Friday, May 30, 2008

Exit Interview: Jay and Jenn

The editorial staff of See Jenn Blog has developed a questionnaire for guests, fielded the night before they leave, to get their impressions of the city. We always knew we would inflict this ritual on ourselves and when our last Friday night in Seville turned out to be a rain-soaked mess, we broke out the cava we had been saving for a special occasion, put iTunes on shuffle and commenced our version of the Spanish Inquisition. It's a lengthy one, so you might want to grab a cup of coffee before you start reading.

Jay: What was your favorite thing about Seville?
Jenn: [Long pause.] One of my favorite things was the eating experience. I love eating standing up. I don’t know how I’m going to go back to actually sitting through a three-course meal. In Spain, it’s so in-and-out and it’s so social, too. It was less about going out for food—even though the food was absolutely delicious—but you could tell people were out more for the conversation and the company than for the food and the wine. Dining just isn’t like that anywhere else I’ve been.
Jay: It’s like dining for people with ADD. You just bounce from place to place and have a little meal.
Jenn: And also, how you always talk about “plate envy,” you don’t have any of that in Spain. If you see something someone else has that you like, you can get it, and you’re not being gluttonous because it’s this tiny little plate. Overall, the Spanish really know how to enjoy a meal. What about you? PORK?
Jay: Yeah, that rolls into eating as well. The food here, I love it, and I pretty much agree with everything you said.
Jenn: That’s a lame answer.
Jay: Well, I probably enjoyed the dishes more than you since everything is very meat heavy. And I realize that favorite is singular and should be one thing, but the city itself I really like. It’s easy to get around. No cars; not even a subway. Sevici is awesome. It’s a perfect city for that and as much as I like the program I can’t see it taking off in New York, if it existed there.
Jenn: Although they are taking it to D.C., Chicago and possibly Philadelphia. New York would really have to implement a bike path like Seville has. If New York did that, I would totally hop on it. Maybe not in Staten Island, but throughout the other boroughs and bridges, I could see it working. I’ll have to take that up with Bloomberg when I get back.
Jay: We could probably have a whole conversation about our favorite things in Seville, but another thing I really like about it is the people here. I like their attitude, their patience. They’ve been very kind to us. I just wish I knew what they were saying, because I’m sure it’s entertaining.
Jenn: That was always the amazing thing. You and I have traveled a lot and you get different responses to your attempts at the native language. The thing I really like about Spain was that as long as you tried, they humored you, and they have no problem correcting you but it was never in a condescending or flippant way, so I definitely have to agree with you there. I always talk about New Orleans having the nicest people and I think Spain probably gives them a run for their money.
Jay: Although maybe if we knew what they were saying it might be a different picture. Maybe they were telling us to fuck off in a really friendly way.

Jay: And that kind of goes into the least favorite thing about Seville.
Jenn: All the construction outside of our window every day. When our next-door neighbor would get into a fight with his girlfriend and she would wail and wail and wail at 5 o’clock in the morning.
Jay: Really, that happened? I didn’t notice. A lot of our visitors said dog poop.
Jenn: Well, dog poop is just a given. I mean, who enjoys dog poop?
Jay: I don’t think it’s that bad. I don’t think the city is overrun with crap.
Jenn: I will say this—and I know this is going to sound really ridiculous considering what the weather would have been like back home—I was slightly disappointed in the weather. I really thought at this point, we’d be in tank tops and shorts and we’re just not.
Jay: I know. It’s a rainy Friday night and it’s not particularly warm out yet.
Jenn: It’s a waste of luggage space. I brought all these tank tops and dresses and never got to wear them. What about you?
Jay: [Long pause.] I find it hard to say a negative thing about this place. I hear what you’re saying about the weather. Wow, I’m a lame interview subject. And I know how hard it is to draw answers out of someone.
Jenn: Do I need to rephrase the question?
Jay: No, no, there’s got to be an answer in there somewhere. Um…
Jenn: Maybe how you can’t pick out your own produce at the supermarket?
Jay: Maybe that’s something and this may be Spain in general, but I’m so used to self-service. Here, you’ve got to wait in an hour-long line just to buy train tickets. At the grocery store you have to wait to have some guy weigh your fruit. I’m used to the American—but on top of that, the New York—pace of life that is so go-go-go and help yourself. Things aren’t very quick here. But that’s a good thing. It settles me down a little bit.
Jenn: It’s definitely taught me patience, but I guarantee you within five minutes of being back in New York all of the work that Seville has done will be completely eradicated. Is there anyway that you would say this experience has changed you?

