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

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!

Five Years in Spain—My Favorite Posts

Guys, five years ago today I stepped off the plane in Madrid. Five years! Five years I’ve been eating here, drinking here, living here. I can hardly believe it. If you had told me then that I’d still be here, I wouldn’t have believed you. I planned on doing my one-year internship, “perfecting” my Spanish, and heading home in 2010. Little did I know …

Long story short: I met Mario, fell in luuuuurve, and stayed. Things that have changed since then:

  • I no longer live in Salamanca. This fact still upsets me sometimes. Take me back!
  • I’m married. I wear my ring on my right finger, like Spaniards, while Mario wears his on his left, like Americans. Weirdo.
  • We have a decent apartment. (That one in Salamanca was, as my mother-in-law described it, a “porquería.”)
  • I know a lot more Spanish, and a whole lot more about Spain.

To celebrate my five year Spainiversary, I thought I’d clue you in on some of my favorite posts from the past years:

About Study Abroad

College Study Abroad: If I Could Do It All Over Again

About Study Abroad

About Learning Spanish

Advanced Spanish … Where Do I Go from Here?

Verbosity

But I’m a Girl! … and Other Spanish Language Mishaps

Rookie Mistakes: Reflexive Spanish Verbs and Me

The Language We Speak “So, do you guys talk in English or Spanish?” Oh, what a complicated question.

Bilingual Inside Jokes About having a bilingual relationship

About Mario and Me

Madrid Bound The one where I announced we were moving to Madrid

So Here’s the Deal About moving for love

Two Years Ago Anniversary post

Lucky

About Weddings In Spain

Boda a la Española: La Prueba Menu Testing

How to Plan a Wedding in Spain … or Not Planning a wedding in another country can be hard!

Sí, Quiero—The Spanish Version of “I Do” Our wedding day (includes a video)

Spanish Weddings vs. American Weddings How the ceremonies differ

Spanish Weddings vs. American Weddings—The Reception How the receptions differ

About Food In Spain

Foods Spain Taught Me to Love Believe me, there are a ton of these!

De Tapas Por Zamora—Where to Eat in Zamora, Spain

Surprise: Spain’s Most Popular Food Isn’t Paella Or why you’ll totally look like a guiri if you order paella off one of those menus with all the pictures

My Favorite Spanish Foods

No, Gracias—Spanish Foods I Dislike Surprisingly, there are some!

Teaching In Spain

Teaching English in Spain’s Bilingual Schools

10 Differences Between Spanish and American High Schools

Teaching in an Instituto (High School) vs. A Colegio (Elementary School)

About Spain In General

Your Spain Experience—Interview With Sarah

Your Spain Experience—Interview With Erin

Watch out for the controversy on these two posts (you may want to skip the comments), but I found Erin’s and Sarah’s experiences to very interesting and indicative of how race is viewed in Spain.

My Most-Viewed Posts

Have you ever wondered what my most-viewed posts are? Wonder no longer.

How to Dress Like a Spaniard To be honest, this kind of irks me, because I wrote this way tongue-in-cheek, and now people get offended. Oops!

Whatsapp—Why Spain’s Over the SMS

How to Improve Your (Already Pretty Good) Spanish

My Top 10 Myths About Spain See how those lists get you a lot of views?!

 

What kinds of posts would you most like to see in the future?

I Haven’t Blogged Much This Summer—Why?

Here’s the thing: I haven’t blogged much this summer because I haven’t wanted to. 

Yep, here I am, a blogger, admitting that sometimes blogging sucks. Sometimes it’s really fun, though! You know, when you’re inspired or doing lots of things you think others will think are cool or when you have loads of things to say. The truth is, none of these things are happening right now. I’m not inspired, at least not to talk about Spain, and when I do a post about what has been really fun, practically no one responds. (See my last post.) But, as an experiment, I’ve come up with a list of reasons why I choose not to blog sometimes:

My readers won’t find it interesting.

Continue reading “I Haven’t Blogged Much This Summer—Why?”