Friday, June 18, 2010

Work work work and more work.

Let me tell you about how bogged down with work I am. I am currently on gchat talking to Erik about whether I should go out tonight or stay at home and read some enlightening Amy Tan. After telling him how much I have to do in the next 2 and 1/2 weeks (assuming I want to finish with a few days to left to enjoy what I have left), he suddenly was fully in favor of me staying in and reading. Here, I will include you in my life.

That previous bit was written on Friday night. And I will inform you that my Saturday was not much more exciting, I stayed in both nights in an attempt to finish the Amy Tan book I am supposed to be reading. I actually just finished, it's a little after 1 on Sunday. The rest of my day will be spent re-reading short stories for my exam on Tuesday and tomorrow, I will attempt to learn everything I can about them all again. This is not actually very exciting. Last night at dinner, I made out a schedule of what I have left to do before I leave, in less than 3 weeks I might add, and I have every day schedule down to a t (is that the right form of that saying?). Anyways, I was also talking to mother on Friday night and she asked me the age-old mother question, "Did you put off everything to the end?" This is a question that she has asked me many times, and for once, the answer is actually no, or more no than yes. I mean yes there are things I have put off, but I actually have been really busy with work recently and I have been doing the best I can to keep up. It's so frustrating. For example, I got several assignments for papers only last week. And for one of my classes, the due date for my final paper is two years from the end of the seminar, so of course the mid-term is due the second to last class. However, because I am a foreigner, as I am so often reminded of, I have to turn in all my work before I leave the country. There is no leeway on this and so what I end up with is my mid-term due one week and my final due the next. Blah. Ok, I am going to stop talking about this now because it is causing me depression that I do not wish to have. Optimistic point though! Because I have so much work to do, the day where I leave will come quickly because every day is scheduled already. Woot!

Second thing that happened this week that is of interest and is most likely more interesting than me complaining about how much I have to do is something that happened on Wednesday. Wednesday evening around 7pm, my friend Nikhita and I were sitting in a cafe that is at the corner of my block, literally several hundred yards from my apartment but no more. We were both working on our computers (as I have no internet at my house and will expand on that later). We had been sitting there for a while, I got coffee, she got orange juice, we split a muffin and in essence, life was good. Then the strangest thing happened, a man walked into the cafe, reached from behind Nikhita while staring me straight in the eyes and took her computer that she was actually typing on. He then proceeded to run out of the cafe and somehow, Nihkita managed to run after him. I'm sure she would have caught (which potentially could have been very dangerous), but he already had a friend waiting on a motorcycle for him and they sped away. And like that, it was gone, robbery had occurred and we were standing dumbfounded in a café, not even able to speak. Nikhita asked if we could call the police and sadly every one confirmed our suspicions that it wouldn't do any good anyways. The police would likely not even write down anything we said, this happens to often, no one can do a damn thing about it. All of this, Nikhita's host mother later confirmed. So we left to go call her parents and try to figure out what to do. There were the normal bits of surprise, grief and then ice cream to try to calm the nerves, which helped of course. We have since then worked out a sharing bit for when we are in Starbucks (they have a security guard, I am now very conscious of where I take my computer), and her host mom and some family friends have made sure she is set until we go home.

The thing is, about this robbery, is that we were in the safest part of Buenos Aires. We were in the nicest part of town, which of course makes us targets in one since, but there is also supposed to be less crime here, I am supposed to be safe. Well, although I have never felt completely safe in Buenos Aires as I would in say, Kernersville North Carolina, I have felt comfortable. Don't get me wrong, of course I always have my guard up, from men making sexual gestures on the street to people invading my personal space a little too much on the subway or buses, but I felt at least safe-ish near my home. And to add to it, we weren't being stupid Americans. We didn't leave our computers just sitting on a table as we went to the bathroom (which we saw a girl do the next day at a different cafe quite close to the first) and we weren't ignoring our surroundings, we were being safe. We were sitting inside and Nikhita was physically touching her computer when it was taken. There was absolutely nothing we could have done, which helps a bit but also puts reality in a scary place, there is nothing we can do here to actually control out safety here. I realized shortly after that I am just fed up with this city, I can appreciate it for some things, but I want to be home, not for my food, or my family, or my friends or whathaveyou, I want to be home so I can feel safe at least for a little bit. And I know I am going to be living in NYC next semester and that it isn't exactly safe, but it's just not the same. Buenos Aires is a really poor city; these people don't have anything else. It also has one of the highest crime rates in the world, compared to Buenos Aires; I will be safe in NYC. I don't know, I'm still not sure how I feel about it. I'm really glad that we were okay and that nothing too traumatizing happened (like the girl whose house here got broken into or the three girls who were robbed at gunpoint in broad daylight on a busy street), but still it just reminds that I am never safe and there is a feeling of constant stress knowing I can never be careful enough.

