On the Santa Ana winds and catastrophic ecologies

My sleep was fitful during a few stormy nights just a week or so ago, my dreams dark and bizarre. I blame this on the gale force winds that sometimes hit Los Angeles and that did so with even more power and fury than usual this season. Raging until power lines ripped, windows were shattered by flying fences, palm fronds dove like Trojan spears–the Santa Ana’s let Los Angeles residents know, once more, just what meager creatures we all are, how close to disaster our city always sits.

These winds have been blamed for peaks of madness and suicide in the L.A. population. They’ve been linked in odd historical and cosmological trajectories to the worst moments of the city, to the cruelest among its people.

An old tree just down the block, huge (and maybe a cottonwood?), was ripped from the roots and blown over. It crushed two cars and blocked our street for a few days. The wreckage of concrete it left at its base is still marked off by the standard orange cones the city puts out. To say the least, it was an impressive feat of nature that felt, at least in the middle of the night, like a strategic attack.

Didion wrote, “Los Angeles weather is the weather of catastrophe, of apocalypse, and, just as the reliably long and bitter winters of New England  determine the way life is lived there, so the violence and unpredictability of the Santa Ana affect the entire quality of life in Los Angeles, accentuate its impermanence, its unreliability. The wind shows us how close to the edge we are.”* Everyone in Los Angeles seems to know that, more or less. And when we forget, and sometimes even when we don’t, the winds return.

John Fante’s dusty Bunker Hill rooms are covered with the stuff kicked up by just these winds. I sometimes think L.A. noir couldn’t exist without them. The superficial, fame-obsessed, health and fad driven people L.A. residents appear to most to be seems a kind of knee-jerk response built into us by such stark and remarkable chaotic phenomenon. And the other side of Los Angeles, the enormous wealth gap, the wild diversity, the unruly post-modern sprawl–all somewhat less depicted in the larger mediated world–are also in their own way linked to some very contemporary urban relationship with disaster. Or with the disaster that (any Angeleno can tell you, conspiratorial or otherwise) is always already becoming.

I also think: if the weather you get comes only in the form of rupture–‘the big one’ that will come; the huge forest fires, sudden and rageful, that gulp the money and property crawling up the most uninhabitable of hills; the mudslides; and, yes, those dry, hot, whipping winds–you tend to have an odd sense of the natural. Like Hollywood films that come from the usually sunny and temperate climate of Los Angeles, you expect mostly beauty but also (though you expect it in some easily digestible delivery) terror, chaos, destruction. It’s only once in a while, in the not so filmic ‘real life’ the population lives here in the city that nature, uncontrollable and wholly other, wins. We are the very people, after all, who lined our river with concrete.

This antagonistic and asymmetrical stand-off between Angelenos and the habitat they really do call home means everyone wonders (some aloud, some in their dreams) what nature, in the end, will be capable of doing to this city.

Tonight, driving home through Silverlake, through the well-paved and now mostly cleared-of-debris streets, three coyotes ran out of a strip-mall parking lot and passed through the glow of my headlights. They continued quickly up the entirely residential hill toward something. Who knows what? It was a little bit wonderful to see them. It was a little bit sad. It was also a bulky reminder that this ridiculous post-modern sprawl is an ecology. One which might, I sometimes think, only be understood by those sad, strange sufferers of wind-induced madness.

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Joan Didion, Slouching Toward Bethlehem. New York: Penguin Books, 1979. 220-221.


Of cooking large birds and eating them in America

Yes, dearest comrades, it has been quite some time since my last update. You will, I trust, forgive my absence on the interwebs. I have been busy teaching and writing or procrastinating to avoid writing. But I offer you this short post as an offering of peace and goodwill in this, oh most ridiculous but glorious holiday season.

