Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Miércoles: Garments and Gradual Grumpaliciousness

I kind of want a pair...but imagine that print in pastels and on a dress. AGH.

School week diary, day three:

9:30 Alarm goes off. I begin my bad romance with the snooze button.

10:15 Rise. Have a “big breakfast” of cereal, crackers, and an apple. Listen to Kate Nash and Adele (I woke up feeling like a sassy Brit, I guess) as I get ready for the day.

11:30 Leave the house, hop on the colectivo. I work on memorizing lines as I go.

12:00 Meet Robyn for lunch downtown. It’s been a while and we have stories to exchange. I’ve been craving ñoccis, and it’s the 29th – the day of ñoccis! – so I couldn’t resist ordering some.

13:00 Robyn and I walk a few blocks to get to our private acting workshop (we’re spoiled) that we have each week with Marisa, whom I’ve mentioned before – she’s basically our mom, although she’s not that much older than us. She graduated from the theater program at USal a few years ago and is now busy working in the Buenos Aires theater scene, in addition to running around with the two of us making sure USal is nice to us.

We’re working on monologs and spend a lot of time focusing on full involvement and consciousness of the voice and body. (I’m translating directly from Spanish again, sounds a little weird...) I had a great time acting today – I feel like I can really be expressive with the language now, and it feels lovely. I wish we could have the workshop every day!

15:00 Time for our dramatic theory seminar with Jorge Dubatti! (As I said, we are SPOILED) The classroom is just two doors down, so I grab a quick two-peso cafecito from the vending machine. Delicious!

Dubatti is a delight. Today we talked about Ricardo Bartís,* one of the most highly acclaimed theater directors in Buenos Aires. Dubatti had an interview with him recently, which I attended. His lecture today focused on logically synthesizing Bartís’s ideas, which were a little all-over-the-place in the interview, although fascinating nonetheless. I think that today, I finally convinced Dubatti that I understand Spanish. He thinks I should move here. I don’t completely disagree.

16:00 Class ends. Robyn had to peace out early because she’s been feeling sick :( Thus, all alone, I decide to wander a bit and do some shopping. Spring fashions have now hit the stores.

My most devoted reader (my mother) recently suggested that I write a post about fashion in Buenos Aires. I plan to write said post in the near future, but I’ll give you all a sneak peak now: if I see another floral print, I think I might just puke. There’s also lots of lace going on. And PASTELS. It’s shocking and quite nauseating. Usually, the reason I get frustrated while shopping here is because I don’t fit into the clothes. (They have four sizes for women, and a lot of stores only have the smaller two in stock. Like that store from “Mean Girls”!!! Then there are special stores for “gordas” and “super-gordas.”) But today, I went to a total of seven or eight different stores, and didn’t find ONE THING that I wanted to try on. Sad. At least I’ll save some money...until, of course, I head back to the U.S. and become overwhelmed by the bounty of beautiful things I want. I’m dreaming of H&M and Anthropologie!

16:45 Discouraged, I go to Havanna for a cup of tea. I accidentally order café con leche and medialunas. Oops. I do some reading for class – the chapter, fittingly, is about consumerism.

18:00 I board the colectivo to go home. I should have taken the subte, the traffic was awful!

19:00 I get off a few blocks early in the interest of my physical and mental health. I go into a few more clothing stores. I want to scream at the very, very ugly things I see. I glance in a mirror; I’m looking rough. I head home for real.

I arrive home. I eat apples and granola. I watch “Friends” on tv. Cintia has returned from Mar del Plata, and she gets her friend on the phone whose son wrote and directed an award-winning play that’s still running in the city – she passes the phone to me and I get a theater contact! Exciting.

20:15 I write most of this blog entry because I have nothing better to do and I don’t want to infect the world with my grumpalicious mood that I caught from the awful clothes and stop-and-start bus ride.

20:45 Brief bout of illness. Blegh. At least I know I don’t have yellow fever.

21:15 I sit in the kitchen sipping water. Cintia takes this as a sign that I want to be fed and serves me a plate of chicken and squash that she had prepared earlier. It’s delicious! I eat while she does other things, then sit with her while she eats her dinner. Conversation includes teenage pregnancies. Leticia puts in her two cents from time to time by shouting from the next room, where she is busy with architecture assignments.

22:00 I write the rest of this entry. My arm itches. I want to take a shower.

22:30 Showertime.

