14 April 2009

Leaving Buenos Aires

I don't know how, but time has become a rocket, an explosive acceleration of compacted experiences. One morning it was Christmas + I was scarfing down Trader Joe's peanut butter pretzels until my liver was ready to burst, the next thing I know, LB + I are eating vegetarian Chinese food at Los Sabios for the last time, reminiscing about the past year we spent in South America.

As my last entry for Argentina (at least in 2009), here are some things I will certainly not miss, followed by a number of things I will never get over. In both cases, I'm enamored by the gritty, tangible details of our Porteño life, and I hope they haunt my daydreams forever, melting inside my brain like a Proustian candle that burns bright + strong on the altar of memory:

Things I Won't Miss

1. Ubiquitous dog shit, dog piss, construction + garbage on almost every single fucking block in Palermo Viejo

2. Trying to live on empanadas, pizza, arroz chaufa, spaghetti +toast (and salads, when we have more money)

3. The water in our apartment that gave us eczema

4. The air when colectivos pass by

5. Insane drivers that accelerate towards pedestrians

6. Our neighbor downstairs who spends all weekend yelling into her phone

7. The Coto loading dock across the street from our bedroom

8. The guilt of having a cleaning lady (it's a liberal thang)

9. Flash inflation

10. The prospect of contracting Dengue Fever

11. Maradona

12. Being so far away from my family

13. The coin shortage in Cap Fed with all of its accompanying conspiracy theories (e.g. it's Chinese immigrants, it's the Mafia, it's a cartel--no bitches, it's the National Mint)

14. Subte rides where old women pass out because it's so insanely hot

15. Expat tangueras who think they know Argentina because they spent 3 weeks in a Milonga, sleeping with dirty old men + opportunistic male chauvinists

16. The minor fear I have of getting jacked, robbed or kidnapped, everytime I walk to the ATM machine, or leave our apartment

17. People who say no así no se dice aqui everything they hear something that's not Argentine

18. National cynicism, resignation + apathy

19. Feeling obligated to hang out with people because they're family

20. One-hour lines at the supermarket

Things I Hope I Never Get Over:

1. Little kids in Cap Fed, especially when they're all dressed up in little person suits + dresses, speaking to you with their adorable sheismo

2. Argentines' sense of humor, which is infectious

3. Old people, especially when they tell you about their life in Italy, or how they knew Borges, or what life was like in Buenos Aires in the 60's, when their skin was smooth and their mannerisms were romantic + exaggerated

4. Palermo SoHo, especially Parque de Palermo Viejo (where LB + I used to drink mate) + Equina de la Fores (a refuge for vegetarians living on salt licks)

5. The love Argentines have for their family + friends

6. The city at night

7. Porteña doors : the detail, the embellishment, the color scheme

8. Riding a crowded Subte that's not scorching, especially when passengers are pushing me against a beautiful girl against my will (but what can you do?)

9. Argentine passion, just in general

10. Porteña beauty in particular. I don't know how it's legal for women to wear miniskirts in the middle of the summer, especially when they're walking up the stairs, but I'm not complaining

11. Hearing the word chau each + every day

12. Kissing absolute strangers on the cheeks, before I can even decide if I want to

13. The satisfaction I get when my Spanish works on autopilot

14. Learning to be happy so far away from home

15. How you can be short 60 centavos at the supermarket, and the cajera will simply tell you not to worry about it

16. San Telmo in the evening

17. Ateneo bookstore

18. The perfect medialuna

19. The importance and value of taking merienda

20. Having a life that is so vastly different than that of my American friends

21. Argentine wine, in particular, Trumpeter

22. Dinners with my expat friends, most of whom are long gone

23. Teenage girls flirting with me in Nuñez

24. Talking fiction with Jon, my Aussie friend at Plaza Holanda

25. Seeing the whole city illuminated from Annie + Jimmy's rooftop

26. Craking jokes with my English students at Accenture about nude ping-pong, being addicted to Viagra, having sexually insatiable wives + making out with transexuals (those are all actual running jokes, by the way)

27. Fresh OJ stands in microcentro

28. Making love with LB in the afternoon, just as the city is calming down

29. My cafe installments with Alejandro (technically a student, but really, a friend)

30. Being able to live in Buenos Aires as writer

31. Remembering what really matters in my life (love, laughter, health, joy, patience, kindness, language, music, family, nourishment, evolution)

32. Spring's vegetarian buffet

33. Brownies + licuados at Rick's café

34. The Sunday venders that sell hand-made necklaces, crayola soap bars, mates, chrome windchimes, knock-off baseball caps made in China, homemade incense, and lots of intricately constructed wire things I could never identify

35. The prerogative of bluntness

36. Living in a country that knows how to play futbol

37. So many great used bookstores

38. Listening to my iPod as I walked down 9 de Julio

39. Green Tea at el Ultimo Beso

40. The joy of desire


David Carlisle said...

