A disgruntled librarian packs it up and leaves fabulous New York City behind,
going on random global adventures,
while simultaneously promoting literacy
and spreading the love of the written word.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

new apartment, all in white

through the grapvine (the grapevine being my beloved gossipy mother) i often hear about family members and library employees reading my blog.  apparently, upon reading the description of our first apartment, a cousin replied to my mother, "it sounds like miss dewey d and the bolshevik are living in some sort of cupboard."

quite right.

if you imagine our front door as the door to a cabinet, our apartment has the exact layout of a cupboard with a shelf cutting it in half.  on the first shelf we have a 15 x 15 foot room that is the kitchen/dining room/ living room, with a small closet-like bathroom.  then a spiral staircase up to the second shelf where we have a bed, a dresser, and a small tv hanging from the ceiling like a hospital room.  and that is the cupboard we have been living in for the past 6 weeks.

but today, oh joy of joys, we are moving to our new grown-up sized apartment!

when i first saw the pictures of the place on craigslist i thought that i would hate it.  first, it was over-priced by BA standards.  second, everything in the apartment is white.  EVERYTHING!  floors, walls, futon, chairs, tables, counters, etc.  when i move into a place the first thing i do is paint every room a different color: pink, blue, peach, violet, green.  i have never lived with such whiteness.  but when i walked in there was something oddly cool and sort of mod going on with the whiteness.  and then i walked onto the balcony.  sold!  (and luckily i was able to talk the landlady down $100 per month.  i haggled!)

the apartment is an odd sort of layout, with a living room and a dining room, each one having it's own loft area.  so the larger loft area will be our bedroom, and then the other loft area will be for storage and guests.

did i mention it has a kick-ass balcony?

so dear blog readers, it is a fond farewell to the cupboard today!  we've signed a lease which ends in january, so let the parade of house guests begin!

miss dewey d

Monday, July 19, 2010

la boca ... BOO!

scary, scary, scary la boca!

la boca is a very colorful neighborhood in Bs As that has sadly gotten a bad rap for being dangerous.  and the more you read about it, the more alarmist people seem to become.  now, i've never walked down any dark alleys at night there (you know, because i'm not an idiot), but every time i've been there it has always been fine.  i actually like the neighborhood a lot.  however, it is a neighborhood of a lower economic class, so you know if you walk around flashing your wallet and your iPhone you could get mugged.  kinda like every nyc neighborhood i've ever lived in or worked in.

la boca is probably most famous for it's brightly painted houses, but it is also famous for being the home of the Boca Juniors, our favorite futbol (soccer) team.  while many people support the opposing BA team, River Plate, we support la boca, viewing them as a sort of underdog team of ragtag misfits, not unlike the Brooklyn Dodgers or the NY Mets (if the Mets didn't suck so much).

anyhoo, my beloved bolshvik has already begun adorning himself with a variety of la boca hoodies, jerseys, scarves, etc.  and taking a day off from my various jobs, i decided to join him on a little tour of la bombera (the chocolate box), the famed stadium where the boca juniors play.

being my mother's daughter the first thing i did was peruse the gift shop.  there is so much we can learn from gift shops!  for instance, who knew that dulce de leche (much like wheaties) was the breakfast of champions for futbol players?  well, it must be because they sell coffee cans filled with special Boca Juniors dulce de leche.  i am a dulce de leche fan and all, but this seems like a hell of a lot of liquid caramel goodness, even for me.

on the tour, we were allowed to walk around the empty stadium and take lots of pictures.  we were even given the option of paying an extra 30 pesos to pose on the field while holding a replica of the world cup.  although tempted, i passed on this photo op.

apparently, psychological warfare is a big part of futbol stadium design.  we learned that the away team enters the field through a very small door, so small that they actually have to watch their heads in order to get through it.  while the home team gets to  enter through large grandiose type doors.  but my favorite is the area for the away fans.

in a stadium that seats 50,000 people, there are only 2-3 thousand seats for the away fans.  and no, they cannot mix with the boca fans.  they must be kept in their own separate area.  for their own safety, the away fans are penned into this sort of futbol interment camp where they are fenced in by barbed wire.  according to our guide, this section also has the worst view of the field, AND is at such a steep angle that fans are often afraid of getting too rowdy up there for fear of falling.  nice!

