5.0 The one where I finally make art

Awhile back I started “liking” art centers and galleries on facebook in hopes that it would motivate and inspire me to create work again. So low and behold a posting for an open call to exhibit in the month of February.

So I finally got off my butt and started working on some art. Theres nothing like the thrill of a deadline to get me motivated, antsy, and creative. I work best under pressure…with relation to art. I created 3 paintings. I had worked on a sculpture maybe two months ago and revisited it and reworked that as well. I sent in my proposal in terrible spanish and got in!

To be honest, had I not got in, I’d be a bit embarrassed. This gallery isn’t exactly top-notch or high-end. It’s a communal space for artists and vagrants (not necessarily mutually exclusive). Regardless, I’m thankful for having been given a deadline and a space to show my work. Who knows, maybe something bigger will come out of this!

If you’re in Madrid tonight, or within the next month, Come check out the show at La Tabacalera.

It will be up until March 8th. Tonight, February 10th at 7pm is the opening. However, this week will there will be tons of things going on at the Tabacalera, like an electronic show, work shops, performers, other art shows, random guys named Amara offering you weed, etc.

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4.0 My long-distance relationship temporarily becomes a close-distance relationship

My ladyfriend came to visit me for 12 days. It seemed like I’d been waiting forever for this visit and before I knew it she came and went. I’ve been in a funk since I left. I turned 27 a few days after she left and didn’t celebrate it in any way.

Alas, let’s relive my TEN FOURTEEN favorite photos from her visit.

Here is the view from our room with a beautiful view of Santiago de Compostela. Santiago was a charming little city. It’s incredibly tourist-friendly. So much, that I don’t think anyone actually lives there. Regardless, I loved it very much and would love to return. Maybe one day I’ll do the Camino to Santiago.

We stayed at Costa Vella in Santiago. I highly recommend this hotel. The views are great and the entire staff was very welcoming and accommodating. Here is Scarlett and my hand showing you a slice of tetilla (small boob) cheese with a bitten off tip. Their breakfast included cheese, croissants, delicious fresh Galician bread, tomato spread, coffee, tea, and fresh orange juice.

Just a random view of a street in Santiago. The building on the right shows the typical Galician window. Which is usually white, sticks out, and are large. According to the internet, they’re supposed to replicate the rear windows in the Spanish galleons of yesteryear.

We rented a car and took a drive to Vigo to visit my uncle. It wasn’t the best day, but I was glad to have met him, I just wish it would have been under different circumstances. We went up the castro and took that photo of the port.

The next day we drove to A Coruña, where we headed straight to la Torre de Hercules. It is the oldest working lighthouse in the world. We didn’t climb it, but we walked around the area as it was quite scenic and lovely.

These benches were great for chilling out. I’d love to come back here to this very spot and plan ahead by bringing some lunch.

After our time in Galicia we flew to Granada. The same day we went to visit the Alhambra by night. Here is a detail of a wall within the Palacio de Nazaries.

If planning a trip to Granada buy your Alhambra tickets ahead of time! We did and we did not have to wait in line at all.

We went up to the mirador San Nicolas to watch the last sunset of 2011. It was a great view and a great photo op.

Go home tourists!

The night before I took this we decided to brave the Albayzin.  It basically involved us almost getting run over by a taxi down one of it’s narrow, curving streets, and getting lost trying to find who knows what. When we came upon this door I made the executive decision of turning back to the hotel.

the greatest Belen ever

We accidently walked into a building we thought were some ancient stables only to find the greatest thing ever – this belen. It made me so happy. It’s aesthetic was exactly what I needed at that moment. I love it so much. I wish i could go back there so I could stare and play with it.

We celebrate NYE in Granada along with everyone in Granada that night. The latter shows what the masses left over after they dispersed to the after parties.

Unfortunately we got sick on our last day in Granada and didn’t have much energy for much. We went back to my teeny tiny uncomfortable apartment for a night before heading to the hotel we had booked in Plaza Santa Ana. We spent some more time being sick.

On the one day we felt good enough to do stuff I took Scarlett on the teleferico.The teleferico isn’t very publicized or advertised anywhere, not around town, not in tour guide books, but it’s one of my favorite things to do in the city.

