Wednesday, September 22, 2010

BA - Let him be god!

I am not sure what I'm refering too but I feel very inspired these days...
First of all thanks  to the Yanni's Concert, I feel muscially REJUVENATED!!!

Isn't his hair great!? Don't you want to touch it?
All the love! I have been listening to your music since I was a sevvie and almost a decade later I get to see the concert! No one actually has any idea la emoción con que yo cargaba, witnessing what has been flowing through my head for years to be realized on stage in front of my own eyes! And it's not just Yanni. It's Samvel Yervinyan with his magical fingers turning the existence of the violin from being the product of a purely European hegemony into a soul that weeps and sings from the shore of the melancholic Caspian Sea.

It was almost surreal when I you see your inspiration on stage. Well I have never really been to a concert of an artiste I was passionate about so I have never known the feeling. Now I do! Anyway, I appreciate BsAs for offering a ticket at such a good price, well although not the best seat, so that I could have this special night and stood outside for 2 hours and a half before the show to enter... It was all worth it. My life is partly complete! Don't you love it when your life is (partially) complete?!

Anyway as a side note, I was very inspired by the violin performance and decided that I couldn't stand this anymore and had to go to a violin shop to noodle(!) I found one on Sarmiento between Uruguay and something and, after a while looking clueless at the bunch, was offered to buy a cheapass violin that adds up to be about $80 with everything included. I wanted to say yes! Arrggg but errrr... Anyway I BROKE THE FUCKING E STRING. And was madly embarrased when everyone in the store was looking at me standing like a dumbass. Ok so followed by a lot of perdón but the owner was extremely nice and told me its all right and its very cheap! I didn't buy anything in the end (which added to the embarrassment)... I was bad but not insoportable.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

BA - Well some people do get off with B&W movie

So I feel I had the priviledge to come watch (free!) this movie La Strada within a week-long homage to Federico Fellini, the famous Italian director. I seriously enjoyed it although I never thought I would be able to stand B&W movie, not to mention in Italian, with 2 layers of subtitles in French and Spanish (the Spanish one was like almost transparent :|) Oh I have to mention I was sitting on the last row with people's heads in the way. Well the place was not actually meant to be a movie theatre anyway. My butt was killing me after sitting on the hand rest for a long while so that I could see the words.

Anyway, it is about a young girl who follows a wandering circus guy around to be his assistant, and all their encounters along the way. She was apparently not very clever but very sentimental in a childish and naive way, while the guy is a typical macho dude who didn't give a damn and acted violently. And I should say it had a sad ending. I was pretty sad at the end but the butt pain was more overwhelming so nothing happened. Also it is a good lesson, if you decide you go see a sad movie without people seeing your butt face, hurt yourself! Yea... 

It is a pretty OK day otherwise, I wrote a 4-page essay (single-spaced!) in 4 hours about PASSION including very metaphysical Aristotelistic views for my internship (in Spanish!) so I was beaming with pride afterwards, except that I think the overall quality was rather shitty. Bleh!! Tomorrow will be rather interesting since I will have an Graffiti Excursion throughout the barrios of Buenos Aires. FOR THREE HOURS! Hope it's nice outside! Because it's been shitty this week, save for today. Photos to come! 

Upcoming Highlights:
- YANNI CONCERT (this Friday) ...aaaaarrrrgggghhhh!!!
- FUERZA BRUTA (next Friday) ...woooooooooo!!!
- DAVID BISBAL (Sat. Oct 16) ...eeeeeeeeeeee!!!

-Rosario Trip (Oct 2-3), and 
-Mendoza Trip (probable, tentative, not sure,... yea you got the idea)
-Iguazu Trip (ditto...)

I heart Buenos Aires... :)

Monday, September 13, 2010

BA - ¡Es una bomba!

