The End, But Not Really

•February 9, 2021 • Leave a Comment

So as I inch closer and closer to the big 4-0, I have decided that I will continue here, using this blog with this title to chronicle my life, or at least occasionally make public to the entire world the thoughts that are drifting through my brain. I know that typically months pass by without any updates, but as I spend more and more time confined to our home, I thought today would be a good opportunity to write a bit and make myself feel like I have actually been dedicated to this blog. Anyway, here we go.

As I stated, I am starting to feel the onset of 40 coming my way. It’s scary to sit here and think to myself that I still feel like the same person I was ten, twenty, even thirty years ago, yet the fact is, I am more than just an adult, I am a seasoned veteran to the role. I don’t mind turning 40, I just can’t believe I am actually there. As is the case with each and every New Year, I tried to come up with some resolutions that would actually help me feel more accomplished with my life, and with the world still suffering from this damn pandemic, I felt like I should be more serious in trying to attain my goals. As I write this, nine days into the month of February, I’m not sure I am making good on my promises. I suppose here and now is the best spot to review those goals of mine and maybe look for the motivation to move forward with them.

First, before I dive into my goals and aspirations for the year and beyond, I feel like I should touch on my home life a bit and mention the direction in which things are going. That should lead me into my resolutions. We’ll see. First of all, 2021 has started much in the way 2020 ended. While we are not confined indoors, our movements outside are still extremely limited and I don’t see it coming to an end anytime soon. When I look for the positives in all of this, I can gladly say that all this time indoors has brought me closer to my immediate family. We are three, my daughter, my wife, and I, and while some people are seeing their relationships strained by the close proximity, I find myself more and more content to know I am sharing my time with people I love, and watching my daughter grow and become such an interesting person is an experience I would never exchange for another. She goes to school daily, which she loves, and I am thrilled to listen to her stories of the day when she comes home. My wife works from home now, which is a blessing for us, and she and I have started taking morning walks to stretch our legs, get ourselves in a little better shape, and I think get to know one another a little better. My Spanish is still at times awkward at best, but we have been having better, longer conversations and I’d like to think we are becoming closer. I know that sounds odd, as we have been married for almost five years, but I think you can always get to know someone better, no matter how well you already know them.

We do puzzles with my daughter and we started playing Scrabble (in Spanish of course) to pass the time, and while certainly there are times we get bored, overall we have been managing pretty well. We still hold onto the hopes of traveling this summer, but that remains to be seen. We have talked about a trip to Paris, which would be amazing for me and my daughter (my wife has been there before) and I truly enjoy watching my daughter experience new things.

While traveling is not directly one of my resolutions, my long term goal has always been to return permanently to the United States, or at least to live there long enough for my daughter to graduate high school. Given the current social situation in the U.S., I am hesitant to suggest a move, as the economy is tanked and the pandemic is still ravaging the country. Besides all that, socially the country is a mess and I don’t care to expose my daughter or my wife to the rampant racism or homophobia that exists there. Still, my dream of opening a small coffee shop lives on, and of all the things I have attempted and failed at in life, working in a restaurant or food service environment is something I thrived at. I truly enjoyed the atmosphere of my job, even when it was crazy and despite the negative opinion people have of retail work and working with the public, I believe that in general people are good and simply want good service, which I am inclined to offer. I miss the rapport I once had with the customers who came in on daily basis, and while I can certainly tell a few stories of less than enjoyable experiences I had with some, the majority of the customers I interacted with were good people. I want to bring that experience back in the form of my own business. I know my wife shares the dream of being her own boss, although her idea of a coffee shop differs slightly from mine, but I am still confident if we start planning now, we can be successful in the end.

Of course when I talk about owning a business, the first question is always how will I pay for it? Well, I have a few ideas floating about, but the one that is perhaps the biggest longshot but the one I would most like to accomplish is that I would publish a novel (or two or three) and use some of the earnings to fund my business. I know, I know, publishing a novel is tough and publishing one that makes money is even tougher, but so is opening a business. Both are hopes and dreams I have and while I know it is, well, unlikely, I still feel like I have to keep the idea alive in my head so as to have a purpose each and every day.

