Second Block Edition: Tales from Miami Ad School Account Planning Bootcamp. Location: Minneapolis, MN.


estoy buscando.

I'm going to try really hard to not eat 500g of pepas and galletitas this week. I mean I'm doing OK so far, I've only eaten three pepas today. And a spoonful of dulce de leche. oops. It's all Argentina's fault. So there's my ration for today. I guess I'll be eating yogurt for dessert. I bought this apple flavored fruit concentrate today... I'm sure it's completely full of sugar (lie I tell myself: but you mix it with 90% water) however it's going to be my substitute for at least a few 100 grams of galletas.
I don't why all of sudden I can't help myself from the desserts. If I keep talking about desserts so much someone is going to have to come down here and give me an intervention.

In other news, not pertaining to any sort of mouth watering morsel, I will be moving next month. For financial reasons I've had to cut out a lot of things....obviously one of them not being dulce de leche. But again, this isn't about food. I'm looking at a few different options. For about a third of what I'm paying now I can move into a hostel that is in a great location and has good accommodations. To be able to save two thirds of what I pay now, which is average rent for foreigners, would be amazing for my budget. I'm almost considering it, even if does mean giving up some privacy. I'm also going to look at different place tomorrow, similar to what I lived in before. So we'll see.

In December, Argentines decide it's too hot to do anything too strenuous, this includes speaking English for one hour a week. So much effort during the summer holidays is seen unnecessary. Why would you want to do more than go to the beach? Therefore I'm going to take some time to travel around the country. On Thursday, I was able to get out of the city for a few hours. I went to Tigre, about an hour outside the city. I almost forgot what it's like to not be surrounded by tall buildings, constant rush of cars and pollution. I suppose I need more balance. Something this city doesn't have too much of. It's a city of stop and go. Fast and slow. Busy and deserted. And the men, too. Hot and cold. But much to my benefit they're usually quite good looking. Quite good looking, I say. sigh.


Sueños de castellano.

I've been having my first dreams in Spanish. It's quite the train wreck. Even in my dreams I get frustrated with verb use, conjugations, vocabulary and listening. Why even bother, brain? You're off duty, why are you working so hard to impress the other dreams with your half-ass bilingual skills? It just doesn't make sense. So obviously when I wake up the first thing I'm thinking about is Spanish....wait. Maybe you are a genius after all brain. We'll, see. But nevertheless, my Spanish is improving.
On other fronts, I've made a huge effort in the iPod grievance process. Mostly I've accepted that I'll be stuck in the denial phase forever. Just pretending that I never even had one. Which is an awful thing to do when something you love goes missing. But this is the healthier option to glaring at every person on the street with white headphones in the chance that they are el ladrone (the thief) of my precious.
My weekend has been quite the relaxing success. Which is just what I needed after my two past weekends of debauchery. I won't add on those subjects as to embarrass myself and cause unnecessary attention directed towards my social life. Being as important as that is, let's not damage it.
On Friday, I went to my dance class, where I was actually able to not look at the instructor for every single position change. It was quite the accomplishment. I've mastered the vocabulary of directions and body parts! (I rarely use the exclamation point, thanks to a certain UNT Advertising professor, but in this case, it's definitely plausible.) So, seeing as though my week was full of acceptance, grievance, change and bilingual dreaming, I took my exhausted self home, opened a bottle of wine and took a deep breath.
Yesterday, a friend of mine and I went to see Citizen Kane (1941) at one of the art museums here. She informed me of the weekend picture shows for 7 pesos. I had never seen the film, and I really enjoyed it. It was certainly a film made to enjoy best in a theater. If I had rented it, I'm not sure I would have made it through. But the whole experience of the crackling black and white screen and rolling projector. Spanish subtitles. It was excellent. Now, I get all the Rosebud references I've heard.
Today, I will go teach at Nieves' house to her two daughters. Nieves is a conversation student that I had, and she liked me so much she asked me to start teaching her daughters, age 10 and 16. Both of them go to schools that incorporate English into the curriculum. The older one goes to a bilingual school where multiple subjects are taught in English. So as you can see, I don't really 'work' that hard. I usually go and talk with her and the girls for a few hours then she makes some delicious type of food and postre (dessert). Usually with dulce de leche and chocolate. Oh, the wonders of dulce de leche. How have I gone my whole life without a constant supply of you? A few weeks ago she made homemade alfahores. Now, allow me to explain the wonders of the alfahor: they are the national 'cookie' of this country. It's two (sometimes three) soft cookies with dulce de leche in the middle, and either sprinkled with powdered sugar, another layer of chocolate, or both. I'm not food critic, I'm just a simple writer so I can't possibly properly explain these things to give them proper justice. (But if you start commenting on my blog more, then maybe I'll bring you one back) And I've still managed to loose weight. What?! I know.