Well it means two things: or it is super good, or it is super bad...
I think it is one of the few words that rival "sick" in English. And it is basically what happens when you order PASTA and SUBMARINO together. For me it is not that strange. But people, woo... do they stare...! It's all good, I switched to a COCA instead... : (

So did I mention the Argentina vs. Spain match I went to... It was my first football match ever, and I'm from a live-football, sleep-football country Vietnam... For shame... Well it was really super-worth it!! I learned chants and for real will start randomly singing it from now on. And GO MESSI!!! (p.s. really hard to find Messi's umber 10 shirt for my brother after the match... Well not when he freaking scored the first goal and got the game all crazayyy...) ^___^ Good day anyway...

Sooooy argentino, es un sentimiento no puedo parar, 

Ole ole ole, ole ole ole OLA, 

Ole ole ole cada dia te quiero mas...

Apart from this huge event, life goes on, with a little twist everyday. Things are definitely getting pretty much busy, seems like I do not have enough time for anything! Plus my decision to have some orthodontic work done which takes a huge amount of my worrying mind, probably not even until the beginning of October... And money, ooooo dear money, how I want thy love today...

Oh yea, one hightlight this week was also the play "La omision de la familia Coleman" Excellent! I enjoyed every second of it and I was glad I understood pretty well the story line. It was a mixture of dark humor and tragedy. A story of a family who cannot stand each other and throughout the play seems like any minute the imbalance is going to break loose. The end was heart-breakingly cruel which was  It was really intense the way they interact, feels like they could have had a lynch mob at any moment. If you could seek out a ticket for this. GO WATCH IT NOW! One of the best of Argentine threater these years. And Lautaro Perotti (Marito) and Gonzalo Ruiz (Hernan) and is hmmm... quite Argentinely attractive.

Two last things that made the week complete were MEXICAN NIGHT with da peeps, and FERIA DE MATADEROS. After that, I seriously genuinely wish that I have my own place here. I would be the most awesome scenario everrrrr!!!! Party all dayyyyyyy!!!

And please weather!!! Keep yourself together... YOU SUCK THESE DAYS!!!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

BA - Self-frustration!

With such a horrible habit of not updating blogs regularly I miss out on interesting stuff that I want myself to remember. And not that anyone else reads this :D

Officially a month since I landed and the city feels right... Still endless in need of exploring but it is just so strange that I can never find the time. More specifically, I want to go back to where I found Pump It Up and do my stuff! I want to eat extravagantly everywhere I go! I want to go to wierd places! I want to meet more people! Truth is I feel sometimes I get so warpped up in "study" and hanging out with IFSA friends (and sleeping, and being neurotic about the future) that I forget to take advantage of the present, the very opportunity that brought me here against all unlikely odds. Yea I had that 15-min talk with host mom the other day when she asked me about the scholarship + the fact that I sleep a lot. I then realized how lucky I am to be here. And all I can think about all day is all the visas, all the homework, and taking advantage of low-cost medical assistance. All that! I need a resolution. And I have 3 more months to repent.

Well, I think the first step is to wake up at 9am everyday! Do stuff that matters (?)

Monday, September 6, 2010

BA - First Impression

So everyone, I am in Buenos Aires, Argentina, el culito of Latin America, in both senses. For real.

Actually that's just an old incurable joke. They do locate in a rather unexciting terrain with nothing but plains, and the river is kinda disgustingly brown-yellow (errmm...!), the people have the reputation of being the creidos of the Hispanic world... Well that's actually THREE senses of asshole for you. :|

Anyway why do I start out a blog like a whiney bitch? It's just because I want to sound more legit and objective later on when I express all the good (awesome/great/indescribable) things about it :D. So I had a rough summer battling in vain with the paperwork that never seemed to end, making ends meet and not freaking out like a psycho... I once thought I'm just afraid when I get here, the outcome will not be worth it. Or if magic happened I would forget what happened and move on like a happy unicorn... It turned out to be both so far... No, not to say I have things to regret ever! I simply feel like I'm more critical about my experience so I take very opportunity I get to explore, knowing how hard it was for me to get here. It 's been one of the most impacting months in my life studying abroad...while abroad.