22:45 While finishing my shower, I realize that "Para vestir santos," my favorite Argentine show, is on in 15 minutes! Grumpy mood fades. I watch the show. It is excellent.

Well, there you have my miércoles. These things just keep getting longer and longer. Tomorrow should prove to be more interesting, as I’ll be starting my weekend. Stay tuned!



P.S. I should note that there are tons of very well-dressed Argentines, and that I have found clothes that I like here. Just not today. To see some interesting alternative styles, check out

*Bartís is the director of “El box,” which you may remember I did not like in the least. Nevertheless, his ideas are interesting...and Dubatti’s sending us to see the play again! Apparently it’s gone through huge changes since I saw it a month and a half ago. We’ll see.

Word of the day: ruso/a –adj. Blond. (lit. Russian. Huh.)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Martes: Rain, shine, being alive

School week diary, day two:

7:30 Miraculously wake up despite having set my alarm to the wrong time. Get up, decide to wear my ugh-it’s-Tuesday outfit (maximum comfort and messy hair coverage), get ready to go. Have a delightful mug of tea and a couple of tostadas (toast.)

8:15 Get on the subte. It’s not as hideously claustrophobic as it usually is at this hour. I close my eyes and focus on the movement of the train. It’s amazing what you can appreciate if you become conscious of it: the steady forward motion, the breeze that comes in through the windows as the train pulls into each station.

8:45 Get off the subte. Notice the torrential rain that has begun to pour from the sky. Brace myself to hate it, to complain about it once I’m inside...but then decide to try to enjoy it for once. I have no umbrella. I get soaked on my way to class. I feel alive! It feels amazing. I can’t stop smiling.

9:00 Spanish language class begins. There’s just a few of us, and the professor, Cruz, is great – very smart and sharply funny. She’s an actress, and as such, full of expression and energy. I’ve learned a lot from her grammar-wise (oh, grammar) and I love talking with her about theater. In class today, we read, we write, we talk, we get off track.

10:15 Ten-minute break. Zoé and I have our usual water-cooler chat. Patricio, my academic advisor, knows all of the details of my personal life by now, whether he likes it or not – his desk is right there.

Class continues. More of the same. I make use of the multiple dictionaries I carry around with me (one Spanish-English and one Spanish-Spanish) and we start reading our second book.

12:00 Class ends. Jimmy and I go in search of food that won’t kill us. We run into his friends Jamie and Ashley, and the four of us end up at California Burrito...something. CBC, in any case. The burritos are yummy! 80% of the customers are tall, smiling blond people. 10% are tall, unsmiling blond people. I creep around the latter 10% to see if I’ve finally found the only other Finns in Argentina. Sadly, the search is still going.

We have some lovely lunch conversations about siblings and insects, but the SAME SONG has been playing on repeat since we got to the restaurant, so we need to peace out for our own sanity.

I buy myself an alfajor for dessert, get back on the subte, get back to Caballito (my ’hood) pretty quick. I pick up my laundry on my way home. (Continuity from yesterday!) Now I have clean clothes. Hooray!

I bum around, take a shower. Coming out of the bathroom, I see light shining through the living room windows – it has stopped raining and is now a beautiful day! In keeping with my Conexión Creativa way of life, I decide to meditate and do breathing exercises in the sun for a bit. It feels wonderful. Almost as good as an orange massage – well, not quite, but in any case, I’m feeling very Zen and one with the Universe.

I write a few pages in my journal, in Spanish as always. I’ve been writing in Spanish for five weeks now, it helps a lot!

17:30 I go to Disco (the supermarket down the street) to buy apples and granola. I come home and eat apples and granola.

18:30 I skype with my dear Hilary Tandy for a good long while and watch the sunset through her Vassar dorm-room window. Lovely!

20:15 The apples and granola haven’t held me over – I cave in and eat an early dinner of leftovers. Tomorrow, Catalina comes to cook, I’m excited to dine on her creations for the rest of the week!

20:45 Start writing this entry. It’s still super early, but it’s been an early kind of day.

All in all, a very tranqui Tuesday. Lots of lovely inner moments and eurekas. A surprising number of words came out of this day!

Off to do some homework (it does exist, I swear.) Stay tuned for Wednesday!

Besos y abrazos :)


Word of the day: tranqui – adj. Calm. Short for “tranquilo/a.” Used a lot to describe positive moods. Kind of like “chill.”

