Thursday, December 7, 2017

Floors Galore!

I. Hate. Carpet.

There, I said it!

Once upon a time, I was inspired to buy a home that was built in 1963 and remodel it. Well, my contractor did the remodeling. The Lorelai to my Rory designed it. An incredible architect drew up the plans. I really just spent long hours in Home Depot trying to pick colors, flooring, and cabinet handles (remodeling when you're indecisive is a challenge... I spent a solid hour during each hour-long visit trying to pick cabinet handles).

All that said, I didn't do much to the back (except put a closet rack in a bedroom thus transforming it into a closet) and bring in a doorway to create more space in the kitchen.
The back part of my little home is an addition. Hand-crafted in 1975 by the owner of the home, it is strikingly different from the rest of the house. Underneath my wallpaper (which has grown on me) there is wood paneling (yikes!!). This brings us to the beginning of the story. The rest of the house had two layers of linoleum, a layer of tile, and a black subfloor underneath the carpet. God only knew what lurked under the carpet in the back.

An older home + 3 pets + carpet = the worst battle I've ever had with odor. Maddie is nearly 12. She can't control her need to go outside like she used to. My cats are young and have hairballs. I used cleaners, powders, scrubs, carpet shampoos, steam vacuums, regular vacuums, and everything under the sun to keep my carpet clean. It was also a little bit greasy (and it was from the very start). It was years of old carpet. I was sneezy and had to keep a candle going at all times to handle it.

So, I did a little research and starting ripping.

Day One
It all started on Monday. I reached out to my go-to in home design and asked her opinion on having a fifth flooring in my home (but do bathrooms really count?!). She gave me some advice and I went to Google.

Day Two
Every spare moment I had that day was dedicated to Pinterest. That place is dangerous. I fell in love with flooring that was clearly done by a professional and way outside my price range. I knew that I had somewhere around 500 square feet to cover, and I didn't want to spend $500 on the vinyl planks I used in the front bedrooms. I liked the idea of acid etching the floors, but I hated how limited the color options were. I was at a loss. I didn't want to pick a bright color that would scare off potential buyers when I eventually move, but I didn't want brown or tan. Those seemed like my only options.

Day Three
I kept researching and came up empty-handed.

Day Four
I started tearing out carpet. I didn't care that I didn't have a plan yet. I was just ready to have it gone.

Day Five
My carpet-induced rage continues. I consulted with creative minds over dinner in Memphis.

This is the dirt from what's pictured above, NOT the whole room

Work Day 1
Saturday is when we started the real work. We spent two hours moving everything out of my room (when did I get this much stuff?! [I sorted through it with the goal of reducing my belongings by 1/3. More on that later.]). Next, we ripped out all the carpet and went shopping. Home Depot had some good recommendations, but we went to Ace because we heard they had better acid stain selection. They didn't, but they were super helpful in picking a concrete stain I loved. We bought two gallons of Quikrete charcoal stain, one gallon of etching cleaner, one gallon of wet look sealer, and a plastic garden sprayer ($130 with tax).

When we got back, we pulled up the carpet spikes and all the nails. I highly recommend safety glasses and work gloves for this. Nails flying and splinters and hundreds of tiny spikes... safety first! I invested in a second pry bar, and it was the best $4 I spent the whole weekend. A friend let us borrow safety glasses!

Next, we swept and swept and swept. Debris kept coming. I measured somewhere between 3-4 cups of dirt.

We then poured the etching solution into the sprayer and got to work. As per the directions, we didn't dilute it. However, this meant we needed to wear rubber gloves, rubber boots, and masks. We did 5x5 sections at a time. I sprayed a coat of the solution, Chris scrubbed it with the push broom, we waited a minute, and then we rinsed it off (my garden hose is connected outside my room. I turned it on, let the hose fill up, then turned it off to get a light spray). We ran to pick up dinner while it dried (leaving the fans going and the French doors wide open).We used a shop vac on the smaller room, but it wasn't really necessary. It all dried very quickly. 

Once we got back, we applied the first coat of stain using a roller and a brush. Chris got the edges and I went behind him with the roller getting larger sections. We waited about an hour (until it was dry to the touch) and we did a second coat. I got a look that I liked, but I'd probably texture it with a sponge if I had to do it again.

