domingo, 31 de mayo de 2009

A red nose

I'm SO COLD in my apartment, and it's embarrassing. My google thermometer says it's 55 degrees, but i'm friggin' freezinnnnn! I think it's the lack of heat...anywhere. The tip of my nose has turned Revlon red.

Spent today at an asado with the family of my reference. Amidst small talk, continued bonding with my Canadian sistah and stupid jokes with my references 9-year-old nephew Juan (the only one who ever seems to get my jokes) I stuffed my face with every meat known to man: Chorizo, salchicha, carrrrrrne, and even Morcilla (vegetarians and lovers of animals, please do not look up this word). The event, celebrating the Natalie (canadian sistuh)'s birthday, was actually pretty suave, that is until all the adults had a little too much to drink and opened up the door to family drama. Let's just say there were tears, and a lot of embarrassed glances at the clueless foreigners. But don't worry, the event ended with our awesome, tango-dancing/table-pounding grandfather comfortably asleep in the living room.

After lunch, Adriana and I sat down to go over my writing workshop proposal, and it looks like everything is going to be sweeeeeet!

Spent the rest of the night at the house of my musician pal Fabian. The place, more of a garage converted into a sweet apartment/gear storage unit, was host to the keyboardist's birthday party. We celebrated with hamburgers!

I felt a nice balance of independence and being taken care of today. I also took a lot of pictures. Stay tuned tomorrow. I'm feeling in the mood to do some uploadin'!

A cinematic take

After a day spent lunching with my roommate, shadowing an acting class, coffee and smart-chatting with my new girl-fave Sheeva, stumbling through an improvisational play about three transvestite nurses, gnawing at delicious steak at 1AM with two of my students, and ultimately skating from "friend" to "WTF" with a buddy, I find that life in Tucuman is like a movie co-directed by the following auteurs: Christopher Columbus, Pedro Almodovar and David Lynch.

Please don't let me get stabbed by a drug-inhaling psychopath!! And PLEASE don't leave me dancing around the kitchen with my roommates, covered in flour and belting "Aint no mountain high enough."

viernes, 29 de mayo de 2009

A food-defined day

I can best describe today with the three following foods: mini alfajores maizenas, locro and good 'ole American chocolate chip cookies. I will acknowledge for one moment that this list includes nothing of nutritional value....okay, moment's gone!

Alfajores: Two sugar cookies formed into a sandwich by an inner layer of sweet dulce de leche, and then coated in sugar- These delicious, home-made baby sweets were purchased this morning at the primary school for the equivalent of 15 cents each from an adorable student hoping to raise money for a field trip. Today in the primary school, Miss Veronica (my super-fabulous teacher) and I hoped to rope the students in with an exercise where they write me a letter using the vocabulary for name, address, family, ability and dislikes. We also hoped to transition from the writing activity into that improv game where the class has to guess which celebrity I am by asking me questions about myself. (Just an excuse to finally embody Bob Esponja con los pantalones cuadrados...yes, that is how long it takes to write out the Spanish equivalent of "Spongebob Squarepants") Unfortunately, our divine dream class was interrupted by an assembly (NOW THIS IS TWO WEEKS IN A ROW!) honoring the adorable Kindgergardners. I'm serious. That was all it was about. It sucked to lose the class time, but I must admit that nothing beats teacher frustration better than kindergardners dressed as fruit that hold hands in a circle and sway.

Locro: a traditional northern Argentinean soup consisting of MEATTTTTTTTTTTT and other delicious soup items. The soup is only served in Tucuman on national holidays like 25 de Mayo or 9 de Julio, or on cold days. IT'S BEEN SO COLD!- I took in my locro with Pancho and Lenny, two old pals from my days spent at the Tucuman hostel. Pancho, an aspiring Frenchmen, took us to eat with his local clan of totally cool/totally chill/WHY CAN'T I BE THIS IN LOVE WITH ARGENTINA French pals in their totally dreamy movie-worthy patio-centered apartment. Later, Lenny, a turism major filled with language knowledge, pushed me to become fast bosom friends with a recent hostel guest named Maxi. Maxi has been traveling the world for the past 9 years getting in touch with his connection to nature, learning the art of reading people's auras using the Mayan calender, and smoking pot, Pot, POT! Maxi immediately impressed me with his seductive Jafar eyes (in a nice way). He read my aura and told me that I am a total serpent!! I admired his thirst for adventure, but I couldn't help by question this dude's understanding of the world. Maybe I'm just trying to make myself feel better, but isn't it possible to become so in touch with your own connection to the universe that you lose the power of learning from the actions, successes and mistakes of human beings, the thrill of making human connection? And how in touch with your soul can you be when all talk of auras is interrupted every five minutes by the complaint that you haven't had a joint in 2 DAYS! Whatever, I'm learned something. And the guy was sweet. But my favorite moment from this meal came when one guest at the hostel revealed that he'd traveled from Cordoba for a Tucuman reunion of LOCAL DRAG QUEENS! Surprised? I was. I plan to investigate more, and will definitely keep you posted.