Monday, September 27, 2010

Lunes: Oranges and Articulations

School week diary, day one:

9:25 Alarm goes off. I hit the snooze button a lot. Get out of bed, get dressed, etc. Eat a little breakfast. Bring laundry to laundry place down the block, owned by a friendly middle-aged Japanese couple. Hop on the subte, travel less than 10 minutes to school.

11:00 Conexión Creativa. We “share.” We dance around and shake each other’s hair out. We give full-body massages using oranges – this is DIVINE and I want to start and end and spend every day doing this. We end class by talking about the experience of the orange massage, what images appeared to us while we were being massaged, etc.

Buy a piece of tarta from a panadería around the block (I live off of tarta). Sit in the lobby of the building reading my book and chatting with classmates passing through.

14:30 Voz y Canto. We warm up our voices and practice the ridiculous duet we’ve been learning, then move on to the monologs – Romeo and Juliet in Spanish. I perform the monolog in front of the class for the first time since reading it out loud on the first day. Since then I’ve memorized it and worked hard – they were impressed! It was a nice feeling. The professor points out that I articulate better because I’m still learning the language, and tells the rest of the class to listen to me as an example. Heh heh. Gold star on my forehead...but for real, it’s nice to (a) see the results of my efforts and (b) have an advantage, for once, as a yanqui* in a class full of native speakers. Some of the girls talk to me at the end about how much my Spanish has improved – they’re shocked! Progress √

16:20 Peace out. Buy some candy from a kiosco and catch the subte home.

Chill at home for a bit, facebook e-mail blog yada yada while the cat takes a nap on my bed.

18:30 Take the colectivo downtown to la escuela de espectadores (“spectators’ school” for theater-goers). Listen to Dubatti, my fave, interview the director of Estado de ira, which I really really wanna see. I haven’t been to the theater in SO LONG!

21:00 Class ends. I get to chat with Robyn for a second, who’s back from a wild weekend in Mendoza and needs to recover. And then she needs to tell me all about it. I peace out on the colectivo and read on the way home.

21:45 Arrive home, super hungry. Host sis and her friend are studying hard. I heat up some dinner, eat, realize how boring my blog post is going to be. And now here I am, writing it.

It was really a lovely lunes! The weather is nice and both classes were great. I’m also realizing how lucky I am to be surrounded by crazy theater people all the time, it’s really wonderful. I’ve got love for non-theater-types, too, of course, but school is so much more fun when it’s a nuthouse.

Tomorrow you get my Tuesday.



Word of the day: yanqui - n. or adj. Person from the United States. Comes from the English word "yankee," but is pronounced JAHN-kee.

Coming Up: Una Semana Porteña

Check out that etymology!

Queridos lectores,

I've been here for ten splendid weeks and have almost thirteen left! As I said recently, time is moving at a beautiful speed. I feel very much in the middle, at a turning point, in a transition not the most comfortable feeling in the world, but it's positive nonetheless. Coincidentally, Winter is turning to Spring here - oh, come on, EMBRACE THE METAPHOR.

To complement this change that is occurring in my being, I want to try changing a few external things, as well. I'm trying to eat fewer empanadas, for example, and I'm thinking about cutting my hair. I also want to mix it up on the blog. If you have any suggestions, please let me know!!

The first thing that came to mind when trying to come up with something snazzy to blog about was really quite simple and ordinary: posting a diary of sorts for a week. I mostly end up writing about my weekend life, but four out of seven days (Fridays off hehe) I am IN CLASS. It's a pretty cool set up. And sometimes, ridiculous things happen that you all might get a kick out of. SO I'm gonna write my week this week, Monday - Thursday. THRILLING! No, for real I'm excited, I promise to make it good.

In conclusion: stay tuned to follow me step by step for the next few days, and if you have any blogging ideas for me, COMMENT or send me an e-mail :)

Also coming soon: I'll be in Rosario next weekend with IFSA. I'm excited, I've heard it's a beautiful city! I'll make sure to obtain a camera by then so I can share with you all another piece of Argentina outside Bs As.

Thanks for reading!


Word of the day: morfar - vb. To eat. (ex: "Morfé como una bestia" = "I ate like a beast." A useful phrase in my life!)

Friday, September 24, 2010

"Ala de Criados"

I saw this play a couple of weeks ago, I think I've been procrastinating writing about it because I LOVED IT in such a way that I don't really know what to say. It just really made me want to make some theater RIGHT NOW. I...I...I really can't form a coherent sentence about this. Acting! Absurdity! Truth! The "ugly-hot" aesthetic!!

