Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Why I Write

I write to transform nebulous thoughts into concrete ideas

I write to relieve my mind of a constant chatter

I write to think, feel and be someone who doesn't get to be seen very often

I write to create a picture of my life and who I am becoming in BA to friends and family in the US

I write to play with words in more than one language

I write to be funny, sarcastic and flip

I write to know myself better - to see what comes out

I write to absolve myself of guilt for thoughts and actions I'm not proud of

I write to bring something new and undiscovered to my day

I write because it pleases others to read my writing

I write because I love to read and words and stories are inside of me

I write to be in the moment

I write to leave my reality and imagine another

Joni's visit

We've named our small but dark and cozy second bedroom "Joni's Room". She lived there for two weeks during which time we fell into an easy routine of sharing space. Utta loved having a third person in the house - one extra someone to wake up each morning with wet tongue kisses and pouncing on the bed. Every day Utta would tear into Joni's room to wake her up, bouncing up to her and wiggling her back half back and forth. We had slow lazy mornings with coffee (sometimes mate) and walks with Utta. Afternoons and evenings we explored the city. Last Saturday we all took the train to San Isidro - 30 minutes outside downtown BA to ck out a fancy suburb. Had a Piedmont/Ross Kentfied vibe though I've been told that the rich suburbs are much less safe than living in the city as the thieves target those areas for kidnapping, ransoms and the like. yeah, nice.

Joni left no shoe store unturned. The best spas in the city knew her by name. Strangely, she confessed her most memorable culinary experience was the fresh fruit salad in our very own fridge which gracious Marta replenished every Monday, Wed and Friday afternoons. Yesterday before she left for the airport we topped it all off with high tea at the Alvear Palace Hotel. So ends the springtime season of visitors. I'm both sad and renewed. Another turning point in my first year here. The days are getting a bit warmer. I struggle more in my running practice with the humidity (doesn't seem to bother the argentines on the team one bit) and ever present mosquitos. Locals are turning shades of carmel. Wonder how they're going to look after 3 months of sunning themselves in the park. It's an interesting contradiction - the fanaticism for a youthful appearance and daily worship of the wrinkle and spot producing sun. Methinks there's some magical mystery skincare product I've yet to discover....

Friday, October 26, 2007

On Fuego

What a strange week. Lost access to my hotmail account for a few days and was shocked to log on Wednesday to several scary "updates" from friends and family in San Diego. just when i think i've managed to ween myself from obsessive checking of for what's going on in the world - orange alerts, amber alerts, a new war, britney or lindsey back in rehab etc, this happens to suck me right back in. Mom and Carlos were evacuated from Escondido - first to a local school then to a nearby hotel until last night. Ramona and fam had bags packed and were ready to go but never had to. Friends Jen and Jackie both evacuated but no damage done to the house thank god. Cousins westley and forrest in Ventura didn't go to school since the air quality was so bad they shut down classes for a few days. Good god what is going on?

Tried to catch some of the coverage on BA channels last night on tv. I knew that with Bush and Arnie making a tour of the "disaster zone", it would have to make the news here. It was laughable. Somehow one of the spanish speaking correspondents found a San Diegan willing to attempt explaining his situation to the viewers in what he thought was espanol. After a few words, he blurted out in english "what's the word again for storm? yeah, yeah tormenta, that's it, like a tormenta". Its not like San Diego of all places lacks a spanish speaking populace but I guess the reporter just couldn't pull it together. Well, its the images that tell the story anyway. Here mother nature is in full spring fling. Friend Joni staying with us for two weeks spent the whole day in bed yesterday with a migraine like headache from allergies. Lots of pollen floating around. Last night rain crashed down for a few hours and flooded streets and parks. Today sunny and breezy again but in the past half hour the dark clouds rolled in again and appear to be threatening my friday evening running practice with another downpour.

am grateful all family and friends are safe in socal. i know thats not the case with everyone.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Playing with words

Yes, Its come to my attention that the blog posts have pittered off a bit since I started the writing class. I'm writing a lot now but the vast majority is not ready for prime time - actually barely worthy of my reading it for the second time much less showing someone else or the universe of blogdom. But my prof says the most important thing at this point is quantity not quality. that quality will reveal itself over time if I continue to generate. so generate i do. some days a poem, lots of free writes (random thoughts without structure), lists and an occasional story. this weekend i worked on a short story based on a white lie I gave to a character that did something differently with the situation than I did or would have done. A few weeks ago, my writers group shared lists of delicious sounding words. some of mine are:

maravilloso (that's spanish for marvelous)

these words and others coming soon to a written something....

