Thursday, October 17, 2013


Ask Away Friday is a series that my lovely, creative, blogging, fellow NJ teacher Megan from The Patchwork Paisley has been doing for the last 10 weeks and she has asked me this week to be her partner in crime which I believe makes me Numero 11. I like 11. Good number. It means I'm twice the number 1 as number 1's. Anyway, we exchange 10 questions with each other as a way for our readers to get to know us better. 

1. I am lucky enough to know you and Mike beyond the blogosphere, and I know a bit about your "story" but for our readers sake and to refresh my memory- what made you and Mike decide to pick up and leave the great state of NJ for Santo Domingo?
Sitting across from my fresh, new, sorta boyfriend, Mike, at Rutgers' infamous establishment Stuff Yer Face, we did what all new semi-couples do: talk about the things you want to do with your life while pretending to not be hoping that you'll do those things together. We didn't know then that we would get married and have kids but we both had traveled and had loved traveling and both wanted to experience teaching abroad - be it together or not. A few years later, we were not so fresh and new and I still wanted to go abroad but Mike had fallen into the Land of Security. He was happy at his school, felt secure, and was on his way to tenure. That is until Gov Chris Christie hit. Teachers were being blamed for all of New Jersey's problem and cuts were very Alice in Wonderland off with their heads. Although Mike was an exceptional, male elementary (hard to come by) teacher with life and zest for education he was one of the newest and was laid off. Being an exceptional, teacher with life and zest for education, he got an offer for a 3/5 position in his hometown high school. He loved teaching in his hometown. He loved teaching high school - a welcome change to elementary. And he loved coaching soccer. This was looking bad for me ever going abroad with this man. But as luck would have it, he surprised me. 

Over brunch one day he said, "So I've been thinking that maybe this is a good time to try teaching abr..." I was already online filling out applications. Being a teacher was so shaky in NJ at this time that I guess it gave him the platform to leap... and the net appeared. Dominican Republic wasn't necessarily on our list (who ever thinks of teaching in the Caribbean) but it's what the universe had in store. And just like that, the U.S. lost two great teachers to politics. (insert wink). A week or so later we would find out we were pregnant.

2. What are 3 things you miss the most about Jersey and 3 things you are the happiest to have escaped from?
I'll start by saying that I miss a lot. I'll also say that family is the obvi number one answer so let's check family off. 
1. Family
1. Familiarity. Like just knowing my old streets and shortcuts and where the cereal aisle is. Or a quick run into the supermarket for spinach and running out 2 minutes later because they have it... of course they have it. Why wouldn't they have it? It's spinach. (Well, cause they don't always have everything here) But it's also the familiarity of knowing how people and our language work. No one would dare cut you in line in the states. Not. so. here. And Spanish, while a language I speak well, is not my first language, so when I'm upset or frustrated or making a joke, I can't always get my point across here the way I do in English. So... yes, familiarity.
2. Weather for sure! I never thought I'd miss cool air sooooo much. Earlier this week I put on yoga skinnies and a sweater over my t-shirt and socks. And then I remembered that I live on the hottest island on the planet and realized Shit. I must have a fever. Which I did. And you know what made me happy about being sick? I got to wear fall clothes. The next two sick days I bummed around the apartment happily sick because it wasn't sunny outside and it was raining and thundering. I was in heaven. It never rains for whole days here and sometimes I just want something that's not sunshine, you know?

3. Home. This is not the same as family, I swear. I miss - so much some days - just the ability to go home. Like to walk into my parent's house because the door is unlocked and without invitation and know where everything is and where everyone will be. My dad will be watching TV, and depending on the hour of day he will be sitting either on the couch or his recliner. My mom will be in the kitchen making him coffee or cleaning or cooking. Unless it's 8:00 and then she's in the garage watching her novellas...with my grandmother. The smells are the same, the lighting the same, that place... always the same. 

1. BILLS - the school pays our rent and gives us a monthly stipend which covers most to all of our utilities every month - including cell phones and internet. MmmHmm... better recognize.
2. The hustle and absoluteness of what life is in NJ. I'd have to be working. I wouldn't be home with our kids and writing. The End.
3. The ever present and worse getting political climate in the states. Are you back at work yet? 

