Archive | Open Letters

Open letter to Spanish ladies

Posted on 28 February 2015 by American expat!

Dear Spanish ladies,

I know you aren’t always at the cutting edge of fashion, what with the mullet still a popular hairstyle, wearing leggings as pants, and confusing style with the sporting of designer labels – and I don’t expect you to be. But I felt particularly pressed to speak up about a recent disturbing trend that I have seen everywhere for over a year now–summer and winter–that has me cringing: Flesh color ed pantyhose worn under short shorts.

I get it ladies – you want to wear the shorts, but want some coverage and don’t want the lady parts hanging out. But nude hose are not flattering and are never fashionable. They look dated and crappy on the waitresses and chambermaids who are still forced to wear them, and they look dated and crappy on you. Just remind yourself when you reach for them in the sock drawer: You are not a cirque du soliel performer, you are not Lady GaGa and you are not a professional ballroom dancer. Put them back in the drawer.

I’m not saying don’t wear the shorts, put those things on! And if you want to hold the ladyparts in/hide the buttcheek (and I commend you for doing so) or just be warmer, then don some sheer colored tights or even patterned hose.

Just please, not the nude stockings.

Do you need more reasons to dissuade you? OK: They are particularly disturbing when your legs are wanting of a shave. Stuffing your leg hairs into nude pantyhose does not hide the hair. I’ll be blunt, when you are a grown-ass woman, you can’t get away with shaving up to your knees and stopping like you did when you were 15. No. You are hairier now than when you were a teenager. Some of you teenagers are hairier than others, so don’t think because you still have a 1 to the left of your age numbers you get a free ticket.

If you don’t want to commit to shaving the full leg out of laziness, denial, or the belief in some myth that shaving makes your hair grow back thicker and darker (it is already thick and dark enough, believe me and everyone else you’ve stood next to in that outfit on the metro) then please, do yourself a favor and don some colored tights.

That’s all.

Love, Me

not me


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An open letter to building contractors in Spain

Posted on 07 March 2014 by American expat!

Dear Spanish contractors of today:

I appreciate that you understand that humans, for the most part (though I can think of a few exceptions), do not like living in cold, dark, airless cave-like dwellings.  I don’t know why this escaped your ancestors who built the antique dwellings that pass for apartments here, but evidently it did.

Anyway, I really like that you get that sunlight is important to most human beings, and that mold is not a welcomed, decorative feature of bathrooms. But while your understanding of living spaces is a vast improvement on that of your forefathers, you still need a lot of help in the design department.

Take bathrooms for example. Why would you make this the darkest room in the house? This has caused me, on more than one occasion, to unknowingly exit my house with the skin of my face made up into an unnatural shade of orange. Or sometimes I will catch a reflection of myself and first mistake it for a frightening clown.  Inevitably, I will discover one makeup faux pas or another, committed in the darkness of the bathroom, hours after leaving my home. It’s distressing. Perhaps this dim mood lighting in the bathroom would be better suited to the bedroom, which, incidentally, burns with more wattage than any other room in the house.

And how about walls. Whatever gave you the idea that pressed chalk is a great wall surface? I’m assuming that’s what it is, since it crumbles at the slightest touch and

trying to clean it means that whatever cleaner used merely absorbs into the wall, discoloring the white around the cat paw print as if to frame it. If you try scrubbing, the whole framed cat paw crumbles off the wall, leaving a dirt smeared hole in the spot where Kitty tried to catch the red dot.

Let’s talk about kitchens. The placement of the washing machine in the dead center of the kitchen, while the space for a dishwasher is about as far from the kitchen

sink as you can get, are clearly decisions made by someone who does neither laundry nor dishes. The placement of the fan over the stove was evidently done by someone who doesn’t cook, either. At least not someone over 4’9″ tall. One has to slot themselves in sideways between the burners and the fan apparatus to get a good look at what’s in the pot on the back burner. This nearly always results in whacking one’s head on the fan thing when pulling back from the scalding steam or spitting grease you just stuck your face way too close to.

And finally, how about more than one outlet per room? The conga line of power strips dancing the length of the desk in the office, with all those black and grey cords fanning out across the floor and walls on their way to power up office machinery is a little unsightly. OK, you did provide more than one outlet in the bedroom, but I’m not going to get much use out of a socket that resides at face level in the middle of the wall opposite the bed. Especially when the walls are made of chalk and any attempt at mounting a shelf or a TV (this is presumably what it’s for) would result in a pile of chalk-rock on the floor and a hole of exposed cement. So, I chose to cover this particular outlet with a (very light) picture, which still resulted in chalk-rock on the floor and chunks of wall missing.

So keep building those new places, they have elevators and sunlight and we humans like that. But get someone who actually thinks about how a space will be lived in to throw some design skills in the mix, OK?



Washing machine in dead center of kitchen

Washing machine in dead center of kitchen

My chalky, crumbling walls.

My chalky, crumbling walls.

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Stop with the winter already….

Posted on 02 March 2013 by American expat!

Dear Spain,

So…yesterday as I was running through what I thought was a break in the rain, actual hail ricocheted off my uncovered skull. I arrived to the cafe where I was meeting with my friend with wet hair and mascara blobs sitting on my lashes, because I use this kind of mascara that makes little tubes around your lashes and when it gets wet, you have to pull the globs off with your fingers  – anyway, it wasn’t pretty.  The point is that it is already March, about the time when we are supposed to participating frantically in all forms of outdoor sports in anticipation of the boiling heat that is to come shortly.

