What Have I Been Up To?

This weekend marks 2 months of living in España, and let me tell ya, my day-to-day life here is pretty damn busy. I don’t know what I was really expecting to expect from life in Madrid or working as an Auxiliar, but I will say that for the amount of work I do, I run around and am drastically busier than I ever felt the past three years.  It’s becoming quite clear that even though Spain is all about the siesta, the vino, and the “no pasa nada”, it’s also a place about the hustle. Since we are paid mere pennies by the Comunidad de Madrid and are allowed to legally tutor, I’ve been trying to pick up private lessons left and right. So far I’ve picked up 2, one with an adorable pudgy 3rd grader, and another with a 7th grade boy twice a week, who also happens to go to the middle school that I was originally assigned to.  The pay is crap compared to Korea, like literal crap, but like I said, it’s all bout dat hustle!

As if the errrday hustle of regular life here hasn’t been enough, I’ve also enrolled myself in a 9 month online course en route to getting my teacher’s license so that I will in fact be a certified teacher….in the state of Florida. But more importantly, the world of the International school is about to be at my fingertips. After much deliberation, and pretty much two years of sitting on my thumb deciding if I want to do the course or not, I’ve pulled the trigger. I’ve come to the realization that after 4 years living abroad teaching, I really enjoy it, and most importantly, love the amount of traveling I get to do. So, it’s about time to bulk up my resume with legit certifications. I’m a little annoyed with myself for waiting until I got to Spain to do this, seeing as I was actually making good money in Korea, but then I give myself a lil pep talk that Spain would have never been an experience in my repertoire had I done it then. So, even if I may be broke again after this course, it’s only for a brief nano. Then it’s 3 month vacas and $$$. Eye on the prize. Eye on the prize.

And I'd have never taken this selfie with my first real Dali.

And selfie eye on my first Dali.

In other news, while I still don’t really talk with my roomies (which I’m awkwardly okay with), I really love my apartment. Even though the heat hasn’t been turned on yet, or that my landlords are a little bit too “ruley” as of late, I can’t really complain. I’m in the heart of Madrid, in Malasaña, where life is crackin all around me. I’ve got an exquisitely azulejo tiled bedroom floor, a balcony that opens up to the noisy but fabulous street below, and closes me into a cave come nightfall. My roommates are super clean, and there is NEVER a dirty plate left in the sink. I can hang. Perhaps my one complaint in living with 3 males that I don’t know is that I feel the need to scurry from bathroom to bedroom when I choose to be a girly girl and give myself a beautifying mask. Oh, and the no visitors past 11pm rule. Excuse me but dinner isn’t even until 11pm here, and more importantly, I AM A GROWN ASS WOMAN. But…

10359545_10103498426082917_8994484685325503645_n

Despite my extreme distaste for being told how to run my boudoir, I have finally gotten around to decking the walls with homey things. I’ve become obsessed with the podcast Serial, and while I listen (read: finished) I’ve been hanging and decorating. It’s proved successful, and my room finally feels like a little slice of home. All my jewels are displayed, and all the faces and places that I love and miss are all ova da plizace.

IMG_0034

Yes, I’m aware there is a massive disaster hanging above my head.

IMG_0026 IMG_0027
IMG_0032

And when I haven’t been domesticating or tutoring, I’ve enrolled myself in clases de Español twice a week! If you consulted with me about 12-15 years ago, you would very well know that I was not particularly fond of my clases de Español with Señor Sanchez and I-totally-forget-my-other-teacher’s name. I actually hated them, like I’m sure most other high schoolers could attest to. At that point you’re just sitting there thinking WHY DO I NEED TO KNOW THIS? But now, a shocker to myself, those 2.5 hours per week have easily become some of my favorite hours. While I don’t think my speaking has progressed exponentially in everyday life, my listening has really grown. I do always surprise myself though when I remember lots of vocab from way back when. The classes are super small, the teacher is so sweet, I love the other people in my class, and it feels so good to use my brain for harboring knew knowledge. Especially that can be used on the reg.

I've also found one of my favorite Korean snacks in European form.

Behold, one of my favorite Korean snacks in European form. This was a Happy “Peppero Day”.

