Say Hello to my Mother: Guest Post

Before I let my mother take the reins, I’d just like to say that I hounded her to do this, and she finally obliged. She wants to be crazy rich and famous, so naturally that means she’ll get her start on Y Mucho Más. You may not realize this, but I’m, like, totally famous. (NOT.)

Here’s Donna. (You may also wish to read this entry, because she’s great.)


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Reasons (Never) to Date a Foreigner

  1. Visa
    Visa issues. Being together gets a lot more complicated. Unless, of course, you’re both members of the EU. If so, whoop dee doo for you. (I hate you.) Someone either has to get a work visa (difficult), a student visa (not so difficult, but expensive), or a marriage visa (big time commitment; hope you don’t have problems with that). Last year, I worked as a Conversation & Language Assistant, which allowed me to be there legally, but this year I’m back in the good old US of A, and trying to find some way to get him over here without resorting to packing him in my suitcase with plenty of food and beverages so they’ll just never know.
  2. Stupid questions. Perhaps I’m impatient, but we’re normal people too, and just because my boyfriend is from another country doesn’t make us any more interesting. However, people don’t tend to agree with me and love to ask the same questions over and over, “When is he coming over?” “Why isn’t he here?” “What language do you two speak when you’re together?” “Does he like America?” “Does he speak English?” “Does he like spicy food? He must love burritos, right?” Uuuuuuuugh.

  3. Airplanes[Source]
    Planes and airports. Back in the day (okay, like four years ago), plane travel was exciting because, well, I rarely had to do it. Nowadays, I feel like I’m on a plane or waiting in an airport every other month. I hate airports and planes. I would not hate it so much if I had lots of money and rode in first class, but alas, that is not the case. If you’ve ever ridden coach, you know what I’m talking about: 8 hours on a plane with your elbows brushing your overly talkative neighbor is just not my cup of tea. I’ve taken the same Madrid-Chicago flight so many times I start repeating this phrase in my sleep: “Tea? ¿Té? Coffee? ¿Café?” and can tell you the breakfast menu by heart (croissant sandwich, cup of fruit, Kit Kat bar, orange juice).
Now that I’ve told you the bad things, here are the good ones.
  1. Sexy/cute accents. Totally superficial, but totally true. I love the Spanish accent and Mario, although fluent and with a rather impressive accent, still slips into his (what we call) Espainish accent from time to time and I love it. I find his English to be adorable, especially when he slips up. I hope he doesn’t find it patronizing, but when he uses double negatives it’s cute. (However, native speakers + double negatives = ew.) And when he speaks Spanish, oh my. Sexy as hell…
  2. Culture
    Introducing them to your culture. It’s really fun to show off all the fun things about American culture: barbecues, baseball, fireworks, nature, family, and friends. I love introducing Mario to what it’s really like to live in the States. Some of it is like the movies (yellow school buses), but some of it isn’t (cheerleaders always being stuck up snobs).
  3. Learning a new language. As I’ve written before, learning a new language is difficult, so why not try it with a real live personal dictionary?
  4. People think your life is exciting. Not that my life is boring, but it’s really a very normal(ish) life. But people tend to think it’s very intriguing. Can’t say I mind that.
  5. Two
    Two cultures. You will always have two different cultures, two different languages in which to express yourself. I sometimes struggle to find the right English word, something I never foresaw happening. If you choose to have children, you can raise them bicultural and bilingual, a prospect I find very exciting and potentially jealousy-inducing (what I wouldn’t give to be truly bilingual!).

Fun with Amtrak

I firmly believe that, in Europe at least, trains are the best, most comfortable way to travel. Sure, for long distances they take longer than planes, but once you factor in the travel to and from the airport, the waiting, the security, the baggage carousel – well, it adds up. On a train, you arrive ten minutes early, get on, and go. There’s hardly ever any delays. The seats are also bigger. I’m almost 5’11”, and it’s nice to have a bit of room to stretch out.

In Spain, the major line is Renfe. There are the typical trains, which aren’ts slow, but certainly aren’t bullet trains. However, my absolute favorite way to travel is the Ave. The word ave in Spanish means bird. These trains go up to 186 mph. On the line from Madrid to Seville (in southern Spain, a journey of several hours), the line guarantees arrival within five (!!) minutes of the advertised time and offers a full refund if it is delayed beyond that time window. But only 0.16% have this happen to them! As you can see, they are quite reliable.

I had never ridden on the Amtrak from my hometown to Chicago before last year, when I went to pick up the boyfriend at O’Hare airport. The morning train was uneventful and we arrived early. There is no real station here, just a place where the train stops briefly to pick up any passengers that might be waiting there at 6:50am, the only time the train comes. Union Station in Chicago, however, is another story. I think madhouse would be an appropriate way to describe it. People are absolutely everywhere. There is a line to get on the train starting around 20 minutes before the scheduled departure. All of this chaos contributes to a general sentiment of stress and haste. I too felt the need to line up, even if it was entirely unnecessary.

On my first trip, we weren’t delayed, but once we left, we actually stopped and went backward. I kid you not. You may not find this crazy, but in Europe, they do. Their system is so well planned that things like that just do not happen. The second trip was similar, but our train was delayed ~30 minutes. After leaving, we stopped several times to wait for who knows what. We arrived home two hours late. This is not unusual. Unfortunately. I suppose we are so used to delays in travel (with airplanes and the like) that not many complain. But once you go Europen rail, you can hardly go back.

I guess it’s a good thing I’ll be heading across the pond in a few weeks. Yes, my visa came! I am very excited, more so because Mario is here, learning the American way of life: drinking milkshakes, eating hamburgers, and experiencing everything humidity has to offer him (i.e., bucketloads of sweat). September 7th—goodbye Amtrak, hello Ave!