But I find the only sport I have done lately is running for cover because of the rain, hail, and gale force winds the last two weeks. No one has been able to dry laundry because putting it out on the balcony is essentially kissing all of it goodbye, waving as it all takes flight on some giant gust of air, to be found later in the next barrio over by one of the multiple shopping cart wielding gitanas rolling through. And it has been cold. Cold enough that  instead of going to her little bed at night, the cat instead tries to dig her way under my covers at 4am.

You know, Spain, you and I had this talk a couple of years ago around this same time. You did well for a two years–I was proud of you!– but you’ve kind of backslid on your agreement to quit dicking around with the freezing weather this late in the year. It’s bad enough that there is basically some fever plague going around, knocking everyone out for two weeks of misery, but do you have to add insult to injury with the wind and rain storms? We are all stuck at home, watching our plants die on our balconies one by one and waking up in the middle of the night to a hairy paw in the face. It’s depressing.

You aren’t doing yourself any favors in the financial department either with this weather. The biggest mobile phone conference in the world was here this week and how did you welcome the thousands of attendees and potential return visitors? Um yeah, you blew off their hats and sucked up their VAT receipts into the sky so now they get no tax refunds on their purchases of hideous, button covered Desigual blazers and hippy clogs from Casas. Not the best move, Spain, considering the state of the economy here…

So. No more pelting me in the face with hail, blowing my belongings off of my balcony, or encouraging our pets to sneak under the covers with us – they don’t need any more encouragement.



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Open letter to Spain on your Failure to Inform

Posted on 09 May 2012 by American expat!


Dear Spain:

Usually I am pretty happy with your leniency with rules and so forth. In fact this is still something I not only value but enjoy observing – it makes me laugh, it really does. But I wasn’t laughing the other week when I discovered that you failed to notify my that cats do, in fact, need passports to travel.

pet travel in spainI took kitty with me to Italy–never mind why I needed to take a cat to Italy, people do stupider things–but you never said anything when I checked in at the ticket counter. You were only concerned that I paid for my pet, although I have to say your people were all pretty charmed to see a cat being walked through the airport in a handbag. The lady at the ticket counter even tried to stick her hand in to pet kitty, though my concerns with kitty fleeing stopped that from happening and probably saved her from getting a bite on her hand.

No I carried my undocumented cat straight through to security, and walked her under the metal detector in my arms when you x-rayed her bag. And although she cried like a human when the plane took off, there were three screaming children around me (as usual) who were louder than my cat so no one seemed to notice.

It wasn’t a bad experience overall, so I wasn’t prepared for what happened on the return journey to Spain.

Which was that kitty got denied.

Yeah, Spain, I had to leave my cat in freaking Italy for four days, until I could get her the aforementioned cat passport. I’m just grateful that she had a place to stay until I could return to collect her, God knows what Spanish people do with their pets when they try to return home and the foreign airport rejects them. But they probably mysteriously know they need a pet passport, unlike me, who thoroughly checked the airline website, emails, and pet requirements and found nothing indicating any paperwork needed.

On the one hand, your leniency is convenient: I mean getting the cat passport was astonishingly easy-The vet positively enjoyed doing all the backdating and information padding the passport required to validate her return. On the other hand,  it cost me a lot of money and time to retrieve kitty. Arranging her delivery, traveling back and forth, waiting in airports. And kitty showed up at the Italian airport rather traumatized due to the driver delivering her being incapable of conducting a car gently, so it really made the trip back here nerve wracking.

I’m not mad, Spain. In fact I wish Italy were more like you. All I am asking is that you try a little harder to keep me informed, OK?

Now let’s hug it out.



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An open love letter to Barcelona

Posted on 26 February 2012 by American expat!


Barcelona, I really hate that you insist upon construction work dragging on every day until what most people consider to be nighttime. For example, it is now 8:30pm and there is some ridiculously loud drilling going on in the flat above mine. I suppose the hammering will follow next, as it did last night until after 9pm. Did I mention I work at night, from home?

But I am not going to turn this into a criticism session. Because for all your faults, there are so many things I really love about you.

First, let me tell you how much I appreciate your Greater Middle East area of Raval. You’re hosting some damn fine Indian, Pakistani, Afghani, Iranian and Armenian restaurants and bakeries. Fort super cheap, I might add.

I love the unexpected art I come across every day. I found these little gems when I walked out on a jetty to greet a fat puppy sniffing around at the cats who live in the jetties.

Speaking of the beach, now that Spring is here, the Chiringuitos are all out on the sand, playing music and serving up drinks. Love. Them.

chiringuitos on the beach in barcelona

And though I may not be able to find cottage cheese anywhere within your city walls (except for Carrefour Express on La Ramble, but it’s horrible UK cottage cheese), anything resembling real Mexican food, or convenient food like pre-shredded chicken in bags that I am accustomed to preparing for myself like a good American, I do love the entertaining variety of foods I can find in the larger supermarkets.

Yes, the name of those cookies translates to “Nun Nipples” and that’s an awfully hoochie looking nun pictured on the box. And you being Catholic no less.

Which brings me to the naked people. God how I love seeing your naked citizens walking around, riding bikes, or otherwise remaining undisturbed in their nudity. I especially love seeing the British tourist and their children stop in their tracks to stare open mouthed, while your Catalunyan grandmothers pass by arm in arm without a break in their conversations.

naked people in barcelona

But the thing I probably appreciate the most is your lack of airport security. I know, I know, I’ve said it before. But that fact that you don’t make me take off my sweatshirt, shoes or earrings and that you don’t blink when I put this in my carry on and pass it through security X-ray:

Barcelona airport security is lax.

It just makes my life so much easier.

Oh and also when I misspell my own name on my boarding pass. Thanks for letting that slide, too.



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