27 June 2008

State of Influx

It's totally crazy. Almost everyone I know is moving or just moved recently. Here's a compelling--and largely meaningless--example of what I mean:

1. Bee moved from South Bend to Hattiesburg, Mississippi
2. Leigh moved from Traverse City, Michigan to Portland, Oregon in January
3. Kelly, this girl I went on a date with back in South Bend moved from South Haven, Michigan to Austin, Texas, with her rocker boyfriend
4. Mona is moving back to Chicago from Pittsburgh
5. Tim moved from Dublin to Ann Arbor, for reasons that still elude me
6. Julie, A former student of mine from Notre Dame is moving from Chicago back to Minneapolis for Law School (good move)
7. Snewtee moved to Parkslope with her girlfriend and pooch
8. M2 is moving from Chicago to Colorado with her boyfriend
9. Randa moved from Iraq back to Beirut with her husband, Hussein, thank god
10. Helmut, after finally getting his Ph.D at Yale (10 years in the making), is moving to College Station, Texas to teach at Texas Tech
11. Amy V. moved from South Korea to Thailand to teach English
12. Micai moved from Azerbaijan to Georgia for her Fulbright
13. Kristen moved from Azerbaijan to D.C. with her Azeri boyfriend
14. Barbara, my Mom's Aussie friend, is moving from Socal to Bali.
15. Nica is moving from Boston to Amsterdam
16. And lastly and most importantly, Erika and I moved from Chicago to Buenos Aires. And we're doing it for a better life. Holla!

I know, I know. Who the hell are these people? Sadly, if you're not me, they're just names. But I used a very personal example to prove a more general trend, namely that people are getting fidgety.

I think we've entered a time of amazing transition. It seems like all of us as humans and creators are passing through a new existential phase as we redefine ourselves and look for our tribe in other corners of the world, looking for a new life hiding in the crevices of other cultures. Instead of settling we're searching for a place that drenches us with a calm sense of wonder.

23 June 2008

Leaving a Week Later

(en) Sigh. I found out a few days ago that we had to add another week to our countdown, and we were getting so close. Erika's lawyer ignored her despite the fact that she told him in italicized English that we were leaving on the 9th of July to move to Buenos Aires, meaning her bankruptcy hearing had to take place before then. And then he got it scheduled for the 15th anyway. I was furious. Erika had to call our travel agent and change our tickets and now we're leaving three weeks from this wednesday instead of two. But at least we're still moving to Argentina. I think that's the most important thing of all.

(es). Suspiro. Hace dos días que descubrí que tuvimos que echar una otra semana adicional a nuestra cuenta atrás, ¡y estábamos tan cerca! El abogado de Erika no le hizo caso a pesar del hecho que ella le dijo en inglés en letras cursivas que íbamos mudarnos a Buenos Aires el 9 de Julio, significando que su vista de bancarrota tuvo que tener lugar antes. A pesar de todo eso, ¡todavía se fue programado por el 15! Estuve furioso. Erika tuvo que llamar a nuestra agente de viaje y cambiar de nuestros boletos, y ahora salimos tres semanas de este miércoles en vez de dos. Pero por lo menos todavía nos mudamos al Argentina. Creo que es la cosa más importante del todo.

(fr) Soupir. Ça fait deux jours que j'ai découvert que nous avon dû ajouter une autre semaine à notre compte rebours, et nous etions si près! L'avocat de Erika lui a ignoré malgré le fait qu'elle lui a raconté en lettres italiques que nous partions le 9 de Juillet, voulant dire que son procédure de faillite a dû avoir lieu avant. Malgré tout ça, il s'est encore fait fixé un date pour le 15 de Juillet! Moi j'étais si furieux. A cause de ça, Erika a dû lui téléphoner à notre agent de vacances et changer de nos billets d'avion, et maintenant partons trois semaines de ce Mercredi au lieu de deux. Mais l'essential, c'est que nous déménageons encore à l'Argentine. Je crois que c'est la chose plus importante de tout.

20 June 2008

Why Blogging Has Changed The World

You know, it didn't occur to me until recently how amazing and important blogging is. Here is a short list of reasons why I think blogs have changed the world for the better:

1. The Democratization of the Media. Ten years ago, the only way to read--and to report--what was going on in the world was to read The New York Times, and though I still read NYT and the Post online religiously, the truth is it's no longer the only source of news and information out there anymore.

2. No Conflict of Interest. Since every news source is limited by the constraints of the editorial and the advertising department, blogs give us complete and total freedom of speech that can only exist in a world where profit doesn't conflict with truth, whatever that is for each of us.

