Monday, June 29, 2009

Black Lung in Buenos Aires

Well twelve days in Buenos Aires and still it is so romantic. It rains today and everywhere around me there are people with hacking coughs and swine flu masks. There is so much pollution dripping from the walls of the streets that I think I have the black lung. I cough and cough and feel surprisingly upbeat.

Staying in an apartment has its charms. I always did live in an apartment in London and there is definitely something charming about being woken at 3am by two people upstairs having a blazing row, the thunderous sound of a toilet chain being pulled, the theme tune from Hawaii Five O suddenly starting up and the general sinister groans of an old building. One man´s meat is another man´s poison and I have to say I love old things. The elevator is about 150 years old and is like a little black cage. I love the high celings of the apartment, the crown molding, the parquet floors etc etc. We are staying in an apartment in Congreso which a friend told me is ´downtown.´ It is a nice enough area. And there is something of the hustle and bustle of a megacity that I have missed living in a small town like Baltimore.

There is such a process of adjustment. It just makes me laugh all those people for example in the USA who say "oh I am fat because of my metabolism or I am just going to accept that I am fat and that´s just the way I am." Being here has shown me just how abnormal being fat really is. I have seen maybe three fat people here and I am pretty sure they were American tourists. Everyone else is pretty slim, I suppose because they walk a lot.

We were looking at various apartments maybe to buy as investments or maybe to move here eventually to which most people scream but why would anyone want to move to a third world country? To which I would reply you can´t help it if you fall in love with a place. Some people fall in love with places like the USA I suppose because it is clean, featureless and as soulless as a plastic manniquin. Others fall in love with the grinding poverty, and old fashioned glamour of a place like Buenos Aires. Of course the real point is that if one has money one can afford a decent place in Buenos Aires. Would you believe that the poshest avenue, Avenue Alvear, featuring Louis Vuitton etc is posh simply because it does not have pavements swimming in dog shit?

What´s not to love about a place without a work ethic that has people eating leisurely breakfasts at 11am on a week day? Yes I appreciate the irony, if one had to live like the average Argentinian it would be hell for someone used to the first world but if one can afford the so called luxury lifestyle which would not actually be luxury it would just what we call average then one would be not so much part of the society but a glorified outsider peeking in. So would one really become a genuine Buenos Airean or just remain a foreign ponce looking to experience some kind of genuine ethnic experience?

Well the kids didn´t like it here much because they had to walk for miles but I rather liked the city, even in winter, it had that chill depressing feel in the air that I have missed from London winters but the upside was plenty of delectable cakes and icecreams. So should I move to Buenos Aires, it just sounds so glam, "I live in Buenos Aires." Yes there are some open sewers that stink and I don´t really want to think of what it smells like in summer. But I am a restless person and maybe I will end up here. I will post my pics when I get back!!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

High Infidelity

Infidelity is a complex subject so I'm not going to try and give a few glib answers about why people do it but it does seem to me that people are a lot less enlightened about infidelity these days than you might think. In the old days it was, Oh Mrs Simmons from 93 had an affair and everyone knows her son Jimmy isn't really Mr Simmons' but let's not talk about it. Basically you just ignored the fact your husband or wife was up to no good and let the pain fester like a septic wound until you died because divorce was taboo.

I remember visiting my granddad (83) after being out of touch for many years - a British upper class somewhat overbearing character - in his cottage in England. My grandmother had died ten years before and actually I was pretty fond of her. So we're having a chat about the weather and the price of petrol when I notice there are no pictures of my gran anywhere in the sitting room and there is some other old woman plastered all over the place. So I say, "Oh, who's that?"

He doesn't bat an eyelid and says, "Oh that's Daphne, my lover. She's been my lover all my life." He then goes on to tell me he's been bonking her all these years while I want to put my fingers in my ears and scream, please make him stop! Then he goes on to say after gran died he married this old bird and bought her a flat and they moved in together. All very touching, until she died after falling off a bus. I don't know, I just thought, you jerk. Did you really have to tell me that you are basically going to pretend your wife didn't exist? It really turned my stomach. His attitude was quite modern I suppose: let it all hang out, let's not brush this under the carpet, but he was the type that existed then and exists now, a kind of sociopath who feels no guilt whatsoever for his behavior even though now, looking back I am sure my gran knew what he was up to because I remember her calling him ten times a day at the office and being jealous of other women etc etc.