CHOCO CHIP COOKIES: You might be familiar- After puppet class and yoga, my gal Nikki and I went to see an amazing experimental play set in what appeared to be a local house. The play started outside in a backyard, then moved to an outside stairwell, and ultimately the interior performance space. Can't totally tell you what it was about, but the acting was incredible, and the imagery totally worthy of the Ivan von Hov for intenseness. (name not familiar? GOOGLE! This is the dude that presented Hedda Gabler with a scene where Judge Brack spits tomato juice in Hedda's mouth). Afterwards, Nikki and I went back to her house, where she taught me to bake homemade cookies. I admitted to her that I can't shake how much I'm feeling like I'm floating here, like I'm not building anything. And while she admitted to understanding how I felt, she pushed me to remain convinced of the idea that each day here is a gift. Ugh, she's right. I mean, look at today. Gifts, gifts and more gifts. Why don't I update this more? Writing down what I do does seem to help keep me in check when events like the release of the Cannes winners pull me into New York withdrawal. Staying positive...

miércoles, 27 de mayo de 2009

Funny Things happen on Rainy Days

I have MUCH to tell, and I was going to wait until tomorrow, but at 3am tonight things turned interesting when a friendly chat with a friend nudged, and then knocked over, the boundary into "friends". And all this after a mostly disgusting rainy-day mostly spent indoors writing the outline for a "Five Paragraph Essay" writing workshop, eating an entire family's load of sweet potatoes (I work with what I have), rediscovering how awesome Allison Iraheta was this season on American Idol, going to Yoga, and watching a VERY 70s movie from Spain at a local bar. It's funny what a little mate and a poorly lit doorway can do :)

I'm realize that I'm a week behind, and much of it was wonderful, so I mustn't demorar (wait) longer in telling....but I'm so TIRED! Here's a preview: I had a visitor from Mendoza, saw the signing of an accord in the most famous, and elaborate, room in the government house, pushed back recovery of my stomach pains during my classes' American foods presentation, bullshitted an awesome advertising class based on the finale of American Idol, saw some sweet Colombian guitar, witnessed an adorable 25 de Mayo presentation at the primary school (little girls in big, elaborate dresses, oh my!), belted out "I'm a Slave for You" at 3am with my students, went to the mountain for tea, saw a sweet aerial play, screamed obscenities at the referees of my first futbol match, secured free driving lessons from my AMAZINGLY sweet primary school coworker, watched a four-rehearsal for a play some friends are taking to Buenos Aires for a festival, signed up for a contemporary dance class, applied for my visa to Brazil, and now got doorway dirty.

But I save the deetz for tomorrow. I promise!

For now, I leave you with some Allison awesomeness:

martes, 19 de mayo de 2009

This is an honest country...whether you like it or not

So, haven't been having the best week of my life. It was definitely interesting, but the result has left me with the need to sleep for at least 18 of the last 24 hours:

In an effort to combat my weeks-worth of stomach pain, I decided to make a Friday comeback. I forced myself to wake up early, and yank my ass over to Tucuman's public university for an event pairing groups of English students with native American speakers. We talked romance, clubbing, British vs. American English and roller coaster obsessions before quickly resolving to cute photo ops and Facebook exchanges. And after a long string of goodbyes, I headed out to lunch with my new American friend Sheeva. YES! There is a super-cool Iranian Sheeva HERE in Tucuman! Sometimes I must concede that I am lucky.

Sheeva explained that she'd come to Argentina to 1)shadow a famous photographer 2) develop personal development programs for children and 3) TRAVEL! Girl is sweet, and she reminded me to refocus. The days are passing too fast here, and I haven't done all that I wanted. What am I waiting for??!