After seeing the show, I got to attend an interview with the writer, who also directed the show. I took notes like a beast. Here are some things he said that stuck with me (sorry if the translations are awkward) :

1) The idea of the director as a creator of discourses that draw from the text, but don't necessarily exist innately within it. The actor, too, is a creator of discourses. In this sense, everyone involved in the creation of the work is a "playwright."
2) The contemporary notion of realizing a play is more than just placing a text in a space. The text has one meaning which is then joined with a multitude of others, creating something entirely new.
3) The casting process: looking for actors who manifest the characters in a way you hadn't imagined before (like looking at the sky and seeing a cloud transform into a dog, he said!)
4) You shouldn't commit to one existing technique, rather learn them all and use what works for you (he said he's read everything Stanislavki ever wrote and only ended up keeping about three pages for his personal use, but it was worth it for those three pages)
5) The ideal actor works in two "energies": TRUTH and POETRY. That is to say that the character belongs at once to the real world and to the autonomous world of the play.

Okay, that's enough pretention for now! More to come at some point, I'm sure ;)

"Yo amo a mi maestra normal"

I'm behind on reviews...but I'll keep these next ones short.

Two Thursdays back, IFSA advisors Daniel and Patricio took Robyn and I to see this one man show - or should I say one woman show? I'm not sure which is correct in this context. Juan Pablo Geretto, immaculately made up and sporting an amusing skirt-suit and heels, performed the entire piece solo. The character: an obnoxious, passive-aggressive, insufferable - and yet, somehow lovable - elementary school teacher.

About 80% of the audience was comprised of female schoolteachers who found the whole thing hysterical. In terms of reaching its target audience, SUCCESS. I liked it okay, but it mostly just made me want to see some more stand-up. I wonder if there's an Argentine equivalent to Margaret Cho...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

La belleza de Iguazú: amigas y arcos iris

All right, dear readers, it’s story time! This is going to be a long one, complete with lots of photos from Gwen’s camera. I’m excited! Are you?
Once upon a Thursday, Emma, Gwen and I embarked on an epic journey to Iguazú Falls. Here’s a little map so you can locate it:

(pretend this is the map at the beginning of the storybook)

To get from the star in the middle to that little triangle up in the right-hand corner, we traveled seventeen hours by bus. That may sound like a nightmare, but in fact, dear readers, it was a delight! We chose a bus with super-camas (full beds), so we were super comfy, and we were served wine, tea, and coffee (and food that we didn’t eat*) multiple times during the journey. We were also given the option of champagne or whiskey before bed – odd?
Anyway, we felt like we were on a spaceship/in a Harry Potter book/at a slumber party. Pretty ideal, if I do say so myself. Looking out the window, I got to see a lot of the beautiful and bizarre landscape and rural life, which was really interesting after months of city streets.
Here’s Emma getting used to the comforts of super-cama before we even pulled out of the station:

Wow, this is going to be a long blogpost. ANYWAY. We arrived in Puerto Iguazú on Friday around noon. We observed that the town was cute and that we liked the color of the dirt. Our hostel was only a few blocks from the bus station, so we quickly got to satisfy our urges to brush our teeth and change into shorts – while Buenos Aires is just on the brink of what I would consider springtime weather, it’s already quite hot on sunny days in Iguazú!
We found out we’d be sharing a room with three girls from Barcelona, who were nice and had fun accents and interesting hairstyles. We spent the rest of Friday relaxing. Here’s a shot of Emma and me playing unenthused mothers while Gwen splashed around in the pool:

And one of Gwen and Emma befriending the pack of dogs that lives in the hostel:

That evening, we played Scrabble in Spanish, which was shockingly not that much harder than Scrabble in English, and somehow a lot more fun.

WOW this is gonna be a long blogpost. ANYWAY...
Saturday morning, we geared up to go explore the Falls! We felt like Dora the Explorer (we later decided, however, that we were more like the Wild Thornberries – Gwen = Eliza, Emma = Nigel, Isa = Darwin – and that we needed to find a Donnie to complete the gang).

Once we arrived at the park, we made arrangements to start the Gran Aventura we’d selected. This started with a short safari-style tour through the forest. Already beautiful! We took some pictures, learned about some wildlife, and found our Donnie: a young businessman from Germany dressed entirely in bright blue who was traveling by himself and didn’t speak a word of Spanish. Success!