3. 3 songs that describe you- one for your past, present, and one for your future. Go!
Past: We are Young by Fun
Present: Good Life by One Republic
Future: Golden Girls theme song

4. Speaking of music, my fabulous future Tunesday Tuesday co-host, I know how much you love your tunes: put your ipod on random and list the first 5 songs that come on. (I can't remember if I asked you this one for your Liebster so if you dont want to do it again you can always cut and paste
iPod - as always - dead. No battery. So instead iTunes on my mac.
Song 1: Feelin' Good - Mr. Buble
Song 2: Please Please Me - The Beatles
Song 3: Father and Daughter - Paul Simon
Song 4: I'm On To You - Neil Diamond (whew does this bring me back!)
Song 5: So Much to Say - DMB 
5. Dump, hump, marry: Justin Timberlake, Chris Hemsworth, Christian Bale
First, I should say that I am a fan of the grimier Marry, Kill, F... of this game and ❤ playing it. Then I should add that I totally had to google Chris Hemsworth - although I was pretty sure I knew he was Thor - and was totally prepared to dump him. I shouldn't have googled him. It made this so much harder. ugh.Dump: Justin Timberlake 
Hump: Chris Hemsworth - he just looks so down home goody yum, right? and he's Thor!
Marry: Christian Bale - who wouldn't marry Batman? seriously.

6. One of the first things I remember learning about you is your awesome fashion sense and love of some killer shoes. Take a pic of your favorite pair and tell a story about where they have taken you.
I bought these shoes y-e-a-r-s ago and they are still reigning champs as my favorite footwear of all time. They are just the most beautiful piece of art I have ever seen - and bonus - I can wear them. Megan is right. I love shoes. But I am also a sucker for vintage art posters and these Carlos Santana shoes combined my love for both. I named these shoes My Havanas. I name all my shoes. But I named these My Havanas because they have that classy yet nostalgic and fun vibe that I think is reminiscent of Old Havana. And funny you should ask for a picture of them... because I already had one. Here's a great story behind my Havanas. And another great story behind My Fabulounsounse shoes. (Because they were too fabulous to just be fabulous.) 
7. If you had complete control over how others perceived you upon first impression, what would you want someone to know about you immediately?
 I guess I'd want people to know that as confident as I seem and as outgoing as I may appear, we are all alike in that we are all unsure of ourselves at some point. 
8. If you could hide one toy from your kiddies never to be seen again what would it be? Have you ever? (I definitely hide the play dough on occasion until she asks for it. I get so sick of picking it out of the carpet, Violet's hair, my hair...)
I hide our iPod, our iPad, and our mac everyday. Because they are not her toys and she thinks they are.

9. I'm coming to visit you in Santo Domingo (I wish!) but we only have 48 hours to make the most of it. What would we do?
So I will keep this strictly Santo Domingo city capital style and will not include any of the awesome beaches we go to since technically they are not in Santo Doming but no worries, there's still a bunch of fun to be had. 
Day 1
- Head to Guli's: my favorite coffee shop where I am actually currently sitting and writing while drinking the BEST caramel cappuccino you could hope to have in your life. 
- Colmado: No visit and I mean no visit to the island is complete without a visit to the colmado. In New York, you would call these bodegas but unlike NY they sell you jumbos (Jersey slang translation: a forty [40 oz.]) of ice cold Presidente and you sit outside, shoot the shit, share beers with your friends, and get legally buzzed. Amaaaaze. oh. and in the middle of the day.
- Take a Drive: maybe not riiiight after jumbos at the colmado but you have to, have to, have to be witness to the driving and traffic here. It's a must. And not just how crazy people drive but also how everything you can carry in your hands is sold on the street: mangoes, shoes, balloons, cell phone chargers, puppies. yes. you can sometimes buy puppies on the corner of Betancourt and Avenida 27.
- Dinner at El Mesón de la Cava - this is one of those places that isn't found anywhere else. Opened in 1967, the restaurant is situated in a natural lime stone cave, created years ago when the "coastline hugged this cliff." Las Terrazas - the outdoor space to El Mesón is pretty freaking spectacular too.

Day 2
- Morning at Fiesta: it isn't the fanciest pool around but it's still a paradise within the city. So we'll start the day by heading to the pool having a piña colada... because i love them.
- All day Colonial Zone: Get lost here. The heart of art, cultural, and history of Santo Domingo is in the Colonial Zone. Visit the Alpargateria where you pick out material and height for your own pair of handmade espadrilles while you eat tapas extraordinaire. Or colmado crawl in the zona with the best of us them! 
Click picture for more on Colmado Crawls
- Praxe's Bluffs: This place is spectacular beyond spectacular and than more spectacular. Apparently, our friend Praxedes was the first to discover this gem. By popping a u-turn on the malecon and then driving on til sidewalk's end and then dirt roading it, you come across this spot that's as Goonies-esque as the directions to get there. 
It is the greatest tailgating spot ever and there is nothing like unpacking your car with 10 other cars and a butt load of friends and cheersing to this:
view from our old Rooftop
- Kury Roof Party: Our first place of residence here wasn't the most modern looking of apartments but we loved it and enthusiastically called it home. The view is pretty unbeatable for an average apartment and the parties are epic. And maybe if we're lucky Rocktopus will be playing! 

