In Cat Mode

The Doctor goes into a self-described ‘Doctor Mode’….all conversations are about the hospital, clinical histories, the latest nuggets (or not) about Dr. Abusive, one of the dudes in charge of their team. Studying, studying, studying…everything (rightly) revolves around med school and rotations. TD will apologize for not being ‘more fun’ or ‘ too boring’ and says, ‘I know, I know. I am in Doctor Mode.’

I think since Friday I am in Cat Mode (I’m not kidding…pretty sure it is a real thing). I’ve been sleepy, incredibly lazy, and the only things I can say are, ‘I am so cold…I think I need another blanket!’, ‘Gosh, why am I so tired?’, and ‘I think I am going to have another coffee/glass of wine.’ The cat and I spent the latter half of this morning lounging in a heap together listening to music. Hustle and bustle of the day? Laundry? Washing my hair? Finishing the 3 *spectacular* posts for WordPress that I have saved in drafts? Yeah, it can all wait.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that fall has arrived in a big way since Friday evening. I want to light a candle, curl up, and doze off.

Inbetween the Seasons

It’s that confusing time in autumn…when it’s cooler than summer, but not really cold yet. Right now, it’s warm enough in my bedroom that I have a few mosquitoes circling me (‘circling’=hitting me in the face). I put on the fan to blow them away from my body, but the fan makes it too cold in here to be comfy. I throw on a blanket, but then it’s too hot and I pop a leg out to cool down. Of course, my ankle gets bitten. Nice.

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Added some incense to keep the skeeters away, but the smoke aggravated my asthma (which I usually only suffer in winter).

What month is it again?

 

Tomorrow’s National Strike

Tomorrow is a nation-wide paro (strike) and I will not be working because there will be no buses, no trains, and surely the main road that I take that enters BA city limits will be blocked with protesters and maybe a bonfire if the mood strikes the piqueteros. Paros usually also mean that there will be gangs of protesters that will roam the city and attack anyone they think is crossing the picket lines, so it would do no good to go to work anyways, because it’ll be basically be like working on Christmas (in fact, the housekeeper and a coworker both accidentally called Thurday’s day off a holiday (feriado). Then they corrected themselves and said, ‘No, I mean paro!’). The Doctor was told not to show up at the hospital tomorrow for rotations due to potential violence if they’re seen in their scrubs. Two Decembers ago, we had a gang moving close to the street where we were working at the time, so we dropped the security curtain and just went home. They had already looted a drug store 3 blocks away and we’re sitting on loads of jewelry, imported watches, cash and computers…why take the chance?

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During my son’s first year of school here, he had an assignment to discuss paros. When he said he didn’t know anything about them (burning tires in the streets was mentioned—of course, he was clueless), his teacher just nodded and said, ‘Yes, you are from a CIVILIZED country,’ and didn’t have to do the assignment.

 

Paros aren’t that impressive…they’re going on all the time. The teachers were on strike for a month this school year (my son just finally started school 2 weeks ago) and last year he had a least 3 days a month where the teachers didn’t work. Subway workers seem to be on strike all the time, which is especially hellish when the non-airconditioned buses are stuffed with millions of extra passengers and traffic dreadful.

As for general strikes, where the entire country is paralyzed, this will only be my second.

 

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It’s a long story as to why the paro is happening, but what bums me out is that the economy really blows right now and dropped sales are creating serious problems in my job (and everyone else’s). Between import restrictions, dollar controls, crazy inflation and fear of everything, everyone is just living day-to-day and businesses seem to be closing left and right. In the company I work for, the main office is closing down as we speak—my bosses are packing up and moving into the upstairs of my building to save money. How we’re all going to fit in an upstairs office the size of a shoebox is anyone’s guess and surely unavoidable drama will be the meat of future posts.

Everything is so tense.