OK back to business, a guy named Sergio picked me up from the airport. He was kind of the typical Argentine man I would imagine, especially with his coat and scarf! (Porteños luvvvv scarves, it they look hot, so... learn people!!!) It was a sunny day so I was glad with that first impression. I met my host mom, she was nice. THEN! I saw my room. It was THE smallest room one can ever live in (pictures soon)! Technically with the chair, it´s impossible to open the door. But I like enclosed space myself so it was not like shocking. I wish there were more floor space though. Anyway enough about my room. And enough about descriptive stuff. I can just upload pictures so no words called for. It's actually TOO hard to recall everything that happened during these 4 weeks. So let's do bullet points shall we

Food: I love Pizza here, mucccch cheesier than in any other place, even in cheap locales. Milanesa also can be my staple food for however long it takes so that my heart wouldn't stop. Parrilla abounds and Vinos always around! Cafe every corner, one should definitely try Submarino! (from Tienda de Cafe, or Foracci), so cheap and good!!!). For breakfast, a lot of toast, more coffee... It's basically comfort (food) zone! I love it so far :D I guess the most out-there Argentines go is Blood Sausage and Chinchulin. Besides these, there are good varieties around for alternative food, but none as prevalent, or as reasonably priced. Even Chinese food has a mild reputation of being more gourmet-ish, since they use seafood! Wonder how would Japanese food be considered... Royal meal maybe? :D After all Buenos Aires is no New York. But then again New York is sooo not Buenos Aires.

People: Following the same logical deduction that Italian men are worldwide-ly famous for there lover-ness, and a shitload of Portenos are of Italian descent, they can be then inferred to be pretty attractive as well. Well indeed, but not just innately within, they actaully dress themselves! On top of that, their hair is great lolz! America does not have this habit which is deplorable, since a lot go in their cars with less need to walk around, they can even be naked and buy through a drive-through. Here, self-image is obsessive (i.e. sometimes not good) Not to say they are all designer clothes, just a very good combination of items donned with a dark jacket, hat and scarf! Also, because the majority go by colectivo (like buses) with ridiculous crowding crisis, appearing/smelling nasty is just not... socially sound... for anyone in the vicinity. That said, there is a problem (informed by host mom who is on a diet) that girls are very very very pressured to be small since sizes for women clothes are limited! Ok, less superficial stuff, they are very nice and helpful and inquisitive! Well that's probably partially because they haven't seen that many chinito in Buenos Aires I guess but it's all good...

Language: Argentine Spanish... kicked my ass! I'm not talking about when the program professor talked to you, since they choose more universal/proper Spanish words, diminish elision, and less intonation... generally clearer modulation. Go to UBA to prepare to have your ass kicked listening to students talking to each other! Actually it's not tooooooo bad. I mean I survive so it must be containable. It does take a while to get used to vocab and grammar of Argentine Spanish, ... which I totally have decided to make it my default Spanish mode now :D Yea that's how much I like it, Che... :D
  • Vos, not Tú (informal you)
  • Heladera, not refrigerador nor nevera (fridge)
  • Embotellamiento, not atasco (traffic jam)
  • Manteca, not mantequilla (butter)
  • Quilombo, not lio (mess)
  • Hongos, not champinones (mushroom to eat, if said in Spain, they look at their feet and gross out)
  • Saco, not chaqueta (jacket)...

Anyway, so what to do here!? Walk! It's great! Well it will be better in summer because somedays (like today!) is extremely shitty to the max... There are parks of kinds, and people watching combined with too many cafes creating a good ambience. Food is cheap! Things are cheap! DRINKS are expensive (relatively to food) If you go to a restaurant with friends, you might be better of ordering bottle of wine to share or a huge beer 1ltr.! Much cheaper and better than like juices! It's kinda ridiculous. By the way it's worth mentioning that real orange juice is a luxury and nowhere to be found. Sooo.... WINE ALL THE WAY! Also what I love about Buenos Aires is the buses, oops, not buses, colectivos! They come every 5 minutes! maybe 2! Or even 1~! And they go everywhere, anytime 24/7/365! One amazing thing is that they all are private firms, being able to compile a system like this to support a huge city always on the move. Well unless there are strikes and demonstration which tend to happen in Argentina... everyday...! Well after all it's the capital of a country still struggling economically.

