Sunday, July 27, 2014

Summer Expectations

Summer officially started a few days back.  The season of long days and warm nights, of holidays and sun and beaches and blue skies, happiness, smiles... or at least this is the picture many of us paint in our minds, whilst being faced with a different reality.

They say that the secret of happiness is low expectations. But let's be honest, we get carried away more often than not. And perhaps more so in Summer :)

Lunch on the Beach
· Expectation: sitting under the shade of an umbrella, looking over the blue horizon with the soundtrack of the waves coming in and out the shore...In summary: this.
· Reality: umbrella blows away, sand gets all over the food and inside the drink, which by the way is all heated up by the sun and resembles to mulled wine.

Happily Strolling
· Expectation: clear skies, long days, time to walk everywhere, enjoying the warm kiss of the sun.
· Reality: 6pm 40ÂșC A 20m distance to the nearest bus stop takes 20 minutes. It's a miracle that your muscles are responding under such heat.

Summery Clothes
· Expectation: goodbye tights, sleeves, trousers, jumpers... hello flowery dresses, sandals, t-shirts!
· Reality: it's going into supermarkets, shopping centres, cinemas, public transport and well, any building really, and you are transported to the Arctic. What's with the air-con, people?

Months of Sunshine
· Expectation: you've survived months of rain, wind, cold, dull days and finally here is the longed for reward. Weeks of happiness ahead.
· Reality: and suddenly shops start putting up the Christmas decorations. Where does time go?

Nothing lasts forever. Make the most of the things you love because you won't be able to enjoy them forever; and don't let the ones that do harm bring you down, because they too will disappear. Happy Summer!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Ignorance is Bliss

There is a magnifying mirror in my parent's house. Not a normal magnifying mirror, but one where I swear you would be able to see the deepest layer of your skin if you stare at it for more than a minute. I haven't been able to look into that mirror for that long. The second my eyes caught sight of my face in it, I turned away. Scared.  

This revealing mirror got me thinking that more often than not, it's better to live alien to certain truths. I don't mean that we should all lie (not even white lies), no, I'm a very honest person. What I mean is that, occasionally, ignorance is a direct cause of happiness. A few very personal illustrations of this point:
  1. Dental surgery - I truly believe I am a happier person without knowing the details of what happened in the 2 hours I was anesthesised
  2. Santa -  the confusion of finding a Barbie hidden in my parents' wardrobe a few days before seeing it under the tree and the consequent revelation of years of false beliefs
  3. Sales - they can ruin the excitement of owning a pair of gorgeous shoes, when seeing them half price a few weeks later
  4. Food - I trust that you're all familiar with the ingredients that go into the very Spanish black pudding or outrageously expensive French foie? And I don't want to know any of the translations for the delicious plates I tried in Tokyo...
  5. Relationships - if he ever stupidly slipped, he can live with the guilt. I'm not a priest, you won't be forgiven upon confession
  6. Judgmental people - I prefer living not knowing what you think about me. I don't care

    and of course, the thing that started this post in the first place..
  7. Magnifying mirror - my happy little world of ignorance perverted by the blunt truth

So trust me when I say that:
"The quality of your life is in direct proportion to the amount of uncertainty you can comfortably deal with."

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Hunting for my Home

I'm exhausted. I have devoted every single afternoon of these 2 months to view apartments. How many have I seen? More than 50 I'd say (and counting...) And when I'm not visiting one, I'm thinking about where my home will be. Even at night, this thought haunts my dreams.  At this pace, I can easily be considered an expert in real estate.

There is still something weird in entering someone's house, walking on their floors, opening their wardrobes, invading their privacy. It's as if you stepped into someone's life for the duration of the visit. In the end, with practice, I've become quite efficient in my research and visits. There is no time to spare! Here are a few learnings I'd like to share (you can thank me by helping me find somewhere to live!):
  1. Ads: where words have different meaning
    'exterior' = 1 window to the street, the rest non-existent or facing an internal yard.
    'bright', 'loads of light', etc. = you need to turn the lights on from 6pm in summer and the whole day in winter
  2. Ads: where words are left to self-interpretation
    'ready to move in' = add to the price at least 30K EUR more to reform the place.
  3. People live in all kind of conditions
    ok, I'm a bit OCD, but you wouldn't believe the things that I've seen...
  4.'s as if they didn't want to sell their houses
    some people don't let you touch anything, others point out the negative aspects, others even put up the ad and when you call they say that it's not available for viewing!
  5. Estate agents: what do they do again?
    I have provided them with details of what I am looking for and they either a) have just sold a house which was exactly what I am after; or b) show me one that has absolutely nothing to do with what I want
  6. You will like what you can't have
    in the first weeks of my house hunt marathon, I saw the house I wanted to live in. The price was higher than what I can afford (and to be fair, it is overpriced), so I made an offer which got instantly rejected. Now I can't help myself comparing every other house to this one, which I have probably idealised in my mind...
  7. ...because you can't have it all
    when I like the location, I don't like the interior of the house. When the house quality is excellent, it's too dark. When there is light, you need to make the house up...
Needless to say that I am yet to find my dream home. Until then, I'm back to living with my parents. Will we survive?