Sunday, January 18, 2009

Buenos Aires 2.0

Quite a few of my blog entries tend to be general observations about living in Buenos Aires followed by a personal take on the issue, but this message is purely personal.

Relax, it's not that exciting.

I just went through a period where I had a lot of things change all at once and it's been a little more significant than I thought it would be. For the last two months I've lived in the same apartment, I walked the same street everyday on my way to Johanna's place who I had been with for almost the whole two months I've been here. I haven't been working either so I had this situation that was incredibly constant. Now over the course of just a few days it feels like pretty much everything has changed:
  1. I moved to a new apartment in the Las Cañitas area of Palermo.
  2. Johanna went back to Ecuador or her summer break and since I'm not sure if I'm even going to be here when she comes back we decided it would be best to go our separate ways.
  3. I'm actively looking for a job down here.
I am getting into the groove with what feels like Part II of my adventure down here though. Today I went for a walk around the hood to see the sights and find the essentials (closest grocery store, ATM, kiosko, empenada place, and cafe that has wifi). Just walking around made me fall in love with the area. I think it was a combination of it being a late Sunday afternoon (so there weren't that many people out), it having just rained last night (so the air was fairly clear) and it being a reasonable temperature out (as opposed to that last two 95 degree days) but I think that was the calmest I had felt just walking down the street here. It was just so peaceful. Las Cañitas feels like a small town set away from the rest of the craziness of the city and that's a really nice change. I mean, at no point did I have to break into a jog to keep from being hit by a taxi (chill Mom).

I think I'm going to like it up here and I hope Part II is even better than the first.

Photo by babalucci (via flickr).

I think this blog spies on my life.

Things White People Like #120: Taking a Year Off:

"When someone goes through a stressful experience they usually require some time off to clear their head, regain focus, and recover from the pain and suffering. Of course, in white culture these experiences are most often defined as finishing high school, making it through three years of college, or working for eleven months straight with only two weeks vacation and every statutory holiday (”they don’t count because I had to spend them with family.”)

Though you might consider finishing school or having a good job to be “accomplishments” many white people view them as burdens. As such, they can only handle them for so long before they start talking about their need to “take a year off” to travel, volunteer, or work abroad.

It is most common for the person taking the year off to use this time to travel (see Post #19 for reasons why). Generally, they will start off with a set amount of money that will use to travel for as long as possible. This explains why a white person with an $800 backpack will haggle with a poverty-stricken street vendor about a $2 dollar plate of food.

If you work with this person, be sure to give them a FAKE email address on their last day on the job or you will be inundated with emails about spiritual enlightenment and how great the food is compared to similar restaurants back home. Also, within the first five days following departure, this person will come up with the idea to write a book about their travel experience. Sadly, more books about mid-twenties white people traveling have been written than have been read.

Some of the more enterprising white people will extend their time off by working abroad as a bartender, ski lift operator, or english teacher. Their stories, emails, and publishing plans will be identical to the previous white person but will include additional stories about working and complaints about “tourists.”

Finally, there is the white person who takes a year off to volunteer at home or abroad. Though they are equally likely to write long emails about their experience, these people are often using the experience as an excellent resume pad for their application to law school. This way they are able to put off real life without the crippling derailment of a career or education.

Regardless of how a white person chooses to spend their year off, they all share the same goal of becoming more interesting to other people. Sadly, the people who find these stories interesting are other white people who are politely listening until they can tell their own, more interesting story about taking a year off.

Thankfully, there is an enormous opportunity for personal gain. You see, whenever a white person takes a year off it opens up a valuable apartment, job opportunity or admissions slot. Consider it to be the most pretentious form of affirmative action."


Monday, January 12, 2009

This is your brain on urbanity.

I came across this great article that discusses the affect of living in an urban setting on the human psyche. It's interesting to me (and pertinent to this blog) because it helped me make sense of something I've noticed here: everybody looks exhausted all the time here. You see people who are clearly teenagers sitting on the subway with deep bags under their eyes like they're in their 40's. And no matter how much I sleep here I always just feel tired and like I can't think clearly. The article discusses studies that show that an uninterrupted urban environment literally hiders brain function because of the constant negative distractions.

Definitely worth a read: How the city hurts your brain.

I think I'm going to try and take a trip out of the city sometime soon. :)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

On being American abroad.

1. You never truly think about what it means to be an American until you're the only American in the room and you realize all the things that make you distinctly that.

2. The thing about being an American in the US is that nobody asks you what you're doing there.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Plaza De Mayo fotos.

I played tourist for an afternoon last week and went down to Plaza de Mayo which is a very important place in Argentine history (It's where Madonna sang "Don't Cry For Me Argentina" in Evita.... and a few other things happened there too). The city has some downloadable audio guides for free on their website so I put the Plaza de Mayo one on my iPod and took the subway downtown.

Here are some pictures from the afternoon. As always there are more on my

Sunday, January 4, 2009

I guess they do.

Buenos Aires really doesn't do hip-hop at all. If you want to hear it at a bar or club you really have to search for it. I guess it must lose something in translation.

Anyway, I was standing in line today at a drugstore and Fergie's "London Bridge" song came on. And almost every person around me (most of whom where over 50 years old) all stared bobbing the heads and tapping on the boxes they were holding. It was beautiful. I even saw an old lady doing the white man's overbite.

For a place that really wants nothing to do with American culture (aside from our crappy movies), this was pretty incriminating.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

How often do you...

...get a cup of orange juice squeezed right in front of you?

Never if you're me. It's the simple things that make this place so great.