Blogging Break

Dearest readers, I’ve not been writing much lately. I sometimes feel guilty, but feeling guilty for not writing on the Internet is perhaps the silliest of reasons. I don’t owe anyone, and I don’t think blogging when you don’t feel like it is doing anyone any favors. I have been asking myself why, though. Why don’t I feel like posting picture of Asturias or Zamora or Spanish Christmas celebrations?

The reason, I suppose, is I feel I don’t have anything novel to contribute to the conversation. I have always thought that if my blog could offer up a different perspective on Spain or being in a relationship with a Spaniard, I should write. After all, I get emails from women who ask me about this quite a lot. Maybe I’m also an object of curiosity to those who only wish they could snag a Spanish guy. (It’s not a secret, but Spanish men are officially just like any other man.)

There are many things we’re going through right now, though, things which I can’t write about, for myriad reasons. There are some things I keep off  here! Okay, a lot of things, really.

As a season of our lives draws to a close, I’m appreciating things about my life in Spain more and more, and here’s a list of the good:

My Spanish family. Of course they’re at the top of the list. I’ve got a pretty rockin’ Spanish family. My MIL is a phenomenal cook and deeply cares about me. My FIL is hilarious and always has an amusing anecdote from el pueblo to share with me. That’s just to start. But I love knowing I’m a part of this whole other unit, across the ocean from where I was born. And to think our children will have this fascinating culture heritage from two different continents and ways of life. That’s something to be thankful for!

Going to tomar algo with dear friends. I love suggesting this to people and knowing that our choices of what algo will be will vary greatly, depending on the time of day. 1 p.m.? Let’s have a vermut and an aperitivo. 4 p.m.? Coffee. 6 p.m.? Perhaps a tonic water. 8 p.m.? Beer or a glass of wine with some tapas.

The food. Let’s face it, Spain has some pretty decent food. And if you have the prototypical Spanish mother-in-law, you’re in for a treat.

Walking along cobblestone streets. There’s just something about the old streets of Spain that I love.

The fact that I am pretty darn good at Spanish, after five years here. I get frustrated sometimes when I don’t get a joke or can’t follow along with absolutely everything that’s being said, but then I remind myself that the Spaniards around me don’t modify their speech or speak slowly or explain everything to me, because they know I get it, most of the time. And I only have to ask if I don’t.

Knowing the real Spain. A lot of expats don’t get to experience Spain’s heart. They live in Madrid and take vacations to other cities, but they don’t find themselves at a family barbecue in a village with 50 inhabitants. They don’t set out their shoes on Three Kings’ Day and wake up to find them covered by presents. They don’t sit down at 2:30 p.m. every day to eat with their family. They don’t get adopted by any one for the long term. So I am truly grateful that, ever since I first ventured to my husband’s home town in November 2009 and ate cocido with the family, I’ve been able to know the true Spain and see it first hand.

We’ll see if this blogging thing takes again, but I want to wish all my faithful readers a happy 2015! Did the three kings bring you anything?

Spanish Christmas 3 Kings Day ShoesSpanish turrones ChristmasZamora Spain Christmas Viriato Plaza

Spanish Old Wives’ Tales (And Their Veracity)

I’m on a bit of a blogging break, ever since my laptop decided to go belly up on me without any prior warning. The audacity of it all! Really, we shared so much: that time when I vacuumed a key up and had to search desperately in the bag for the L, when I thought it would explode from overwork and lack of proper heating (silly me, I take the term “laptop” quite seriously), and endless amounts of blog writing, commenting, and recipe searching. RIP, dearest one.

The other day I read an article about Spanish mother sayings and the truth behind them. I was gleefully happy to read that some of my most-hated sayings have no basis in reality. I do hate being told that walking around barefoot will suddenly cause the air around me to create a virus and shove it into my nasal cavities, but I realize and will happily admit that it’s not you, it’s me. Nonetheless, I have adopted the timeworn Spanish custom of wearing slippers absolutely everywhere. Nowadays you couldn’t pry mine off my callused, blistered runner’s feet. Here are some of my favorite tidbits from the article.

Dry your hair well before going to bed or you’ll get a cold.

Continue reading

Typical First-Time English Conversation Assistant Blog Ideas

I try to write with good grammar, but I’m going to depart a bit from the norm for this parody of some typical first-time in Spain English Conversation Assistant posts I read. This is all in good fun, though, because I too wrote some blog entries like this in the past (think 2009 or 2010). I hope you enjoy!

– omg no dryers
– spanish people eat, like, really late!
– did y’all know that spanish people have their washers in the kitchen! why is that! i will not spend too much time actually thinking about why that could be; i prefer to just laugh about how crazy that is!
– spanish people are, like, so fashionable!
– i loooooooooooove tinto de verano. and also tapas.
– lol, bidets.
– i just can’t stay out as late as they do!
– omg traveling around europe is so easy!
– i traveled one time, so i can write a post on how to pack your bag properly. i have experience.
– spanish schools teach british english, but lol, they say rubber. dirty word!
– milk doesn’t have to be refrigerated! what is this uht madness!
– spanish bureaucracy is the WORST (of course i have never compared this to my own country’s!)
– i still like tapas.
– i gave in and went to starbucks; i know, i know, a crime! i feel shame, but i promise NEVER to go into a mcdonalds. except when really drunk. but i hope to only have vague memories of that.
– i visited a city, so i now know the top 10 sites to see, i am an expert.
– ham.
– i ate some shrimp and it had eyes. duuuuuuude.
– i am supposed to be teaching english, but i realized i don’t know that much about english. halp!
– post about how much spain has changed me, de verdad, i am a better person and i will become that annoying person back home that always responds with, “well, when i was in Spain”.
– i tried to say peine (spanish for “comb”), but i said pene, and well, my life is basically over.
– i am now fluent in spanish, lol, it only took a year of being in spain but mainly speaking to other american expats! i even dream in spanish, it is true, do try not to be jealous.