As a former Buenos Aires resident I've really enjoyed reading your blog entries from the city. I wish you the best of luck in your future adventures.

JACKSON BLISS 水と魂 said...


Thanks so much man. I really appreciate that. Stop on by later on, I'll be posting pics of Europe, Morocco, Chicago + LA.

Peace, Blessings,


Fernanda Ibañez said...

boludo no te vayas!!

yo pense que te ibas "de vacaciones" a europa

ay no me pongo triste

no vas a hacer mas comentarios graciosos sobre los porteños

los europeos no lo son!!


bueno, esa fue mi risa final :´(


you will see and hear that word every day from now on

shift + a said...

I found this blog through the MFA Blog (by the way, I'm so thrilled for you going to USC, as I was following your story through the application season), and I love this post so much. I was only in BA for 10 days in November, but felt deeply connected to it, more so than other places in the world that I have spent much more time in. Thanks for reminding me about my short, but passionate and partly tumultuous time down there. Best of luck as a writer in LA now!

Devin said...

Jackson -isn't it crazy how time goes-it does seem that just yesterday it was like new years-now already (and quite unfortunately for yours truly-we are gearing up for summer in Phoenix) I so enjoy your blog -the paragraph before the list begins is a lovely piece of writing!! best to you and LB as always!

Marce said...

I like how there´s a certain symmetry in the pros and cons lists, so overall it sounds like a good time, and a big learning process, which I find is a big part of traveling, let alone living in another country.
Good luck in your trip, I´m trying not to get too green with envy about the Morocco part of it ;)

tinatangos said...

Oh man I hate leaving Buenos Aires :-( I loved reading this and I hope you take all of those memories with you wherever you go. I'm sorry I didn't get to see you two before I myself flew up north. Things just got so hectic. But I'm sure we'll cross paths.

By the way, who are the expat tangueras you refer to in 15? You have my gossipy side all curious! ;-) I won't miss those either.

Denis said...

Dear Jackson,

Great lists! I really appreciated your take on Buenos Aires. I only hope I get to visit someday.

Congratulations again on your USC acceptance. I feel like you really deserve it with the support you've been giving everyone on the blogs.

I'll be moving back to LA for the summer. Would love to meet you and other MFA people. Good luck with coming back to the States, I'm sure it will be an interesting trip.


JACKSON BLISS 水と魂 said...


Jeje. Sí, tienes razon, nos fuimos de vacaciones. . . la única diferencia es que no regressaremos a la Argentina después. Es un poco triste, no? Pero, bueno, Argentina siempre logra sobrevivir todo, y la ausencia de otro escritor no le importa nada. Sin embargo, quédate en contacto + dejame un comentario en el futuro boluda! Besos + CHAU!

Shift + A,

My pleasure + thanks about USC. I'm stoked + can't wait. Where are you at these days? More importantly, when will you come back to Buenos Aires?


Thanks for the luv. Suerte chico with the Arizona heat, it's not for anyone (certainly not me). Maybe, you'll just have to move to South America when you're single again and celebrate your life the way you've always wanted to. Thanks for reading my blog so faithfully Devin. Hella sweet of you man.

Hi Marce,

Thanks so much. Don't be jealous! Just go to Morocco yourself sometime. What I love about reading people's blogs, especially when they travel, is that they remind us of how possible everything really is. Maybe, in a strange sort of way, this is the first step. After your brain can imagine, so can you! I mean, if you believe in that sort of thing. Personally, I do. And yes, you're absolutely right, a huge learning curve, the only real kind I guess. Besos.


No worries. I understand (we both do). The last couple of weeks really get fast + blurry really quickly. We'll kick it again sometime, I'm sure.

