Tag Archives: life

¡Pura vida!

I apologize for the blurriness of the video, but it was taken on a friend’s Razr phone. I was having an incredibly good night and the weather was gorgeous. I was so in love with life at that moment (and still am!) and maybe had a glass or two of wine. But definitely only high on life though you may think otherwise. 😉 It was shot in the centro of Buenos Aires near Plaza de Mayo a few weeks ago.

(Apparently with the the free, hosted WordPress it strips my site of any embedded videos. Until I can set up a domain, here is the link the video.)

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Algún lugar / Ningún lugar

Due to the immense amount of school work that has come up over the past few weeks I have not had time to take any trips outside of the city. Last week I was really getting frustrated by the routine I was falling into and the realization of how quickly my time here is passing. A few weeks ago I created a new, updated version of my new year’s resolutions from January and it was appropriate timing seeing as how the past two days were one of the two Jewish new years, Rosh Hashanah.

Since my study abroad program occasionally offers little excursions for us to take advantage of like theater productions, museum visits, bike tours, concerts, and the like, all free of charge I decided to see what was coming up. I have a list of places to see and things to do while I am here in Buenos Aires, and one of the excursions would allow me to make good on the commitments I made to myself. MALBA (Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires) is the modern art museum here in Buenos Aires, much like New York’s renowned MOMA. The invitation was to check out one of the current exhibits by Félix González-Torres as well as other showcases of Latin American artists. To quote the pamphlet I picked up while at the museum, “The Félix González-Torres. Somewhere / Nowhere. Algún lugar / Ningún lugar exhibition includes work from his most celebrated series whose relevance and connection to current world problems is striking.”

“[González-Torres] abraded notions like authorship, private property, and art collection, allowing some of his pieces to be ‘dissolved’ by the public through a simple act of appropriation:eating a candy or taking home a sheet of paper. But, if not recomposed, those gradually disappearing works can reappear anywhere and anytime: they are infinitely reproducible and their supply, endless.”

As we wandered through the exhibit with our guide listening to explanations about what each piece was supposed to convey (in Spanish!) my thoughts kept drifting to how I didn’t think art was successful if a viewer had to be told what it was supposed to convey. Isn’t that defeating the point? Or shouldn’t a piece be left open so that the viewer can create his/her own meaning and take from it what they will? Or is that just selfish? It’s one of the conflicts I’ve always had with modern art. Most of it resembles something I imagine a 5 year-old could have created (though I do admire Jackson Pollock!) and doesn’t ever speak to me. Some pieces seem to be an experiment in architecture or physics, but nothing extraordinary. Perhaps this is why I have always preferred photography and the written word.

As the tour came to a close our guide left us with the final piece and my favorite. In front of me were two huge stacks of paper, each about three feet in height. From a distance they appear to be merely blank white sheets until you stand next to them and see that there is one simple sentence in a classic black typeface, each of which resounds with you in a different way. The first one I read stated:

Somewhere better than this place.

The phrase on the stack immediately next to it read:

Nowhere better than this place.

When you first read these you may recall the ever-quoted notion about the grass not being greener on the other side. Or, as the museum pamphlet observes, “Together, the two statements seem to vacillate between the promise of future happiness and life as it is right now.” As I again reflect on what these sentences mean, I’m reminded to always try to live in the moment and appreciate where I am. I am always one to get sucked into creating goals and achieving them but not always focusing on the process. After a few weeks of being in Argentina my mind started drifting to, “What’s next? What’s my next move? Where’s my next location?” It was all I could do to not be ready to finish my last year of college and Georgia State and head to Israel and wherever else my ambitions take me to. In fact, when I mentioned the updated list of resolutions above, I failed to mention that I also created a list of resolutions for 2009. This is probably I biggest fault: I am forever planning for the future.

