little sarah Big World

Tag: excitement

What Have You Done for Me Lately?

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Once, Twice, Three Times a Ladies Night

I’m just really stoked on friendships right now, guys. Remember how I was so excited about a platonic Valentine’s Day? And that was BEFORE I knew that there would be chocolate-dipped strawberries. These are good times, Friends.

I guess it’s extra-special for me because I haven’t ever really had a close-knit group of girlfriends. Hell, I’ve only ever been part of a friend group once, and that didn’t pan out. For most of my life I’ve had individual, free-range friends, all members of their own, separate groups. This always made birthdays hell. WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE. Very stressful.

But this birthday was a smooth integration of different friends, old and new, male and female, everyone just getting along, NBD.

Which led to Buttercheese (Stephanie Classic) hosting the platonic V-Day/Lady Pedofyle meeting. With chocolate-dipped strawberries, why not? And salad–she made salad–and mac and cheese. We all sat down to a nice meal together at the big wooden table, then we gave each other chocolate. Then we watched a movie and talked about EVERYTHING. How fucking cool is that?

I’d been feeling for a long time that it was so difficult to make close friends as an adult, because everything had to be an outing, a luncheon. But lately I’ve stumbled into a group of amazing guys and girls who are down to just hang out like there is no tomorrow. Field trip to the liquor store? Thanks, Adam! Wanna go for a run, or a walk, or feed me dinner? Thanks, Eric! Wanna come over tonight because I’m house-sitting for my Moms and just get drunk and talk about relationship troubles like everyone assumes we do? Thanks, Stephanie P. and Kristin and Nicole!

*       *       *

I think it’s easy to get caught up in being a grown-up and depending so much on your significant other or your family, then friendships are reserved for maybe just going out for coffee, or drinks, for a quick and dirty update of each other’s lives, all gossip and drama and anecdotes, before retreating back into the comfort of your small world.

And I think that’s sad. I’ve felt for a long time that quality, low-maintenance, close friendships were crucial to a happy, well-rounded life.

It’s just that now…now I have some of those. And I could not be more grateful. Giddy, really. And isn’t that what this is about? A space to be silly, keep it simple. I think that has been the best birthday gift of all–no easy feat, when you consider the incredible material treasures brought to me from far and wide:

I am feeling much loved lately, is what I’m trying to say.

Also: Thank you.

Happy Birthday to Me!

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The Lessons I Never Learned

Today is my birthday, and that is a happy thing. I am one year older, one year closer to remembering that I can’t have 7 drinks on a Saturday night and feel fine the next day. Right? This is a lesson I will learn, eventually?

Because hangovers are NOT a happy thing, and yet I’ve devoted the past two Sundays almost exclusively to honoring them. Oops.

Today I am 26 years old and not even stressed about it. I’ve been working on embracing confrontation, on standing up for myself and fighting for what I want. So 26 seems promising. I had ridiculously high hopes for 25 (that being my favorite number and all…), and though it was certainly a year of growth, acceptance, and transformation, it was also kind of a lonely shit fest.

My hopes for 26 are more reasonable. It is more about steady change and movement.

I think Lindsey friend said it best when she said “I always think odd years are going to be awesome, but the even years are usually better.” TRUE.

Especially if you put a lot of value into numbers, which I DO.

Today is my birthday, I am 26 years old, and I have received many lovely, thoughtful gifts, chief among them thing homemade e-card from Kevin. All photos were taken by him, in Madrid, and…

…and the panda thing is a reference to Saturday night. Night of the 7 Drinks. Apparently, in a late night international phone call that I do not remember, I drunkenly lamented that I would “never be as cute as a panda bear.”

Aaand then I fell asleep on the phone.

*       *       *

Oh, but that was back when I was still 25, Friends. Today I am 26, which means that last night I only had six drinks, and today I am only a little hung over. Totally different. Totally mature. Totally worth it:

Fifteen Minutes

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Now I Know Why I’ve Never Been to Sundance

I’ve been busy, Friends, trading in my traditional 3-day weekend of baking, reading, running and writing for a new adventure: Sundance. The Sundance Film Festival in Park City, UT, to be specific.

