Hi there, friends. How are we feeling today?
As I manage my life under Saturn’s return – someone should have warned me that upon turning 29 I would not suddenly be rewarded with Gwen Stefani’s abs – I have decided to cease the navel-gazing and see if we can’t solve some of life’s most pressing issues together. Because what am I if not a very deadbeat, mostly malhumorada, fair-weather shoulder to cry on?
Are we ready? Let the healing begin!
After what feels like ages, I finally feel like I’ve settled into my new neighborhood. It’s great – there are tons of cute shops, my favorite colectivo stop is just two blocks away, and I have all but fallen in love with the local chino: a magical place stocked with the best produce, butcher, and even some imported goodies that take away the sting of homesickness. So, imagine my shock when I walked by yesterday and saw that after 30 years in business, it’s closing (!!!!!!). Is it weird that I am entering a full-on crisis? I am honestly thinking about moving to another part of town if I can’t figure out where I’ll stock up on everything from coconut milk to couscous. –Supermarket (S)weeper
Dear Clean Up on Aisle Crazy,
I’ll give you a minute to collect yourself before you need to disinfect your keyboard. Do you need a Valium? You realize you’re actually considering a move to another barrio because a supermarket is closing, yes? Meanwhile, refugees are literally dragging themselves across Europe in search of a better life. But sure, let’s focus on you for a minute.
To be fair, my own hyperbolic resistance to change is so ingrained that I try to book the same exact seat on my twice-yearly flights home to visit family. I get it. The familiarity of routine is sometimes the only thing that can talk us down off the proverbial ledge. It’s totally OK if you want to wallow in your pathetic state for a while and commiserate with, er, yourself (maybe your portero is as bummed out as you?) before you search for the possible silver lining that awaits.
I know you’re not thrilled about rearranging your post-work grocery shopping routine, but maybe you’ll be able to discover some badass verdulería that plays classy cumbia and sells insanely hot rocoto peppers! Maybe your eyes will be opened to a butcher that has the best pollos de campo in town! Or, maybe you’ll be forced to shop at Disco or Coto, where fun goes to die…! (Side note: The proliferation of veritable shithole Carrefour Express is quite possibly the bane of my current domestic existence.) Definitely not ideal, but at least you can hoard the Freddo 2 x 1 coupons that they give away with your receipt. And! Lots of Discos are stocking mystical products like kale and canned black beans, so don’t knock it until you’ve tried it, sister.
No matter what, you’re going to have to accept the fact that change is a constant, life
always sometimes sucks, and you can only hide in the pantry with a bottle of wine for so long. Put on your big girl pants and go with it. Otherwise, it’s time to put your both your psychiatrist and your real estate agent on speed dial.
I think I am about to lose my mind, and really hope you can give me some insight. I’m from a country that is open-minded and accepting of many cultures; we’re rather PC and enjoy giving everyone his space when it comes to being different. How, then, am I supposed to endure being around my (supposedly) educated, and cultured friends when it seems that all they do is make inappropriate and insensitive comments? I’ve tried to let them know that it makes me uncomfortable to no avail. Am I one step away from alienating everyone and living a life of solitude? –Feeling Stuck
Dear Heal the World poster child,
Listen, it wouldn’t be an authentic Argentine expat experience if you weren’t thisclose to banging your head against the wall at least once a day as a result of some wildly racist comment spoken by someone you otherwise respect or admire. It’s totally batshit, I know. People who have graduate degrees, who have travelled extensively across the globe, who boast a pedigree that would put the Rockefellers to shame… it can be shocking. Is there something in the water? Do you ever wonder if these freakshows actually listen to what comes out of their mouths? For example, I know someone who actually believes he will contract HIV from a mosquito that has bitten one of the travestis that hang out near his posh apartment. ARE. YOU. KIDDING. ME.
And so on.
Argentines boast many good qualities: they’re fun loving, generous of spirit, and loyal. They’re good people. Hell, I married one, so that has to count for something.
However, for some people, living in a Euro-centric bubble of regional superiority doesn’t always lead to the most inclusive of worldviews. Ignorance that starts out innocently enough can result in attitudes and ideas that disappoint even the most forgiving of us. #HolaINADI exists on social media for a reason, you know.
So, what to do? I would say the last bit of advice that will serve you in this situation would be “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” However, you can stand firm in your beliefs and hope to enlighten your friends along the way without losing your mind. Deep breathing helps. (So does bourbon.)
Adjusting expectations to fit your new cultural paradigm takes a bit of effort. When a friend calls a Japanese person a “chino,” I wait a beat before hopping up on my soapbox as I calculate if it’s really worth debating. Remember that no one wants to be known as “that guy” who can’t just shut up and talk about normal things like RuPaul’s Drag Race and the pros and cons of roasted red pepper hummus. It’s OK to give yourself the night off.
What else is there to say? Hang in there, you’re fighting the good fight, take a muscle relaxer, and put yourself to bed. Baiiiiiii.
Boys and girls, that’s all the time
I have to deal with your petty bullshit we have for today. In the meantime, try not to get run over by a colectivo and don’t forget to call your mother.
Please submit your Dear Página questions to [email protected] or via Twitter (@Pagina924) and prepare to be enlightened.