First coat of stain coming along

It was late at that point, so we called it a night as we waited for it to dry the recommended 6 hours before the sealant.

The first coat

After the second coat

Work Day 2
The next morning, we applied the wet look sealer. It went on and looked like a blue-ish glue. It freaked me out initially, but it dried clear. We let it dry to see if we would need a second coat. It looked great after one coat (but we had plenty if we had wanted to do it). We left it alone for 24 hours (or at least I tried to. It was dry to the touch, so I put my mattress back in there to sleep Sunday night).
Oh my god, this won't stay blue-ish, right? Is it drying?!

I could barely move Monday morning and called in sick. My bosses totally understood and said to take it easy.

Monday night, we moved all my stuff back into my room (minus the stuff I'm donating).

The next step will be fixing the trim (I need to add quarter rounds and paint all the trim white [it's a weird beige right now]). After that, I need to work on flooring transitions. They're sad right now...

Moving back in

Another really important thing to consider is that a stain won't cover everything. My smaller room (which I use as a closet) had a ton of paint spills under the carpet. I got some of them up with the etching, but some of them didn't come up. The stain didn't cover it, but I think it looks cool and tells the story of the house. The entry to my main room has an un-touchable light brown stain on the concrete. It actually added depth to that part of the floor. I like seeing all the imperfections in the floor. 

Y'all... I'm obsessed with these floors. This is actually my third room in which I've revamped the floor. 

To recap step by step:
1. Buy your etching, stain, and sealer (garden sprayer if you don't have one) ($130)
2. Make sure you have rollers, brushes, and paint pans (I had some from other projects). Buy or borrow a roller extension ($3). Find or borrow rain boots. Buy or borrow an all plastic garden sprayer. Make sure everyone involved had a pry bar ($4)
3. Move everything out of the room(s)
4. Rip out the carpet. Do it in pieces that you can carry! It's so much easier to load up that way.
5. Pry up the carpet spikes. Wear protective eyewear and work gloves (We were just careful with out hands). Careful not to damage the baseboards!
6. Sweep like crazy
7. Gear up in gloves and boots. Spray etching solution in 5x5 ish blocks , scrub etching solution (push broom, $6). Wait a minute, rinse lightly
8. Let it dry
9. Apply concrete stain with a roller or brush or sponge or cloth
10. Let it dry
11. Apply a second coat if you wish
12. Let it dry for 6 hours
13. Apply sealer.
14. Let it dry for 24 hours.

IMPORTANT: read the temperature and humidity warnings. If it's below 50° or above 90°, you may not get the right results. Also, be sure it's not too humid outside or going to rain soon. Otherwise, you run the risk of it not working correctly.

Total cost breakdown
Etching: $20
Push broom: $6
Boots: already owned ($14 at Wal-Mart)
Gloves: borrowed ($2 at WM)
Sprayer: $12
Stain: $60
Roller: already owned ($7)
Extension: $3
Brush: already owned ($3)
Paint tray: already owned ($2)
Sealer: $25
Paint tray from stain
Roller from stain
New roll: $3

Total cost if I hadn't borrowed things: about $160. This covered 425 square feet, and I have enough supplies to probably do another 200 square feet or so. I would have saved $30 if I hadn't done a second coat of stain, but I wanted it darker, so it was worth it. I don't need another 200 sq feet done though, so I have extra supplies for touch ups if the need arises.

Bonus pic of the amazing man who helped me do all this work. 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Home Ownership Adventures

Words cannot describe what happened today, but I'll try my best.

A lot of you know my home buying process has a been a total mess. I've worked for two months trying to get everything finished to close only to be told twice I didn't have a complete to-do list from the bank (and hence couldn't close). Despite my best efforts (and the best efforts of my agent and those working with me), two closing dates have come and, as of midnight tonight, gone. I felt completely defeated.

Naturally, the seller was upset as well. But there's more to the story.

The seller grew up in this home. It's been in her family since it was built in 1963. It was her mom's home. She's selling it because her mom passed away. She had prayed and prayed for an offer before the one year mark of her mom's passing. I put in an offer the day before. As if that didn't blow you away. There's more.

I totally understood her frustration and the extra emotion behind the sale. I sold my mom's house in May of 2013. It had been in my family since I was two years old. I was fortunate to have a quick and easy closing. There were no complications, only an emotional move and closing date.