the bolshevik was quite anxious to try to become members of the Boca Juniors club, so that we could get tickets to games.  apparently, there are about 100,000 members and of course there's only half that number of seats.  so we asked around and were told there is a waiting list to become members.  ok, fine.  we'll be here for several months, we can be on a waiting list.  but when we finally found the proper representative to talk to, we learned that the waiting list is EIGHT YEARS LONG!  yup ... you could probably get yourself on a shorter waiting list to adopt a child than you can to get membership to the Boca Juniors.

but fear not dear blog readers, supposedly there are still ways for us to get tickets either the day of the game or from scalpers.  so we may be sitting in the stands eating from a tub of dulce de leche just yet.

Monday, July 12, 2010

sho no entiendo nada

you may be wondering to yourself, "self ... how is miss dewey decimal's spanish coming along?  surely she has been in spanish speaking countries for almost 3 months now ... she must talking up a storm."

no.  that is not the case.

so the bolshevik and i took two weeks of intensive spanish courses in peru.  i took 4 hours a day, and the bolshevik took 6.  for TWO WEEKS!  and we were speaking pretty well in peru.  we understood a lot of what people were saying.

at one point i even had a conversation with my teacher about movies, and in order to stall her from giving me any boring exercises i proceeded to explain to her the entire plot of Shawshank Redemption.  in spanish!  then she told me about a movie staring a young kristie alley (she had no problem explaining to me that kristie alley is now muy gordo.  she couldn't remember the title, but after getting the details i was able to conclude it was actually this film starring sidney poitier, who apparently is not as famous in peru as kristie alley)

anyhoo ... point is, when we arrived in argentina we came to a rude awakening.  that awakening having to do with the fact that our spanish does in fact suck.  turns out, they speak really slowly in peru.  and they don't tend to use any flowery language.  it's all very basic and easy to understand.  but here, i can't understand a word anyone is saying.

for you spanglish speakers out there, i'm going to go on a little rant about argentine spanish (please note, once i am able to speak argentine spanish, i will stand firm that it is the proper spanish, and that spanish from spain is somehow incorrect) ...

first, i noticed a lot of people using the word sho ... sho this, sho that, sho blah blah blah.  eventually i asked someone, what is this sho?  turns out, sho is how they pronounce the word yo, which is probably the first spanish word i ever learned.  yup, i don't even know how to say the word for "i" in this crazy country.  pretty much any word with a y in it may or may not be pronounced as "sh."

then, i heard people saying stuff like eh-shos for ellospo-sho for pollo, cah-shay for calle, or cabasho for caballo.  when telling people where i live i have now become accustomed to saying veesha crespo instead of villa crespo.

this is not even to mention all the words that people are saying that i just don't know.  for instance, they don't use the word tu for "you."  instead they use the word vos.  they've also created this word called sos, which from what i gather is a form of "to be."  so someone might say, "vos sos?" when asking where you are from.  wtf?!  those aren't even words.


and, in general, when people are speaking here they have this very melodic way of talking that is very sing-songy and involves a lot of hand gestures.  it kind of reminds me of the swedish chef from the muppets, if the swedish chef spoke spanish.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

so many jobs, so little time

before we left nyc there was much debate over how the bolshevik and i could possibly live in a foreign country.  surely, we would be destitute within minutes of landing.  well, dear blog readers, i am happy to report that we are doing just fine.

to recap, here are a few of the potential jobs we had brainstormed before arriving:
english teachers
menu proofreaders
milk shake consultant
punk rope instructor
baker (they have a lot of mediocre bread here)
singing/basic piano teacher
babysitter (who will teach your child english!  or prevent your expat child from learning spanish!)
dog walker (this was not high up on the list as neither the bolshevik nor i like dogs)

even once we had gotten here, there were many naysayers who told us that it would be nearly impossible for us to find work, telling us that the market was flooded with expats trying to do just about anything for a few pesos.  well, they couldn't have been more wrong.