At the end of the safari, we went down some stairs and Donnie snapped this photo of the three of us:
Next, we got on a boat like this:

As you can see, it’s headed for the falls! We were about to get soaked, and I was about to get very scared, in a fun way. Here’s us preparing for our fate:

The boat went over some rapids and then right next to the stream of the waterfall, soaking us completely and freaking me out – at a couple of points, all I could see was white water rushing around me! It is, of course, very safe and touristy, but an adrenaline rush nonetheless.
We parted from Donnie for a moment, and got some Argentines to take this post-waterfall-shower picture of us:

Here come the waterfall photos! First, a view from the boat:
A little further up, we made use of Donnie’s photo expertise once more (he also got us to take and re-take a bunch of pictures of him looking manly in a German way – shoulders stiff, thumbs up, subtle smile - these are obviously on Donnie's camera, thus not in my possession)

Here’s us at the top. DISBELIEF!

That’s about it for the waterfall pictures I’m posting here...many more available on facebook! I should, however, post a pic of a coatíe. They’re these adorable little pests that we met while stopped for tea. They may look innocent, but they have the claws and the SKILLS necessary to, for example, leap up on the table and steal Gwen’s bag of chips. It was impressive.

Saturday evening, we ate out at a cool restaurant whose walls were covered in chalk-messages from customers from all over the world. We were all extremely hungry, especially Emma, who had somehow managed to fast for Yom Kippur all day. We ate a bunch, and when we got back to the hostel, we had some wine and played some more Scrabble. That night was barbecue night, so we sat down with the staff, a French couple, las chicas españolas, two porteñas, and a Japanese guy who has been traveling all around Argentina by bus – semi-cama, not super-cama – and communicated with us using an electronic Japanese-English translator. Rough for him!
(On a brief economic note: to give you a sense of the cost of this living situation, I got two nights, two breakfasts, a fourth-meal [couldn’t resist the barbecue], plus wi-fi, use of the pool, and air-conditioning in the room all for 100 pesos. That’s about 25 U.S. dollars. Score!)
We had half of Sunday to enjoy the town and use our legs a bit before boarding the bus for another seventeen-hour stretch home. While Saturday had been gorgeous, Sunday was a bit rainy and chilly, but still not bad. We wandered into a store selling hand-woven goods and chatted for quite a while with the owners. Unlike porteños, people working in Puerto Iguazú are used to a constant stream of tourists who don’t speak any Spanish at all. They were pleasantly surprised at our ability to carry on the conversation, and I was pleased to feel that we exceeded expectations :)
The weather started to clear up as we headed back to the hostel to gather our things, and we noticed some flowers we wanted to check out. “Let’s be like our moms and admire the horticulture,” Gwen suggested. And so we did, and here’s some of what we got:

Last but not least, we got a group portrait with las chicas españolas and the Japanese guy. A great photographic finish.

Our bus arrived in Buenos Aires at 9:15 Monday morning. I had to get to class by 10:30 – Conexión Creativa, no less. My life. I went home, washed up, and made it on time. And we all lived happily ever after!
The End.
Word of the day: po** – verb. I fight for my country.
*We brought our own empanadas and pears, fyi. I suggest you do the same, bus food is kind of sad.
**Disclaimer: this is definitely not a real word. But you should use it anyway.

¡Fumáte el examen!

Word of the day SUPER BONUS EDITION:

Midterms are coming up here in Bs As, so I thought it would be helpful to include some phrases my host sister taught me regarding exams.

If you did well/it was easy:
"Me fumé el examen." - lit. "I smoked the test."
"Lo di de taquito." - lit. (ish) "I took it like a taquito."
"Era una pelotudez." - lit. "It was stupid (with testicular connotations)."

If you did poorly:
"Me cogieron." - anybody using this will know what it means, I'm keeping my blog PG13.


Reflection at 40%

Before I create my epic Iguazú entry and update my play reviews, I want to post THIS to continue with the monthly refection idea. (Look! the "main ideas" are in bold! how convenient)

So here's what's in my head on the first day of Spring in Buenos Aires:

Time is moving at a beautiful speed. So much has happened in the past two months: I've had lots of adventures, but more than that, I've essentially created a life here. So often in life I feel myself panicking about time, about it flying by before I can fill it up, but right now, I feel like five months will be perfect.

