6 October 2011, 9.31
I started out this post untitled. Not normally what I do, but hey, what exactly is normal about my life right now.
So let´s begin by apologizing for my lack of… paying attention to the fact that I´m supposed to update people with news and events in my life as they happen.
We all know there are a ton of people paying attention to my every waking moment (I mean a metric tonne, not a short or long one. I recently learned the pound/kilogram differences between the three tons). While I´m on the topic of tons, I learned a new word: pleonasm. It means using more word parts or expressions needed to get the same point across. The amount of things I´ve learned is staggering.
I also have been reading a healthy amount regarding politics and the state of affairs in the world. As my facebook status currently reads: “There´s a lot going on right now.” This morning, I also learned of the passing of Steve Jobs. May he RIP. The zeitgeist about that was going through Facebook, Tumblr, Reddit, and Twitter to figure out the exact time that news broke.
In other news, Spain is awaking at the moment. I rose at 6.45 and watched the sun rise and people slowly begin to wake and start their day. I was on the street while the sun was still behind all the buildings. I got to my office and was able to say “Buenos días” al sol. I work on the 15th floor, so the view is rather impeccable. My office faces the north of Madrid but you can´t really go wrong regarding the direction in which you look.
This morning, I´ve also taken it upon myself to begin adventuring out and seeing places in Madrid. For example, there´s a place called “Anden 0” which is a museum created out of the old Chamberí Metro station. It´s legit 3 minutes from my apartment, so I´ll be all tourist for a minute and go check it out. It will feed the inner railroad enthusiast in me. I´m obsessed with looking at the Madrid Metro map. I find myself staring at it for at least 15 minutes a day. I´m pretty much set on the colors of the line, and where they generally go, and what stations account for the transfer of the 4 to the 2 or the 4 to the 7 (San Bernadino and Avenida de América, respectively).
In recent days, I´ve been trying to read more in Spanish: opting for Wikipedia, la enciclopedia libre as opposed to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. It´s an adjustment, but it´s fun to read about Spanish culture in Spanish. I feel it´s rather fitting. Also, I´m behind the times in that I should speak better than I do. It just takes me so long to translate back and forth. I´m getting better. But I´m also realizing that a lot of it has to do with the fact that I´m not used to the translating. Try telling that to my Type-A self. Nonetheless, the barrier is falling and I´m like, “oh hey, let´s go read that sign over yonder.” (No I don´t say yonder. It would sound foul if I said it).
I also am up to date on Doctor Who and… Ok wait. Need to say this: What happened? He did but didn´t. He´s awesome. River is whaa? My favorite part is the “question that´s unspeakable but must never be uttered and must never be answered.” Spoilers. I won´t say what the question is, but while I was glued to my seat and my eyes glued to my screen, I did chuckle. It is the most obvious question in the world though. But right. So I´m caught up on Doctor Who and Weeds. I really want to know what happens with Weeds, but no one knows if there is an eighth season yet. They need to make that agreement right quick, so Jenji can continue writing. (Yes I used her first name). I also recently realized that Jenji Kohan and David Kohan are siblings. Awesomeness. Extreme. Awesomeness.
It´s been a while since anyone has known what I´ve been doing with my life. I have my five people I see/talk to on the regular, but the masses should be updated no?
Well, I suppose first things first. My apartment and roommates are great. I love my place. However, I woke up last night randomly wondering where I was and why? I couldn´t recognize my room (I also wasn´t fully conscious). My dreams have been really weird and vivid lately. I´ve had increasingly more shouting matches with my parents. This is probably due to the fact that I´m staring my life… oh wait, they want nothing to do with me while I continue to “disobey” them. Last comment about that: When you are in love the way I am: seeing life differently than ever before, realizing that you have loved before but you haven´t loved in this way—a way in which it evolves and becomes stronger with every thought, movement, or breath.. the gender that person identifies with is becomes a non-issue. As I said earlier, I´ve been reading about stock markets and the Greek economy, and the Italian credit rating slash, and the IMF/Eurozone meetings, and PM Cameron of the UK urging governments to get their act together, and EC President José Manuel Barroso urging for stronger international unity within the Eurozone. I´ve also been reading about Occupy Wall Street (Boston, Miami, San Francisco…), and about the 2012 election, and about the Tea Party´s frustrations, and about the American economic crisis, and Fed chairman Bernanke and his warnings, and about the US trying to apply tariffs to goods coming in and out of China to strengthen the yuan on the trade market, and watching the USD - EUR ratio rise and fall. Parents, you´re trying to tell me that you care more about who I say I´m in love with (name´s Luke by the way… not Lucas… Luke) and you are going to ignore all of my accomplishments and the problems of the rest *makes a sweeping gesture as only I can do… imagine for a second* of the world. You, my friends, are the ones with the problem. I´m doing my part. What are you doing? Oh right, telling me what to do with my college degree? Do you want me to go there?