Thanksgiving is a strange cultural quirk of this great nation. It’s founding mythology is, I have little doubt, primarily apocryphal. Even if indeed two otherwise warring parties in the early days of the U.S. settlement broke bread, is it not just a little bit difficult to imagine that some long-ago coming together of the White Man and the group of people he went on to nearly eradicate in his genocidal push Westward merits the annual over-consumption of birds, booze and gourd pies?* But despite this dubious history, I must nonetheless say: I love this holiday.

This may be mostly because I love eating and drinking, but it is also because I have a very large, very funny, very bizarre family and they all come together on Thanksgiving to eat and drink with me. The standard policy is a minor showing of travelers on Wednesday evening at wherever the hosting family chooses to make a reservation. The big Thursday is an all-day cooking affair in which everyone is ready with always unrequested and often unwanted and unwarranted culinary advice for the chefs. Our family-wide penchant for criticism  is linked, as well, to one of the dishes we serve. Each year, despite the pleas of nearly all of the cousins, we insist on making what’s known as ‘Waldorf relish’. This is a gelatinous, savory, molded foodstuff that harkens back to a 50s era American obsession with jello. There are apples and peppers in it. It wiggles. It’s an abomination. But Grandma Sara, the matriarch of the family and the woman responsible for what seems a genetic predisposition to self-righteousness and inflexibility, served Waldorf relish which means we have to keep serving Waldorf relish. Forever.

There are, too, the standards: mashed potatoes, turkey, peas with pearl onions, stuffing and the like. Usually a whole roasted salmon. Sometimes they let me make brussels sprouts. The timing of all this cooking is very important: we don’t bother with that ludicrous mid-day or late afternoon meal. It’s dinner at the dinner hour followed by pies at the pie hour. No elbows on the table. No eating until everyone is served. Always pass the salt with the pepper and no, you can’t have the last cinnamon roll without suffering stinging glances from everyone at the table who notices. Needless to say we eat a lot. We laugh a lot. Barbs are exchanged and we grow more riotous with each opened bottle of red wine. We go to bed tipsy, but full and happy.

Thursday is followed by an equally large and perhaps still more lavish meal out on Friday night. This dinner is usually covered by my father (perhaps his punishment for not actually having remained married into the family–his conversion to hanger-on status has cost him thousands over the years). If you’re keeping up that’s three multi-course, family-packed, wine-fueled meals in a single week. And that’s not even counting the occasional brunches thrown in if someone gets engaged or has a baby.

I’m often, at these dinners, chastised by my uncles for my anti-capitalist idiosyncrasies and disdain for U.S. foreign and economic policy. But if I’m honest, all week long I love America. Genocidal history be damned, I adore Thanksgiving. I’ll go further: God Bless America! God bless the turkeys who sacrifice their lives for our gluttony! God bless even the poor, misguided soul who thought it was a good idea to put fruits and vegetables together with jello! God bless us all!

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*I realize this is a wildly long sentence that any good editor would break apart. I just don’t care. This is America. My sentences can run on as long as I’d like them to.


Of homecomings and such

Oh, readers of mine! Since my last post journeys were made, a despedida was held in my honor*, tears were shed, disasters were narrowly averted and, finally, I find myself in my native land.

It has been a trying homecoming. I managed to hit all three major venues of my past lives in a scant five days: Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and now I am once more in the city from which I hail, Albuquerque.

I will not trouble you with the details of those various visits except to say that, despite all the existential disturbances caused by such acts of returning, I managed to get in some night swimming in the Pacific, fresh doughnuts in a beach town (coerced from the bakers at a closed shop North of Santa Barbara around three a.m.), a very Hollywood Independence Day bar-b-q as well as the consumption of long awaited (and surprisingly high volumes of) hot sauce.

I only now have come to a bit of a resting point in which to reflect on the sweeping transition I am now making. I miss Buenos Aires. I miss my studio departamento. I miss the keys. I even miss (or perhaps most miss, rather than ‘even’) having to move between languages, having to be always somewhat out of place. Though, worry not, I’ve spent plenty of the last handful of days out my comfort zone.

