miércoles, 29 de abril de 2009

The Flood

I'm asphyxiating a bit. I think the uncertainty of my schedule, the continuing unfamiliarity with everything, and my consuming need to be busy have produced enough ideas to literally drown my brain. It's a good thing, I think. But it's making it hard to sleep. Or legitimately participate in my yoga class. Every time we're supposed to be resting, falling into peaceful quiet, I realize half-way through my teacher's calming utterings that I've been lost in a plan to powerpoint the concept of high school cliques, lol.

Nice day tho. I bus'd, then trekked out to the jungly scenic Yerba Buena province to have breakfast with my interior design/tourism friend Lenny, and her lovely "I legitimally like people" mother. Later, I stopped by a local primary school to get acquainted with the staff. That's right ya'll, I'm going to teach little bitties!

After a mildly-focused yoga class, I spent a couple hours talking with the French-language assistant about universal health care and Adam Sandler. I then went to class, where I was asked by nearly 20 students what kind of music I like to dance to. I said hip hop. Beyonce "Single Ladies" dance party! WHO'S WITH ME??

Yesterday, I presented a powerpoint about food culture in the states. They were perplexed by our early dinner hours, disgusted by our fast food chains, and surprisingly intrigued by the idea of French Toast. How odd is it to have a job where you teach people about the cultural significance of potato skins?

lunes, 27 de abril de 2009

I made a powerpoint today

Still trying to find my footing. Making a powerpoint about American eating habits helped. Watching an episode of Friday Night Lights just made me want to melt. It's 3am. Perhaps that explains this strange entry. Do you ever feel like you're sitting right next to yourself five years from now? And you can't make yourself say anything...Gnight!

domingo, 26 de abril de 2009

On the Border of Chile and Argentina

I'm at peak of where the liberators of Argentina first crossed into the country from Chile!!

A weak week to start, but then it rained

I think I was a lot more tired after my trip than I'd realized. I haven't gotten up before 1:30pm ONCE this week. (I know, start hurling the tomatoes, I deserve it) But the exhaustion manifested in really weird ways. The first day back, I felt totally fine. I went to class, and even started preparing last-minute presentations about Earth Day and the American school system. But by Wednesday, I felt this exhaustion orb around me. Have you ever felt that before? I wasn't hungry, but I felt like I hadn't eaten in days. I was constantly drinking water, but constantly feeling dehydrated. I couldn't focus. It was so weird. The paranoid Iranian in me feared that the Dengue had gotten me. (Have I mentioned that my province has recently become infested with Dengue Fever? Don't let this curb your plans to visit!!) But a few days of excessive sleep pulled me back into reality.

Lots of teaching this week, and I'm really starting to love being in front of a classroom. This week we talked a lot about environmental issues, and what we can do to combat them. (YIPPEEE!!) Sadly. the outlook of Tucumanos is pretty bleak. There is no recycling here, and most people use gallons and gallons of water everyday to hose down their sidewalks. But at least we got the discussion started. I'm going to try to encourage my family to start using more canvas bags, and to take advantage of the fact that bodegas here collect used glass bottles. Not sure what else to do. Any ideas?

This week I also had a mini brain meltdown when I realized that I didn't have any concrete projects lined up here. I think I'm calmed now, but I really freaks me out how quickly I can get overwhelmed without wanting to do so much, and not actually doing anything. This "chill out" lesson is going to be hard to accept. I'm not used to having all this time to reflect. And sleep.

I started my puppetry class this week! Just wait until you see my skills with a toilet paper roll. Pixar is totally going to be knocking down my door. Sheeeeyit. My professor is adorable. Imagine an elderly lady with a lot of make up and sass slightly tripping while demonstrating how to make two puppets fight and storm off. I also continued following the adult acting classes taught by my adopted buddies Alejandro and Diego. It still boggles my mind how regardless of how much I continue to get impassioned about real-world causes, theater still seems to be the only thing to really light me up. I'm such a sucker for amplified emotion.

On Friday night, I cooked kabobs with fellow Fulbrighter Eric, and my new friend Alexis. There was a downpour of rain, and the streets flooded. Ah rain. Sigh. Smile. We are so lucky to have rain, aren't we? Hm.

