Just five months ago I was setting out on an adventure that I wasn’t sure that I would be able to pull off. Luckily, by the skin of my fingers, I’m making it work. I’m doing the strangest jobs (do you need to be set up on a date? Are you a male? I need your help!), but I’m living the most amazing life I could have ever dreamed of.
I often think about where I was such a short time ago. Sitting in an office at 2 AM, working on a “HOT” project that involved batter-dipped fish. “Seriously, how serious could this be?” I would think to myself.
Advertising is stupid. It doesn’t mean that I still don’t love it, but it’s stupid. We’re slaves to deadlines that aren’t real. How important could this direct mailer about a credit union that basically says the same thing every month be? Do I really need to work 80 hours in a week (FOR FREE) to prove that our agency should win your business? I didn’t get paid enough for that. I didn’t feel like I was using talents or time to the best of my ability. And I needed more.
I’m finally at the point where if I did die tomorrow, at least I’d feel like I lived to my full potential. Take nothing for granted, cherish what you’ve got, and pretend every day is your last. Love hard, people. It’s all we’ve got.
As stressful as it is to be living the freelance life and wondering whether or not a job will come through or if a client will pay me, I regret nothing. It’s so worth it. I’d rather be broke and happy and traveling than miserable and with a potential retirement fund. Because there’s no way I’d be able to hike mountains in Dolce Vida booties (yes, I’ve done this more than once now) in my 60s. And the truth is, I’m not sure I can go back to that life. Will I cave and be so desperate for money that I do? Will I venture to Southeast Asia and figure out how else to make this work? Time will only tell.
This week, I thought a lot about this kind of stuff. I also celebrated a fresh start with some of my favorite people. Moving to Valencia has been the best transition for me in the entire year. As you may have read, Prague was the dungeon of a dark castle for me, at times. Valencia is the land of oranges and sunshine – much like Florida, only a hundred times better (and without as many retired old people – there are definitely old people, but man do they party). I am SO much happier. SO much more optimistic. And SO much hungrier – TAPAS FO DAYS. This week I:
- Arrived to my apartment in Spain which is the NICEST ONE YET. Soooo modern, amazing neighborhood, and with a bunch of other people in our building. I’ve gotten pretty odd accomodations the past few months; not necessarily bad, but not necessarily good. There was always something wrong with them in my eyes. But this one? Gorg. A real beaut.
- Got ready super quickly and went to our New Years Eve celebration, which ended up being one of my favorite New Years Eves to date. I kind of despise NYE, mostly because it just beckons the necessity to be a GREAT night – expectations are at an all time high and immediately the night turns to shit when you realize that it’s midnight and you’re sober and your best friend is kissing your ex-boyfriend. (No? Just me?) HOWEVER, this one involved awesome people, lots of dancing, and grapes. Yeah, grapes.
- Had an awesome tapas dinner and unlimited wine to start NYE. The food was so good and the wine was delicious (at 1 buck a pop, I’m sure). The wine here is fab (as I write this, I’m on the train to Barcelona to pick up Torry where we’ll head to wine country and hopefully have loads of it) and I can’t complain. Below is the only proof I have of this, and Brian + Bryant have no shirt on for some reason? Don't ask, I'm not sure. We weren't even drunk yet.
- Went to a bar right before midnight, was given 12 grapes to eat for good luck in the new year, only ate 1 because SEEDLESS GRAPES ARE NON EXISTENT IN EUROPE. This is a thing, people. I don’t have time to sift out 8 tiny seeds from my mouth every time I want to eat a grape. I’ve sworn them off and if I only have one good month this year because I only ate one then I’ll consider Valencia my new home forever and it’ll be okay.
- Went to a club post-midnight and danced with all my favorite people. Wandered back to our apartment super late (but early in Spanish standards – we didn’t get to the club until 2 because “that’s when they start partying”) at around 6 am and crashed until the automatic BRUNCH alarm in my head went off at around noon. Luckily, this was also a planned event…
- Had a paella brunch with all of the same great people.
- Wandered the streets of Valencia trying to find a famous Horchateria, but it ended up being closed. So then we went to another and…yep, also closed. Finally found a great spot in a market and plopped down for some horchata and beer. A great end to a great New Year’s Day. I was ready for 2017.
- Worked on stuff, including updating this blog. I’LL BE BETTER ABOUT IT I SWEAR!
- Had our orientation – we have two workspaces this month. I hardly go to them, but they’re cool. We also were treated to lunch, which proves that if there is free food, I will show up 99/100 times.
- Welcomed CARLOS! My second visitor from the states came and it was nice to have a familiar face around. We grew up together and he’s a great friend of mine – I took him around Valencia before we uprooted (as I told myself I wouldn’t but here I am again…) to travel around.
- Saw an awesome flamenco show at Radio City. The kicker? The dancer was a dude. And here I though I could trust my emojis…(also not sure why I don't have photo evidence of this
- Danced a lot post-flamenco show because apparently this place turns into a club. It was super fun.
- Visited the Central Market (Mercado Central) and had some awesome juice (seen above)
- Visited the Silk Exchange in which I used my student ID and got in for half price. Having a baby face (and no expiration on my student ID card) pays off. Thanks UNT! (also above)
- Saw this hilarious bar and wanted to have a beer there but they were closed. (The Dog's Cojones!)
- Got on a train to Barcelona with Carlitos!
- Had some amazing tapas next to the hostel that we were staying at.