My last reflection focused mostly on the language. I think that at this point, (a) I've gotten used to being foreign and (b) my Spanish-speaking has improved to the point that my attitude has shifted considerably. I'm also actively trying not to be too hard on myself, a goal which has been proposed by many and the progress of which is being closely monitored by one Miss Robyn Davies - shout out :) To sum up, the language and I are pretty much besties.

Overall, I just feel so incredibly lucky to be here and to be doing what I'm doing. I've been having a lot of "life is SWEET" moments lately: traveling by swanky night-bus with my Vassar chicas; attending an exclusive interview with Mauricio Kartún, Argentine playwright-director superstar; and of course, getting to see play after play, usually not having to pay anything at all. Most recently, I felt lucky just sitting here in the lovely living room with the cat, drinking tea and listening to the National while reviewing verb tenses. (Please judge me so much for that whole sentence, it was totally worth it.)

To conclude...
Having been here for two months, I don't feel like I'm on vacation anymore: this is real life (well, the JYA version, but life nonetheless), and I prefer it that way. True Life: I live in Argentina! I miss my peeps in the States and will be so happy to return to you all, but I can't say I'm homesick. I'm excited for the three months ahead and ready for what they'll bring, some of which I know (loads more theater, warm weather, turning twenty-one, a visit from the fam) but most of which I can't yet predict. Bring it on, Bs As.

That's all for now, I believe. Stay tuned for breathtaking waterfall shots and comical night-bus experiences. As always, thanks for reading, I really appreciate it :)

With love and uncharacteristic fierceness,
y con besos y abrazos,


Sunday, September 12, 2010

"Fuerza Bruta"

I believe that my exact words after exiting this performance were, "What a great way to die!" Those of you who know me well at all know that I'm not a particularly morbid person. I just say "weird stuff" a lot, most of which comes from an honest place. The IFSA people I was with were a little creeped out, but I really meant it - the feeling I got from experiencing this performance is pretty close to what I would hope to feel in my final moments on Earth.

I'm not even going to attempt to describe what "Fuerza Bruta" is. You just have to see it. I purposefully picked a picture that doesn't nearly do it justice so as not to give it away.

Having been here for nearly two months (eek!) I can hardly consider myself enough of an expert on the city to say obnoxious things like "this is a must-see in Buenos Aires," but having been on this planet for nearly twenty-one years ("eek" for some of you reading this), I feel fairly qualified to say that seeing Fuerza Bruta is a very unique, powerful, entertaining experience, and you should go if you can! It didn't change my life or anything, but it made me feel pretty amazing, and it definitely made my creative mind spin with new ideas.

Check it out:

The Roxy

Last Friday, I went with some USal friends to a boliche that merits a review! I might even want to go back, which is not something I’ve really felt about a boliche yet. Listen to me: “I’ve never felt this way before!”

The Roxy was really fun. There are two huge rooms, one with pop music and the other with rock, both an interesting mix with some indie-eque stuff. A live band played a set in the rock room at one point – mostly covers of Nirvana, etc. – and they were really good! This also generated a mosh pit. My very first mosh pit! It was fun. I didn’t die. One situation in which my comparatively impressive stature is a definite plus!

The pop room was a sea of people – I literally felt like I was swimming at certain points – but they played Katy Perry and MGMT (you know you’d love it too), and we danced like fools, so it was fun.

Never in my life have I thought I’d be saying this, but if you don’t mind crowds and want to mosh, go here. The main attraction for me is the music, and the bathrooms are almost comically gross, but I had a time!*

*I’m not missing a word. “I had a time” was a perfectly acceptable expression until the 1950s or so. I still use it. Please adopt it! I love it.**

**More ridiculous and basically unnecessary asterisks! These are for you, Sko :)

"La Bella y La Bestia"

Last Saturday, Jamie and I went to see the Argentine version of Broadway’s “Beauty and the Beast.” It was FABULOUS. It’s been ages since I last saw the movie, but it used to be one of my favorites. The music is truly beautiful – I’d forgotten much of it, but hearing it again made me realize I how deep an impression music makes, especially when we're little. It's always amazing to feel so close to my four-year-old self, to realize that she's not gone :)

As for the production, I have little to say, I enjoyed it so. The actors were incredibly talented, and they looked like they were having so much fun. I wanted to be up there! So did a little girl sitting near us - she was dressed to the nines in polka-dots and pink converse and danced along to all of the upbeat numbers. A kindred spirit for sure.