I find it off-putting that people in the U.S. chat with me as if I’ve always been here. They ask where I’m from and where I am going and I find myself somewhat stunned not to have anything but a complicated, circuitous answer: “Uh, well, I’m here for a bit, then I’ll be headed there, then maybe back again over there, then the world will be my oyster,”** etc. Usually after the second destination I list they stop listening. It’s understandable. Even I stop listening.

So, now that the Buenos Aires portion of this blog has, for a moment, come to a close, itinerant me will begin to write about the other cities in which she finds herself a temporary resident. If you require the whetting of your readerly appetite, know this: The chances of me exploring in detail the outstanding and glorious phenomenon of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos cheese puffs are extremely high.

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*Perhaps you will not be as excited as I am about this fact, but I assure you, it is awesome. At my despedida I was the only U.S. citizen and also the only English speaker. We went to my favorite bar, La Bella Gamba, and I spent the evening switching between political discussions with the handful of Argentines and crude and fabulous jokes with the handful of Colombians.

**My language, as it turns out, is somewhat stilted as I adjust to constant English. Sometimes, without conscious effort, I insert little words in castellano. The most common is ‘dale,’ essentially the Argentine version of ‘o.k.’. Weirder still, when this happens, I pronounce it with a thick American accent.


Play of the day

Last night I enjoyed a very typical Saturday night here in the city of the good winds. Typical, I say, because in true porteño fashion the festivities did not commence until I sat down with a few friends for a late dinner (I ate around midnight) and didn’t end until this morning (at around 5 a.m.). Also typical in that I drank too much Malbec, hence my Sunday resaca. My hangover, thankfully, was mitigated this afternoon by the arrival of two fantastic American companions and the delicious pizza we shared at the famous local joint, El Cuartito.

But back to business: The play of the day is really the mishap of yesterday. My long and alcohol-fueled night was spent at a bar in Palermo called Caracas. There’s a terrace upstairs and a DJ spins dance music while lovely waitstaff serve up delicious Venezuelan treats. The place was packed and a comrade of mine and I whiled away the hours betting on where the folks crowded around, downing cocktails and bobbing heads, hailed from. We’d pick a target, make our guesses, and then introduce ourselves to verify. There were a few hits and a few misses. A guy we were sure was from California turned out to be from Venezuela. We correctly pegged a crowd of Colombians. The very tall, blond American celebrating her birthday was a dead give-away.

One great miss: I spotted what was sure to be a gringo hipster. He was too tall to be a local. The guy also had a mustache and was sporting a hoodie. My guess was Los Angeles and, were I truly a risk-taker, I might have ventured that he shared a flat with his performance-artist girlfriend in Echo Park. But, lo, how wrong I was. We approached and, as it turned out, he was Canadian! A beautiful, tall, Canadian hipster! This fine northern gentlemen even informed me that he’s working on his Great Canadian Novel!! A bildungsroman, no less. Obviously, I swooned. All I’ve ever wanted in life, after all, is a creative type with facial hair who’s citizenship gives him access to socialized medical care. Sure that I’d found, at long last, the love of my life,* I commenced flirtation. I sharpened my wit. I batted my eyes. I even tried a little trick a friend taught me of laughing ever-so-merrily as you place a hand on the fellow’s arm and lean your face into his neck.

It just might have worked, too, if it weren’t for those meddling kids! And when I say kids here, I mean it. Just when I was ready to move in for the proverbial kill my fair northerner and I happened to be discussing stage-of-life matters and (oh woe is my fate) he let slip his age. As it turns out I spent an hour flirting with a teenager, ladies and gentlemen. Nineteen. The man cannot buy me a drink in my own country, with or without his ironic mustache.