Once I got started, I found I couldn’t stop. How my impression of Spain has changed since I first got here, way back in 2008!

How has your perspective on Spain shifted over time?

How I Write Blog Posts

A while ago—emmm, okay, almost a month ago—fellow Spain blogger (and in-real-life friend!) Trevor Huxham tagged me in a blog meme about how I write my blog. I wanted to write right away, but I got caught up in traveling and visits to Zamora and just never got around to it. Nonetheless, here I am, writing about writing. So very meta. So let’s get down to it and talk about my personal writing process. Then I’m supposed to tag three bloggers, but I’m not sure I’m going to do that just yet. We shall see.

2010 - Sanabria -  Puebla de Sanabria3

Me, in Puebla de Sanabria, back when I first started blogging

What am I working on/writing?

Let’s be honest here. I was a much more prolific writer during my brief stay in the U.S., when I was working in an office and had a lot of free time in which to sit at my desk, twiddle my thumbs, and want for my phone to ring. Meanwhile, I typed up blog posts in a Microsoft Word document so as to appear busy should my boss walk by while I wrote.

Nowadays, I wait for inspiration to strike. It usually does so in the most inconvenient moments, like in the shower or while I’m falling asleep. When it does strike me while I’m at the computer, I write in down in a notepad document. Often I’ll go back later and scoff at my idea, but there are some times when I do not, and I decide to write about that idea.

Right now I’m working writing about our recent trip to Asturias, and that’s about it. In the future (maybe January?), look for a big, mega write up about bureaucracy in the U.S. (I’ll leave it at that for now.)

How does my work/writing differ from others of its genre?

My blog is, of course, less about the best sites to see in Madrid and more about my everyday life and curiosities about Spain and/or Spanish. I’m not very good at sticking to a theme, and I suppose that makes me not so marketable. That said, I like who I am as a blogger, and I don’t want or expect to make much money from this blog.

After having lived in Spain for five years, I consider myself something of an expert on expat life in Spain. I recognize that I have not lived here for that long, but I do know a few things. I am no longer surprised by the things that shock first year English Conversation Assistants, like the lack of dryes or the fact that Spanish customer service leaves much to be desired. I like to think I offer a deeper, more nuanced understanding of Spain and Spaniards.

Of course, I am married to a Spaniard, and while there are many like me, this aspect of my blog allows me to see a different side of Spain. I have been to small village celebrations (think 150 inhabitants!), eaten countless dinners around family members’ tables, been exposed to cultural traditions and subtleties that others just do not have the opportunity to witness. I’ve been to several Spanish weddings, picked apples at my husband’s family’s apple orchard, seen my in-laws making homemade chorizos and salchichones, gone to factories to buy discounted wheels of delicious cheeses, and learned the ins and outs of Zamora from the locals. I now walk along its streets, and as they say there, I am somebody, because I can’t walk down the main drag without meeting someone I know.

Why do I write what I do?

I write what I do because I like it, I love it, I believe in it. I don’t want to write anything inauthentic or false. I love Zamora and Castilla y León, so I write about them. I don’t write a lot of how-to posts, mainly because they’re difficult, so I leave them up to the better-suited ones.

I write for my family and friends, who can keep up with me through this blog. I started blogging for them, and I always keep them in mind when I hit publish.

I write for myself. I like sharing my experiences with others and not feeling so alone. I also like having this archive of my life, of this special time in my life. I love to look back on my anniversary posts or the time my in-laws were just about to visit Indiana or my wedding day. I love to read and reread old entries. Perhaps I sound self-interested, but a journal is a journal, even if I do happen to put it out there for everyone to read.

2014_Gran Canaria002

How does the writing process work?

What a great question! It depends on what the post is about. If it’s about a trip, and pictures are necessary, I first have to process the photos from the trip. We take pictures with my iPhone 4S and our shared camera, a Canon Rebel T3i. We’re not experts (yet!), but we take pretty decent photos.

I write using Windows Live Writer, which is much easier than using WordPress’ browser editor. From WLW, I can easily publish the entries or post the draft to my blog. It has all sorts of tools that I like, including automatic linking, spell check, word count, and many more.

After I publish the draft, I put it on WordPress’ preview mode to see it more clearly and examine it for typos. Of course, I’m not perfect, and I let one or two through from time to time. This is easily edited afterwards. I can choose to have my post automatically tweeted on Twitter and shared on Facebook, LinkedIn, Tumblr, etc.

Who I’m Tagging

I’m just going to do a cop out and tag anyone who wants to do this! A lot of people I follow/would tag have already been tagged.

Thanks to Trevor for tagging me; it’s been fun!