Tagged: Barcelona

There’s No Place Like Home

But for the first time ever… I don’t have one! Sure, I have some official addresses, but I don’t have a home right now. Let’s recap.

My little sublease was up at the end of July, because I thought I would be returning to L.A. after having a residency meeting in June. Well, that appointment got placed at the end of September, screwing up that plan. So instead of looking for another overpriced apartment in the Paris region, I estimated how much I could save by staying somewhere else. So the month of August was spent in Barcelona, and then the past two weeks visiting a friend in Ghana. The largest part of my spending was the plane ticket to Ghana, but overall I definitely spent less than I would have if I’d stayed in Paris. I’m back in Paris now, and surfing my way around until the end of October, when I really get to go back to L.A. Yes, the Parisien adventure, Part I, is coming to a close… it’s practically bankrupted me. I need to get back to a place where I can at least do background work and garage sales.

A month and a half is a lot to go over in one post, so I won’t do that. I’ll spread it out a bit. I did give you a little update from Barcelona… did you want more? lol Barcelona was a nice break. Downstairs from where I was staying was a fruit and vegetable market where almost every day I’d go down and check their discount shelf, with the fruits that were on their last legs. I’d pick up a bunch of fruit for only a few euros. I’ve been trying to stick to spending roughly 5€ a day on food. And now that I’m back in Paris, I’ve unpacked all my kitchen goodies to see what I’ve got to eat in the next 40-ish days. Can’t throw things out, that’s wasteful! I made a chickpea/spinach/coconut milk curry today (no lemon, that tasted weird to me last time). The past few days I’ve been chowing down on an African recipe taught to me by someone in Ghana. It’s not vegan, there’s fish involved, but it’s just so gooooood and doesn’t cost much to make. Perhaps when I get back to L.A. I’ll be able to find some kind of imitation smoked fish flavour to make it vegan. I also attempted to make some crêpes the way we had them in Cape Coast, but I failed. I only found one or two recipes online. But I’m not sure what the problem really is… they’re just dense, and not as sweet… I guess I’ll just stick to French crêpes!

Well, I just wanted to let you know I’m alive (still taking my malaria pills) and well and back in Paris. In the next post I’ll tell you more about Ghana, as it was my first trip to Africa, and very different from anywhere else I’ve been.

Ciao!

Focus

Death Kiss

 

So I’m still in Barcelona and my stay here is already halfway over! I’ve been reflecting on some of the things I wished to accomplish while I was here and realize I’m not very far into making any of them a reality. Perhaps I was a little overambitious, or perhaps in the end it was a really good thing for my sanity to just take the time to relax a bit instead of constantly trying to be productive. Or perhaps I just succumbed to the heat and really could have gotten more done had I been able to breath.

The Potential Big Ideas I had for Spain….

Connect with film makers and film something.

Perform music.

Make a music video.

Write more songs.

Learn some Salsa or Tango!

Well, I did write one more song, and a second is on it’s way. And we may be playing a set at the very end of the month, but we seriously need more practice, and that may be the only show we do.  Still pretty cool though. 🙂

As for the music video, well, I never did get someone to help professionally record one of my songs, so that’s not happening yet.

And I have not gone dancing yet…

I really have just unplugged since being here. Of course, the heat kind of makes you feel like holding very still in front of  a fan for long stretches of time, but that’s not all I’ve done. I’ve done some wandering around, put in some beach time, met a few new people, gone to the grocery store a lot…

This week I’ve gotten sucked back into reality with a surprise bill from the IRS (how are they allowed to just NOT tell you that you supposedly owe them taxes and fees from years gone by until you log into their website and try to set up a payment plan for this previous year… the only one you’re aware of owing anything for?) and the ATM rejecting my request for cash because there’s not enough there. It makes a person want to just disappear. Even buying the discount fruit at the corner store, this girl is still on the verge of trouble. I get an Adsense payment around the 25th of the month, but I’ve spent the past hour trying to figure out how to transfer any amount of money from my US bank to my French bank (since they have no useful ATMs here…) with no solution.

In good news. Today I took a free Reiki course a new friend was offering through his Meetup group, and tomorrow is another beach day. We are also going to get a little more organized in planning our days, since we don’t have a lot of time left before our show and the end of the trip.