That all leads to today.

Normally, I leave work around 3:15. Today, I was there later working out with two friends. This late after school, I didn't expect to be called to the office, but I was.

I thought perhaps it was an angry parent had come to talk to me about the kid I reported as truant earlier in the day.


It was the seller. She said she had found out where I worked and wanted to talk to me.

My heart sank. The closing date was supposed to be today. I just knew she was there to tell me why she wanted to back out.

Wrong again.

She told me she was just looking for answers. I explained to her what was going on with the loan process, my frustrations, my tears, and how I truly understood the emotions of selling your late mother's home to someone you don't know.

She teared up as she told me her side of things. How she refused to make me give earnest money because that's "not how Momma would have done business," especially with a young teacher, despite being encouraged to ask for it. She said she was just losing faith in the sale because the bank wouldn't answer her questions.

She told me about growing up in the house. She shared her apprehensions about it being remodeled. She told me about the neighbors. She talked about her siblings who had passed away while they lived there. She described her mom.

We were both in tears by the end of it. We had so much in common. We had both lost the same amount of family members in our old homes. We both knew the pain of selling part of our childhood. Even deeper than that, we both knew the fresh pain of losing our moms.

I invited her to see the renovations when they're complete, and I asked her to introduce me to the neighbors.

By the end of our brief meeting, we were both in tears. She hugged me over and over despite my sweatiness. We exchanged phone numbers and have already talked since. She even offered to let me move in early for next to nothing in "rent" if I needed to do so.

What really made my heart smile was when she told me she'd be my momma if I wanted. That was the sweetest offer a stranger has ever made me.

Sometimes things are meant to be.

I can't wait to call this place home. 

Closing date is still TBD as of 9 PM today

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Adventure Awaits

I know everyone has different ideas of adventure, and I try to keep a positive outlook when it comes to adventure. I seek it. I daydream about it. I act on it. 

Since returning from Spain at the end of June, I've made it my mission to go to different places within driving distance for me. I've gone to Dallas, Fayetteville, Atlanta, St Louis, a cavern, Memphis, an Andy Grammer concert, new stores, new restaurants in my town, small towns I've never explored, and a few other places I'm sure I'm missing.

I say all that to say I'm getting nervous. Well, that will make sense to Spanish speakers. I guess I'm more antsy than nervous to English speakers. 

I have less than 20 days until my next big trip, but because of the cost of this trip, I haven't traveled since December. By the time we leave, It will have been nearly three months since I've gone on a trip. 

I never realized my intense need for exploring until this moment. The anticipation of moving to Spain wasn't even this extreme. I want to get out and go somewhere new. I don't care where, when, how, etc... I just want to get out and go somewhere. This is going to be killer if I'm stuck in my apartment for a few days with the winter weather. 

Two and half weeks. I can and will survive. 

After all, adventure awaits ;)

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

I see London...

Hello from Texas! Fancy meeting you here!

I'm sure you're not new here. If you are, feel free to take a look around and familiarize yourself with who I am and what this is all about. Or, if you're feeling frisky, just start reading this post with no background knowledge whatsoever. Ha. This blog is the furthest thing from frisky you could possibly find. Is this getting awkward for you? Vale. Moving on, then.

Once upon a time, I almost forgot about my trip to London! It was the first time I went on a trip by myself. Let me tell you, it was just what I needed. Living in a small apartment with four other people can make you long for time to yourself. So, to celebrate my 23rd birthday, I decided to jet off to London by myself.

Oh, Barajas. How I love thee

The journey to London wasn't bad. There were some flight delays. Stansed airport is not my favorite. It took over an hour and a half to get to London. My hostel wasn't my favorite, but it was conveniently located. Let's just say I barely found it and got settled in before sunrise. Hey, there's an adventure in there, right?! Optimism strikes again. 

But when I slept, oh was it glorious! Until the cleaning lady came in. She was insistent that it was time for me to check out. On the contrary, lady! I had just arrived! She asked me at least ten times if I was sure of my reservations. Yes. I finally simply left the room to take a shower.

I hate it when hostels advertise that they have great showers and it turns out to be a lie. I'll leave it at that.

Cleaning lady was nearly done in the room by the time I got out of the shower. I got dressed and ready and went out to tackle London!

Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge

Tower of London. Fun fact: it's not a tower

Another view of Tower Bridge

Buckingham Palace!
Big Ben

Okay... so... I cheated a bit. I took a tourist bus around London. But really, the city is HUGE. I couldn't have seen much of it if I had relied solely on the underground and my to-do list from Janelle! Plus, the bus had a stop less than five minutes from my doorstep. Hello, convenience!

It's me on a bus! 

I toured the city for most of my time in London. I learned about the city and its rich history. I hopped off and wandered the streets on foot. I took silly pictures. I asked people to take photos for me. I did some people watching at the park. I generally just enjoyed a relaxing time in the city.

In the afternoon on my first full day in London, I met up with some lovely ASU alum that happened to be in London at the same time. We had all been teaching in Spain, but had never met. We chilled at the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain, went to a few museums, visited Harrods, and had a great time. It was great to finally meet y'all, Addy and Jeremy!

I met Ana in Harrods!!

Me and Addie at the Victoria and Albert Musuem

You were waiting for this photo. Admit it.

Day two in London consisted of more sightseeing and a river tour of the city that eventually took me all the way to Greenwich. I wandered the streets of the city eventually finding my way to the park. It was open, lush, and overlooked the city. I could have sat on the hill for hours. I think I walked around like a lunatic with a huge smile on my face my entire time in Greenwich. Exploring such a lovely place with my own company was overwhelming in the best way.

Overlooking the city.

East and west!

I loved the park!

I stood in two hemispheres at once, bought a magnet, and headed back to London for dinner and a quiet evening with a book before going to sleep.

I made my way back to Madrid and baked brownies for my birthday for school.

This is as close to my name as I will ever find. I didn't even plan on buying a diet coke, but it was fate. Smart marketing, Coke. 

Thus ended my trip in London. My birthday at school the next day was wonderful! My students sang to me and gave me birthday hugs and kisses all day. I went out for lunch with some coworkers after school. Claudia and Alex lit candles without adult supervision to sing to me. Tuesday night was when I celebrated with friends by going out to eat and enjoying my fair share of tinto de verano. I'm so lucky to have celebrated my 23rd year.

Thursday, July 17, 2014


By the way, that's one of the few times you'll see me use excitement when saying that city name. I would hate to be confused as an FCB fan! ¡Hala Madrid! 

So… I’ve been behind on writing about my trips thus far.  Sorry about that. Packing up to move across the world takes a lot more time, energy, and emotions than one would initially think.

Anyways, I have had the great pleasure of going to Barcelona since we last talked of travel (okay,and London, Istanbul, Athens, and Milan… but I’ll get there!). Barcelona was somewhat of a last minute adventure. Five of us rented a car and took a road trip. Six fun hours later, we arrived to the famous coastal city. We stayed a little outside the city, but it was a great hostel. It was a short metro ride into town.

We got settled in went into town for food. Kelly previously lived in Barcelona, so she showed us her old stomping grounds. It was wonderful. I tried leche de pantera (panther’s milk: gin, triple sec, and cream). We went to a great pizza place, and we overall just enjoyed spending time as a group. Six hours of travel caught up to us and we headed back pretty early.

The next day, we went to see la Sagrada Familia: Gaudi's famous unfinished church. I had expected it to loom over me like the cathedral in Cologne. It didn't. The crazy mismatched architecture was a sight to behold. The line to enter wrapped around the entire building. We cut our losses and ventured around the town instead of waiting in line for hours on end. 

We tried so much good food that weekend. I don’t remember which night was which. I want to say this night was the night we did Chinese tapas. It was unexpectedly amazing. We also tried some local food: bombas: think fried potatoes mixed with meat in a small ball of awesome with a spicy sauce on top. Conclusion: strange texture, but a great taste! I ate artichoke hearts for the first time without being in a dip. We even had Lebanese food one night!

On our last full day, we ventured to the beach. Well, the girls did. We took a train up to Costa Brava and spent the day eating, drinking, taking pictures, and enjoying the beach (I put my feet in the freezing water, but that was enough). I then proceeded to fall asleep before putting sunscreen on my legs. The entire back side of my legs got the worst burn they’ve ever experienced. I could hardly sit down without wincing. The cool benches of the Barcelona metro became my best friends. The sunburn was bad enough that it made me feel sick. I hope to never make that mistake again. On a much funnier note: my legs are half tanned now!!