Last night, I caught up with my German friend Sandra, who I met in Bariloche. We chatted for all of 20 minutes while she hurried to a play, and then I downed a bottle of beer and a plate of hummus alone. (it was nice, I promise) Then, I joined Alexis and some of his friends for my FIRST TUCUMAN CLUB EXPERIENCE. Bit less eventful than I'd imagined, but it was fun. Let me set the scene:

A long, seemingly middle-of-nowhere street flooded with adolescents. Pushed through some door by my new friends, I am immediately consumed by Reggaeton, slick Tucuman haircuts, catcalls (to the surrounding gaggles of girl parties), strobe lights, and neon...a lot of neon. There were several rooms, ranging in taste from electronica to "room where girls in thongs compete to be labeled hottest/best at bending while jiggling ass". I felt ancient. Everyone seemed to be in their teens, and the focus was easily "HOOKUP". Sorry folks, no news on my end, but I can assure you that many a teen succumbed to deep, sort-of-gross, seemingly painful bouts of making out against a wall. There was also the late-night appearance of a team of dancing floggers, who make there appearance known with there signature bop-and-jump dance that I can only compare to the mosh pit at an electronica concert. I stayed until 4, when all clubs close, and then was swiftly pushed (literally) by friendly police into the streets. After wandering, we ended up at the house of my new Peruvian gal pal Rocio, where my crew and I listened to Britney Spears and talked about movies. I got home at 730, then woke up at 1 to get ready for our family lunch.

I don't think this was a very structured post. Sorry ya'll. Maybe I'm still feeling the snoozies from my trip. Or maybe I'm going on 5 hours of sleep. I will post photos soooooooN!

martes, 21 de abril de 2009

Do You Remember?

After assisting in class yesterday, spending a heartwarming dinner back with my family here, and staying up way too late watching Gossip Girl, I woke up today feeling very heavy. It was very grey outside. I think that probably initiated the heaviness. It prob didn't help that I didn't leave my room until 2pm either, lol.

Spent most of the day looking for earth day-related videos to teach with in class tomorrow. I also prepared a general culture lecture for a class today. I also scanned youtube for hours, and went for a speed walk.

Not much happened today, really. My culture discussion went well, and my earth day research brought a lot of cool issues to my attention. I also think I'm thinking a new friend :)

The title of this post is in reference to my most recent you tube obsession: Pasek &Paul's "Do You Remember?" as sung by Gavin Creel. Check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZqFnNr1mmMY

lunes, 20 de abril de 2009


I'm SORRY, I'm SORRY, I'M SORRY! It has been disgustingly long since I last posted. I really hope that is still being read....please (tear). But I have an explanation. I just got back from a 10 day, spur-of-the-moment trip to patagonia, and I've been fighting disgruntled hostel-goers the days just for 5 minutes of email-checking. Now, I did just arrive, and haven't really slept sufficiently in over a week. SO, I can't go into detail now, BUT I can easily present some highlights of what has happened over the past few weeks. Details to come...

1. The parents of my reference, a.k.a. my Argentinean grandparents, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with a traditional Catholic mass and reggaeton/wedding singer in spanish-catered blowout. Image: Me, Natalie (the lovely Canadian exchange student that lives with us), my reference and her husband breakin' it down to the YMCA at 4am while everyone else watched.

2. My first History of theater class. The teacher was very welcome to meet a beautiful young American girl she'd spoken with on the phone about Argentinean theater history. And once again, I am mistaken for a woman on the phone.

3. (Overnight bus number 1)Took 35 hour bus trip to Bariloche in Patagonia. Image: An insanely tired me, and an adorable middle-aged Argentinean name Claudia belt out "Torn" by Natalie Imbruglia as we watch one of our bus's many music video montages.

4. Fresh off the bus in Bariloche, I meet some Argentinean nuclear engineers while hiking up Cerro Campanario. Forcing friendship, I tag along with them to another mountain and discuss politics. Image: That night, I sat in a local family restaurant eating delicious steak, and downing a 2L of cerveza...alone.

5. I saw Mount Tronador, and its beautifully creepy giant black glacier!

6. Refusing to listen to my butt's pleas to stop, I biked 24.5 km of Bariloche's circuito chico. I was surrounded by mountains, incredible lake views, and spent shit-tons of money at a craft fair. It. was. awesome.

