We’ve moved 😳

Cross #27 off the 40 before 40 list: we’ve officially moved from Seattle to Madrid.

On our very first date, way back in May 2014, Dane and I talked about travel. It was the first date, so we didn’t make any plans together, but we shared where we wanted to go and why. Admittedly, it was essentially a list of countries and food we wanted to try, but it was excellent first date conversation. At one point we even talked about our desires to live in a different country. Little did we know then!

Dane and I are planners at heart. Seriously: we had our wedding venue booked before Dane proposed. This transatlantic move was planned out and executed across two years, and was not without a healthy amount of headaches, frenzied excitement, and luck.

Step 1: Get our jobs in place. For me, that meant finding a new job entirely. Mentally, I was already there – while I loved the firm I was working for, I wanted to be doing more community building work, preferably in the tech industry. I didn’t know if it was possible to take this international, and I knew I wouldn’t be happy taking a “just because I want to move” job. My career is deeply important to me, and wasn’t something I was willing to sacrifice so that I could live in a foreign country. I lucked out, and found the perfect job with Automattic as a sponsored volunteer for the WordPress Open Source Project as a Community Wrangler. Automattic, a fully distributed company, has made it seamless for me to pursue both career and life goals, and my team has been super supportive of my move.

For Dane, that meant getting a promotion, and then finding the right job overseas. He worked hard to get that promotion, and it was very well deserved, in my totally, completely unbiased opinion. Amazon has tons of positions internationally, and Dane, like me, didn’t want to take any role just so we could move. Luckily we were in no rush, and he was able to find a role in Madrid that fit his career interests and goals. He interviewed, and was offered the job.

Step 2: All the paperwork. Seriously. Even with Amazon’s help, which made our move infinitely easier, applying for and obtaining a visa requires reams of very official paperwork. This required patience, diligence, and a good amount of fist shaking at nothing in particular. It also required a trip to San Francisco to visit the Spanish Consulate. We entered with our armloads of paperwork and relinquished our passports (well, because I had to travel internationally for WordCamp Nordic soon after, I had to mail my passport the following week, but that was a whole different story and headache) so that we could get our visas. A nail-bitting five weeks later, our passports and visas are mailed to the unofficial consulate in Bellevue. Needless to say, Dane and I were absolutely relieved to have our passports back in hand.

Step 3: Celebrate! Panic. Rejoice! Panic again. Celebrate again! I don’t know if the fact that we were moving to Madrid ever really settled in while we were in Seattle. Sure, we looked at each other with broad smiles on our faces, exclaiming, “We’re moving to Madrid!” But then there was a seemingly endless, daunting list of tasks to do in order to move. Why the heck didn’t we plan for this?! Note to self for the next time: write up the damn list of things to do before getting to Step 3. Top of that list? Go through all your stuff and donate everything you’re not taking as soon as possible, and not the week before the move. Set up a mailbox and mail forwarding. Give everyone ample notice of your going away party.

Note on the going away party: it sucks. I mean, it’s heartwarming to see all of your friends and family gather together, and amazing to have them send you off with all the well wishes in the world. But parting ways is hard and painful, and the first goodbye is just as gut wrenching as the last one. It’s not for forever, and thankfully technology makes it much easier to stay in touch, but that was a particularly trying day that made me cry many tears.

Step 4: The Move. Honestly, I don’t even know how this all happened. The past few days have been a blur, and thank goodness we had a full plan for the physical move that we followed closely clung onto for dear life. When we landed and got checked into our hotel, we slept for 15 hours. Thus went our first day in Madrid! 😂

Which brings us to Step 5: Figure out which way is up. It is now day 2, I have wifi, I have a place I plan to cowork from, I went grocery shopping, and I’ve attempted lots of Spanish successfully-ish.

Er, stay tuned for how Step 5 pans out. I’m optimistic.

We’re Moving!

I’ve lived very happily in Seattle for over two decades. Don’t get me wrong, I still love Seattle, but I’ve been feeling restless in recent years, and I am ready for this next adventure.

Dane and I are moving to Madrid this week. It has taken years of dreaming and calculated planning, as neither of us were willing to uproot everything without a clear strategy in place. By sheer will, fate, magic, or alignment of the planets, this is now happening, and I am experiencing all the emotions.

We had the going away party. We’re packing and cleaning. We have all our logistics associated with our move confirmed. And I’ve never been more excited for and unsure of the future. One thing is certain: if you follow this blog, you’ll be seeing a shift in content, as I intend to write about my expat experience.

As I get ready to fly out, my mind is on the people I won’t be able to see on such a regular basis. To my Seattle friends, family, and mentors, my coworkers, co-conspirators, collaborators, and fellow troublemakers, thank you. Thank you for being who you are, for adding to my life, for making my time in Seattle so fantastically wonderful. I’m going to miss seeing you regularly, so let’s stay in touch.