Jay: I don’t know. If there’s been any change in me it’s been something really gradual and something I haven’t noticed. Almost something for people to recognize once I get back home.
Jenn: Like, “You’ve come back with a lisp.”
Jay: Yeah! But I haven’t noticed any change. Do you think it’s changed you at all?
Jenn: It’s definitely taught me patience. The patience of the population in general is something that I’m really going to miss, whether it’s not knowing exactly what I need or being able to take a table at a restaurant and just get a glass of wine if that’s all I want and not have to deal with some huffy waiter telling me tables are for food service only.
Jay: One change might be that for every wayward traveler who doesn’t speak English that I encounter in New York, I’ll probably feel for them and try a little harder.

Jenn: So is there anything in Seville that you wanted to experience but didn’t?
Jay: Nothing about Seville, but just looking at that map you put up, I see there’s still a whole lot of Spain uncovered. I wish I would have seen more. There’s the whole north, like Barcelona, that we’re not going to see, the Canary Islands—
Jenn: Ibiza!
Jay: Yes. Mallorca. It was shocking to me looking at the map how little we actually covered.
Jenn: I know. I thought, “We’ve been living here for three months and we’ve only covered nine cities? Come. On.” I kind of wanted to kick myself.
Jay: It just makes you realize that so many times when you travel, you’re not really seeing that much. You get a little notch on your belt, but it’s like that saying: the more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know. It’s like the more you travel, the more you realize you haven’t traveled that much. It takes a while to get to know a place. Was there anything you didn’t get to experience?
Jenn: I don’t know if this is an experience per se, but one thing I regret is just not really bulking up on my Spanish before I came here. I feel like we got comfortable in our transactional conversations and the amount of new Spanish that I did learn definitely plateaued, so to that extent, I feel like I didn’t really take full advantage of this opportunity. I was hoping to be able to come back and carry at least somewhat of a conversation and I just don’t think I’ll be able to.
Jay: I agree. If there’s one regret coming out of this, that’s definitely it.
Jenn: And too, we were both lazy in the sense that you figured you could get by on what little Spanish I know and I figured—
Jay: That I could just get by on my good looks?
Jenn: [Laughs] Nooooooooo. I figured, perhaps pompously, that there would be a lot more people here that spoke English. It was a big wake up call when we first got here. What was the best part of your trip?