7. At breakfast, I met a couple with a son in an Australian circus. The mother also informed me that her brother is an actor, and has been struggling to find work in the states. "Oh, has he been in anything I'd know," I asked, assuming that he was some extra on ER. "Did you see Moulin Rouge," she said. "He was the Duke." THE FRIGGIN' DUKE!

8. I stopped into a Che Guevara-themed bar to watch the movie "Che". I didn't understand most of it, but it was easy to translate the angry words everyone expressed afterwards towards the U.S. involvement in providing arms to South America. INTENSE!! But awesome. Afterwards, after being dragged out of the hostel (and then ditched) by an Australian couple, I went to a Reggae club down by the beach with an awesome group of Chileans. One was studying to be the person that regulates fish production. How cool is that!

9. I rented a car with two New Zealanders, and an Aussie, and drove around the Ruta de Siete Lagos. Pictures to come...so incredible.

10. Headed to the hippie town of El Bolson, where my New Zealand friend Matt and I took in the local crafts fair, toured a jam-making plant, drank fresh rasberry juice, and hiked. yay!

11. (Overnight bus number 2) Headed to Neuquen, and neighboring Villa El Chocon to see the bones of the world's largest carnivorous dinosaur. Then, after getting lost along the 6km hike to the nearby lake, I saw preserved dinosaur footprints!! I don't think I heard a single human-made sound for at least 5 hours. My legs were killing me by the end of this day, but it might have been my favorite.

12. (Overnight bus number 3) Rented a bike, and took in the wineries and olive oil farms in Maipu, just outside of Mendoza. At times, I felt like I was in the "Do Re Mi" sequence of "The Sound of Music. Spent the evening with my new German friend Sandra, and Fulbrighter Jenni. We ate HUMMUS!!!

13. Hit up a thermal springs resort in the middle of the mountains with my Americans-I met in Bariloche friends Beth and Rachel. I also spent much of the lazy day chatting with a girl from Rosarios that had the coolest eyes I've ever seen. Why didn't I tell her that?

14. ATE SUSHI! IN ARGENTINA! Then came home to find a drunk American dude in my bed, and one of his friends in the bed he said was mine.

15. Took a bus tour to the border of the original route between Argentina and Chile. I think the mountains and I fell in love on this day. Expect notices for our wedding soon. And Fareed/mountain-made babies before the end of the year.

16. Saw a free concert in a gorgeous theater, featuring a both incredibly talented/slightly Christopher Guest movie-worthy folk singer from Argentina. I admit that the dude could sing, but I think this dude could give Christina Aguilera some real competition for the title of "GREATEST/MOST ANNOYING VOCAL MASTURBATOR"

17. Arrived home, went to sleep, and then woke up two hours later to the drunk American's screaming, snoring, having sex and drawling on and On and ON about getting naked, being SOOOO wasted and fucking chicks...while in the bed with two girls from the hostel.

18. After three hours of sleep, and a bottle of wine from the hostel to apologize for the disgusting American students, I spent a lazy day just wandering around Mendoza with Jennie, and my new friend Parry.

19. (Overnight bus number 4) Came home to Tucuman with a really, really big smile.

Reflections later. Again, sorry for the delay. Now, to actually take in one of these sieste things.

sábado, 4 de abril de 2009

My connection with apples

In my efforts to combat this country's seductive obsession with red meat, I've started imposing a diet on myself. More produce. No more Milanesa (a delicious slab of beef pounded thin, breaded and fried, and then served with mayonnaise). This isn't really that interesting. I just wanted to explain the title...basically, while eating an apple on the bus the other day, I was suddenly struck by how wonderfully natural it is for humans to eat fruit. It's sweet, filling, nutritious, and grows without any human impact. What could be more meant-to-be than than the growing and eating of fruit? And how fortunate are the beings on this earth that apples grow everday, naturally, and with the satisfying taste and necessary nutrients that we need? Apples, in turn, rock.

