Enjoy the Ride.

The last few weeks have flown by! In between Valentine’s Day and now, I have observed Lent, gotten more into my ICB Community Group, and had my last week nannying for Ferran’s girls, Mar and Clara. All last week the new nanny, Mateja, shadowed me as we got the girls all ready and off to school and then the PM routine as well. She’s from Slovenia, and seems sweet and capable; it’s definitely bittersweet, though, to see that chapter close.

Whether flying solo, with our gal’s small group, or simply meeting a friend (Hannah) for coffee, I’ve also continued trying new places and continue to fall in love with most. I don’t know if it’s the fact that I’m relatively easy to please, or if it’s that there are innumerable cute spots with great food and drink. Whichever the case, I am now a big fan of Oma Bistró and Caravelle.

Oma Bistró (c/ Consell de Cent, 227) is a bright, open, trendy spot as of late that’s located in Eixample. While I’ve only personally tried their original coffee (the “Stumpy” – a twist on a flat white), I’m looking forward to tasting their cheesecake, craft beers, and myriad brunch offerings. Sadly, the name does not have anything to do with Omaha, I asked; rather, Oma happens to mean “grandma” in German.

Caravelle (c/ Pintor Fortuny, 31) is an Australian owned homey café in Raval. I finally crossed this place off my to-try list when I met Hannah there last week to catch up over coffee and talk social media stuff. Our waitress was super nice and friendly (turned out she was from Miami), and I ordered a chai latte while Hannah opted for the standard café con leche. Not after too long, though, they brought out freshly baked strawberry and ricotta cheese muffins. Needless to say, we had to share one. It was heavenly… arguably the best muffin I’ve ever had. Lovely spot in general –definitely recommend!

Juicy Jones (c/ Hospital, 74) is also located in the heart of Raval. Juicy Jones, in terms of the physical space, is covered in bright, attractive murals from floor to ceiling. A juice bar and vegan restaurant with reasonable prices, Juicy Jones is sure to please the masses. I am not entirely sure what I ended up ordering but it was green and bubbling and delicious.

I already posted about my calçotada experience, which was delightful and I would love to do that every weekend. Staying with my Lent intentions has been good, though some days quite challenging. The hardest one by far has been to work on my blog daily, which if you’re unfamiliar with blogging, actually requires a substantial amount of effort and work. Especially when I got a cold/flu thing last week so that has been extra fun!

Preview for this week: an upcoming post on my take on the chapter of Ruth, Mexican send-off dinner with my awesome community group, meeting Hannah’s best friend who’s in town for the week, watching Dylan and baby Ryan a few last times, gift shopping, and packing!

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Love is this. Love is that.

Most people are familiar with the bible verse that details the nature of love in its purest form. This particular verse was in fact my confirmation verse back in the day- first Corinthians 13: 4-8 states: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trust, always hopes, always perseveres.”

I don’t know about you, but I can’t help myself from having mixed emotions upon hearing that verse. I mean there’s comfort – I know no matter how many mistakes I make in this life, my mom will patiently love me infinity times infinity forever. Then there’s frustration with myself – as a mere mortal I constantly struggle with envy, pride, and anger despite my best intentions to love on people. And then there’s joy, a rapturous all-encompassing joy at the knowledge that God’s love is never-ending and at the end of the day love will always win.

This verse has been on my mind lately, since it was one of the selected verses for our small group bible study this week. It’s been a healthy reminder to me that while receiving love from others is so wonderful and fulfilling and needed, it’s equally or even more important to shower those around you with selfless, honest, and persevering love. Personally, I’m trying to focus on being slow to anger, critically examining sources of envy and pride, and loving people for who they are and where they are currently in this life.

Some life updates for any inquiring minds… I am still finishing up the application process to the UPF and Barcelona School of Management Masters program; I’m hoping to schedule my interview (aka the last step in the process) in the very near future. Otherwise, I have been busy nannying my Catalan gals and American boys. Damian and I joined Anytime Fitness in mid-December and have been pretty diligent about going 4-5 per week. I dig the Pilates classes and being able to watch the New York Times’ videos whilst getting down on the elliptical.

Family Box is going strong and I enjoy the work I’m doing there; I learn something new (usually many things) daily and the work is fulfilling and relevant. On another work note, last week I had the exciting opportunity to interview for a marketing position at Pronovias, the high-end Spanish bridal company. Conducted entirely in Spanish at their headquarters in El Prat, the interview went well and now I’m just playing the old waiting game. Whatever happens, it was a cool experience to have under my belt.