And by the way, I never reveal my sources ;)


I'll get to LA in late August. If you're still there, let's kick it sometime. Maybe we can get a good group of writers together and just chill somewhere: los feliz, w. hollywood, silver lake? I'm open. I hope to see you soon. Peace, Blessings.

Still Life in South America said...

Great post, Jackson. I was secretly looking forward to and dreading that one because I was living vicariously through you and LB in B.A.

You got this one so right: The prerogative of bluntness.

Can't wait to follow your upcoming adventures. Tell LB to post her goodbye thoughts! ;-)

shift + a said...

I'm in LA also, but hoping to get away for a while. (No luck on the MFA front this go round) Short trips, no matter where they are on the globe, are not the same as actually living somewhere else, so I truly envy your time in BA. I was there in November, though I have no idea when I'll be back. We're looking into a trip to Morocco now, which excites me. I gather from the comments that you've also been there. And now I'm enjoying your Paris musings-- another city I love!

JACKSON BLISS 水と魂 said...

Shift + a, I'm truly sorry to hear about the MFA situation, but du courage. Some people get rejected for one to two years, and then they get accepted at the best programs in the nation--I think that's exactly what happened with Amish, right? Also, summer workshop conferences were made for normal people with normal lives. Maybe take one, get more stories/poems workshopped, get some kick-ass rec's, and suddenly, you're on another playing field. Re: Morocco, I haven't been there yet, but actually LB + I are flying there 2 May for a week. Should be rad as hell. Re: Paris, yeah, I love this city too. Fortunately, LB + I are coming back a few times in the next month, mostly for train connection reasons, but we liked the excuse just to spend more time here. I never get sick of Paris, and of course, speaking French makes a big difference. After Buenos Aires, I have a greater appreciation of this city and everything about it that works. We'll have to kick it sometime in LA; if you need someone to get you pumped about future MFA aspirations, I can do that too.

Good luck with the Morocco trip.

Bisous + Peace,


Agustín said...

Jackson, I've been taking a look at your blog and I liked it very much. I'm argentine, I find it really interesting when people from abroad give their opinion about Buenos Aires and Argentina.

I have one doubt:
How is that you are not gonna miss Maradona??

JACKSON BLISS 水と魂 said...


Jeje. For one thing, I'm not going to miss the Church of Holy Maradona. For another, I'm not going to miss his ugly mug (it's kind of a drug-abused face to be honest)! Also, I have lots of love for Argentine + Argentine soccer, but just as as it was inevitable that the USA would lose in basketball in the Olympics (which I think was a good thing, not to mention a necessary thing), I think Argentina's going down in the World Cup. That's all I'm gonna say. You guys will STILL be better than America will ever hope to be in soccer, but then again, you don't really have a lot of sports to brag about do you?

Anyway, that's my being-a-boludo retort. Truthfully though, I don't have any real feelings towards Maradona one way or the other, except that the hand of god was an utter sham, and that his second goal was a fucking masterpiece. Most objective Argentines seem to agree with me though. . .

shift + a said...

Okay, one last comment here, Jackson. I'm completely thrilled that you're in Amsterdam now-- another one of my favorite cities. I am hooked on your posts now and have already told my husband he should follow your blog also because there is just something so poetic about following another couple, a couple of strangers, travel to the same places you have been to, and having experiences that are at once completely different and identical. And you're right about me taking this year to workshop before applying to the MFA again in the fall. I started a course with the UCLA Writers Workshop (Boo...I know you're a Trojan now) just this month and it's already going brilliantly. Best of luck to you guys on your travels and back in LA!

JACKSON BLISS 水と魂 said...

Shift + A,

Sounds great. I'm telling you, that will help big time for you, just on a technical level. It always does. I took 2 workshops a year before I applied to MFA programs, years after I'd graduated from college, and ultimately I submitted 2 workshopped manuscripts to MFA programs that helped me get in the schools I did.

I know, I know, technically we're rivals now, but don't worry. USC spanks you guys almost every year, so the rivalry doesn't really exist, except in UCLA students' minds. ;) I'm just being a dick. . .

Seriously though, thanks so much for checking out my blog. I really appreciate that. And yes, Amsterdam is one of our fave cities. . . we still have five more to go before we fly back. See you on this blog, and hopefully someday, in LA!