Chimera Song Mosaic
Monday, March 17, 2008
Today I started working out in earnest. It's been a while, and I thought since I turn 34 tomorrow, I'd better be on the right track for my 34th year. After a good effort at the gym, I stopped by my favorite cafe, where I thought I'd have lunch. Instead, I succumbed to the typical Argentine breakfast of medialunas and coffee. This place, Viento Sur, often has the best medialunas--crispy, tender, buttery, and sweet--so I couldn't resist. And coffee.

A lady joined me at my table for four because there was nowhere else to sit. I had intended to write a poem, but I forgot my pen, so I read the newspaper instead, which never seems to be a waste of time because at the very least I am processing Spanish. I got more practice than I expected when the lady engaged me in conversation.

We talked longer than I had time for since I needed to go home and mop the floor. Barefoot 90% of my life, I can't stand for the floor to be dirty, and since our housekeeper, Margarita quit last week (she got a new job as a secretary), I had to get it done. As an aside, I hate cleaning the floor. My cleaning preferences are laundry (love it), bathrooms (they get so sparkly), kitchen (without dishes), vacuuming, dishes (bleh), dusting, and then sweeping and mopping. I didn't even know how to say broom in Spanish (Margarita taught me) when I first came here, so that shows you how intimate I am with the floor cleaning tools.

People don't really mop here; they use wet, soapy rags and push them around on the floor. To me, this doesn't seem very effective at getting the corners, so I was actually looking forward to getting that floor really clean for perhaps the first time. I did get the corners, but to my chagrin found that the floor itself was slightly less clean than it normally is. Point for Margarita! Plus she is just much more efficient than I am. (Especially if you consider that I am not actually using any energy at all when she cleans; I just convert my pesos into her work.) I'm lazy at the core.

Back to the lady at Viento Sur; I was surprised when she told me she was 71. She did not look it, much to both of our satisfaction. We talked for a long time, and one of her analogies sticks with me.

Maria Ofelia likens the married couple to a stage; outsiders don't see what goes on behind the scenes in preparation for the performance. Behind the curtain, there is shouting, fussing, orders being barked out, chairs moved from place to place, props situated. But to the outside world, once the curtain opens, all the audience sees is the "perfect couple."

Her analogy seems old fashioned (but then, she is, and so am I) but appealing; I contrast the concept of the couple who keeps their private life private to the ones who try to make each augment a public effort, audience participation included as each one attempts to align outsiders with her or his point of view. The later kind of couple is uncomfortable to be around and makes the outsider feel unhappy and on edge. I have belonged to both kind of couple, and I think subscribing to the private policy is much more satisfactory overall. Perhaps some institutions, like marriage, just don't need to be modernized because they aren't themselves modern in any sense of the word. (I don't argue for same sex marriages; please don't read me that way.) And I guess if you need an outsider's opinion, you can always bring in the objective view of a professional!

I'm confused about what I hope to accomplish with this blog. I'm writing about my life in Argentina in this post, but my other blog is about strictly that. This blogs has never been true to its origins, I guess, so I shouldn't worry. Maybe the distinction for me is that while that other blog has photos and tells mostly from that visual perspective, this one only contains text and is therefore chiefly dealing with thoughts.

Sunday, March 02, 2008
It's done: ___ _____ __ _______.
Sunday, December 09, 2007
Ooo . . . it's been a while. But I haven't been idle, no, no; I've been putting together a more-or-less-monthly mass email entitled This Month in Neuquén, which is what it sounds like. Soon I will transition over to a blog by the same title, so I don't have to send out (and those lucky ones won't have to bother receiving) the mass email. It has photos! It will be great. So I have been chronicling my time here (6 months so far), just not much has happened poetically.

Hold up: that is until a couple of months ago, when I re-started writing poetry in earnest. It's been going well, thanks; also I have been teaching/tutoring English one-on-one and to very small groups. I like it--much more than my old way of teaching twenty or so at a time. But it has cost my Spanish-learning. I was going strong, absorbing like crazy for three months or so, the first eight weeks were the best, total immersion, I entertained fantasies about giving up my native language forever and giving myself over to Spanish forever. I didn't know a single person in this city of half a million who spoke English (other than my husband), so if I wanted to talk (oh how I love to talk!), I had to speak Castilian.

