The story of how I quit my job and went to play in Madrid

Archive for the month “September, 2012”

My New England Adventures

Since pictures are worth a thousand words, here’s about 25,000.

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Not pictured:  Diana and fam, making a salad, basement bedroom, Cousin Kate, some tequila, the hipsters at the flea market, Chinatown, $8 Tecate, a rainbow thong and its owner, Ange, Rob, Baby Dom, Bella, some drinking game, root beer floats, a cigar, some dentists, a yellow motorcycle, Mar, Alma, a tiny library, some rain, a missing key, a missing phone, Dharma and Fat Cat.  Damn broken camera!


Happy Birthday to Me

One year ago, I told Margaux that my goal was to be living in a foreign country by my 28th birthday. Here I am, in California, so so close to meeting my goal!

I don’t really do New Year’s Resolutions, but I do make Birthday Resolutions, which is where my original goal of living abroad came from.

Here’s my list of 2011 Goals and Priorities I created on my golden birthday last year. These are the things I have spent the year working on, paying attention to, and prioritizing in my life.  In green, the short version of my self-eval.

  1. Be mindful of the food I eat.   Good. I was mindful of all the jamón I ate in early spring, that’s for sure. And of all the burritos I ate when I got back.  Oh and I sure got my mind-full of the delicious items on various bbqs this summer.  A work in progress. 
  2. Work together toward saving $xx dollars  Goal achieved, February 2012. Luckily, moving to Spain cost the same $xx and we get the chance to start saving all over again. 
  3. Move abroad by my 28th birthday   Oooo. Missed it by 4 weeks. But I technically already moved abroad, so I say, goal achieved. 
  4. Focus attention on relationships with family and friends.  Family? Friends? I hope I have treated you kinder and with more attention this year. There is always more love to go around, though, so I say, this one will be on my list forever. It was a real joy to spend so much time with family this summer. And terribly difficult to skype without internet from Spain. 
  5. Get a different job.  My new job is Professional Hobbyist, College Consultant, Entreprenuer, Freelance Library Visitor. And I am good at it!  While I loved my previous position, it was time for me to leave it so I could complete the other items on this list. See #6
  6. Care for my mental and emotional health  Good work! I feel much better than I did one year ago about myself. It took time and work, and the support of my Margaux and my friends. 
  7. Start a blog  Check. You are reading this now, aren’t you?
  8. Take steps to improve Spanish language skills  Completed 120 hour advanced Spanish course in Spain, plus ordered a lot of jamón in español.
  9. Organize objects in my life to make it simpler to manage life.  Selling everything you own is a good way to get organized. Try it! You’d be surprised how much crap you don’t need. 
  10. Be more physically active.  Joined a gym in Spain, did nothing over the summer (see #1), but I joined a gym for the next month before I go back to Spain. Took a part time job doing campaign work door-to-door (see #5), walking for five hour shifts. Needs improvement! 
  11. Read more books, watch less TV.  I did read a lot of books this year (Hunger Games Trilogy! 3 Books!). Check out my goodreads profile, it’s buff. The part about less TV is not so good. Margaux and I had an affair with our Roku and our Netflix account during the winter, Mentes Criminales (Criminal Minds) in the spring, and I’ve watched a little too much Honey Boo Boo this summer than I’m proud of. 

Next week, I’ll post up my goals for my 28th year. What goals do you have? What should I include?

My goals are very loosely based on Chris Guillebeau’s Annual Self Review.

VISA UPDATE:  Last week, I bought a ticket to return to Madrid, with or without a resident visa on October 22. Regardless of whether I get the damn visa or not, I will be reuniting with my Margaux in 4 weeks on tourist visa #2. If my birthday wish comes true, I will get my real visa by that date, fly to Madrid, and never come back. If not, I’ll be in Madrid for the fall and return in early December to (hopefully) pick up my completed visa.

The Back Story

For all of our readers, I believe its only fair to share the back-story of how living in Madrid happened. A few years ago, shortly after my father in law passed away, my wife, Jean began talking about how much she wanted to travel the world, go new places and explore new things.  We both realized that life is too short to put off these adventures, and if we waited until it was the “right time” or until we had “enough money” then we might never achieve our dream. The world is such a great big place to explore.