That, readers, was my clear cue to gracefully exit the situation. I did, clutching my glass of wine and what was left of my dignity with my wrinkled 30-year-old hands. As I made my departure the weight of a great nostalgia for the long lost days of my youth settled heavily upon my shoulders. Sigh…

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*As those of you who follow this blog already know, the real love of my life is a nameless Argentine repair man. But as the cruel hands of fate plucked him from his proper place in my destiny I am now forced to search for other, lesser loves. Such is the nature of my itinerant life.


Of the Argentine post

I would describe my recent attempt to send a few postcards back to the states as a vain effort to communicate to the outside world via a vast and and confounding network, the workings of which I am sure are controlled by corporate and governmental conspiracies working to prevent the conveyance of any and all meaning.* For your amusement, I detail the experience below:

First, of course, I had to buy the postcards. I did so at a typical tourist shop on Calle Florida. Nothing too thrilling, but I picked out a few functional cards. I inquired if indeed they had the stamps to facilitate the travel of the cards I selected. The answer: ‘Yes, of course. Special stamps for international service.’ Great. Lovely. I purchased the appropriate number, spent the evening scribbling out messages to a few of my loved-ones back home, and the next day set out to slip them into an appropriate mail box.

I first stopped at an OCA office down the block from my apartment. I was under the mistaken impression that ‘OCA’ was an acronym for ‘oficial correo argentino,’ but alas. Not so. I have no idea what OCA really does stand for, nor am I sure any longer that it is an acronym for anything. (I might have payed a bit more attention to the fact that ‘oficial‘ as an adjective should follow, not precede, the noun it modifies). The friendly folks at the OCA office, however, were happy to tell me that they only send packages and only within the country. They were also kind enough to direct me to the actual and truly official post office, which by then was closed.

Another day passes and I head to the real post office. Post offices in Buenos Aires, as it turns out, are like DMV offices in Los Angeles. The lines are very long, the workers grumpy, the posted information inevitably inaccurate or entirely unhelpful. I grab a number and wait an hour. Yes. An hour. No one in the office appears to be sending or receiving any mail, but large quantities of cash are exchanged and everyone seems to be filling out paperwork.** I also notice that many people come in, take a number, and depart. The locals, I assume, have a better sense of the waiting time than idiot tourists like myself.

When lucky number 71 is finally called I go up to show my cards to the extremely irritable young woman behind what appears to be bullet-proof glass. She explains to me that no, these stamps won’t work at the official post office but  that I can send the cards from a kiosko down the block. In order not to have wasted an entire hour in the office I use my unpleasant face-time with the office worker to buy more, different, but apparently official postcard stamps. If I apply those to a card, I’m told, I can send it from the office.

Feeling somewhat defeated, I proceed to the kiosko and slip my cards into a metal box that sits under the postcard rack and appears never to have been used at all, much less frequently-opened. The lock on the thing looks to be so rusted as to bar even the bearer of its corresponding key from entry. The kioskero assures me, however, that I am indeed depositing my epistles in the appropriate place.

If you never receive a postcard from itinerant me, my dearest readers, please attribute that fact not to my neglect but to the labyrinthine network of competing mail services of Buenos Aires and to the unseen but omniscient forces that are trying, as usual, to destroy me.

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*Come to think of it, I would describe pretty much all of my attempts to communicate to anyone as vain efforts made via a vast and and confounding network, the workings of which I am sure are controlled by corporate and governmental conspiracies working to prevent the conveyance of any and all meaning.

**I suspect the folks at the post-office are paying debts owed for services rendered. Bill-paying in Argentina has very often struck me as an extremely complicated process. People line up outside nondescript office buildings that must house various arms of the governmental bureaucracy, and they stand in those lines for hours. Or at least that’s what appears to be happening. I’ve never directly inquired, but the irritated look on the faces of those waiting along with the stacks of complicated-looking paperwork suggest as much. You should see the indecipherable three-page-long water and electricity bills. Amazing. Apparently the check is not very often in the mail (and, having visited the post office, I think I understand why).