Of course developing my Spanish is the one constant goal that I can’t really give up on. I seek out new ways to improve all the time, but sometimes I feel like I have reached the top and my brain won’t allow me to progress any further. I listen to my daughter, who improves in both English and Spanish everyday and I envy her little brain. She will soon surpass my ability to speak in Spanish and I can only hope to try to keep up. I know the one true secret is that I need to find ways to speak more and at greater length. I have found a group of Spanish learners online and they encourage one another to speak as much as possible, but I still find myself shying away from conversations with strangers. Yes, of course I speak to my wife, but our conversations are different and she is not my teacher therefore she rarely corrects me. I need to find a platform where I can speak uninterrupted for five to ten minutes at a time. Yes, there are plenty of options available, I just have not been good about following through with it. Hopefully, as I say every year, this year I will make the progress I need to make. We’ll see I suppose.

Instead of writing here I should really be brain storming my potential novel, and while it isn’t very likely that’s what I’ll do this afternoon, I’m leaving you now with that thought in your head. Anyway, I will attempt to write here more often, as it is at least a little bit of the practice I need, but I don’t know how interesting my tales will be. That’s all for now…..until next time.

One More Time….At Least

•October 31, 2020 • Leave a Comment

When I look and see that my last entry was just before my 39th birthday, six months ago, I wonder if I have missed out chronicling my decade in the 30’s. Then I look ahead and realize that six months from now I’ll have to change the name of this blog or start a new one. Forty Years and Counting just doesn’t have the same ring to it. I suppose missing out on the last six months is small potatoes compared to an entire decade, but I still question is I have taken advantage of this blog to the fullest.

Of course I have been spending more time with my Spanish language blogs but that doesn’t really excuse me from abandoning my English speaking life here. Anyway, with only six short months before I hit 40, I thought I would do my best to share some of what’s been going on here in Spain and in my life in general.

As expected, my daughter is growing faster than my wife and I can believe. She talks nonstop in two languages and sometimes I am thankful she doesn’t speak three, as she would never shut up! No, no, seriously, I love listening to her talk whether it’s in Spanish or English. She’s almost four, but here in Spain they start school early and she’s already in her second year of school. She is smart in ways I can not explain and I only hope her curiosity about the world around her never fades.

2020 has been a horrible year for the entire planet and things have constantly gone against us, but I am happy to say my relationship with my wife has remained constant, if not gotten better over these months of difficulty here in Spain and worldwide. The three of us are together at home much more than before, but I thin it serves to strengthen our bonds. Sure, sometimes it is tough and we have to remember that my daughter is still young and she will have her moments.

I miss my family in the United States but we talk as often as we can. I worry about my sister who has had some rough health issues this year, but I know she is strong and will bounce back soon. I wish I could travel to visit everyone, but between the rough economy and the health concerns, especially for my mom, it would not make sense to try to travel now. I am holding out hope that by next fall things will have improved to a point where maybe we can travel, but it is not looking good. Sometimes I fear that I will never find my way bac to the US, but when I watch the news, I realize sadly that the US I left in 2016 is not the same US I want to return to.

Election Day is three days away and I truly fear what may happen, regardless of who wins. It saddens me to think my brother plans to vote for the Republican candidate after all that has happened during the last four years, but I refuse to enter into an argument with him over politics. Sadly, the current political situation in the United States has really divided the country in two, and I fear that was the intention all along. I have had to distance myself from friends and family all due to the situation in Washington, and should the next four years be a repeat of the previous, I feel I will no longer be able to associate myself with them. I certainly don’t want to lose a brother, especially when he has a pregnant wife at home, but I can not accept anyone’s reasoning for voting to re-elect the current administration. I hate that I just have to keep my mouth shut to avoid an argument because this is the same problem we all share when it comes to solving our differences. If we could just discuss our political differences like civilized people we could move head, but the reality is no one wants to scream and shout at one another so we just stay silent.

Enough of that. I realize I haven’t really shared much of anything concrete regarding my life over the last six months, but there truly isn’t a whole lot to share. We’ve had our ups and downs, but thankfully I can say despite all the bad that has transpired this year, we are stronger as a family than ever before.

In six months I am going to hit another milestone. My wife is already 41, so it’s not like it will be anything unusual in our house, but I remember 30 hitting me like punch in the face. I came to many revelations regarding my life and I imagine 40 is going to offer me several more. I never could have imagined being 40, but here it comes, sooner rather than later. I’ll do my best to post a few more entries here before Judgement Day, 2021, but until then, rest assured, things continue moving forward, whether I like it or not. Hopefully we’ll talk more soon. Until then…

It’s Been A While, But Things Need To Be Said

•April 5, 2020 • Leave a Comment

*I know I have been away from this blog for far too long, but that’s not to say I haven’t been chronicling my life.  I’ve just been doing it in Spanish. In any case, I have been holding this all in for a long time and I need to get some of it out, and I need to do it in English.  Here we go.

