Wednesday, October 13, 2010

La lista

I've been composing a list of all of the bad things about Spain, and I'm finally going to type it up and expand on each item for your reading pleasure.

1. Weird smells

I'm sure you can say that all big cities have their share of weird smells... but let me elaborate. It's not just the giant garbage piles on the street, or the people who decide to light a cigarette in front of you while going up the stairs out of the metro. It is everything. You walk past someone here and their smell is left lingering for various seconds. It might not necessarily be a foul smell (although some definitely are), but the smell of too much cologne or perfume. Why must people douse themselves in these weird smelling liquids before going out and walking by me? I can deal with the cigarette smoke, at least I can see that coming... but the sneaky gross perfume smell? Really? Ugh...

2. Aggressive P.D.A.

Okay, I get it. You are 30-some years old and live with your parents. That's not because you're a bum, but rather because you are Spanish. I also understand that you probably don't want to take your significant other home with you because your parents would start thinking you should move out of the house and marry this significant other. So what are you to do? You can't take your S.O. home to snuggle and make out and whatever else you would normally do if you were a normal adult and not living at home... Does this make the metro, the park, or the street corner fair ground for your aggressive public displays of affection? The answer is no! No one wants to see you getting it on with your significant other, who, by the way, probably smells like gross cheap perfume.

3. Dog shit

Do the madrileños enjoy stepping in dog poo whenever they leave their apartment? I seriously can't imagine they do... but then again, I can't think of any other reason for why they would so adamantly neglect to pick up after their filthy pets. Perhaps it is like this everywhere else in the world except in the States. Can anyone confirm?

4. Sundays

I happen to enjoy leaving my house at least once per day and find it extremely depressing and unenjoyable to sit inside all day, especially when inside is a tiny crappy little apartment. My issue with Sundays is that nothing is open. You can't run errands, you can barely obtain food on Sundays. I must admit, Madrid is a lot better about this than the rest of Spain. There is actually an entire mall that is open on Sundays! Ikea is even open one Sunday a month. How the Swedes talked their Spanish employees into working those absurd hours, I don't know.

5. The children

I thought Mr. Storla's class was loud that one day that I was volunteering at Whittier. That would be considered almost silent in Spanish elementary schools. My voice doesn't get as loud as the normal volume of these kids' voices. It is difficult to get my point across, firstly because I'm not allowed to speak to them in Spanish, and secondly because while I am speaking English at a normal volume there are usually about 25 small Spanish children speaking Spanish at the top of their lungs, prohibiting any of the children to hear what I'm saying. I end up repeating myself about a thousand times a day, and for anyone who knows me even a tiny little bit, you know how much I like repeating myself. Oh yeah, and I'm not supposed to speak to the teachers in Spanish either even though most don't know that much English. The ones who have a decent level of English insist on speaking in English with me, which is fair. However, when I reply in English and they look at me blankly, obviously not understanding, all I can do is repeat myself in various ways until they get it. Or what I normally do: explain it in Spanish. It's such a roundabout way to do things, and especially infuriating when limited in time.

The list goes on but these are the big things. I've started a list of the good things about Spain, too. So far there are only two things on it: seeing fields of solar panels next to hundreds of wind turbines, and the tuna.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Y ahora: madrileña

And on the fifth day... I found an apartment!

I've been in Madrid for five days now, it's been really tough. I waited to blog about my time here until now because, although I had so much to say and write about, it would have all come off as extremely negative and pessamistic. I'm not saying I'm feeling totally positive and optomistic right now, although things are looking up. I am still not 100% happy, but when have I ever been? Not often...

The first few days were complete misery. Leaving home was really difficult this time. I feel like it was more difficult than when I left before. Perhaps I feel ready to plant some roots and stick around one place for a while. Or perhaps I am just jaded from having traveled lots already. I usually just blame it on Spain for sucking so much. I even started a list of all of the shitty things about this country. I will share that later, and it will continue to grow. I could probably add to it with each post I make, that might be funny.

Today I feel as if everything is more or less falling into place. I don't love it here, but it's not like I am going to die of hatred for this place. At least not any more than I already have... hah.

The place I am moving into tonight is in Puerta del Ángel, so not the center. I think it is a fine location because it is quiet, but not too far from the bus station where I go for work and also not too far from the center. Kind of like how in Cádiz I lived a bus ride away from most things (school, going out) and in Everett I lived far away from everything (UW, work in Kirkland, ultimate) but I deal with it pretty okay. Commuting has become part of my life and I don't adore it but it also doesn't make me go crazy like I imagine it would make some people. I had thought about possibly living near the school where I teach, but people talked me out of it. I don't think I'd hate living there, but I don't think it is the right option for me at the moment. I hope I made a good decision about my flat.

The roommates are one Spanish guy and one Italian guy. The Italian guy has a little dog that seems nice. When I got there to see the place the Italian guy was smoking hash. So that is interesting. The flat is sunny and has an oven and a washing machine. I don't think I saw a dish washer but a lot of places don't have dish washers. A lot of places also don't have ovens, which is a load of crap. So I'm glad to have an oven because I like to bake.

I want to get a bicycle because I think that would be convenient, especially since I live a few kilometers from the center and one of my friends is like 4km away, the other is nearer, only 2km away. Ultimate practices happen a few km away, but seriously everything is pretty close together.

I'll update about my life again soon, and maybe include my list of hates as well as some photos of my new flat.