So. That's the news. Plus I'm leaving Argentina this week; I'll be in Buenos Aires for a few days, then back in Houston. It costs me to leave Argentina. My house, my neighbors, my job, my friends, my work (writing), "my" streets and cafes, my garden and maybe most of all, my little puppy, Rygel (he's staying at "Boston Camp" in Buenos Aires for three weeks until Lance returns to Argentina at the cusp of the New Year). But now that Texas is near, I do miss it, too, and will glad to be back for a while. But not--I think--two months! I'll be staying for such a long time because I'm traveling to New York at the end of January for--perhaps you guessed it--AWP. That said, I'm keeping a list of books and poetry I'd like to get while I'm in the States:

AWP Buy List (subject to amendment):

Laurie Clements Lambeth, Veil and Burn
Laura Solórzano, Lip Wolf
Lara Glenum, Hounds of No
Aase Berg, Remain Land
Davis McCombs, Dismal Rock
PMS: Poem, Memoir, Story
Aufgabe #6 (Brazilian Poetry)
Conduit, issue 18 (on Film)
Court Green 5 (on Plath)
American Letters & Commentary, new (unless I still have a subscription)
Fence, new (subscription?)
Pool, new
W mags??? (what does this note mean, hmm???)

Obviously, I want more stuff, but I am seriously trying to limit the mental importation of modern American poetry since I now live elsewhere. Plus all that I physically import must go in a suitcase.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007
"[T]oday is Glenn Gould's birthday. Happy Birthday Glenn Gould!!!"
Thursday, June 21, 2007
I was teaching for the better part of this decade. I wonder when I'm going to stop having nightmares about it.

Bariloche was rad. I can't believe it expected to do something I hadn't done in ten years (skiing) and still be as good at it. I had to walk in my boots a long while, and they chaffed my ankles horribly. I knew it hurt when I did it, but I actually have red ridges in my skin in the pattern of my thick socks--one of them even bled! I know what it is, too. Rug burn! I haven't had rug burn since I was a kid. I have a vivid memory of being around five when I thought it would be a good idea to sled down the carpeted staircase at my parents' friend's house. I put my chest tight against a square of cardboard and then zoomed down, faster than I had imagined. Practically wore my nipples off.

It seems like I had something better to say.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007
It's snowing! Supposedly, it rarely snows in Neuquen, but it is today. I almost froze my butt off on my way to yoga this morning. Then again, how cold can I get in five minutes? I love where we live; everything is five minute's walk away. There is a park outside the apartment window with old evergreens and a gently sloping hill so that the interior is hidden from view. The top twigs of a Sycamore or a Gum tree hide our balcony. If I open all the shades, I feel like I am in a forest inside the apartment.

I was walking thorough the neighborhood last week, and I happened upon a center for Eastern philosophical studies, where they hold yoga classes. I signed right up. Five minutes away, we found a cute gym, and we joined that, too. To balance all this positive activity, there are at least four gelaterias within five minutes of the house, too. The best one is Cuore di Panna. The chocolate with nuts and the creamy white meringue with dulce de leche are heavenly! Then there's the ubiquitous (not that I'm complaining) Dulce Malvina. The self-titled ice cream, with chunks of crispy wafer cake, meringue, and dulce de leche is divine. We also have the one right across the park, which is owned by a guy who just spent three years in New York and who likes to practice his English on us (while giving us huge doses of his favorite ice creams).

Then there's my favorite grocery store, the petite yet bountiful Macedonia, where you can find all kinds of fresh veggies and fruits and meats. I can do all my shopping there, minus the big stuff, like washing detergent, and it's just to the side of the apartment. I'm going there now to grab some stuff for dinner and the final ingredients for my beet soup.

Since this weekend is a long one (Flag Day is on Monday), we might go out of town, probably to San Carlos de Bariloche. With this weather, the drive might be scary, but we are likely to get to ski!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Goodbye, Lars, today and every day after. Even though I knew you could not last forever, it is still sad that you are gone. Today you were just shy of your 15th birthday, quite an amazing feat for a Rottweiler, especially one who has negotiated such diseases as hypothyroidism, Addison's, and, most recently and finally, melanoma. You were such a splendid and sometimes overwhelming dog. Your zest for life was inspiring, considering you spent most of it as a canine geriatric.

I will miss your bark, your boof, your howl and tap. Even your pants and sighs. I can look at pictures to help me remember the shape and texture of your ears, your crusty paws, your nubby tail and deep eye furrow. But I don't have many recordings of your voice. I wish you could have heard mine while you died if it would have been some comfort to you. But I think you knew that above all, you were loved.

Good day, Big Dog.

June 22, 1992 - May 29, 2007

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