It’s coming.  It’s been coming for a long time, but it’s almost in sight.  I have wanted to scream it from the hilltops for years now, but I have remained silent, just like so many others.  Perhaps we didn’t want to see it, or perhaps we thought if we ignored it it would just go away. Maybe we were holding out for others to speak up first, but it has been almost four years now, and the masses have remained silent.  Sure, some have spoken up, some louder than others, but the majority, those of us who want a change, have stood by in silence, not wanting to stir the pot too hard. There have been waves, but nothing strong enough to change the current.  I, unlike many others who share my views, have been able to watch the storm from outside its confines, and I am scared. I am scared for those living in the bubble, and I am scared for myself and my family, both here and at home. What is it?  It’s the next great war, but it’s not a war of arms, or even of force. It’s a chess game and all the figures are slowly moving into place and the winners won’t be decided by who hits harder, but rather by who manipulates the people better. It’s lies and propaganda and censorship and manipulation, and what makes it all so repugnant is that we see it happening and we refuse to stop it for fear of the consequences.

I have been quarantined with my wife and daughter in Spain for three weeks, and we are facing at least three more.  I haven’t been more than twenty feet from my front door in all this time and I have been trying to find ways to entertain my three year old daughter who doesn’t understand why we can’t go to the park and why she is no longer going to school.  As the world faces this pandemic of the coronavirus, I have had time to sit and think about the world around us and how, once we are allowed to mingle again as a society, will we? What changes are we going to face and how will we recover the life we have sacrificed in order to heal.  I watch the news, as unfortunately there are not many other options, and I get angry at how The United States is reacting while Spain is crumbling. They, the government, could be taking actions to slow if not halt the spread of this virus, but they hesitate, taking orders from an incompetent dolt who has no business running a lemonade stand let alone the greatest nation in the world.  Well, what was the greatest nation in the world. I fear for my family, particularly my mother who is so close to retirement yet has to deal face to face with customers who come in direct contact with her and blatantly ignore any suggested precautions to prevent the virus from spreading. My mother, who is a part of the most vulnerable group of people, has to fear she will contract this virus and perhaps be left uncared for as the government has decided perhaps it is for the good of the economy we focus our attention on something other than our citizens.

I fear for my daughter who is now forced to grow up in a very different world than the one she entered just three years ago.  The entire makeup of our society is going to change; our attitudes, our values, our culture in general is going to change. Sure, there are those out there saying we are all overreacting to this and it will all be over soon and life will return to normal.  Well, I say, better to err on the side of caution than risk the lives of our loved ones, but I guess there are just a lot of people out there who don’t see it that way. Survival of the fittest, may the best man win, spoils to the victor and all that bull shit.  As long as they live long and prosper, to hell with those who can’t keep up. They are happy to point out that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, until it is their mother, father, grandfather who is about to be sacrificed.

I don’t fear getting sick, I fear losing loved ones.  I fear that when this is all over it won’t be so simple to visit my family back home or spend the time with them I feel I need to spend.  I fear growing apart from my home, as it is slowly turning into something I could never call home again. The divide amongst the people grows deeper and deeper every day and instead of uniting the country during this time of crisis, the leadership is encouraging the division.  It’s history repeating itself and we are turning a blind eye to it. The death doll is rising and while the dead aren’t dying by bullets or grenades, they are dying for lack of resources. We live in a modern society and we have the means to overcome this, but politics is playing their game and lives are being sacrificed instead of saved.  I’ve spent three weeks with only my wife and my daughter, aside from the text messages with family in the U.S. I know now what matters in my life and I have seen and accepted some of the changes that have to be made. All of this has not made me more Spanish, but I fear it has made me a little less American.

Here’s to three more weeks in isolation.

In Search Of…

•June 12, 2019 • Leave a Comment

Anyone who knows me knows I am a person of order.  I am the type of person who makes a list for everything.  I make lists of books I want to read or have read, movies I love, and places I want to visit.  I make lists of things I want to do in a year, a month, a week, or even a day.  I used to make hourly lists for my days off from work.  New Year’s resolutions have become a favorite of mine, even though I say it’s better to make that kind of list at a random time of the year.  Despite my need for lists and for order, I have been trying to live my life currently one day at a time instead of trying to predict what will come for me.  On one hand, perhaps this is a good way to live as it eliminates a small portion of the stress in my life, but on the other hand, sometimes I feel like I am just floating through my life, not really accomplishing anything of importance.  I keep telling myself I will do the things I want to do when this happens, or that happens, or something comes along to fix all my troubles, but the reality is, I am afraid I will wake up someday old and alone and full of regret for the things I should have done but didn’t.