Though I am an expat, I live, work, and earn like a real Argentine. And true to being a ‘real Argentine’, the paro brings consequences like one day less of sales (which hurts), a bit more uncertainty overall, and an increase of my bus fare…the government’s retribution for this strike is to decrease subsidization. Gah, we already spend so much on transit and, because of inflation we’re spending double on food and earning less. So ok…one more thing to worry about. Awesome.

Of course, a visit to an expat forum shows me that most are oblivious to the paro. I think there is some mild concern how someone is going to get the the international airport tomorrow. Oh, and that a concert may be rescheduled because the performers surely won’t be able to get to the venue. Yes, these are very big problems, eh?

Homemade Oatmeal is Love

At six-thiry in the morning, you’ll find me at the stove preparing oatmeal for my family…and not instant, either. Real oats, a pot of them, warm, gooey, and absolutely lovely. (I also am usually half-asleep while doing this but we’ll just not mention that bit…why I am dealing with gas, flame, and fatigue simultaneously is a mystery since I should know better!)

I don’t think oatmeal is eaten here as a breakfast option and I really don’t get why it’s even sold here. This is croissants-and-espresso/crackers-with-mate land. I am going to have to ask around to see what exactly the Argies use oats for…

I bought a box of Quaker oats last month because the Front Gate Incident in February left us scrambling for money (by the way, the gate did break again on Saturday, but we were charged half the amount as last time. Still sucks big time, but what can you do?) We had bought some cereal as usual for Rotten  on the  next shopping trip, but some of the choices were cheaper off-brands that apparently had absolutely no flavor (well, actually he said they ‘tasted like poverty’, hahah). I thought I’d make French Toast or oatmeal while we worked through the Poverty Cereal, and now we’re buying oats regularly because he really likes them.

Nina, our silly girl dog, likes oatmeal, too. The other day, we had an extra scoop of oatmeal that no one was going to eat, and I let Rotten give some to her. Of course, she loved it and she’s pestering me first thing in the morning when I am preparing it now.

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6:45 am: Nina all up in my biz while I am cooking. Usually she likes to sleep in (mid yawn in the pic)…and she usually is only curious when we’re grilling meat or when cutting up some salami. Looks like this has changed.

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“Oh! Is that OATMEAL you have there??”

I loved oatmeal when I was younger…my grandma would make me a bowl of it before heading to the bus stop when I was in fourth grade. She’s put in butter, raisins, brown sugar…super yum. When I was pregnant with my son, his father would make me oatmeal with a bit of peanut butter and sliced bananas in it before heading off to work. About two years ago, my son had a craving for those instant peaches and cream oatmeal packets, which of course don’t exist here, but I made a homemade version with REAL peaches and whole milk. It tasted the same as the instant, scary-dried-peach-bits version. I was proud of that.

Do you eat oatmeal regularly? What are your favorite toppings?

Las Malvinas Son Argentinas

Today is Malvinas Day (Día del Veterano de Guerra y los Caídos en las Islas Malvinas, or Day of the War Veterans and the Fallen in the Malvinas Islands).

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“The Malvinas Are Argentine”  A woven bracelet The Doctor bought on the train last week to commemorate the war.

I was too little to remember this war (six-years-old), a war I was taught to call The Falkland Islands War (you don’t call it that here, as an obvious FYI). I also am on the fence on who I think the islands should belong to, though I lean to the idea that this decision is best left up to the Falkland Islanders themselves, who are happy the way things are. But no matter what you think about who they really belong to (if you think about it at all), here are a few Malvinas War facts and other tidbits:

Casualties Argentina: 649. UK: 258, including 3 women civilians killed by friendly fire.

Today’s holiday is rather new, being declared in 2001. Before this, Sovereignty Over Malvinas Islands Day was celebrated on June 10, commemorating the appointment of Luis Vernet as governor of the Islands in 1832.

Any maps I’ve ever seen at home have shown the islands belong to the UK. My son is taught in school that they are part of Argentina:

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A map I have in a book about Argentina, bought in the US

 

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A map my son has from school.

