Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Interview with (Díga)Mama Blogger K. Emily Bond

K. Emily Bond is the author of (Díga)Mama, a travel and mommy blog chronicling her move from New York City to Seville, Spain. (Díga)Mama, which translates literally to "say mom," is a thoughtful reflection on expat motherhood and life in Spain, dotted with colorful photographs and tips for travelers. In addition to (Díga)Mama, Emily has for worked for O, The Oprah Magazine, Ladies' Home Journal, and The Village Voice. She's also written for iVillage, The New York Observer, BUST, NewYorkMag.com, the Huffington Post and a host of other publications in the US and abroad.

How did the decision to move to Spain come about?
Once I started complaining (a lot!) about New York, I knew it was time to consider moving to another city. I thought we’d end up in Sydney since my husband lived there for such a long time. Not a bad place at all – a gorgeous city! – but too far away, particularly since we had a newborn at the time. I couldn’t be that far away from my family. We ended up choosing Seville because I have a sister here and she has a son who’s about two years older than ours.

Spain, and Andalucia in particular, is a rather insulated place. What I mean is that it’s not that easy to assimilate to life here. But Seville is a great place for children. We have a green market at the end of our calle (street), bakeries around the corner, numerous parks and, above all else, lots of old women that shower Ezra with attention…it’s just a really nice lifestyle for us and a ton of fun for our son.

What has the transition been like? What was your biggest surprise?

Like I mentioned, it’s not easy moving to Andalucia. It’s very different from the United States and it takes time to get used to things like siesta hours and the accent. But this region has opened up quite a bit since the first time I visited my sister here in the mid-90’s. There are new conveniences, like Ikea. But, for example, unemployment is notoriously high at 20%. We thought we could take advantage of cheaper rents because of that. Of course, we pay a fraction of what we paid in New York, but given the Euro against the Dollar and all that, it’s not as good of a deal as we thought it would be. Another cosa (thing), which is really more of an annoyance than a surprise, is that the juntas (government offices) seem to be in competition with one another to make the simplest of processes as confusing and frustrating as possible.

What is your favorite thing about Seville? What activities would you recommend to families who want to visit?
It’s incredibly family-friendly here. There are bars next to parks and it’s not unusual to see entire families out until midnight, especially now that it’s so hot outside making it impossible to take your kids to the park during the day. For us, the energy in the streets is invigorating. If Ezra is in a bad mood all we have to do is take him on a walk. He loves to watch what the old people are up to, what the dogs are barking about, what music the dreadlocked hippies on the Alameda are listening to, what the flamenco singers are singing about. He’s into all of it. I am not one to keep him out until midnight, but like every other Spanish kid he cannot get enough of the calle.

You're a writer, and you've spent your career writing for newspapers, magazines, and websites. How does blogging differ?
I love how fast it all is! But it’s really important to treat the content you produce for a blog with the same care, quality, and accuracy that you would for a newspaper or magazine. I’m a one-woman-band so that makes it difficult at times. And I’m a mama, so I suffer from a time-deficit most of the time. I end up with typos!

Also, while I would never (ever!) reference Wikipedia for a traditional article, I do sometimes find myself traipsing over there for a quick Wiki-fact when I need one for (Díga)Mama. Wiki-facts are very different from real ones, though, so I stay away from them as much as possible. I use them for confirmation more than sourcing. It’s a big pet peeve of mine when writers use Wikipedia.

 If (as is my dream) someone reads about something on (Díga)Mama and decides to visit that place, I want it to be as true to the experience I blogged about as possible. The point-of-view on the site is specifically mine; but a lot of what I write is still service-journalism.
With a blog, you do have a little bit more leeway, yet you have to be twice as vigilant about how you end up presenting that information. Once you hit publish, which is ultra easy on Wordpress and other blogging platforms, your content is out there for better, worse, in accuracy or not. That’s a lot of responsibility and something that every writer and blogger should take very seriously.

What are your plans for (Díga)Mama going forward?
I’m going to devote more time and energy to (Díga)Mama this summer. Right now it’s hosted on Wordpress, but I’m going to move it over to a different server in the coming months, once I boost my traffic. I’m also going to focus more on networking with other mom and travel bloggers to push traffic that way, too. Eventually, I’d like to enlist other expat mothers to contribute content. In the meantime, (Díga)Mama – that would be me talking about myself in 3rd person again! – can also be found blogging for The Stir at CafeMom.

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