So… it’s been a while.
The last month of summer I was posting every other day, and that was the goal for being in Madrid as well. However, life took hold of that plan and (obviously) shattered it on the ground. Although it feels like a lifetime of memories and knowledge since the last time I posted, it’s only been two weeks. It really shows you how much can happen in two weeks.
My first day of school was September 5, which was a bit symbolic for me. I spoke about an ex-best friend earlier, but September 5th is her birthday and even though we’re not friends, it always makes me think of her. Especially since I was in Madrid. When we were in 7th grade and everyone had to choose a language to take, she wanted me to take French with her but I really wanted to learn Spanish, so I took Spanish. She got really mad at me and didn’t talk to me for a week. She dropped French two years later, and eight years later place me in Madrid taking economics classes in Spanish. Maybe it’s a lesson in being a good friend, but I think it’s more one of being able to do your own thing.
Doing your own thing, that’s a big part of everyone’s life here. I did my own thing and chose to take classes with locals instead of in the international school with my friends. Really it wasn’t a choice so much as “if I want to graduate with three degrees I can’t waste this semester”. So my classes have been filled with SpanishDict, acting like I know small towns in Spain when I strike a conversation starting with, “De donde eres?”, and the feeling of relief when I hear an Australian accent (native English speakers!).
The first week was a crazy mix of fun, stressful, and intimidating that all swirled together in a tunnel of wind that made me feel like I was back in Oklahoma… meaning I indeed did not have my shit together.
Even though Spain has an open economy, there are no major monopolies like in the United States. My roommate, Maeve, and I scrounged our street but could only find grocery stores that emulated a Walgreens. I, in a moment of weakness, used toilet paper and two pairs of Spanx because I couldn’t find pads on the first day of my period. We never had a lack of fruit though, there is a fruiteria on every block corner. On Thursday when the hunger for something fresh like protein and vegetables took over, I decided I finally had to get my life together.
It’s something that happens whenever you move somewhere new– in the time it takes to get into the swing of things, you let yourself go a bit. However the reality is if you let yourself go too far for too long, there will be consequences, and I don’t like the thought of that. So like every time I have ever felt out of control in my life, I turned to Life in Five Acts.
Life in Five Acts is a life plan I made for myself when I was 17 and felt like my entire life was falling apart. It’s a set of rules that I unconsciously follow when I am doing well, but have to be more deliberate about when I am not doing well. Although I’m not depressed or medically incompetent like the other times I dusted out Life in Five Acts, it’s still necessary that I start living by it again.
Act i: It is near impossible to heal in the same place you were once gravely hurt and felt immensely that you no longer had a future
Act i doesn’t pertain to me as much as it has in prior encounters with Life in Five Acts, but it was a nice and gentle reminder to get up off my ass and clean my bathroom. I’m not sharing a bathroom right now, but in a week our other roommate will move in and nobody wants to move in with a slob.
Act ii: Movement, even that of the smallest kind, is medicine
I’ve gone a substantial amount of time without exercising since I’ve been traveling. I have to remind myself that I walk an average of 10+ miles a day and that should be considered exercise, but it doesn’t seem like it to me.
Unlike my university at home, you have to pay for the gym here. It’s 40 minutes away from my apartment, meaning I’d only really be able to use it before or after class. For the time being I’m going without a gym, but when it gets cold outside that might change.
So I made a running schedule. Every other day, through the most beautiful city park I think I’ve ever seen. Think Central Park but cleaner, greener, and breathing the air doesn’t make you feel like you’re five again and waking up in the middle of the night with an asthma attack. I have only run there once before, a spontaneous trip because the first time we went clubbing I was in a bad mood and thought to myself, “I feel gross, I need to run”. So although we went to bed at 4am that night, I woke up at 8am to run around Retiro. It wasn’t exactly the cleansing, healthy experience I was hoping it to be, but it was very pretty. I ended up going to sleep at 4pm that night.
Act iii: The easiest way to make yourself happy is and always will be to simply do more of what you love
To be honest, there are so many things that I love that sometimes I struggle because I don’t have the time to do them all. A very good problem to have, for sure. One of those things I really like to do is write, and it doesn’t seem like a chore to me. So I want to get back up to regularly posting every other day, without the stress of feeling like it’s an assignment.
I also really love photography, and although I’m taking a photo class this semester, art in school just doesn’t really fill up that void. So I’m networking, making lists, and attempting to get my name out there across the pond. I know some soccer players here, I’m trying to shoot concerts for a music magazine I work for, and I’m just overall trying to bring my camera everywhere. Get ready for way more photo essays.
This one is a double-sided sword. I love hanging out with my friends, and it’s been fun to go out to clubs and dance with them, especially when the music is good. However it’s also fun to be completely alone. This previous weekend I had a lot of fun with my friends at three different bars and discotecas Friday night, but when they wanted to go out Saturday night I decided to stay in. I sat on our Madrid balcony, ate a burger, and watched Gossip Girl. It was amazing.
Act iv: Take your medicine in the form of food so you don’t have to take your food in the form of medicine.
Europe means carbs and chocolate, and I have fully immersed myself in Europe. Although I used to eat a lot of carbs, I also ate a salad, chicken, and veggies every day. It’s been hard to find a store with lots of food in it as I said before, but Google has never wronged me in the past. I found a huge underground grocery store with all my favorite items. Come to find out, it’s an American grocery store, but I truly do not matter at this point.
I got back on a good eating schedule, I started packing my lunch, and I rarely get on the train hungry anymore.
Act v: And some days? Well, my coaches always told me that muscle develops the most during recovery time.
Saturday night when I decided to stay home, I went to sleep at 1am and was completely knocked out until 11am. After which, I bought a blueberry muffin, and sat at Retiro Park for five hours. After, I came home and cooked pasta, brussel sprouts, and garlic bread with Maeve and our friend Nola. Despite waking up at 11am, I went to bed at a balmy 9pm after allowing myself some chocolate (It really does hit different here).
So maybe this was, on the surface, just a long ‘catch up with my life’ however it was trying to also be, subthreshold, an introduction of Life in Five Acts. Although they seem like obvious things to do when you’re struggling, it’s always helpful to bring them to the forefront of your mind. So I hope that while reading this, someone can use the Acts to pull themselves out of a rut like I have many times before.
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