Friday, October 2, 2009

Oh stress.

So much has been happening in my life, it is ridiculous.

For starters, I have always wanted a puppy for as long as I can remember. So, my parents finally caved and gave me Lucy on my 22nd birthday this year! It was a huge deal, and I am pretty much in love with every move she makes. She is a cute little black shih-tzu, with the most adorable, fun, and playful personality. I really couldn't ask for a better pup! The ONLY downside is that we have had trouble potty training her. I didn't want to be one of those people who lets their dogs pee on pads all around the house. Who wants to look at those nasty used pee/poop pads, and moreso, who wants to smell them? Not me. So we've been trying to take her out as much as possible, however, she is not always compliant. Recently, we caught her sneaking off to another side of the house, pooping, then proceeding to eat the poop. Personally, the thought of this makes me vom a little in my mouth, so we were instantly proactive in fixing the ish (Issue, abbreviated. Iss just didn't make as much sense), and here we are, a few days later, and she has yet to poop in the house OR eat it. Woo hoo! Just a little word of caution: She's the cutest dog in the world, but if you let her lick your face (which I still do. Gross, I know.) just know where that mouth has been, and what else has been in that mouth.

Moving right along. I started school at the end of August, and holy crap. I don't remember the last time I was so busy. My schedule is insanely packed every single day, and for some reason, I even manage to pack my off-days just as much. The first few weeks were utter mayhem. I am taking General Medsurg (Adult), Pathophysiology, and Intermediate Spanish I. I really wanted to continue learning Spanish, and I thought it would be easier to make time for it, but I totally underestimated how much outside-class work there would be. We literally have homework every day, and I don't have the time or energy to do it! So I'm sorry to say that I either have to settle for a lower grade (Probably a low B, if I'm lucky), or I might just have to discontinue next semester. Which is a total bummer for me. I really love Spanish, mostly the culture, but the language reminds me of Spain (Obv), so I love the language. Ya know? It makes sense to me, anyway. So that said, I am so busy because Medsurg is seriously taking over my life. We have homework due for every class, and we have three exams in 8 weeks. It's a huge stressor for me because I have always been a slower learner when it comes to sciences and concepts. I mean, things REALLY don't make sense to me unless I hear it in Layman's terms. Even then, I have to hear it like 5 times in order to really understand it. I get so frustrated because I feel like I have to study a zillion times more than everyone else, just to get the lowest possible passing grade. I don't even know if I got the passing grade on the first exam, which only raises the pressure for the next two exams.

Another thing that has been a huge weight is my medical issues. I've been having tests done to see what the heck is up with my stomach issues, which involve everything from gastric reflux to severe stomach pains to digestion issues (I'll spare you the details). And although I've had three surgeries that have most likely caused some of them, the scar tissue isn't as bad as I expected, and they still have no answers as to why I am having all these issues. I recently had both and Colonoscopy and Endoscopy done, and the results came up with nothing. On one hand, I was totally relieved that I don't have any weird tumors or ulcers, but on the other hand, what IS wrong? I think it's frustrating for my doctor, too, because now I have all these symptoms and no where to point them. I was in the ER last week for stomach pains so severe that I was doubled over and having a really hard time breathing. I was honestly terrified that I was dying, and demanded that the nurse hurry up and give me morphine just so I could get in a comfortable position. I am just praying that we will figure out what's wrong so I can take care of the ish, hopefully with just medications. It's just frustrating.

Another huge burden is my financial issues. I will never regret spending money in Spain, no matter how deep I dig into debt, but I am having a hard time trying to figure out all these financial things that is involved with an average college student. I work a part time job at a kids clothing store, I babysit occasionally, and I give my parents pretty much ALL of my money (They paid off my credit card so that I can pay them. Thank God.). I am trying super hard to pay them back, but at the same time, I'd like a little bit of spending money too. And then I get all frustrated because I want things, not just need things. I want new clothes and books and to go out to eat. I want want want, but I am slowly (but surely, I hope) learning how to just say no. Really, it's something I've never had to do (Only because I've never known how to save. Ever.), but I really need to figure things out so that I can just get out of my debt-hole and start anew. Luckily my parents are totally understandable, and they realize that school takes priority (they don't want to add more stress), so they help out with gas and stuff. It's just one of those things that I wish I had more of. But don't we all?

Bottom line: I am going through a lot right now, but I know that if I just rely on God and do the best I can, I'll get through this. I'll even come out stronger in the end, or so I hope. I truly believe that if God didn't plan for me to be a nurse, I wouldn't have gotten this far. Do you know how much I've gone through to get here? Seriously. I wouldn't have had the extra push to start back again if it hadn't been for God. So, that's basically what I am standing by right now. I just keep thinking, "Ok Kelly, you know it's hard, but you know you're doing the best you can." And then I have to actually do the best I can, or it won't work. I really just have to push myself. My counselor told me some stuff today that really made sense. She told me it seems like I get things done a lot faster, more efficient, etc etc when I have it all planned out. This can go for all things in my life. I mean, I do get more accomplished when I sit and schedule it all out. I just really am going to try to implement it in EVERY area of my life (School, work, sleep, relationships, diets, responsibilities...) and see what happens.

Alright well. That was my complaining for the day. I know it totally seemed like a hugely negative post, but really, I'm not feeling so negative right now. Actually, I am kind of feeling like I am strong, being able to have all of this weighing on me, but still making it out alive. But I guess I haven't yet succeeded in the latter, so we'll see what happens.

Basically, I am really trying to put my trust, faith, and strength in God, knowing that He DOES have a plan for me and He DOES want me to be all that I can be. So I just gotta do it.

Here I go.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Truly Madly Deeply

I miss Spain an incredible amount. When we first left, I was one of the only ones who wasn't counting down to our departure. It seemed that everyone had some reason to come home: a boyfriend, school, best friend, family, etc. I had 3/4 of those to come home to, as well, however, I did not want to. I was contemplating not coming home at all. But I didn't know what I would have done, had I not. I didn't want to start school again (especially 6 days after I got home), but if I didn't, I wouldn't have known what else I would do.