Despite the length of this blog entry, the time she was here went by too fast. I miss her terribly and have been a bit depressed ever since she left. I don’t want to go through the next 6 months with the end (of this program) in mind the whole time. I want to enjoy and take advantage of this great opportunity. However, I cannot wait for the summer to make our plans a reality.

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3.75 How I spent my first Christmas without my family

I’ve had this tab open for over a week hoping that it’ll encourage me to blog. Its been 24 hours since I began that first sentence, and let me say its taking every fiber of my being to do this.

On December 22nd I met with my friend Angelica and we went to a Christmas Firework show in Plaza Cibeles. It began at 8pm and thats exactly when we got there. If you plan on ever going, I’d recommend at least getting there 20 minutes earlier to get a good spot. If you can, get a spot on Paseo de Recolectos, across from el Palacio de Communicaciones. The show is projected onto that building.

We got a spot on Calle Alcala. So our view was a bit skewed. The show was pretty cool. It was presented by Samsung. Though I´ve seen better firework shows, it was still fun and momentarily got me into the spirit.

Christmas in Madrid felt like any other weekend for me. Noche Buena was spent here, at the apartment with my roommate, her boyfriend (the unofficial douche roommate), and his brother and the brother´s girlfriend. The boyfriend made the dinner, which consisted of sopa de alubias con callos, ensalada rusa (aka potato salad), and meat, lots of meat.

After the brothers got into a who-can-talk-louder-and-more-unintelligible match, I snuck away to my bedroom and tried talking to my family via skype.

The next day, I spent it cooking for the Christmas dinner I’d be having with my American friends. There were only 5 of us, but we made enough to feed 10. It was a pleasant evening, but I was homesick for my family and friends back in L.A.

I couldn’t wait for Christmas to be over. Scarlett was to arrive the 26th. I cleaned every nook and cranny in my teeny tiny room. At tried to look my best possible in order to recieve her. I obsessively checked the Flight Tracker online and wasn´t able to sleep that night (I’ll talk about that in my next update).

MAKE SURE TO EAT/DRINK:

  1. Turron
  2. Polvorones
  3. Marzapan
  4. Sidra
  5. Roscon (for Dia de Los Reyes Magos)

This is by no means a complete list. I just wanted to get that out there.

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3.1 Hijo de Puta

I’m sorry to my loyal fan base (consisting of my girlfriend) for not updating lately. I wish i could say it’s because I’ve been busy, however, that is not the case. Too many siestas to put it bluntly.

My cousin’s friend was in Madrid and I showed her around a bit this week. As I walked her back we had a brief discussion on her two favorite spanish cuss words “culo” and “puta” and how often they are used here.

This promptly reminded me of this gem of a video. If you’ve never uttered hijo de puta. Do it now. It really rolls off the tongue so nicely.

I’ll try and post some entries i’ve had in mind regarding el teleferico, not doing shit on your puente because you’re broke, the christmas firework show hosted by Samsung in Cibeles, and how spanish are walking stereotypes of themselves.

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2.3 How to Get Your Phone Robbed on the Metro

  1. Choose the busiest line (like linea 1) at at time where times are less frequent and wait time is 15 minutes, meaning a million people are on the train already and a million more are waiting to get on.
  2. Squish in and stand right in the middle surrounded by people with your two other friends.
  3. Put your phone in your pocket instead of your purse that you are hugging tightly in front of you, but keep your hand in your pocket for MOST of the time.
  4. Talk loudly in English with your two friends about what dick the guy that just came in is being as he pushed two of you just to get in.
  5. Talk about getting robbed on the metro and have one of your friends jinx one of you by recalling a friend who almost got robbed but who was able to stop it from happening.
  6. As the metro comes to a stop at the Sol metro stop, proceed to lose your balance due to the fact that the entire world wants to exit and you are in their way.
  7. Take your hand out of your pocket, zip it up quickly (your pockets have zippers) and hold onto whoevers in front of you to avoid from creating a domino effect.
  8. As everyone leaves (your friends included except you because you’ve decided not to go out with them) regain composure and manically check your pockets and purse for your phone.
  9. Realize you’ve just been jacked as the doors of the metro close
  10. Call/Text your phone to ask them to give it back for money.
  11. Call your carrier and let them know it has been stolen.