Rainy Poblenou
Rainy Poblenou

Yesterday I finished reading Cheryl Strayed’s Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. Not knowing much about the story aside from the fact that it was about a woman who hikes, I was pleasantly surprised by the memoir. I’m all about a transformative journey as told by a young female narrator, and it was refreshing to learn about something new (the world of hiking).

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365 New Days

So it’s 2015. …What?! This spring that means I will be SIX years out of high school, and that is absolutely wild. Pardon my delayed post; December went by in a whirlwind and now I’ve been revamping the majority of the blog in general so this is the final piece of that puzzle.

First things first, since the last post I’ve finished reading Janet Fitch’s White Oleander, Chris Cleave’s Little Bee, and am currently reading Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Our book club January pick is Wild by Cheryl Strayed, and I’m also looking forward to my library find: Red Pony by John Steinbeck. On this note, I am planning on creating another new page on this blog solely dedicated to book reviews, so keep your eyes peeled for that addition. Also, I have watched seasons one through three of HBO’s Girls; great content, hilarious predicaments, and relatable happenings.

Apartment hunt update: That chapter was put on hold for now. Not only did we not have enough money to put down four months on a new apartment, but also we realized that logistically it just does not make the most sense for us right now. Side note: it was crazy to see how many scams are out there (on the web) with people trying to get potential renters to deposit money into Western Union or PayPal or Airbnb, etc. before even seeing the space!

Masters update: I am almost done applying to the UPF Barcelona School of Management for a Master of Science in Management with a Specialization in Marketing. I have all of my necessary documents in, now I’m just waiting for confirmation of submission on my transcript and letters of recommendation. Thankfully, they use a rolling admissions schedule and they usually let candidates know their fate in a matter of mere weeks. Prayers and crossing of the fingers would be much appreciated!

December Happenings: On the 4th Damian and I went to the annual Barcelona Shopping Night all along Passeig de Gracía. Cass and I went last year. It’s a festive evening to kick-start the holiday shopping season where the stores are all open later, plus there are fashion shows, lots of DJs, free food and drink, discounts, etc. Another fun holiday outing was going to the Santa Lucia Christmas Market with Jesús; highlight was definitely the suiza (thick hot chocolate with tons of foamy whipped cream).

Of course I’ve continued to nanny for both the American family (Dylan and now baby Ryan), and the Catalan family (Mar and Clara). Ferran, Mar and Clara’s dad, was nice enough to give me two bottles of really nice cava as an early Christmas present. They rock. I’m also still working for the Barcelona promotional venture (though that is now coming to a close) and Family Box. I am thankful to be learning a lot by working for Family Box… Also, quick plug: if you’re busy with a young family and just can’t seem to find the time/strategy/etc. necessary for family devotionals, you should check out Family Box!

I’m still going to the International Church of Barcelona, aka ICB. It is a wonderful ministry and I’ve made some quality new friends there. Mid-December I went to the ICB Women’s Sugar & Spice holiday event, which entailed snacks, testimony, and ginger bread house making.

Christmas: Cynthia and Will (parents to Dylan and Ryan) invited myself and Damian to go with them to Baquiera-Beret (a town in the Spanish Pyrenees about 4 hours from BCN) on a last-minute Christmas holiday! We gladly accepted their invitation and drove up into the mountains with them on Christmas Eve. We pretty easily found the rental house in Salardú upon our arrival in the late afternoon. Once we unloaded the van and got settled into the “ski lodge” we walked down into the village and had tapas at the one open restaurant in the main plaza. It was so much colder there- holy brrr.

On Christmas Day, Cynthia said they’d rather go snowboarding the following day, so Damian and I were free to go skiing! Considering the fact that Damian had never seen snow up until this trip, you can imagine his simultaneous excitement and fear at the now near prospect of going skiing for the first time. After a hearty breakfast, we got all bundled up and the whole crew drove over to the Beret ski resort. Anticipation continued to rise as we got fitted for boots, tried out the skis, and attached lift tickets.

Once out on the actual bunny hill/practice area what have you, Will and I were trying to give Damian some general pointers and beginners tips as to how to stop, turn, and not wipe out. Although Will is a really good skier and snowboarder, I quickly realized that Damian would have greatly benefitted from a proper class before we took to the slopes ourselves, but that was too little, too late.