Anyway, that was needed. I feel better. I´m de-stressing. I had a nightmare last night in which I did from stress anxiety. The doctors did some MRI/CAT scan combo to see that my cells had begun to do process chemicals differently and react to media differently because of my increased stress levels. The doctors then said that it was the highest level of stress out of anyone they had ever seen. They then ordered an inquest—I´m aware of the inaccuracy—to find why I was so stressed. Friends were called, and people began to put two and two together and get four.
So moving on from le parents. Can we talk about my view for a minute. It´s quite legit. That´s all.
I´ve officially been in Spain for two weeks. I spent the first few days freaking out about not having a place to live. That was quickly quelled as I found something that first Friday. The seven of us that are a part of the Fundación Consejo this year went for a trip to Alcalá de Henares (about a 20 minute ride without traffic ENE from Madrid). We all started to get to know one another and figure out who was doing what where. It was all rather exciting. Over the next few days there we had about five or six courses giving us intros into what to expect from Spain. The ones that stick out to me are obviously the political and economic ones. Spanish politics.. What the actual? Okay, you can be mayor of your town, but you can also be president of your autonomous community, and you could potential have a seat on the Congreso de los Diputados. Each position gets paid a certain salary. If you are all three positions, you get all three combined salaries, paid for by Spanish taxes…… *headtilt*
—-Sidebar, my first day of work I had no idea where la arroba (the at-sign) was. I had to ask my co-worker. The reason I bring this up is because I stared at my keyboard for a solid minute before figuring out where the asterisk sign was. I continue to type as if I´m on my keyboard at home, and as a result, things that should not be happening, happen. It´s awesome.
But no really Spain, what´s going on?! Then there´s the fact that everyone pretty much has a college degree (except for some that are career politicians), and this brings me to the education system that I just don´t even want to discuss. So many people are arguing about the state of affairs of the world. I´m like, have you seen the education system. Oh right, you don´t want to give money to that because you feel there are more important things to take care of at the current moment in time. All right, well, let´s just see what happens when the generational replacement happens. Lo que sea. My generation´s got this. I agree with that statement.
The economic discussion was borderline depressing. We left there going to get our coffee in a very despondent fashion defined but us walking rather slowly and with a “oh hokay” sort of face.
We did talk about Spanish culture, phenomena, and the three stages of being here: Honeymoon, Depression-Realizing what you.re doing, and Acceptance-Ownership. We all were like, “isn´t this just the truncated version of the five stages of grief.”
We arrived back in Madrid last Wednesday. I moved into my apartment, and we all started out lives. We also went clubbing every night, staying out later and later as the week progressed. By Saturday afternoon, for the first time in my life, I was so anti-alcohol and being awake. I sat down for lunch and just was like “I can´t do this. I don´t know how la movida Madrileña is a thing. How do they keep going all the time?” It´s still an unanswered question, but I somehow bounced back by that night.
The weekend passed, and it was time for me to start my internship. I was terribly excited. Over the past few days I´ve met a lot of people and found a lot of good eateries. I even had one of my favorite Caesar salads from this placed called “Quick Restaurante.”
Fun fact. The first day of work. I get in and it´s one of my co-worker´s birthday. They have coffee and croissants for him and so we all partake. They joked that it was because of my arrival. I like to think that it´s true. I also said that my birthday was two weeks ago, so that´s another reason to celebrate. I WILL use any excuse to celebrate my birthday. That is all.
P.S. The computer gave me Internet Explore. SEVEN. Like NO. I instantly downloaded Firefox. It was awesome!
I´ve read a lot about this company. I have a bank account. I read more. I look out my window and see the gorgeous view. I read. I work. I go home. I watch tv. I nap. I sip some vino. I get up the next day and do it all again. It´s quite awesome.