So here's the deal: I have this deep hurt in my body when I think about my life in Spain. I get this horrible stomachy pit that just...is so deep. I feel like I belong there. Like I need to get back there. I feel so...lost without Barcelona. It's such a bizarre feeling because as much as I was looking forward to going there, I didn't expect to fall so hard. I guess I can't even put my finger on what I miss about it...I miss everything. I miss my life, my friends, my school (but not the classmates. Haha). It has just been really hard being home and jumping back into life here. I know I have to stay here for 2 years, due to school, but I am really really trying to find a way to go back. Should I take time off and teach English? Should I try to go next summer? What do I do to "quench my thirst," if you will. I have this huge emptiness, and I know it will be filled by going back to my second home.

Spain. How I miss you so.

I have really been thinking about what to do with my life. Now that I am back in nursing, I know I made the right decision. I love nursing and everything about it (ok, by everything, I do not mean all the hard work in school. Yuck.), but going back has made me realize that I truly should be doing nursing. Anywho, I have all kinds of ideas. I was thinking about doing a missions trip next summer. I need to be back for Camp Quality, in July, but I was looking at a month-long trip to Swaziland. I have also thought of maybe joining the Peace Corps after I get out of school. As much as I love nursing and know it's what I should do, I am in no rush to get a job as a nurse right away. I just have this itch to travel, and I need to do it. I also have been praying a lot about missions, and I really feel that is one area that God has been calling me my whole life. Then, after all of that, I'm going to be a nurse in Pediatric Oncology.

That said, I am going to dream about Barcelona. I am probably going to cry, in the process. I really, truly, deeply (Truly madly deeply? Savage Garden.) miss it, and I have this very very special place in my heart for Spain.

Please, send me back.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

School is almost done!!

School is almost up, and time has really flown. I can't believe I'm already done with 6 weeks of class! This time around has been the best. I have been working much harder, and I have learned so much more than I ever did in nursing. I was struggling with whether I should still continue nursing, if I should pick something else, I don't know. But now, jumping right back into nursing, I know this is the right thing for me. I really love taking care of patients, and I think I have a knack for it. It was always frustrating that I was really good at the patient care, but really bad in the classes. But lately I've been really trying hard, studying so much more, and paying more attention in class. For once in my life, I actually feel like I understand the stuff. This is a big thing for me.

It's also pretty crazy how much of a difference a good instructor/teacher/leader can make. I thought last summer was pretty bad last summer, but now that I have an incredible clinical instructor, I am realizing more and more how bad it really was. I won't go into detail because I am trying to repress the memories of last summer. Haha. But, my instructor this year is so helpful. If we make a mistake, she doesn't yell at us or punish us, but she corrects us and teaches us how to do the job. She also gives us little tips on how to work harder, do the job better, more efficient, etc. My instructor last year never did that. She didn't trust us enough to do anything we were supposed to be doing, and she would yell at us for making mistakes. I think a good teacher will let you know what you did wrong, but help you fix your problems so that you can know. I mean, isn't that common sense? Apparently not every instructor knows that. Anywho, having an awesome instructor makes all the difference in the world. I get excited to go to the hospital. I look forward to learning new skills. Basically, having the best instructor has completely changed my outlook on everything, and I am grateful for that. I've always been so frustrated that nursing school is hard for me, but now I know that it's okay, I just have to work harder. I think my going through this, struggling through this, but not giving up, just shows that I want this. And I won't stop til I get it.

On another note. I hung out with some girls from my new class on Friday. It was really fun, and I really enjoyed hanging out with them and getting to know them. I have made some really great friends so far, and am glad they have all welcomed me into their class. It's hard having new people in your class after being a close-knit group for two years, but they really have just opened up and let me in. I am so happy about that because it has made the change that much easier for me.

I have been soo busy and exhausted. It's pretty normal for me to go to bed at 10pm now, which is bizarre since I am a complete insomniac. I have also been scrapbooking my Barcelona stuff, and it's so much harder than it seems. I want it to be really great, but I just don't really know how to go about that. Last night, I went to Country Jam with Christa, and we had a blast. I am opening up more and more to country music, and I think it's safe to say that I am now a country fan. I never listened to country ever, but now it's the first station I go to when I turn on the radio. Oops. :)

I am really looking forward to the rest of the summer. The day after school is out, I'm flying to Boston for my brother's friends' wedding. Then, I am going to NYC for a few days. I really miss Kev and am excited to spend a few days with him. I haven't seen him since Christmas! :( I wish he lived closer, or at least came home more often. After I get home from NYC, I leave for Camp Quality just two days later. Holy crap, do you know how excited I am for Camp? It's honestly the highlight of my summer, and I am really excited!!

Sidenote: If anyone is interested in volunteering for Camp Quality July 11-18 (in Akron, Ohio), please let me know! We are always in need of more companions, and are desperately in need of MALE companions. Please please please let me know :)

As nice as this summer has been, and as warm as Ohio is right now (surprisingly), I miss Spain. I think part of my heart is still there, and I would have no problem going back to live someday. I really just have this huge passion for traveling and exploring, and I am sad that it might be awhile before I can do that again. Speaking of which, I need a job. Bad. I've applied for about 20 jobs, no joke, and have not gotten any responses. I'm frustrated because I feel bad spending my parents' money, but I am in school, so my schedule is really limited. I just really don't know what to do about that. I owe my parents money, which I feel awful about because they don't really have the money to help me, and I have a huge credit card bill. Crap.

On that note, I'ma go scrapbook and think about how Camp is SO soon!!! I can't wait:)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Forever...

So, I've been home from Spain for exactly three weeks now. Man, it really does feel like a dream. But I am having a really great time with my family, friends, and am attempting another shot at nursing school. So far, everything is going well.

