roll out: winter BA

21/09/2012 § 2 Comments

Part of the adventure takes just a day or two to unravel (or three months). This is winter in Buenos Aires: still green, a little crisp, and sunshine. Dream. Like.

A few plants that reminded me of home and I often look at them when homesick while listening to the CBC online…

A butcher of rare meats that we got to interview. He was very nice, yet very assertive. The sign above says “HAY YACARE” which means “THERE IS ALLIGATOR MEAT”. I did not try it…

These are the wispy plants that cover the ecological reserve in the neighbourhood, Puerto Madero. There use to be a big river running between the peninsula and the mainland, but now it’s just rushes. We also found out that the peninsula was created from the rubble of tearing down a bunch of buildings and dumping them just off the coast. What a crazy place…




round three

15/06/2012 § 2 Comments

The end is just the beginning is just the end of a beginning.

Yesterday, we finished our training: the history, the politics, the economics, the psychology, the practicum of uploading, our schedule rotation. Somehow, my arms hurt from the heavy load that required no lifting.

On Wednesday, a few of us made a night of it. Ventured to the notorious Constitution Station where an indie film was playing at Arte Cinema. Seven-forty-five, give or take five minutes, and ‘Anima Buenos Aires’ showed us what is drawn from the hearts of the people who live in this city.

Part one: Decoupage of meat-man’s experience after the Guggenheim Supermarket has landed.

Part two: Son of affluent intellectuals falls in love with graffiti girl. (Aye, amor.)

Part three: Funny-scribbled characters are scrambling around the city, movin’ and shakin’ in tangoland.

Part four: All male characters are in lust with bar-keeps lover.

It was short and the sweetness was more tart (in a good way).

After the film, we decide to go for a beverage at my favourite spot in the city: the pub, Gibraltar, a reminder of comforts of home. It was busy with people, non-tourists, and the taste was a little different. Things change if you are around long enough.

It made me wonder whether this was the beginning or the end of something or, perhaps, some place in-between?

One pint and back on the bus towards the upper-West side.

The city was dark and vacant. I looked at my phone and saw it was nearly half-past midnight. It was somber and soothing to know that a city of this size, one that experiences the same waves of intensity that most cities have, can just be. The more I see it in its entirety, not just in fairweather, the more I appreciate its idiosyncrasies. Despite all that it may or may not offer, it has character and strength of soul.

Endurance, patience, and most importantly, amor.

the star in a buck.

01/02/2012 § 2 Comments

I had an alias by the name of Briz Wevera. This aspect of myself believed in the people, was against the tyranny of major corporations, and an avid supporter of grassroots movements. She held strong to these principles, passing on the potential of a round at Monopoly, against conglomerates and amalgamation and selling out.

She still lives, but has learned a little humility from real life circumstances.

The other night, we experienced a loss of a loved one. Our kitten passed away, premature in life but, oh, what a full life of love it was. It was painful to watch, to endure, to come home from work to. For a moment, darkness crept into the Sheridan home: Tears, “what ifs” and “shoulda, woulda, couldas”.

I needed some space, because the brave face can only save itself for so long. I remember once being told I was as tough as stone, but chisel away long enough and there is nothing but molten brie beneath the surface. I decided it was necessary to find a bar or coffee shop to sit and write some notes about my thoughts and feelings, to gournal away for another time’s reflections.

On the streets, I could feel the cold from the sidewalk coming through my boots. But, I walked and walked, looking for a place with bright lights and cozy chairs. The bars were dark, too dark. The restaurants were too busy. Can’t a girl get a little space, was all I could wonder.

It was nine o’clock p.m. — almost insidious to think post mortem — and I walked along Dundas, Dovercourt up to College. And there it was, the only coffee shop open at that time: Starbucks. I have never been a fan of Starbucks. It was partially a political thing and partially a taste preference of coffee-snobbing. Still, the reality for the need for some quiet time and caffeine had jolted me into impulse indulgence. Inside, the fluorescent lighting was slightly obtrusive, but the consistency of space allowed me to automatically order a tall latte and ginger molasses cookie. It was convenient because in the moment I didn’t want to think, I wanted to feel. I wanted to purge on paper.

Perhaps there is something wrong with this notion: that a coffee shop that gains ground is able to psychologically dissect the masses into what they need: consistency and comfort. Eventually, it made me wonder whether that is corporately immoral?

With so many struggles in life — change, death, life, inconsistency — is it really all that bad to be reliable in superficial ways?