After the family left to take Dylan sledding, Damian and I spent about another half hour on the bunny hill. While I hadn’t skied in many years, I was surprised at how fast it all seemed to come back to me. Aware that daylight was burning, we decided we’d warmed-up enough and it was ski-lift time! Not recalling how stressful/frightening it is to mount the lift until we were literally on the precipice, I was helped (thrown) onto one of the fast-moving chairs alone with Damian still approaching the loading area. Seconds later I hear the lift operators yelling “Stop! Stop!” and turn around to see that they’ve momentarily stopped the entire lift and that one of Damian’s skis fell off. After a quick dialogue, they help Damian off the chair and re-start the lift.

Less than one minute later, I noticed that I was on the lift that went to the very tip-top of the entire mountain, rather than the one that stops mid-mountain allowing one to ski in the green category area (which is what we had paid for). Perfect. Seemingly a century passed by the time the lift inched to the exit area at the apex. The female worker called out to me, and assisted me to make a much less than graceful dismount from the ever-mobile chair. Finally on my feet, I looked around to notice that there was not another living soul for as far as the eye could see. Nor directional signs. Nor any interest from the aforementioned worker.

Alas, I picked to descend to my left, a decision that in hindsight was less than ideal. As I began to pick up speed, before I knew it I was flying down the mountain and barely caught sight of a passing sign notifying skiers via a blue circle and a black diamond. For a split second I debated stopping, sitting down, and waiting for help to get down, but then just as quickly resolved to ski down without help. Continuing the terrifying (yet exhilarating) solo descent, I wiped out once and thankfully caught myself with my hands. There were also passing signs reading “Slow” near patches of particularly icy spots. Good looking out.

As I got closer and closer to the foot of the mountain, it was more exhilarating and less terrifying. When I eventually (successfully) reached the bottom, I had been assuming to see Damian there waiting for me. I was wrong! He had actually gotten himself onto the other lift, gotten off mid-mountain, thinking that was where I was going to be as well. In the end we found each other about an hour later and the whole adventure was still to fresh to be funny. We grabbed a warm lunch in the resort cafeteria before going back out, right as fresh snow began to fall. All in all, we had a great day!

New Years: In Argentine culture, it’s really important to ring in the New Year at midnight with your family, as opposed to in the U.S. for my age group it’s more of a time to be with friends. That being said, Damian and I rang in 2015 with Mar & Sergio’s family and friends at her parent’s apartment in Poble Nou. It was quite a spread of food, drink, and party trinkets for the little ones. For the first twelve seconds of 2015 everyone stuffed a total of twelve grapes into their mouths, a Spanish tradition said to bring good luck. Later we went out to a Latin club in Eixample with friends.

NEWS: I will be flying home for several months on March 12th! I am very much looking forward to spending time with friends and family, visiting my Aunt Charlotte, and attending bachelorette and wedding festivities!

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Cherry Lips, Crystal Skies

How today is the first day of December, signaling that November already happened for this calendar year, is mind-boggling to me. Where did November go? Time is flying! It’s been…way too long since my last entry here, but I shall attempt to make up for lost time.

Halloween: I didn’t have a costume planned until the morning of Halloween, when Mar (7) told me, considering the fact that I had nothing at this point in time, to borrow her neon-blue, waist-length wig for the occasion. She recommended I go as a “Blue Vampire.” So I heeded her advice and after nannying went to hunt down some cheap vampire teeth. At my third china-store (the Spain equivalent to the dollar store), I found a pair for 1 euro; as I tried them on my way out, I realized that I couldn’t move my mouth at all with the teeth in, which would make socializing at a party difficult. Hence, at the last minute I switched to dressing up as a blue-wigged witch for Gabi’s Halloween gathering in el Borne.

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November highlights… Bible study. Studying for GRE. Nannying. GRE. Gabi and I have continued our weekly bible study on Tuesday mornings at a wide variety of local cafés and eateries including Satan’s Coffee Corner (ironic I know), Milk, Molika, and Gabi’s apartment. Recently I finally had the chance to go to the church Gabi had been raving about, the International Church of Barcelona, and I’m sold! Compared to the aesthetically beautiful but substantially vacant masses of old here, ICB’s noon service features a live band, an amazing couple as the lead pastors, and a contagious energy that makes you want to get involved on a deeper level. I am excited to go to the women’s small group in the near future.

