29 November 2008

6 Things You Can Do When It Rains in Buenos Aires

(en) 1. Get spicy Indian food delivered with Garlic Naan, Veggie Samosas, four types of Chutney and Biryani

2. Work on grad school applications

3. Watch "Pretty Woman" on Youtube with your girlfriend who, for some reason, reminds you so much of Audrey Hepburn tonight.

4. Take pictures of the rain, all of which look grey, not rainy by the way

5. Place a folded towel in front of the door to the balcony so the rain doesn't make it to your bed.

6. Sing a love song to the sun

(es) 1. Conseguir comida india bien picante con el pan Naan de ajo, los samosas de vegetales, cuatro tipos de salsa Chutney, y una porción grande de arroz Biryani

2. Ocuparte de dos aplicaciones para programmas doctorados en la literatura inglesa y la escritura creativa a la universidad de Florida Estatal y la Universidad de California de Sur)

3. Mirar la pelicula "Pretty Woman" en Youtube con tu novia que, por alguna razón, te recuerda tanto a Audtry Hepburn esta noche

4. Sacar fotos de la lluvia, de las cuales todas, me parecen grises, no lluviosas, a propositó

5. Poner una toalla grande delante de la puerta del balcón para que la lluvia no alcanzase a tu cama

6. Cantar una canción de amor al sol

It's Raining, But You Can't Tell
Here You Can
No, It's Still Raining
Love Song for the Sun

27 November 2008

33˚C Thanksgiving in Buenos Aires

I dunno. It took me a long time to get used to spending Christmas in Socal even though I've been doing that since I was 16 years old. But after years of walking on the beach with my family when the sun comes down like diluted drips of honey water, I did get used to it. It had something to do with the tide pools, something to do with the weather, and something with how much I love my family.

Thanksgiving in hot weather is strange enough for me. I mean, I've never spent a Thanksgiving where the frozen turkey would have thawed if you left it on the sidewalk. Okay, so I don't eat Turkey. But the point is, it's hot enough outside (92˚ F for those of you that are metrically challenged) to bake the whole meal, stuffing and all.

But maybe this is what holidays are really supposed to be about as you get older: not necessarily seeing your whole family (though that would be nice, as would tide pools), but being more open to who your family is. If you'd told me nine years ago that I would define family as living in Buenos Aires with the woman you love, and the dog that you treat as your daughter, I would have laughed at you. But now, this all makes sense to me.
LB and Me
Vegan Meatloaf
Homemade Sweet Potato Pie
A Happy Pooch
A Small Feast in Buenos Aires
And a Girlfriend That Can Express Her Love Through Her Food

21 November 2008

Even The Kids Are Gregarious in Buenos Aires

Only in Buenos Aires. The other day I was taking my merienda at a café (not to mention trying to study for the GRE). I'd just finished my second medialuna, crispy on the outside but gooey and sweet on the inside. Just the way I like them. My cup of tea was almost gone, I was taking a break from The Vocabulary Hit List, consumed in people watching through the window as they walked down Avenida de Mayo. Sometimes words of admiration and momentary lust flew out of my mouth when I saw a particularly attractive Porteña. It was like any other day. And then suddenly, a little boy, maybe two years old, walked over to my table, plopped himself in the chair across from me and stared at me. He had a cookie, or some type of pastry in his mouth. He could barely chew the thing it was so large. But he did his best, staring at me with his big brown eyes that reminded me of bloated coffee beans. I talked to him, asked him his name, what he was eating, why he had granos de café for eyes. Meanwhile, his mom was sitting close by, watching us interact (if that's the word). She shook her head at me as if to say he's at it again. The little boy picked up my cellphone, examined it, rubbed the camera lens in back with his thumb.

--No es tuyo, his mom said. Che, Alejandro, no es tuyo, she said again. That's not yours.

He began pushing buttons in the contact list like he needed to get a hold of one of my friends and make an emergency call. He looked down at the different names and pushed a bunch of buttons again, this time furiously. That nameless soggy pastry half-hanging from his mouth. His eyes looking at me for confirmation.

--Che, no es tuyo. Dejálo Alejandro. Por favor, dejálo. Finallly the boy dropped the cellphone on the table and walked to another part of the restaurant. --Decile chau, she said. Say goodbye to him, she told her son. But he was on to bigger and better things by then. My theory is that he didn't listen to a word she said partially because he's only two years old, partially because he's a boy, and partially because the idea of private property is an oxymoron in Argentina.

13 November 2008

12 Mate Sips (Lyrical Essay)

1. Cure the mate: if your mate is a gourd you have to cure it first. Think of Louis Pasteur and Jonas Salk. This will make you feel vaguely scientific. Fill the mate with yerba and hot water. Make sure the water isn’t angry since boiling water makes the yerba taste bitter like people who cling to guns and religion. A half an hour later, fill the mate up to the metal ring again and leave it there for twenty-four hours. Then rinse with hot water (no soap), dry and enjoy. This is your countdown to addiction.