Costa Brava

Leaving Barcelona was another adventure. We stopped at Mont Serrat: a monastery that was built around the finding of a black Virgin Mary statue. The story is that it was found at the top of the mountain and it got heavier and heavier as they tried to bring it down. When they could finally move it no further, they left it there and built the monastery around it. The monks there now make specialty foods, beers, and sweets (and tasty ones at that!).

People come from all over to touch the golden orb and make a wish.

We got back to Madrid around midnight. I caught a cab home from Chamartin to Sanchinarro.

Oh! I also might have tried to climb a city monument. I'm not at liberty to confirm or deny this photographic evidence.

1. Barcelona is cool, but I'm still totally in love with Madrid.
2. Speaking of that, the RM game is in Dallas in two weeks!! HALA MADRID!
3. I sometimes hum the Spanish national anthem when I'm sad.
4. I'm getting my apartment set up nicely. More on that later.
5. I'm in AMERICA.
6. It genuinely worries me that I don't know when my next flight is.
7. Except that I'm totally going to Buffalo before September because it's on my calendar!
8. I have forgotten to eat dinner three times this week. I guess I'm still on Spanish schedule. Oops!
9. My classroom needs some serious work. Poor thing has been neglected for over six months.
10. I don't miss jamón yet. I definitely miss the cheap and abundant baguettes!
11. Walmart is incredibly overwhelming (more on that later as well!)

I'll continue to edit and post about May, June, and my move back to Arkansas over the coming weeks.Until next time, friends! Goodnight from NEA.

but you can call me Kirt ;)

Friday, May 30, 2014

Dear Spain...

Recently, I was approached by a charity volunteer on my way out of Starbucks. I don't like ignoring people, so I usually start speaking to them in English. About 75% of the time, the unexpecting person simply smiles and says, "Oh English," before backing off. Unfortunately, it didn't work this time. We got to talking about what I'm doing here and if I'm staying for the next few years. Upon telling him that I'm going home, he said, "Why are you leaving us??"

Why am I leaving you? Well, Spain, I don't know how to put this lightly... but...

It's not you; it's me.  
I think we should see other people. 
I'm just not ready for a life-long commitment. 
You’re perfect in every way, just not for me. 
I need to focus on my career. 
I'm still in love with my ex. 
My dog doesn't like you, and I value her opinion. 
We can still be friends, right?

I'm not exactly breaking up with Spain... but dadgumit... it feels like it. Nearly every classic breakup line expresses how I feel about Spain right now. 

Not only do I feel like I'm breaking up with Spain, I'm also getting graduation goggles for Spain.

What are "graduation goggles," you ask?

Oh, my friend... I have so much to teach you.

Once upon a time, there was a wonderful show entitled "How I Met Your Mother." I'll allow you to fully enjoy the series on your own time and skip right to the moment in the episode to which I am referring:

It's the only clip I can find and I can't figure out how to embed the video here (I don't speak Japanese). 

At the end of my time in Madrid the jamón suddenly tastes better. The sky is bluer. Speaking Spanish all the time is wonderful. Not having a car is great because you can take more walks. The Metro is great because you don't have to drive. Your two hour lunch breaks seem like a wonderful way to spend time with your students or having a relaxing lunch. Questionable tapas taste better than ever. The double kiss is how you want to greet everyone. The crazy children seem endearing. The teacher who seemingly hates you suddenly doesn't seem so bad. The long distance from home is manageable.

Robin goes on to say not to trust graduation goggles. They're similar to beer goggles and bridesmaid goggles. I made my decisions with a lot of time and consideration. Although I can't imagine leaving this wonderful place, I also can't imagine not coming home to my wonderful friends and family back home.

Like any good breakup, there will be tears. There will be chocolate. There will be crazy nights with my friends. I'll feel like I lost a huge part of my life. But, slowly, those feelings will be replaced by nothing but good memories. The pain of the separation won't sting as much. Moving on will be bittersweet, but once I embrace it, I'll be reminded of why I chose this path.

