Wednesday, August 24, 2011

is there a nice way to be mean?

You know what sucks? When you like someone and they don't like you back. I'm not just talking about when you are the one not getting the person you want, though, this is sad, too. I think I fall in love in this city at least once every day. Everyone here is like a young John Stamos. NO criticism of Stamos will be accepted by my ears. Go to hell if you don't believe Stamos is/was/will always be a fox.

I've seen my share of unrequited love. There was the beautiful man who I substitute taught for three weeks from an Agriculture and Energy company who lived in Indonesia for 3 years. He could've set me on fire, stamped my face out with his boot and then somehow accidentally set me on fire again, I would still have a signed marriage license for him in my charred hand. BEAUTIFUL. MAN. I cooly* gave him my email address at the end of our last class together and offered my assistance if he was ever looking to practice English outside of class. (SEX) But sadly I have yet to hear anything. But you know what? There were 3 seconds on the clock and I took my shot from half court. Did it go in? Fuucckkk no, my ankle gave out and it was an air ball, but at LEAST I tried.

And then there's always the gorgeous guy who sits behind the front desk in the lobby of the building where Jermaine works. He used to have long hair he would put in a bun and I STILL dug the guy. THEN he got his hair cut and holy SHIT. I acknowledged his hair cut and told him it looked nice in Spanish and he thanked me, then said something about how he had to cut it because it was starting to annoy him since it was so long. It took everything in me not to just say to his face, in English, "and I thought I wanted to fuck you BEFORE!"

So, yes, these could-be's are sad. However, what can be just as frustrating is trying to guide the this-guy-is-nice-but-i'm-not-at-all-attracted-to-him guys continuously back into friend territory or swat weirdos away permanently. I'm not saying I have some line of assholes trying to chat me up, but I am saying it really sucks when you like them but not LIKE THAT.

There's not a nice way to say that, is there?

How do you nicely say, I like talking to you, but your fingernails are very long on only your left hand and not your right and that really weirds me out.

Or, your hair has longer, wispy pieces that clearly get in your eyelashes as you talk, how do you not notice and fix this??

How do you nicely say, please do not make cutesy comments about how pretty you think I am, because now we both should be uncomfortable. Oh, you're not? Well good for you, dickhead.

How do you nicely say you must not be aware of how bad your breath is, otherwise you would not be leaning in so close and saying so many words that begin with "P."

I'll keep trying to think of a nice way.

*By "cooly" I mean I probably looked like this while I asked:

Woooouuulld you like to email me sometime?

Thursday, August 18, 2011


**not an actual photo of my student, this is Jermaine Jackson

One of my favorite students shares a name with one of the members of the Jackson 5. To protect his identity, (from the 2 or 3 people I know who read this and probably already know who I'm talking about anyway), I will call him by the name of one of the other Jackson brothers.

So Jermaine and I were having a deep discussion the other day about lying. He was trying to definitively decide when it's right and when it's wrong. He made some good points, such as when someone asks if they look nice, especially if they are a woman, you should always say yes, even if it's not true. I was surprised to hear an Argentine say this since they have never seemed to hesitate in the past to tell me when I look like horse shit. Like my hairdresser/guy friend who I met in a bar who almost immediately told me my haircut looked awful on me. I didn't think they sugarcoated anything, but I guess I was wrong.

Jermaine continued, "like if I were to tell you you were the most beautiful woman in the world, you know that's bullshit, but I lie anyway."

Alright, Jermaine. I want off of this ride now. Somehow your explanation of how you should lie so you don't offend people is still managing to offend me. You don't need to remind me I'm not Alessandra Ambrosio I have a mirror and plenty of billboards to do that for me. Yet somehow, this charming SOB always stays on my good side.

The hour ended quickly as it always does when you just sit and talk to an extremely interesting and slightly-insane-in-a-good-way man.

A man who once stopped me mid sentence screaming "Oooohh!!!" as he stared, with his mouth agape, out the window behind me to the river. A few seconds later when he snapped out of it and I had turned around to see just a beautiful cloud formation over the water and nothing else, he said, "I thought we were being attacked, the sky looked so bright, but never mind."