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So the GRE officially happened. The actual test day experience was even more formal and TSA security-like than I had expected. I was pleasantly surprised that there were noise-canceling earphones offered by the testing center. My experimental section ended up being Verbal and overall I felt like it went alright. Immediately afterwards as I stared dubiously at my “unofficial scores” for the verbal and quantitative sections I was a bit disappointed in myself but it could have gone worse. Yesterday I finally was able to see my official scores, including the analytical writing bit, and all I can say is: it is what it is. I am hoping to not have to take the GRE again, but we shall see.

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Last week I had the special opportunity to visit the Barcelona Food Bank with Jesús, my retired friend from last year’s intercambio at the library. Jesús does year-round volunteer work with them in their fundraising efforts, and he was nice enough to give a real behind the scenes tour of the whole operation. It was cool to see the actual warehouse too, the whole place preparing for the annual Gran Recapte (annual city-wide food drive). Last Friday evening I volunteered for the Food Bank at a grocery store, encouraging shoppers to donate and helping sort the donated items. Cass and I volunteered for the event last year as well, and I’m glad I got to help out again. On Thanksgiving day I had a meeting at ISA with Raquel to discuss the Masters at UPF. I’m really excited about applying for this program and getting that ball rolling if you will! More on that to come.

Later on Thanksgiving day I took the metro over to Cynthia and Will’s for a holiday get together with their friends and family. The best part was definitely getting to meet Mr. Ryan Alexander, the newest addition to Dylan’s family! He is a precious little baby who slept right until we all sat down to eat, naturally. It was wonderful to get to celebrate on Thursday with great people and a yummy homemade spread. Saturday Night Damian and I went to a belated Thanksgiving celebration at Janelle’s apartment near Lesseps. As I sadly have, in my mind, too little experience in cooking the traditional T-day side dishes, I opted to bring a fresh fruit salad to the potluck meal. Per the usual, Marta was the life of the party and had us all in stitches with her stories and contagious laugh.

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In other news, my virtual book club’s November read was Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind of Girl. I saved her novel of essays until post-GRE, but I finished it within a few days. I have also now watched the first season of her hit HBO show, Girls. I appreciate her dry humor and honest portrayal of the ups and downs of life of a 20something. I am now reading Janet Fitch’s White Oleander and would (thus far) recommend both. Damian and I are apartment hunting, hoping to move into a new place by the new year. My effort on this search so far has made me realize how incredibly lucky Cass and I were last year in how we found our place. It takes time and effort but I’m really excited by the thought that Damian and I will soon have our own place to call home!

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Be Intentional

Holy smokes – it’s been nearly three weeks since my last post! Eek! Well for starters, I wish I could explain away that happening by saying that I have been busy traveling or doing other equally wonderful things, but the sad truth is that I’ve been spending a large chunk of my time studying for the GRE. Boo standardized testing. Boo math. Boo 30-minute time limits. Studying for that is, needless to say, my current Everest. But alas, I have already taken two practice tests and I have seen some progress thus far, so thank goodness for that.

@ Granja Petitbo
@ Granja Petitbo

Other than that time-consuming venture, I have also been kept busy by nannying Mar & Clara and Dylan, as well as doing two social media freelance positions nowadays (Barcelona Nights and Family Box). I really enjoy the social media marketing work and I’m looking forward to further pursing like-minded opportunities. Dylan is about to become a big brother any day now… I can’t wait to meet Cynthia & Will’s second baby boy!

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I am still actively enjoying learning how to cook. Recently, I have gotten pretty good at making baked tacos and a chicken pasta casserole dish. Most notably, I made Scott’s recipe for banana bread; it turned out well overall, with some room for improvement. Due to studying, I sadly haven’t been reading as avidly as I usually can here. But to counter that, among other reasons, I have started a weekly bible study with Gabi! We did our first one last week at a cute Italian café in Borne. It was refreshing to discuss her daily devotional and work through some scripture.

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As I took my second practice test this last Friday, I gave myself the weekend off. Saturday evening Damian and I went to a nearby bar to watch the el clasico (FCB v. Real Madrid) match. Sadly, Barcelona lost 3-1, but watching Suarez play for the first time plus two mojitos made for a good time nevertheless. Afterwards we took the yellow line to Barceloneta to finally try out Cass and Gabi’s recommended steak spot – La Malandrina. Damian got the entrecot with fries, while I ordered the entrecot with the famed patatas a la crema. So good! Too good, in fact, as I ate myself into a food coma. Add into the equation their homemade chimichurri and diced pepper sauces, provolone cheese dip, beer, and you get an affordably priced Uruguayan slice of heaven on earth.