A few weeks ago I was at a party with Argentines as well as other exchange students. Since I actively avoid talking with other Americans (with the occasional exception of speaking in English with the Europeans I encounter), I spent much of the night with two Italian girls, a girl from Paraguay, and several Argentines. As I sat there surrounded by an excited, loud conversation in Spanish I just smiled and soaked it in before turning to a friend next to me and exclaiming, “I want to stay here until I understand every word they’re saying!” And I do. As much as I’m starting to think I’m not as much of a city girl as I used to be, I thoroughly enjoy all of the opportunities and experiences that are available to one in a city that would not be elsewhere. The people and the experiences make living in a city worthwhile for me and also because the diversity of scenery that Argentina has to offer is unbeatable. I think you would be hard pressed to find another country with as many different vistas as this one offers, between the pampas, Iguazú, Salta, the Central Sierras, the Andes, the coastline, and the prime reservation of possessing the city at the end of the world before reaching Antartica, Ushuaia.

Nowhere better than this place.

‘This place’ being exactly where I am right now in location and in my life.

Passage of Time

From the way they make their coffee to the way they dry their clothes, everything moves slower here. In fact, people will look at you funny if you ask to get your coffee to go (I heard all of you gasping). To myself and many of the other students on the program this was a somewhat discomforting fact. Several of us have early classes–and anything before 10.00 is way too early to college students and porteños alike–and the idea that we would have to go sit down in a café or drink it at home before we left is taking some getting used to. To the porteños the idea that you don’t even have half an hour, or for a real porteño an over an hour, to enjoy your medialunas and cafe is bewildering.

I think I would feel safe saying the vast majority of people line dry their clothes and dryers are only for the upper-class elite, hotels, and laundromats. Sage, I will include this tidbit here for you since it falls along the same category: every home you walk into here uses CFLs (to the uninitiated, compact florescent lamps–Google it!). I like to think this outweighs the fact that recycling has yet to catch on in a big way here even though there are people who are called cartoneras who go through all the trash that’s put on the street for collection and separate out the paper because they can get money for it. Basically the equivalent of people in the States who push around grocery carts collecting glass bottles and aluminum cans (and if this is a horrible stereotype, forgive me) except they aren’t homeless and most are your run-of-the-mill, middle-class citizens trying to earn some extra cash flow.

I also like to think that the reason why you don’t see produce labeled as being ‘organic’ is because it all is organic and I’m probably more right about that than I think I am. In fact, as many of you know, in the States I drink only soy or rice milk and substitute gelato or sorbet for ice cream and can’t eat processed cheese because I’ve developed lactose intolerance? That was something that I was incredibly nervous about coming down here because I had no idea how my body was going to react. Especially after finding out that vegetarians are few and far between here I figured I was going to have a real difficult time. As it turns out, soy and/or rice milk are impossible to find and you’ll be lucky if people even know what you’re talking about when you inquire about it, but I have drank cafe con leche (coffee with milk) almost every single day since I have been here, I have eaten ice cream, and I have put milk in my scrambled eggs for breakfast and I have yet to have even the smallest stomach pain from it. If that doesn’t make you question what kinds of additives, hormones, and preservatives must be in our dairy products in the States then I don’t know what will.

I started this post wanting to talk mostly about the speed of life here in Buenos Aires but obviously I’ve deviated from that. There is a slow food movement that is starting to pick up in the United States, but it’s catching on… well, slowly. Even if you don’t ditch the coffee maker for a French press or sell your dryer for a line (though the Earth would appreciate it if you did), I highly recommend trying to slow your life down some. It’s so refreshing to come somewhere where time is not of the essence and showing up on time for a party or a meeting with friends is considered rude. Americans are always rushing to get somewhere or get something accomplished when, really, does it even matter? The world keeps turning…

“To live is so startling that it leaves little time for anything else.” — Emily Dickenson

L’chaim!

