Monday, October 26, 2009

Oh Lolina, Lolina

During the time I was sick I kept thinking about where I'd go as soon as I felt better. Only one place came to mind: Lolina!*

I decided to take one more day off (I'll go back to work tomorrow, I swear) and just the thought of coming here today made me so happy. Yeah, they didn't have the quiche I love but I'll take what I can get.

What I like the most about this place is that it doesn't feel like I'm in Madrid. Lolina is in an artsy, edgy neighborhood that must be like Madrid's Silver Lake. The cafe is filled with mismatching vintage furniture of different colors and sizes. I'm sitting in a mustard yellow chair that was last upholstered in the 70s and the table is a small, round bedside table with a paper doll design.

There's a green tasseled lamp in the corner that looks like it was snatched from the set of "Amelie." I'm beginning to wonder if there's a rule that in order to work here, you need to have an awesome pixie cut or bob.

I tend to order the sobresasada with brie and honey, which is just as amazing as it sounds. Oh and the sweet ginger peach tea! Heaven in a teacup.

There's also a flower shop next door. And free wi-fi.

So yeah, on the cuteness scale, Lolina is somewhere in between Zooey Deschanel and kittens.

To get here: Exit Metro Noviciado and walk up Calle Espiritu Santo.

*special thanks to Erin from Kansas, who introduced me to this place!

(photos courtesy of Lolina)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Let's do this again sometime, Fall

This picture was taken by Raya at El Retiro when she came to visit me two weeks ago. Fall was in full swing and the trees were ablaze in orange and red.

Come to Madrid in the fall. Trust me, it's perfect.


About my health, I'm still alive! I'm feeling so much better but I haven't left my apartment in three days. I can't wait to go outside.

While you're here, I think you should go read Destined to Design and La Bonne Merde. I went to middle school AND high school with Jessica (Destined to Design) and she's always had a great eye for detail. She's a designer now, which makes perfect sense.

Cara (La Bonne Merde) is teaching English in France. We met as interns at LA Magazine where we took long lunches and talked and worried about writing for a living. She's kind of crazy. I like her.

Friday, October 23, 2009


So... I know, I know. I've been a bad blogger. My sister would email me and ask HEY! WHAT ABOUT THAT BLOG OF YOURS? My first excuse was a very legitimate one: I Don't Have Internet. But once internet was set up in my apartment, my excuse became: I'm Too Busy Having Fun in Spain.

What? Why are you laughing? It's true! I know that back home, I was a bit of a homebody but for the first two weeks I went out every night. EVERY NIGHT. It was exhausting (all that walking!) but it was a lot of fun. After every night out I would say to myself, I should blog about this. But I never did. So I promise to update you all on the fun that has been had. But here is some video proof for now.

EXHIBIT A: Tequila shots at Taqueria del Alamillo, a Mexican restaurant in Madrid.

I love this video because it a) shows how awesome my roommate Eli is and b) it was shot four days before I became deathly ill with... SWINE FLU.

That's right. A month after moving to Spain I got swine flu. I've downplayed the severity of my condition to my friends and family but it's been pretty scary.

As you may remember, I teach English at a primary school in Las Rozas. On Thursday, I heard rumors (mainly from the kids) about a swine flu outbreak at school. Half of a first-grade class was home sick with the virus. Several teachers, including my supervisor, were also sick.

I wasn't too concerned until I developed a mysterious dry cough a couple of hours later. I joked to my friend Charlie (Charlotte from London) that I probably had swine flu.

"I DON'T WANT TO DIEEEEEE," I said in between coughs on our bus ride to Heron City, where we found a swanky Italian restaurant and had pizza for lunch. It was pretty windy that day and it was supposed to rain, so I wore a coat, scarf, gloves and rainboots. Of course it didn't rain, so I looked ridiculous.

But then things took a turn for the worse during my afternoon classes. I started to feel hot and very tired. I hadn't had a fever since middle school so I was taken aback. WHAT IS THIS FEELING? The other English teacher looked at me and told me I didn't look so good and said I should have my temperature taken. As soon as I walked in to the administration office, everyone looked at me and the look on their faces was of OH NO, NOT ANOTHER ONE. They took out the thermometer and I was running a mild fever of 37.5 degrees C. They sent me home. I texted my roommate on the bus ride home that I might have Gripe A, which is what the Spanish are calling swine flu. She told me to pick up some masks on the way home, which I did.