I remember sitting in a McDonald’s in Buenos Aires with a friend from the United States. Although there were meat and sausage shops all around with better quality food, they were usually jam-packed with regulars. This McDonald’s was off one of the main streets, Paseo Colon, but inside you felt like you could be anywhere:

“It’s funny. Whenever I am feeling a little homesick, I just want a fudge sundae and french fries. When I come here, I feel a little at ease and not so overwhelmed with it all.”

It pulled me back a little and took me in. I could give advice, tell her to ride the wave, to be where her hands are, to offer to eat some empanadas, but I knew I couldn’t. This was all too familiar a scene and the only thing I could think of doing was taking a french fry — pureed potato gel mash — and dip it into the hot fudge sundae — whipped oil-by-product. We sat in silence and relished the comforts of The Man-made home.

When your home, the one you go to every night, becomes turbulent where are you supposed to go for breathing space? In a city where space can be limiting, the feeling of anonymity is a challenge. There is too much going on at home, your coffee shop is closed, the bar is too intimate, the windows are too big in that restaurant, the library is closing in five minutes… Sometimes you choose the next best thing: Mine was sitting for an hour in a Starbucks, finding the fluorescent light within a dark night.

Viva la vida.

what we can.

16/08/2011 § 2 Comments

The break from boiling kettles.

And the breeze blows through.

pitter patter.

09/08/2011 § Leave a comment

finding one’s voice.

17/04/2011 § Leave a comment

“Hey! Hey!”

Wallace has a hoarse voice brought on from age and city pollution. Although his face is hollow and drawn, he still jogs with a skip, slipping as his hips give. He has long, curly red hair that glows of copper tones and big, brown eyes that sparkle with life.

Some like Wallace and some are indifferent to him, but no one is torn up about him. No one hates him, some love him. Still, most are not here long enough to get to know him. As an older guy, sometimes it is difficult for him to keep up with us. We pass around a soccer ball in the courtyard and he watches from a corner, leaning against the wall. Wallace has lived at the hostel for four years. He has seen people come and go, getting accustomed to transient behaviour, always remembering the regular returners, neither here nor there about them, but always friendly and welcoming.

Sometimes when I am sitting on the bench outside, reading a book, sipping a coffee, I will spot him from behind the bush. I want to ask him what his life was like, who he got to meet and if he has any advice to give me, but all he’s ever said to me was “Hey, hey!” while standing at the inside gate.

He gets out once in a while, goes for a walk up the street for five-minutes or so. That’s all he needs.

Wallace already knows this. His wisdom is beyond what he’s seen or where he’s been. It’s in his bones, in his raspy voice when he says, “hey, hey, let’s go out an play.” For five minutes, nearly everyday, he finds pleasure in stopping and sniffing. And he always comes back, wagging his tail, eyes bright, shining his puppy that is inside.

I love Wallace and he is a gentleman I will miss when I go back to Toronto.

vueltas & vertigo.

15/04/2011 § Leave a comment

“It’s ok, Bretana. Life is all about circles.”

I was told this while sitting with two friends in a post-dinner conversation and what a re-assuring treat to hear.

“These are just places where we make decisions in life, they are not the experience itself.”

I made a promise to a friend to return to Canada, a promise that came 3 weeks before my departure to Buenos Aires. When I got to BA, I had the idea that I would find a steady job, to be able to make it on my own, enabling my return to this Southern city. (My heart, my heart.)

It was not meant to be that way, but what I came across was something greater.

For a moment in time we become fixed to something that only ever is what it was. Sometimes, we begin to surround our bodies with the things that heighten how we imagine it. I like the sun, interesting buildings, people that fight for their rights. I have always liked the colour gold (although green and blue are equally beautiful in my eyes.)

Gold is warm and glowing. By moonlight it doesn’t glisten, it is the ember to a campfire.

The other day, I was invited to go for a jog (something I hadn’t done in years). I tried to make excuses: I didn’t have the proper shoes, I didn’t have socks, I didn’t have the proper shorts. Oh well, I thought. Let’s give it a go, anyways.

I joined the jogging group wearing a muscle shirt, jean shorts and a pair of canvas Vans.

“Ready when you are.”

We took the bus to Puerto Madero, the new neighbourhood of tall glass towers and new restaurants. Behind this wall is the ecological reserve, where a river once ran through.

The clan & I:

“Let’s go, guys. Run around this grass patch and back.”

“Ok. But if you notice that I’ve dropped off, I’m just taking a break.”

Around the track we went, they leading, I trailing. Within the first few moments, I could feel the usual fatigue, the moment when the body tries to say “stop, please stop!”

Just a little further, my mind said.

After the run around, I took a long walk to relieve the dizziness. I craved the quiet to breathe, to just relax.

So it goes, I don’t know how things will unfold. But, right now, I am taking some time to breathe and relax.

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