Saturday, March 29, 2008

Combing out feelings

Somehow I felt a bit more at ease now that I have identified my problem and fear. New age people always preach about the “laws of attraction” and the fact that our fears will always come true. I suppose there is a difference with admitting your fears and ignoring them in a dark closet. Until I bring them to the light I can’t manage them with logic or rationality. Some how it’s easier to have identified my struggles and make small conscious modifications than to change unconsciously and at the same time fight those changes on a subconscious level. If you think that sentence sounded confusing you should see what’s inside my head.

We all know about the tree scenario: trees that bend in the wind always outlive the ones that doesn’t. You see this is where my Chinese-ness came in. I was first introduced to that idea in 9th grade, two years after I moved to the US. When Mr. Cook, my AP European History teacher, showed the pictures of trees in a forest on the overhead in the class I was the only person who thought you were suppose to be the tree that stood straight in the wind. Everyone else have obviously already being exposed to the correct idea. It’s rather ironic since I’m from what you would think a communism country where unconformity is put out like a forest fire. For some reason I thought the tree was suppose to take a heroic stand to resist the wind. Maybe communism had brainwashed me with an illogical sense of martyrdom from watching war films where heroes die for their country like the tragédie lyrique of Lully that shows the classic struggle between love and duty. But that’s not the point. It only took me less than two seconds to conform to the rest of the class in order to save the embarrassment.

Anyways, to make the earlier statement clearer, I’m the tree that bends in the wind but didn’t want to. Now that I have come to term with the fact that bending is inevitable I can manage to give in consciously just enough to avoid the breaking point instead of bending unknowingly and unwillingly and fight that unconsciously all at the same time. At least there’s a bit less angst.

Friday, March 28, 2008

A Night at Déjà vu

It's nine o'clock on a Friday night
The regular crowd shuffles in
There's an old man sitting next to me
Makin' love to his tonic and gin

He says, "Son, can you play me a memory
I'm not really sure how it goes
But it's sad and it's sweet and I knew it complete
When I wore a younger man's clothes."

Sing us a song, you're the piano man
Sing us a song tonight
Well, we're all in the mood for a melody
And you've got us all feelin' alright

Now John at the bar is a friend of mine
He gets me my drinks for free
And he's quick with a joke and he'll light up your smoke
But there's some place that he'd rather be
He says, "Bill, I believe this is killing me."
As the smile ran away from his face
"Well I'm sure that I could be a movie star
If I could get out of this place"

Now Paul is a real estate novelist
Who never had time for a wife
And he's talkin' with Davy, who's still in the Navy
And probably will be for life

And the waitress is practicing politics
As the businessman slowly gets stoned
Yes, they're sharing a drink they call loneliness
But it's better than drinkin' alone

sing us a song you're the piano man
sing us a song tonight
well we're all in the mood for a melody
and you got us all feeling alright

It's a pretty good crowd for a Friday night
And the manager gives me a smile
'Cause he knows that it's me they've been comin' to see
To forget about life for a while
And the piano, it sounds like a carnival
And the microphone smells like a beer
And they sit at the bar and put bread in my jar
And say, "Man, what are you doin' here?"

- "Piano Man" by Billy Joel

Thursday, March 27, 2008

It’s me not Vegas

Come to think of it I have never hated a place with more passion than here, but why? There are so many reasons scattered around but for the longest time I couldn’t quite pin point down exactly what it is that bothered me so much about this place. What started up as a simple dislike or different preference in taste has turned into a deep resentment, annoyance and repulsion. It’s dry here and I miss tress but surely that can’t be enough reason to hate a place. The city is packed with fake, ignorant, pretentious people and the casinos are the quintessential archetype of decadence and debauchery. But I try to disassociate myself from those people and never steps my feet into a casino. Then I realized something today: it’s me not Vegas. While the few reasons listed about are valid, nothing disturbed me more than the way it made me feel. Never have I felt the impact of an environment more pronounced than when I’m in Vegas. People say that we’re the product of our environment and with enough confidence or even arrogance I for some reason thought I was slightly above that. I thought I had the brain and will to steer my own course, independent from outside influences. I was wrong. I have to be honest with myself and come to term with the fact that Vegas does have an affect on me and I hate the person I am becoming. I have to admit that all things change with enough weathering the only difference is time. While I might be a tough stone, I’m no diamond, even I change when I’m here. I can easily think of two obvious examples of this change.

1: I’ve been driving the same car for almost three years now. When I first got it I felt embarrassed to drive it to school and be seen by students and professors. I was a 22 years old student with no career and no rich parents. I had no business driving that car around. My humbleness made me feel guilty. However, that changes when I’m here. There are plenty of young drivers here with the latest model of sport cars and SUV but no careers or education. I fitted right in and I even felt reassured driving around UNLV campus.

2: When I’m outside of work I never think about getting breast implants. But after being exposed to the kind of working environment for four and half years I’ve never felt the urge to alter my appearance as strong as I do here. Fake people are ubiquitous in Vegas, not just in the clubs. Fake tan, fake boobs, face left, nose jobs…there are even more modifications and add-ons for their showy automobiles.

Surely you will tell me that I don’t have to change if I don’t want to. And I won’t. But it doesn’t change the fact that it’s a constant upstream battle. There is something called peer pressure. Vegas is bigger than me; I’m not bigger than it. Sooner or later it will consume me. People don’t like to admit to the fact that they have less control than they think. Ask anyone here and they will tell you in one way or another that they have stayed true to themselves by disassociating from the rest. But like it or not we all change.

