Because: I love BA Cast, and loved it even before the hosts found and quoted my blog post about gyms in Buenos Aires (which was very exciting for me, by the way). The two hosts — a porteno and an American expat — do a great job of breaking down the good, the bad, the frustrating and the funny about life in Buenos Aires. It’s informative and amusing, and each podcast is bite-size. I recommend taking a listen, even if you’re not in BsAs!
It all started with this article, “Cracking the New York Times Popularity Code”
Because: As a blogger and someone always trying to play catch-up/get-ahead with social media, the concept of “going viral” fascinates me. That made me sound like a grandma.
Then that lead me to check out the most popular articles on NYTimes.com today, which I don’t always think reflect the most interesting current stories, but still, this drew me in: “Is Going to an Elite College Worth the Cost?”
Because: I went to an “elite” college and find these debates interesting. Also, as a tour guide at Northwestern I regularly heard questions like “So, can you tell me why $50,000 a year is worth it?” from parents.
Because: Who doesn’t love Tim Gunn? I consider myself one of the luckiest people in the world because I had the chance to meet him a couple summers back, and he is as wonderful, dapper and as not real in real life as he is on TV. And because “make it work” could totally be one of my current life mantras.
Because: I recently discovered this gem of an iteration of a texting-based blog. It is so sweetly funny and reminds me of about every text I have gotten from my parents, which have not ended just because I am in Argentina. For that, I am grateful to Google Voice.
Case in point, text from father on December 16. (Gerry is his friend who probably will be traveling with him to visit me):
Having a latte n a tasty rice pudding @ molto bene in H-town while reading my argentina travel book. I will def be dancing tango down there; i want 2 see Gerry on stage as well.
The BA Expats forum is exploding with comments, insight and opinions on a clash between residents of one of the more oppressed areas of Buenos Aires and the government, with possible narco trafficker involvement, or perhaps at the prodding of rival politicians, as the residents (many of whom are Bolivian immigrants) squat and try to claim park lots as rightfully theirs. People have died, the area is currently considered lawless and there’s a lot of talk about xenophobia.
I’ve had to seriously dig to find English-language articles on what happened and is currently happening related to Villa Soldati. It has made me think about how much “news” transpires around the world without us ever knowing. As someone who considers herself a member of the media, I refuse to make “the media” the scapegoat, because that is all too easy of a cop-out. But I will say there is nothing in the New York Times about this.
I highly recommend reading the BA Expats forum post in its entirety (linked above) to learn more about Villa Soldati and expats’ perspectives on it all.
Also, here are three news stories to supplement the info:
Because: For some reason, this touched me more than any piece of writing I’ve read in a while. All day I have not been able to shake the feeling I got while reading it; this odd mix of equal parts melancholy and happiness. I think that also had to do with the fact that it was gloomy and rainy earlier today, and I had to keep reading people’s status updates about snow in the U.S. I would really love some snow right now. Then the sun came out and I released some endorphins, and it’s a Friday and I live in Buenos Aires, after all. I think this essay just really reminded me of how some things, like feelings and funks and beautiful experiences thrown in there with all of it, are universal. It’s the human experience, baby.
Note: The unofficial sountrack to this post is obvio “Dog Days Are Over” — for a number of reasons.
Because: How things work here, including and especially regarding men, is unlike anywhere else in the world. For better or worse; we shall see. (Some attribute this — the complexes? — to the fact that one-third of this country’s population regularly sees a psychiatrist. It’s the highest percentage worldwide.)
This is a city where common phrases including, “I’ll call you,” “see you soon,” or “I’m on my way,” are works of only the purest fiction.
“Kirchner’s health condition exacerbates, and perhaps helps define, Kirchner’s emotions and psychology. President Kirchner has reportedly suffered from irritable bowel syndrome for many years. According to the American Medical Association, the psychological effects of this condition leads those who suffer from it to be “often rigid, methodical persons who are conscientious, with obsessive-compulsive tendencies.” Kirchner also reportedly works himself to exhaustion and needs to take frequent vacations to recover. The AMA further states “Psychologic and social stresses are often present in patients with irritable bowel syndrome, and may be related in a temporal sense to the exacerbation of symptoms.” This may account for Kirchner’s lack of attention to protocol that involves long ceremonies or tight schedules, where Kirchner would not have quick access to a bathroom.”—THE K-STYLE OF POLITICS Wikileaks cable
Because: It is fascinating information, even more so because the cable is from 2006 and does a bit of predicting, and because ex-Pres Kirchner passed away about a month ago. And are you kidding me with that in-depth IBS analysis?
Also, people here are not happy about the leaked cable in which Hillary Clinton questions President Cristina Kirchner’s mental health. A particularly traumatizing cab ride I had home last night ended something like this:
Taxista: WHY is the U.S. spying on us? WHY?! They are spying on us. SPYING! We just want to be friends; why are you making us ENEMIES?!
Me: (meekly, because a friendly conversation has now turned into this, and he knows my friend and I are from the U.S.) I really don’t think we are enemies. We seem to be more focused on other countries that could be considered more like ‘enemies’ right now…
Taxista: Like what countries?! You’re spying on us! Asking about Cristina’s mental health and everything!!!
Mind you, this all goes down as he is attempting to take us in circles, aka rob us running the meter, hoping we won’t notice, because that’s what happens in Argentina. It’s always the chatty taxi drivers, too — the ones who pretend to want to play nice — who will do you the worst.
Because: One of my roommates is a huge fan of college football (and similarly, also is a former Northwestern dancer) and has seriously been missing the season. We’ve filled the hole with attendance at rugby games (boys be fine) down here and even the Argentine polo championship, but she still misses. Why I really read it, though, is because I saw the name of my home state in the lede, and the farther I am from home the more I love it. Side note: Did you know Jersey Shore actually plays on MTV Argentina? Argentines actually have asked me if I’m a “guidette.”
Because: Apparently, 2006 was the year U.S. media decided Americans moving to Buenos Aires was an official trend and wrote about it. This piece is interesting to read and compare with the 2006 New York Magazine piece, which focuses more on moneyed New Yorker expats, and of course, to compare with my current BsAs perceptions and insight. Four years in Argentina time is like four decades in the U.S., too, when thinking about where this country was in 2000 — financial ruin.
Also, I like reading about my expat pioneers (if you will; I use the term loosely), and I recognized one of the names in the story as being a friend’s friend’s.
What I have come to understand is that in Buenos Aires, it is not necessarily about what you see, it’s about what you don’t. Buenos Aires is a feeling, a state of mind. While it may be not be a terrifically satisfying city to strike out and explore, the very act of wasting energy like this means you have it all wrong. Daytime is for working; possibly also sleeping. Everything good here seems to happen at night, just a short, cheap cab ride — bring small bills and don’t take any crap — from wherever you are. At night, Buenos Aires reveals its true self; its very sexy self.
Because: Though the whining goes on a little too long, this article eventually gets it. It helped me understand my own feelings about the city more deeply, too.
Because: I always thought post-graduation I would end up living in New York. Plus, this article made me feel justified about my goals, motives and all-around current state of being. (Even though this is from 2006.)