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.


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