Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Hace un año

On this day last year, Julia and I were running around New York City taking care of last minute errands and seeing friends before boarding a plane the next morning to make our pipe dream of an idea to move to Buenos Aires, Argentina a reality. One year later, that pipe dream is still thriving, self-sustaining, and better than ever. I can't begin to explain how amazing this year has been, although the blog does a good job of recounting our comings, goings, and musings. For some of you, our only contact has been through this blog, by email, gchat, or the occasional Skype date. Others I've had the pleasure of seeing either in the United States or in Argentina, even if during the former I was under the influence of extreme exhaustion and delectable North American micro-brews, however expansive they may have been (15 dollars for a 6-pack of Magic Hat? Come on, New York City, let's be real). So for the bulk of you, I'd like to list the five biggest changes in my life in descending order since our plane took off before the sun rose on October 7, 2008, besides the fact that I live in Buenos Aires. Some of these have been documented, others will make their premier today, but all of them stem from the fact that I live where I live. Here we go.

1. I live with my girlfriend.

This fact, above all, is the biggest change since I moved to Buenos Aires. Without ever having lived together in the States, we took a huge leap of faith and decided to move-in together...in South America. Without jobs. Without a home. Without friends. Moving in with your significant other is a big step no matter where you are, but doing so in a foreign country requires an extraordinary amount of faith and trust in one another, and we've been handsomely rewarded. It hasn't always been easy, but we've worked through the growing pains of living with each other. The vast, vast majority of my friends are living with other friends or by themselves, with a small number living with a boyfriend or girlfriend. Before moving back home in July 2008, I was in the same boat. Now? I happily live with my girlfriend. I've endured some friendly goading of when people should be expecting our wedding invitations (The answer? Don't hold your breath.) and part of me definitely misses having more time to myself, but I wouldn't change a thing.

2. I have more hair on my head and face.

Some of you saw me back in March when my hair was reasonably long, before I cleaned it up for the Bat Mitzvah. A few months ago, I wrote a post about how long hair distinguished veteran expats from the newbies. Now? It's so long that if I comb it straight down my head looks like Cousin It - the front reaches my chin and the back tickles my upper back. My hair is so long that, for the first time in my life, I've had to consistently brush it because I cannot go to work with my shaggy mop of a hair-do. I don't resort to the headband or bandanna nearly as much as in previous times, mostly because I can't find Julia's bandanna, so the combing is also necessary for keeping hair our of my eyes. It will be difficult to defend keeping my hair so long as the temperature raises faster than Argentinian inflation, but I will so my best.

Likewise, I had not shaved since March, preferring to trim my beard every few weeks instead of consistently shaving. Part of it is that I absolutely hate shaving. I have sensitive skin and it hurts. Plus, I get razor burn. I'm also pretty lazy when it comes to facial hair, so only having to deal with it every few weeks is very attractive. Also, facial hair is very much in-style in Argentina, so it makes me look porteño. So why did I finally shave? The boys and I are taking part in a mustache growing contest, which is progressing better than I could have ever imagined. The current participants are Me, PJ, Alex, Willie, and Nick, although the latter has yet to prove his commitment to the cause since he's been in Nicaragua for the past week. The gentleman who grows the best mustache of the course of the month (ending October 20) wins mucho respeto and probably a few Quilmes. Beyond the allure of respect and cheap beer, I think it's incredibly entertaining and actually laugh whenever I catch myself in the mirror. And as Alex has put it, once you get over the fact you have a mustache, it's great fun having one. This may give way to an era in which I experiment more with styles of facial hair. Here I submit my progress, and it will be probably be the only time I utilize the Photo Booth feature on my new computer (an honorable mention). Notice the finally brushed hair and how big my face looks, as well.

Scary, huh?

3. I don't play basketball anymore.
I thought about how I should title this section and decided this one instead of "I play Ultimate Frisbee" because, to me, the fact that I have played basketball twice in the past year is much more surprising than the fact I play Ultimate Frisbee. I lived and breathed basketball for four years of high school. I played regularly at GW. It's something I love doing and at which I excel(ed). It obviously never defined who I was as a person, but it was a big part of me for 10-plus years. And I truly believe, as I have told people, that even though I love playing Ultimate here, I will most likely ditch it and go back to basketball when I get back to the States. I probably would not have believed you if you had told me last year that I would have stopped playing in Argentina, but the fact of the matter is I have. Personally, if this were a list ranking the most surprising developments in my life over the past year, I would rank not playing basketball at the top.