- Went on a pub crawl with the hostel people after getting a bunch of work done in between dinner and pregaming.
- Made friends, lost Carlos, was on call for work at 3 AM in the clerb, went to bed promptly and hoped that Carlos would get back on his own. (He did, as usual)
- Visited the gothic quarter and had an awesome brunch
- Went to the airport and hopped on a plane to IRELAND! (yea dude idk) I had to get out of Schengen (an area where non EU citizens can only be in certain countries in the EU for 90 out of 180 days. Hard to explain but I went to Italy [Schengen country] while in Croatia [non-Schengen country] so I was very close to the limit in terms of days that I could be in this particular area. It’s a dumb rule, look it up.) and one of our remotes that left (Michele!) offered us a place to stay, so we obliged and headed up there.
- Enjoyed Michele and her boyfriend’s amazing hospitality when we got to her place. They left clean, folded towels on the beds, bought us REESES (my fave that I’ve been craving since I left the US), and made us MAC AND CHEESE…and salad, because, health. So so so sweet. We did work the rest of the night and went to bed early.
- Woke up to breakfast from Michele and walked around Dublin, even though it was pouring rain and freezing. (I guess that’s Ireland for ya) It’s so greeeen!
- Met up with Jeff who was also in town and visited the Guinness Factory! Mmmm. I really like Guinness, but this brewery was like a mall – not really my style, but hey, box checked. I loved the ad stuff that they featured, though. Plus, the top floor has the best 360 view of the city, so at least there’s that.
- Went to dinner at a lovely pub and had some great fish n’chips
- Went out to the “touristy bars” which was actually a lot of fun. It reminded me of NOLA – people drinking in the streets, people trying to convince you to go into strip clubs, lots of music and very lively. We ended up at a bar that brewed their own beer and had a great cover band playing. When it was closing, we headed to another bar that was open for another 30 minutes and imbibed in one last drink.
- Got pizza, met some random girl, yadda yadda yadda, somehow ended up at her house in a very strange situation. None of us are exactly sure how this occurred or why we thought it would be a good idea, but one minute we were sitting on the curbing stuffing our faces, and the next we were in a cab on the way to a strange Irish girl’s house. It was fine, but so strange. We all got back very late, I lost Carlos AGAIN, and I went to bed. (Yes he showed up – at 10 AM…I did not ask questions.)
- Had an awesome homemade Irish breakfast made by Michele, of course. SO GOOD.
- Worked and lounged ALL. DAY. It was awesome. It was kind of rainy and dreary and was perfect for catching up on stuff. Plus, the night before had me feeling pretty terrible. This day was much needed. Carlos left and I had one more night before my flight the next day.
- Went to an awesome Irish pub near Michele’s house which is rumored to be the longest pub in Ireland. A guy was playing guitar and singing and we had a few beers – super pleasant night.
- Woke up and decided to go to Howth, a town that was about 40 minutes north of Dublin on the train. It was BEAUTIFUL. If I came back to Ireland, I’d go north to Galway and Belfast and Howth. So so so relaxing. We hiked along the coast, got some stunning views, and even managed to fit in a couple of pints and some seafood chowder. We were running off schedule but when you’re in Ireland, apparently you can just ask strangers for rides (and end up in their houses??) if you miss the bus, and they’ll give one to you. So, sweaty and muddy in my suede booties that I hiked in (yes, and I fell once but caught myself), we all piled into an old man’s car and listened to him rant about the gangsters that were invaded his awesome Irish island.
- Headed back to Michele’s where I had to grab all my stuff and hightail it to the airport; left back to Spain!
- Flew into Alicante airport and realized that I had messed up my travel plans – I misjudged the time difference and didn’t make the last train that went from Alicante to Valencia (they’re about an hour and thirty minutes apart) sooooo I was stuck in Alicante. I booked a single room in a hostel and told myself that this was meant to happen, because, well, what else can you do?
- Got to my hostel, worked a bit, then ventured out to find tapas after getting an awesome suggestion from the man who owned the tiny hostel.
- Was followed by a gay Norweigen man begging to eat dinner with me. Okay, dramatic, but it’s true! As I was walking down the stairs, this guy yelled to me, “Hey! Are you getting something to eat? Can I come?” I guess he overheard me. Never one to be super weary of friendly strangers (if he had candy I would have taken that too) I told him to join me.
- Had awesome tapas at a local bar and chatted with this guy about his life. He was a student and thought I was 21 – I loved him.
- Walked to the “nightlife” area of Alicante but it was dead because it was the Sunday before everyone went back to school from holiday. So we had a beer and called it a night.
- Booked a train for 3 pm and woke up early to explore the big site in Alicante – the castle. It was a rigorous hike in my booties (AGAIN) but I did it and it was well worth it. Views. On. Point.
- Went to the beach, walked around, sat and reflected at how fcking cool this was.
- Met the Norwegian for a beer (his name is Abu, by the way) and then headed off to the train station.
- Finally got back to Valencia, just in time for a Tapas tour of the city. Om nom nom.
I can’t seem to stay put. Every time I tell myself that I’m going to live where I’m grounded, my fingers wander to google flights and my feet are moving faster than my brain. I guess I can’t help it – life’s short, right?
Coming up: VIVA ESPANA! I love Valencia and I never want to leave. (until I discovered that there’s a Spanish wine country.)
Professional writer, designer, and do-it-aller. Remote Year citizen/alum. Currently living in San Francisco and probably trying to avoid the terrifying amounts of pigeons.