A Short Summer Home

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Everybody experiences time differently, but it’d be safe to say that the three weeks I was home was a short one. It’s the first time I’ve come home in the middle of the summer and the first time I’m leaving early august. Even though this is the shortest summer home it’s still been a good one, it’s been filled with fun activities and I’ve somehow managed to cram a lot of stuff in a short amount of time. Later today I’ll be leaving for S.Korea. This is what I did this summer:
-Went out in Brooklyn with Richie to see Jaclyn’s new apartment and to go to three cool bars we’ve been talking about going to: one was a secret bar at the back of a laundromat, the second was a bar with old coin operated arcade games and the third was a bar with a taco truck inside and an antique ink printed photo booth
-Played a lot of sushi go, if you’ve never played I suggest you buy it off amazon and learn
-Played a lot of Mario party 2 on n64
-Ate an amazing vegan burger with my dad at the food market next to penn station
-Celebrated my grandmas 80th birthday with my family in south Hampton by drinking a lot
-Went to see Tonno’s new place in manhattan where we were joined by Ian who came up from D.C. for and interview and then later we went to a Yankee game joined by Tonno’s Roomate
-Went to the beach a few times
-Watched as much as I could of the new season of game of thrones as well as rewatch parts of s4 with Allie and s6 with Richie
-Read the Magicians trilogy
-Went to the Brooklyn brewery with Ian, Dave, Tonno and Richie and was later joined by my college roommate Steve and his girlfriend and then by my friend Kendall and his girlfriend who drove up from D.C and even later by Christine and her friend
-Had a barbecue at Tonno’s house
-Played more sushi go
-Had wings with my mom, dad and Allie
-Ate Mochi for the first time! As soon as I got back Allie started talking about them and she tried to get them at Trader Joe’s but they only had coffee flavored. The other day I stopped by TJ’s hoping they put more out, but they still only had coffee flavored. So Richie and I went to this big Asian store a town over and they had tons of different boxes! Mochi is a Japanese ball of ice cream thing wrapped a rice dough
-Ate Mexican food for the first time in a long time with my dad and sister and La Mesita in my town
-All you can eat and drink tapas! With a flamenco show in NYC with my sister her boyfriend and two friends. After living two years in Jerez, hearing flamenco in the city brought a tear to my eye
-Ending it all with a hibachi dinner with my family

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In September my grandma died, we lost her to old age and as sad as it was, grandparents are suppose to die at an old age, it’s expected and at a certain point every birthday they live past is a blessing, but aunts aren’t suppose to die at a young one.
Cancer is a strange illness
Up until two years ago, I’ve heard countless stories of it taking loved ones, of friends and even animals. The pain and sorrow those people go through, watching their loved ones get weaker and weaker until the inevitable eventually happens; the suffering that comes after and the loss where there was was once a bright light, now an empty hole is impossible to imagine until it happens to you.
While it’s a world I’d prefer to not be a part of I’ve joined millions of people who have lost someone to cancer. It’s a funny thing because almost to the end you hold onto hope, you think, she’s going to beat it or the treatments are going work. Yet at the same time, long before that you accept the inevitable fate that’s befallen so many others. Almost to the end hope is there.
When it comes down to that end, everything else seems trivial when someone you love is going through unimaginable pain, when your family is suffering. They say death brings people closer and it’s true, a connected sorrow and anguish that is equally shared and felt by all. Life won’t be the same without you Roberta, you will be forever missed, always remembered and never forgotten. The impact you’ve made on all our lives will remain with us until our end, and passed down to those who will not have the chance to have known you.

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Home for the Holidays

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It’s been three years since I have been home for Christmas.  The last time was in 2013, the year I graduated college and decided to go to Costa Rica to get my TEFL certification. At the time I thought I’d do it for a year and then move onto something else;  I never imagined that I would still be doing it four years later.

There’s no time like Christmas especially when you’re spending it with your family in the United States.  In Spain, all the cities and towns decorate their centers with displays of Christmas lights, and while it’s beautiful and evokes a sense of Christmas it’s not the same as Christmas in the U.S: the houses that are each uniquely and individually decorated; the smell of a balsam fir tree throughout the house, evoking the nostalgia of past Christmases; the frosty chill and the smell of wood being burned in the air.  While this year I wouldn’t be decorating the tree or the house I would be spending it all with my family and friends.