Lately, I've been really thinking that I am ready to date again. It's been about a year and a half since my last real relationship, and I feel like I'm ready to ease back into the world of 20 somethings. It's really funny because when I was growing up, I always assumed that I would find someone at college, get engaged by Senior year, and then get married the summer after...That would have put me at 23 years. YEAH RIGHT. Let's just say, I am turning 22 this summer and am no where near ready to get married. I don't even have any options, let's be honest. I have always been on the prowl, and pretty boy crazy (How pathetic does that make me sound?), but I have only had one serious relationship. It ended so badly that I really did need this last year + to put my life back together...and also to put my heart back together (cheesy, but true).  So here I am, ready to date again, no one to date...But. I am in no rush. I am perfectly okay with being single. In fact, it's an awesome feeling to be able to do whatever I want, whenever I want.

The problem is that I am terrified that I will marry the wrong person. I mean, I have definitely lucked out by having two parents that are still together, let alone still LOVE each other. But sadly, that is pretty uncommon these days. Quite a few of my friends' parents are divorced, and the some that are still together don't have a good relationship. I have always been really scared of divorce, but my parents have always offered the encouragement that they are in it for the long run. Marriage is not something to take lightly, and it makes me feel awful when I see people who just give up when things get hard. 

Take Jon and Kate Gosslein for example.  I have watched their show on TLC since day one, seen the kids grow up, and see their relationship go from okay, to bad, to worse...Now, it seems like they are just accepting that their marriage has gone sour and giving up. I know it's silly, considering I don't even know them personally, but after all these years of watching,  I feel like I do. The part that breaks my heart is that they keep saying they will do anything it takes to make their children happy or to be there for the kids, but are not even acknowledging how their separation would affect the kids.  At the beginning of the show, they were the perfect team: Always helping each other, embracing each other...But as the show has gone on, their difficulties have become quite apparent.  I watched the season premiere last night, and was so heartbroken by the fact that they  were not even acknowledging if they were going to work on their marriage.  They were faced with a huge conflict (A rumor that Jon had cheated), and instead of taking time off to work past this, they are letting the media and gossip to get the best of them. They are giving up.

Why is it the first instinct to give up when things get hard? What if I end up with someone who seems like the perfect guy, but then when something takes us by surprise, good or bad, they decide to give up on me? They (who is "they" anyway?) always say that you will know when you meet that person. As of now, I don't think I have met that person. But seeing so many broken relationships and failed marriages doesn't exactly help me look forward to my future. I guess I just feel so two-sided about it: On one hand, I am totally excited to see who God has in store for me. Do I already know him? If not, where will I meet him? Will I know right away or will he be a friend that turns into someone I love? On the other hand, what if I think he's the right one (like I thought of my ex), but he turns out to just break my heart all over again? What if we are "perfect" for each other, but then as soon as we are faced with a conflict or something unexpected, he ditches me? Needless to say, I am hoping and praying for the former. But let's be honest: I am in NO rush. When I was little, I would have thought by now I would be in a serious relationship on my way toward the aisle. Now that I am turning 22 in just two months, I realize how young I really am. I have so much ahead of me and as ready as I feel to date again, I am really loving being single right now.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Mi vida en pocas palabras.

So, I'm going to take this time to procrastinate a litttttle longer...you see, I had a 2 page summary paper due on March 31 that I have not yet done. Do you know what the date is today? April 22. Ask me how I've really procrastinated that long, because I'm still not sure.

Lately, one of my key phrases has been "I've been thinking in my head that _____." Now, I am not sure how this phrase came about, seeing as how I've NEVER heard anyone say it before. However, I caught myself the last time I said it (about 3 minutes ago) and thought, "Duh, Kelly. Where else would my thoughts be?" So, I am going to try to not say that so much because all in all, it truly does not make sense.  You do not hear people say, "I've been thinking with one eye closed and my head rested on my hands, which are rested on the table in front of me," so how is this any different? I now announce the pre-retirement (pretirement?) of "I've been thinking in my head." May you rest in peace.

On another note, I wrote this ginormous  (yes, ginormous is a word. Ahem.) journal entry yesterday, during Spanish (not IN Spanish) about this next topic: Me. Now, before you stop reading because you may not be interested in this topic, please know that this is a very important issue, and something that I definitely need to take control of.

I've mentioned before that I have severe body issues. Namely, I hate my body. All of it. When people say "What is one thing you love about your body?" I sit there and think, for at least 10 minutes. Usually my answer is, "My teeth. I like my teeth." And then I think, "Well, I like my teeth because they are straight, but really they are kind of yellow because I haven't used my whitening toothpaste in too long, and now I want to go buy my Arm & Hammer whitening toothpaste. Crap! My teeth really aren't that great!" Or, "My legs. No, scratch that. I like my legs from my ankles to just above my knees. So can I say half my legs? I like half of my legs. But not the top half or the lower half. My thighs are disgusting, and my feet are soo gross, so. I like some parts of the mid-area of my legs." See what I mean? I am well aware that everyone struggles with some sort of body issues. But I am so exhausted from carrying around this burden. My whole life, I have been so self-conscious and have always felt like I am fatter and uglier than all the girls in the world. Then I do mean things, like I feel prettier because I am with a girl who is obviously uglier. Or I feel skinny because I eat less than someone I am eating dinner with. But this is the problem: I should feel pretty because I am pretty. I should feel skinny because I am skinny. I should love myself because I am beautiful. And don't go thinking that I am all conceited, because I am not even thinking about this in an "I'm better than you" kind of way. I simply am saying that what I see is not the way the world sees me. I need to start making myself feel better because no one else should be the judge on how I feel about myself.

