Wednesday, September 23, 2009

No excuses, no apologies.

The thing about blogging while traveling, or even living in a new and different place for short time spans is that it’s….easy. Everything just sort of falls into place. Ten times a week you say to yourself, ‘can’t wait to blog about this.’ You try new things, meet new people, meet crazy people; you push boundaries. And then you write it down. It’s funny and witty and interesting, because it’s exotic and new and different.

The thing about blogging when you are simply living is that….well my primary concern is getting from one day to the next day, and to the next week, and to the next month. It’s less about the memoirs and more about establishing myself and a community and a life. I meet someone crazy and I say, ‘shit this person is crazy. I’m gettin' me the hell outa here.’ I meet new people all the time, but if I write down their names it isn’t for the blog but for a date. Adventures no longer seem so adventurous; they just are part of life: good days, bad days, busy days and long nights. The city, the language, the culture, the people all lose that exotic something when I began to call this place home.

So bear with me as I try to relearn how to document life.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

See tucker...

See tucker. See tucker graduate. See tucker run away from DC to Mexico; to Cuba; to Argentina. See tucker party in Buenos Aires. See tucker party some more in Buenos Aires. See tucker find a cool NGO in work with in Buenos Aires and extend his trip a couple of more months. See tucker extend his trip again a couple of more months. See tucker extend ‘trip’ for two years.

Yes, I’ve committed the cliché crime. I’ve fallen in love with Buenos Aires (again), and I’m not leaving. At first it was just only a pleasant fiction: walking around the city and calling it my home; responding to curious Argentines that I live here. I would claim this city as my (temporary) home in order to make things easier and avoid long explanations. I knew it was a small fib, but it felt good. It felt right. And so I began to wonder if I might find a reason to stay for a year. Jobs—good jobs that actually pay—are hard to come by, and I didn’t want to continue living the life of a volunteer (I must admit it’s not my thing). Grad-school seemed an easy choice and so I began to look into master programs. Within a matter of weeks I had applied to the University of Buenos Aires (UBA) for a masters in Public Health (MPH).

The MPH program is two years and unique in a few ways. First, I will only have class three days a month. Right--three days a month. Every third week of the month I have class Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. The catch? Ten hours a day! Right--ten hours a day. The rest of the month we have online assignments, discussion boards, and group research projects to complete. Second, the program is coordinated between 12 different faculty departments; everyone from the schools of architecture to dentistry to biomedicine to anthropology to political science. So it is extremely interdisciplinary (one of the original aspects that attracted me to UBA). Thirdly, the program philosophy is what they call problem-solution (or problem solving). After studying the public health fundamentals, we will be presented with public health challenges and then expected to conduct research and present practical solutions. That means that we will spend a lot of time in the field and a lot of time conducting hands-on research (two more pluses).

Classes start tomorrow and I’m very excited but also very nervous. Reading, writing, and speaking Spanish at the graduate level is cause for worry, but having to actively listen and participate at graduate-level Spanish for ten straight hours is cause for alarm. haha I am sure that the first couple months will be quite a challenge, but after a while I won’t stress it. I’m debating weather or not to use a strong Norteamericano accent the first day of class in order to make everyone want to help me.

Lots more going on and lots more to tell, but I’ll keep this blog short and mono-themed.

Hopefully the next time I post it will be to tell about my sweet new house (knock on wood).

love and besos


Saturday, April 18, 2009

OK I'm not a tweet

Saludos boludos!

I know I know. I do start blogs. I want you all to know that. I simply have a very bad habit of not finishing them.

BUT I have recently started a twitter account and have been 'tweeting' at least every couple days. For those of you who are not familiar with twitter it is a 'short message system' notification service. Basically, I can write one to two sentence updates like a text message and post it to my profile. It is a lot less work than having to write witty blogs, which means less pressure. Less pressure = more updates. We all win!

If you want to subscribe to my twitter page, visit my profile at:
If you are already a member of twitter you can hit the 'follow' button. If not, you can become a member or click on the link on the right hand side of the screen that says, 'RSS feed of soytucker's updates'.

I'll still be trying to blog with more substantial updates. I know I still haven't explained why I'm still in Argentina and what I'm doing here. It is coming, I promise.


