Friday, February 29, 2008

New York Moments

The last couple days have been characterized by a crankiness which I only become conscious of when conversations in random offices and internet cafes go south and I suddenly find myself speaking through clenched teeth or insisting in something one time more than necessary. It´s the type of thing I find myself doing on a daily basis in New York and one of the things that makes that particular city so exhausting. One person is rude to you and you feel the need to ramp up the rudeness by ten so you have the impression you defended yourself adequately. And you walk away from the conversation asking yourself who was rude first, what tone was it that you took that resulted in the conversation ending so disagreeably. And jeez, how come it had to be that way?

And here its really even more silly, because you are working in an entirely different context where on one hand the various rituals of greetings and civility often buffer little antagonisms that emerge. On the other hand though basic principles of customer service that I might take for granted don´t exist here and so I find myself furious with the internet cafe because of saying, "yes the computers are slow, give Nero a minute," the girl says to me: "Your flash drive doesn´t work." And I hear myself giving the most New Yorkish of speeches about how my flash drive is perfectly fine, etc etc, desperately embarassing my Ecuadorian friend with who I am working.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Si se puede

I was at a friend´s house with cable last night and I watched the Clinton speech, until CNN dropped her unceremoniously to broadcast Obama. I ended up translating most of both of the speeches to spanish for him, and found myself trying to translating the political speak as well. 47 million uninsured, path to citizenship while strengthening borders, jobs going overseas, leaving no child behind all carry their own nuance that is lost on people who have been watching the political dialogue from a distance. During my garbled sound bites in castellano, I tried to explain No Child Left Behind, the sub-prime housing crisis, and the use of gay marriage in the last election, and what I believed were references to MLK. There was a poster that said "Si se puede" which impressed my friend no end. Yep, there´s a bunch of Latinos in Texas.

I was happy, man. I was happy with the speech, I was happy to wake up and read it has officially been called a landslide. I know its too early to really get excited. I know that the general election is going to be a whole different ballgame. But lord, I did feel good last night.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The oldest friends

I got a message from one of my very "first" friends, meaning the ones I met young and who stuck around through all the different stages of our lives, and when we came out on the other end of our twenties, there we were, suddenly with a good portion of our lives lived, and together. It´s a low day here, with me feeling like I haven´t been good at making time for myself or at really getting things accomplished, continuing to feel burned out and impatient with my work, and although I have lots of "new" friends here, I still haven´t sorted out who is going to become an "old" one and who will simply fade into the background of circumstance and I find myself missing the "old" ones.

Anyhow, this friend had a series of life events that while not insurmountable, are not the least bit pleasant and sent me a long email detailing them all. She finished with this, and it made me cry here in the internet, just because it reminded me of the trust and conocimiento with her and with people who are super far away from me these days.

"Every sentence in this begins with "I", right? Sorry about that. But I was thinking about people in the world who really matter and who would instantly understand and of course you were front and centre- no matter where you go, there you are..."