A 19-year-old boy from a humble middle class family can come here and make a load of cash with no education. After a little while the boy who has always driven an old hand-me-down from grandma is going to go to the dealer and get the latest Hummer even though the gas price is soaring through the roof. That doesn’t make him a bad person and there is no problem with driving a Hummer. I would get one too if I could afford it. But we have to come to term with the fact that changes occur within and only occasionally manifest in our actions, big or small.

I can fool other people but I can’t fool myself. I’m changing and I hate the person I’m becoming. Fake boobs are the least of my worries. There is an alteration in my sense of reality, attitude and value. It is irrefutable that our sense of reality is shaped by our environment. The standard of normalcy changes constantly as we are exposed to different surroundings. In Buenos Aires it was normal for me to wait for the bus for an hour. In Vegas it’s normal to tip the valet guy a $20 or pay for a $13 diet coke and tip the waitress $17. I could go about my daily routines exactly the same way I have been for years and make no adjustment to what I do but something is changing inside and it’s getting ugly. I don’t want to become one of them, whatever that means. I must be honest and have the courage to admit to my weakness. I can disassociate but I can’t pretend not see. Nothing is worth gambling for when my heart and character is on the line.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Tea with Catherine

Vegas is a bit more tolerable place with Catherine here. It was nice to reconnect with her this afternoon over tea and Havanna pastries I brought from the duty-free shop. She understands. It's nice to be understood.


Here I am again, drinking a grande mocha at Starbucks on Rainbow. Nothing changed except me, maybe just a little. Like veterans of war and astronauts coming back from space, there is always a very difficult period of readjustment for returning from BA. The reverse shellshock is inevitably more intolerable than going away because it’s a reality that I no longer have the option to escape from. Something drastic happened just before I left BA. Even I was shocked and that never happens with me. Now I my mind is flooded with emotions like too many ingredients in a soup, no one can be singled out from the rest. But from time to time I fantasize, just a little, secretively. What if my life really is a fairytale?

Monday, March 24, 2008


As we drove by Libertador and 9 de Julio memories flashed before me in reverse like in the movie “The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.” I didn’t know if I wanted to remember or forget.

Tears fell as I waited in line to pass through customs but once I boarded the plane I was distracted by James, an American-born Chinese who grew up in LA and now works in Taiwan but didn’t speak much Chinese. James came to BA to meet suppliers for fish feed for his company and had lomo for a week straight. That is often the common occurrence for foreign visitors in Argentina. As for myself, I was more of a bife de chorizo kind of gal. But that’s all behind us now as we became transfixed by the little touch screen TV monitors in front of us full of the latest movies and music.

I fell asleep some where over the southern hemisphere and woke up above Cuba. I saw the hook of Key West and the State of Florida. Then breakfast came and I fell sick to my stomach at the sight of James’s croissant. I didn’t bother to open mine. We’re indeed 5000 miles away from Argentina. For the first time I didn’t want the plane to land. As long as I’m suspended in the sky I am in no country, no time zone. Everything freezes even though we’re moving at 462 miles per hour. When those land gears touch down I will be back to reality again, the things I tried so hard to escape from. At least now I know heaven to hell is only one plane ride away.

I Try

"Games, changes and fears
When will they go from here
When will they stop
I believe that fate has brought us here
And we should be together, babe
But we're not
I play it off, but I'm dreaming of you
I'll keep my cool, but I'm feigning

I try to say goodbye and I choke
Try to walk away and I stumble
Though I try to hide it, it's clear
My world crumbles when you are not near
Goodbye and I choke
I try to walk away and I stumble
Though I try to hide it, it's clear
My world crumbles when you are not near

I may appear to be free
But I'm just a prisoner of your love
And I may seem all right and smile when you leave
But my smiles are just a front
Just a front, hey
I play it off, but I'm dreaming of you
I'll keep my cool, but I'm feigning

I try to say goodbye and I choke
Try to walk away and I stumble
Though I try to hide it, it's clear
My world crumbles when you are not near
Goodbye and I choke
I try to walk away and I stumble
Though I try to hide it, it's clear
My world crumbles when you are not near
Here is my confession
May I be your possession
Boy, I need your touch
Your love kisses and such
With all my might I try
But this I can't deny

I play it off, but I'm dreaming of you
(but I'm dreaming of you babe)
I'll keep my cool, but I'm feigning

I try to say goodbye and I choke (yeah)
Try to walk away and I stumble
Though I try to hide, it's clear
My world crumbles when you are not near
(when you are not near aahh)
Goodbye and I choke (yeah, yeah, yeah)
I try to walk away and I stumble (hey, hey, hey)
Though I try to hide it, it's clear (sick of love)
My world crumbles when you are not near."

- Macy Gray

Sunday, March 23, 2008


The last days of summer are coming to an end. The leaves are turning and my dark bruises are healing. Sometimes finality is something I have to cook up on my own: a pinch of sadness and a whole lot of gratitude. I’m content. I know I have done everything I’ve wanted to do here. I’ve said everything I wanted to say. I left no stones unturned. I could always stay longer but that’s not the point. I lived here and I fell in love here. None of this would have happened without you. I’m thankful for the beautiful city and the people of Buenos Aires but I’m also thankful for you who supported me every step of the way. You shared my joy when I was happy, you comforted me when I was sad and you encouraged me when I was doubtful. Now I have to get ready for a new adventure. Come along with me. I can’t guarantee more reports of delicious food and crowded milongas but I hope there will always be passion.

