A Casual Notebook is a periodic record of musings from Shawn Moksvold.  It is a humble blog in its infancy, with a new entry usually on the weekends.  Having started as a virtual place to showcase pretentious and forced travel writing, it has developed into a beckoning to those who appreciate the novelty and, more importantly, nuances and ironies of living in a foreign country.

Shawn is:

A sarcastic, food-loving bookworm who is prone to bouts of nostalgia and sentimentality. Also a music neophile, with a rich contempt toward popular radio and most commercials, he would most often prefer a good song to a meal, but would choose a good meal and conversation over most things. He often feels sorry for himself and demonstrates a constant linguistic and physical clumsiness, some of which he writes down for the benefit of the sadistic public.
He religiously nurtures, in mind and physicality, a constant wanderlust and an occasional attraction to adventure that will probably destroy him in the end but provides genuine life experience, some of which he will write in this blog.

He is an incessant watcher of movies.

He rarely sleeps past 8am, even hungover.
He is often cynical and sometimes sardonic, but has a soft side that actually allows him to enjoy things like Kir Royales, cats, and strawberries dipped in white chocolate.

A consummate masochist, he spontaneously constructs life scenarios in which there is likely failure, but has the sensibility to know when he’s fortunate.

He would not care to live without strong coffee, dark chocolate, and red wine. He would rather be around people who are smarter than him, although he feels guilty when confronted with this realization. He is an amateur naturalist, loves animals, and likes to play the guitar, take great and bad amateur photographs, spin vinyl records, exercise, write/read poetry, and short stories/travel writing. He likes to spend prolonged time in water under a hot sun. He likes to camp, and often studies people’s accents and languages.  He pays attention to world news.

He feels most alive when he is traveling uncomfortably or laughing really hard.

He is horribly irresponsible with money.  He likes words.

He needs an occasional dose of classic jazz every now and then to feed his soul, electronic music as candy for his emotional mind, sullen saxophone-ridden Morphine kind of stuff to nurse him through bouts of self-loathing, folksy guitar to help him remember the good parts of his childhood, and some weird, deviant stuff just to keep it interesting. There is never enough music.

He likes cities.

Past Work:

Online CV: JournoPorfolio

Beside Australia’s Glowing Gem, A Rare Blend of Music and Culture under the Stars The Cultureist Magazine

No One in My Tree: John Lennon’s Almería The Huffington Post Travel

Elaborate Slaughter: Impressions of My First Bullfight  The Huffington Post

In El Hierro: Waiting for the Smoke to Clear The Cultureist Magazine

Decanted and Decoded: Spanish Wine in a Nutshell  The Cultureist Magazine

Photo Essay: A Stroll through Salamanca The Cultureist Magazine

Get Cultured: Madrid.  Exploring the City Like a Local The Cultureist Magazine

Mallorca’s Accidental Gems The Cultureist Magazine

1862 Dry Bar MADbudget.com

Madrid Food Tour  MADbudget.com

Winner, Fiction 101 Contest San Diego City Beat Magazine

Current musical distractions:  Austra, Blouse, Love Inks, Najwa Nimri, Niki & the Dove, Clive Tanaka y su Orchestra, Little Dragon, SBTRKT, PJ Harvey, Picture Plane, Miles Davis, DJ Sasha.

Best food lately: Sobressada, Vermut and oysters, Pa amb oli, mussels, pimientos de Padrón, Tinto de Verano, Gintonic.

Literary stimulations at the moment:

A Guide for the Perplexed, Interviews w Werner Herzog, by Paul Cronin

The Sense of Style, by Stephen Pinker

Modern Science Writing, edited Richard Dawkins

Goodbye to Berlin, by Christopher Isherwood

South from Granada, by Gerald Brenan

Homage to Catalonia, by George Orwell

Half Empty, by David Rakoff

Wind, Sand and Stars, by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Down and Out in Paris and London, by George Orwell

The Best of Young Spanish Novelists, Granta Issue 113

To the Ends of the World, by Paul Theroux

Sea of Glory, by Nathaniel Philbrick

Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk, by David Sedaris

Marco Polo, from Venice to Xanadu, by Laurence Bergreen

Three Cups of Tea, Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin

Heidegger and a Hippo walk through those Pearly Gates. Using Philosophy and Jokes to Explore Life, Death, the Afterlife, and Everything in between. by Thomas Chathcart & Daniel Klein

Curso Intermedio de español, by M. Arévalo !

26 thoughts on “About…”

  1. andrea said:

    Had a quick skim of your blog – I enjoyed your posts about teaching, and your photos, which are lovely.

  2. Hi Shawn,

    I enjoy reading your blog. My name is Dani and I manage http://www.gototown.eu I was wondering if you would be interested in doing some free lance writing for us?