As I’ve said my goodbyes to many of you we have often made a toast to many good times in Buenos Aires, my safety, the journeys life will take me on in South America and elsewhere. I do not claim to know all the different ways to toast someone, but I do know that of the several I do know my favorite will probably always be, “L’chaim!” To life. Not to health, wealth, or a mere “Cheers,” but to LIFE. And that is all that needs to be said.

I sit here in the airport terminal at George Bush International in Houston, Texas, and nerves are getting worse by the minute. That bottomless pit in my stomach is more nagging and I keep looking around to see who is joining me on this flight hoping to find someone else in the same boat I am. No such luck so far, but the prospect of being in an entirely new city in a little over twelve hours is becoming more exhilarating. I still don’t believe this is really happening and I’m about to spend the next six months of my life in on another continent from my family and friends. I’ve wanted this for so long and it is exactly what I need this semester since Georgia State and Atlanta were starting to burn me out.

I’m trying to get used to the feeling of an airplane taking off and landing, wandering around an airport terminal by yourself, and occupying my time with writing and reading as I wait on my next flight because I want a job that allows me to travel pretty frequently. I’m not sure how–or even if–one ever gets used to saying goodbye to good friends and a good life, or constantly picking up and resetting down roots in different places, but I know that I have thoroughly enjoyed every trip I have taken in the past few years because I have made wonderful new friends and learned things about myself that I wouldn’t have discovered elsewhere.

The rewards of the journey far outweigh the risk of leaving the harbor.

– Unknown

I’m not sure how much more time I’ll have to post over the next few days or weeks, or even how often I’ll have Internet access but I promise to keep writing in my journal and transcribing bits and pieces here when I get the chance.

Put a candle in the window…

Today is my last day in Atlanta and as of right now I’m handling my emotions because the reality that I’m leaving and not coming back for six months is still setting in. I said my goodbyes to a few friends last night and to some of my coworkers from Apple tonight. I was expecting that yesterday would be my last day of work but I am going in for a few hours later this afternoon after I wrap up some last minute things that need to be taken care of.

One particular goodbye from last night got to me in a way I wasn’t expecting. It’s a funny feeling realizing that you aren’t quite sure when you’ll see a person again. A person who has been a constant in your life for almost a year. It was weird to think that the next time we may be together again is in a country on the other side of the world a year and a half from now. My eyes started watering up as a brushed it off and tried to keep my composure but then there’s that last glance before you turn and walk down the driveway and into uncertainty. After I got in my car and drove down the street tears just started streaming down my face.

And if you never stop when you wave goodbye

You just might find if you give it time

You will wave hello again

You just might wave hello again.”John Mayer

Driving, I flashed back to Friday night playing with Dov and Eitan (some friends’ kids that I’m particularly fond of) after Shabbat dinner. Eitan crawled up into my lap, took a deep breath, and then nuzzled his head into my neck to go to sleep. He then proceeded to give me a goodnight kiss after we tucked him in bed. It was all I could do to keep from breaking down then. I kept trying to memorize his little feet and hands, his giggle when I nibble on his toes and bite his feet, and all I kept thinking was how he’s not going to be three years old when I come back and he won’t have his beautiful long, blonde, curly hair anymore.

Leaving Birmingham was never this hard and I’m still trying to figure out why. In a way I’m glad that I’m actually sad about leaving a place as I never usually am. I’m always ready for it when the time comes but this time I’m not. Of course I have to come back for another year to finish school, but there’s something else that I feel is unfinished here and I feel so blessed to have made so many amazing friends here that I’m sad about leaving. If I can just make it through tomorrow I’ll be happy because then I can just cry all the way to Birmingham if I feel the need to. Then from Birmingham it’s nothing but soaking up time with my family and friends there, preparing for the flight and trip, and looking forward to the next exciting chapter in my life.

“What is that feeling when you’re driving away from people and they recede on the plain ‘til you see their specks dispersing? It’s the too-huge world vaulting us and it’s goodbye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.”—Jack Kerouac