I took this new resolve into the rest of the day. Still feeling stomach yuckiness, I pushed through puppetry class, yoga class, and a super-sweet play about two reality show stars fighting to become waitresses in Dubai. I even allowed myself to go against my "I feel ill" instinct and go out dancing with a few friends! And not just to any club, to an actual tiny-town Tucuman GAY CLUB! Trust me, it is just as you are imagining. Big-voiced electronica divas belting out "sexy pride" tunes amidst over-active strobe lights and under-age cruisers. Still not feeling well, I pushed myself to stay at least as long as the drag queens' Christina Aquilera "Beautiful" lament, but quickly decided to head home.

The next day, I woke up with a sore throat that has persisted into today's chest-cold horribleness. Once again committed to making the most of my time here, I pulled myself out of bed, and headed into town. There, I waited for two hours while my new Argentinean pals pleaded for forgiveness and tardily prepared to take me on a tour of the nearby mountain. The experience was mixed: 1)The scenery was incredible, but rather than taking the sick American up the actual route, my friends decided to take a difficult side trail up the river. 2) We passed the time coming up with "Troop Beverly Hills" -style chants that forced me to rhyme in Spanish, but the songs were often interrupted as I continued to fall in the river (BOO, WET FEET!) 3) Near the end of the trail, I summoned up the courage to follow my friends out onto a suspended train rail high in the mountains for lunch, a rail so high that a mis-placed foot could have cost me a fall of hundreds of feet.

While I left the mountain trip with a smile, I also felt like SHIT! I went home to recover. But after a passive aggressive text message made me realize that I was no longer welcome in the house, I spent Sunday pushing back snot, and packing my shit. I got to the new apartment Sunday night, and have spent most of the time sleeping. When not getting comforting words from my awesome new roomies, I have earned these gems of honesty from my students:

1)While going over an exercise:

me: Do you understand the assignment?
student: (pointing to my feverish forehead) Hey, nice pimples!

2)During a break, while chatting with students

student: How old are you?
me: I'm 22.
student: Wow! I thought you were older because of your...(points to my balding spot). If you're only 22, why are you losing your hair?

3) After a really cool class where my students cooked American sweets!

Students: Where do you live?
Me: Off of Calle Alem and Lavalle. Close. Well, a lot closer than before. I just moved from a house far from here. America Avenue, way out there!
Students: Oh, I like that area much better than where you are now. It's nice, and the area you are in now is very dangerous. Be careful there. You're not going to walk back are you?

Until next time...

jueves, 14 de mayo de 2009

Like I'm walking on marshmallows

I'm moving. I know this. But I keep refusing to actually pack, pay the rent to my roommates, or basically do anything to take the next step towards making the move a reality. why can't I be an embracer of change? maybe I just need to shit to start being thrown in my face. A push. Anyone want to give me a little push?

A recent push: The teacher I'm helping in primary school arrived late yesterday, and asked me to give an 80 minute English class to a rowdy group of 5th graders...alone. Results were mixed. A couple of kids might of run out of the door on me (I retrieved them, don't worry), but I did drill family and animal vocabulary into their heads. Not bad, right?

Ever have so many options of things to do that you just sit in your room online most of the day? Guilty here. At least I can feel something stable under me here. Taking a step off the bed is like taking a step onto a giant, bouncy, sweet/unsteady marshmallow, so many cool opportunities available, but always the danger of a fall.

martes, 12 de mayo de 2009

A week of ups and downs, and an umpteenth bowl of jello

I know I haven't posted much this week, but I can explain! Shit's been f'd up guys. Shit has also been pretty great. Both. At once. It's a true roller coaster of emotions! Take a ride:

Up: My proposed Mother's Day greeting card lesson teaching advertising structures and colloquial language was a HUGE success. One of my faves: a card with an alien child telling his mommy she's "out of this universe!" (these are not native speakers!!!)

Down: I found out last weekend that I have to find an apartment, meaning I have to re-pack and MOVE everything. Any one of you that has seen my room before will know I am not prepared for this.

Up: I found an apartment for rull cheap with two cool Argentinean psychology students! It has a part in front of it!

Down: I keep getting told that the part of town I am moving to is where glue-sniffing teenagers rob people at gunpoint.