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Yesterday I went on an all-day trip to Girona, Figueres, and Besalú with Barcelona Trips. At first I had been planning on going to Girona and Figueres on my own, but considering that it was cheaper and less planning involved to hop in with that group, that is exactly what I ended up doing. In Girona we had a historical, yet humorous, tour of the main part of the city and then had free time for a couple of hours. Girona is a beautiful Catalan city and it was quite bustling with activity for a Sunday afternoon.

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From there we bussed to Figueres, hometown of the famous artist Salvador Dalí, and now home to his museum. I had an idea of what I was getting myself into, obviously Dalí is known for some pretty out-there works… but his museum is something else! The building itself, on the outside and inside, makes you stop and constantly do a double take, thinking to yourself: “What the…?” I’m definitely glad I finally saw the Dalí museum, but let’s just say I’m not dying to go back in the near future.

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Last but not least, we stopped in Besalú, a medieval town nestled into the hills of Catalonia. Unlike Girona, Besalú was pretty dead by the time we arrived (early evening). I took in the views and stopped in several cute local shops. Then it was back to Barcelona!

The (Real) Nanny Diaries.

I’m not sure if I’ve already opened with this quote, but here goes anyways: “People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experience on the purely physical plane will have resonances within our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.” Quote by Joseph Campbell, given to myself by my friend, Woody.

My last week has been full of changes… the highlights including that Cass went back to Nebraska, and school started here for little ones so I back at nanny life with Mar (7) and Clara (3) before and after school. Thankfully Clara now goes to the same school as her sister so it’s a little bit less running around than last spring. Because Alba and Ferran separated, I now help Ferran in the mornings of his weeks to get the girls up, breakfast, dressed, hair done, and to school on time. Sounds WAY easier than it has turned out to be thus far. The first few mornings Ferran’s mother came over, showing me how the girls like their breakfast beverages prepared, where the hair ties are kept, and how to best regulate the much-requested before-school TV watching.

Clara and I :)
Clara and I 🙂

Well as fate would have it, come Wednesday morning when we were on our own, Clara decided that she simply would not be donning anymore clothing articles aside from her underwear. Clara is the hilarious, goofy, dramatic one of the two sisters, but she is also like a bomb; when she does not want to do something, there is a loud explosion followed by tears and usually sitting on the ground and not moving. And of course, Mar is the one who needs to be at school by 8:45 while Clara enters at 9:00. So Mar was getting really mad at Clara for making us late. Finally, we were able to get Clara’s outfit on and we hurried out the door whilst Clara continued to cry that she hated her shoes. Clara made it on time, but Mar was late and was understandably sad about it.

So Thursday morning went better, everyone was on time and no tears were shed. That brings us to Friday morning. We were off to a good start- both ladies were up, ate an adequate breakfast, and were in the process of getting fully dressed for the day. As I was trying to convince/ help Clara get out of her pajamas, Mar finished dressing and announced that she was ready for hair! I left Clara to pout and went to the bathroom to start Mar’s hair. I quickly took out my bun, and was about to re-do it, when Mar glanced at my hair down and all the sudden wanted to brush it… seemed like a harmless proposition. Next thing you know both Clara and Mar are hamming it up, brushing my hair as if I were a life-sized Barbie doll. About 30 seconds went by before I lifted up my head to look into the mirror. I simultaneously realized that the round brush Mar had been using was, horrifyingly stuck in my hair (Right side, front, all the way to the scalp).

Quickly Mar clarifies that it was not her doing, that when I lifted my head the brush got tangled… I manage to keep calm at first, as I try to gingerly then more desperately separate my hair from the brush, the brush from my head. You couldn’t move the round brush it was that deeply entrenched in my hair. As panic set in, visions of myself with a bald spot flashed across my mind. I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to get this out by myself, that they might have to cut my hair, and that the girls were not going to get to school without me. So while Mar helped dress Clara, I gathered our things in a flurry and proceeded to wrap one of Mar’s sweaters around my head (complete with brush) like a turban but much less sophisticated. We left for school early in the vain hope that the hair salon on the way to school might be open. Low and behold, they were not. Hence, we walked to school my eyes on the ground, face red with that unwelcome sting of public mortification. Once at the school, I desperately asked an administrator if the girls could possibly enter early as I was (CLEARLY) having a bit of an emergency. The sleepy-eyed Catalan started at me and responded, “No, sorry, gotta wait.” Ok, perfect! So for another 15 minutes I just waited with the girls at the front door, knee-deep in both bewildered and sympathetic stares.