We also are able to leave at 13.30 on Fridays, so this means I can go to a bunch of places that I want to. Time to start trip planning. Let´s get to it.
P.S. I also had my first real cup of coffee two weekends ago. I can´t tell you the amount of alert I was an hour after. I was falling fast, and then jolted awake. The sad thing is, one cup of coffee doesn´t really do anything like it used to. It could be because it was a mix of espresso and coffee, but I don´t know. Maybe one day I´ll investigate, but I´m not wanting to get used to drinking coffee daily (though I technically do because of the coffee breaks they have here every day).
25 Septiembre 2011 6h36
NH Zurbano, Madrid, Spain
—“Why Am I here?”—
So if remember this correctly, we last left off when I was still apartment hunting and trying to call people and meeting people. Well, I FOUND AN APARTMENT. This was Friday the 23rd. It’s a nice quaint little place with a cleaning lady, digital tv, air-conditioning, and a window with a nice constant breeze. It’s cute. When I decide to post pictures of things, you will begin to see how my life is beginning to materialize.
To recap the first couple days: they were rough. It was absolutely painful being away from Luke and friends. It still is but much less so these days. Having found an apartment and meeting people and calling friends to go out—yeah, things are getting better. I suppose my brain has different things to focus on along with having certainty that I haven’t had since the beginning of the year (couch-surfing throughout the summer). Nonetheless, here I am in Madrid.
Why am I here? I was asked this question earlier. I still don’t know how to answer that question other than it’s a feeling I have deep within. I feel my life is one of those epic lives that people will say “yes he did live and he was awesome at life.” People will remember me. So far, it’s because of my laugh or smile. Others say because of how I think and approach life. So, yeah, why am I here? Hopefully I can answer that question.
There were days though, earlier this week where I wanted to just get on a plane and go back to Boston. I really didn’t want to be here. I also was held up in my room and sleeping. When I get really stressed out I sleep a ridiculous amount of hours. Jet lag, stress, and sadness were a clusterfuck for me these past couple of days. But then Friday happened and things got better. Thursday night, I went out with two of my mates that are a part of the same program as myself. We went to La Ursula and had FANTASTIC Sangria. I really wanted more, but I digress. We walked around Paseo de la Castellana (which I recently learned is one of the major arteries in the city of Madrid).
Friday was the day I found my apartment. I put my security deposit down to “reserve” my room, and now I has apartment. Hash tag getting shit done. It was time to party and celebrate.
So Friday night was epic. Partial entry into how things will work when I get back and actually go to experience a “night out on the town.” We left for dinner at 21h30 and walked over to where I would essentially be living. So many plazas and squares. We had dinner. Did the whole “I’m-not-sure-what-I’m-ordering.-I-know-what-half-the-meal-is,-but-the-other-half-is-a-shot-in-the-dark.-Let’s-see-what-happens.”
Turned out to be quite delicious. Looked like some sort of fried calamari derivative (we called it anorexic calamari). We split 2 bottles of wine then went down to Gran Via and had a shot of vodka plus a screwdriver (I was told to down half the drink, but I missed the “with orange juice.” As a result, I had a screwdriver without the orange juice. Whatever, it was Absolut and absolutely delicious. See what I did there?)
Then we walked around, met up with a friend of a friend and their group. They were teachers here from America (Indiana I think). We got a coronita con tequila, which I could actually drink. I was proud (me and tequila tend to not be bffl’s.
After dancing in what appeared to be a hipster bar straight out of Allston—and dancing to music that we listened to in the late 90s early 2000s, see N’Sync and Backstreet Boys.. we got some pizza and then walked back home. We all shared stories of being drunk but still getting home safely and without problem. We’d wake the next morning congratulating ourselves for getting home and into bed wear.
Oh, the time I went to bed Saturday morning, 5h. 5 in the am. Hash tag like a boss. I was pretty proud of myself. Oh how the nights will be long. This is shaping up to be a great start to a great new experience in my life. This could be the start of something new.
22 Septiembre 2011 16h57 local
NH Zurbano, Madrid, Spain
—“Never Going Back to Okay”—
The weirdest commercial was just on to advertise beans. A woman dressed in what resembled a nun’s dressing had wooden shoes on and you could see her white hosiery. It didn’t really make that much sense to me. I digress.