3. Everyone Participates in the Speed of Information. Since reportage is completely colored by the ideological imprints of the author (or editor) anyway, it makes sense to give every person the microphone to talk about the world from a personal point of view instead of pretending that the truth is something external that we are only allowed to evaluate from the outside, but never create ourselves. Now information can be reported immediately and read by the entire globe within seconds.

4. Everyone Participates in the Selection of Information. The news is created by writers, not by reality. There are a million news-worthy events that happen everyday and yet we only read about a modicum of them since writers and editors decide what news is fit for publication. Blogging gives power back to the people to decide what's really important, and not by replacing news outlets, but by supplementing them.

5. It Saves Trees and Doesn't Create Pollution (Except in Your Head).

6. Blogs don't follow the law of scarcity. The existence of one blog does not preclude the existence of another as it does with newspapers in competitive economic models.

7. Quantity ensures Quality. It doesn't matter that many of the blogs in the blogosphere are badly written, angry, hyperpolitical, scathing, rumor-pushing, celebrity-obsessed monsters. The sheer number of blogs out there means that there will always be good blogs to read.

8. Connection & Outreach. Bloggers not only blog, they read other people's blogs, comment on them and in time, form friendships with other people with similar interests or ideas, something a newspaper never does. Further, blogs help friends and family stay in each other's lives both on a visual and written level. Lastly, blogs can be read by millions of people at one time, regardless of where they live. That's superpowerful.

9. The Celebration of Personal Experience. Blogs are a way of overcoming alienation by putting one's feelings, thoughts and personal experiences out there for others to read, to connect to (and in some cases, judge).

10. Challenging Prejudice. Though there are plenty of racist, prejudiced, derogatory and hateful blogs out there, these thoughts can be challenged by readers of different points of view because complete strangers can make comments, something that doesn't happen when we write vitriol in a paper journal, hiding our poison from the world. Blogs by their nature are invasive, and hatred and prejudice thrive the most when hidden, not exposed.

11. Blogs Teach Us Something. Sometimes we learn about a strike in Peru that the media doesn't talk about or read about Spanish grammar or the intricacies of Argentine Slang, Asado and the importance of the placement of the left hand in Tango. Other times we learn about a relative stranger giving birth to a beautiful baby girl or we find a favorite personal recipe for vegan banana bread that's not sponsored by Chiquita bananas. But in each case, we have the ability to learn something important about our shared humanity.

12. Blogs Cannot Be Burned. Books can be, especially during dictatorships, terrorist scares and Christian temperance crusades.

15 June 2008

Things I'll Miss About Chicago

Here is a quick list of things I'm gonna miss in Chicago (or at least things I think I'll miss):

1. The Chicago Diner's vegan philly steak sandwiches
2. Alice & Friend's yakisoba and chocolate mousse cake
3. Cultural and racial diversity
4. Relatively clean air
5. Las Fiestas Puerorriqueñas, greasy bacalaito and arroz con gándules
6. The El, especially when it works
7. Oak Park, and how it feels like Portland
8. The Cityscape
9. Having tea with my brother
10. Whole foods & Trader Joe's
11. Erika's family
12. The illusory hope that Pops will come over and have dinner at our apartment
13. Which reminds me, our apartment
14. The Loop
15. Soy Tea Lattes with vanilla
16. Browsing through the literary journal section of Borders
17. Intelligentsia and Neocafe (Filter RIP)
18. G-star
19. Speedwalking down Michigan Avenue
20. Aveda free samples
21. Hearing English in the streets
22. Free concerts in Millenium Park
23. Black culture in America, and Black people in general
24. Japanese restaurants
25. The International terminal of O'Hare
26. LoGos, L2, WP and even Lincoln Park
27. The ability to send manuscripts through the mail
28. Clean tattoo joints
29. Falafels at the New Jerusalem Café
30. The smell of gardens
31. The Bulls, especially when they bring it
32. The Khaki Mafia that makes me feel so stylish
33. Our fabulous bed that transports me to this magical place
34. Pad thai from Jitlada Thai
35. My fave crack gate at the corner of Cottage and 78th. Just kidding
36. The speed of consumption

14 June 2008

How Much Savings Is Enough?