I arrived to NY on the 22nd, but because of customs, I didn’t make it out of the airport for about 2 and a half hours.  If you can avoid flying into terminal 7 at JFK, do it.  It has to be the worst.  First, the line for citizens was three times longer than that of non-citizens (which shouldn’t be).  They had about half as many people working in the citizen line and as a whole they had the bare minimum employees.  On Christmas weekend they had more than 20 empty custom booths.  On top of this, they hardly had any of those machines where you need to print out a ticket before going to the booth and about half of them weren’t working;  then once you got your paper if you happen to have an X on it, which I did, you had to wait on another inexplicably slow line, while those without the X got to basically walk out.  After finally getting out of the worst airport terminal in the U.S, I was surprised when Allie and Jaclyn popped out of the trunk while I was hurrying to put my suitcase in.  From that moment for the next week, the three of us were almost inseparable.  I think I saw them more during that week than the whole summer.

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The following day Jaclyn, Allie and I made a gingerbread house and later I saw Rogue One with my friends (Richie, Tonno, Ian), which we didn’t particularly like and then we went into the city to meet Dave and have dinner.  I wanted to do some touristy stuff like see the tree at Rockefeller Center and St.Patricks Cathedral so my friends thankfully humored me.  We had dinner at a German restaurant in the ABC  area of the city and while not expensive by city standards ($72 per person), it is maybe three or four times more than I would spend at the nicest restaurant in Jerez. After dinner we went out to a divey, college-bar-like place called whiskey town (suggested by Ian) and then went back to RVC and stopped by a bar in town, where I ran into some people I used to lifeguard with.

On Christmas Eve, we celebrated the typical Italian seven fish dinner at our house with my Dads side of the family.  My grandma, who usually does the cooking for the main course was unable to cook this year because she was recovering from bronchitis, so we ordered from a friend of hers who owns an Italian restaurant; while it wasn’t grandma’s cooing it was pretty close.  After dinner we started sampling all the whiskys my dad had, which got us all significantly buzzed and tired for midnight mass.  Staying awake through mass was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, filled with whisky and still jet lagged, my head was like a lure bobbing in the water; Allie and my mom struggled more than me as they feel asleep on each other and had to be woken up by Jaclyn.  Hopefully god understood.

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Last year I was in a hostel in Rome watching my family open presents on Christmas day, this year it was nice to be there with them.  After opening presents, we went to my cousins house in NJ to spend the day with the same family.  We passed the time exchanging presents and playing games until a delicious dinner was served and then after played some more games until we eventually went home.  The next day my family did an escape the room.  We had one hour to try to find our way out of the apartment, but in the end we came up short.  We made it more difficult on ourselves by missing things in places we had already looked through three or four times.  I think we all enjoyed it a lot more than we thought we would and we all sour about not getting out.  It was a fun family bonding experience that we’ll have to duplicate again, except next time we’ll have to get out.  As, I’m writing this, I just remembered that last night I had a dream that I was doing an escape the room.  I guess I have yet to get over not escaping.

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The next three days we spent visiting my Moms side of the family upstate.  It was great seeing everybody under better circumstances, the last time was for my grandmas funeral.  Even though it’s been three years since I’ve last been up there for Christmas, it didn’t feel like it; everything was almost like how it used to be, except my younger cousins [who I still imagine as little] seem to have magically matured overnight, and there are now many new little adorable additions.  The hardest part about being away from home is not being around and because I’m not around I’m like a stranger to the little ones, which saddens me.  At least the ones who could talk know my name and playing with them was one of my favorite things I did during the break.  While up there, we also took a ride to Oswego because both of my parents studied there and for years my dad has been talking about going to a diner they used to go to when in school.  Wade’s is the name and they have great cinnamon raisin toast.  We also toured Oswego’s campus, stood at the bank of lake Ontarion, which you would think was an ocean and I got to see snow! One of the things I was hoping for.

At this point I’d only been home for a week, but it felt like a lot longer.  When we got back to Long Island, I saw my friend Ian who was leaving to go back to D.C.  Jaclyn, Allie Sean and Me went to the New Museum in Brooklyn and saw a few really cool installations and went out to eat at this Indian restaurant unlike any other.  It was small, about the size of a bus and every inch was covered in colored lights.  It was awesome! and the food was good too.  Also, I shouldn’t say it’s like no other because there are actually three copy restaurants right next to it.  However, they aren’t as good, don’t have nearly as many lights and aren’t the original.  I forget the name, but if you didn’t know it was the top left one, you’d be easily tricked.