I should clarify, though: no, I am not seeing movies, and celebrity gawking has been minimal (though I did see three different members of Modern Family, separately! That was cool). What I am doing is busking, Friends. I am making money and having my photo taken about a bajillion times per hour. So are my friends:

They even got inteviewed! Check it out here. I didn’t get interviewed, though. At least not in any way that’s shown up on the internet, as far as I can tell. What I did was play viola in the freezing cold, fingers numb, with my friend Eric and Corbin, in shifts. When Eric and I weren’t playing his compositions or Bach or “Mad World,” our friend Corbin was laying down a mean Rachmaninoff. Like this:

The thing is, even though I’ve lived in Utah my whole life, I’ve never been to Sundance. I’ve only seen one Sundance movie AT the festival itself, and that was at the Tower Theater on 9th and 9th. Not Park City. I’ve never experienced the celebrities-meet-quaint-mountain-town madness, and I’ve always wanted to, to be a part of it all. This was one reason for coming home from Spain–to be able to play with Eric at Sundance and claim my fifteen minutes of fame. Haven’t you wondered what that would be like, Friends?

Well, wonder no more–it’s not that great. Park City is not even close to the quaint mountain mining town it once was and currently pretends to be. It is a land where the women wear fur boots and vests with black leggings, and the men wear tech gear, and all the locals are trying to see and be seen by celebrities, thinking they have some special insider status, and all the celebrities are trying to see and be seen by other celebrities and could give a shit about the locals. Also there are a lot of restaurants and art galleries and Sundance volunteers running around in puffy orange vests.

And then there’s us–a scraggly bunch of kids from “The big city” (Salt Lake, Friends), just trying to stay warm and make a few bucks. At the end of longer songs I can’t feel if my fingers are touching the strings or not. To stay warm we walk around, pop into galleries to “admire the art” (read: “sample the free punch and snacks”), and watch greatest hits of the 2002 Winter Olympics on a cow couch (a cowch) at Java Cow, where I ate a Rico burrito that somebody left on the table, having only taken one bite. It was delicious.

Sundance…not so much. Definitely not worth giving up a happy life in Madrid. Ah, well…this is how we learn.

Cross that off my to-do list, and on to the next adventure!

A Night on the Town

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One Thing Leads to Another

It begins with roscón

…roscón to celebrate Día de los Reyes Magos…

…to celebrate Día de los Reyes Magos as a way to say “thank you” to our new Swedish friends. Because they they lent us money on New Year’s Eve, and we want to pay them back. Because we want more than a one-night-friendship-stand. Because we’d been treated to a wonderful Christmas and then a wonderful New Years, courtesy of our international friends, and now it was our turn to treat, damnit.

But we were still nervous when we met up with Fredrik and Sigrid on Thursday to eat roscón and go see the cabalgata; it felt a little like meeting up for a first-second date after a one-night stand. Turns out they felt the same! We shared a good laugh and then got on with our friendship, starting with coffee and roscón.

In Spain, traditionally speaking, January 6th is the big gift-giving day. It’s when the Reyes Magos (the three wise men) come to town, bringing presents for all the good little children. They arrive by way of a big (brand-name-toy-sponsored) parade on Thursday night, and even though its a family-friendly (read: for kids) event, we happily marched our four grown selves over to see what the fuss was about.

Mostly it was about flashy colored lights and twinkles and sparkles and oohs and aahs.

And tons of people. People everywhere, climbing on ladders they’d brought or whatever else, to better see the parade.

I think we enjoyed the crowd-watching more than the actual parade. It was just nuts to see so many people come out, packed like sardines, toting ladders, to see the three kings arrive in town. I think it makes for a way more convincing scenario than the old “Santa will come tonight and sneak down the chimney while you’re sleeping” line. I’ve said it before, Spaniards take their Navidades seriously. I continue to be impressed.

Not wanting the night to end so soon, and eager for a warming drink and a place to sit, we followed Fredrik and Sigrid back to their neighborhood, Chueca.

Chueca is the gay neighborhood of Madrid, but it’s adjoined to the Hipster-type neighborhood. So it’s got the best of both worlds, with lots of cutesy boutiques and modern-looking shops and fancy places to nibble or sip.

…like the San Antón market, which is similar to it’s more famous cousin–the San Miguel market in the center of town–but, you know, trendier. More chic.