Closing books

As part of my obsession with recording things. I've carefully documented my daily spending since I arrived here in November. In total, I've sent $5000 in the last 126 days for this trip. $2170 on rent, $1000 for eating out. I went to 35 milongas and 7 classes for $424 pesos. That's 8 milongas a month or 2 a week on average. You could hardly call that an obsession. My other expenses in the US included car payment, student loan, auto insurance, storage fee, and phone bill. The total for the last four months is $2600 which brings the grand total including airfares to $9000. In addition I have eaten 8 lbs of ice cream from Volta and god knows how many lbs of beef.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Easter Weekend

It’s a long weekend here. Some people get Thursday, Friday and Monday off from work. I made the mistake of inviting Loren to go to Tigre with me for one more boat ride on the delta. It was a disaster because all the Portenos had the exact same idea so the place was completely mobbed. We walked to the Port de Fruitas and bought tickets for a boat ride. Loren read my GMAT review book while I ate a chriopan next to the river. After seeing how packed the boats are and how increasingly impatient Loren has become I suggested we return the tickets and go home early. I managed to sell the tickets to another couple and we got onto bus 60 for a long ride home. The afternoon was sunny and warm, a bit too warm. We didn’t want to wait for another crowded train ride so we hopped onto the 60 even thought it would taken at least twice the time. I stock my head outside the window to feel the wind in my face and watch the side streets with old cobble stone. The weather changed drastically on the way back first with strong winds, dark clouds and then finally heavy rain. By the time we got back into the city the temperature has dropped dramatically and we were freezing in the cold rain. I knew it was almost impossible to get a taxi in a time like this but luckily it only took us 5 minutes. Loren had originally planned to relax on the white couch in front of the TV, instead, she came back cold, tired, hungry and exhausted from doing nothing. This is clearly the last adventure for the two of us together. We had a good laugh about it though.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Last Tango in Salon Canning

Salon Canning is the first milonga I’ve ever been to in Buenos Aires. It all happened on Feb. 2nd2007. I distinctively remember landing in EZE a year ago on a very warm summer day. I knew nothing about the city. I was a complete stranger here. When I checked into my room on Corrientes y Junin I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Later that night I arrived at Canning around 10pm for a class and stayed for the milonga. Thanks for Gary’s yellow fever, he invited me to dance and later introduced me to my now soul mate, Rose. The three of us went to La Viruta together and when it was all said and done I went on an impromptu 3-hour city tour on a taxi with Miguel, who I ran into two other times that month. It’s almost unheard of to see the same taxi driver here twice, not to mention three separate times. Maggie is convinced that I must have some kind of talent for meeting the same people on multiple occasions. This past weekend for example, I saw the same bus driver on three consecutive days at different locations on the 64.

This could be my very last milonga at Salon Canning. I don’t like to think it that way. I’m just trying to enjoy my time here like I’ve been doing for the last four months. I haven’t gone to Canning for a while now because the huge crowd has made it impossible to dance. When I talked to Gary this morning I found out that the CITA performance was also tonight and much of the festival crowd is going to be at Practica X instead. If the forecast is correct I’ll not only be able to hear Los Reyes del Tango play but also dance a tanda or two without being side swiped by another boleo.

I started the night with dinner at Arturito on San Luis y Jean Jaure, which is quickly becoming my most favorite restaurant in all of Buenos Aires. I love everything about this place: the food, the neighborhood atmosphere and the playful waiters. Tonight I was in the mood for raviolis with Bolognese sauce. This is by far the best meat sauce I’ve ever had in my life. After I force fed myself a gigantic bowl of raviolis I thought I was going to fall over and die. It didn’t help that I had two entries for lunch at Status, chaufa and ceviche! Yes, I admit that I have a food problem. The waiter tried to pressure me into ordering dessert. Pero no puedo comer mas! Somebody please roll me out of the restaurant!

I took my time to get to Canning on the 140 and got in just after 11when the milonga started. Little did I know this was going to be one of the best nights of dancing ever! As soon as I changed my shoes I recognized a French guy from Saturday night at Maipu. I knew he was a very good dancer even though we’ve never danced. I smiled at him and tilted my head slightly towards the dance floor to accept his invitation. He felt even better than I’d imagined: fluid, secure, confident and sensitive. I felt protected in his white textured cotton shirt as if I was surrounded by a soft cocoon. It was sensual with respect and calmness. I felt completely comfortable, safe and free. When we danced again I closed my eyes and for the first time I surrendered. My brain went into deep sleep like a baby. We were relaxed. Everything became clear. Everything became natural. This is exactly how I want to feel when I fall in love. And for four songs I did fall in love. I’ve always detested the overly romanticized outlook on tango but I can’t deny how I felt. It wasn’t flirty or heart pumping but when I opened my eyes again for a brief second I had forgotten where I was.