On finding and losing the man of my dreams in less than half an hour

Oh my piteous, sorry, broken, black heart. How wretched it is to reach one’s hand toward the warm glow of true love only to have that light extinguish just as you near to its source! Why must the world, so cruel, offer its most precious gifts only to have them turn to ash before the eyes of their receivers?

Yesterday I found and lost the man of my dreams in fewer than thirty minutes.

It seemed that it would be a normal day in this fine city. I awoke at an early 9 a.m. I made myself a café con leche. I wandered through a handful of articles on the L.A. Times Web site. I ate some toast.

Just as I was settling into my work for the day, a loud pounding came from the hallway. I attempted to ignore it (not realizing, alas, that this was not only the sound of hammer against nail, but of fate, letting fall its gentle fist against the thick armor guarding my soul). The noise persisted and finally, I was pulled from my desk. A walk, I thought, to clear my head and allow the construction to finish.

I grabbed my keys and headed out. I locked my door and flipped around to catch the elevator. I was frozen in my place, however, by the most beautiful Argentine man I have ever seen. Nay, his beauty is nationless. His face, incomparable. His glory, universal.

Stunned, I stood, staring. He asked if the noise had awoken me. I worked up the strength to utter a meager ‘no.’ ‘It won’t take much longer,’ he explained. The elevator arrived and I smiled and stepped in. I nearly ran out of the building when I reached the ground floor.

Dazed, I circled the block. I bought a bottle of water at the kiosko down the street. I must have looked a madwoman to the passersby, so intoxicated was I by this chance meeting. I stumbled forward. But one cannot flee from destiny and I knew, with the certainty that only such a meeting of two star-crossed lovers can offer an otherwise clouded mind, that I must return.

I did. When the elevator reached my floor once more and I stepped out he was surprised. ‘Back so soon?’ He said. ‘Yes,’ I said. ‘ I held up my bottle of water. ‘I was thirsty.’* As the words escaped my mouth I felt only terror. I could remember no other Spanish words. I rushed to my door, fumbled with my keys and entered. All was lost. I stood, inconsolable, for upwards of two minutes. But wait. The goddess Aphrodite saw fit, once more, to offer me a window through which to fly into the arms of love. I heard my buzzer ring. Could it be? Was my love pursuing me?

I opened the door and there he was. The glittering brown eyes, the perfect rat-tail haircut, the poorly-shaven jaw. The sun catching the silver of his earrings as if the elements themselves wanted to mesmerize me, a poor foreign wretch, as I stood on the precipice of a beautiful future.

“Hello,” I said. “Sorry to disturb you,” he said, “but perhaps I may borrow a broom.”

I ran to get it. “This?” I said, holding out for him a broom and dust pan. “Yes,” he replied, his voice the siren song that soon would lead to my destruction.

I left the door open as he swept up the refuse from the window repair. He returned the broom. Offered thanks. He wished me a lovely day. And I? Did I rush to him? Did I grab his rough hands in my own and confess my love? No. No I did not. “Also you,” I replied, stuttering. And in a moment, he was gone. My hopes, dashed. My heart, broken. My future, a vacuum of despair into which I must march, a prisoner to the passage of time which assures that with each passing moment I travel further and further from my happiness.

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*”I was thirsty”? Yes, that’s right. The universe hands me perfection and I say “I was thirsty.” My god. I am doomed to wander this earth, alone, forever.


Of technology and insomnia

As happens to me occasionally, my dearest readers, I have been experiencing a recent bout of insomnia. This is not so terrible a problem in a city where people are very frequently out until five or six in the morning. But when you’re at home on your own until the wee hours, it isn’t exactly copacetic.