Let me set the stage to how this enlightenment came about: Today, I am walking down the street on my way to Spanish class, and I am feeling pretty gross: pmsing, running on no sleep, my hair looks like crap, I have no makeup on, etc. You get the idea. (By the way, guys, with pmsing comes feeling bloated, tired, fat, gross, zits...the ladies know what I am talking about).  I felt so self-conscious on my walk because I was wearing sweatpants that dug in, so my love handles were out and about. If this isn't bad enough, I have a zip-up hoody over my tank top, but it's HOT. So I have to release the handles of love and take off my hoody. As I am walking, I can feel my stomach jiggling about, and this bothers me. I look around to see if anyone else notices. I assume that everyone is staring and talking about the fat girl in the white tank top with the jumbling stomach. But, here's the problem! No one else cares. No one else is looking at me, because guaranteed they are thinking the same thing about something that is wrong with them. So, when I got to my Spanish class, I was determined to feel better, any way I possibly could.  I wrote about 4 pages about how I am so tired of carrying around this burden...I am exhausted from always worrying about what others think when they see me, thinking about my next weight-loss strategy that is most likely to fail, feeling guilty about eating whatever I want, but not doing anything to stop it. I am just...tired. And you know what? Brace yourselves: The ONLY person that can make ME feel better about ME...is me. ME. I am the one that controls myself. I am the one that controls the food I put in my mouth, the clothes I wear that day, and how much sleep I get each night. Digging a little deeper (for the record, I just typed "dipper." Oops): I am the one that should feel good, regardless of how many pounds I've lost or gained. I shouldn't love myself only when I'm skinny, but then hate myself the rest of my life. And let me tell you, people, I have lived my life hating my body. I am just tired. That's all.

So, what am I going to do about it? Well, for starters, I am in Spain for 8 more days. So obviously I am going to live it up. I am not going to care what I eat (or how much), what I look like (but I'm going to look good!), or how much exercise I am (or am not) getting. But when I get home, I am going to change my lifestyle. I'm not going to go on a diet, but I am going to change HOW I eat, which will, in return, change what I eat. I am going to be healthy. I am going to make a conscious effort to raise my self-esteem by complimenting myself. I will be "that girl" who looks in the mirror and says, "Man, your ass looks good!" Because you know what? I deserve it just as much as anyone else. I know that eating is not the way out. But I think it's a good start. I also think I am going to make my best effort to go on a regular sleep schedule.  Do you know how good you feel when you go to bed at a regular time? I feel like an entirely new person! And I'm not going to feel guilty when I do slip up, because that's something that is bound to happen, but I'm not going to let one mistake control my entire mood/feelings. That's basically everything that has been flooding my brain these past few days. For once in my life, I want to be confident in EVERYTHING. Not just my personality.

On that note, I think an important thing to remember is that no one else will truly love me until I can love myself. I know it's cheesy, and we've all grown up hearing it, but it's true. The longer I wait for that special guy to come around, the more I realize what changes I need to make in myself.

And that's all folks. Now, I am really cracking down because I am currently 23 days late on my 2  page chapter summary, on a book that actually has a summary at the end of the chapter. Ahem. Call me a slacker, I can handle it.

Hasta luego!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Live high. Live righteously.

So I am sitting here in my apartment all by myself. I can't remember the last time I was here completely alone...Maybe never? Anywho, I am taking advantage of this. Sometimes I just really need some "Me" time. So yesterday, after taking my sister and John to the airport (I'll get to that in a bit), I came back and slept for a good three hours. My apartment was a complete disaster, so I went on a complete cleaning rampage. Now, I am not usually one to clean and organize, but sometimes I just get in the mood. I started with the kitchen. I emptied/filled the dishwasher, scrubbed the counters, and even got rid of old food to make room in my pantry (for whatever reason, my two shelves are always the most full out of all of us. Oops). I then moved on to the family room and closet (weirdly, it's attached to the family room, not in my room). I did laundry and vacuumed. I even made my bed. What the heck, this is completely out of character. But, I think it makes sense because my personality is either way in control or way out of control. I either like everything really clean or really messy. I can either strictly diet or eat everything in sight. I am just this way, which can be really annoying. But anywho, I am proud of myself for cleaning so efficiently. I usually just wait for the cleaning lady to come around, but I think I scared her away last week because she didn't show! Oops.

As I was saying, I am completely taking advantage of being alone in my apartment. I am currently listening to my guilty pleasure, Taylor Swift, and singing at the top of my lungs. I cannot do this often, or at all, as my roommates do NOT like country, and probably do not appreciate my singing. My neighbors probably do not appreciate this either, but it's a holiday and I do what I want. :) This is the first time in 21 years that I have been alone on Easter. It's weird because I remember being little and going over to my grandparents house (Mom's side) and spending the day with them. First we'd wake up and get all snazzy for church (I always wore flowered dresses and stupid hats. Mom, what were you thinking?). After church, we would get our Easter baskets (the highlight of my life), and then go to my grandparents house for ham, cheesy potatoes, green bean casserole, rolls...My mouth is watering. My grandma always hid those plastic eggs for us, filled with jelly beans and money. Although my mom's side of the family is small, we always made the best out of our holidays. I loved going to their house. 

Anywho, it's my first Easter not being with family, and although I knew it was coming, it's still such an odd feeling. I woke up at 1:30 in the afternoon. It was lovely, I promise. I watched a movie on my computer, ate (duh), and painted my nails. Now I am just sitting here, planning on writing in my journal and reading some Bible. I really miss my family today, though. I have explained many times that I love it here. I love living in Spain and traveling so much. I would absolutely move here and build a life here, but I could not be away from my parents and siblings. Really, they are my very best friends, and life would be perfect if they could all move here with me. That's really the only thing holding me back from just up and moving. All along I have told them that I miss home only for them, but I do not miss Ohio. I do not miss Capital. I do not miss my life at home. It's odd because I think a lot of people are homesick right now, and aside from my family, I am not. Ok, I lied. There are a few friends that I miss terribly, but that's obvious. If everyone I loved could move here, I would be the happiest girl alive.