I’ve also made some efforts to break up the week with friends and food and film. Wednesdays have been dubbed Cinetaco Wednesdays with Jen and Kristia, as that is discounted movie night in Madrid, which we have been following up with either 1 euro tacos, or in recent weeks, trying out the Korean spot I had a hankering for. The tacos are bomb, the Korean was aight, but totally satisfied the craving. And to conclude my work week, Thursdays have been spent with my new very Larry-esq homie, Justin, grabbing 5 euro all you can eat Italian food and vino at Aío, perfectly situated right down the street from me. I’ve also acquired a little wine glass collection from Aío because my klepto sometimes gets the best of me when I really enjoy some glassware. Don’t worry, I’ve only done it enough for a pair.

IMG_9925

The kimchi was lacking, but Gayagum Gallery Restaurante totally satisfied.

And finally, when I’m not domesticating, or tutoring, or teaching, or learning, I’m enjoying being lazy. That’s right. Laying in bed in my cave until noon. I don’t know what it is, but I don’t really feel bad about it when I do. In Korea, even though I did it OFTEN, I always felt kind of bad about laying in bed until who knows when because I felt I should get my butt outside. Perhaps because the city is constantly moving and Koreans act as if the night before never happened. Madrid is always moving too, but in a more leisurely fashion. That, and people are out until all hours of the morning and definitely remembering it when they lay in bed all day the next day.

I’ve also given Tinder España a go, but that’s for its own amusing write up.

Until next time, enjoy looking at this picture of an extremely moist piece of double down dark chocolate cake from Federal Cafe in Malasaña. It was no Dark Baby, but oh my!

IMG_9957

 

Advertisements

Lucky Number ’13

With the finale of 2013 behind us, I thought I’d throw together a nice lil round-up of some of the whathaveyous that occurred, and some of the thoughts, feelings and doings that made this last year my best, most favorite yet. I feel like it’s so cliche to say the past year was the best yet and “2014 really needs to top it”, but when I reflect and look at myself and how I truly feel I’ve grown as a human, I’m entirely certain that this past year gradually saw me grow into the skin I am meant to be in.

Here goes…in absolutely no particular order.

1. A Penny For My Thoughts

As I’m sure you know, I love writing, but I was never one to really keep a consistent journal or diary of personal thoughts until this year. When 2013 started, I found myself having feelings that were getting squashed, and began tormenting me into weird girl-over-analyzing-mode.  I hated that feeling, and I hate not being able to communicate properly, so I really made a conscious effort to carry a journal around with me everywhere I go, in case I just need to jot something down, or get something out of my head and onto paper to at least clear things up for myself.  I also made a point to blog more consistently, and took a crapton of my time to organize, categorize and tag my home on the internet into some semblance of searchable order.

2. I Can See Clearly Now, The Blur Is (Almost) Gone….

Remember this post? Well, unless we don’t talk regularly, you’d know that I finally got my peepers zapped, and for the first time in over 20 years, I can see (almost) crystal clearly with the aide of nothing but my own two hazel eyeballs! As silly as it sounds, in the past year I wavered a lot on whether or not to go through with the procedure. I have come to really love my specs, and they’d become a huge part of my essence, so the thought of giving them up simply made me very sad. In the end, I decided that not perfecting my eyes because I like how I look in spectacles is a stupid reason, because HELLO, fashion glasses! My world of options has just opened up exponentially as I transcend into the world of poser! Not to mention, if I decided to get LASEK back at home, I’d be paying thousands upon thousands (literally) more than I would here, where the procedure is probably done 10x better and more frequently.

I ended up going with Gangnam Saint Mary’s, based off the recommendations of some friendzies, and their super attentive and thorough care. Awesome place if you are lookin’ for that 20/20.

This was me for the first few days post laser blast acid trip:

IMG_1165

3. Lights, Camera, Action!

This year I took the liberty of throwing myself into some performance things that were all my own, and a few for charity at the begging of a scammer (that secretly didn’t need any begging whatsoever).  On a whim, I auditioned for the shadow cast of Rocky Horror Picture Show, something that frankly FREAKED me out, took me well out of my comfort zone, and had me feeling the happiest and most liberated I’d felt ever. I joined a flash mob dance class and found myself crossing “Participate in a Flashmob” off the ol’ Bucket List. I haiku battled Yo Mama to a runner up seed, and then saw my dream of Lip Sync battling (though I wish against one Jimmy Fallon), materialize into full fledged felt lobster claws and a first place redeeming win!