Up: I had three delicious home-cooked dinners this week: One by the super-cool/sassy reference of fellow Fulbrighter Eric. I may have spent all but my 2 peso bus fair on a bottle of wine for the occassion, but it was worth it for the riveting conversation (detailing her frustrations in Tucuman with the fact that shit-teacher's college-schooled people with hardly any English knowledge can get jobs in secondary schools while high-lever university students cannot) and the incredible, FRESH jamon y queso raviolis. The second was a delicious homemade lunch at the home of our family's housekeeper (that word gives me shivers) Ramona. Ramona lives in dirt-planted neighborhood made up of houses mostly constructed from cement blocks, bricks and pieces of other retired homes and sheds, and it is truly incredible what she's done with the place. True, Ramona had to personally come to a busy street to guide me into the neighborhood (she said it wasn't safe to go alone), but inside I felt incredibly comfortable. After learning about the art of cooking pastries from Ramona's daughter Andrea, and downing several cups of mate, I learned how to make a delicious chaucha dish and filled my belly in (questionable) style. The third delicious meal came after acting class, and a visit to a lovely (but a bit over-crowded) apartment I chose not to rent. I went to my yanqui friend Nicole's, and she made a delicious lentil/garbanzo/vegetable/rice medley...complete with CUPCAKES! We followed this up by sharing a delicious bottle of malbec/shiraz at the hip bar "El Arbol Del Galeano. All in all, good eating...

Down: ...Or so I thought. I woke Sunday morning with a fever, intense stomach pains, and the compulsion to run to the bathroom ever 20 minutes. The fever has passed, but the stomach pains persist with force. OW! I think it was all the veggies, and perhaps the wine didn't help, nor the week's intake of antibiotics. "What antibiotics," you say?


UP: I'm feeling good about the new place. I'm loving that Elliott Yamin is making a comeback. I love Wanda Syke's roast at the White House press correspondent luncheon. I love that "Grey Gardens" on HBO is supposed to be good. I had a great conversation with my students today about Argentina food, and I actually had a great theater history class!

I promise to update sooN! And from a new home!

jueves, 7 de mayo de 2009

Two days ago: The swift fall down the rabbit hole

It started Monday night, when an MSN conversation a friend here turned way personal. It was a wonderful conversation, and full of dirty jokes (which I love)...just wasn't expected. Having only slept for 4 hours on Saturday night, and five on Sunday night, this late night HBO comedy-worthy therapy session left me exhausted on hazy on Tuesday.

After about five hours of sleep, I woke up at 9 to check in with the new primary school I will be working in. After lugging my body out the door, and defeating moments of confusion with some new streets, I arrived at the primary school, where I was told, "Oh, I know you're starting work tomorrow. Why did you come today to tell me that again?" My reference thought it was a good idea, and I totally agreed, but upon arrival I realized how stupid my ideas are sometimes.

On my way back, I was determined to break 5 pesos so that I could have change for the bus. Starving, I committed to buying yogurt at a kiosk. About one block from the kiosk, I noticed that a sketchy dude was parked right in front of my house. I stopped on the sidewalk to scope him, just as a neighbor was opening her door. I had just finished my polite/quick hello with her, when her monster-dog bounded out of the house, drove his teeth into my leg, then bounded back in. HOLD UP! Should I repeat? A FRIGGIN' DOG BIT ME THIS WEEK! Bitch smiled, and apologized, then went back in her house. And I, stunned, bought my yogurt and went home. It was only as I arrived at home that I noticed that the small bite had produced blood, and I quickly started washing. Long story short, I'm fine. Pissed. Embarrassed. Still without a determined place to live, and now the subject of a dog attack, but I'm fine.

After stopping in an emergency, and buying some nasty pills, I immediately had to rush to the center for my Theater history class...which turned out to be canceled. I tried to take advantage of the time by immersing myself in paper-grading, but I couldn't help but get stuck in the dumps. What a shitty day!

Ah well, at least I saw the Argentinean president ride by the Plaza Urquiza in a motorcade. The street was filled people, singing, waving banners applauding the efforts of President Kirchner. After hearing this month from almost everyone about the country's disappointment with this president, I couldn't help but giggle a little at the scene. How were these people assembled? Why were the people screaming immediately disinterested after the car passed? I learned later that most people that attend these functions are paid. As the parade ended, I was struck by the amount of trash and waste that the event had left in the street. Typical right, people falsely gather to honor a president they believe is throwing trash all over their country, and literally as she passes, her celebration leaves the streets with nothing by garbage.