On that note, I had the best Spring Break I have ever had. For starters, my good friend for half of my life came to Spain to visit. He is studying in Italy, and I went to see him in February. It was his turn to come to come see my home. I showed him around Barcelona, and I felt bad because I still had class and HAD to go. But he is very independent and had no problem walking around and seeing all the sights on his map. We decided to take a day trip to Alicante, as I always heard it was a beautiful beach town on the shore of the Mediterranean. We flew out at 7:15am that Friday, and spent over 12 hours exploring the city. It was really fun because the city was a complete mystery to us. We knew NOTHING about it, and just walked the entire city.

The first thing we did was grab a cafe con leche (He drank cappuccino. Not as good. Haha.) and pastry (Have I mentioned how good European pastries are?!). We then climbed a mountain. .


Ok, maybe it was more like a really big hill. But I like to think it was a mountain. It had a huge ancient castle on top, and our goal was to make it to the very tippy top.

The climb actually didn't take as long as we thought, but we were SO exhausted by the time we reached the top.


The view was incredible, and it was still early, so the sun wasn't beating down on us quite yet.


Although there was not much to the "castle," it was the first one I've been to in Europe! So it was still pretty awesome.

After that, we had lunch and laid on the beach. I was not prepared for the weather to be as nice as it was (thanks to weather.com being wrong), so I did not pack a bathing suit. Good thing for me, I happened to wear a matching bra and underwear, so I did not hesitate to get down to them. I mean, my undies cover more than my bathing suit, and I think I lost any reason to be shy when I went topless for 10 minutes in Cadiz (see previous post). Anywho, we were not prepared for boredom, but we had already conquered the city in about a half day. We stumbled upon the bull-fighting museum, and although very cool, we saw the entire thing in approximately 19 minutes. 

The city was beautiful and I really did like it. We decided to end our day trip with Indian tea and a hookah.


The next morning, I went to the airport to pick up my sister and her boyfriend John! We have been planning a trip for them for about three months, and time FLEW. I was so excited to see them! The general plan was to spend the first day exploring Barcelona. I wanted to keep them awake so they could quickly get used to the six hour time difference. They saw my apartment and got ready. We walked around La Rambla (complete tourist trap) and the Gothic Quarters. 

The funny thing is that Jayme and I, of all people, were not allowed into the cathedral thanks to our dresses being "too short." Well, let me tell you, I had boots up to my knees and about an inch of leg showing, but apparently that is too much. It was embarrassing being turned away! But we laughed about it. We were starving, so we stopped at the first place we found, which was, funny enough, and Italian pizza place. I HAD to introduce them to European pizza, as it is like nothing else you've ever put in your mouth.

The irony was that this was their first meal in Spain...Italian...and our waitress was from the Phillipines. Also, the radio played cheesy [American] 80s songs all throughout lunch. Spain has yet to bore me.

That night, all four of us (Taso was still here) went to Font Magica, which is a really cool light/fountain show. 


It is at the base of Montjuic, and has a gorgeous view of the city. 

We had tapas and gelato that night. I had to introduce them to the gloriousness of gelato. Aka, get them addicted like me. The next morning, we were off to the airport. 
Taso's flight back to Italy was at 3pm, and ours was, I thought, at 2pm. However, when we got there, I realized our flight was NOT at 3, but was at 5pm. So we were 4 hours early for our flight. Oops? It was way early, but kind of nice because we could just take our time. And duh, get some airport shopping in. This is a must, and probably one of the biggest reasons my credit card bills are so high. We got into Madrid at around 7 and went straight to our hostel. (Sidenote: We did not go directly to our hostel, as Jayme left her new camera on a bench at the airport metro. So, after realizing this, we had to go all the way back to the airport, only to find that her camera is long gone. It was her 5th camera in about 4 years, which might just be a world record. Sorry, Jaym.) Our hostel was sort of in the ghetto, or so we assumed was the ghetto. Turns out all of Madrid is ghetto at night, but that's another topic. Luckily, Jayme brought a Madrid travel book, which we relied on the entire time. Our first meal was at a place called Do Salmon, and it turned out to be delicious.

We had seafood and house wine (sidenote: a bottle of house wine in Spain is about 5euro, on avaerage. So we did a LOT of wine-drinking). Although a cheap meal, it was one of our favorites all week.

The next morning, we woke up early and had some issues with our hostel. The breakfast was a long wait and...terrible. Who wants to wait an hour for half-toasted bread and plain cereal with warm milk? Anywho, we finally made it to the Palace. Which was...incredible.

It took about two hours to tour through the entire thing, and it was soo beautiful. It was definitely the highlight of Madrid. We also went to the cathedral attached to the palace.

We lucked out with beautiful weather and a nice, laid-back day. We made our way to this really cute park, that reminded us of Alice in Wonderland.

We were really frustrated because, as I have mentioned before, traditional Spaniards really take advantage of their siesta. A lot of restaurants and stores do not open up until 9 or 10pm, and when you tour and sight-see all day, you don't want to wait that long to eat. So, after a frustrating search for food, we finally found a decent, but overpriced, restaurant.

I got cod (right?) with two sauces, potatoes, and veggies. I think it was my first real seafood since I've been here, which is odd because I live on the coast. 

Anywho, we were not huge fans of Madrid. It turned out to be kind of dirty and too...big-city for us. I mean, I love big cities, but there was just something, that I cannot place, that I did not like about it. We were in agreement that since it is the capital of Spain, you cannot miss it. However, it really is a one-time visit kind of place.

Next morning, we were off to Valencia. Now this was our kind of city. It is the third largest city in Spain, but you would never know it. It felt small-town and comfortable. It was chock full of history and our hostel was in the middle of the historical part of town. 

All the buildings were old and beautiful, and it was an easy city to get around. Our favorite part of the entire trip was going to the Catedral de Valencia.

which is centuries old and houses the alleged Holy Chalice...The Holy Grail that Jesus used at the Last Supper.