So I Googled information on productivity. Again. I tend to forget how to be productive, and get really scattered or distracted with “things that need to get done that I don’t care about or want to be doing.” You know those things.

I found this article at the Harvard Business Review about How to Accomplish More by Doing Less.

And this one at The New York Times, both by Tony Schwartz, where I learned:

…. during the day we move from a state of alertness progressively into physiological fatigue approximately every 90 minutes. Our bodies regularly tell us to take a break, but we often override these signals and instead stoke ourselves up with caffeine, sugar and our own emergency reserves — the stress hormones adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol.

Working in 90-minute intervals turns out to be a prescription for maximizing productivity. Professor K. Anders Ericsson and his colleagues at Florida State University have studied elite performers, including musicians, athletes, actors and chess players. In each of these fields, Dr. Ericsson found that the best performers typically practice in uninterrupted sessions that last no more than 90 minutes. They begin in the morning, take a break between sessions, and rarely work for more than four and a half hours in any given day.

OK that helps for long stretches of songwriting and singing, or doing work on the computer. I was spending all day every day working online last month.

This article on Inc. also mentions the 90 minute cycles, along with several tips on how to be more productive. They’re kind of obvious, like stay away from distractions. But setting small goals on the way to big goals is a good one and I think we’ll be doing more of that this week. I have so many bigger goals in my mind that I need to work towards, not just ones for this month. Sometimes it’s easy to get overwhelmed and not make any progress.

I read an old article once in which Audrey Hepburn was interviewed (a very old article, from the 1950’s) and mentioned something about focus, and how important it was to success. I wish I had the article with me to share, but alas, I do not. But it stuck with me, because focus can be very hard for me unless I’m doing something I really enjoy. I keep working at it though…. focus, productivity, time management. Someday I’ll master it and make some progress in life. 🙂

What about you, how do you deal with time management and reaching goals?

 

Kendal Brandon Barcelona

Sagrada Familia

So this past week has basically been a vacation for me. One where I don’t think about EDF, I don’t do online work, I’m not on the computer all day, I’m not moving things around from apartment to apartment to storage, I’m just being present, being in the moment, in Barcelona. And I’m here all month. I’ve started getting back to those things I need to work on, calling EDF, that sort of thing… but oh gosh it’s been so good to basically not have to think about anything and just enjoy life for a week!

It’s been extremely hot here the past week, though, and without AC in the apartment I’m staying in, it’s been a bit hard to bear. I find myself almost wishing I had some kind of office job to go to, just for some cold air. Somehow I managed to get a little cold yesterday that’s hanging on today, too. I’m not quite sure what brought that on. Can heat make you sick? But when we realized we needed more pesto for our sandwiches, I decided dragging myself out of bed to visit the air conditioned grocery store might be good for me. It was. For a few minutes I was bouncing through the aisles breathing in cool air. Later in the day we went out to Sagrada Familia for the first time, once the sun went down… so that’s the photo you see up there. I haven’t taken my real camera out with me just yet… since I’m here for a month I figured I’d get a feel of the place first, then go out for photos. Hope you don’t mind. 🙂 I also brought the 3D camera, so… we’ll see what I can do with that. I still have to figure out how to share photos from that camera. I’m starting to figure out how to share them on YouTube 3D…

As I’ve said before, I want to make sure I’m being creative on each trip I take, and I’ve lucked out on this one! A friend from L.A. (Brandon, hence the title… and btw, if you haven’t seen Vicky Christina Barcelona, do so!) is joining me for the entire month, bringing along his guitar skills and tiny little travel guitar. And then our host here in Barcelona just asked if we’d be interested in playing a show (for money! And food! And drinks!) at the end of the month. To which we said, “heck yeah!” Because the original plan was to just work on music, and then go to open mics and busk. So we’ve been browsing songs we’d like to cover, and working on a few originals. Except today it sounds like I’ve never sung in my life. Well, tomorrow is another day.

Today, while listening to Enya on our quest to find songs to cover, we heard a commotion outside. I couldn’t resist. I peeked through our 4th floor window and watched as some people argued outside. No idea what they were saying. Two women and three guys in red were standing in the crosswalk. I kept trying to figure it out. Well the answer came when the woman removed several sausages from her skirt… then more sausages… must have been a dozen sausages… ahhhh. And the men must be Dia employees. I hope they don’t put those back on the shelf. I hope people aren’t stealing fruit too, because that’s what I buy….