Then I danced the milonga of my life with a Chinese guy from L.A. I rarely dance milongas because I was never confident enough to think that I dance it well. I’ve never taken a class for milonga before but I’m usually very quick and light on my feet which is essential for the milonga. Dancers step on every quarter beat during a milonga instead of every other beat for tango. There are some fast steps on eighth or even sixteen notes for ornaments and syncopated rhythm. I’ve never seen or danced with this guy before but he was courageous enough to invite me to the floor and I was courageous enough to accept his invitation. It’s true that in tango it only takes one step and sometimes without stepping at all to know if someone is a good dancer. I was shocked at how well he led the milonga. This is by far the best milonga I’ve ever danced. He led me to do steps I didn’t know I was capable of and never even dreamt of doing. Some of the steps were so fast that I had no idea what I was doing. My feet take off and there was no time for thinking. It was a classic “Blink” moment like Malcolm Gladwell described in his book. The guy was so good that people actually stopped dancing during the middle of the set in Canning to look at his footwork. I thanked him after we returned to our seats and he was gracious enough to tell me that it was me who made the dance possible.

I wish I could some how capture the night in a little bottle but these moments in life are like a whiff of perfume, breath deep and enjoy.

Falling Apart

The shower has become a death trap. I fell in the tub twice in the last two days. I have a huge bruise on my right triceps and a smaller but very dark one on the inside of my left knee. A woman kicked me with a front boleo at Maipu on Saturday. She took the top layer of my skin off with her three-inch comme il fue shoes and my leg was immediately swollen. Now I have a terrible imprint of her heel with green bruise all around it. Nayeska the chiropractor tried to piece me together this afternoon. Rose said I might have to be carried to the airport on a stretcher next Monday if this keeps on going. I look like I have been attacked by some kind of vicious animal. I’m falling apart over here, literally.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Patty's Day!

It's hard not to be cheerful while listening to happy Irish music. I bounced my way home after my last English lesson with Meggie, a woman from my Pilates class. I thought hard about things I have to do before I leave, if there are any unfinished business, some final wishes that need to be fulfilled. But really, I've done everything I've wanted to here. Last weekend I danced a tanda for Catherine, ate a quarter kilo of Volta ice cream for Rose, went to a soccer game for Dave. Today I would drink a pint for couple people if I wasn't so allergic to beer.

Instead of going to some crazy Irish bar like we originally had planned for St. Patty’s day, Andrew and I had a huge fight at Tortoni and I had an emotional break down on the bus ride home. Thankfully this happened at the end of my stay here because I don’t think I could ever go back to Tortoni again with all that yelling and swearing I did. The place was totally quiet for a minute because I was getting so loud. Andrew and I are very compatible when it comes to arguments. We manage to argue just about everything from fortune telling to Sally Potter. Maybe I’m just having panic attacks about leaving this place. Today I realized that I know
Buenos Aires better than I know any other city on this planet, even better than Rochester, where I’ve lived for almost half of my life. I love this damn place.

Take Her in Your Arms

Have you seen him on the corner
And his lip would reach the pavement.
He's been hiding from his razor,
Is he not an awful sight?
In love he was the purist,
How he's frightening our tourists.
If he'd gone and asked his father
Oh, I'm sure he'd set him right, sayin'

"Take her in your arms
And tell her that you love her,
Take her in your arms
And hold that woman tight.
Won't you take her in your arms
And tell her that you love her.
If you're going to love a woman
Then be sure you do it right."

-Folk song

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Crank up the Heat

I don't nwant

I was distracted for couple of weeks but I’m back to Maipu again tonight. I miss seeing Hector the organizer. He’s so cute with his chair obsession. I wore my favorite Marline Monroe halter top maroon dress with black high heels. Sometimes when I skip down the sidewalk I actually feel like Carrie in Sex and the City. I started the night with one of the old guys I always dance with. I don’t know what his name is but he has the habit of asking me “how are you?” repeatedly after each song like that Ellen fish in Finding Nemo. I’m not sure if he has a bad short term memory or that’s the only thing he figures I can understand. Then there was Lito, who can’t seem to remember my name despite his best effort. I don’t blame him since the only reason I can remember his name is because he’s actually little. Lito suggested that he’ll have to take me out for lunch to have any chance to remember my name. I agreed to tell him one letter for each song we dance. We danced two tandas. I also danced with Jesus, a younger guy with long hair, a very good dancer. I don’t know his name either but Catherine and I call him that because he actually looks like Jesus. He has a sweating problem so every time I dance with him I end up with a big wet spot on my chest. This is especially problematic with my maroon dress because the wet spot shows up considerably darker than the rest of the fabric. I enjoyed the dance nevertheless and the super cool air circulation in the room dried me up in just a couple of songs. No trip to Maipu is really complete with a tanda or two with THE old guy. I always loved dancing with him and it turned out to be his birthday. The organizers bought out a birthday cake and had a special performance arranged just for him. When I first saw her at the milonga I immediately noticed her eyes, narrow and slanted upward at the corners like you see in typical oriental paintings but with light blue eye shadow and matching mascara. There was something different about her. I didn’t think she was particularly striking yet I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. As she danced with Carlos in her Puma shoes I noticed how nice her figure was, tall, slim with curve in all the right places. When the beat of salsa filled the room she moved with such ease and fluidity, turn after turn swinging her long black hair. Finally when she immerged from the crowd in her Arabian dance outfit it all made sense to me. She was beautiful and radiant, strong and flexible. It wasn’t a typical belly dance you see at Greek or Armenian restaurants. I’ve taken a class or two but really don’t know enough to discern the various types. With the average age for men well pass retirement, they really ought to be careful with these kind of thing. Now it's time for Cairo.