    Have a look at what we do and if you are interested we can chat further,

    Take care,


    • Thanks for the response and compliment.
      I’m always looking for writing opportunities;
      I’ll check out your website in the next few days!
      Thanks again!

      • Cool. I look forward to hearing what you think..

        Take care and speak soon.



  3. Hi, Shawn. I’ll be in Madrid from June 18 – July 2, then again in mid August. Will you be around any of those times? Perhaps we can catch a beer or two, take some photos, and collectively miss Valerie. I’ll be staying in Malasaña, near the corner of c/ San Bernardo and c/ Vicente Ferrer (near Noviciado).

    • Hey man! I don’t know yet. I should be here in August–no plans yet. July’s less likely because I’ll be working near Almeria for some camps.
      But I’ll keep you posted…

  4. Hi Shawn, I’ve just discovered your blog… beautiful writing, incisive humour & screaming self-awareness… I think it’s Top of the Pops. In a nice coincidence, I came across it this week while enjoying an excellent mood after consumption of (and having fallen madly in love with) a bottle of Martúe 2009. So, in the spirit of sharing good things, you may like these (if not aware of them already): wines from Jumilla http://www.wine.com/v6/jumilla/spain/learnabout.aspx?region=14&appellation=12132 ; the travel writing of Paul Bowles (you know he lived in Tangier and loved Spain?) http://www.lonelyplanet.com/morocco/travel-tips-and-articles/76419 ; and a supreme read about happiness from one of Australia’s most insightful writers: http://www.quarterlyessay.com/issue/happy-life-search-contentment-modern-world . Enjoy, GB

    • Thank you very much for the compliments and the suggestions!
      I’ll check those out. Always looking for more writing and wine!

  5. Nice vision.

  6. Hi Shawn,

    I found your blog on Expat Blog where my wife and I also list our expat blog, http://theviewdownunder.blogspot.com.

    About a year and a half ago we moved from New York to Sydney and had a difficult time finding a reputable international mover. Because of our experience, we started GoodMigrations (http://GoodMigrationsHelps.com) as a free resource for people to rate their international moving company so others can make informed decisions.

    We’re just starting out, so I’m reaching out to fellow expats to ask them to review their moving experiences on the site. If you could take 60 seconds to rate your mover (or even post the site link on your blog to spread the word to others), I would be grateful for your help!

    Many thanks,
    Adam Vagley

  7. Hi Shawn,

    I came across your blog, and very much enjoyed your writing.

    I run http://www.madbudget.com and would like to invite you to contribute guest posts about Spain to the site. We were recently featured in national Geographic and should you be interested in breaking into travel writing, this is a great opportunity.

    Is this something you might be interested in?

    If so, drop me a quick email at info@madbudget.com and we can see how to get started.

    Thanks and until soon,
    Isabel Eva

  8. Came across your blog on the fb group for Auxiliares de Conversación. You might like to give Ghosts of Spain a try, as a historical/social/political undercurrent to whatever further observations you make on Spain.

  9. Hi Shawn!! I have nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award!!! Have a look at my post for details!! & keep the posts coming!!! I Love it!!! :D **

    • Thank you! I’ll do the list . Sounds like a great way to spread the word on good blogs! Keep your great photos coming too!

  10. Thanks,Leila! A catch up meal at Chloe’s sounds great. I’m trying to travel free, hope you and Gabe are doing well…

  11. Your bio is refreshingly honest and made me laugh. It made me miss you terribly! Travel free and dance by me when you in in so cal again! Wine .. and i may even break my vegan morals for a night at Cafe Chloe’s.

  12. Jeremy Wilhelm said:

    Just doing some light internet stalking and came across this blog. I see the essence of the Shawn I knew is still there, albeit considerably more experienced and worldly. I loved your post reflecting on the cannery days. I knew you struggled after I had given it up, but man your writing made me feel it all over again, to the point I felt bad that I didn’t do more to help you at the time (particularly as I was a spoiled prat living of my grandfather’s credit card).

    Jeremy Wilhelm, New Zealand

    • Thanks, man! Wow, long time. You’re in New Zealand? I am sure you’ve got a great bunch of stories of how got there…
      A catch up beer some day….
      I hope you’re well.

      • Jeremy Wilhelm said:

        Yes, it’s been quite a while. By my calculations almost 16 years since we last saw each other. Crazy, eh? Naya and I have been living in and around the Wellington region for about seven and a half years and absolutely love it down under. You should try and visit at some stage as I’m sure you would enjoy it (supposing you haven’t been here already).

        We definitely have to have that catch up beer!


  13. Kelly said:

    Concerning “About me,” I still see you as I once saw you and you left out “extremely funny,” a part of you I still miss. Love ya

  14. Algunos partes son sarcasticas!

  15. Teresa said:

    Nice blog. Congratulations!!
    Reading your blog, I,ve learned more about yourself and your interest.

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