As we all know, I am currently living in Spain with my wife and young daughter and while nothing is quite perfect in our lives, we are settled and without too many stresses beyond potty training the little one.  That’s not to say I am generally happy with our lives.  Sure, we all want a little more and how we define happiness is always up for debate.  I could try to make the best of our situation and say things aren’t really all that bad, but I want more, not just for me but for my entire family, here and in the United States.  I have dreams and goals and if you look at my list of New Year’s resolutions you’ll see that I had hoped to accomplish a lot this year and as we approach the midpoint of 2019, not much has come to fruition.  I want to write more, I want to speak better Spanish, I want to travel to the U.S. and I want to own my own coffee shop.  The coffee shop is what brought me here today.

I had started writing again early in the year, but paused when we traveled to Leon to spend a week with my in-laws.  I never recovered and my draft sits there, waiting to be completed.  In my mind, the books are already published and I am waiting to sell the movie rights, but in reality, I have nothing worth showing.  My Spanish is improving, maybe not at the speed that I would like, but I have noticed some improvements along the way.  Unfortunately, I have decided to take a break from my lessons as I was not able to devote the time necessary to studying to actually improve in a way that would help me pass the DELE exam.  I still want to take the exam someday, preferably early in 2020, but it’s going to require that I not only find the time to focus on studying, but also that I actually have the capability of speaking Spanish at that level.  I hate to think that my brain simply is too far along to grasp Spanish beyond what I already know, but sometimes I fear that may be the case.  That brings me to the last two goals.  Supposedly, I will be traveling solo to the U.S. at the end of October.  My wife has blocked off a week for me to visit my friends and family, but unfortunately she and my daughter will not be able to make the trip.  It bothers me that our financial situation is so tight that only I can make the trip home, but I am excited to have the opportunity to see my friends and family and hopefully connect with people I haven’t seen in a long time.  Of course when I mention financial issues, I can’t help but mention the troubles that still follow me in the United States.  My credit card debt is mainly my own doing, so while it scares me to default on my credit card, I can, like so many other Americans, find a way to rebuild my credit over time.  My student loan however is something that I not only regret having, but fear will cause me more trouble than an unpaid credit card.  I have managed to postpone payments temporarily, but unless something drastic changes regarding the student loan system in the U.S., I am going to have to find a way to repay the debt or risk having to hide out in other countries for the rest of my life.

In a perfect world, once my wife and I are a little more financially secure here in Spain and our daughter is a bit older, I would like to move back to the U.S. and open my business.  Now after seeing my situation financially with credit cards and all, I am sure you are wondering how the hell I plan to open my own business.  Well, that’s what scares me, but in my fantasy world, I will find people who can counsel me along the way once I seek them out on my trip home in October.  While I am by no means an expert, I do have a few ideas up my sleeve as to how I may be able to open my business despite my financial issues, but I am going to have to talk it over with people who know more than me.

Every day my wife comes home and asks what I am thinking.  I wish I could explain to her the feelings I have about moving back to the United States and restarting our lives there.  I see opportunities there, but I have to be careful because I don’t want her to feel pressured to move.  We have to do it when we are ll ready.  It is encouraging to me when she asks about things like a green card or a VISA because I feel like she too is thinking about our future in the U.S.  I wish I could find an easy way to just pack up and go, but it is not going to be that easy.  The question is, do I start making lists so that I am prepared for the move, or am I better off living one day at a time and hoping the opportunity to move will come along sooner rather than later.  I don’t know honestly, but for now, I need to get back to studying my Spanish.  Ciao.

I Should Be Doing Other Things

•March 11, 2019 • Leave a Comment

I feel like this is becoming the motto of my life.  I should be doing other things.  I have so many things I want to do that I always find myself saying I should be doing something else.  In the end as is almost always the case in my life, I end up doing a whole lot of nothing.