Anyways, I haven't even begun to explain the amazing desserts here in this country. Maybe because for the first few months I was here I was terrified to try any because I knew how much I would want to eat them all the time. So now, that I walk an enormous amount each day, I've started to indulge myself a little. There's an art to finding new postre in this country. The art is more like 'modern abstract art' where anything and everything goes, in order to truly appreciate what there is. But I've found a few that really swing in my direction.
Pepas: A scrumptious soft cookie with a jam-like substance in the middle. Like I said I'm not very good at the food descriptions.
Alfahor: Um, the best damn thing that was ever created in this country. Except maybe a few of the good looking men.
Really those are the top two right now, and the others I can't remember their names, so obviously not worth a food write-up courtesy of Elise Wyatt. Next week, we'll discuss juice boxes and empañadas--which I made this week, epañadas not juice boxes.


Post iPod stress disorder

Day 1 without iPod: Forced to subject myself to the sounds of The Jonas Brothers in the line at the supermarket. But on the upside that I did discover that they have laundry detergent with names like "a day in the park," "dancing under the rain," and "walking around petals."

Day 2 without iPod: Still in denial stages of the death, but I did receive sympathy from my new student--and a story about how he turns his iPod up whenever he's walking down the street and men cat-call at him. Surprisingly the story made me feel better, well....laugh.

Day 3 without iPod: Walked the streets having to listen to every man in the construction, service and homeless-man industry whistle, cat-call, and shout various displays of shallow affection towards me. I'm in serious wonderment of how long that's been occurring without my recognition. Upside: I can actually hear when my phone rings now.

I'm sure days 4, 5, 6 and 7 will all continue with more of the same. Should you wonder as to why I'm counting the days without an iPod? It was stolen, of course. This, amongst other perils currently in progress in my life, is the result of my naive spirit to think that people are trustworthy and not greedy. Pero, por favor, continuamos.

In other news. I had my first official Buenos Aires break-down. I saw the dark hole. I crawled in the dark hole. I wallowed there for a few hours. I cried my little eyes out, consuming an entire pack of extra suaves pañuelos. Then. I sobered up. Stood up. Slapped myself in the face. Reminded myself why I want to be here. And made some changes.

Now that that's all out of my system. I can focus on what I should be doing. Enjoying myself. Tonight I will go see a play for free at the culture center where I take dance classes. Then tomorrow I have a language exchange with someone. This weekend I will do something to enjoy the fact that Spring is coming. Who knows. Who knows what.


Surprise Surprise

As you travel you are expected to maintain a open minded attitude about others. Not only out of respect for people but to enjoy your yourself. It's difficult sometimes, though. You meet people that are very different from you, completely different, and you aren't expected to like everyone and you shouldn't expect people are always going to like you. This fact alone was difficult for me not to take personally. Being an individual who takes most things personal before evaluating what is happening, this has been a challenging process for me. They say the first step is realizing you have a problem. So here I am, with a sensitivity problem in a city that doesn't give a damn. I love it. Everyday I'm learning so much about myself. Now, my goal here isn't to become insensitive, by any means, it's simply to take the soft, outside skin I have and blister it some so calluses develop. This city provides many opportunities for that, allow to explain a few:

Being a foreigner is not a novelty, nor is it necessarily an endearing quality about yourself, to the average Argentine. In fact, you're viewed more as a piggy bank than anything else. This can be quite frustrating at times, especially when you lose your identity to these phrases, "that American girl" or "the girl from Texas." It's much to exhausting to try to avoid these judgments or assumptions so thus: accept and move on.

Communication is based on their wants, otherwise, don't expect anything. This is a simple enough explanation in itself and can't be more widely applied. It's valid for instances at the nightclub or with my boss. The trick is to always keep them believing that they need something from you. I'm trying to master this skill, as it's the most difficult for me, but once I out.

Punctuality is relative. Now, how relative you ask? Well, take a look at the previous observation made and you will put it together. I have confidence that you're that smart.

In addition to this I'd like to consider some of the things that I've strangely gotten used to while living here. Everyday I expose myself to something new, but there are some consistent things that I feel strangely adapted to, that when I first arrived, were quite a shock

*Dog crap on the streets. Endless amounts of random dog crap. This is why no one can ever afford to make eye contact, they're trying to keep their shoes from getting ruined.

*Washing underwear in the sink. I can't afford the 23 peso laundry cost in my neighborhood, and sometimes I'm too lazy to walk the 20 minutes to the cheaper place. And sometimes, I'm just that broke. I suppose being used to wearing dirty clothes falls in this category, too.

*Being late because of public transit. This severely stressed me out my first few weeks here, but now I've learned that patience in a city this large is necessary.