One does not write much of worth at 5 a.m., nor does one read with particular concentration. The Internet, however, can offer a more, shall we say, low-intensity activity for the insomniac. This would, were I living in the States, be a fine way to pass the time but far away from my native land it can be somewhat dangerous. The ye ole interwebs, as I like to call them, in addition to providing me with fantastic research tools and access to news and information of a wide variety (plus those lovable LOLcats), are also my main means of communicating with friends and loved ones in the Northern Hemisphere–far more so than they ever were when I was living in Los Angeles. E-mail, Skype, Twitter, the blog,* these are the social lifelines of itinerant me. But a bleary-eyed itinerant me, somewhere between 4 a.m. and sunrise, needn’t reach out to that larger world lest she embarrass herself with ill conceived tweets, posts, messages, etc. Emotions run high during those hours of the a.m., particularly if one hasn’t been sleeping too well. (You are all, I’m sure, familiar with the dangers of what is commonly referred to as ‘drunk dialing.’ Insomnia-induced communication via internet, or IICVI, is similar in nature and only slightly less likely to invoke feelings regret and shame once you’ve recovered.)

Needless to say, I have tried put the kibosh on my IICVI before any major damage has been done. (No, I did not send out mass e-mails detailing my irritation at the absence of grapefruit-flavored Gatorade in the United States and my elaborate plan to smuggle in shiploads of the stuff upon my return, but I thought about it.**) The point is, if you noticed typos, poorly constructed sentences, a general haziness in the last few posts you can blame this wretched affliction. And worry not: I’ll do my best to erase any traces of IICVI with my close edits in this and other forums.

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*No, I am not on Facebook. I am not getting on Facebook. Do not send me an invitation to join Facebook. As should be perfectly clear from this and previous posts, the last thing I need is another way to spend (or waste) time on ye ole interwebs. This may make me something of a contemporary Luddite, but I must insist. And, hey, clearly I’m no technophobe as evidenced by, among other things, this blog.

**O.K. LOLCats out of the bag! It’s true. I love Pomelo Gatorade. It is so delicious. I could pay a mule handsomely, if you know what I mean, to transport said beverage northward.


And it burns, burns, burns, that ring of fire, that ring of fire!

So, dear comrades, what you see above is what I saw out of my kitchen window this fine evening.

Let me give you a little context so you can understand the situation well: I had an extremely lazy day. No class because it was a dia de feriado. This particular holiday (a group of days, actually–it’s a four day weekend) was initiated last year by Argentina’s President, Cristina Kirchner. Officially it is El Día de la Memoria por la Verdad y la Justicia. The holiday commemorates March 24th 1976–the day of the coup d’état that brought the last, and horrific, military dictatorship to power. I’ll skip the details of the terror wrought by the junta during the period that followed because I assume most of you know how bad things were. Needless to say it merits more than a day of consideration. What follows, however, is entirely unrelated to that political history and should prove, if I write it well, a stark contrast to the utterly devastating human capacity for cruelty demonstrated by that epoch.

To the point: After many hours of procrastination and general fiaca, I decided what I needed was a little exercise. Because of the aforementioned laziness, I chose to do a little at-home workout. You know, the jog around the studio while watching internet television kind of thing. About half-way through my half-hearted workout I began to smell the fire. I assumed it was just the typical Argentine B-B-Q. The parilla is, after all, a favorite porteño pastime. But I happened, during a dull portion of ‘Californication’, to jog into the kitchen and notice a little smoke. I looked out the window only to discover not a parilla somewhere below but the flames you see above.

It seemed like the fire was awfully close to my building so I paused my internet T.V. and prepared to depart. My heart rate, mind you, was considerably elevated by what was the view from my window. Far more so than it had been during my ‘jog.’

I kept checking on the progress of the fire, though, and noticed that others in my building (and the surrounding complexes) were just calmly watching the blaze from their balconies. I heard sirens shortly thereafter and soon the bomberos had arrived and were working with a calm distraction–you see the same basic look in the faces of temp workers in cubicles.

At one moment, when I was looking down, I heard a neighbor yell: “Oye, bombero!” The firefighter responded, “Decíme.” “Hay llamas en las ramas arriba también.” “Gracias,” said the bombero and went about what was apparently the very boring business of hosing down the fire. Here’s a translation:

Neighbor: Hey, fireman!