On Wednesday, I have an iTalki class with my Spanish teacher.  For those of you not following along, I started taking one hour weekly lessons to improve my Spanish a little over a month ago.  Anyone keeping track of my financial situation should keep their comments to their selves at this moment.  I’m taking the lessons in hopes that this November I can register for and pass the DELE C1 Spanish exam.  When the idea first occurred to me to take this exam I had no idea how challenging it really would be.  While I have a conversational level of Spanish, sitting down and taking an actual exam to demonstrate that I have a superior grasp on the language is in no way going to be easy.  In fact, after reviewing several practice exams I would say the exam would challenge even a native Spanish speaker.  The most difficult part for me is going to be the oral exam.  It is comprised of three parts, each involving talking candidly in Spanish for about 3 to 5 minutes.  While that doesn’t sound like a lot, I realized very quickly that my ability to speak on random topics is very limited and were I to attempt the exam today, I wouldn’t come anywhere near passing.  Now, I’m trying to remain positive by telling myself it’s simply a matter of patience and practice and I will get to where I need to be by November, however, as I am writing this, I should really be practicing that part of the exam.  As I said, I have a lesson on Wednesday and the homework I was assigned for that lesson was to prepare the three parts of the oral portion of a practice exam.  I should be doing that, no?

My New Year’s Resolution was to write a chapter of my novel each month so that by the end of the year I would have a completed work to attempt to have published.  I got off to a great start, writing a lot towards the end of December as a head start on the project.  Of course, I have not written anything in weeks now.  I should be working on my novel.  My main problem, which really isn’t as terrible a problem as I am making it out to be, is that although I have characters, setting, and a basic plot, I don’t have the main conflict that I need to have a novel and not simply a journal of a fictional character’s life.  My ideas have shifted a bit since I started working on it, but I still don’t have a true conflict to throw at this character.  Of course if I wasn’t procrastinating, I could probably have the conflict resolved in no time.  Again, I should be working on my novel.  One inspirational thing that may help me is that this past weekend I bought a new book to read and I am actually enjoying two different novels at the moment.  They are written in Spanish and the fact that I am understanding them without any trouble is encouraging for my advancement in Spanish and they are also inspiring me to get back to my own writing, which is good.  Of course, I should be reading them probably instead of writing here, but I needed  little escape for a while.

As always, I should be looking for work.  I had an appointment last Friday to meet with someone in the unemployment office nearby who was supposed to help me get organized and help me find work a little easier.  Honestly, although his advice was not terrible, nothing he said or offered really helped me out.  I have some information that I should probably be looking into, but I’m here instead.  Ultimately, I don’t know if I will ever find work here but my wife has suggested I look into possibly work based in the United States that I could do from here on my computer.  I don’t know really how I would go about finding that type of work, but it is an idea.

I received an unexpected video call from my former boss back home.  She is the one who inspired me to take m first trip here to Spain and she has been super supportive of me and all I have been doing since then.  I owe here a great deal of thanks for all she has done for me, and her phone call seemed to come at just the right time.  I have been struggling with how to pay my debt back home in the U.S. for over a year now.  Unfortunately, my mother has been taking on the burden of paying my bills and the time has come for that to stop.  It is not and never was her responsibility and she told me she can no longer do it.  This leaves me with no real means to pay my bills.  I have about a week before my next bill is due and I am still without a solution, however my boss has offered to try to find  solution for me.  I am waiting to hear back from here and hopefully she will know of some way I can pay my bills without going further into debt somewhere else.  I hate that I have this debt but complaining about it will get me nowhere.  I should probably be working on that instead of this.

I have books to read, novels to write, and exams to study for, yet here I am doing none of the above.  I think from here I will be obligated to at least attempt to prepare for my lesson on Wednesday or else I will simply be throwing money down the drain.  I suppose that brings me to the end of my rant.  More to come.

Above The Curve

•January 30, 2019 • Leave a Comment

All my life, I have been average.  OK, I suppose a great number of people could say the same, by definition of average of course, but I am a little tired of falling into the average category.  Sure, there are some things about my life that venture far outside the realm of normal or average, but when it comes right down to it, I don’t stand out in any way from anyone else.  Here’s what I mean by that.

When I was a kid, I played sports.  I liked sports and I was even a little bit good at them, but never more than average.  I dreamed of playing basketball in college someday, but with nothing more than an average jump shot, I would never find my way to the floor of Cameron Indoor Stadium nor would I live to see the day my jersey was retired by my high school.  My lack of athletic talent was luckily overlooked by the fact that I was reasonably intelligent.  I managed to find my way into the smart kid classes, but I was never the smartest, just a little above average.  I did well in school, but no better than my friends and it was never expected that I would attend an Ivy League school.  I was better suited to a small liberal arts college for average people.

I picked up the guitar when I was 19, admittedly a little late to get started on a career in music, but I enjoyed the acoustic melodies and hoped to one day have the guts or talent to write a song or two.  Like my other ambitions, this dream too fell by the wayside as I realized I would never have the rhythm required to play along with others.  While I could pluck out a few Dave Matthews riffs, I never even managed to get through an entire song.