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For New Year’s Eve I went into the city with Christine to a party at Jaclyn and Sean’s friends house.  It was awesome spending it with her.  From the time I arrived to NY to saying goodbye at the end of the night it felt as if a second didn’t go by without seeing her.  From the 2nd to the 3rd of January, Christine and I drove to Delaware to see my old roommate Alex, who I  hadn’t seen since September of 2013.  We were surprised by my friend Kendall who came up from D.C.  Alex gave us a tour of the new additions around the campus and then we bar hopped the old spots.  One of our favorite spots was the duck game at Grottos; a claw game that we spent about an hour at and 16 dollars attempting to rescue them from their prison.  After much maneuvering and rescued ducks, I was able to save one dressed as Uncle Sam.  The perfect companion for my trip back to Spain.  The trip to Delaware was a short one, but well worth it.  It worked out perfectly.

The last couple of days of my vacation passed by tanquillo.  I went to my first ever college basketball game/basketball game at St. Johns with Richie and Tonno.  Another day, I caught the last hour and a half of the Goblet of Fire which made me want to watch the next one; this in turn prompted Allie to watch all the Harry Potter’s in order because she’d never seen them before.  We watched the last two together.  In three days she’d watched all 8, an impressive feat considering they come out to 19 hours and 39 minutes.  Last, but not least, I can’t forgot the hours I spent snuggling Pal, the cutest dog in the world.

img_1005In the end, it was sad to leave.  Normally when I come home during the summer I’m home for two months, so it was weird to be leaving after only two weeks.  The next time I’ll see them it will be in Spain!

Another Summer In The Books

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Coming home for the summer is always great being able to see friends and family I haven’t seen in a long time; adjusting may not always be easy and may take some time, but that doesn’t stop activities and fun things from being done.  I like to keep track of these activities to remember them for the future.  As I get ready to leave later today, here have been the highlights of another great summer:

  • All you can eat sushi in the city with Jaclyn and friends
  • Lumineers concert with Jaclyn at Prospect Park
  • Rascal Flats concert at Jones Beach with my Mom, Jaclyn and Richie
  • My first Jimmy Buffet tailgate! with my Mom her sisters and friends. They’ve been going almost every year for the last 6 or 7 years, my sister went last summer and talked about how fun it was. (deserves its own blog post, but I didn’t feel like writing it)
  • DC! With Steve to see Kendall I hadn’t seen since graduating college
  • Ate Thai food! Louisiana Joes, The Meatball Shop, Rockaway tacos, GM with the parents, Peter Lugars, Pres195, and some other restaurants. In terms of variety in food Spain lacks, and throughout the year facetiming with friends and family I hear about new places to try or places I loved to eat at, so when I come home I always have a list of places I want to try or types of food I crave.  Louisiana Joes was a place my Dad mentioned 3 or 4 times talking about home much he loved it and Thai food is something you can’t get where I live.
  • Saw and walked on the Brooklyn Bridge for the first time! With my friend Louise who was visiting the US and traveling around
  • Saw Jaclyn’s apartment and new Vice office. While in Spain she moved out of the house to an apartment in Brooklyn and Vice moved offices, seeing these two things were at the top of my list of things to do.
  • Went to the world Trade Center memorial, museum and to the top of One World Trade Center with Richie, his brothers and sister and his cousin visiting from Spain
  • RVC Fireworks!
  • Went bowling for the first time in years with Ian
  • A bunch of bike rides with Richie and Tonno and attempted to fish one of those days
  • Saw Finding Dory with the family
  • More mario party than the last few years combined!
  • Watched the Olympics almost every night it was on and during the day when I had off
  • Went to the Nautical Mile for fish and beer with my parents
  • My last night had a glass of Johnny Walker Blue with my dad. He got a bottle last Christmas and I have been asking him all summer when he was going to invite me to one
  • Celebrated my 25 birthday with my sister and friends! It was the first birthday I was home for in over two years
  • Last, but not least and definitely more somber than any one of the aforementioned activities, I attended my grandma’s funeral. She passed away a day after my birthday and a day before I was suppose to leave for Spain.  I rescheduled my flight so I could be with family and attend the funeral.  It was great being around all my family, it was the first time we have all been together since my cousins wedding 4 years ago; but unfortunately we would have all preferred a different circumstance.  She will be forever missed and always in our memories and hearts.FullSizeRender.jpgLove you always Nanny!

The World Trade Center Memorial

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Everybody who’s old enough remembers exactly where they were when the towers fell; I was in fifth grade at school, they sent us home home with the excuse they were spraying the field with chemicals; my friend Owen came home with me; my mom sent him home because she thought it was probably better for him to be with his family.  At the time we were too young to fully understand the scale of what had happened; the aftermath affecting and changing the domestic and international landscape for years to come.