Here’s the movie in Spanish, if you get the urge:

Conexión Creativa

Based on my blog content, one might assume that I actually live in a theater, with occasional trips to boliches and super swanky McDonald’s. But I actually spend a fair amount of my time in classrooms. You know, learning stuff and whatnot.

So I thought I’d do something new and spotlight one of my classes on el blog (I call this “el blog” when speaking in Spanish. With a Spanish "o". I take Spanglish very seriously).

I start my Mondays with Conexión Creativa (translation: – you guessed it – Creative Connection) at USal’s School of Dramatic Arts. I wasn’t originally enrolled in the class, but decided to give it a try during shopping period, and now it’s safe to say I’m in love.

I’ve been exposed to some pretty hippie-dippie stuff in my life. Progressive schools, organic food, folk music, etc. I know what WOOFing is and hope to give it a try some day. Gender-neutral bathrooms don’t faze me in the least. I went to Prometheus Camp in Finland where we skinny-dipped and made meditative sculptures that represented our personal idea of what “time” is, for Pete’s sake.

Hey, this is a fun list! I could keep going, but in the interest of your sanity, dear readers, I’ll stop and get to the point. Conexión Creativa is an extremely hippie-dippie, touchy-feely, find-your-spirit-animal-and-become-a-vegan kind of “class.” I say “class” entre comillas because it’s really more like having art therapy sessions once a week with a group of thirty of your peers. In fact, it is exactly that. And each time I go, the more convinced I am that every theater student – if not every artist/person ever – should have this as part of their training/life.

The professor is a small woman in her late 50s with a constant, genuine smile and a powerful, mellow voice. She says things like, “You are a flower with four petals. Beautiful energy emanates from your center, from the bellybutton.” (Except in Spanish, of course – I’m learning to speak hippie in Spanish, it’s nice!) She has a team of mostly silent, extremely chill people who come with her and make the magic happen. It's pretty ridiculous, but also wonderful.

I’m finding it hard to explain what happens in this class. We do a lot of different things. We chat. We listen to earthy music. We close our eyes. We move. We paint. We play like children. Last time we were each handed a lump of clay and were supposed to transfer our body heat to it, then march outside with it with our eyes half-closed to bask in the sun and sculpt.

I can imagine more than one person rolling their eyes at this. “This is your CLASS?” You ask with disbelief and mild to moderate distaste. “You’re getting CREDIT for this?”

I understand why you might feel that way, but I assure you, as pre-kindergarten as it may sound, Conexión Creativa is hard work. Somewhere between the tickling, the shouting, and the clay-pounding, this class really gets to people. It’s all about going deeper, accessing something we’re not allowed to access most of the time, discovering truths about yourself you had no idea existed. “Confronting the beast,” says the professor. So far, at least five or six people have cried each session – last week, I was the first! There’s nothing like tearing and snotting (that should be a word) in front of thirty people you hardly know. At the very least, now they know I'm human, and I think everyone speaks the universal language of unintelligible sobs equally well.


Hello lovely readers,

It's been over a week since I last posted, and I wanted to take a moment to assure you that my blog is not dead! I've just been busy, I suppose. Also, my camera broke (someone stepped on it. POOP), which puts a damper on things. But here's a quick list of things to look forward to:

• reflection at 40% (agh!)
• loads more plays (surprise, surprise)
• some memorable boliche moments (i.e. your faves)
• epic journey to the waterfalls of Iguazú (next weekend!)

So more of the same, really, with some new adventures. Así es la vida.
Much love and thanks for reading!!



Word of the day: el alfajor - n. A delicious packaged dessert involving two or three layers of cookie with something delicious in between, usually coated in chocolate. I ate one for breakfast this morning, it was a good decision. (Here's a picture - the one I ate today was way more intense, though)

Friday, September 3, 2010

la famosa boina roja

After all of that heavy play-reviewing and philosophizing, I think it's about time I show you some silly photoboothings of me and my new red beret. No surprises: It is very red. It is very much a beret. It makes me feel mischievous and brings out the whites of my eyes :)


Word of the day: el bondi - n. Bus. I started using this word instead of "colectivo" because (a) it makes me feel super cool and porteña and (b) it is shorter, and thus easier to text. Fascinating, eh?

“Playa Bonita” (and a PC rant)

Last Sunday, I went to see the final performance of “Playa Bonita,” a comedia musical for kids. The cast included two first-year girls from USal who invited me to come see it.