Chronology of an Obsession

My obsession with Argentina began almost ten years ago, before I’ve heard the music of Piazzola or seen the movie by Sally Potter. I didn’t dance tango back then. I barely even spoke English. Towards the end of my freshman year in high school everyone was required to do a research report on country by choice. Mine was Argentina. I wasn’t completely sure why I was so fascinated by a country I knew nothing of. Perhaps that was the charm, or maybe it was a less popular choice. Upon farther research I became even more fascinated by the vastness of the pampas and the various European cultures that helped to shape the Paris of the south. One year later I fell in love with the music of Piazzola at a performance by Ricardo Cobo. It was the first time I became aware of the dance tango but it took me another eight years to go to a milonga. I always knew I would like to one day visit the ninth largest country in the world but tango really gave me a good reason to start cumulating those long distance frequent flyer miles. After my first two months stay I was even more obsessed than before. It was like a disease. I couldn’t sleep for a month after I went back to Rochester and it took me another two to get back into my normal routine. I had to distract myself with a one-month bus tour of Spain. Still, Buenos Aires hunted me day and night. Finally, I’ve spent 6 out of the last 12 months here. It’s time to put a lid on this obsession.

Bus Tour

Today was a very productive day. I have become much lazier since my English classes ended and my daily schedule has been pushed back by 5 hours. Instead of getting up at 7 I now sleep until 11 or 12. The weather has been so beautiful lately after those two weeks of unrelenting rain. I thought about going to Tigre for one last boat ride before I go back to the desert where the closest thing is a five-minute ride in a gondola at the Venetian. After chatting with my roommate Loren for a few minutes we decided to stay in town today and perhaps to go Tigre on Sunday when everything is closed here. We took a pleasant walk to La Querencia, a provincial restaurant on Junin y Juncal featuring food from northern Argentina. I’ve had dinner there once before, very pleasant place with a pleasant price. We both ordered an empanada and locro, a heavy bean stew with chunks of meat and sausages. Why stop at four cheeses when you can have seven. My empanada del tambo had seven cheeses and it was like a party in my mouth. The locro was not best but it was good nevertheless and I ate the whole thing. I had no idea how full I was until I started to walk out of the restaurant. Loren has official crowded me the title “bus queen” but Rose and I call ourselves the “bus bitches”. I spent the rest of the day giving Loren a bus tour of the city by first getting onto the 152 on Santa Fe to La Boca. It was her idea to go there since she’s never been before. I went there twice on my last trip. It’s a typical touristy spot with a terrible smell because of the heavily polluted river. Trust me, that was an understatement. We spent maybe 20 minutes there and quickly hopped onto the 29 to go to Belgrano. Loren is a big soccer fan and I’m finally going to fulfill my dying wish to see a soccer game with her tomorrow. But first we must go to the River stadium to buy tickets. The ride from La Boca to Belgrano is probably the most I’ve ever gotten out of one peso. The bus literately took us from one end of the town to the other passing by La Boca, San Telmo, Plaza de Mayo, Congresso, Barrio Norte, Palermo, Belgrano, and Chinatown. It was Loren’s first visit to Chinatown as well. I realized that I’ve become so comfortable with the city now that I’m getting extremely confident in getting to places. I’m also pretty familiar with most of the neighborhoods and land marks. I should start running private tours on public buses. How’s that for a cost efficient business! After getting tickets at the River Plate stadium we walked back to Chinatown for some snacks. I got two pork tongues, sliced, and a spring roll. Loren got a spring roll and a sausage. They were yummy. We then took bus 64 back to Santa Fe. Loren wanted to checkout “Bond Street” shopping complex dominated by piercing and tattoo parlors. I’ve been addicted to tattoos ever since I got the wings on my 18th birthday. So far I have been successful in resisting the urge of getting more tattoos. Every time I pass through an important phase in my life I feel the need to get something permanent on my body like a milestone, a reminder. I have a good memory. Maybe I was born that way, maybe I was trained well by the rote system in Chinese schools or maybe I’m just too afraid to forget. Sometimes I feel like I spend all of my awaking moments remembering things just in case I want to relive them at some point I can reconstruct each scenario perfectly in my mind. In reality, life goes on and never stops for me to really relive anything. It’s almost like buying something useless at a sale and thinks maybe it will come handy someday but it never does. It just clutters around taking up space for the really important stuff. Luckily, I have a blog to dump my memory to for backup and thousands of pictures to refresh my memory. But I never have time to look at them either! Anyways, Loren got a nose piercing. I got a pair of earrings and left my body the way it is. I’ve been on the road for so long I haven’t worn any jewelry for over a year now. It’s quite something for a girl who never went out of the house without ears and accessories before. The things I sacrifice for traveling and they are all worthwhile. It only takes one ice cream cone from Volta to prove that. And that’s just what we did on our way home.

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Dentist of My Dreams

Sorry to inform you guys but the most exciting thing I did for this Friday evening in Buenos Aires is seeing the dentist. In my defense he was very cute, most likely the best looking dentist in the world and my roommate Loren is the second witness. I’m happy that all of my teeth are in good shape and the cleaning went very well, no bleeding gums. I don’t have dental insurance at home so I might as well get it done here while I’m paying pesos. It wasn’t exactly cheap but we’ll just count that as a premium for getting an English-speaking, good-looking, super friendly dentist. I thought about going to Villa Malcoim for another night of milonga but opted to stay at home to read up on Blink.