So here I am. Full day in Madrid, well “full”. After watching just over half of How to Train Your Dragon, I fell asleep at 1h30. I then woke up at sunrise, finally waking up at 12h30. oops. I slept so long I even surprised myself. I reasoned that it was only 6am in Boston therefore I was fine. I think it was also my shower that helped me sleep last night. Washed off all the traveling. Very useful.
So I got up and went downstairs (again for internet) and checked some e-mail and decided to venture out. I went to a Rodilla and got a Bacon con huevo sandwich. It was quite exciting to order food in Spanish. I took a bit too long to process and I think the woman helping me wanted me to speed up. I also got a glass of coke. (They give you glasses here, me likes). I tried getting on the internet there (gratis wifi) but I didn’t have a pin number and couldn’t get the people’s attention. No matter. I decided to head back to the hotel anyway because I needed to get a phone and if my goal was to make appointments and find an apartment, then phone had to come first.
After gathering my belongings into my travel bag, I proceeded to the front desk and ask for help. In my broken spanish, they understood what I needed, and the guy showed me where to go. Turns out I went down half a block, to the right, and oh look there’s Movistar. The woman there was able to help me get a phone. I spent a while trying to figure out what the pre-paid plan was and cost per minute. It seemed like a good deal, and I don’t plan on being on the phone much, so I was happy. I had just purchased my first spanish phone. Spain has a 9 digit phone number with the +34 prefix. I will soon figure out if you have to use the prefix or if you can just dial the number. Also, my phone has a European charger, how cool!
I came back and rested for a while till Luke called me and then we skyped for a bit. Talking to Luke was helpful. I found a lot of apartments that I want to see. I think once I get an apartment, my stress level will decrease immensely. I could also stop living out of suitcases. While easy to do and necessary at the moment, It will be nice to sleep in a bed I call my own, and have a lounge day. Also I want work to start. I want to get used to working in Madrid, get used to the spanish day, working toward my first check. There’ll be a lot of things to do in the coming weeks as far as getting documents together, and making sure Spain knows of my existence.
So now I am off to organize which apartments I like based on pictures and then maybe call a few. I’m listening to my music. My music is awesome. I have good taste :P. The Afters just came on, and I was reminded that with every progressive day I’m realizing I’m not going back to okay. I am moving forward, becoming an ever better human being, and getting shit done. So far so good.
21 September 2011 23h01 local
NH Zurbano, Madrid, Spain
-“In the Name of the Best Within Us”—
So.. umm.. *head scratch*.. my journey to Madrid was one of my smoothest international travel excursions to date. I went to my gate in Heathrow, with my mouth completely agape. Apparently you check in before boarding as I said before. However this particular gate had three shuttle buses to deliver everyone to the plane itself which was… nowhere near the gate itself. No big deal.
Anyway, I sat myself down and promptly fell asleep. I was at the back of the plane so deplaning was a little less than. Nonetheless, I found my way out of security (don’t ask my why you had to go up a floor then down two, then take a train to the main terminal, pick up back, then go down a half level, get the train ticket, then go down two more floors to the actual train boarding area (Anden 1).
The metro is totally legit and here’s why. The cars are all connected. If you wanted to go from the first car to the last car.. you could WHILE being on the train. I think I got too excited at this fact. The other part of my excitement was due to the realization that in order to get out or onto the train, the doors have to be opened. They don’t automatically open in the event there’s no one there. I though this to be pretty cool. I couldn’t press any of the buttons.. you know having two bags, a jacket and sweater to deal with.
The only problem was my misjudgment on where I was. I was so close to the hotel when I first rose from subterranean level. However, I turned right instead of left. It made for an interesting excursion. I finally asked for directions when I saw somewhere where I could do so. I also found a Starbucks (potential wifi.. let’s hope.) And I kind of took a tour of a major Madrid roadway artery (Paseo de La Castellana) while essentially circling the rotary Plaza Dr. Marañón. Yes I call them rotaries. Deal.
Upon my arrival at the hotel, it took me a minute to recall enough Spanish to say “I am supposed to stay here.” Nonetheless, we made some calls and I forgot the institution name that I was supposed to have mentioned. That would have saved me fifteen minutes. But I got online and responded to a few e-mails.