1. I listened to breakup music while writing this entire post for inspiration. 
2. I really should have used that next to last breakup line in the introduction with a former boyfriend. Seriously, Maddie knows what's up. 
3. If you Google "new beginning quotes," you end up with a bunch of quotes that are very obviously about breakups.
4. I'm super excited about teaching Spanish next year!
5. I finally booked a place to stay in London.
6. I put a deposit on an apartment in Jonesboro this week.
7. I'm surrounded by authentic Spanish material, but I don't know what to take home with me to use in my classroom.
8. I need to Sykpe some of y'all back home to offset graduation goggles. Shoot me a message and let's have a Skype date, please!!!
9. Someone has dialed the wrong number and woken me up in the wee hours of the morning twice in the last week. I'll learn to sign out of Skype before going to sleep eventually.
10. No more two hour lunch breaks! Summer schedule begins on Monday! School gets out at 1:30 instead of 4:30 (no lunch break and one less class)
11. I only have one class left with my professional school students. They'll be allowed to talk to me in Spanish. It's going to be interesting.
12. I can't believe I'll be in the USA in a few weeks.
13. I need to take pictures with all my little students this week. We don't have pictures together.

I'm going to London to celebrate my birthday next weekend. I'm super excited! Diet Mtn Dew and English speakers! Bring it on!!!

Until next time, friends!

Love from Madrid, XOXO,

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Semana Santa: ROMA! (Part Tres)

If you ever ask me about my time in Rome, I'll probably roll my eyes and let out an over dramatic sigh.

We had a rough start in Rome.

It all started at the Prestwick airport in Glasgow. That airport is tiny. The wifi doesn't work. You have three options and a convenience store for food. That's it. One of my least favorite airports ever.

Next thing you know, our flight was delayed. Hooray. 45 extra minutes in that place was just what I wanted! However, Ryanair is pretty good about scheduling extra time into their estimates so they can be on time 96% of the time (actual statistic). I didn't think much of it.

We boarded our plane without any problems. Then, right as everyone was getting ready for the doors to close, the flight attendant at the front of the plane says, "Ma'am, that is inappropriate behavior. I'm going to have to ask you to get off the plane." I've never seen a passenger get kicked off a plane before. Whatever she did must have been bad. The pilot came on the speakers to let us know that they had to take statements and do some paperwork before we could take off. Half an hour of paperwork, four police officers, and several statements later, we were ready for takeoff.

Well, we weren't getting to Rome on time. No big deal. We just wanted to go to sleep when we arrived anyways.

The flight was a long and bumpy one. When we arrived in Rome, we had to circle the airport for over an hour waiting to see if the weather would clear.

It didn't.

We were deferred to another airport. The pilot had no idea how we would be transported to the original airport (where our hostel was located). We simply got off the plane and aimlessly wandered around for an hour before someone said we should check the bus line for buses. No Ryanair official announced anything to anyone. We all just had to ask bus drivers and airport staff.

We finally found the bus that would take us to the correct airport, but when we arrived, there was even more chaos (and in the pouring rain!).

Happy Easter from the bus in rainy Rome!

Two flights were diverted. And those two planes were supposed to be taking passengers elsewhere from the original airport. So, there were four flights of people all at this tiny airport and all stranded with absolutely no information. In fact, Ryanair staff simply left the airport and said to check back in the morning. One girl told me that they had gotten to the boarding gate and then got on a bus (assuming it would take them to the new airport). Instead, it dropped them off at the entrance of the original airport without explaining that the flight was cancelled entirely. We explained what happened to us and they were shocked that no one had mentioned this to them. We wished them the best of luck getting home, and headed outside to try to get to our hostel. I ended up chatting with a Scottish family who asked if I knew anything. I told them about circling the airport and finally landing elsewhere. They said they were thankful that everyone on that plane was safe (such a sweet family). We then stood in the line to catch a cab.

But wait! There's more!! Taxis weren't showing up to the airport, and those that did insisted on charging extra for the "late time" and "large amount of people waiting." Totally illegal, by the way. The city has set fares from both airports.

We talked to a few locals and they helped us figure out how to get to our hostel (wait on a taxi and tell the driver that you know the city fares before he takes off). We shared a taxi with two Spaniards (who thought we were Spanish) since we were all going to the same place.

Scariest taxi ride ever. Worse than Morocco. The man was FLYING and was obviously infuriated that we wouldn't pay his extra fees. When we got out, he tried to charge us double for being two separate pairs. It's at that point that I got into a fight with a taxi driver.