first, on a friend's recommendation i tried out elance which is a website filled with freelancers and freelance jobs for said freelancers to bid on.  it takes a bit of time to set up a profile and whatnot, but after a few days i was bidding on jobs, and even though i had no rating or references, i was quickly offered a project to write a gay blog.

that's right.  i'm not even gay, but i made quite a case for myself explaining how i am "a friend to the gays" and that i support gay rights.  in the end of my pitch i simply said, "i'm from new york city."  what else do you need?

after that, using my credentials as a punk rope instructor (i knew that certification would come in handy!), i landed myself a job writing a fitness eBook.  this eBook was a mash-up of pilates and boot camp.  now, i have never been a fan of pilates, having only taken a few classes and always been bored out of my mind (seriously, could exercising be any less exciting than pilates?)  anyhoo, i wrote the book, hoping to maybe see pilates in a new light.   in the end, i can honestly tell you that although pilates is good for building up your core muscles, it is a silly means of exercise.  just go out and do something active (jogging/aerobics/biking/hiking), and then do some crunches after!  it'll have the same effect, and unlike pilates it's more fun than watching paint dry.

moving on.

then i was commissioned to write 60 short articles on dating.  they sent me 60 titles, and i just wrote whatever i felt like about them.  pretty sweet.  and i learned that i am in fact an excellent source of relationship advice.  i highly recommend taking advice from me.

during this time, i was also hired by two different language schools to teach english.  i only have four students right now, but i meet with them once or twice a week for an hour or so and we go through different lessons.  i actually enjoy it a lot, although i still question my ability to teach anyone anything.

and finally, as a piece de resistance, last week i was hired as an online dating assistant.  what is that, you ask?  well imagine some wealthy businessmen who wants to meet a nice girl online, but just don't have the time to sort through all those pesky dating sites.  so instead, they hire out a company to write their profile, pick out women, write them messages, and arrange dates.  all the guy has to do is show up.  yup, so now my main job is as an "opener."  i go through the lists of all the candidates and send them messages as though i am mr. wealthy business man.  morally questionable?  probably.  interesting work? definitely.  so i'm outsourcing my elance jobs to the bolshevik, and now being an online dating assistant is my main writing job.

and that is all dear blog readers ...

bringing in the pesos,

miss dewey d

Monday, July 5, 2010

everyone employed

there is something going on here in buenos aires that is kind of charming in it's inefficiency.  there seems to be a job for everyone.

now, i like that i buy my fruits and vegetables from a store that exclusively sells produce, and that we get our fish from the fish store, and our fresh hand-made pasta from the fresh hand-made pasta store. (what, you don't have a fresh hand-made pasta store?)  i even bought my teaching supplies from a stationary store, as it seemed to be the only place that sold things like folders and staplers.  that's cool.  i like specialty shops.

but i have noticed that there is a bit of an over-employment going on at some of these places.  for instance, at the supermarket when you walk over to the produce section (assuming you didn't buy your produce at the produce store), there is a man there whose sole job is to get you your produce for you.  so you tell him what you want and then he bags it for you.  seems a little useless, no?  i mean, i can get my own carrots.  i'm quite capable that way.

then at the electronics store when i went to buy a flash drive, one man helped me find the proper item and input my information into a computer (why is my personal information even necessary?).  then i was escorted to another desk where i paid for the item, declining any payment plans for this purchase (i was actually offered a payment plan for $25 item.  really?).  then, i walked over to another counter where a man stood beside a freight elevator and stamped copies of my receipts.  he made a phone call to someone, i assume at the bottom of the elevator shaft, who then put my flash drive on an elevator.  after i finally received the flashdrive, i was stopped by a security guard who checked that my item matched my receipt, and i was then sent on my way.  the whole process was rather time consuming.  and really, why do i need 5 employees to assist me in the purchasing of such a small inexpensive item?

have i mentioned that we have trash collection 6 days a week.  6 days a week!  it's so often that you don't even need to buy trash bags.  you just put out the day's garbage in little plastic bodega bags.  i can't even imagine how many garbage men it takes to collect trash 6 days out of 7 for a city of about 13 million people.  crazy.

have i mentioned that i am now in the employ of three different companies?  not to mention the various freelance writing gigs that i am now outsourcing to the bolshevik.