A man who asked me to reschedule his classes for Mondays and Wednesdays so that he could go to his rollerskating class on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

There will be more to share regarding Jermaine, soon. There always is.

When we were walking out that night after our discussion on lying I commented on the faded old heart-covered bag I carry my books in, saying it was so old and torn, I was embarrassed. But don't worry, Jermaine managed to make me feel better.

"Yes, that bag is very TERRIBLE," he said laughing.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

bailarines toda la vida

I watched my friends in a community dance performance this weekend and was super impressed. The show was made up of two dance groups, admittedly, I can't remember the name of the first group, it was something about the wind. I think it was Lady of the winds, maybe? I'm terrible. I looked everywhere to find my program I brought home but I can't find it. :(

Fortunately, my friends weren't in this performance, so I don't have to feel too bad about not remembering the exact name. But I do have to feel bad about this picture I took with a flash which they specifically asked that we not do. I thought I had taken the flash off, but my camera has been fucking up lately. So, at a critical moment of the performance, the crescendo, if you will, my fucking flash went off and this is what I got -

My friends were in the group Bailarines Toda la Vida and I got some cool videos of them. I'm not the best at interpretations, especially since the descriptions of the dances were in Spanish and my ability to pay attention to detail is non-existent. But I believe the first two videos I took below represent wars between groups. And the 3rd one I took, I'm not completely clear on what this part represents. I believe it's supposed to represent the disappeared persons from the Dirty War in the late 1970s in Argentina where thousands of people disappeared during a military dictatorship in the country. It could also be that wandering around in the dark with your eyes closed and touching other people can be very relaxing and nice.

I had participated in a few of these classes but couldn't make the practice/rehearsals before the performances so I couldn't join them. :( It was still so great to see everything come together really well. :)

The lovely dancers:
Victoria & Jen

Thursday, August 11, 2011

juice box straw

Picture it, Buenos Aires, 2011. A young, doofy American girl enters a supermercado to buy a juice box to sip from on her way to the subway. She pays the [un]friendly lady at the register, she puts her juice into her school bag and walks out to the street, headed toward Plaza San Martin and ready to enjoy some good sippin.

She pulls the juice out of her bag. OH but there's no straw attached to this juice box!!! Fuck's sake!!

She goes back into the supermercado and asks the lady at the register if she can exchange her little worthless juice box for a new one. She doesn't remember the Spanish word for straw, so she simply gestures toward the juice box and outlines a straw with her finger, and pretends to sip the imaginary straw in the air. The lady stares for a minute, emotionless, and then points to a cup by the register that is full of paper-covered straws. That'll do. The girl grabs the straw, says thank you, and cheerfully heads back outside again.

She pulls the straw from it's cover and attempts to put it into the juice box. The straw bends in half, unable to fulfill one of it's TWO fucking duties:
1. be durable enough to be inserted into a container
2. allow liquid to pass through successfully from point A to point B

She throws the PATHETIC AND WORTHLESS straw into the trash and decides to drink directly from the carton like a hobo. Actually, a hobo would probably have a much more sensible way to drink the juice, a sloth or any other creature probably could've found a better way, too. Regardless of how awkward her efforts she walks toward the subway and decides to suck the juice directly from the carton like the asshole she is.

By the time she is close to her destination she had managed to drink 1/8 of the container. Fair enough. She has to pull over to a quiet corner of the street that would no doubt reek of urine and shamelessly finish the rest as quickly as possible.

As she drinks the juice inefficiently she thinks, "how the fuck do I always manage to do most things the hardest most absurd way possible?"  Weirdos walk by her and look at her like she is a weirdo. She finishes the juice and goes down into the subway.

She finds a seat on the train and goes into her bag to find a book to read. Her hand feels something wrapped in's very small....seems like it could be....

the original, FUNCTIONAL, fucking juice box straw.