Bombero: Tell me.

Neighbor: There are flames in the branches up here, too.

Bombero (in a completely uninterested, perhaps slightly annoyed tone): Thanks.

I closed the window and went back to the ridiculous activity of jogging around my one-room studio. And that, excluding the lingering bar-b-que smell, was it.

I guess the moral of this little story is that people go about the business of saving other people, most of the time, without much production. When circumstances aren’t extreme there seems to exist a basic, even banal, good nature in us. We can be pretty crappy creatures when things get nasty but, all in all, we aren’t averse to helping a fellow human out now and again. Or, at least, that’s what I’d like to take as the lesson of the day. It might be, however, that what I should learn from all this is that jogging is better done in a park and not a one-room apartment.


Of plants and living in a strange land

I have done so many, many thrilling things in the last two weeks thanks in large part to a visit from my mother. And soon, my dearest comrades, I will recount to you all the glorious highlights. But as my dear mother has just headed out for the airport to return home, I wanted first to post a little musing on my basil plant. The link will become clear shortly:

Living here has meant, for me, spending lots of time alone. Sometimes days go by and my only interactions with other human beings are commercial in nature.* While solitude offers a lone traveler much needed time for reflection, reading, writing and and the like and while it verifies a number of annoying clichés (whose capacity to irritate me, in fact, causes me to omit them here) it also is sometimes the cause of a gnawing loneliness.

How does one remedy this occasional suffering? Well, basil. Obviously.

A few weeks after my arrival I bought a little basil plant. During my mother’s jaunt southward I harvested most of its leaves for a (delicious) dinner we made. In the hopes it would continue to grow, we went to one of the city’s very common street-corner flower vendors and bought a little bag of soil and a bigger pot into which to transfer it.

As of today, the sad day of my mother’s departure, it is flourishing. Lots of little new leaves at its base. It seems happy. And here’s why it matters: that little basil plant is a good fellow to talk to in the absence of human beings. It responds to me when I feed it. It’s always willing to stay for dinner. It’s green and alive and it might die on me (hey, anybody might) but it certainly isn’t going to tell me it doesn’t understand my Spanish or that it needs its freedom or that I should get out more. Sweet, sweet Señor Albahaca. I love him.

So those of you lone travelers out in the world, wherever you are, know this: plants rule! In a really nice, unpretentious, non-megalomaniacal kind of way. They are also poly-lingual. Or at least they listen in all languages. And if they stop listening? Eat them.

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*This can be extremely liberating. I am particularly fond of flirting with the kioskeros, the young gentlemen who work at the 24-hour corner stores, selling cigarettes, candy and soda. There is zero risk of rejection; they always have to sell you your gatorade anyway.


Play of the day

Walking home today along the famous Calle Florida, I was handed but one promotional flyer. This is somewhat unusual as the street is always packed with folks flicking little advertising leafs in their hands and passing them, somewhat aggressively, to those that wander by. But today nobody handed me ads for tango shows, nor for restaurant deals. No; I received only one rectangular invitation to visit the “Show Para Mujeres: El Mejor Lugar Para Festejar Cumpleaños, Despedidas, Divorcios.” Pictured under the title is an extremely muscular, hairless Adonis, looking right at me with a sultry come-hither stare.  The fellow whose job it is to hand out these little gems literally walked across the street to shove it in my hands. Keep in mind I was absolutely not the only woman strolling past, nor even the woman closest to him. I guess I just have that ‘I’m the sort of lady who wants to (has to?) pay men to remove their garments’ type of face.

In order to spare you, my dear readers, from having the haunting visage of the previously described gentlemen seared into your memory forever, I have chosen instead to offer you a picture of Calle Florida in its glory days. While machismo was undoubtedly rampant during this epoch, I venture to opine that nobody would have run across a crowded street to offer me this particular suggestion as to how I might spend my money and my time.