2. Buy a stainless steel thermos: this way you can drink mate anytime and anyplace in Buenos Aires. Mate will become you new magic trick. Snap your fingers and you’ll have the Holy Grail. You can refill your mate with hot water from the thermos you bought in front of the Subte station called Catedral though you’ve never seen a church around. After the woman on Florida Avenue charged you forty pesos you said you’d take it for twenty-five. This startled her. —My friend down there charges fifty pesos, she said. You grumbled and forked over the money. A week later you saw the same thermos inside a shop window for a hundred pesos. She wasn’t trying to rip you off after all. Clearly, the mate hadn’t changed you yet.

3. Beware of what happens when you hold your mate protectively in your hands: after you eat a white alfajor and split an orange that explodes color, a shirtless man walks up to you out of the blue with noticeable face stubble and a book of his guru in his hand. He points at your tattoos and then talks for twenty minutes without breathing. You won’t get a word in, which is odd for you. As you hold the mate in your hand and wait for him to stop talking, you decide to wait until he leaves before offering it to your girlfriend. She puts the metal straw to her lips and smiles.

4. Pick the right yerba: this is like choosing the right wine for dinner. Sometimes you want it vigorous and strong like a gladiator. La Merced’s De Monte is faithful and husky that way. Other times you want your mate smooth and earthy like a mouthful of sweet grass. The red label of Jesper soothes you. And there really are twigs in the yerba.

5. Carry it with you wherever you go: you don’t know it yet, but drinking mate is a lifestyle, not a drink. You can buy drinks at any bar or Kiosco. But a lifestyle is something you create, slowly assembling a habit that ends up defining you in a series of small decisions. Mate makes you oral and patient, thoughtful and social. Drinking mate becomes a ritual. You make your girlfriend promise that you’ll never stop taking time out of your life to drink mate together once you return to Chicago. She nods and reaches for the mate. You wonder if she’s heard a thing you’ve said.

6. Addiction: when you skip a day of drinking mate, your head becomes a Seattle Winter. But when you heat up water on the stove your spirit rises up like the smoke in animal sacrifice. Your face lights up, radiant and inedible like a giant lemon.

7. Drugged Time: There are plenty of parks in Buenos Aires. Unfortunately you won’t visit most of them because you like the shade when the air gets hot and omnivorous. You stick to Plaza de Palermo Viejo in Palermo SoHo. Parque de las Herras near Recoleta. Plaza San Martin in Microcentro. These are the places where time slows down like a clock injected with Quaaludes.

8. Swallow Nature: The good thing is that as you drink your yerba, you will inhale grass and leaves that come from missions all across the Argentine peninsula. Your yerba also has twigs in it. Actual pieces of wood, and they slowly expand each time you fill your mate with water from your thermos. This connects you to the campo. You flatter yourself into thinking that you are somehow closer to Argentina than your expatriate friends that flush through the Capital like merchants washing the sidewalk.

9. Ignite fellowships: the mate ritual is simple. Always offer your friends mate. It’s rude to keep that kind of pleasure to yourself. Each person drinks mate from the bombilla, sucking until the gourd is dry. You’ll meet your friends at Plaza de Holanda and melt in the sun together, passing your mate around in a circle like a it’s a joint. You’ll walk to Plaza de Palermo Viejo with your girlfriend and drink mate on a bench, eating granolas bars, chocolate cookies and Mandarin oranges while a woman lies in the grass in a thong.

10. Some day a man without a shirt and shadow on his face might walk right up to you and your girlfriend and talk for twenty minutes because he can sense your harmony. You notice him clinging to a book with his guru on the cover, and like people who use guns and religion after every sip of bitter yerba (which always comes from the angriest water), your grip on the mate gets tighter and tighter.

11. Mate is almost an aphrodisiac: at least, it makes you want to take your clothes off like a Porteña in a thong, to melt inside the sweet spot of the day at the exact place where the sun is warm and gooey like a pastry. You will do anything that makes your pores radiant like a new hook-up. The mate runs down your throat like a long hot kiss.

12. Redemption: there is nothing that mate cannot save. You spend almost all day inside the apartment doing absolutely nothing, only eating breakfast and checking your mail while the day passes by like a migration of birds. But, with one thermos of hot water, a mate full of smooth yerba (and a little brown sugar), you and your girlfriend salvage a day of complete lassitude by simply walking to your favorite park in Palermo where both of you share cookies, brownie bites and a granola bar. In two hours, your lethargy turns into a perfect moment. Happiness should always this simple.