4. Appreciation for the United States
Maybe less so now that Obama is President, but in the past decade or so it has become in-vogue to bash the United States, not matter where you're from. Some expats said they had to leave the States because "it sucks", or something like that, probably stemming from a dislike of George W. Bush. I, too, did not care for George W. Bush, but would never say that the United States "sucks" because of this fact and definitely did not move away from the US because I thought it "sucked". What's more, upon moving here many Argentines were none too hesitant about expressing their distaste for my country, which I initially chuckled at but more and more started to resent for two reasons: one, they were expressing inaccurate and grossly exaggerated generalizations (i.e. George W. Bush was worse than Hitler, that most people from the States are ignorant and arrogant, etc), while putting the US on a pedestal (I still get people who ask me why I would want to live here instead of the United States). Secondly, I didn't know these people and found it to be pretty rude that they would go on unprovoked rants about the country their visitor is from.

Without a doubt, the United States has negative characteristics, some of which, such as the lack of universal health care and the may be easier to see from the outside looking in. It definitely is home to more than a few raving idiots, and a few arrogant ignoramuses, just like any other place in the world. But it also has many positive aspects that I took for granted and have come to appreciate after being gone for so long. Again, it's not perfect, but it's got a lot going for it. I know that was a pretty pithy statement.

5. One word: Manzi.
Similar to not playing basketball, I would just as likely not have believed you if you'd told me that through some strange set of circumstances we'd basically inherit a pint-sized, rambunctious fur-ball of a dog. It's pretty unbelievable. It's also been amazing to watch her grow and mature. She's still a little stupid, but bit-by-bit she's getting better. Who knows what will happen with her when we decide to leave this wonderful place, but either way it's been an incredible learning experience and reminds us we are not totally ready to have a pet, especially one that needs a lot of attention.

Honorable Mention: I'm absolutely sure I want to go to law school...provided I did well on the LSATs.
I came down here unsure of what I would do when I got back, leaning towards throwing myself back into the studying/application process after I returned. Instead, after some self-searching, I decided to do it here with the intention of going back to go to law school. Furthermore, I'm pretty sure that I want to study human rights law, whereas before I was teetering between that and environmental law. But all of this is subject to change, of course. The where and the when, mostly the former, hinges on my LSAT score. I really, really hope I did well. I felt good afterward, but that doesn't guarantee anything. It felt weird that after completing the test I received a great deal of "congratulations", since if I get a crap score then there is nothing to congratulate. Plus, if my score did not improve by very much, it would severely limit my choices and could call into question pricey investment of time and money. But I did appreciate the well wishes upon completing a lengthy and, at times, very stressful process. I will receive my scores via email later this month, after which the real adventure will begin: applying, which implies leaving Argentina. But not yet.

In closing, I'd like to thank you all for following and supporting our crazy journey down here and hope you stick around to see what's in store for us in the future - there's so much more for us to see, do, and recount to you all. (For example, this weekend we will venture to the province of Córdoba and play a Frisbee tournament in its capital of the same name. Gotta love three-day weekends!) Writing the blog has been a worthwhile experience in and of itself, giving me hope that if law school doesn't work out maybe I could go into something related to writing. Keep the comments coming, we love reading them. And most of all, a big fat thank you and many hugs and kisses to readers and non-readers alike who have helped make this year so memorable here in Buenos Aires. We have been very fortunate to meet a lot of fantastic people from all over the world doing all sorts of different things. Definitivamente no lo hubiera pasado así sin ustedes, se lo juro. Besos a todos. (It definitely would not have have been the same without you all, I assure you. Kisses to everyone.)


Austin said...


Reading your blog is the closest thing I have to keeping my memories of Buenos Aires fresh and real, and I'm so proud of your progress with all those five points, especially living with Julia, being an frisbee stud, and one point that you didn't mention but that I'm sure is very important to you, that your spanish has probably improved beyond your wildest dreams and is a source of much personal pride and growth for you.

As long as you will write, I will read!

Felicitaciones boludo.

Ann Behar said...

I can't believe it's been a year! So much has happened! And while I still haven't gotten used to the two of you living in another hemisphere, I do enjoy the blog.

Lauren Weintraub said...

I can't believe it's been a year either!(well I kind of can because I miss you guys so much and just want to spend some more time with you already!) I always love reading the blog and will continue to be a fan...hope the LSATs turn out ok and a visit is in store I promise! Hopefully sooner than later..see you both on skype!
love you and miss you

Megan Overbey said...

Congrats on FINISHING the LSATs - it must be a huge weight off your shoulders! Can't wait to see where you guys end up next.

Good luck with the mustache!

Patrick said...

you are so sexy