Yep. That happened. Mr TaxiDriver started speaking rapid-fire Italian before realizing that I was speaking Spanish. Then, after measuring me up, he started speaking to me in slooooooooooow English like I was an idiot. He got a Southern scolding in Spanish and English at that point. Italians think they're passionate. They obviously haven't met an angry Southern woman in the pouring rain at one in the morning. That taxi driver was a complete jerk, bless his heart.

We got to our hostel quite easily after that. It was clean, nice, and the staff was friendly. Our heat didn't work at first, but they came in the middle of the night to fix it.

It was the deepest sleep ever.

I woke up looking like this. Ready to take on Rome. No rainy chaotic night can overcome me.
Judge away. This selfie completely fits my attitude from that morning!

We woke up later than we originally planned, but we were well rested. We grabbed a cappuccino (Italian coffee was amazing!!) and a croissant before taking the train into town.

From there, we wandered down the main streets until we got to the Roman ruins. The line wasn't bad at all. That park is HUGE. It doesn't look big from the entrance. Looks like it will take twenty minutes tops. No. We could have easily spent all day there. We spent a few hours meandering through the park and taking silly photos before heading to eat and go to the Colosseum.

Gelato! Yum!!!

The Colosseum. 

The thing that blew my mind about Rome is that everything I went to see was thousands of years old. And I could touch it. Sorry, my American is showing. We put up walls and glass around anything that's over 150 in my country. It was so mind blowing that I could sit on ruins in the Roman Forum and nobody batted an eye. I felt like this: 

Yeah... that reference just happened. Go with it.

From the Colosseum, we wandered around town for a while (getting lost for about an hour, which was my fault, sorry!). But we found quite a few well known places.

 After all that, we just wanted pasta and a warm bed. We stumbled on a place that looked promising. When we were seated, one of us had to basically crawl into the corner. I chose to accept that challenge. We made friends with the table next to us as a result!

Pretty good food. Great company.

It wasn't fun being tired with full stomachs and trying to find our way back home in the drizzly Roman night. However, when I saw this, I knew I was on my way home: 

For those of you who don't get it, I live close to Memphis, TN back home. I just tell people I'm from that area if they don't know where Arkansas is. Finding Memphis Hotel was basically finding home!

We eventually made it back to our hostel. We settled in and geared up for our flight the next morning. 

Lines were crazy at the airport at 5 AM. 


We made it on the plane and to Madrid without any problems. In fact, while we were getting off the plane, I spotted a Razorback symbol. It threw me off seeing it outside of my apartment. I immediately asked the guy wearing it if he was from Arkansas. I met my first random Arkansan while traveling!! From NEA at that! Small world. 

I committed to taking a photo in every airport when I use my passport. The no makeup and sleep deprivation left me no choice but to cover most of my face and add a filter. It's for your own good, really. 

So. Rome was chaos, but it was amazing! We got to see the Pope on huge screens in the city center. We had a million street vendors claim that they loved us in English (does that ever entice a woman to buy from you?!). We saw the main sights and had a blast on our last day of holiday.

I do need to give some fun facts about life and Semana Santa:


1. A scam artist in Paris grabbed my wrist. I hit him with my water bottle and cursed at him in Spanish. 
2. Grocery stores were hard to find in Paris. 
3. The people of the UK are the friendliest Europeans I've ever met. 
4. Dublin bars aren't typically open all night.
5. Jameson is no longer produced in Dublin.
6. Today is San Isidro in Madrid.
7. I'm going to be the new Spanish teacher at Harrisburg in the fall!
8. I bought my season tickets for Arkansas State football this week
9. I'm almost done with professional development for this school year.
10. There are only four weeks of school left before summer. 
11. I'm going to London, Istanbul, Athens, and Milan before coming home in about 40 days. 
12. I'm super indecisive.
13. I need to finish my PD before Saturday so I don't lose a burrito bet. 

Well, that's all I know for now. I need to post about Barcelona. But I can summarize it for you if you want a sneak peek: Friends, Food, Beaches, Burn, Ow, Food, Friends, Ouch Sunburn, Monserrat, Road Trip, SleepyKirt. 

Hope all is well with you. If you're reading this from Arkansas, I'll see you next month!