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2.2 Notes on Piso-Hunting: Finding an apartment in Madrid

I was looking through Expatriate Cafe for some information I’d seen over the summer about airline and travel websites in Europe and quickly remembered a time not too long ago when I obsessively checked that website every minute of the day. Expatriate Cafe was an excellent source of knowledgeable former, current, and potential assistants in Spain. The millions of facebook groups are great, but they’re really only good for when you’ve actually been accepted,  in Spain,  and enjoy reading the stupidest questions known to mankind.

Once I was accepted (some time in April or May), one of my biggest worries was how on earth I was going to find a piso (AKA an apartment). I arrived on a Thursday to Las Musas hostel in Madrid. A great hostel experience due to the fact that 90% of those staying there were Auxiliares. It made the whole being social thing a lot easier, especially when you’re as antisocial as I am. Aside from that, I took awhile to get myself started. WHile people were already viewing pisos on their very first day. One girl found one within 24 hours from arriving and did not hesitate to brag to the room full of frustrated, annoyed, desperate Auxiliares on their laptops in the living room of the hostel.

A reason for my late start in piso-viewing was that I was having trouble getting my phone situation resolved. I forgot to unlock it. Something I recommend you do before you get here. There are forums/videos that will teach you how to do it. Sadly, I still was unable to do it. I decided to take it to a place to get it unlocked. I was hesitant. They could have easily stolen it or bricked my phone. Thankfully none of that happened. I took it to a place on Miguel Servet, called Mobitech. It’s right off glorieta Embajadores. The guy charged me 8 euros. Something I asked about first before he started working on it.

The phone thing took longer than expected and ate away a couple days of my time. I went with the Orange Delfin tarjeta plan. 3.50€ a week for 50 text messages and unlimited internet. Unfortunately, minutes are not included, but its not too bad something like 9 cents a minute (plus 15 cents connection fee). the unlimited internet was what i wanted really. The only time i was going to use the calling feature was just as long as it’d take me to find a piso as you call A LOT.

I believe i contacted about 40 places. I only got about 10 callbacks and only actually viewed 5 places. The first place was going for 300€/month and it was perfectly located in La Latina, right in front of the rastro. I had my new friend, Angelica, come with me for moral support.

I was nervous. The building was nice, and the lobby area was beautiful. It had a beautiful curved, white, marble staircase. When we entered a beautiful spanish couple were exiting with their beautiful baby in it’s expensive stroller. All signed pointed to good things.  I reached the piso and a scruffy man answered the door. *gulp* “don’t judge a book by it’s creepy rapist-looking cover” i thought to myself. I took a step inside and it was an immediate “HELL TO THE NO”. The place was fucking filthy. The floor had never been mopped. He showed me the living room which was roomy and with a beautiful view of the plaza, but the place was a fucking dump. he showed me his bedroom – a matress on the floor covered by tons of shit. He said he works from home – aka he’s always there. “My” room was fucking filthy too. I had a large window to the courtyard, but it looked like a homeless person last lived there. The bed was unmade there was stuff all over the floor, old shoes and things strewn across the room. I was ready to go, but good ol’ Angelica wanted to view the kitchen. Sure enough it was everything that should have been expected. Dishes had never been washed, the stove had never been cleaned. Grime/Roach city.

It was a bit traumatizing for a first experience.

Here’s what I learned after viewing Hoarders: Euro edition, the apartment of my dreams, and the apt I am now in. It’s good to write out what is most important to you in a home:

  • smoking in the house (yes or no?)
  • a window (courtyard view or street view)
  • balcony
  • neighborhood (proximity to supermarkets is important!)
  • number of roomates
  • size of room/kitchen/piso in general
  • furnished
  • proximity to metro/cercanias (if you’re working outside of Madrid like i was, i recommend looking up what cercania you have to take and find out the stops along that route that you could potentially live in)
  • roomate personality (are you ok with living with an older couple, a family, 19 yr-old Erasmus students, gay-friendly folks etc)
  • presence of cockroaches (it’s perfectly OK to ask this. You don’t want to be surprised later on and decide you can’t live there because of it and have to find another place all over again)
  • visitors (do you plan on having ppl over for the night? find out if thats ok with the new roomates)
  • gastos (find out how they’re split up and what is included, etc)