Then I took a well-deserved nap after taking some pictures of my hotel room. I like the space. My nap was awesome. I woke up only an hour later, but sat around and finally decided to not be depressed and be productive. I went downstairs to get on the internet (why there’s only free wifi in the lobby for half hour intervals is beyond me) so I would get homesick. I talked to some people wh happened to be online and updated Facebook statuses so people would know where I am. You know, because people need to know these things.. well my friends anyway.
I finally ran across my co-worker. She’s at a different location in Northern Madrid, but we still got to meet and say hello. It was nice to meet people. I keep forgetting that part of my joie de vivre comes from having people to talk to and being around people. I think I moved to the correct city. So now here I am updating everyone about all of this (though updates to the internet are incorrect from when they were written—see timestamp above).
So here I am, reading my packet about things I have to take care of in Spain (you know, bank account, acquainting myself with an actual map of the place, and listening to mah music).
Remember: music, people, thoughts. I’m going to make this trip worthy of myself. We go about our lives much like I’m doing: in the name of the best within us.
21 September 2011 11.52am local
London Heathrow International Airport (LHR)
—“Safe Onward Journey”—
You want to hear what London Heathrow sounds like. It’s a polyphony of media outlets, cultures, styles, hues, electronics, advertisements and signs. I recently passed a sign that had seven languages letting passengers know that this is Terminal 3 and listing where one could eat and drink. It’s gorgeous.
As British Airways says, “We wish you a safe onward journey.” I thought, “how nice of them” when I really wanted to say “I see what you did there.” I took it personally after all. I mean when the security guy found my colognes—because I told the woman I didn’t have any liquids in my carry-on’s—he asked me if I was traveling alone. It was sobering to say yes. After all, while I tend to do things alone, I still have a mass of people that I can call upon or find of them to be a companion for an excursion. Yet here I am, an American in England, soon to be Madrid. You know, It doesn’t have the same ring to it as “An American in Paris.” That’s mainly due to the sound of the syllables. The stress must be on the first, not the second, thus the frustration. Chelsea and I discussed this very point only yesterday.
In three and a half hours, I will land in the country where I will remain for nine months. That is not terrifying at all. My mind began to wonder as I sit here in Terminal 3 discussing my life with myself. I began to think about the amount of people I don’t know—in London—in transit to destinations I have probably never seen or dreamed of before in my life, and the amount of people in Madrid I have never laid eyes upon.
It is my duty to my generation and the next to step outside of my comfort zone. Well, it’s not really a step as much as it is a thirty-five hundred mile jump. This is what I tell myself to avoid shutting down.
The flight from Boston was delightful. I sipped some cranberry juice and had vegetarian lasagna. The food was sufficient to tide me over for the time being. It’s weird to think about it, but I’ve been awake most of the night. It’s currently 7h06 in Boston, and I landed at 4h00. I’ve been here for three hours transiting and getting acquainted with my surroundings. My brain is being inundated with logos, places, computers, people, drinks, and these bring yellow signs directing people where to go. So what time is it?
Oh Boston, this time 5 years ago, I think I left for Boston to start a new life. Ah, yes, that is what I did, completely in conjunction with Augustana. Matter of fact, he told me to go to Boston from his piano on the beach. Now I sit in London awaiting my gate number (you don’t go directly to your gate in this terminal, instead you sit in a general area and wait for this doorbell sound that tells you what get your flight leaves from. There you are queued until you enter the actual boarding area before boarding your flight. It seems quite efficient and useful. It means the mall is in one area and the rest of the airport is in another. Sidebar, this airport is huge. I arrived at Terminal 5 this morning, and from what I could see of it, massive it was.
I don’t have internet currently. I tried to use my kindle to log on using 3G, but for some reason my Kindle doesn’t want to remind itself that it has 3G capabilities. As a result, I sit here near Watches of Switzerland and Harrods charging my computer (with my new found Apple converter… what’s that you say?… why yes I do feel legit, thanks for asking). and from my computer charging my iPod. I almost cried when I realized I hadn’t charged my iPod then realized I was just going to sleep on the plane, which is somewhat true. I slept for what could have been a max of 3 hours. The other 3 I was either excited about taking off or landing, or finishing The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. My guess as to the identity of the murderer was incorrect. But my goodness, my mouth dropped when I realized who it was and why. You, the reader, should definitely pick up the book.
My plane is now boarding, I suppose that means I should go to the gate, now that I can. After leaving Boston at 22h11, I now make way to my future. What awaits me on the other side, I know not. Here’s to a safe onward journey.