lunes, 4 de mayo de 2009

I keep thinking about New York

It's weird. Maybe because the compiling stress of starting work in the primary school this week, teaching an impromptu lesson about conflict today using "Friday Night Lights", developing a lesson about writing greeting cards to celebrate Mother's Day for Wednesday, Reading my textbook for History of Theater Class for tomorrow, oh...and finding a new apartment. Hm, stress, this is familiar. *FLASH OF COLLEGE* haha. The soundtrack to Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist is definitely helping through this, but I couldn't help but feel sad today having a delicious lunch today with the three kids I live with today, laughing as we discuss favorite Disney movies, and all the time knowing I have to peace in a few days. It's so funny how the days just pass and pass, and regardless of new circumstances and conflicts, the time refuses to go any slower, or any faster.

Saw a few rooms for rent today, and this aren't looking promising. But I went to a lovely hamburger-focused birthday today, and I'm still smiling. I miss you all a lot. A lot.

domingo, 3 de mayo de 2009

what a weekend!

It appears that I've suddenly become one of those people that goes out at night...and into the early morning...and then the later-ish morning. It's shameful, right? I got in at 9am this morning, this after falling asleep on the public bus. And it wasn't the first early morning sneak-in this week.

It started Thursday, when my classes ended early in celebration of "Dia Del Trabajador", an apparently Chicago-born holiday celebrating a nation's hard workers. Refusing to saunter home to stream more "Gossip Girl", I pulled out the text-fingers and started making plans for the night. I started by treating myself to dinner, a "Mexicana" sandwich composed of white bread, ham, steak, mayo and fried egg. (Can anyone else hear my stomach lurching?) I then crashed one of Diego and Alejandro's acting classes, clung, and stuck with the group for a delicious ice cream outing. After, I joined my American pal Nicole to hit up a concert in suburban Yerba Buena. The singer, Shai, was a friend of hers, and probably one of the prettiest destined-to-play-Roger-in-Rent people I've ever seen. There was Coldplay covering, heavy glugging of Quilmes beer, and eventually a sad presentation of two tipsy Americans taking a whack at Salsa. Afterwards, Shai chatted us up like old pals, and before I knew it 4AM had arrived and we were at Shai's abandoned garage-turned charming apartment listening to music and talking "Lost". I'd only fallen asleep mid-conversation a few times before arriving home at 7am.

Spent the "Worker's Day"break mostly at home, but found time to fit in a conversation group with my translation-student amigas. I can officially check "Have conversation about "Los Rugrats" and "Doog" in Spanish while downing mate" off my to-do list.

Saturday, I joined Nicole for pizza, and a constructie discussion of how we both struggle with over-extending ourselves, and then making up for it by forcing separate friends to hang out together. Afterwards, I snuck into another acting class, where I got to walk weirdly, scream, and improvise in Spanish. (Not.Pretty.)

Quick change at home, and I was off to dinner with Shai and his family atop their three-story centro-penthouse. The family as incredible, adorable. Seated at a table of nearly 12, I chugged delicious homemade hummus and saurkraut, then literally drooled over the plates and plates of grilled fish. Shai's father and 11-year-old brother had caught the fish themselves, and the boyfriends of his sisters had prepared an incredible grilled pece-covered in peppers and cheese- experience. If that wasn't enough, the dinner also included deep international economy and security discussions, homemade banana cream pie and bins of yummy helado, and even magic tricks! I excused myself at 1 to head to a party with Diego, Alej and Lucas, one of my acting classmates. It was a party for the boys' friend and came complete with transvestite hostess, strawberry lollipops and lots of PDA. Oh yes, and beer of course. I spent most of the evening talking with Agriculture student Lucas about the state of Argentina farming, and kind of fell in love when the admittedly shy small-town farmer asked me if I liked Herman Hesse. The party was very...well there were lots of strobe lights, and afterwards Lucas and I met up with one of my college classmates for an 5...sigh. The party, in the backyard of someone's house, hosted everyone from gay men, teenage to elderly, to flogger chicks and their young suitors. The night got weird near the end, when my sleepiness led me to abandon my idea to grab a cab at 7am to follow my classmates all over the center looking for a bank. Losing patience, I bounded out of a cab near my friend's apartment and passed out (just an expression, don't worry) at the bus stop, lulled by bright sun and smell of freshly baked pastries.

Today, I saw "He's Just Not that Into You" and found out that I'm going to have to move to a new apartment. More on this later. I think it might finally be time for me to sleep.