I won’t lie: I enjoyed myself immensely, possibly even more than the two-to-six-year-olds that made up the rest of the audience. The cast had an unbelievable amount of energy and talent, and everything was colorful, exaggerated, and ridiculous.

There were a few scenes that made Alli and I, progressive New England liberal arts college students that we are, nudge each other and exchange horrified looks. Another page in my book “Political Correctness: Buenos Aires vs. Vassar.”

In a cast of ten, there was only one male actor, and there were entire songs (yes, more than one) about how all of the women lose their minds over him, turn on each other in pursuit of him, and need him to teach them to do things like swim and assemble lawn chairs. Not exactly what I would want my daughter – or son, for that matter – to see and learn from.

There was also a song and dance – an albeit entertaining, well-danced, well-sung number – about the Chinese Mafia, featuring Mulan-style warrior hats and phrases in fake Mandarin. Once again, SO NOT OKAY in the States. When I’ve attempted to breach the subject of racism here, I’ve heard the explanation that this country was built by Catholics (i.e. party people), while my country was built by Puritans (i.e. a bunch of squares). While I don’t advocate for rigid political correctness, I still think it’s wrong to encourage kids to do things like imitate r-less accents for fun (which happened in this show). I should also add that the Puritans were not exactly the most politically correct people ever to grace the Earth – the world would be quite different if they had been! And Thanksgiving would be a lot less ironic!

I could go on, but I’ll try to cut this tangent short for your sake, dear readers. For now, I’ll end with this quote, which I find appropriate:

“Well, call me a purist, but I don’t think cheese should be crunchy.”

(Bonus points to anyone who can identify the source!)



P.S. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject of political correctness, political correctness abroad, etc. If your collegiate brains aren’t yet completely exhausted by the subject.


To be perfectly honest:




I saw this last Saturday and am still recovering. At least now I know what the inside of Hell looks like. And I’ll gladly share this image with you! Ready?

A pianist. A pendulum. Clowns. Clowns humping things. Clowns humping each other. Clowns humping the FLOOR, for Pete’s sake. Add a group of ten-year-old boys behind me, kicking my chair, making fart-noises, laughing hysterically. I think a small part of me died while watching this “play.”

I’ll say no more, there really isn’t much more I can bear to write on the subject. It was a painful two hours. No, this play was not a short one.

If I gained one thing from “Tempo,” it was a deepened understanding of the differences between the U.S. and Argentina when it comes to attitudes toward sex, sexuality, and censorship. Any North-American parent would have had their kid out of there after the first joke, but the Argentine families in the audience seemed fine with it. The performance was not my cup of tea, but I do find it disturbing that sexual images are censored more heavily in the U.S. than violent ones. Seeing this show confirmed in my mind just how different things could be.

But cultural understanding aside, NO. WHY. AGH.

"Kalvkött, carne de ternera"

I saw this play almost two weeks ago, so my memory of it is a little rusty, but I’ll write a little review nonetheless. In short, I liked the play, but pretty much hated the production.

The story takes place in Sweden and Argentina in the 1970s, exploring the relationship of a young Swedish man and a young Argentine woman who fall in love (presumably – that part is more or less implied) and proceed to get married and all that jazz. I was psyched to see a show about language barriers and cultural differences, and especially pleased that the show featured Scandanavia.

Given the script, the production could have been much better. The male lead was good, convincingly Swedish in both manner and accent. The young female lead, on the other hand, took every opportunity to diva it up, resulting in some comedic and disturbing moments that were supposed to just be, well, normal. To quote one of the Argentines I went with: “Even Isa could tell that actress sucked, and this isn’t her first language!”

This production also made use of “everyone’s fave new theatrical device” : projections. For the most part, these were tolerable, sometimes even interesting, but there was one scene in which María (played by the aforementioned diva extraordinaire) danced around ‘emotively’ while brightly colored patterns à la Kid Pix were projected onto the wall behind her. As my father would say, gross me out with a spoon.


Here goes the first of four play reviews I’ve been putting off!

“Fabulario” is an original piece put on by Gwen’s host sister’s theater group. It’s a collection of Aesop’s fables with a porteño twist – lots of lunfardo and humor. It was great language practice, because I was already familiar with the stories, so the new words stuck with me instead of just going over my head.

I honestly don’t have much to say! No witty complaints, because they did a great job. It made me want to be in a show. Seeing all these plays fills me with a sensation best described as unrequited love.