(en) Based on a conservative estimate, it looks like Erika and I will have a little over 10k in savings once we finally arrive in Buenos Aires. I know that it would be ideal to have more so we don't feel under the gun while we look for jobs and sample the culture, but I'm just wondering if that's enough. My friend Mona arrived in Argentina with a 1,000 dollars. Of course she didn't come with a boyfriend, a shia-poo or any long-term aspirations, and we're planning on staying for at least two years, not three months. But I still think we're going to be just fine. Usually when I move to a new place (e.g. Seattle, Portland, New Haven, back to Chicago) I don't have any money at all and somehow it still works out. Of course I'm an incorrigible optimist, a stubborn survivor, and student loans have helped me avoid the inevitable collision with the labor market more than once, so I'm not sure I even know how to concede failure like that. But I still think everything's going to be okay, once we figure out how everything works and how to stop Porteños from ripping us off!

(es) Basado en cálculo aproximado, parece que Erika y yo vayamos a tener un poco mas de diez mil dólares en ahorros después de que llegamos en Buenos Aires. Yo sé que sería ideal si tuviéramos más guita para que no nos sentamos bajo presión mientras que buscamos puestos y probamos la cultura local. Sin embargo me pregunto si vaya a ser suficiente. Mi amiga Mona llegó en Argentina, armada con sólo un mil dólares. Por supuesto no llegó con novio, un shia-caniche, ni algunas aspiraciones a largo plazo, y nosotros, por otro lado, no nos proponemos quedar allá tres meses, sino dos años al menos. Sigo creyendo que todo va a salir bien. Normalmente cuando me mudo a nuevo sitio (e.g. Seattle, Portland, Nuevo Haven, regressando a Chicago), no tengo niguna plata en absoluto, y de algún modo u otro, todo sale bien. Claro, soy optimista incorregible, superviviente terco, y mis préstamos a los estudiantes me ayudaron a evitar el choque inevitable con el mercado laboral más que una vez, entonces, no estoy seguro de saber reconocer mi propio fracaso así. Pero sigo creyendo que todo sale bien, una vez que comprendamos como funciona todo y ¡aprendemos a evitar que nos timan los argentinos!

09 June 2008

I Hope Therefore I Write

(en) I just sent query letters for my novel BLANK to Katherine Fausset and Jim Rutman and I'm wondering whether being in Argentina will positively or negatively prejudice my chances of getting a top-notch literary agent. Considering how many agents don't accept email queries, it seems like a bad move I admit. But I'm hopeful that Beth de Guzman will eventually help me out or that something else will work out eventually. I still hope because I'd stop writing otherwise.

(es) Acabo de mandar dos cartas de duda de la parte de mi novela BLANK a Katherine Fausset y Jim Rutman y ahora me preguntaba si estar en Argentina me influiría, en cierto modo positivo o negativo, las posibilidades de conseguir un agente literaria de primera clase. Teniendo en cuenta cuantas agentes literarias no accepten cartas de duda por correo electrónico, parece que sea una mala decisión confeso. Pero tengo esperanzas de que Beth de Guzman (or alguien así) inevitablemente me ande a ayudar, or que otra cosa suceda. Sigo teniendo esperanzas porque si non me dejaría de escribir.

02 June 2008

36 Días y La Elección de Sophia :: 36 Days and Sophie's Choice

(es) ¡Mierda! No puedo creer que salgamos el siguiente mes. 36 dias es casi nada más de un mes y no nos pusimos a empaquetar todavía, pero la verdad es que he mirado a todo que tengo en este apartamento, silenciosamente dividiendo mi entera realidad material en dos montones separados:

Montón 1: Andás conmigo a la tierra del asado
Montón 2: O voy a venderte, guardarte o obsequiarte al Ejército de Salvación. Realmente, voy a tratar de venderte, no poderlo, y luego voy a ponerte en una cajita en almacenamiento de lo cual voy a olvidarme, probando así que ya no te necesito y yo te debiera haber obsequiado al Ejército de Salvación en primer lugar.

¡Boludo! Es como esa pelicula "La Elección de Sophia" salvo que se trata de mis púlover en vez de un bebe, y el fuego, en realidad, es un vuelvo de 10 horas.

(en) Holy Shit! I can't believe we leave next month. 36 days is barely more than a month and we haven't even started packing. But the truth is that I've been looking at everything I own and silently separating my entire material reality into 2 separate piles:

Pile 1: You're coming with me to the Land of the Asado
Pile 2: I'm either going to sell you, store you or give you away to the Salvation Army. Realistically, I'll try to sell you, not be able to, and then I'll put you in some little box in storage that I will completely forget about, thus proving that I no longer need you and should have given you away to the Salvation Army in the first place.

Fuck, it's like it's Sophie's Choice, except it's with my sweatshirts instead of babies, and the fire is actually a ten hour flight.