 

Borges was quoted as saying “The Falklands thing was a fight between two bald men over a comb.”

During the war, English music was prohibited in Argentina (including The Beatles. Oh my!). This is a major reason Argentine National rock flourished. Argentine bands are pretty good, look them up if you ever get a moment. A few artists from this period are Juan Carlos Baglietto, Fito Paez (he’s cool), Alejandro Lerner, and Celeste Carballo. My favorite  Argie band is Soda Stereo, though they are from 1984 and are more like Depeche Mode than Def Leppard.

Colonel Dorrego, the public works directer after the Argentine invasion, lost his own son in the war.

Dorrego was also in charge of mining the island, only to find that the British had mined the area themselves previously. Even today, there are thousands of mines still planted in the islands.

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Penguins and landmines.

 

The war, not officially declared by either country, only lasted 2 months, 2 weeks.

Leopoldo Galtieri, the Argentine president who supposedly thought attacking the islands would improve his popularity, didn’t think that the British would act militarily. (The Doctor says he just got drunk and decided to occupy the Malvinas. I don’t have a source for this, though!) He was wrong. Galtieri was removed from office 3 days after the British retook the capital city and his government curtains. Within a year, he and others were put on trial for mismanagement of the war and human rights violations related to his government.

 

I believe that most Argentines think the islands should be Argentine. Today, the internet is full of war things and The Doctor had me play a Malvinas war march when we first woke up.

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Ad I got when trying to hear The Titanic soundtrack today. “The Malvinas, southern pearl.”

 

 

 

Rough Week!

It’s been a really difficult start to the school year and a sticky past week overall. You may not remember that I have a 14-year-old in high school here and also that my fiance is finishing med school (on top of 50 other things!). I am still working my usual crazy amount of hours, so nothing new there.

But it’s been crazily stressful with my fiance not being home, the teachers being on strike, my never getting paid on time, and the traffic being worse than usual on my commute…very challenging on top of everything else (the economy, the language/culture barriers, my not liking my job very much, the usual stuff). For the latter half of each week, I don’t see my partner for more than 3 hours total due to the new hospital rotations…I was going to make a funny post about thinking I had a ghost in my house due to not finding things in the house not as I left them, seeing a used teacup and toast-crumbed saucer in the kitchen each morning, random medical objects scattered about, and hearing someone telling me they love me and they will see me tonight when I am asleep. But I never got to make it because I just got too damn busy…my work days themselves are 12 hours long and we find ourselves eating dinner at 10 pm.

This week, things are starting to even out: I am HOPING I get paid at least part of my salary or get paid for translating a recent manuscript. The teachers went back to work after a month and us not knowing from day-to-day what was going on with their wage negotiations (this alone was super annoying because this place isn’t exactly known for it’s organization or communication skills. It wasn’t really clear on the news what was happening, no Facebook pages or school websites were ever updated…school started yesterday and half the kids didn’t even show up because they either didn’t know or didn’t trust that the strike was actually finished). Two weekends ago was a long weekend and there is a holiday tomorrow. This means that my 2 honeys will be home and we all get to see each other a bit more and everyone will be a bit more relaxed. I am not sure if I am working or not, but either way, it’ll be nice to know they are home. My mind always rests easy when I know this.

Trying to keep these good things in mind because yesterday, as I was leaving for work, the gate that we just spent a large amount of money fixing started doing this thing it does when it’s breaking again. This gate thing is one reason why we aren’t sitting so good financially this month, and I want to pour Drano down the throat of the man who ‘fixed’ it because there is no way we can pay for this again. So far, the lock is still holding up, but I am just waiting for one of us to be locked out of the house or locked in. We’ll see.

I’m always a super-optimist and I know that when things are going south in one area of life, it’s been made up by something awesome happening in another. But right now, it’s hard to see the good.