09 November 2008

Nada Que el Mate no Puede Salvar :: Rien que le mate ne peut sauver

(es) No hay nada que el mate no puede salvar. Pasás casi todo el tiempo dentro del departamento haciendo nada, solo comiendo desayuno et echequeando mail mientras que te pasa el día como un migración de pájaros. Pero, con un thermo de agua caliente, un mate lleno de yerba suave (y un poco de azucar negra) vos y tu novia salvan un día de sopor simplemente camindo al parque favorito en Palermo donde comparten galletitas, brownies y un barra de granola crocante. En dos horas, tu letargo se convierte en un momento perfecto. Es tan sencillo.

(fr) Il n'y a rien que le maté ne peut sauver. Vous passez tout le jour à l'interieur de ton aparto faisant rien. Vous manger seulement le petit déjeuner et vous vérifiez l'e-mail pendant que le jour te passe comme une migration des oiseaux. Mais, avec un thermos d'eau chaude, un maté plein de tissane yerba (et un peu de sucre noir), tu et ta copine sauvez ce jour de lassitude et torpeur simplement au moyen de marcher à votre parc favori au Palermo où vous deux compartissez des biscuits en chocolat, des brownies et un plaque de granola. En deux heures, votre létargie se transforme en un moment parfait. C'est si facile.

04 November 2008

One of the Greatest Days of My Life

Tonight, like so many other people, I cried. I have seen many amazing things in my life so far but this overwhelms me. I have never been more proud to be an American, or a Chicagoan, for that matter, than I am tonight.
Now, I'm thinking about the message of this historic moment:

I'm thinking about what it says about any culture whose constitution was once stained by the evils of slavery and whose reference to a "more perfect union" has now just elected its first Black president in US history. I think about how Black slaves once built the White House with their sweat and muscle and now a Black man will be living inside the same house with his family as the 44th president. I'm thinking about what message we give the world by celebrating the rich and turbulent multiculturalism that has always been the spine of our great democratic experiment, placing it front and center of the country again instead of pretending there is no such thing as race or that we are suddenly post-racial, which is surely a lie unfit for the complexities of our country. I think about the message Barack Obama, now the President Elect, gave all citizens when he told us "I need your help," words probably never uttered before by a President. I think about the message that Kenyans, African-Americans and minorities will see for the rest of the lives in the remarkable story of Obama, a native son and now a symbol of the American Dream after 200 years with a white-washed executive branch. Think about that: there was once a time when a black face meant slave. Now Obama´s face means American to every society in the world. I think about what I'll tell my kids someday, how cynicism and fear are formidable barriers to our growth but still no match to the collusion of intelligence and hope, to the power of numbers and the strength of our own determination. I think about the message that Barack Obama's victory gives a little black child growing up in a broken down city and every person who has ever fallen through the cracks. I think about how no one, no matter how malicious or myopic, will ever be able to tell that little boy that he cannot be anything he damn well pleases if he sets his mind to it.

Above all else, I think about what this election says to the deepest, boldest and most evolved parts of our selves that has always believed in our shared humanity, a humanity we ignore every time use words as epées, hatred as magnets, and apathy as a consolation for disconnection.

You can tell us what you like, but you can´t tell us we drink cool-aid or that this dream is impossible anymore because it has already happened, history has been made and we are already awake. In 2008 we stopped sleep-walking and we became a nation again.

02 November 2008

Abré la Boca y Decí Ahhh :: Open La Boca and Say Ahhhhh

This is Where Our Day Really Began: Shot 1 of the Constitución Station
I'd Never Seen a Font with Eyes Before
This is NOT a Protest Against Primitivism
A Little Park
The Russian Orthodox Church
Guitarists Playing Gipsy Rags
Possibly the Snazziest Tango Pimp I'd Ever Seen, and He Was At Least 70 Years Old
Calle Defensa
For a Second I Really Thought THIS Was El Caminito. Then I Thought It was a Funhouse
Another Family Portrait
Something About Old Bridges
At the Muelle
If Benches Had Political Positions, I Would Say This One Was a Moderate
I Loved the Lamp
The Yellow Section Was Kinda Upsetting
Just Look Up
Retired Tango Dancer
The Last Thing We Saw Before Leaving
San Lorenzo Hinchas (Football Fans) Parading through La Boca
In Theory It Makes So Much
I Love this Slogan: Bread + Work
Shot 2 of the Constitución Station
Shot 3 of the Constitución Station
This Shit Only Happens in Argentina Man: As We Were Walking to the Subte, I Noticed a Group of People Looking Down From the Upper Level, Staring At What Was Going On Here. To Give You an Idea, Erika and I Walked Five Steps Before She Turned to Me and Said, Hey, You're Stepping in Blood. So I Turned Around and Noticed a Trail of Blood Leading to This Guy Surrounded by Police Officers. He was Sitting on the Ground, a Huge Gash on His Head, Talking to the Cops. Soccer Hoodlums? A Mugging? Who the Fuck Really Knows.