So here’s the problem. A friend wants to go out with a girl. They get along perfectly well and he claims that there’s chemistry but she says she doesn’t want to date because she values their non-physical intimacy and doesn’t want to spoil that or get hurt in the future. What a bunch of BS. If Freud was here he would say she has issues with her father. I had a lengthy discussion with Marion this afternoon about love and relationships. The truth is I’m tired. I’m tired of this merry-go-around and I’m 24 years old! I’m tired of people who pretend to be something they are not and are dishonest about their intentions. Some people are afraid to love. Some people don’t know how to express feelings and others are afraid to. People are afraid to love because they don’t want to be hurt. People are afraid to express their feelings because they are afraid of the consequences. People are afraid to be honest because they are afraid that they will be judged. What exactly is suppose to happen to you if do all those things? I really don’t understand. I try to live life without fear; that doesn’t mean I have no fears. However, there was never a time in my life where I didn’t do something because of fear. That is ridiculous. Life is short, go skydiving. Thankfully we were always fearful. With that kind of logic no babies would be able to learn how to walk with the fear of falling. Our mothers went through all that pain to bring us to this planet so we could live life, not to be afraid of living. I try to be a good friend and give him my opinion of the situation but ultimate she is the one who needs to take the plunge. She’s lucky that she’s pretty and my friend seems to have all the patience in the world. If it was up to me I would smack her on the head and tell her to kill herself now because she’s going to die some day anyways. People have to realize that worry is the most useless emotion. Nothing ever got accomplished with worry. She is afraid of taking a chance because she’s worried about the future. He might hurt her in the future. As far as I know he’s not hurting her right now. Like Marion said, we have to live in the presence. Life is not linear: past, present, future. Life is now, a continuous secession of present. It’s the eternal present, according to Marion Gold. If we live in the past we have pain and guilt. If we life in the future we have fear because of the uncertainty. To be content and really live we have to be in the present. That girl is living in the future. They are not even in the same time zone. She might as will be on Mars and he’ll never reach her. I can’t believe this absurd logic of “I don’t want to fall in love because I don’t want to be hurt” is still around. Maybe at some point I felt the same way, although I honestly can’t recall ever feeling that way. I do have a similar feeling with pets. I can’t have a dog partially because I travel and can’t take the responsibility of having a dog. Deep down I also don’t want to have a pet because I’m afraid that he’s going to die some day and it’s going to break my heart. I found that out with my first and only pet hamster I had towards the end of my freshman year in college. We named her April because we got her on April 8th 2003. She was a cute and energetic little thing, always climbing around her cage. April didn’t live for very long and died from a tumor, which turned out to be a common problem with rodents. I was devastated and cried all night when we buried her with her toy carrot. I think I was more sad about my died hamster than breaking up with some boyfriends in the past. I actually felt guilty for not have played with her enough when she was alive. I questioned if I was a good caretaker. Did I feed her enough food she liked? Did I clean her cage often enough? Did I talk to her and tell her I loved her? Alas, she doesn’t understand! She was just a little hamster with a big tumor! I think something changed in me that night. I realized that in life we have a small window of opportunity to tell people how we feel, if we love them. Life is not a dress rehearsal and things change and we won’t always have that chance. The hardest thing is not to love or not to be loved. To me the most painful thing is not to be able to tell someone I love him. Not be able to express oneself freely is like a bird without wings. But we can always say I love you.

Sometimes you have to live life like you’re getting on a bus here. The bus driver waits for no one. If you don’t wave your arm with enough enthusiasm he might not even stop. When that door opens, you better be ready to hop on. He doesn’t care if you’re saying goodbye to your 90-year-old grandma for the last time in your life. Once you missed that narrow door of opportunity he’s to step on the gas and leave. You can cry and scream and run after it all you want. The bus is gone. I’ve seen it happen to people. Luckily life doesn’t always treat you like an overly impatient Argentine bus driver and some times we get a second chance.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Not Yet the Last Blog

I’ve been thinking about my last blog from BA ever since I came here. I know I’ll be sad when the plane takes off and I’ll cry many tears. Instead of trying desperately to take a piece of the city with me by buying 20 pairs of shoes, a big box of alfajores and mate like I did last time, I bought nothing on this trip. No tango shoes. I have two jerseys: one from Maracana and one from here. I ate so much food that I easily packed on 6 pounds in the last four months. I’ve taught a lot, learned a lot, seen a lot, ate a lot and loved a lot. Four months is not much but it felt like a life time. Andy said that I have lived more now than some people have their whole lives. That might be a bit exaggerated but I’m flattered nevertheless. I’m glad that I extended my trip; otherwise, I would never have gone to Colonia. I’ll always remember sitting on the rocks by the river on that sunny Sunday afternoon watching the fishermen at work. There were wild flowers around, white and yellow. Somewhere near the river there was a willow tree. I’ve always loved willow trees. I’ll be sad when I leave but I’m more thankful to have lived here and experienced the things I’ve experienced. I can’t come back. I’m afraid I won’t be able to tolerate the sadness of leaving again. I’m not that strong after all. This is not healthy for me. I know when I get on that plane I’ll have to cry all the tears I have for when I land nothing will feel the same. I won’t feel the same. Like beginning of the movie Spanglish, the mother told her daughter that she is allowed two drops of tears, “make it a good one” she said. I’ll have ten hours after that I’ll never feel the same again. Buenos Aires will be more and more distant as time goes one. Pretty soon this love affair will be a remote memory, something I remember occasionally and wonder if it ever happened at all. And then I talk to Rose and it will all come back to me.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Hands Off!