Anyway, an update on happenings here. I HAVE KEYS!! And, bitch, I've been usin' 'em. (After finishing the first two seasons of "Skins", that is)

On Thursday, I spent the afternoon continually reminded why I wanted to go into television writing (SKINS), and then speed-walked to a nearby park for my daily cardio. Later, I went to an advanced acting class at La Sala Ross, where I've officially become the resident stalker. We had the class in a small rehearsal space, and the group were already a properly formed clique. Luckily, theater games pushed me very quickly into an improvised David Lynch-worthy dance party that had me hip to hip with several classmates. I had a blast, but the class was surprisingly demanding. As we improvised, I found myself continually falling into depressed, isolated characters. Luckily, I pulled out before I totally submerged into the woeful-princess I was becoming. Am I really so angsty? I think it's the recent You Tube-induced seclusion I've found in my room. I didn't realize I was so bad at going idle.

Luckily, activities commenced on Friday. I went to another yoga class, where the tranquil spanish commands and assurances kept getting interrupted by the teacher's constant scoffings at my gnarled poses. Try yoga in Spanish. It's a trip!

After, I went to a rioutous (literally) children's acting class at La Sala Ross. I felt for the teacher, who was easily, bull-dozed over by the 20-something room of screaming girls. We spent most of the class developing improvisations, and I tried to help, but the girls couldn't understand most of what I was saying. It's was very humbling. I guess knowing the words isn't the end of the work.

I closed out the evening over dinner with a cinema studies professor I had met earlier this week. Nice guy. Loves musicals. He also tried to convince me that the dictatorship of the 1970s, and the following "Dirty War" that left hundreds of thousands of people "missing", could actually be seen as a necessary end to keep communism out of the country. "We could have ended up like Cuba," he said. "It's horrible what happened, but the world is only getting half of the story." I don't think that any story could justify denying so many citizens their rights. I also didn't appreciate his scoffing at my emotional reaction to "Moulin Rouge," which he said only used pop music as an "ineffective device" to sell tickets. I don't know how much we'll be hanging out again.

miércoles, 1 de abril de 2009

Two days of establishing myself here

I still don't have keys, nor have I begun my jobs. BUT, I refuse to sit idle. These past two days, I have pushed myself on this city, and I think I'm getting a good response.

Yesterday, I spent the morning watching BBC's mind-blowingly complex/awesome show "Skins" on Youtube. I waited for what seemed to be hours for someone to wake up and open the door to let me out. (pause to acknowlege the waiting............)Finally, I hit up the center to meet up with Eric, the other Fulbrighter aca (here). It was weird being so exposed as American. Together, our growing Argentinean accents faded, and quickly we dissolved into English. Hearing Eric's three simple goals here (none of which really involved much pressure to weave into the workings of the country) made me calm a little in my hurry to become Tucumano. But while Eric looks at this year as a break, I can't help but struggle to cherish every second of this experience.

In the evening, I met up with Paul, a 27-year-old from Seattle who decided to move here to get a Philosophy degree. We bought some beer from a corner store, then popped a squat at a table right in front. (they provided us with plastic cups) In between his gawks at passing women in short skirts, we talked about gender relations in Argentina. He admired what he believed to be an understanding between men and women in this country as a compromise between female empowerment, and machismo. Everyone is very sexual here, and while many girls can be empowered to express their sexuality, men also feel that they have the right to sometimes objectify women. I disagreed with this admiration, and told him that I felt the culture pushed boys and girls to personify roles they might not really embody. The discussion pushed into race relations and feminism. It was frustrating, but fun. I need to be challenged more, I think. Anybody want to debate affirmative action??

After another night and day of "Skins" obsessing, I went to my first yoga class. I was not only the only male, but also the only person under 40. YAY! It was hard translating all the body parts, and also difficult to close my eyes and remain calm when not totally sure what was being said, but I definitely felt calmed. Yoga is...interesting. I think it might be really important. More on this later.

After the body-flexing, I headed to Barrio Norte for an impromptu conversation group with some of the friends of the girl whose apartment I was going to rent. (My English teachers all just had a spasm as that run-on sentence was written) We talked generational differences, and politics in Argentina. They are nervous about the country's socialist-leaning president, and are confounded by how rebellious teenagers have become. I opened up about my sadness for Argentina's striking farmers. We drank Mate (YAY, TRADITIONS!!), and then giggled our way to cerveza. I think i might be making friends!!

And now, more Skins. Is anyone even reading this?