It was such an amazing experience, and I cannot even describe how I felt. I sat and looked at it for a good 15 minutes, and I really was just in awe. First of all, growing up in Ohio of all places, I am not used to seeing such history. Our history dates back to what, 1774? Ok, 1492 with a huge missing chunk in between. Seeing all these historical things in Europe makes me realize that what we've learned and the stories we have heard are not JUST stories. It's just a really bizarre feeling. Anyway, I know the Bible is factual and not just stories, but I still have always thought of them as stories. Seeing the [alleged] cup that Jesus actually used was just...indescribable. It solidified all these feelings that Jesus was real and the Bible is true. It's just something everyone should experience. Really.

The cathedral might have been the coolest thing I've been to yet. Actually, I can pretty much guarantee it is the coolest thing I've seen. As I said before, we loved Valencia, but the weather was AWFUL. It was pouring rain and thunderstorming (yep, that's a word) for the majority of the day. We were exhausted and although loved the city, we had a hard time truckin. So we had a "snap," as Taso would call it, and got some energy for dinner.

Valencia is the home of paella, so we were so pumped about trying it in the homeland!

We got chicken & rabbit paella, and it was pretty fantastic.

And I took them to their first Flamenco show. I was really excited to show them Flamenco. We went to this cute bar and it was really laid-back and casual.

The guys were so talented and the music was awesome.

We woke up super early to go back to the airport in the morning, but unfortunately I, once again, was wrong about your flight time. I thought it was at 7:10...but it wasn't until 10:40. Oops? So, for the second time in three days, we were hanging out at the airport. Luckily Jaym and I are really good airport shoppers, and we are now proud owners of awesome perfume (I got Versace), and really good lip gloss.

We got to Barcelona around 11:30 and the weather was awful. It was Jayme's 25th birthday (old hag), and we really needed a day to chill out (a day of rest, if you will). So, while John slept, Jayme and I did some birthday shopping. Is it bad that I bought more than she did, for HER birthday? Oops. So, got all dressed up and went out that night to a great Mexican place called Mex&Cal.

We had strawberry margaritas! Which were wonderful. However, we are convinced that our service was awful since we're Americans. This was just the first of many examples. It took us about 2 and a half hours to get dinner and pay. Luckily, the waiter won us back by giving us free shots (taking one with us) and kissing Jaym on the cheek for her birthday.

I HAD to introduce them to a bar called Chupitos (it means "Shots" in Spanish). They have hundreds of fun shots to choose from, and we tried about six different ones that night.

First, we tried the Willy Wonka, which suited us because we had been watching that movie that day. It was made with Baileys and you had to drink the shot and then eat the chocolate. Oh my gosh. You don't even know how delicious this was.

My favorite was the Harry Potter. It was some sort of alcohol mixture with sugar and oranges. They set it on fire and sprinkled cinnamon and sugar on it to make it glitter, like magic powder. The fact that I am Harry Potter-obsessed really enforced how much I enjoyed this shot. We tried a few others, including some really bad ones. Overall, we had a really good time and Jayme had a great birthday!

Earlier that day, John and I had set out to find Jaym flowers. We couldn't find a flower shop (weird right?), but we DID find an amazing bakery and chocolate store. We found her this awesome cake that was like...whipped cream-ish, with raspberries and cake layers. It was incredible.

She finished it for breakfast the next morning. There is nothing like cake for breakfast. :)

The next day, we walked around the city and actually got into the Cathedral de Barcelona this time. We were blessed with a beautiful and sunny day. There was this cool craft and antique fair outside the church (since it was the day before Good Friday), so we dawdled around and bought presents for people. We also had pizza for lunch. I am telling you, I could eat it every single day. It is AWESOME.

We had plans to make a picnic for lunch the next day, so I showed them La Bouqeria, which is something you cannot miss.

It was soo crowded, but we got fresh fruits, veggies, cheese, olives, and bread for our picnic! Us Doyle sisters LOVE food.

That night, we were exhausted and didn't feel like getting all dressed up for dinner. After a major shopping spree (H&M and TopShop anyone? John gets an H&M discount, so we could not resist.), we went to the Hard Rock Cafe. It's kind of a running joke and tradition for our family to eat there. Although a very cheesy setting, it is also very fun and something you HAVE to do. 

We ate so much food, and basically wanted to die afterward. I was honestly considering taking a cab the half-mile back to my apartment. Haha. Although American food is good and it was nice to eat it again, I now understand why the "trend" has not caught on in Spain. Americans eat WAY too much, and WAY too poorly. I mean, the portions were so much bigger than anywhere else I've eaten in Spain. It's actually really sad.

So, the next day was Good Friday and most things in Spain were closed. Basically, the touristy places were the only things open. I didn't even think of this until halfway through the week, so we saved the things that we knew were free and would be open. We woke up a little late, as I forgot to set my alarm (Sorry Jaym!), and we headed out to Gaudi's Park Guell. Originally, the plan was to walk the hour and half to the park, but it was cold and rainy (Ugh), so we decided to metro it. We packed our picnic and it was delicious. We walked around the park for about two hours and it was really cool.


It looks like something straight out of a Christmas movie about gingerbread men.


We even got to take a tour inside the house Gaudi lived in.

After the park (it pretty much stopped raining by then), we went to Sagrada Familia. Jaym was kind of indifferent at first, but I told her that you cannot come to Barcelona and NOT see it.

After seeing it, she was very glad I convinced her to see it. It's beautiful and both sides are so well-done, but different. It's crazy to think that the same person designed both sides.

We went back to my apartment and they had to pack. The week seemed so long, but yet went by so fast. Too fast. Before she left, she needed to cut my hair, but she forgot her scissors. All I had were those scissors from elementary school with the plastic handle. It still said "Kelly Doyle" in my mom's handwriting. :)

She cut my hair, my first in over three months (it was MUCH needed), on my little balcony. I'm pretty sure it is the best cut she's ever given me. How weird is that?

We got all dressed up and ready to go out for our last night. We took a cab down to the port and had dinner at a small seafood restaurant. Here, we had our last pitcher(s) of Sangria.