much love and many besos


Sunday, March 8, 2009

Some tid-bits about my life in Buenos Aires

  • Last night I danced until sunrise.
  • I cook. A lot. And I’m working on my baking skills!
  • Possibly because I cook (a lot) and because I’m learning how to bake, I eat (a lot) and am constantly forcing food on my roommates and friends.
  • I work with the Fundación Buenos Aires SIDA, where I’m part of a team that is designing a comprehensive (we hope) health project that will serve trans women in the city. I’m pretty stoked about it.
  • Technically I'm an undocumented migrant. My visa expired in February. I joke about this in full acknowledgment that I can joke about being an 'illegal immigrant' in Latin America without any real fear of persecution, whereas if I were an undocumented Latino in the United States I may be subjected to arbitrary arrest, police brutality, detention without due process, jail-time, and swift deportation.
  • Buenos Aires is getting EXPENSIVE. I now pay exactly double what I paid in 2007 to wash a load of laundry. Our rent, which we pay in US dollars, is now 22 % more expensive (measured in Argentine pesos) due to the exchange rate in May of 2008 vs. now.
  • I’m currently trying to muscle my way into the moneda mafia here in Buenos Aires. Coins, which everyone is always in need of but nobody ever has, requires cunning and a firm NO. No I don’t have 30 centavos to give you. No, I’m sorry. I don’t have any change. Then they look at me with eyes of fury because they hear my pocket jingle-jangle as I walk away.
  • The first three months of my life in Buenos Aires consisted of waking up at noon (on an early day), cooking huge meals, drinking good wine, and dancing until the wee hours of the morning. Don’t worry mom and dad; I have since expanded my list of extracurriculars.
  • I’m living in the chic barrio of Palermo Soho, where the tree-lined streets are dotted with cafés and fashionable boutiques, and where foreigners have injected English to the street banter and inflated real estate prices (guilty—except not on the real estate prices—girl I’m on a budget). It is definitely a change from the streets of Constitución, and—I’m not going to lie—I feel like a bit of a bougie sell out; but I’m not going to lie—I really like living here. What really surprises me is that some Argentines still have the nerve to tell me that I live in a sketchy zone, because I’m a little too close to the train tracks. I smile, shake my head and tell them they are treat constructionists.
  • I sleep on a mattress on the floor. This is a step up.
  • I have successfully managed not to go anywhere near one of the four new Starbucks that have invaded the country. I was told during the week of the first store’s grand opening that the line was literally around the block. While my parents may now feel relieved that will be able to order their soy, no whip, sugar-free, vanilla late when they visit, I feel a little sad.
  • Some of my friends down here poke fun and say that I’m living al pedo, but despite the fact I don’t have a ‘traditional’ job (i.e. one that pays me and requires me to go to an office every day) and despite the fact that I’m not in school, I’m learning a lot about life and what I want out of it.
  • I'm really anxious for someone to come a visit me.
  • My mother wants me to fly home in July to see the new Harry Potter film with her.
  • My father wants me to move back home and sleep in my old room.
  • I realize I haven't yet explained why I'm still in Argentina. You'll have to wait another week for that info--I don't want to jinx anything...

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I have not dropped off the face of the planet--I just went missing for a bit.

Che tanto tiempo! I know, I know—it's been too long. I'm a slacker,
a procrastinator. But really, I was just waiting—waiting for
something I felt was worthwhile to write about. While traveling in
Mexico and Cuba, I was on the move every four or five days. I was
hiking gorgeous mountains, experiencing new cultures, struggling to
maintain a healthy vegetarian diet, and getting myself into ridiculous
situations. In short, I had new blog material nearly every day. Life
didn't move quite as fast once I arrived in Buenos Aires. Apartment
hunting, reconnecting with old friends, making new friends, and
negotiations with the roommates just didn't seem as exciting as
illegal travel, clandestine drag shows, and solo hikes in cloud
forests. Moreover I think I was waiting until I could write about
triumph here in Buenos Aires, but academic or professional
accomplishment was slow to come by, and I hesitated to publicize my
nightclub romps and romantic trials for my all to see. Much has
happened, however, in between dancing wildly until 7 in the morning,
long runs, lots of experimental cooking, and springtime reading in the
park. And so I will try to start catching you up to speed.

I sleep on a pullout couch. It's a futon, actually. It's in the
living room. But it's cheap and in a beautiful neighborhood. Enough
said. (I found out today that the owner of the apartment is the son
of a one-time Argentine general who served under the dictator and
directed the Malvina's (Falkand Island) War. After the dictatorship
fell he struck a consolatory note and said that nobody in the army who
violated human rights could claim innocence under the hierarchy or
chain of command, because nobody should have carried out orders they
deemed immoral and unjust. For this rarely seen public apologetic
tone he was awarded an ambassadorship. Yes, I do feel a bit dirty).

I recently started working with an organization called the Buenos
Aires AIDS Foundation (I say working with rather than working for
because they can't pay me). It's a great organization that does a lot
of amazing work in HIV prevention, treatment access, civil rights for
people living with HIV/AIDS, sex education for vulnerable youth, and
sex worker outreach. Right now I'm helping doing development work
(i.e. looking for money from the global north). It's challenging and
slow-moving. In this economy few organization are looking to grant to
new organizations and it's further complicated by the fact that
Argentina is an upper-middle income country and not considered a
high-priority by any international donors despite high rates of
poverty and soaring rates of HIV in marginalized communities. But I'm
happy. I enjoy the people who I'm working with, and I'm continuing to
learn and develop skills.

Rather than write a long entry, I'm going to keep this short with
hopes of writing more frequently.

Much love and many kisses,