But why did I digress to that, I'm not sure. it's such a hard task to have a story line of everything that happened in an enticing way. Maybe the events can prove to be exciting themselves? Anyway, From since when I came till October, these are the big happenings!

Beauty and the Beast musical, Yanni Concert, Arg vs Spain football match, David Bisbal Concert, Rosario trip, and various concerts, movies and plays! Most free!! yay I love great/free shit...

I know this blog is all bunnies and rainbows and cute kitties (?) but things come in order. Not everything was all perfect, I notice them, I experience them but nothing to complain so far. Except for the fact that with the US visa expired, I have to find alternatives to stay around until Coopenhagen! And also being a Communist Country Citizen (CCC) I am pretty much can't go anywhere easily. I'm actually right now at this very moment, working on consular paperwork for FOUR different countries! FOUR DIFFERENT COUNTRIES + US later = FIVE! Please kill me... It is very stressful and the New York PTSD comes back very once in a while, I get neurotic and people ask me to chill the fuck down since I have 4 months left. Well FYI, I worked on the visa for ONE country for SEVEN months and I was still screwed with something very hard and rather sand-papery. So yea, I reserve all the rights to be a neurotic freak right now! These are all stressing me out! But in due time, hopefully...

Sorry, I promise next blog I'll talk about something more relevant like Politics, Religion, Justin Bieber and Twilight... jkkkk ^^

But seriously tho, the best has yet to come, so veremos!

New York - And to conclude

---------------Some pictures capturing some of my hi-lites--------------

Leaving NYC
Colors of the street

Japanese Indulgence

Fourth of July

Gay Pride Parade

Meee being happy that I exist!

New York - This insomniac city

(Created Aug 6, 2010)


The city that never sleeps is a pretty apt name for NYC. We may think, oh, it never sleeps cuz it's so fun, so many things to do! It's incredible... Well, partly that, but NYC can't sleep mostly because it cannot afford to sleep peacefully. It just cannot. New Yorkers have that jadedness embossed in their posture and every one of them has a secret and pain of life waiting to be shared. The city is almost tired.

South Seaport - Brooklyn, Manhattan,
and Willy-B Bridges 
So the new budget kicked in. I could feel the impact because I was working in the public sector. All day long people were talking about what-ifs, what if they got laid off, what if this and that. Meanwhile, work is piling up and people just don't have the will to finish it anymore. I mean seriously, who would have the energy to solve other people's problems while their own livelihood is being threatened. I guess that was probably why they hired sooooo many interns because most don't have financial interests. But the workload + inexperience drive things even crazier... Anyway, one time I was randomly talking to a woman (ex police officer) on the subway (I know I broke the No.1 unwritten rule of NYC!) and apparently she was being coerced to quit without unemployment benefits because she was seeing her dying mother in Colombia for a few weeks. Those are some ways the city is trimming on their budget, including eliminating Transit service which bugged the hell out of me. But I can adapt fast. I feel bad for tourists who were holding on to travel guides with the old subway/bus map and they got lost on the M train... I know it was for the sake of efficiency in this city of 8 millions not counting the suburbs, but for a city this size it is really taking a toll on the residents and employees alike, esp. public employees.

Back at the restaurant, it has been a drowsy month due to the World Cup (people go to bars, not restaurants) but it was OK. Since we had so much more free time talking shit, we talked about everyone's lives and stuff. The past, the war, anti-communism, whatever... it has been a struggled for everyone. We are all immigrants trying to earn a living, a very very harsh living. However, I feel like people here haven't caught on to the study abroad waves. They called us COCC (con ông cháu cha - relatives of communist officials) because for them that was the only way to go abroad... I did not justify or defend myself because I know their pain of a bloody past cannot be changed within a blink of the eyes. Moreover, it might seem like a tight-knit community but behind it all, they talk about how the other people are being fake, and that in the States they are no such things as self-less motives... Maybe I'm not in the community long enough to see that but the perception of a utilitarian society has seeped so deeply into the community, creating distrust and doubt... It is always on alert mode...