10. hubby question: When was the first time he realized he was going to spend the rest of his life with you? (any guesses? Hi Mike!)

When I told him I was prego. HA! Not sure. Maybe the Christmas Party of 2010 when we threw the most epic, legendary, mythical Christmas Party ever?! Mike? Answer, please. 

Mike's answer: Uhhhhh. I'll call you back. (Thanks babe. You're a real romantic.)

Mike's real answer: He said at some point he started imagining us really doing this abroad thing and with a family in tow. Which in girl language means waaaay later than I knew I was going to spend my life with him which was immediately upon meeting. 

The Real Housewife of Caroline CountyWHEW! Thanks for the great questions, Meg amd special thanks to those readers that made it til the end. If you're ever visiting Santo Domingo, give me a call. I'll make sure a Kury Rooftop Party is waiting! Definitely stop by The Patchwork Paisley to read my amazeball questions to Meg and her equally amazeball answers!

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  1. Awe I love this! I feel like I learned so much about you! Those shoes are amazing! And I wouldn't want to marry Christian bale, don't you remember a few yrs ago him in the press for yelling at his wife !?! Cute pregnant pic btw : )

  2. Where to start- first, marry, kill, F is the version I usually play too but I figured DHM was a but more universally friendly in case anyone isn't down with hypothetical murder like we are. I hearing hear you about the political climate over here. The joy of teaching has definitely been sucked right out of the job for most, any art teaching openings out there? AND I was asking about our 48 hour plans as a hypothetical but now I'm making it a very certain goal to come visit you ASAP, but it won't just be 48 hours so there will be lots of beach opps too! Loved your answers and miss you!

    1. hahaha. I think dump, hump, marry was defs the way to go! Mike says that teaching here is soooo amazing in comparison to over there. They just suck the joy right out of teaching in the states and give you no support while doing it. I will keep my ears WIDE open for a teaching gig :) Mini vacay? let's do this!

  3. 1.You must be an amazing person with the title of your blog being "drinking the whole bottle" ;-)
    2. How AMAZING that you are doing something so different and special with your life by moving abroad!
    3. Those shoes. I means seriously...those shoes!!!!!

    1. 1. THANKS! It took me such a while to come up with a name and it was originally something else and then I changed it to this.
      2. THANKS AGAIN! What i didn't finish saying for Ask Away Friday is that once we finally made this decision, wee realized we were having a baby. Then we were like, "Are we crazy for still moving abroad?"
      3. Riiiiight? Hottest shoes ever!

  4. I really enjoyed reading the Q & A that you and Meg have going on, very entertaining! As much as you miss home, you seem to be enjoying yourself, that's a good thing. Just that experience alone, is wonderful! Glad you got your way ;-) I don't think I could dump Justin, he's seems too kind and cute, plus I'd make him sing to me each night. Bale, I'd definitely "bail" on him.

    Nice to meet you. I am, a your other "Jersey Girl". xo

    1. Nice. Jersey. We're known around the world. And not just cause of Jersey Shore... thank God. i can't complain. Our life is definitely a "good, good life" but it does get hard sometimes.

  5. Hey! Besides Batman, Christian Bale was Cowboy in Newsies. I would marry him forever!! :)

  6. Love, love, love the shoes! Looks like you guys are having a super time in DR, despite the heat and the variation in culture. Enjoy!

    1. Hey Alison! We are having a great time. I love the culture -which isn't that far off my CUban culture - it just isn't what I grew up being used to so it's a struggle sometimes. Thanks for commenting!

  7. Goodness, there's a lot of adventure there! I left Jersey myself at 27, after a lifetime of spreading roots. I kinda always wanted to leave, though, since I was a kid. My entire family is still there! Two of my siblings left and came back! I'm in western Mass now. And I totally went to Rutgers and I used to eat at Stuff Yer Face!

    1. Tamara Camera... love it! A fellow Jersey girl? Looove it too. And STUFF YER FACE. We're like Besties! You know what's funny is that I also always wanted to leave. Not because I didn't love it but because I wanted to experience living on other places. And although I am still enjoying the abroad life and I think wee will continue to do this, Jersey will always have a place in my heart.

  8. Wow! i would love to experience another culture in the way you are. It seems so amazing and such a wonderful life lesson for your children. The descriptions you have given of the 48 hours you would spend is so intriguing. I enjoyed my time in Hawaii immensely and hubby and I speak often of perhaps moving back some day because I don't think we took full advantage of our time there. I think you are taking full advantage of your life in Santo Domingo and I applaud you for it.

  9. I would marry Justin before Batman....sorry but I have to break the mold there. I still love NJ and that's mostly because I live in a tiny town and never venture out...ha!


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