Back to where we started

Last week we moved into our new old apartment in Palermo. This pic is the view from our balcony looking down onto the street - taken my first week in BA. It's a weird deja vu kind of thing. Walking around the neighborhood, familiar shops and streets but I'm seeing it all with new eyes and an ease with the language. Rather than pointing at the fruit and vegetables I want, I have a short chat with the shopkeeper to ask about what's fresh, what a nice day it is, whether Utta is "macho or embra" (she's embra) although the mosquitos are tormenting me - just like when I arrived and last lived here. Utta remembers the building and the apartment. Animals are funny that way. She knew to turn to the left when the elevator arrived at the fourth floor. She's happier here and so are we - calmer and more relaxed. With the rugs Hugh brought back from our storage in SF the place feels homier and more like us. We have settled in finally (although we are living very simply and trying not to accumulate much, it took 6 taxi rides to move all our stuff when the first time it only took 2). Our portero Carlos is having trouble remembering my name. Ambi is too foreign sounding for him i guess although 90% of the argentines i've met say it easily. so, he's taken to calling me "mujer de senor hugo". back in my radical angry feminist days that would have sent me into a real tizzy. but carlos is sweet and not at all patronizing. it's just part of the language. in fact, its not uncommon to see Cristina Kirchner (soon to be President of Argentina, current Senator and wife of the current President) to be referred to as "mujer de Nestor Kirchner". Yes, she's much more than that and if she's ok with the reference, i can live with mine too.

today I went to Jumbo (the biggest grocery store/home depot like monstrosity in town) to pick up a few necessities - mosquito repellent and the thingy that plugs into the wall and sends off some kind of disarming smell, tupperware, pot holder, baking dish and some food - had grilled salmon for dinner (first seafood in 2 months). Joni arrives tomorrow morning for a 2 week visit. Fortunately this apartment has a small second bedroom with a wee single bed - nothing fancy but for one person it should do. We haven't seen each other since my trip to Mexico and Joni's not much of an email person so we have a lot of catching up to do.

When Jen and Jackie were here, we visited an estancia for a few days near a colonial town called San Antonio de Areco. I got caught up in the whirl of vacationdom and "forgot" one morning about my lactose intolerance. They served cafe con crema - with the crema likely straight out of the cow that morning. well, four hours later my body reminded me. it lasted 5 days this time. wasn't able to eat anything but bread and bananas for days. made it a bit rough the later part of their visit but it was I guess a necessary reminder. so, during that time i stopped drinking coffee altogether. now that my tummy is back to normal, i am on to a new morning routine of mate to jump start my day. whenever i mention my love of mate to an expat they look at me with shock and awe - also will usually burp out some inane remark like "wow, you've really taken this whole argentine thing to heart haven't you?" it's said in uruguay everyone walks around with their mate thermos slung over their shoulder in a fancy little mate bag so they can sip it all day long. i'm thinking of getting one...

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

My new muse

Her name is La Negrita. That's what the woman called her who made her, then sold her to me. Walking around the plaza of vendors, none of the artsy craftsy stuff caught my eye until....a sea of yellow haired, blue haired, raspberry haired, nectarine haired Negrita dolls. Objectively they were nothing special but something pulled me in closer for a look. They were all so amable, so silly smiling and peaceful in that childlike naivete adults loose with the first pimple. The blue haired Negrita called out for me to pick her up, turn her over, stroke her six raggedy ann braids shooting straight up to the sky as if suspended in air by some supernatural force. squeeze me she encouraged. her expression was simple and perfect, not overly ornate. two thin ovals for eyes drawn with what seemed like chalk or crayon and below a huge kindergarten U for a mouth - big wide happy everythings just fine say hello to me kind of smile. I gave a squeeze to her middle - plump with cotton stuffing. Her head exaggeratedly large for her triangle shaped middle with a black and same color blue as her hair striped mini dress. Her feet swelled out larger than expected to match the fantastic bobbling head. As soon as I picked her up I knew, just knew she was coming home with me. I hesitated for just a second and asked the kind eyed woman artist "cuanto cuesto"? She told me 15 pesos and I borrowed the money from my friend Jennifer. Right away I tucked her half in to my purse so her head still stuck out to peer around.

Later that night I introduced her to Hugh and warned "don't let Utta get near her - she's not a dog's plaything". He looked at me with eyes that said "you're more than a little bit loca". it may be but right now she's as important to me as anything else. Early yesterday morning I tucked La Negrita into the front fold of my coffe stained robe, went out to our small balcony and wrote for an hour in the breezy sun. she just sat there with me quietly. (yes, I know what the neighbors were probably thinking).

Monday, October 8, 2007

Monday in October

Friends Jen and Jackie left today. We had one last leisure lunch together, walked through the park where I run and ordered empanadas for them to carry on the plane. I think I've seen more of Buenos Aires the past two weeks than the previous 6 months. Saturday night we dined at Grappa where they make "pizza a la parilla" - very thin crispy crust that bakes on the grill with sassy toppings like creamed spinach. sounds strange but trust me - ricisimo! then we headed out to enjoy "Noche de los Museos". Once a year, BA opens up more than 100 city museums for an evening of music, dancing, lectures and art - all free. Each museo had its own program. Impossible to hit more than a few in one night so we chose: Decorative Arts museum, Museo de la Mujer (why why why do all women's buildings have to be so sad and decrepid - painfully underfunded, hence underwhelming. lastly to the vibrant Museo Mundial de Tango. They hosted live concerts of various local tango bands. "Tango" to argentines means much more than the dance - as important is the music. We listened to an excellent group called Violentango. They were thirtyfortyish and grungy. had a large following clammoring for their cd after their set so we clammored along and bought one. The youngest of my Halcones running team Ludmila (19yrs) tells me that the coolest tango bands these days are of the electronica ilk.

With the move came other now expected inconveniences....sporadic and slow internet access, no microwave and a lot less closet space. But, Hugh's got the Cowboys on the telly right now, we have our SF City Hall wedding photo hanging on the wall and can now stop worrying about the next place to live - for another 6 months.