I’d maybe order these in the order of importance and maybe write it down and take it with you. These are things you’ll want to find out when you’re viewing the apartment. It’s important to ask questions, be as upbeat as possible, don’t just answer questions about yourself, find out about them too! You want to seem interested, because there is about 100 more people emailing and viewing the place as well. I made the mistake when viewing my dream apartment with the dream roomates. I was nervous for multiple reasons and didn’t ask any good questions, but worse: i didn’t ask them questions about them and what they do or are into.

The room i ended up going with is very clean and with 2 other women (plus a bf i guess). The place is so clean. I play 290/month plus gastos. Gastos even include toilet paper, hand soap, dish soap, paper towels, laundry detergent, etc, which is great not having to worry about who’s turn it is to buy what. The lease holder, Viki, is a sweetheart and around 31 yrs old. My other roomate, Tami is 20 yrs old and is super guay. The bf, well I’ve learned to hate him, but y’know, not everything can be perfect.

my spanish bedroom

Mi habitación

I realized that cleanliness, good vibing roommates, visitor privileges, no cockroaches, and location (walking distance to Atocha station) were most important to me. And whileI had dreamnt of french windows with a balcony overlooking the city, that was something I had to compromise.

http://www.idealista.com/ (i think i found my place through this site)

http://madrid.loquo.com/es_es

http://www.segundamano.es/

http://www.easypiso.com/

P.S. I recommend putting an ad up on one of those sites, it’s easier to have people contact you about a place than vice versa.

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2.1 Halloween & other gross things

and so halloween has passed. It happens to be one of my favorite holidays. I love the scary/funny movies, costumes, and the candy. This year I only watched Beetlejuice.

I did not however, dress up or eat sweets at any party. The thing with parties and me is that they never end up being as fun as I hoped. I was invited by some friends who were going out with friends to celebrate on Halloween night. After what seems like ages, my stomach had finally “regulated” itself. However, minutes (and i mean minutes) before I was getting ready to step out and meet some friends I get a stomach pain. I decide on meeting up with them later as I needed to “resolve” this issue. I realized that making sure an aseo was within walking/running distance from where I’d be at any point tonight did not sound like my idea of fun.

It was passed midnight when all seemed well. However, by that point I’d resolved that I was not going to go. My stomach and mind sabotaged me yet again.

Which brings me to my next point. I miss being regular. ::Too much information? probably, but this is my Halloween post:: After some brief online searching, I came across BRAT. Bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. All apparently help get rid of that unwanted loose bm.  Coconut water is good to rehydrate you. TIP: don’t bother looking in supermarkets, go to the chino stores for coconut water. It won’t be 100% though. The closest thing I’ve found is 80% with added sugars =/.

I’ve edited down this post because it’s too much shit-talking. And while Halloween can be gross, I’m not going to push it.

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1.1

So this is about a month late.

I just moved to Madrid a little over a month ago. I came here on a scholarship/grant via the Spanish Ministry of Education to be an English assistant at a secundaria (highschool). I left a comfortable job in a field that I didn’t study for. I had always wanted to come back to Spain after my brief time here during a summer abroad Travel Study.

Part of the reason I applied to this program was because my ladyfriend was applying to the french equivalent. I was basically following her. After a series of events, one of which included her getting a raise/promotion and deciding to stay in Los Angeles, I decided to still go.

For those who’ve been/are in the program, I don’t have to tell you how Spain has tested every last drop of patience in your being. After reading multiple blogs/facebook posts from other Auxiliares, I’ve come to the consensus that most of us are having a rough time. I’ve been lucky in a lot of situations where others have not been *knocks on wood*, but there have been moments where rescheduling my return flight has been tempting. I know several have already left.

don’t let the name fool you. I will document the positive. It was simply a chance be clever (and truthful of many present situations) and reference a good song:

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