Needless to say, Jean and I had many conversations about how to make our dream of seeing the world possible. We discussed how much money to save, where  to go first, what our  goals will be, and of course the fun experience of doing it together.  Our travel plans were going to start in Latin America somewhere since Jean had studied in central Mexico and truly wanted to explore more of the Latin American culture. She began making budgets, fantasy itineraries, and planning our “escape”. We were going to see how much money we could save for one full year and go from there. We even discussed the date when we were both going to quit our jobs so we could travel full time for a while!

However, the only worrisome problems for me were that I love my job, its super flexible, and I work with great people.  The thought of me quitting was taking a huge toll on me mentally and emotionally. Do I put my career first or do I put my relationship first?  This was a very difficult decision as you can imagine. With the economy tanking, and the job market taking a nosedive, the very idea of quitting a GOOD SOLID position was just not happening for me. Of course on the flip side, the idea of being single again was also just not happening. I finally had a beautiful girlfriend (at the time) who is smart as hell with a great sense of humor, why would I ever give that up?

As time passed on, I realized that I had to have both,  the awesome job with the awesome girl, no matter what!  I couldn’t take it anymore, so I had to explain to Jean.  The next time we talked about it, I made it obvious that I was becoming more and more uncomfortable with the whole plan. Clearly, Jean was unhappy, but we have an honest relationship and telling her was the best thing I could have done for the both of us!  We needed to find a different plan and although we did save a good amount of money,  it was crucial for us to start thinking out of the box.

Remember earlier how I said Jean is smart as hell?

It was 100% her idea for me to ask my work if there was any chance of opportunities to live and work in a Spanish speaking country.  Opportunely, I asked the CEO about it on March 17th, 2011 at a St. Patrick’s Day work event and almost exactly one year later, Jean and I were living in Madrid!!

Now, yes I want to fill in our readers with the back-story, but there is a funny twist! We came to Madrid on March 12th, 2012 on our tourist visa (passport only) which is only good for 90 days. As a result, we needed to be out of Spain (do the math) by June 12th more or less. Naturally, on May 28th (my 33rd birthday) we leave the country and fly back to California to finish up my work visa and continue Jean’s resident visa process (not fun in the least bit)!

On July 5th, my work visa was ready for pick at the Los Angeles consulate. Wow, a success for me, I can now officially work in the country of Spain for at least 2yrs. YAY, my dreams to have both the great job and the great girl are coming true, holy snap fish!! Just one more requirement left, shouldn’t be too difficult as we’ve come this far.

Nope, Jean’s resident visa paperwork has now been submitted for about three months now, which means she is stuck in the USA while I am here in Spain.  Keep in mind, remember how I told you earlier, this was 100% her idea?  Well, here I am, by myself and it’s been oh maybe 35 days or so. Damn, I’ve never been all by myself before; it’s a bit scary, but surprisingly I kind of like it, kind of. I guess, in hindsight, I forgot this was also part of the challenge I was asking for.  The good news, I am on my way to starting Spanish classes and I also joined a meetup for expats ( Life is certainly interesting and this is really our life, circa 2012…….Jean stuck in California while I’m here working and living our dreams.  Go figure! EsCrazy!

This is what we are dealing with

Here is one of the emails I sent and the response I received from the Consulate of Spain in Los Angeles.  This one is my favorite, due to the vagueness of their answer.  The added emphasis is mine.

This is what I looked like when I wrote the email.


September 4, 2012


My wife is currently living in Spain with her work visa. I have applied to be able to join her, and am wondering how long it might be. It is very difficult financially and emotionally to live apart from my wife, and we would like to be together in Spain as soon as possible. My NIV is: xxxxxxxx. 
I need some information so I can decide whether to come pick up my passport and go to Spain on a 90 day tourist visa and return to Los Angeles again once my visa is ready, or if I should continue to wait here in the USA. 
Please, can you tell me about how much longer I should expect to wait? Two weeks? 
Thank you for your time,
September 6, 2012
Miss L, 

This is what I looked like when I read the response

We are sorry, but your visa still pending of approval. We do not know exactly how much longer it will take. It could be a few more days, but it could also be another 3 months. So it is up to you, if you want to pick up your passport that is fine. Just remember that you can only be in Spain 90 days. If your visa is ready before you come back we will send you an email and you will have 30 days to come in person with your passport to pick up the visa.
Saludos cordiales,
Visa Department
Consulate General of Spain
5055 Wilshire Blvd. Suite 860
Los Angeles, CA 90036

What would you do?  ESCRAZY!

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