. Its not the first time in this country that I make myself eat more than I would like and it probably wont be the last. My supervisor jokes around that I don't like the food in thier house because I don't take seconds, he even says it about the coffee, dessert, and fruit. I tell him I save overstuffing myself for when I really have to. After lunch I walked around Madrid for several hours and then didn't eat until lunch the next day.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Hole In My Wall or How to Meet Your Neighbors

I like to start off my Mondays slowly and quietly. Wake up, eat breakfast, read. I take my time. And then I do errands and whatever else is on my schedule.
Well today there were two people in the building pounding away. The ground floor of my building is being remodeled and everyday I hear and see the people responsible for the noise. And today my neighbor decided to do who knows what and was pounding at the wall in the foyer.
I quickly gave up any hopes for a peaceful morning and decided to go shower and then see what the noise level was. Through closed doors and running water I could still hear the pounding. In fact, it seemed to be getting louder and louder. So much that it felt that I would see someone when I opened the door to my bathroom. I open the door, draped in my huge yellow towel and I hear my neighbor's voice louder than I have ever heard it before. The walls are thin but now I could hear him clearly. I tiptoed towards the foyer, gently kicking off my sandals to avoid making any noise. I knew that something was different or perhaps living alone has made me a bit paranoid. I walk down my hallway and I see a hole in the wall!
I could leave it to your imagination the size of the hole but that would be misleading. He didn't see me and I went into my room unsure of what to do. Surely he thought I wasn't home. It would be weird for me to be home and not address the issue of the hole in my wall. So now I am getting dressed, there is a hole in the foyer, and my neighbor thinks I am not home. Its an awkward situation, particularly because I rarely see my neighbors. After I am all dry and clothed I open my front door just to see if there is a note or something. I close it and a few seconds later he is ringing my bell and apologizing. He had already called my landlord and we made plans for when we could get it fixed. He insists on sweeping up the mess and then heads back home where I hear him arguing with his wife.
To summarize, I had no peace and quiet, there is a hole in my wall that the handyman is currently fixing, and my neighbor stepped inside my apartment for the first time.
From Un paso a la vez

From Un paso a la vez

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A few things

It's hard to believe that I have been here for about a month.  That's more than enough time to notice a few things:

1) Birds sing when I cross the street.  Don't believe me?  Come and see!
2) There really is sun in Madrid!  The first two weeks were almost depressingly gray and cold.  I had been told that the sun is always shining and I was sure that they were all lies.  But its been about 10 days of wonderful sun.  I might need some sunglasses because somehow living in South Florida I never owned any.
3) Sometimes I forget what country I'm in.
4) Knowing how to cook isn't enough.  I need to learn my meats.  Mommy I need you!
5) I don't enjoy cooking for myself.  Or washing my own dishes.
6) With all my English classes I feel as if I spend a lot of time speaking English.  Last week I was walking home and realized that I hadn't said a word of Spanish in that Spaniard's home.  Wierd.
7) School buses here are like greyhounds.  No cheesewagons.
8) Getting used to kissing on both cheeks is fairly easy.  Understanding Spanish accents isn't.
9) My pillow smells like smoke.  I think I'll change my showers to nighttime.  
10) Dust is unavoidable.  Which makes a house full of wood furniture less fun.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

My New Place

For rent:

Fully furnished 3 bedroom apartment in Alcobendas (Madrid). Newly remodeled bathroom and kitchen with new stove and oven; recess lighting. Heating included. Breakfast nook, living room, 2 terraces and community pool. Located across a park.  Really nice landlord.

That is what an ad for my new "piso" would have looked like.

I am not allowed to whine about where I live and you shouldn't be envious. :)  

My Building- I'm in 2A -that on the third floor

My foyer- with my little shopping cart

My salon- the living room with an expandable dining room table, lots of chairs, and door to terrace 

Bedroom number one

Bedroom #2 and my office with view of the park

My Bedroom- I needed some color after all that wood

My Bathroom

My Kitchen and washing machine- the door goes to a terrace and looks out to the pool

My Breakfast Nook- I love this spot in the mornings

Monday, January 26, 2009

Backwards then Forward

I have been in Spain for a few days but this is the first time I'm online with my own computer.   While in Frankfurt on a 2 hour layover at 6 in the morning I was trying to stay awake and wrote a bit.  

Greetings from Gate 40 in Frankfurt.  I flew over Spain several hours ago and will hopefully soon be on the way again.  Like this post you have to go backwards before you can go forward.

My supervisor and others keep using the expression "hit the ground running" and I can't help but to wonder what exactly this means.  As I was flying over Spain I thought about parachuting down, cutting hours from my trip and perhaps hitting the ground running.  Or maybe I just wanted to get away from the loud three year old that didn't let me sleep or from the girl in the aisle seat that kept giving the mom behind us a foul German look.

I slept through most of Nights in Rodanthe and then gave up on sleep once they turned the cabin lights back on.  I then proceeded to browse through the music channels and started mentally choregraphing a Bollywood film.  I might have actually recognized the music from this channel but I decided I needed more Bollywood in my life.  I couldn't help but notice that the playlist on the Hits station was all about saying goodbye.

But its not time for goodbyes, its time for hellos.  Hello Europe.  Hello Spain.

Since I'm still here with nothing to do but wait this was my last week at home.

A spontaneous trip to the beach on a cool day with a friend:

A goodbye party and service on Sunday night.  My sister made sure I would never forget Hialeah and its beautiful potholes.  I also hold the record for most hugs in a single day.

I packed my stuff- amazingly enough only in 2 bags.  I keep thinking I forgot something but I don't actually need more books.

I bought a new camera that my sister was playing around with in the airport:

Next post: my new apartment.

Monday, December 29, 2008

BBQ, Paper Fight, and Family: It Must Be Christmas

Christmas with my family is always a mess and I'm still recovering. Quite literally....  

Noche Buena began at about 10pm with a selection of grilled family favorites: churrasco, pork, chicken, and sausage accompanied by rice, refried beans, shredded cabbage salad, Nicaraguan tortillas, chile, avocado, Mexican Punch, homemade cranberry juice, and flan.  Then came presents.  

By presents I mean we put our otherwise recycled newspaper, junk mail, and assortment of collected boxes to good use. And then we dump it over each other and bury each other in it as if it were sand.  Its our tradition:

When we were kids my father wanted to make sure that we throughly enjoyed Christmas, regardless of presents given or expected.  So we cheered each and every present, opening them one by one on Christmas Eve after a late dinner.  Some years we had scavenger hunts, having to search for our presents but mostly we had a tradition of packing a present inside a box, inside another box, inside another box.  Prodded on by cheers we ripped off wrapping paper, throwing it in pieces to the floor, creating a colorful carpet that I'm sure made my mom and aunt flinch. Years later our tradition has evolved, becoming messier, louder, and increasingly creative in an attempt to not be predictable. For weeks my brother stores boxes in his room and then on the 24th they make their way out, unmarked.  This year was no different except for the tons of shredded newspaper dumped all over the floor.  I'm still finding evidence of the festivities.  

I guess I'll be celebrating a little differently next year.

Here are some pictures from our celebration:

the quilt I made for my sister (my mom has stolen the other one)

me buried under the newspaper, thankfully my cousin 
missed my face when he sat on me a few seconds later

my four year old cousin posing with a borrowed hat- he is so cute!!