Travel Tips 2019

I love to travel. Whether it is for vacation or for work, the thrill of visiting a place I don’t call home excites me every single time. It is particularly energizing if I am visiting a new place, because I truly love exploring the unfamiliar. 

As I travel more and more, I increasingly keep an eye out for travel tips. There are a lot of tips out there. Having spent years researching and soliciting tips, and after a fair amount of personal experimentation, I wanted to share what has worked best for me when I travel.

  1. Stay hydrated during your flight. I love coffee and bourbon, but generally avoid drinking either before or during my flight. Instead, I opt for lots of water and electrolytes, and I feel noticeably better if I am thoroughly hydrated. I carry a 9 oz. Swell water bottle with me, which is the perfect size for slipping in a purse, and I often ask flight attendants to fill up my bottle during flights (some are more willing to do so than others). Related to this, don’t wear jumpsuits on planes, even if they are in fashion at this point in time.
  2. Noise cancelling headphones. Dane is particularly tech savvy, and with the amount I fly, he very kindly gifted me a pair of Bose QuietComfort 35 II noise canceling headphones. And they changed my life. I never realized just how noisy a plane is until I used these on a 13.5 hour flight to Helsinki.
  3. Load up on all the entertainment. It is hard to remember this when you’re constantly on the move and have a Todoist list like no other, but I am always grateful to past Angela when she remembers to download podcasts, sync music, and get a range of books on the Kindle. I have a broad range of interests, so I have a really difficult time predicting what future, on-the-plane Angela is going to want to do. So, I download everything in advance: serious to frivolous podcasts. New music that I haven’t listened to yet and old favorites. Business and nonfiction to mythology (a standard favorite of mine) and fiction. As I regularly do this, I find that I always have content when I want it. 
  4. Pack light and avoid checking bags. If I can avoid waiting for luggage, it gets me out of the airport faster. I’m also more likely to take public transit if I am not carrying too much, which often gives me a better feel for the city I’m visiting. Dane and I went on our around the world, three week honeymoon (shout out to Kimberly for donating all those miles and to our wedding guests for funding our dream honeymoon!) without checking bags. Having done that, I feel like it would take a very special case to bother checking a bag. 
  5. Try to leave a little room in your luggage. And I say this as someone who generally isn’t interested in bringing tchotchkes, souvenirs, swag, etc. home. But when I do, having this little extra space gives me that option. I also don’t want to put as much care into packing for the return home. I don’t want to neatly fold dirty laundry, so it is going to take up more space. Prepping with a little extra space makes me feel less guilty about squishing my bag on the way home. 
  6. KonMari it. This is a recent discovery and I will never look back. Here’s a video that describes the concept, and what I particularly loved about this is that I could easily see everything I packed and it saved space. Absolutely brilliant, and I’ve taken to arranging my closet at home this way too. 
  7. Pack some staple medications. I always have Advil, NyQuil, DayQuil, Sudafed, Benadryl, and Pepto. These are broad blast pills that even if I rarely use them, when I do need them, I am thoroughly relieved that I have them. 
  8. Don’t get cheap/flimsy bottles for your liquids. Nothing is worse than a shampoo explosion, so investing in the right bottles does make a difference, and they last longer. I bought some at a Walgreens that leaked everywhere. Now I use some heavy duty ones from Sephora.
  9. Sign up for the travel programs. There are many free versions, and while they do add to your email inbox, it streamlines communication between you and the service, you often get some extra bonus items. 
  10. Keep healthy and listen to your body. I often hear statements like “I’m traveling so I can not exercise or indulge in xyz foods”. I’m not saying don’t do that, but if you travel frequently, the exception quickly becomes the rule. I want you to be healthy! Consume all the tasties in moderation, and find opportunities to squeeze in exercise. For instance, when I’m going through the airport for any flight, I walk around the terminal before my flight and take stairs instead of escalators. 

Photo credit, courtesy of https://unsplash.com unsplash-logoElement5 Digital

My latest fascination

As I delve into my photography kick, I am becoming fascinated with light. I stand awkwardly with camera in hand and observe the way light filters through one medium, or is blocked by another. Then, I scrunch my face as I hold my camera up to my eye and futz with the aperture, contemplating how a dial drastically changes what I capture.

I swear I’m fun to hang around sometimes.

In case you were wondering, that’s not a real diamond. It was a gag gift that has served more purpose than anyone anticipated.

Happy Chinese New Year 2019

Happy New Year! According to one legend, Pig overslept on the day of the Jade Emperor’s party, and thus was the twelfth and last to arrive. Perhaps that explains my brother’s proclivity for sleeping in.

On the other hand, my mom insists that since it is the year of the pig, all pigs will bring good fortune, and therefore, I should be nicer to him. Life is full of difficult decisions.

Just teasing. I love you, Ben!