My dreams of someday being a published author still live on, despite the fact my New Year’s Resolution to write a complete novel this year has all but gone to Hell, but if I can’t prove myself to be an above average writer it won’t much matter.  I’ve been sticking with speaking Spanish near perfectly as a goal of mine for over ten years now, and while I can certainly manage a conversation better than most, I still fumble when it comes to talking with my wife, someone I am with each and every day.  My goal of passing the DELE C1 Spanish exam this fall may be a realistic goal, but I doubt I will score much above the average score for a gringo like me.

Look, I know I will never be above average if I keep settling for average, but excelling in any of the aforementioned skills would require either a miracle, natural talent, or an obscene amount of time spent practicing, none of which I have much of.  In order for me to focus on one goal, I have to sacrifice another, and I can’t seem to bring myself to do that.  Spanish is the one thing I focus on every day and there are moments when I feel like I just will never get it.  I know speaking a foreign language at this point in my life is not something I am going to be tested on (OK, yes I am if I take the DELE exam, but it’s not going to cost me a college scholarship or anything like that.) and I should just focus on speaking as well as I can, but for once in my life I would like to be a bit more than average.

I don’t really know what it is I want.  I don’t seek fortune or fame or anything like that, so what good would it be to be above average?  Should I just be happy with being average or should I be looking for ways to be more?  I really don’t know.  I just know that someday I would like to look back at my life and say, “Oh, yeah, I did that.”  Maybe someday.

Preparing For The Talk

•January 21, 2019 • Leave a Comment

In just over three weeks, I will have lived in Spain for three years.  I find it incredibly hard to believe that three years have passed since I said good-bye to all I knew and loved in the United States so that I could start a new life with my wife in Spain.  Originally, I thought I would be moving back home to the United States sometime between three and five years after I came here.  While I am only just now entering that threshold, I am anxious to move back to the United States.  Unfortunately, I don’t feel my wife is on the same page as me.  We had talked about living all over the place, not just in Spain, but my hope was always to find our way back to the U.S.  Before I ever packed my bags, my wife told me she would live anywhere with me, as long as we were happy.  I worry she is going back on that statement, or at the very least is having fears about moving to the U.S.

We only ever spoke of moving to the United States once since I have been here, and it was an outright “no” from my wife.  I realize now it was much too soon to suggest that, but we had been going through such a hard time and were under so much stress, I thought maybe it was the necessary solution.  I understand now why she said no and I understand why it wasn’t the right option at the time.

My wife really only has two people she is connected to here in Spain; her mother and her father.  For them, my daughter is their only grandchild.  My wife’s niece is trying to have a baby, which would make my father in law a great grandfather, but that is still a ways off and my wife is always concerned for her father’s health.  He is 76 years old and while no one wants to say it, he may not get to see a great grandchild and my daughter my be his last chance.  For that, I understand why my wife is hesitant to leave Spain.  I try to be understanding, however my family still has not had the chance to meet my daughter.  Yes, my mother and brother did see my daughter when she was one month old, but that’s all.  My other siblings and friends have not had the chance to see her in person and she is growing up so fast I am afraid they are going to miss the opportunity to see her as a baby.  If we were to move to the U.S., her parents would always be welcome to come stay with us, and while I know how much of  journey that is, it would be the same journey my family would be expected to make to come visit me in Spain.

My mother has told me to be patient and not to say anything that would upset my wife, but after giving it some thought, I have decided that I need to have a talk with my wife about making a plan to move to the U.S.  Right now, we are working on a plan that would bring us closer to her parents and would allow us to make money without the hassle of commuting to Madrid (or any other big city).  If we can move closer to her parents and my wife can find work, we want to save a little money so that we can open a coffee house.  If all falls into place, I would be happy with that option, but what I have decided is that if by the end of May of this year we have not moved, or at least settled on moving, I am going to talk to my wife about starting the process of moving to the U.S.  In all actuality, there isn’t a whole lot involved, but it’s going to mean some sacrificing on our part and making sure we follow all the proper procedures in getting my wife the appropriate VISA.  I don’t believe it’s terribly complicated but there are steps we need to follow and decisions to be made.  My hope is that once the plan is put into action, it will take between six months and a year to actually get to the U.S.

I am planning on making my arguments in May, but I need to start putting my thoughts in order now if I am going to make a reasonable argument.  I want her to be convinced that this is for the best and it will benefit the three of us, and that I am not doing it to be selfish.  Like I said, if we can get our original plan to work out, I’ll be fine.  That’s why I am giving it until the end of May.  I feel if by then we are not on our way, we need to change course.