I still can't imagine living in New York City peacefully. Even when I was just a temporary, I had so much difficulty in everything, from work to money to accommodation to people... keeping me on edge most of the time. So many things happened... Not exactly for any specific reason. I'm contagiously insomniac.

However, the beauty of the city is also exactly that, its disturbances, its 5-hour energy drink effect... It is an amazing place, to find yourself, to find passion, and to feel like you own the world... Concerts, free stuff, pretty parks and beautiful people keep things interesting... And that accent, that very New York-y accent that I've come to endear a little bit more. It sounds rougher, but full of characters and warmth. I mimicked it sometimes too when I talked to people. I guess it must have sounded pretty weird. Anyway, the moment I realized how mundane New York City is, it was also the moment when I had fully immersed myself. I started asking why would people come to New York? (The same question for Saigon also) But nonetheless it always felt good to be able to show visitors what I knew about the city, I mean not like a local expert but maybe with a wider scope of perspectives (?) Such as... everyone should know not all the best stuff is in Manhattan... There are absolutely no good Thai places in Manhattan with a decent price... It's just one example...

I don't know where I'm gonna end up in the future but I am definitely gonna miss NYC. Living here is not an option, it'd better be a sleepless passion...

New York - Chinatown, Vinatown, let'em all in

(Created August 6, 2010)

It has not been an easy 2 months and a half that I planned it to be.

First thing first, the internship was pretty messy for me, most because I didn't even have a permanent space. There were just so many interns. Also I was kinda tired of people not being considerate that we were trying to help them, not being against them, getting shouted at all the time. So I just dodged the phone whenever I could, and just stuck with land use projects instead... It does confirm my love for urban planning and land use; and New York has been a great land of examples. But I just wish we had done more of that than solving misc. cases. And that we had received more instructions and professional trainings regarding these land-use thinggies... After all this, I wish to intern in the City Planning Commission or Dept. of City Planning in the future... I liked my co-interns, talking shit and eating in the park. Although we planned to walk the Brooklyn Bridge together for lunch but that was never realized... Guess we're lucky it wasn't. I had to end the internship early because of visa procedure complications (that are worth a whole blog to extrapolate)...

At the restaurant, it's a whole other story. I think I was born to serve (!?) I was kind of addicted to it, probably because people are nice to you on a general plane, and you can actually interact civilly (:D) Also probably because I didn't have to work 6 days a week, 12 hours a day like full-time people. I was planning on helping out only 2 weekend days but ended up with 3 -4 days per week (12 hours a day) and that was sooooo tiring for me considering I also have the internship on weekdays. Sleep was rare. But every day that I go to work, I'm excited because I get to eat familiar food and talk to people. Almost everyday, I had the chance to practice Spanish in preparation and that was convenient. They were kinda mystified I think that a random chinito speaks Spanish in Chinatown but that helps with the tips I guess. Also after dealing with so many Spanish-speaking people I feel more accessible to interact with Latinos than Spaniards. Some Spaniards I met were extremely warm (from Sevilla, Barcelona, Zaragoza) but 2 times I served Madrilenos, they were kinda indifferent... I was bummed because before all this I loved studying abroad in Madrid and almost went out of my way to petition for a program. Glad I did not get it. Not to say I hate the place... I would LOVE to go to Madrid one day... 

Xe Lua - Cheesy but very distinct,
unlike many in Chinatown
The boss also hired 2 new sis to be waitresses so I became a flexible worker which is fine with me. They were very nice and fun. One sings all day long and the other is so small and easy to talk to! :D I started working fewer days since then. Since we see each other 12 hours a day on workdays we get used to each other pretty fast. One sis invited me to her bf's bday party and I got to know a lot of interesting people, like the manager of Hotel Carter. The meal was at South Seaport where you could observe the three bridges at night. It was marvelous... One of her friends was even kind enough to let me stay over for a few days since I moved out of the apartment involuntarily as worst case scenario due to the visa shenanigan. I'm glad I met them. (Again the visa thing will make this blog explode with anger and frustration so I'll save it)

PS about the bosses: they were interesting characters in and of themselves.