And we decided to have paella again. This time, we got seafood paella.

And it was actually better than in Valencia. Which is so odd, considering Valencia is where it comes from. We also went out for shots, once more, at Chupitos. Who can resist the fun 2euro shots?

First, we got the Boy Scout.

You roast a marshmallow and dip it into the alcohol. Then, you drink the shot and eat the marshmallow. Ok, it's delicious.

I have no idea what this one is called, but they set it on fire. Then, you drink the shot in the middle and they hold the smoke in the cup. After drinking, you inhale the smoke with a straw. It was gross and made me cough a lot.

Next, we did a shot called "Fantasma," which was kind of fruity but mint.

So, you swish it around in your mouth for 10 seconds, swallow, then breathe in deeply. Let me tell you, I about spit it out. It was like mouthwash, but worse.

Lastly, we did a Pop Rocks shot. You put the Pop Rocks in your mouth and then take the shot. You swish it around in your mouth and close your ears (I look like a monkey). It was fun to feel it poppin' around in my mouth, but did NOT taste good. I was done after this.

The next morning, I went to Jayme and John to the airport. It was really hard saying goodbye, and I didn't want them to leave me.


It's weird because I always thought we would not travel well together, but we actually (and surprisingly) had an awesome week. The only times we "fought" were pretty much in the mornings, when I am at my worst. Also, we were both really good about apologizing and being understanding. Honestly, we got along better than we ever have before, and it is safe to say that this trip definitely brought us a lot closer. At first, I was worried about being the third wheel with her and John, but we never had that problem at all. They were really good about not leaving me out, and I was really happy to show them around "my" city. Also, I was trying really hard to be a good tour guide. It was frustrating when things did not go the way I had planned because I wanted them to have the best trip. I think it's both a flaw and a positive quality in me. I feel it is my responsibility to make sure that everyone is having a good time, and I get really upset when something doesn't go right. I definitely get that from my mom. And although I know it is a good quality, it can also stop me from having a good time. Needless to say, being a tour guide is much more difficult than I thought, but Jayme and John claim that I was a good one. So, I'm glad they had a good trip!

Well, my fingers and brain are in pain from all this story-telling. I think I am going to have more "me" time tonight. Since it is Easter, afterall, I am going to read some Bible stories about that big guy upstairs, and possibly journal. However, it is hard to motivate myself to journal when I blog, as well. Oh well, it's a nice way to talk about the things I hide from you guys. :)

Happy Easter and I can't wait to see you all. Just think, in just over three weeks (wow, SO soon. TOO soon.), you Ohioans will once again be graced with my presence. :)

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I'd like to start this blog post with the top 3 things I love about my daily life in Barcelona:

1. The metro system makes it so easy to get to where I need to be. In a flash. It takes me 15 minutes, tops, to get to my classes at the COACB campus (it's 3 stops in the metro). Although, I also love walking to my classes at Main campus (2 stops on the metro) now that it's sunny and pretty.

2. The vespas are so freaking cute. Whenever I see a girl riding one, I always think, "Now she is badass." I really want a scooter when I get home. Maybe that will be my next big purchase (don't worry, Mom, I'll save up first). EVERYONE drives them. The sidewalks are always filled with these cute little motor scooters. I just want to steal one (preferably the pink ones).

3. The locals are so laid-back. When you eat at a restaurant, they don't rush you. They don't even bring your check unless you ask for it. You could literally sit there for hours, and they would think nothing of it. This is a sharp contrast from the US, where their goal is to get you in and out in record time. I love not feeling rushed and hurried.

Now, I know you are thinking these might be silly things. However, when you walk and see and do things every single day, you tend to notice and appreciate the small things, such as transportation. But you also take note of the negative things...

Top 3 things I despise about my daily life in Barcelona:

1. The dirty, disgusting men that find it necessary to holler, whistle, hiss, and make derogatory comments every time I walk down the street. Now, normally I would be flattered at receiving such attention, but here, it's only because I am [obviously] American. They think that just because I am from the US, they can degrade me by whistling at me. Seriously guys, do you think I am going to turn around and fall madly in love with you because you hissed at me?! Please. It's honestly the most annoying thing about living here. For example: Tonight I was on my way home from the gym. I was dripping with sweat, clad in a hooded sweatshirt (hood up) and work-out pants. Some guy walked past me and literally put his face in mine, and made some comment (I had my iPod in, luckily).  Does he really think that since I am not a local, he can get in my face and say dirty things? Apparently. It's disgusting.

2. Along with being laid-back comes walking slow. If anyone knows me, they know that although I'm cursed with short legs, I walk faster than most. In fact, my roommate gives herself a head-start when we walk to the gym because she knows I will undoubtedly catch up with her. Unfortunately, the locals here like to walk nice and slow, admiring each and every detail of every possibly thing. That's fine, as long as I don't have anywhere to go, but I always do. I get so annoyed when I am stuck behind a row of 5 elderly that walk an inch a minute. As much as I love old people, it would be nice for them to leave a little space for me to pass. Another annoyance is when people crowd the entrances to the metro or staircases. They make it nearly impossible to get around, and all I want to do is just shove on through.

3. I am tired of having to dodge dog poop, spit-wads, and countless pieces of gum when I am using the sidewalk. Honestly, have these people never heard of carrying a plastic bag when walking your dog? And do people know that it is NOT okay to spit in the metro train or inside the restaurant? Sometimes, I really do not think that Spaniards have learned proper etiquette. I know there are many cultural differences, but really. This should be a universal rule: NO SPITTING. Ever. Haha.