Okay, now we're moving on to the next biggest even that is happening in my life right now. My Internet (did you know that internet is a proper noun according to Microsoft word?) sucks ass. Literally. As most of you know, I have never had particularly good Internet while I have been in this country. It went in and out every ten minutes, if it even took that long and the majority of most skype conversation consisted of me leaving and calling back and then disappearing and then calling back and it was a vicious cycle. It never got better, it only got worse. It had gotten to the point that if I was video skyping and even clicked a link to facebook (which is not slow internet friendly), then it would cut out. Well, this was annoying (I would also have to go start the modem every 10-20 minutes) but I could handle it. Then Hilda moved in and when it went out for real, like I would to go into the other room and restart the modem, I could no longer go into the other room at night because Hilda was in there sleeping. This was annoying, but manageable, as I could always just go restart it in the morning. Well then the annoying thing happened, my host mother tried to get it fixed and now because of all her brilliant technicians coming in and changing wires and putting the modem in my room, I no longer have internet. It was out for several days straight and before that it would work in the lowest sense of the word, it was so slow at one point, I couldn't load pages, any of them on the whole internet. Then it went out completely and she had the technician come back. He tried to fix it, but said that we would have to call the cable company, that he could only replace the modem and he said it should be fine until the cable company came. Well, what he didn't know was that he was wrong. It worked for one day and then didn't work the next morning and then did work at night and then didn't work in the morning and then didn't work at night and then didn't work at all. This is where we are now and the technician doesn't come until Wednesday, and as I'm sure you can all imagine, this really is helping me get all my freakish amounts of work done...not even slightly. I'm stuck and I have to spend all my time in either Starbucks or at Nikhita's house, this sucks. I can't wait until I get home and there isn't a "problem in the area" that keeps from having internet access. OH and I will have my blackberry which keeps me constantly connected, Oh America.

Speaking of America, or at least specifically, the United States of, the place I call home, I've noted something recently. Somehow, during my time in Argentina, I have become more American. I have never been particularly American like, I always have certain qualities that identify me as what I am, but never any of that overt patriotism or inability to find other countries on the map or that desire to only speak English. However, since I got here, I've realized how truly American I am. I realized this when I was standing in Starbuck's, wearing Lindsay's northface jacket. All of that is American. I eat at mostly British or americanized restaurants here or some type of international cuisine because I can't actually stand argentine food anymore. I still dress very American like and well, then there's my accent and for those of you who haven't traveled a lot, even non-native English speakers can usually identify an American accent. It's the normal English that everyone knows and can identify. Anyways, I just thought I would note this and how I think it's weird that living abroad made me more American.

In contrast to that entire last paragraph, I have to tell you that somewhere in the midst of the World Cup starting, I have become a football (soccer) fan. I know things about the World Cup. I know players, for at least Argentina, I know the rules, I know why they do certain quizzical things and I can actually explain this to others. I have been following the quarterfinals elimination and when asked I can tell you when the next game is of at least the US and Argentina, I'm pretty much a connoisseur now. I watch games, I care, and I don't know how this happened. I think it has to do with a possible two things but these are just hypotheses. First, I really like both the Shakira song "Waka Waka" (in Spanish and English" and the David Bisbal K'Naan song "Wavin' Flag" and these are highly associated with the World Cup making me love the world cup more and want to watch. This is weak theory; please let me tell you the more likely one. Soccer players can be really hot, I mean completely gorgeous. They're not all bulky like football players and soccer is ten times more interesting than baseball, but mostly they can be really gorgeous and it makes it worth watching. I know I shouldn't say this out loud or rather type and publish it to the internet, but seriously google Gonzalo Higuaín or hell, anyone on the Brazilian team. Any sane straight female should really jump on this bandwagon, soccer is fun.