*Not understanding everything people are saying around you. In a way it's comforting. I mean, at times it's frustrating especially when they're talking to you, but when you're on the collectivo it becomes like white noise, and it's soothing.

*Cooking. I mean really cooking. And really yummy things, too. I love it. I was stunted in the cooking department on arrival because I had been eating home cooked meals (made by others) for a year. But now! I've made black bean salsa, milanesa, eggplant spinach lasagna, split pea soup, garbanzo bean salad and I just made fresh spinach/tomato sauce with pasta!

*Walking for hours a day. Sometimes when I think about it I will have walked 2-3 hours that day. I move around the city a lot for teaching jobs and if I have enough time between classes, I'll save my monedas (coins) and get my exercise.

*Not investing much in people until they actually follow through with what they say. It's the perils of city life. I'd like to think that people mean what they say and maybe they're just busy, but the truth is some people just aren't honest.

*Being super "thrifty." This actually wasn't a huge adjustment, for those of you who know me well, I'm quite the thrifty lady, but this city has me concocting whole new levels of being thrifty....i mean some call it cheap, stingy, or borderline theft, but pahleeze. If you knew what I earned an hour, you'd understand. Which leads me to.....

*Not ever making enough money. I mean it pains me to say that I'm getting used to this, but I kinda am. I think of it as character building and prioritizing. There are somethings I refuse to give up, and others that I do with somewhat of a cringe, but out of necessity. I mean I don't wanna name names here, but do you really think I'd stop drinking wine in Argentina? Psshhh. Gurl you crazy.

So it's Friday. Dance class, then maybe a foreign film at the culture center after.

ciao. ciao.


A little honesty.

I can't sleep. Between the coughing, the twitching, and the lateness of the current hour, I suppose it's a wise idea just simply give up on it for a few hours and return to bed later this afternoon for a lovely little thing I like to call, a nap. Plus as I'm lying in bed I'm thinking of all these things that are preventing my mind from feeling at ease.

I haven't updated in a while. The recap of the previous week can be summed up quite easily: sickness. Maybe I had the gripe A, maybe I didn't. We'll never know, because I'm a currently an illegal American citizen living with out health insurance in a country where if I did go to the doctor, I probably wouldn't understand anything they were telling me, anyway. So, unable to speak well enough to teach classes or socialize, I drank hot tea with lemon and read. All in all, it was quite a relaxing week aside from all the phlegm. Last night I did come out of my gofer hole to make new friends, eat delicious Peruvian food and drink some beer. It was a nice entrance back into the social world that I had been missing.

Last week I began my dance classes, which ended up being a lot more entertaining than I expected. It's contemporary dance, so there are a lot of hand movements, pillets, and rolling around on the floor. Yes, I just said rolling around on the floor. It's an exercise to get the muscles warmed up, well, so I think. I can only understand about half of what she says, the other half I just make sure I am always keeping one eye open towards the person next to me to make sure we didn't just all stand up and I'm the only one laying on the floor rolling around, still. Of course when the instructor participates in this activity there is much more grace and finesse to her moves, but regardless it looks like a bunch of people having seizures in slow motion. gracefully.

Making friends with Argentines is about as difficult as trying to learn Spanish. I don't say this with any pun intended, but honestly I can't think of a more suitable comparison, plus I'm going on about 4 hours of sleep, so give me a break. Friend making is a challenge in general, especially once you leave University. Because Porteños live in their own world makes it notably more problematic. They have their own lives, their own judgments, cynicism, friends, etc. And when you meet them, even if they are genuinely excited to meet a foreigner, which is a rare occurrence, that is probably the last time you will ever see them, no matter how many times, in your conversation, they insist that you hang out together. I have a theory that there is a secret poll for Argentines of how many people they can meet in their lifetime, and every time they meet a new person it goes into the count. I haven't decided if there is a winner or a loser in this 'poll,' but knowing Argentines, I'm sure there is. And it's most likely a corrupt system, so who knows who actually wins. In fact, now that I think about it, my Spanish is developing at a much faster rate than my rate of making friends.

It's not that I'm doubtful about making friends, it's the whole process. Learning Spanish, trying to find a job, working, moving around the city, making friends, enjoying the city, keeping in touch with people, and somewhere in there I'm supposed to be setting life goals and working on a screenplay (ha.)? I'm trying to make this easy for myself, but sometimes, it's just life. Shit happens. You have bad days. To give credit to my dear friend Meg, "...everyday living abroad is hard. it's exhausting." Esto es verdad. I'm constantly evaluating myself, and asking myself if what I'm doing is enhancing my 'experience' or if the decisions I make are wise. But it should be enough that they are my decisions, I shouldn't need to validate them with someone or something else. I forget that it's not important how others perceive your life, it's about how you want to live it.