After dropping both girls off at the respective classrooms, I ran for the hills and stopped at the same hair salon that now appeared open. A graying man came to the entrance and said I’d have to come back, as he was busy currently. Tears filling my eyes, I said (in Spanish) that’s fine, thank you. While I’m dejectedly turning to leave, he goes: “Do you really have a hairbrush stuck under there?”…Yes. Shockingly this is not a joke. I take off the sweater wrapped around my head, which is when the man says “Oh lord. Come on in dear, sit down.” FINALLY SOMEONE GRASPS THE SITUATION.

A grueling ten minutes later, a small army of products used, the round brush is finally freed from my hair, resulting in a bird’s nest of tangled hair the size of a tennis ball. At this point I was crying tears of joy and relief that he didn’t have to cut my hair. To top it off, he wouldn’t let me pay him anything; now that is a good person. In the end, it was fine but holy shitty Friday morning. And no, I will never again let little people play with my hair. That proverbial bridge has been burned.

Aside from nanny duties, I said goodbye to Cass this last week. She flew back to NE with her family on Wednesday afternoon. It was hard to say goodbye to the one person who has been with me here since day one. I cried alone the entire walk back to what once was our shared apartment. Every time the tears would pause, I would unintentionally drift back to another memory we share from the last 15 months abroad. (Choking down hot lentil soup at Petra’s last summer, climbing Montserrat with Ben, wine nights at the apt, nearly freezing to death last winter, the girls trip to northern Spain with Larissa). We had quite a time together!

That being said, without Cass and Wi-Fi in the apartment, it has become a bit of a drag to stay there now. I will be moving all of my stuff into Damian’s on Monday, so I am excited for that…no more going back and forth all the time, plus I love Poblenou! This Wednesday is La Merce, the annual citywide holiday celebrating Barcelona’s patron saint. Not only am I looking forward to all of the La Merce festivities this coming week, but also am very excited that my friend Ben is coming to town to visit! Yay friends! Also this week I am planning on taking my first GRE practice exam. Then Sunday the 28th I will be running the La Merce 10k race, and Sunday happens to be myself and Damian’s one-year anniversary!

Finished the inaugural book for our Book Club from Afar (Emily Giffin's Love the One You're With), while enjoying an Oreo & Nutella greek donut at Lukamus!
Finished the inaugural book for our Book Club from Afar (Emily Giffin’s Love the One You’re With), while enjoying an Oreo & Nutella greek donut at Lukamus!

The Long Way Around.

Where oh where to begin? Per custom, I shall begin by looking back chronologically aka that takes us to the last week of August. In the days leading up to Labor Day (although not celebrated in Spain on the same day as in the US), I was busy running, reading, nannying sweet Dylan, working on never-ending Aashi social media business, and having a bit of fun in between. Labor Day weekend I went out with Gabi, met her BCN friends in Borne, and then we hit up the recently converted Pacha Barcelona (what once was Sotavento). On the actual holiday, after work Cass, Brenden, and I met Damian at the casino in Vila, where we managed to come out 40 euro ahead! Booyah. Afterwards, we got drinks at Stoke Bar and then walked over to Jamboree, as Brenden had yet to ever go! It was a fun double date night.

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On September fourth, Cass’ mom, dad, grandma, and neighbor arrived in Barcelona. Her mom, Mag, was kind enough to bring over an entire suitcase (filled with things from my mom) for me. When my mom told me she had decided to just pack a suitcase for Mag to bring, I had imagined a small carryon type, yet as it turned out the bag was actually one of the larger ones we own. Typical Mel! Special shout out to the best friend, Hayley, for making me a goodie-box complete with notes, Jack, a lip masque, and more! It was like Christmas to open that bad boy. The best part was definitely the goodies for Abril, Damian, Sergio & Mar, and Dylan. Needless to say, everyone was quite appreciative, myself included. Since they’ve been here, I joined them for Park Guell, walking the Rambla-La Boqueria-Port Vell, and more! It has been great finally having her family here to see our city.