I went to urgent care the next morning (hooray for health insurance!) and all I can say is that I am so grateful that I can speak Spanish. I was able to explain what my symptoms were to the Spanish Dr. Bailey who I'm pretty sure didn't like me. She led me in to her office, a sad blue room with a desk, the kind of desk which witnesses the deliverance of bad news. TAKE ALL OF THAT OFF! she motioned to my coat and scarf. PUT IT ON RIGHT! she said, referring to the mask I was given. A nurse came in and took my temperature. 38.3! She took me away into a small curtained room and gave me warm water and a tablet. I gagged. She then brought out a syringe and just when I was about to ask her WHOA, WHAT'S THAT FOR? her cell phone went off and she picked it up AS SHE SEARCHED MY ARM FOR A VEIN. I panicked. Was she really going to have a phone conversation? Fortunately, she told the person on the other end that she'd call them later. I asked her what the injection was for and she said it would bring my fever down.

This is the part where I should be completely honest. Sitting behind that curtain in a foreign hospital, made me terribly homesick. And scared. I was a 22-year old who wanted her mom, badly. I wanted someone to hold my hand.

After the injection of the medication, she drew some blood and inserted a tube with a valve into my arm and taped it down. She said that if my fever wouldn't go down it would be much easier to administer medication.

I was then whisked away by a lively male nurse for X-rays. So there I was, walking around this hospital with a face mask and a strange contraption taped to my arm. Passersby averted their eyes. In the X-ray waiting room, people preferred to stand then to sit next to me. I WAS DISEASED! As I waited, my glasses would fog up because of the mask so I had to take them off. DISEASED! AND BLIND! Finally, the x-rays were done in about 20 seconds, which made me wonder if I had been exposed to lethal amounts of radiation and like a true American I began to ponder SUING THEIR SPANISH ASSES. Sense of humor? Still intact.

All the seats were taken in the urgent care waiting room and just as I was about to lean against the wall, a kind woman got up and offered me her seat. I was so overwhelmed by this random act of kindness that I wanted to cry. I MUST look awful, I thought.

Sitting next to me was a boy who was also wearing a mask. We looked at each other as if saying, I know EXACTLY how you feel. I felt better knowing that I wasn't the only DISEASED! person there. I was Swine Flu Girl and he was Swine Flu Boy and everyone in the waiting room couldn't stop staring at us.

I was finally taken back inside to see the Spanish Dr. Bailey in her blue office and my X-rays and blood test results were on the desk. I got nervous. She said everything looked normal and that it was just the flu. JUST THE FLU?! I asked her if it was Gripe A. She didn't confirm or deny it, which I found unnerving. I told her, again, that I rarely get fevers and that I had a cold three weeks ago. She said, "Well, fevers are the main symptom of Gripe A..." I asked her if there was a test I could take that would confirm if I had the virus or not. She said government officials had ordered hospitals to only administer the test to those who were at risk: the elderly, children and those with respiratory problems. She told me not to worry but to stay home for a couple of days and to drink plenty of water. She prescribed some paracetamol and ibuprofen and sent me on my way.

Once at home, I was feeling better until I started feeling hot again. I took my temperature. 39 DEGREES CELSIUS. A quick Google search revealed that was 102.2 degrees Fahrenheit. I jumped in the shower. This time, I did cry. How could this be just a normal flu? I took my temperature again after the shower and it was still at 39 degrees. I panicked. I called my friend Debbie, who calmed me down and her fiancé Lucas assured me I wasn't going to die. But it was very hard to calm down. I was pretty sure I was going to die and the news headline would read: American Dies of Swine Flu in Spain.

My roommate finally came home and after one look at me, she sent me to bed and went into Clara Barton mode. Wearing a mask and gloves, she came into my room with a bucket of cold water and a towel. She placed the towel on my forehead but had to soak it again in water because I was so hot that the towel would dry up. She did this for about an hour until my temperature went down to 37.5 degrees. I don't remember much but I fell asleep and didn't wake up until noon.

I'm feeling much better, now that my fever is gone. All that's left is a runny nose and an awful cough. The injection site has turned an ugly bluish purple. I'm not allowed outside until Monday. I spent most of today catching up on my American TV shows and I finally watched "Annie Hall," which I loved.

I had the weirdest dream last night that I had flown home to LA to visit my family but couldn't fly back to Spain for whatever reason.

When I woke up, I realized that no matter how much I grow to love Spain, it's not quite home.

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