Lately I've been having really bad anxiety. I'm not sure what it's from, but it's really annoying and wearing me down. For starters, every time I get on the metro during rush hour (noon and 5 ish), I start thinking, "Oh my gosh, what if someone blows the train up? What if this is it? What if I die here?" and I really just pray so hard that God will protect me. I know that it most likely will NOT happen, but I just start thinking the worst. I'm not joking, this happens at least three times a week. I get so antsy and want to get off the metro, pronto. Another thing that has been really bothering me is taking off/landing on airplanes. I do not mind flying, in fact, I usually enjoy it. But every time we take off and land, I squeeze my eyes shut and start furiously praying that we'll be safe. I know there is nothing at all wrong with praying for protection, but the part that gets to me is the excessive heartbeat, light-headedness (is this a word?) that I feel. I just want it to stop. Lastly, I've had a really difficult time sleeping lately. For about the last three weeks, I have been tossing and turning, unable to fall asleep, stay asleep, and sleep in. Those who know me well know that I take full advantage of naps, sleeping in, laying around, etc. But for some reason, lately I have been laying there for hours. Last night, for example, I didn't fall asleep until 6am, then I woke up at 9am wide-awake. My body hates me. But I think about the dumbest things. I lay there and wish I could fall asleep just so I can wake up, shower, and get ready. I plan what I'm going to wear, do, eat, etc. while I lay there. Then, I just want the morning to come even faster. I don't know if it's excitement from being in Spain, my sister visiting so soon, or just me being anxious, but it's downright annoying. I am so tired, but so restless. I think I might start taking my antidepressants again, or at least try to find some melatonin. I am just exhausted.

That said. I would like to tell a tale of two girls named Kelly and Sara who wanted to take a vacation to the beach. Both girls knew they traveled well together, and they wanted to visit a place where they could lay on the beach all day and do nothing.  So, they found a town called Cadiz, which is located at the bottom tip of Spain (just the tip, to see what it feels like). They were so excited for their romantic getaway, but they knew they were doomed as soon as they stepped on the bus.  They had only gotten three hours of sleep the night before, but easily settled into the hostel and found the beach.

After taking a dive into el oceano atlantico, they laid out in the sun the entire day. They then returned to the hostel, showered (and mopped, which was a requirement for staying at this hostel), and got ready for dinner. No one explained to them that in southern Spain, they take full advantage of siesta. In Barcelona, everything opens back up around 4 or 5pm, but in Cadiz, restaurants stayed closed until at least 9pm. After asking the worker at the hostel for somewhere to eat, to which she rudely replied, "I can't help you. I am too busy, I have too many things to do." they tried so hard to find somewhere to eat. It took almost an hour of walking to find an open restaurant, called Asia de Cuba, which was 1. empty and 2. neither Asian OR Cuban. Alas, it was the only restaurant open, so they decided to wing it. The ordered patatas fritas, which were soaked in oil, and crepes. Since they were running on little sleep and were upset with the hostel situation, they thought a drink was well-deserved.

Post-dinner, they accidentally walked around the entire city (they are both directionally challenged), but decided to make the most of it by having a photo session.

This is where the story gets even better, but the situation gets worse. You see, they were exhausted and so excited to get a full night of sleep. However, the hostel was extremely loud, due to yelling and music blaring, and they could not even remotely sleep. Then, this creepy man walked into the room and introduced himself as George. George was about 26, tall, and had a full goatee. He was also rolling and smoking joints inside the room. It was just three of them, and after introductions, he asked Sara if people thought she was boring because she looked like an intellectual (her glasses?), and then stated that he liked Americans, particularly dark-skinned (Sara--she's Italian), and blondes (Kelly). He then proceeded to state that he loved Americans because of their open sexuality and tendency to be erotic. He asked the girls if it is indeed true that universities are famous for their mass orgies and sex parties. He also said that he had a lot of experience having erotic and intimate cyber sex with American women from the ages of 18-60.  George then asked Kelly, "Do you have erotic cyber sex with your boyfriend?" Needless to say, this creeped them out like no other. They knew they had to escape the hostel, pronto, and wasted no time in packing up and getting out. Unfortunately, the worker at the front desk was not helpful at all. When they explained the situation, the staff member did not take them seriously and claimed that they should at least stay the one night because he wouldn't let anything happen to them. However, the girls knew that they couldn't possibly get any sleep that night. So they left the hostel and found another one, with a private room, 2 beds, and bath for just 10 euro more. Also, the man at the front desk was the sweetest and cutest old man ever. How helpful he was to let them get a room at almost 1am.

So, after attempting to get a full night's sleep, they woke up and headed straight to the beach. It was another beautiful day and they were so excited to lay there all day, with their baguettes and Diet Coke.
 
Kelly had forgotten her toothbrush, so she bought one that morning and brushed her teeth on the beach.
After the beach, they took a nap and got ready later. They learned their lesson about going out too early the night before.  Sara braided Kelly's hair, and she LOVED it.

They ate at a Mexican restaurant (yes, they know they're in Spain), and ordered delicious nachos and sangria.

The next morning, they attempted to lay in the sun, but it was too cloudy and windy. So they went to the market and almost bought a puppy.

It was only 140 euro, and they were both so tempted to buy it. They resisted, but did not resist any temptation to shop til they dropped. Sara and Kelly are equally bad influences on each other's 1. stomachs, 2. wallets. After spending an absurd amount of money (Kelly bought: 3 shirts, 2 dresses, a jacket, a skirt, a pair of boots, and a bathing suit, among other things), they trekked back to the hostel. They were walking through the plaza that was right next to their hostel when they heard a familiar voice yelling, "Kelly! Sara!" They looked over, only to see their good ol' buddy, George! Sara and Kelly looked at each other, wide-eyed, and booked it back to their hostel. What are the chances? That night, their last night, they made one last visit to the candy store.

They walked to the beach and took romantic pictures in the breathtakingly gorgeous sunset.




After this, they headed to a local Italian restaurant, right on the beach, and had their last dinner of their romantic weekend in Cadiz.



Although it seemed their trip was doomed from the beginning, Sara and Kelly made the most of it, and made fun of every situation that went wrong. They managed to have an amazing weekend getaway, and came back to Barcelona with less money, more clothes, and sun-kissed skin.
The end.

I'll leave you with this video I took at Jason Mraz last week:

video