I have been thankfully quite busy with work the past couple of weeks, and feel a little more comfortable that I will be out of moving debt soon. It was raining today, lightly, but the air feels quite nice to me out there. A friend of mine from San Francisco moved to NYC yesterday and we met for a lovely coffee today. My parents are coming for a visit tomorrow. I had a nightmare last night about my mother falling and needing help and me being unable to get there because I was trapped in a locked shopping mall. I have a theater party to attend this evening. Finished a couple of projects and billed today. Had acupuncture yesterday and my hand hurt afterwards. The rain just got heavier. I’m thinking about Barcelona.
That about sums up San Francisco today. Amazing sunny weather but quite cold out. Summer in SF. Now that I have been living in NYC for several months, my trip back to the Bay Area has me again noticing some of the aesthetic and cultural differences between places. These things shift and reorder themselves in subtle ways over many many visits. In a very general way today, I have a feeling that New York is much its own thing, with a Euro dialogue happening in a lot of places, especially with London and Paris, but that San Francisco is having a dialogue with its past, stronger place in the American psyche as well as the Northwestern and Californian sensibility that it has always had (showing itself in its environmental, political and culinary preoccupations). San Francisco is an amazing place for food for a city of its size (or any size, really). New York has a harder edge and is filled with, well, the best (and sometimes worst) of everything at all times. San Francisco is fewer things, and they have a greater presence because of their relative importance. San Francisco is easy in places that New York is hard and vice versa. I love and miss many things about San Francisco, and could easily see myself living here again, but it does lack some of the vitality that I feel in New York.
So much for random, not very interesting ramblings as I sit in a coffee shop (my second today) and wait to meet my friend Troy for dinner later.
I am back in San Francisco for a week, to visit friends and attend a wedding ceremony this coming weekend. I am justifying the trip a little more with a small contract I have picked up for tomorrow and a potential website client I am meeting with on Wednesday. The weather is magnificent and I am happy to escape the heavy humidity of the East for a bit. After a week in SF, I will head to LA for a week to visit friends and have another potential work meeting.
Ah the life of the itinerant web worker….
Lest you think I haven’t been up to much the past few days, here is a small sampling of memories:
– On Thursday night after dinner Roland and I went for a drink at another famous gay bar in the Village known as “The Monster”. There were a bunch of portly theater queens belting out show tunes around a piano played by someone who looked amazingly like this muppet.
– Two nights ago, while coming home late on the train, a nervous woman approached two officers and started off angrily telling them that she was threatened by a group of young women on the train. The woman (who was white) then mentioned that they were black and that they had called her a “white bitch” and threatened her. She then started to cry, and told the officers she had voted for Barack Obama and had previously had an African-American boyfriend. She was afraid that they were waiting for her at the next stop and one of the cops (himself African-American) offered to walk her home. She thanked him, took his hand and started to cry again as they got in the subway car.
– Yesterday, I met Gabe, Chris and Jason (and a few others) in the Lower East Side for a fascinating gallery walk. Our group was led by a lovely young Israeli woman who is a graduate art student here in New York. As we were walking back from the tour towards the food and drinks at the main gallery, I made the stupid mistake of talking about Israel with an Israeli. I have noticed that even while they may be very left leaning on a huge number of other issues, in general (in my experience) they are quite nationalistic and right wing on the subject of Palestinians and the peace process.
– Also yesterday during the gallery walk, met a wonderful friend of Gabe’s named Regina. Among the many conversational gems she shared with me was a fascinating story about a lecherous guy (in attendance) who is infamous for showing up at every gallery opening for the free food and drink. He then proceeds to hit on every young woman in the place. Regina told me there is a blog dedicated to him (I could be wrong, but this may be it) where people post sitings and generally complain about him.
Today I actually did some networking, worked out at the gym, met a friend for coffee, and picked up my fixed laptop (yay) from the Apple Store on 14th (where I have to say they have about the best customer service of any place I have been). Then I took the subway home and admired the falling snow. What a Pollyanna. But I am feeling pretty positive about being here and finding work, even in this economy. My friend John tells me he isn’t worried about me, what with my relentless, oppressive positivity. He is sure I will be alright even as he tries to grind it out of me. And you know what? I believe him. Tomorrow I am moving in with my Sivan in Park Slope for a while. My hope is to find enough work to make me feel secure in renting an apartment before I run out of friends to crash with.
These are some of the things that are occupying my thoughts these days as I prepare for life in NYC. I have a lingering cold and cough (caught in my last days in Brazil), and it is quite cold in NYC (and getting colder) and I realize I have no winter coat (or cold weather clothes in general, having traveled mostly in tropical climates the past 2 years), and these thoughts make me think of my health and well being and thus joining a gym (not to mention that for gay men in this city it is the law), and all of the above items cost money of course, and that leads to thoughts of work. Where will it all lead?
- Unlike every other country I have been in, there seems to be no standard direction for maps to be drawn in, ie “North” is up. And you might say that, hey, there is perhaps a certain logic to drawing maps in the southern hemisphere with “South” being up. And that would be fine, but there is no convention that I can discern here at all. Some maps have North up, some have South up, and some don’t bother with any cardinal alignment.
- A rather large number of people walking on the streets of Buenos Aires are smoking a cigarette on their walk. And when I think about it, I don’t see all that many people smoking in bars or restaurants. But walking somewhere seems to be the preferred time.
- More than any other country I have been in, there are lots and lots of dads with strollers or carrying babies. They are everywhere and very often without a spouse. I think it says something very good about the current state of fathering here.
Continuing my investigations into the minutiae of Buenos Aires life, I want to share with you two more small signifiers of the culture here.
– Inexact change. In almost every situation involving paying for something (restaurant, store, pharmacy, grocery) if you or the vendor doesn’t have exact change or can’t give exact change, everyone just lets it go. It seems that for anything under a peso (about 30c) this is true. Everyone makes do with what they have and provides whatever centavos they have, but if a few are missing in either direction, no big deal. I can’t imagine this working in a place like a grocery in the US, where everything is accounted for to the penny. I am not sure how it all works out in the end, but I like this easygoing attitude about a few pennies.
– Dog walking. This could well be a feature only of my slightly upscale neighborhood (Palermo), but I notice on a daily basis an inordinate amount of dog walkers, usually leading a group of about 10-15 dogs. During any given day I will come across at least 3 different walkers, one day I counted 7. Are there really THAT many dogs in (this part of) Buenos Aires? Perhaps that explains all the shit.