Tom from Public Advocate is a ballsy type of person who doesn't act his age. Indeed he has a vibrant personality with a weird sense of humor, plus swearing a lot, which was the best ice-breaker of all. Not to be creepy to comment on his appearance but he is very fit, guess because he bikes to work a lot. And it is to die for when he dresses up for meetings and stuff... Hmmm... However he has weird ways of conducting interns things and it gets so confusing. Apart from that, he is a very smart person, definitely enticing to get to know...

Danny from Xe Lua is even more quirky. He's Cantonese, born speaking bits of Vietnamese in the US. Amazingly smart person with entrepreneurship. He's short but very fit and active. He runs the restaurant with his girlfriend and his ex-wife comes every so often with his kids and stuff. For me it would be weird. He came up with ridiculous rules for employees like each person one soda can per day; everyone not just the server must be going around asking customers how things are (which in my case would be considered extremely annoying) Of course no one really did it, but just for the record. However after hearing stories how he revamped the place from dilapidated to hip and younger, I kinda admire him... It makes me want to open a restaurant when I'm more established. Who's with me???

New York - While the train roars by

(Created June 4, 2010)

Departure is always strange, both in feelings and in tangible terms. I packed my life within a two-hour notice, into about 6 boxes, knowing vaguely what I am giving up and I am welcoming into my life. Because, departure means sacrifice, and that sacrifice includes numerous miscellaneous items I was painfully leaving behind, El Negrito included T_T

New York, New York.

Or actually, Newark, New Jersey received me (and Honey) with great fanfare and confetti (and by that I mean the usual rumbling and the littering of the place), marking the very end of our school year together, full of stories, emotions, ... and of course lots of code-names. It was not until I sat alone on the Queens-bound train that I realized ... This is going to be a long year ahead... Shit

Anyway, fast-forwarding... Got an internship, got a job, got chances to explore the city. And about 3 weeks have passed. More and more, I am falling in love... I love the parks and squares. I love the commute with food on my hand. I love the walk to lunch. I love the impatient (but also eye-candily) people. I love the screeching trains outside my window. I love the ghetto-ass market close-by. I love free concerts at Juiliard. I love the people I work with. I love my shitty-paying job.
My 9 to 5
And I love my boss!!... professionally that is :)! He technically threw us into the tasks with little instruction and we figured things out ourselves, dealing with agencies, learning a lot along the way. I'm pretty confident by the time I finish this thing, I will be more or less adept of navigating the NYC bureaucracy pretty well. And he's just a ballsy type of person with a weird sense of humor (calling me "Duder" :-P)... 
I also like that with this job, I get to help out going to different parts of the city that I might never ever think of, including conferences and townhall meetings. So far, we've been to a collapsed building site in Staten Island, and a massive strike in Co-op City... Working under Bill de Blasio, sometimes I'm just surprised how accidentally political my tasks can evolve, which is totally not my thing. But I guess it's something to learn. After all, the only things that ultimately survive weapons of mass destruction are cockroaches and governments (citations needed)... You can't play against them, play with them. 
The other job is OK. I'm just happy I got it after literally wandering around NY everyday after work for more than a week asking desperately everywhere. I'm also glad I get to eat Viet food now, speak my language, have an intense Canto-course(!), and meet new people (tourists FTW!). Sucky thing is it's an all-day all-weekend job... But good trade-off so far I think, I got Friday off tho.

Anyway, I think I've been doing well adapting myself. I feel like I own the place, I am in charge of my movement...(thanks to Metrocard) Whenever I want esp after work every day, I can just chill and people-watch in Bryant Park or Union Square with my cup of coffee and a good book, since it does not turn dark until 8 or so. Now that's life... It's frée!!! Strolling around Whole Food takeout bar and sample everything until you're full, and then ask for cup of ice so that you can get free milk from Starbucks have definitely aided me alot in keeping my budget for food! Loooove big city where anonymity abounds!!!

Since June is approaching, there are going to be even more festivity and humidity. So, get excited!

Serenity in Central Park