I know we will have a huge support network in the U.S. and that’s something I need to convince her of.  Not only my family, but my friends are eager to see us come home and if we go forward with our plans of opening a coffee house in the U.S., I know of quite a few people who can help us get things going.  I dream about running a business back home and I get so frustrated when I am stuck here in the house all day accomplishing nothing.  I hate feeling useless and I am certain I wouldn’t feel that way running my own business.

It scares me to think of the future sometimes.  I worry I will never find work and that things will fall apart, but then I tell myself that we can open our own place and we can be successful.  I know businesses fail, but I truly feel I can succeed with this, but I need to find my way back home first.

With all this free time, I should really put together my thoughts.  I’ll get to work on it, as like I said, come the end of May, it will be time to talk.  I’ll keep you all updated.  Until next time…

Is This Really Who I Am?

•January 9, 2019 • Leave a Comment

I’m finding it a little hard to believe I am going to hit 38 this year.  It seems like just yesterday I sat down at my hand-me-down kitchen table in my first, and only, apartment to start this little blog of my life.  So much and yet so little has changed over these nearly eight years and I honestly don’t know where I am going from here.  I was certainly a different person when I wrote that first entry.  Well, let me clarify that a little.  I haven’t really changed all that much.  I am still a testy, sarcastic, pessimistic with hopes of optimism, somewhat difficult to get long with person with a dry sense of humor and an affinity for coming of age contemporary novels.  I still hold out hope that someday I will write the next great novel and on occasion I still dream of achieving fame and fortune.  Certain Dave Matthews songs still choke me up and hearing a good old fashioned Bronx cheer still gives me goosebumps.  All that being said, I am in no way the same person I was when I set out on this journey.  The paths I have taken could no way have been foreseen by me or anyone else I knew at the time.  I’m no longer the tight ass McDonald’s manager who sacrificed his soul to please his boss, nor am I the scared little boy who wouldn’t dare move away to college for fear of losing the life he so desperately needed to hold onto after high school.  OK, that’s going a ways back.  The point is, no one could have predicted the roads I would take and if you told my best friend in 2011 that in 2019 I would be married, living in Spain, and the father to a beautiful two year old girl he probably would have asked if you were talking about the same person.  I suppose the honest answer to that would have been no.  I’m not the same person, or at least I have not traveled the paths my friends and family had picked out for me.  I was the loner of the family, always preferring to be alone rather than among the crowds.  My friends were a tight knit bunch and while I may not have had the most friends, I had the best friends.  I wasn’t always easy to get long with, but I have done my best to rectify that and I think I have loosened up a bit over the years.  No one saw the move to Spain coming, not even me, and ending up here has been the strangest journey I have yet to take.  I still hold out hopes that my journey will come full circle and bring me back to the US someday, hopefully sooner rather than later, but I have to be patient.

I sometimes can’t believe I am where I am and that I still have so much left to do.  My daughter is only two and I fully expect to be a part of every major event in her life.  The thought of her growing into a teenager, an adult, a mature woman freaks me out a little bit.  Hell, I may even get to be a grandparent someday.  This life, as short as it may be, can sometimes feel pretty long.  By no means do I want it to pass any faster than it is, but I really can’t fathom that someday I will be in my sixties (fingers crossed).  My thirties have flown by, but at the same time, I still feel that I am a young person.  Watching my daughter grow gives me a glimmer of hope for my future, for our future.

I don’t know if I’ll ever be the person I see in my dreams.  Maybe that’s not such a bad thing.  Maybe it’s better to head into the future not knowing what to expect.  I don’t really know.  The fact is, I don’t really know much of anything.  As much as I like making my lists and plans for the future, everything is really totally random.  It’s a little scary to think we’re really living without a safety net, but I’ve made it this far.  Maybe the best is yet to come.

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•November 27, 2018 • Enter your password to view comments.

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Changes Are Coming

•October 25, 2018 • Leave a Comment

It’s been a little too long since I’ve written here and despite my desire to always perfect my Spanish, I feel like maybe I should spend a little time here as my English speaking self.  It’s been another whirlwind year and I can’t believe we are already approaching November.  Honestly, I don’t know where to begin to catch you up on all that has been going on, but I suppose I’ll just ramble on for a while and soon all will be explained, or so I hope.