…and with a roof-top lounge, where the drinks are nevertheless cheap and the fires are toasty and the conversation turns to books and travel, to favorite films and living abroad. And I was grateful, for new friends, and new old traditions, and a sense of adventure, and wherever the night may lead us. Which in this case was to pizza, in some teeny late-night joint. Then a long walk home for Kevin and I, happy and full and excited about all the possibilities.

And to think–it all started with a simple, sweet, pink parcel. A bit of roscón and three kings, come to town.

Let’s Get Turtles!

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Man, This Alternate Title Thing is Getting Hard I Dunno ‘Let’s Get Turtles’ is Already a Pretty Awesome Title It Refers to a Beloved Book From My Childhood

Yesterday I talked about going to the train station to buy some tickets. I failed to mention that there are turtles in the train station.

There are turtles in the train station here, friends. Turtles. Friends. FRIENDS: there are turtles. In the train station.

I spend 5-10 minutes watching them and freaking out every time I go there. They do this thing where they flutter their little turtle paws in each others faces as a sort of mating dance. Go to Google, search “turtle mating dance,” and you’ll see.

Just don’t search “turtle mating,” because that’s a whole ‘nother ball game.

A Very International New Year

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Puerta del Sol again? YES!

We started the night out at home with a frozen pizza and some whiskey and cokes. Very American, but then Kevin’s roommate Elena invited us to join her, her husband, and their friend in a Romanian-style celebration: a big dinner, followed by little pastries and cookies from a Romanian bakery, and then an apple-caramel-chocolate-whipped cream cake, made by Elena, all while calling non-stop to as many relatives as they could get a hold of back home. Delicious!

“Happy New Year” in Romanian: An Nou Fericit!

Then we had a brief period of sitting in Kevin’s room and drinking while I played on the internet and he drew pictures of me playing on the internet. Weird. Then we headed towards Sol, metro-style.

And then…Sol! We made it! We even sneaked in a bottle of sidra huzzah!

In Spain what you do is you eat twelve grapes at midnight–one for each toll of the bell–and each grape represents a month for the year to come, and also you wish for things like “friendship” or “money.” There wasn’t an easily heard bell or clock or anything, though, so everyone just kind, you know, ate some grapes at midnight. And then we drank our bottle of sidra.

“Happy New Year” in Spanish: Feliz Año Nuevo!

Also in Sol we met some Swedes, and what started out as small talk turned into an invitation to join them for a night on the town! New friends excitement yesss! Pictured (L to R): Kevin, Sofia, Frederick, Sigrid, and Alex in a bar near plaza Santa Ana. We stopped there for drinks because we all wanted to keep hanging out and enjoying each others’ company, but Kevin and I couldn’t afford the entry fee for a nearby club, having foolishly left all but 20€ back at home. We thought that we’d just go to Sol by ourselves, get a drink by ourselves, and then catch the metro home. We were wrong!

And then guess what else?! Our new friends lent us money to get into the club, which is so kind. Like, embarrassingly kind. And we were so glad they did, because inside the club was like a party wonderland, and we got little gift bags with paper face masks and noise-makers and what-have-you, and then we danced to songs from Grease, and they knew all the words and we all laughed and drank and danced until 4 am and made plans to meet up to celebrate Reyes on Friday. Success.

“Happy New Year” in Swedish: Gott Nytt År!

In the end, Kevin and I walked home together, turning in somewhere around 5 am? Then today we slept in, hung around, ate crap at McDonald’s (best hangover cure), went to a movie, had chocolate and churros, walked around the center, and then came home. A very Happy New Year.

Ya Regreso

That means “be right back” in Spanish. Because sometimes you get invited to spend a family-style Christmas in a small town with friends that you came to know through a string of random events and connections, and it happens so fast that you don’t even have time to post a goodbye to your (dwindling, but) beloved internet Friends.

And then you take an even more surprise, last-minute mini-vacation to Valencia, because Kevin has a spur-of-the-moment desire after realizing how close Valencia is to Tarazona, and Kevin NEVER has spur-of-the-moment…anything. So you go to Valencia for two three days (as easy as changing the bus tickets), and take more pictures than you think you will ever have time to blog, but you promise yourself that you WILL blog them, damnit, because your Friends need you. And you need a sense of purpose.