We’ve started hitting the vegetarian restaurants around Barcelona, so I hope to make a post all about that in the future. I’ve taken pictures of everything I’ve eaten (well, at the veg places) in preparation for sharing with you. 🙂

I have to say, I came to Barcelona thinking there would be a lot of colourful buildings. I don’t know where I got that idea, because the buildings are grey and very similar to Parisian buildings. Except the Gaudi buildings. Well, they’re grey, but really cool. Why on earth did I think there would be colourful buildings? I was looking forward to it, though. Well, at least I get a beach! And the ocean! The ocean isn’t freezing cold! I got in the ocean! I will get photographic proof of this next time. The only other time I’ve swam in the ocean was a 2005 trip to Hawaii.

Even though there are so many things about Paris that I don’t miss – the winter weather, lack of beach, expensive food, and the impossibly small living quarters (unless you can afford upwards of 2000€ a month)… I still find myself missing it. It’s a little crazy. But I’ll be leaving it for a while, since I know I can’t afford to stay, and I can’t deal with moving around as often as I have been…. there’s no way to create stability, habits, progress, when you’re constantly moving around the way I have been. Barcelona certainly seems to have some things going for it though. I found cappuccinos for 1,50€ at a vegetarian restaurant, whereas in Paris they’re usually around 4€. I found vegetarian and (one) vegan options at a place we stopped in for a kind of tortilla sandwich (for about 5€). I spy many AC units in apartments, in the metros (but not in the stations, where you diiiiie of heat waiting for the train), and in stores. Even the monthly metro pass is cheaper at 54€ (compared to Paris’ 65€, though that covers zones 1-2 and in Barcelona I just got zone 1, but it seems to cover all you need).

So yes! I’m in Barcelona! And I’m here ’til the end of the month! And performing before I leave! It’s fantastic! So you can look forward to photos and videos… though I may be a little behind on posting. I go to Ghana from Barcelona and will definitely be out of touch while I’m there, but I’m going to do the best I can.

I hope your summer is going well. Anyone else traveling to new places?

How Can You Afford To Travel?

It’s asked. It’s thought. And sometimes my answer is “I can’t.” At the moment I’m in a space where I just have to have faith that if I keep working hard and smart that I will get out of this hole and back to a bit of stability. But the answer to the question of “how can you afford to travel?” right now is…. “How can I afford not to?”

I’m realizing that I can’t afford to stay in Paris, at least not comfortably. But I have to stick around for a few more months for some classes, meetings, and to get to India in November with a shorter and cheaper flight (and vaccinations). My solution to the “I can’t afford to live here anymore” situation? Travel. Yeah. That thing you think you do only when you have money.

But I can explain. I took the leap and bought a round trip ticket to Barcelona, and another roundtrip from there to Ghana. In total, this cost me less than 900€ and will take me from July 31 to September 19. To couchsurf or rent a room in Spain will end up costing me maybe 200-300€. And I can easily couchsurf the rest of September in Paris. So right there is about 1200€, or 600€ a month, which is equal to or less than what I would pay for a room or studio in Paris. BUT I get a grand new adventure out of it, in places where everything else is cheaper. So I’ll be lowering my living costs. Yes, for the moment, I had to put the tickets on a credit card because I don’t get paid that far in advance and am squeezing every last dime (er…. centime?) but I think it was worth it.

I think traveling can frequently be cheaper than staying in one place, especially if you use couchsurfing.org or helpx.net for your accommodations. Yes, airfare can be a big cost, but if you plan carefully, you still could be saving more money than you’d spend at home on rent and food (and gas, etc….). If you have a mileage card, that can help you out. I don’t have one, but maybe I’ll get one in the next year if they’ll approve me!

So that said… yes, surprise! My summer plans are to go to Barcelona and Ghana. While in Barcelona I want to make a music video for an original song (still being composed, and still seeking a musician to help me record it!) and while in Ghana I will be filming at my friend’s computer school.

In other news… I’ve made a little video about the past 2 weeks, since I’ve been doing some kind of interesting things! Filming a short starring my dog, pretending to be military, going to the White Dinner, dancing along the Seine….. It’s summertime. My favourite time in Paris. Well… if it would stop freaking raining.

And now…