Sorry for being off the air for so long. I guess blogs don’t write themselves when I’m sitting around watching Law and Order. Rose would kill me if she knew I’m wasting my time here. It doesn’t help that I don’t have internet access at home. I feel weird for going to the café next door because the owner always has to unplug their cooler for me to use my computer. At first I thought he was just being overly generous but then I figured out that he really wants to ask me out for dinner. My roommate thinks he’s cute, but since he doesn’t speak English and I only know maybe ten words in Spanish I’ve been trying to avoid having an awkward dinner. I still take Pilate classes three times a week and teach occasional private lesson here and there. For the most part I’m just preoccupied with figuring out what I should have for lunch and dinner. I still enjoy walking under the trees with pink flowers around Plaza San Martin.

I was a bit annoyed today. As I rushed to the subway station 5 minutes before my scheduled Pilate class, the place was completely packed and I had to let two trains go by because it was physically impossible for me to squeeze in. By the time I finally was squeezing the air out of me in the third train I was already 20 minutes late. I decided to go downtown to pick up Rose’s costume made shoes instead. The owner, who usually makes all the shoes, was not in. The woman behind the counter pointed at the note on the receipt and told me to come back after the 11th. She was so convincing that I actually left the store thinking it was before March 11th only to turn back after few steps just to correct her with my date planner opened to today, March 12th. When I’m right, I’m right. I can be a little obsessive like that. When I talked to the woman again she pretended not to speak English and said that she doesn’t know where the shoes are (in Spanish, of course). The note on the receipt was in English, damn it. My roommate Loren is right, “you can’t get anything done in this country unless you threaten to kill someone.”

I went back to PilateSol for the class at 1pm. It was relaxing as usual accept we had to do our exercises with drum beats from the nearby protest, something about teachers and students. Denis is back vacation and she loves to work with me to improve her English.

I got even more annoyed after the class. On my way home some guy was walking the opposite direction on the sidewalk and grabbed my ass. I rarely complain about this city except this problem with guys on the street. Everywhere I go I get guys who are whistling at me saying stupid things. Last year some guy grabbed my ass as he went by on his bicycle. For some reason I have absolutely no tolerance for this kind of behavior and it irritates me every time it happens. I would stab them if I carried a pocked knife with me. Few guys I told this problem to think it’s funny. I wanted to stab them too. So what if I have a little anger issues. If you are empathetic to murderers you deserve to be punished too. I’m more infuriated by the fact that many men, even if they don’t do such things themselves, don’t think there’s a problem. Well, it’s called sexual harassment and I have a big problem with it.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Matambre a la pizza

For lunch I had grilled chicken covered in blue cheese sauce with fried potato puffs. For dinner I had matambre a la pizza, fried and grilled a piece of fatty meat with thick mozzarella pizza topping. Although I might be heartbroken when I leave but if I stay I would probably die of a heart attack. It didn’t help that I had to eat the whole plate of matambre for two by myself because I had no one to share it with. One of the benefits of being a stranger in a foreign land is that sometimes I’m a very memorable person. The waiter at the restaurant for example remembered me from a visit few weeks ago. He’s a very good humored older guy. I went by myself the last time. He kept asking where my boyfriend was. He was pleased that all the single women were sitting at his section. When I showed up again along tonight he gave me a very frustrated, incredulous look, shook his head, pointed at the empty chair across the table and said “Un novio!”

Thursday, March 6, 2008


“Why do you look for men who do not know how to love you?” asked Marion. Well, maybe I would have fixed it by now if I knew. Why is everything my fault?

Separation Anxiety

For the first time I sent food back to the kitchen at a restaurant. The lamb was too hard at Status. I’ve been coming here since the last visit and I love the guys here, but the bar has gotten so high now I can’t have an unsatisfying meal anymore. My heart races and sometimes I cry. My neck and back is so tense when I turn my head pain goes down my spine. Rose gave me a message a week ago and recommended me to go to a chiropractor. I’m not pms-ing. I’m having separation anxiety. When Rose left a little piece of me left as well. I wanted to get on the plane too just to get this whole thing over with. I slept all day today and am still tired. We've been so high here I wish I could go to the beach too to calm the fuck down.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Last Day in BA

Rose shared much of her last day here with me. As the clock ticks into the final count down we rushed to the Circular Militar building hoping to take a quick peek into the impressive palace. Unfortunately it wasn’t open for visits without guided tour. There will never be enough time for the city. We always have something more to look forward to. For Rose it was the Circular Militar. For me it will be the Colon Theater. We walked to the shoe store to pick up her last two pairs of custom made tango shoes. On the way we admired the beautiful pink flowers on the Drunken Trunks along the world’s widest street. Rose said “I’ll miss you and I never miss people.” The ominous clouds rolled in and out of the sky above us as the cool breeze blew through our hair. She opened her arms and smiled as if she was embracing the city. A mixture of joy, love and gratitude gathered in my heart and came out in the form of tiny tear drops. We can try to analyze it a million times the reasons why we are drawn to this place. After all, we’re in love and love can not always be explained. Let’s leave rationality for another time. We’ll never be able to explain this feeling to anyone else e who has never been here. It’s only important that we understand exactly how each other feels at this moment and in this world that is a very rare thing. I have finally found my soul mate half way across the world.

