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XOXO, Cat Lady Abroad

Okay, blogging. I’m fairly sure I remember how to do this.

Right now I wish I had done this blog differently from the start—namely, written it under a pseudonym and created a space where I could write honestly and unapologetically (like a pathetic, aging “Gossip Girl” abroad; XOXO, ~**Lauren**~~).

The only "Gossip Girl" book I read before deciding I would rather wash my face with hydrochloric acid than continue with the series.

But I didn’t do that, so here I am, a few weeks out from my most recent post. My reasons for not updating are two-fold: The first reason is, in a nutshell, distractions. They’ve been plentiful and mostly negative. The second is technical: I haven’t had Internet (except for when I bum it from friends) for about the past week.

I’ll expand the nutshell to include that a little over a week ago I left my apartment. My reasons for moving out are more than two-fold and difficult to explain here. En fin, it had to happen, so it did.

I’m now residing in a top-secret location somewhere in Sevilla capital. Hahajajaja, that makes my life sound so much more fascinating than it really is. It’s easy to trick people into believing you have an exciting life just by keeping a blog in a far-away country (remember this the next time you read anything written by someone who calls herself an expat).

Truthfully, my life isn’t very exciting. It mostly involves not being on the Internet—which is both maddening and liberating, though mostly maddening, since it keeps me from doing work or contacting anyone further than 5 miles away—and trying to keep a cat from clawing through my pajama pants while I watch “Andaluces por el Mundo” on TV and eat store-bought tortilla española. It’s like, can’t you see I’m busy here, you stupid furry animal? Do you not have any catnip?

[Aside: That was cruel. I take it back. I’m trying this new tactic where I’m nice to the cat; we share a living space now, so I need to put my best foot forward as far as convivencia goes.

The trouble is that I’ve never liked cats. In fact, I’ve always had a particular aversion to cats based on what I would summarize as their cold dispositions, selfishness and unnerving stealth. My catmate is certainly selfish and stealthy, but she’s also oddly affectionate. At least, she thinks I’m a chair and she likes to shed all over my functional-but-not-fashionable-all-black sweatpants outfit. To me, this is affection. When any breathing thing chooses to come within three feet of me, it’s affection. So who knows… maybe I’m giving myself more credit than I deserve with the catmate. Now that I’ve typed it out, my definition of affection is pretty skewed.]

But let’s get back to non-feline business. I’m going to blog more often this year because I want to blog more often. Y punto. I’m also going to try to stop interjecting Spainisms into my otherwise English posts, because I know it probably comes off as pretentious and annoying (I realized this after my boyfriend had me listen to David Sedaris making jokes about the way his college professor pronounced the word “Nicaragua”).

At first I never thought much about “keeping up” with my blog or writing X amount of posts in a certain amount of time—when I studied abroad, I blogged prolifically and energetically. But the challenges I faced as a student were fairly trivial when compared to the challenges I’ve faced here as a so-called real person two years later. It was easy to blog often, because I wasn’t wading through many negative encounters and then trying to keep from blogging about them. I was living in another world when I studied here, and I still appreciate that experience for what it was.

But I can now say that I was very naïve about what I thought Spain would mean for me when I came back. I was naïve to think that because life was great two years ago in Sevilla, life would be great (without effort) two years later in Sevilla.

I mean, I wasn’t that obtuse; last summer I acknowledged ad nauseum that it was going to be different this time, it would probably be weird for a while, I’d have a new social scene, a different context for being here, and so on. But I gravely miscalculated several differences.

For example, I never thought that living in Spain could be anything less than “amazing,” because that’s what it was when I studied abroad. But study abroad is like living in a four-month-long game of Candy Land; the setbacks are scenic and ultimately of little consequence. A lot of auxiliares treat their experience in Spain the same way—like a year- or two-year-long game of Candy Land—and that’s fine. If I could, I probably would too.

What's the worst that can happen in Candy Land, you get sent back to the Candy Cane Forest? (Photo courtesy of http://craziestgadgets.com)

However, I’ve reached a place where I can no longer wax poetic about Spain or Sevilla or living abroad. I hate admitting when I’ve been anything short of pragmatic, but I confess: I idealized Spain. That idealization is contagious among the Americans who come here, because there’s a lot to love in this city. Yet after a certain point, life levels out in Sevilla. The aspects of the city that were beautiful at first might still be beautiful, but there comes a time to stop deifying them.

Many people who spend time living overseas will come to this realization; I think I came to it a little bit sooner than I would have liked. I thought I’d be using this blog to write open love letters about Sevilla all year long, but instead I gained the kind of clarity that makes it impossible to do that.

It’s okay though, because there are already enough bloggers who write love letters about Spain or France or South Africa or knitting or ultimate Frisbee. Or even cats. I’m going to write more this spring anyways, as previously stated, even if I’m not writing love letters; in keeping with the advice I was given to treat the next few months as a quasi-sabbatical, I plan to continue doing what I enjoy, which is blog (as a verb). I may not be as doe-eyed and naïve about Spanish life this time around, but that doesn’t mean I can’t make unsolicited observations on the Internet.

So get ready; I plan on blowing up a Google Reader near you as soon as I get a reliable Internet connection in my home. I’m going to write so much practical, grown-up, real-person dribble, it’ll make your head spin. Also, they say it’s kosher to blog while jobseeking, which I will be in a matter of months. That said, I’m now accepting job offers for positions starting this summer, if you have one for me. I hear there’s a real surplus of journalism jobs these days.

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