Jay: I think you know the answer to this.
Jenn: Pork?
Jay: No. The road trip. I had a blast. We covered a lot. I was with Casey, one of my longest-held friends, and Kristen and you, and we all piled into a car and every day was something new, I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
Jenn: What you were getting yourself into—you didn’t even drive!
Jay: Yeah, but I didn’t know what each city was all about. We went from Seville, to a town on a mountain and then a town on the coast and then Gibraltar and then the next thing you know we’re in Africa. When I look back on my time in Spain those will be some of the first images. I’m sorry to say that because it kind of belittles our time here, just me and you, doesn’t it? When I think of Spain, I’ll think of Casey.
Jenn: Why am I not surprised?
Jay: What about you—best part of the trip?
Jenn: It was a lot of little things. I like all the sensory experiences. All the scents, that’s such a big thing for me, I don’t know why.
Jay: That’s a kind way to put it. You’re holed up with me for three months and you talk about the sensory experiences.
Jenn: I will say that one of my favorite things about this experience was living with you.
Jay: Damn it. You had to make me sound like an asshole. It went pretty well, didn’t it? Better than I thought it would.
Jenn: It went really well. I went into it not knowing what to expect and may have had my preconceived notions as to what it may be like and it just really exceeded them—and for the better.
Jay: I was surprised at the ease of it. On a day-to-day basis, we’re totally different people. We have different schedules; we have totally different sensibilities about cleanliness. It was very, very easy to live with you. And there weren’t any fights.
Jenn: I don’t want to paint it as if it were all roses—we definitely had some tense moments.
Jay: Yeah, like when you were grumpy, for the record.
Jenn: Or when you refused to fix the washing machine you broke.
Jay: It’s going to be fixed! [It wasn’t.—Ed.]
Jenn: But overall the experience of living with you has been a good one.
Jay: I give you an A-
Jenn: Why an A-?
Jay: Well…. I don’t know. That’s a good grade.
Jenn: That’s not a good enough explanation! Fine. You get a B+.
Jay: What the fuck—why not an A-?
Jenn: Because you leave crumbs all over the place. Anyway, here’s a question I want to ask. What’s your favorite experience with each guest?

That’s a good question. Corrie: One, you know I love Corrie. She’s awesome and she’s a blast. I liked her total willingness to do anything. And at the time that she came, we were still discovering Seville and she really helped uncover a lot of rocks. Also; Italica. As dull as that sight was, I had a blast rocking out at Italica with Corrie. I wish her visit was lot longer than it was.
Jenn: Me too. When she left I was definitely a little sad.
Jay: Sarah: I had a blast on our prom night. Discovering the bull fight was such an other-worldly experience—I’ve never seen anything like a bull fight and I never want to see anything like a bull fight ever again—but it was cool that it was one of your good friends and it was just the two of us going out and doing something. And then Casey and Kristen… Well, the road trip. It was like a weeklong double date. What were your guest highlights?
Jenn: With Corrie, it was just her arrival. There was so much anticipation because she was our first guest and I knew she’d be a great first guest because she’s so c’est la vie. I wanted to see a familiar, friendly face and who better than nice Midwestern Corrie? With Sarah—and you tell this story to anyone else and they’ll probably be like, how boring—but our first night in Malaga, we just got cheese and wine and holed ourselves up in the hotel room for a little bit and then had dinner and we just had a really great conversation between friends—she knows what was said—but those are the kinds of moments that I really love having with friends. With Casey and Kristen, I thought it was really cool seeing Casey’s first steps into the Mediterranean. That had to be such an amazing experience for him and just to be witness to it was kind of cool. The whole night in Marbella was a lot of fun. Just us hanging out with Telepizza and booze.
Jay: That was one of the better nights, because it could have happened anywhere.

Jenn: In lieu of the who-would-you-rather-be-stranded-with question, I will ask who is the one person you wished would have visited?
Jay: My mom. It would have been fun, because she really would have enjoyed it all. She would have gotten a kick out of the city and there’s a lot of little places around here I think she would have enjoyed.
Jenn: I’d say my dad. You know my dad; Spain is so up his ally with the eating and the drinking. It’s a lot of meat and booze—that’s the center of the trip, really.
Jay: Yeah, you’re dad would have had a ball. He would have matched me beer for beer and ham for ham.

Jay: So this next question is kind of pointless.
Jenn: Well, would you want to do another three months? Or be here indefinitely?
Jay: I would want to do another three months here. I would love to do it.
Jenn: I’d have to say no. For as much as I love Seville and it will always be special to me, I’m anxious to get back to friends and family and I feel like there’s a whole world out there. I’d like to do three months in Prague or three months in Paris—
Jay: I’m down with that. Let’s do it. Maybe that’s the next question: Where are we going next year?

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