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Now that Cass’ brother, Anthony is also here, we went to Tibidabo (my first time during the day) on La Diada (Catalonia’s National Day). We climbed all the way to the top by the Jesus statue like in Rio. It was an amazing view of Barcelona and all the surrounding areas from the very tiptop.

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I have also been making an exerted effort to soak up the last of summer… think nighttime gelato dates, AM beach time, and evening park visits. It has been much hotter and more humid thus far in September, than it was in August, helping to extend summer just a bit longer! Schools are all starting if not this last week, tomorrow though so it seems that fall is inevitable.

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Yesterday Damian and I met up with Cass’ and the whole crew and Marta on Avenida Gaudi to eat at our favorite pizzeria; it was Damian’s first time meeting everyone aside from Cass. Lunch was fun and the weather was perfect to sit out on the terrace with everyone. Afterwards, we walked to the Dow Jones Bar for drinks during the FCB game.


Today I ran my third 10k, and in two weeks I will run in the La Merce 10k race, which I am looking forward to! I have recently finished Jess’ Walter’s Beautiful Ruins, and am now reading Emily Giffin’s Love the One You’re With. Beautiful Ruins was a much more intriguing, expertly interwoven story than I had expected; definitely recommend! Cass moves out of the apartment on Tuesday, while I technically have until the end of the month to move all of my things into Damian’s. Times are a changin’ folks. Damian and my one-year anniversary is right around the corner… crazy! I am hoping to do some day trips and weekend trips in the next month, namely to Girona, Figueres, Cadaqués, and Valencia; hopefully time and money allow. Until next time…

english progress :)
  english progress 🙂

You’re My Person.

“I literally have to remind myself all the time, that being afraid of things going wrong isn’t the way to make things go right.” …eek! So true.

Happy Saturday all. This last week has been a solid start to August. This month, as many locals travel to apartments in smaller beach towns in Costa Brava or down south, I am watching Dylan more frequently, whilst Cynthia takes an intensive Spanish course. The lil guy turns two on the twentieth and I am looking forward to finding a cute lil babe gift to help ring in his big day! As usual he is a wonderful baby; his mom, Cynthia, is expecting to have another baby boy and is due in late November.


Aside from Dylan, workwise, I have also been doing one-on-one English lessons with Jesús, the adorable, retired Catalan man (from my old intercambio at the library) who also lives in Gracía. In loose terms, Jesús has become like my Catalan grandpa here in Barcelona. He is a gem of a guy and has so graciously invited me to visit his family’s apartment down in Torredembarra for a couple days in the upcoming weeks. Torredembarra happens to be just 12 km from Tarragona, so there is talk of going there as well, considering I have never been.

The third and final tier of my work life currently consists of a social media position with a prominent Barcelona nightlife promoter named Aashi. So far I have created his brand Instagram account, as well as two WordPress blog sites set up to serve his purposes. So now on a day-to-day basis, I update/maintain his Instagram and Twitter accounts, and continue to make progress on said blogs and traditional Facebook posts. I like the job so far… It kind of makes me wish I had studied marketing in college. Regardless, makes me wonder if I could see myself doing more (career-wise) with social media. We’ll see!

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On the non-work front, I spent last Sunday at Damian’s house, celebrating Sergio’s birthday. It was a fun day filled with their family and friends; April and I had made a double-decker bizcocho cake topped with dulce de leche, the Obispo boys’ favorite.

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Cass and Brenden have been in southern Spain this whole week. They flew from El Prat down to Granada, and have since been in Cordoba and Sevilla. I am looking forward to their return tomorrow and getting to hear all about their trip! This last Thursday evening, I met Damian down at Barceloneta beach for the free cinema series (Cinema Lliure). Every Thursday and Friday night in July and August, a substantial patch of Barceloneta beach hosts a free screening of a selection of international, alterative films. I picked this last Thursday because it was the only film title I recognized in the line up, and one I happened to be dying to see: Frances Ha. Weather-wise, we got a perfectly clear summer night. Subtitled in Spanish, the movie ended up being highly entertaining and witty.



Today I started off my day at Bogatell beach and finished reading Water for Elephants. Now I’ve started Henry James’ Daisy Miller. I am excited for the upcoming annual neighborhood festival of Gracía, which officially starts on the fifteenth. I am also looking forward to the challenge of firstly, deciding which graduate school entrance exam I am going to take, and secondly, studying my bootie off in preparation for said test. That is on the fall agenda!