I watched as Rose packed up the last few things in her apartment on Ayacucho. I tried very hard to see this as a new beginning but it felt more like the end of an era. It’s a nice closure with good feelings and unavoidably a bit of sadness. Rose traded me a pair of her tango shoes for dinner in Prague. It’s decided that we’re going to continue this party in Germany. There was never a doubt that we would see each other soon the first time I left BA. There is not a doubt now that we’ll see each other again in another place and time. I’ll miss her dearly but above all I’m grateful for having met her and shared some of the best moments of my life together.

Dante, who is a taxi driver by day and taxi dancer by night, came few minutes early to pick Rose up for the airport. She checked everything for the last time and said good bye to the apartment. Dante waited impatiently on the street below as we struggled to get the luggage in and out of the small abrupt elevator. I didn’t plan to go to the airport but since I didn’t have anything else scheduled for today I hopped in for the ride. We drove around the block as Rose waited for her friend Lionel to show up to say his good byes. Not having a car here has made me appreciate any car ride much more than before. I like the feeling of sitting back and watching thing go by the windows. I held together just fine even when we unloaded the bags at the airport. Rose hugged Dante and thanked him for everything. Dante was in a hurry and for some reason I almost left without saying good bye. When I turned back to hug Rose tears ran down my face as if I was saying good bye to a lover. We hugged for a while. I touched her hair and thanked her for an amazing experience. I didn’t want to let go. When I finally did she looked at me and said “I love you.” “I love you too Rose. We’ll see each other again in Germany.” I chased down Dante and got into the car. I don’t think I’ve ever felt this way about a girl friend. The last time I had one I was 12. In truth I think we were both a bit surprised. Our feelings are real. No matter what happens, the memories we share will never change. And no one can take that away from us.

Se Fue

Somewhere over the rainbow
Way up high
And the dreams that you dreamed of
Once in a lullaby ii ii iii
Somewhere over the rainbow
Blue birds fly
And the dreams that you dreamed of
Dreams really do come true ooh ooooh
Someday I'll wish upon a star
Wake up where the clouds are far behind me ee ee eeh
Where trouble melts like lemon drops
High above the chimney tops thats where you'll find me oh
Somewhere over the rainbow bluebirds fly
And the dream that you dare to,why, oh why can't I? i iiii

Well I see trees of green and
Red roses too,
I'll watch them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world

Well I see skies of blue and I see clouds of white
And the brightness of day
I like the dark and I think to myself
What a wonderful world

The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces of people passing by
I see friends shaking hands
Saying, "How do you do?"
They're really saying, I...I love you
I hear babies cry and I watch them grow,
They'll learn much more
Than we'll know
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world (w)oohoorld

Someday I'll wish upon a star,
Wake up where the clouds are far behind me
Where trouble melts like lemon drops
High above the chimney top that's where you'll find me
Oh, Somewhere over the rainbow way up high
And the dream that you dare to, why, oh why can't I? I hiii ?

- Israel Kamakawiwo "Somewhere Over the Rainbow"

Monday, March 3, 2008

Last Dinner with Rose in BA

Like the ever chancing weather lately, my emotions are all over the place. I can go from happy to sad to nostalgic in matter of minutes. Tomorrow Rose will leave Buenos Aires to go back to Hawaii. I was honored to have the last dinner with her tonight at Parrilla Pena. On my way there I walked down Santa Fe Avenue and took a right on Callao. My eyes were misty in the last glint of daylight. Over dinner we reflected on our adventuress together and discussed about meeting up again in Germany. Rose said I’m the best travel companion because I’m not a pussy and I can make travel arrangements. I still have to see Paris. We talked about our love for this city and all the wonderful things we’re going to miss. I cried three times and never stopped laughing.


Hello, my name is Liren and I’m a loveholic.
I came here a year ago in the early stage of my addition to tango, not knowing anything about the city or anyone here. Now I found my soul mate, Rose and I’m in love. I’m in love with Rose. I’m in love with the city. I’m in love with the people. I’m in love with everything around me. And as always, I’m in love with being in love. Love is a habit I wish to never get rid off.
When we were young we were taught to not talk to strangers, wear emotions on our sleeves and be careful who we give our hearts to. Mother always warned me to be more fearful on the road to stay safe. I never took that to heart. Now I’m fearless and the world is my playground. I talk to strangers, wear emotions on my sleeves and give my heart away like candy.
When I studied music I learned that to be a good performer one must exaggerate everything on the stage in order to project and transmit things to the audiences. Actors wear heavy makeup. Musicians play big crescendos. It’s no wonder why majority of them have bipolar disorders. Musicians are sensitive people who often feel things in extremes. Now I think sometimes one must live life the same way. I want to feel emotions in extremes. It makes me feel alive. Play hard, love deep, cry a river and live dangerously.
I might be quiet at times but I’m not a shy person and I never have been. When I was four I was the most popular kid in the neighborhood. I knew all the kids around my age and their parents. When I go for a walk with my mother I introduce her to other adults I knew. Although I don’t have many friends nowadays I do know many people. I treat people with sincerity and help them whenever I can. People always know when you do things with love. As a result they are nice and helpful to me. Without them I wouldn’t be here today. 

I have the habit of taking pictures whenever I see something interesting. I am fully aware the fact that no photographs can replace the essence of being. The best moments in life can never be documented or photographed. Memories are like old photos. Even the best Kodak paper fades in time. Many years from now I might not remember the exact color of the sky at dusk over Congresso or the conversations I had with Rose over morcillas or even this feeling I’m trying desperately to record but I will always look back fondly. I will remember I was in love.