The Summer was, well, the Summer, as it has been the last two years I have lived in Spain.  Each day is identical to the one prior, it’s hot as all Hell, and no one leaves their house until eight or nine o’clock, which means for me and my wife and a little baby, we didn’t get out much.  June and July were a little rough, but we drudged through August and actually had the pleasure of travelling to Germany for a week.  I can honestly say I never expected to be able to say I spent a week in Germany, nor any other European country for that matter, in all my life, but we did it and I loved it.  Germany is nothing like Spain.  In fact, it’s much more like the U.S. than Spain is.  The people were friendly (I’m not saying Spanish people aren’t friendly, I’m just pointing out that the Germans I encountered were very nice.)  and despite not speaking a word of German, we got by pretty well.  (My wife speaks enough to get us through meals in restaurants and tourist spots.)  It is really a very beautiful country and where we stayed was like a picture out of a magazine.  It gave us time to forget about our troubles back in Spain for a few days and despite being a little rushed, it was quite a nice time.  I would never hesitate to return and I even have the desire to start learning the language, although it is a rather challenging language for English speakers to pick up.  Maybe I’ll give it a try.

On the topic of languages, I once again started practicing a little bit of Italian over the Summer, but after a few weeks, I became a bit lax in my studies.  It’s not that I don’t want to speak Italian.  In fact I really do want to speak several more languages, however my overwhelming desire to perfect my Spanish, added to the fact that I really struggle with certain aspects of Italian grammar left me unwilling to put in the time each morning to continue with it.  I must say, I actually had progressed quite a bit, and perhaps after the holidays I will give it another go.  I still have French, Portuguese, and German waiting in the wings.  It will all depend on what turns my life takes in the next few months.

We have talked about moving to Leon, a smaller part of Spain where my wife’s parents live.  It’s quieter than Madrid and quite a bit cleaner.  I like the idea of living a bit closer to my in-laws as they have been a great help to us whenever we needed it.  It’s not fair to ask them to make a four hour trip to see us anytime we are in trouble.  Sure, it can be stressful living so close to family, but I think the benefits outweigh the added stresses.  We have been searching for adequate housing and we recently found something that might actually be perfect, but we’ll have to make the trip there to see it.  That can become complicated as unfortunately my wife is currently recovering from a fractured foot and she is on crutches for the next several weeks.  Additionally, before we can make any move, we have to be sure that she has a stable job.  The job market in Spain is crazy and sometimes it is simple the luck of the draw if you can find work.  As we all know, I have been unemployed practically the entire time I have been living in Spain and finding work in Leon may be no easier than here in Madrid.  We are looking to cut our expenses drastically, which would allow us to go on living as we are living and possibly start a meager savings.  Ideally, after we make renovations to the house we choose and we save a little bit of cash, we would like to open our own coffee shop somewhere nearby.  It has always been a dream of mine to own my own coffee shop and when my wife told me that she too shared that dream, I was ecstatic, but it’s not something we can do spur of the moment.  A lot of planning will have to go into it, and when we first started discussing it, she and I had all kinds of great ideas.  Unfortunately, finding a house and a job have to come before the coffee shop, so plans have been put on hold while we research our other tasks.  Although I doubt we will become extremely wealthy running a coffee house, the idea that we can be our own bosses and still live a comfortable life is very appealing to me.

My wife has suggested that should we have success with our business here in Spain, she would like to open a location in the U.S.  Of course I loved this idea.  We might be getting a little ahead of ourselves with that idea, but I am all for it.

I have quite a few things I would like to do that could potentially provide additional income for us, but I have been struggling to get to work on it.  As I said, my wife is currently home on crutches, which puts my other hobbies aside for a bit, but I still hold onto the hopes of someday publishing a novel or collection of short stories.  I know being a published author is 1) very difficult to accomplish, and 2) not necessarily very profitable, but I have at least two strong ideas that I would like to someday get into novel form.  I tried my hand at novel writing a few years back and it was a humbling experience, but I think I have been licking my wounds long enough and it’s time to get back to it.  As I said I have at least two ideas for novels as well as some preliminary ideas for short story collections.  I have to keep telling myself that I have to live my life a little bit at the same time as being the person I have to be for my wife and daughter.  It’s not easy to balance the two, but I have to start trying.

It looks like I won’t be making it home to the U.S. again this year which is disappointing, but I am not going to let it get me down.  It’s hard not being able to see my friends and family whenever I want, but right now I am busy with family things here in Spain which have to take precedence.  I miss my family back home, but they understand.

I have to get going now, as I have to pick up my daughter from daycare, but hopefully I can find a little time to keep this blog updated before the title becomes Forty Years and Counting.  Thanks for reading and see you soon.