Oh also for those of you who are wondering if the entire city shuts down for the World Cup, the answer is yes and no. For Argentina games, YESYESYES (or SÍSÍSÍ), the whole country shuts down, but not necessarily for other games, life goes on but everyone knows and every café has the TV on the same channel. It's pretty marvelous to watch as long as the game isn't at 8:30 in the morning, like it was last Thursday, Argentina versus South Korea (for the record, Argentina won, 4-1, 3 of the goals were scored by Higuaín). There's another Argentina game at 3:30 this Tuesday also.

Little side note of Argentine culture, they love to use superlatives (and conversely, diminutives as well). This morning I walked into the kitchen and Hilda was on the phone (which is one of the three things she ever does, talk on the phone, watch TV and knit, she has a fascinating life) and I overheard her say "Bárbaro! Buenísimo, Buuueeeenooo!! Fantástico!" all in a row, just like it, that's a quote guys. It is the equivalent of saying, "OMG THAT'S SO AMAZING, LIKE SOO SOO GOOD, SOO GOOD, SOOO FANTASTIC, SO GOOD!" all in row, which just sounds ridiculous. Hehe.

Ok, so as another little side note. As a result of having so much homework and never having reliable internet in my house and also the cushy chairs and smell of coffee, I spend a lot of time in Starbuck's. Now, as I am sure you are all judging me "She's in Argentina and hangs out in Starbucks, how American" and on one hand you would be right, you can find lots of Americans/English speakers there, but there is a different stigma to starbucks here. Instead of representing the classic chain and the murderer to the small individually owned organic mom-and-pop coffee shop, it is what the young crowd does. In Argentina, that old sit down in a coffee shop and enjoy coffee like it is a meal thing is exactly that, old. And it's only what old people do. Here, the young crowd goes to starbucks, there are always massive groups of teenagers and a few couples showing their love for one another in the starbucks we go to. But all starbucks are like this, the other ones I have been to, have young businessmen, American tourists, and young people. That's just what it is, which is almost the opposite of in the States, where all the cool young people go to little shops with organic coffee, because that's what we do. And here, starbucks is what they do.

My point being, as I seemed to completely have lost it in my last paragraph is that I spend a lot of time there. I know I have mentioned this before. Either way, Argentine starbucks are celebrating their 2-year anniversary in the country this week and they are having coffee tastings and the like. So today, Pablo, the guy who always gets excited when Lindsay comes in because he knows her very difficult American name, comes up to us (Lindsay, Ami and I) and asks if we would be interesting in doing a tasting. We of course say yes, and he tells us it will be just like wine. Hehe, not that we ever want to do wine tastings again. Anyways, so he comes back, he walks us through the tasting and we door poorly with identifying the flavors and smells and whatnot even though we know ten-fold more about coffee than we do about wine, we still fail, it's still a fracaso. I still have a cold and Ami stills likes describing things as what they are, it tastes like wine, it tastes like coffee. So Lindsay is left to determine what the coffee smells and tastes like and how to correctly identify it. She does better than Ami and I. We all decide we like the stronger African one better and we can now tell the difference between African and Latin American coffee like we can tell the difference between young wine and old wine, we're experts and we need a hell of a lot of practice. Anyways, it was fun, we got two free French presses of coffee and free cookies for the tasting. Then he gave out free carrot cake, we are still unsure why we bothered to buy anything. :)

Ok, so there is a chance that this is the longest blog post I have ever done. I will try to write more often and have shorter posts that are easier on the eye. I'm sorry, it's really difficult between the homework and the internet. Oh and don't forget, I will be home in less than 3 weeks, which is less than 3 weeks. It's so close, I can almost smell the obesity and tobacco, WOOT!!

love love love and wordiness
happy father's day benny (and the jets)

1 comment:

  1. Listen to your paranoid mother, we are never safe!!! hehehe,

    Second, I am so proud you found something to LOVE about Argentina, hot soccer players!

    Third, as much as I enjoy your blog and I really do (I will miss it if or when you stop) shouldn't you have spent all this writing on one of the many papers?

    Come home!! Miss you, love you!!