But my point is this, it takes two to tango and the one who is cheating does so precisely because they know he/she can get away with it. I know so many women, married with kids, whose partners have cheated and they sort of forgive them and then guess what, the guy does it again. I think maybe you can forgive them once but after that you have to simply slash their tires and change the locks.

Like this woman Sally I know who has a daughter and told me recently that her husband has been cheating on her for the ten years they have been married. She said, "He recently confessed that two months after we were married he was with some prostitutes, but that doesn't bother me, that was just blowjobs with condoms."

"I don't get that. How could he do it after two months?"

"Well he'd do it after we'd had rows."

"Still ..." The situation here is it was obvious this guy was a real weirdo if he was doing this so soon into his marriage. Maybe it simply slipped his mind that he was married.

"But recently he got involved with a woman at work, emotionally involved, and that really bothered me. He told me it was finished but then I went round to her flat and found them in there and I confronted them, and I really think that affair is now over. And now I've joined a church and Peter is coming and he's going to get control of his impulses. It's for our daughter - you can't just throw in the towel. He says he's sorry and he won't do it again and I believe he can change."

Well I applaud her faith in human nature but I don't think he will change. Now, I'm not saying I am pure as the driven snow. I had a boyfriend once - for some reason although we were very close we could never commit to each other - who after we split up moved in with another woman and we'd sleep with eachother sometimes and I can't say I felt any guilt. Still, I wasn't the one attached (justifying it to myself!)

So, where would you draw the line? Could you forgive your wife/husband/partner for cheating on you? It just seems to me like it is a slippery slope.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Wanted: One Baby Bird Murderer

Yesterday I walked to school with the kids and Scarlett found a robin's egg on the pavement and was very excited about it. She asked me to take it home and hatch it.

Me "You are joking?"
Scarlett "It would be the easiest thing in the world. You'd just keep it warm."
"Under some blankets."
"It would suffocate."
"Then sit on it like a bird."
"Yes good idea. I could build a nest in the front room and sit on it for a week wearing a Tweety Bird costume. Then when it is born I could chew worms and feed them to the tiny hatchling with tweezers. Er, no. Why don't you just take it and show it to your science teacher?"
"Oh mum, you are so mean."

Emma getting ready to sit on the nest and hatch the robin's egg

Then Scarlett came home from school screaming saying on the way home the egg had got crushed in her hands and yolk had come out. She screamed that I had killed the bird. Well I just ignored her and later while Scarlett was out with her dad I found the little one aka Sausage - who can pick ANY lock or get into any password protected computer file yet can barely read and would have been a shoe in for one of those child pick pockets in Fagin's Gang (Oliver Twist) - poking a little key that Scarlett had hidden God knows where into her sister's locked diary. I said, "Why are you doing that? You can't even read, let alone the fact that your sister would not want you to read it." She says, "Oh I'm just going to look at the pictures." After a while she says in a sweet little voice, "Can you read it to me? I want to learn to read." She is an MLB (Manipulative Little Bitch) so before I know it I am reading aloud from Scarlett's Diary. I was amazed at her poetic licence. There were two recent incidents of torture, one human, one animal:

"1. Daddy pulled out six splinters from my feet today but made it hurt a lot more than it should of. He was trying to kill me I think.

2. I found a robin's egg on the way to school. I wanted to give it to mum to take home but she hates animals and said she would not raise it. By the evening the egg had smashed. Mum is the one who killed that robin before it was born."

Let's hope the contents of that diary never get out. Sitting here waiting for Social Services to phone up looking for a Child Torturer and Animal Murderer.

So what do you reckon - am I a bad mummy and should I be punished?