Folks, that young doofy girl, was me. And that is how I do things.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

cat yin-yang

Yaaaaaaaaaaayyy!!!! Pregnant cats sleeping the day away on my bed! Their babies are due in about 2 weeks and yes, they're both pregnant. I can't wait to have little cross-eyed siamese kittehs wandering around my apartment.

Friday, August 5, 2011


God bless Argentina for giving me the things I love most in life, ridiculous situations and great characters. Teaching English here has been the most hilarious and wonderful experience in the world. Every day provides a great opportunity for some sort of awkward cultural or social faux-pas from either my students or from myself. And I get the opportunity to peer into the lives of cool normal Argentines. Here are two examples -

I'm sitting in a sweeping grand office on the 26th floor in downtown Buenos Aires. The view from the huge windows out of the office overlook Puerto Madero, a very ritzy and modern part of the city, as well as the Rio de la Plata, the river and the ports connecting the city to international trade and travel. In front of me is a thin and fit man with grey hair of about 45 or 50. He is the CEO of an Energy Company, a professional, serious, but charming man.

If you can imagine Billy Bob Thornton at his very best, (looks wise, and NOT when he was in Sling Blade UH-HUH), and ignore all of his weird behavior, (I know this is hard and I'm not doing this CEO justice, but could you just fucking try to imagine this for me?), you would have something close to the man in front of me.

Sort of like this -

He is a very advanced English speaker and is currently reading an article I've brought about a Colombian revolutionary now working in the U.S. He comes to the word "fawning" and asks me to explain it. I do and we continue for a minute or two, but suddenly, he interrupts me.

"Ball licker," he says, out of nowhere.

Now, I'm accustomed to random comments out of left field, my mother is the queen of this. This one truly surprised and delighted me. I let it sit for a minute or two, to really enjoy the moment.

"Is that what you say?" he asks, "for someone who is fawning?"

"Weelll," I say, high-pitched. I try to find better words, but all I can come up with is brown noser. So I tell him anyway, I mean he just said ball licker to me, why not?

Temper tantrum
I was a substitute teacher for a nice guy at another Energy Company for three weeks. He was about 35 with a wife, one son and another little boy on the way.

One day he showed me a picture he had with him on his phone of his son at the zoo. He was explaining to me very slowly, (his English level was about intermediate), that his wife had recently taken his son to the zoo to ride the carousel, but it turns out the zoo was closed. His son was upset. Very upset.

"This is what happened," he said, leaning over to show me a picture of his son, about 3 years old, clinging to the cage bars of the gate at the zoo, on his knees, with his head thrown back, eyes closed and mouth wide open in an obvious wail of disapproval. This was a temper tantrum, I explained. My student learned two new words that day to use for the next time the zoo was closed or something else wasn't available to his little boy.

It took me a while to realize who this student looked like. At first I thought, this guy is like a slightly less attractive version of Mark Wahlberg. And then I thought, what the fuck is wrong with you?? He is just Mark Wahlberg's brother Donnie!

And there we have it.

Monday, August 1, 2011

here's to ricardo balbin

Ricardo Balbin was clearly a very interesting and respectable man. I'm not shittin you. He was a political figure and lawyer in Argentina in the twentieth century. He was part of the Unión Cívica Radical which was an extreme leftist political group that emerged in the late 1800s. Balbin was persecuted for his political beliefs and even sent to jail during Peron's term as president. This guy was a mostly modern-day bad ass.

All of that being said, here is his statue in Plaza del Congreso.

I hope that one day if my life is noble enough that someone decides to erect a statue in my honor, they choose a better pose. Who sat down in the meeting to commence the statue design of this man and threw out the idea of "casual glance"? Let's immortalize Balbin and his strength of character by having him do what he did best, stand awkwardly and look slightly to the right. If I were Balbin, I'd have zombied my ass into that meeting and forced them to put me in a toga or SOMETHING. "No! I want horses, and I'll be on a chariot, and maybe give me a crown and have me raising my fist....I don't know, could you just have me doing something cool, mother fuckers?? I already DID my job, do I need to school you assholes on making a cool monument TOO???"