I’ve been wanting to go to the World Trade Center memorial since it was completed in 2011 and finally had the opportunity a couple of weeks ago. I joined my friend and his siblings who were going to show their Spanish cousin around. Like two giant scars on the earth the memorial sits as a reminder to what happened and to those who lost their lives with each name  inscribed on the surrounding  metal; water flows down and toward the center disappearing from sight, a reminder of the continuity of life and the foundation of it. Just as water creates life and is necessary to sustain it, the One World Trade Center situated adjacent to the memorial is a testament to this continued existence; it sits like a beacon of our rebirth and continued survival.

A visit to the area wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the museum. Less like a museum and more like a emotional journey, it is a place to reflect and where one can feel personally connected to a day which shook the United States and the world. A sobering experience, upon exiting it takes you a few minutes to realize your back in the real world, but the sorrow will stay with you for the rest of the day and your perspective will be forever changed.

A New Year a New Place

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After having an amazing summer and doing many things with my friends and family it’s time for me to move on to my next adventure.  In a week I’ll be returning to Spain to teach English in a city in the south, called Jerez de la Frontera.

This summer has been amazing; being home makes me realize how much I love and need my friends and family and how nice it is to be in a place that’s so familiar and that will always be  my home.  Adjusting to life back home wasn’t easy and now that I’m comfortable it’ll be hard to leave; adjusting to life back in Spain will be even more difficult, since I will be living in a new city with a language slightly different than what I’m use to.

The fun things I did this summer:

  1. I got to see Allie graduate from High School! (it was a surprise for her) and see her pre-prom.
  2. I saw a bunch of family I hadn’t seen in over a year during Allies graduation party.
  3. Boozy brunch with Jaclyn, my cousin Michael and his girlfriend Jordan.
  4. My friend Christine visited me at the beach, it was the first time I saw her after coming back
  5. 4th of July at my friend Dave’s (I hadn’t seen him yet) with my friends and sister.
  6. RVC fireworks at my friend Matt’s house and I got to see my friend Steve for the first time! they fireworks were the best ever.
  7. Saw Jurassic World (alone, nobody wanted to see it with me)
  8. Watched a lot of impractical jokers (my favorite show) with Jaclyn and Allie.
  9. Went to my Aunts house for my little cousin’s 3rd birthday party.
  10. Wine tour out east for my friends birthday with a bunch of friends I hadn’t seen yet.
  11. Spent time with my dad and watched movies (The Dark Knight trilogy and Mad Max: Fury Road.)
  12. Saw two friends from Spain who were visiting New York for the first time.
  13. The Brooklyn Brewery, for the second summer! also my two friends from Spain were able to join us (they were leaving the next day).
  14. Lifeguard men’s dinner at a Portuguese steak house, all you can eat (with amazing food) and drink.
  15. All you can eat sushi with Jaclyn and my friends! (when I was in Spain she mentioned she did one, so it was something we wanted to do when I got back).
  16. Kenny Chesney and Jason Aldean with my friend Richie.
  17. Played a lot of super smash brothers 64 (my favorite game) with Ian and Richie.

Tomorrow I am going upstate to see my family and my grandma who I haven’t seen in almost two years and then I’m going down to Maryland with my family to help Allie move in to University of Maryland.  It’s been a great summer and I’m glad I was able to do the things I did with the people I did them with. It’s difficult to get everybody together; everybody is in different places doing different things and since I lifeguard; I only get one day off.  The times we were able to spend together and the times spent with my family is what i’ll miss the most.

A new year, a new place, but i’ll be back.

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Hours until Departure

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In a few hours I will be leaving for Spain to embark on a new journey as an English teacher abroad.  I have had an amazing summer and an amazing time at home these past two months with friends and family.  I leave JFK tonight at 7:10 and arrive in Madrid at 8:20 am.  It’s a 7 hour 20 min flight.  It will be the first time I am traveling to Europe, and the first time I experience jet lag.  Other than the jet lag part I am extremely excited.  I look forward to traveling and experiencing the diverse regions of Spain and other European countries.  I arrive in Madrid on the 2nd, and then have orientation for the teaching program on the 4th and 5th  (my birthday!) somewhere in the outskirts of Madrid.  I’ll have to figure out how to take the metro to get there.  I will spend the weekend in Madrid and then go to the city where I will be teaching (Tomelloso).  From what I’ve read Tomelloso is about two hours south of Madrid.  The population is around 35,000 and that’s pretty much all I know about it.  Unlike Costa Rica,  I already have my job set up and the amount of hours I will be working.  I have 18 hours a week and will be making 877 Euro a month.  I’m excited and nervous but looking forward to all the new things I will see and the new people I will meet.  Hope you enjoy!

(The Red Dot)

(The Red Dot)