Here’s my latest in the Let Your Freak Flag Fly department:

IMG_1038

4. Signed, Sealed, Delivered

The thing that probably helped me grow the most this year was having the courage to be completely vulnerable and say exactly how I feel, putting it on paper, signed, sealed, delivered the old fashioned way. Even though it didn’t return the results I’d hoped for, it returned something quite necessary to light a fire under my ass to move on with my life. My words are out in the universe which makes me feel amazing, and now I know what I really truly want, and it’s not going to be one-sided work anymore. In fact, I’m glad I didn’t “get” what I thought I wanted, because I gained the perspective to know that’s not for me. You really can’t change people and just have to accept them for who they are sometimes, it is what it is, and exactly how it should be. Even though the situation still makes me a little sad when I think about it, overall I’m 150% happy with what and where we are now. Onward and upward!

5. On That Gypsy Life

The year began with my first trip home in 1.5 years, filled with tons of food, family and the coolest friends who flew in from everywherez. Only to be followed up with training and boating and bussing my way through Thailand and Laos. I played with tigers, cooked authentic Thai cuisine, border-crossed into Laos in the back of a pick-up truck and temple hopped til my feet hurt. I planned my first ever solo trip to Bali and the surrounding islands, where I got my fortune read by the famous Ketut Liyer, got stranded in the middle of the Gili Islands whilst snorkeling, and took the most invigorating yoga class ever. Cori visited me in Asia for the 2nd time, and we conquered Tokyo and its robots. That there is a city which is more fantastic than I had ever imagined. I even became one of the less than 1% of the Korean population to touch down on that sacred Dokdo soil. I’d say it was a mighty successful year for that passport of mine.

149348_10102230968443187_494492662_n

6. Speaking Of Passports…

I added 48 brand spankin’ new pages to mine! Mama Schaeff may think all my passport excitements are silly, but that passport is my most prized possession. And, well, now I’ve got 48 more pages to stamp full of journeys!

7. Anyeong “North Korea”

It was a huge decision when I decided to stay a third year in the Koko. That pretty much involved a 2 hour phone conversation with Papa Schaeff til about 3am the night before my decision was due, and a not-so-hefty Pros/Cons list for me to finally make up my mind. One of my conditions was that it was a million percent vital to move from my isolated studio apartment in Danggogae, to something amidst civilization. So, I traded in my huge studio for a quaint little 1 bedroom plus entryway that Jeewon helped me find. And let me tell ya, it’s made a world of difference living amongst YOUNG HIP PEOPLE and bright lights!

Oh yea! Here’s a tour of my new abode. Sit tight, it’s a long one!

IMG_0973

IMG_0974 IMG_0975  IMG_0976

Ta da!

8. My Clothes Fit More To My Liking

So I lost 15 lbs this year. I did more yoga, jumped a lot of rope in my apartment, wandered around exploring a lot more than I used to, and quit eating that rice that Koreans seem to absorb into who the hell knows where.  I tried on a dress that I hadn’t worn in a little over a year just the other day, and what used to hug my tuchous quite snugly, now just slinks perfectly right on over it. Virtual pat on the hiney to moi!

9. Makin’ Moves

I finally got serious in thinking about and figuring out my next move come fall when my third and FINAL contract in Korea is up. Europe has always been the highest of the highest on my Must Live There list, so to Europe, most likely Spain, I shall go. I found a couple teaching programs, I’ve downloaded some Rosetta Stone, and will begin the application process this month. Definitely looking to make Paella a staple cuisine in my near future.

10. Gave A Little, To Feel A Lot

2013 ended with a group of some of my nearest and dearest cooking heaping batches of seaweed soup in Jeewon’s kitchen, to distribute to the homeless. We made about 80 bowls of soup, all of which were gone from our cooler within 15 minutes of our arrival at Seoul Station. This was definitely one of the most special things I’ve done, and it felt awesome to ring in 2014 with a huge swelling heart.

1512293_644966638874780_947019357_n

1502518_10102895572476377_1748998255_n

Now in 16 days, 2014 will mark my 30 year anniversary on the planet, and I am seriously so excited to turn the BIG 3-0! I finally feel so ready to leave the glory of my 20s behind and get into all that the next check box has to offer. I really felt like 2013 was a huge year for me, and come to think of it, I didn’t even really try to make it that way. I didn’t make any major resolutions, and the year actually shittily started in tears, so I am quite pleasantly surprised! Cheers to a bomb diggity year ahead!