Because…even though all this makes it sound like and oh-so romantic and whimsical and spontaneous time, what it feels like is a series of snapshots, disconnected moments, good and bad and foolish and simple and new and memories and tired and drinking, confused as ever, all of it thrown together, one piece passing by at a time, and you are trying to live in the moment, but the moment keeps changing to something else, and it is not surreal, it is as real and natural as everyday life, except that you are supposed to go back to your everyday life in Salt Lake City, and you really, really don’t want to, but it makes even less sense to stay, and you have your doubts, and no matter what somebody is going to get hurt, and you still haven’t learned your lessons and you are coping by reading Memoirs of a Geisha all the time, for hours and hours at a time, but you are still not done because it is 499 pages and you are a slow reader.

So…yeah, I need to figure out that next step, is what I’m saying.

More posts to come, naturally.

Wait, Sarah, What Are You Doing in Spain?

– Eating about a tin of olives per day

– Drinking claras and picando things in little bars and cafés

– Forcing Kevin to reorganize his room/buy basic home furnishings

– Suffering tremendous, sharp, stabbing stomach pains (unrelated to olive consumption)

– Getting my sleep cycle all messed up up so that my most awake/alert time is right now, bedtime

– Making facebook pages for Santa, Rudolph, and the rest of the gang with my chicos in Illescas

– Watching YouTube videos

– Getting tear-inducing, almost painful giggles with Kevin every night when we’re supposed to be going to bed

– (Bedtime is not our forte)

– Eating tortilla and hanging out with my compis, just like the old days

– Baking Cookies and drinking wine, just like the old days

– Missing Laura

– Searching for a way to stay

Welcome (Back) to Spain!

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I Didn’t Know It Would Feel Like Home

Well, here I am. Nothing new to report, really, other than being in Spain. Maybe it’s the fact that I lived here for a whole year, or the fact that Kevin’s apartment is just down the block and around the corner from where mine was, but things feel strangely…natural. Comfortable, even, and hardly like being on vacation at all. It just feels like living here.

Except that Kevin lives in a rough part of town…just kidding! But here’s a picture of him on “the gross part of Doctor Esquerdo” from our walk last night. Part of feeling like we were at home was going out and running errands, with me leading the way half the time.

This picture was taken right outside the Corte Inglés in Goya. This was one of the very first spots that Laura took me in Madrid, when I was fresh off the plane, ready to spend 9 months of my life teaching English and living Spanish. It’s funny, how once you get to know a place, you’ll come across places that were once so foreign to you, and they’ve become so commonplace. How when you first arrive, everywhere you go is like an island, a spot you arrive and spend sometime before twisting and winding your way to the next, unrelated spot. But in time you connect the dots, and a full map forms in your mind, and then its funny to look back and think “I had no idea where this was, and now I do.”

Then imagine finding yourself back in this formerly-uncharted but now altogether familiar land, as though almost no time at all had passed, and that’s where I’m at right now.

*       *       *

Went to the faculty dinner last night with Kevin and his coworkers from the high school. It was a warm and fitting welcome (back) to Spain–a big meal, lots of wine, conversation that I understood most (but not all) of, and even some dancing.

It’s good to be back.

Cheers

~OR~

“My Bags Are Packed, I’m Ready to Go”

Except that my bags aren’t packed. But my presents are wrapped! And packaged, stamped, and shipped, in some cases.

I’ve got to say that fleeing the country has done wonders for my productivity. I can’t “put off until tomorrow what can be done today,” because tomorrow I’ll be in Spain, or at least on my way. So I made a list, and I’ve just been plowing through, even tackling things I’ve been putting off for years, like attaching the basket to my bike and mailing copies of photos from high school to old friends.

I even had time for a ladies night at my place last night, which inspired me to clean like I’ve never cleaned before. Honestly, this is the tidiest and most organized my little studio has been since I moved in.

Then tonight I have a concert with Eric and the ensemble, and tomorrow I’m on my way. But I haven’t packed, no. I’ll find the time. Right now, I feel it’s important to enjoy the season and the company of my friends. To make time for cheer.