New Year in a New City

I hope everyone had a sweet start to the new year!

Holidays with Rita were really nice and really different! This week is this crazy mix of my second week of regular school, the jewish holidays, and my family having just left. It’s really a lot to process at the same time but I’m doing my best.

Let’s see what happened this week.

Monday: After the family left, I wallowed a little and then got a manicure. It cost 22 pesos (under 3 bucks) and was right around the corner at a hair salon. The salon was run by a family and super informal. One of the haircutters didn’t have a customer for a little bit so he got another employee to fix his frosted tips (not kidding). Then a customer of his (a regular, I assume), walked in so the haircutter cut his hair with the cap that you wear to get your done still on. It was highly ridiculous.

Tuesday, I returned to my regular aerobics class which was nice, even though I knew I would miss thursday for services. I had class at Ditella and met an Argentine girl who had studied in the US for almost two years and then returned to Argentina. She went to the New School and hated it! It was one of the first times someone’s told me they had a negative experience in the US, much less New York and I think the city really overwhelmed her, in terms of cost and going to college there (something I wouldn’t want to do). I appreciated her honesty and it’s interesting that she returned to private school here rather than UBA. I also ate alone on tuesday because Rita had a meeting for temple (she’s on their version of the ritual committee) which was strange after a week.

Wednesday: I did some homework for the week at my corner cafe where they definitely recognize me now. Then I had class at IFSA and headed home to get ready for services which started at 7. Rita’s temple rents a special space for the high holidays (this year it was a really beautiful event space next to the polo stadium where some celebrity got married) so I took a cab there because I was running late and it was cold. I didn’t know what to expect in terms of size/casualness/religiousness etc. but it was great! Rita belongs to a Pardes Foundation temple which is a branch of this institute in Jerusalem that’s all about judaism that’s inclusive and non judgmental. That’s a) awesome b) a relief and it also meant lots of people were super casual, there was great music, and a really nice community feel. Having spanish as the other language was different especially when it came to transliterations but still comforting. I also thought about the problem of gender neutral prayer services in Spanish. No word is gender neutral in this language so they do what they can but can’t really remove the masculinity of the liturgy. There was a huge chorus and they were really good (all ages and genders) and they handed out tiny grape juice cups and apple slices on little plastic trays at the end of the service. It felt really nice to be there and see Rita in her element. She knew everyone and helped so many people find their seats and etc. Her niece normally comes to that temple with her family but skipped nighttime services so I was glad she wasn’t alone. Then we drove to her son Damian’s house for dinner, which Stella, the same woman who cooks all of our food, made. The whole family shares this housekeeper/cook! Dinner was really nice and included challah (they made a sweet and savory one which was different in that one was like bread and the other tasted like challah) and honey cake. I also got to meet new relatives from Rita’s daughter in law’s family! We didn’t get home until after 1 and Stella slept over because she was due to cook for Rita on thursday anyway.

Thursday, I woke up super early to shower and get ready for temple + two classes in two places. I went to services and they were good, but a little too long (said every jew ever). This time, Rita’s niece was there with her family. Her husband converted and he got honored with getting to hold the torah and bring it around. Rita and her niece were crying during that and it was really sweet. He was also wearing jeans. The Rabbi wasn’t there because his mom had surgery that day but a rabbinical student and another Rabbi led things nicely. We read about Ishamael and Hagar not the sacrifice of Isaac from the torah which I much preferred and the rabbinical student even led a little discussion in the middle of the service which about 10 people contributed to. There was music and shofar blowing (though not very good shofar blowing) and some cute babies. It didn’t end till 1 pm and then I ran to class (I had told her I would be late but I wound up missing half of it) without having eaten. After class, I grabbed a salad at subway (this sounds weird but it was probably the cheapest salad I’ve had in this country and was literally all veggies) and went to UBA. During class, I tried mate, the herb that everyone drinks, for the first time which made me feel very Argentine. We also had a guest lecturer who’s in charge of the entire human rights department. He was talking about the US declaration of Independence and asked if any exchange students could say the names “George Mason” and “Thomas Jefferson.” I obliged and got my five seconds of fame. Rita went to her niece’s house for dinner while I was in class and I went home and ate. It was such a weird day of doing so many different things on so little sleep. I felt very overwhelmed from all the switches and glad to get a good night’s sleep.

Today, I tried Bikram yoga for the first time! It was really hot and I sweat more than a person really should but felt good afterwards. It’s 26 poses and 90 minutes at over 100 degrees F. I thought it was 45 minutes so I’m glad I didn’t know the length coming in. Some people were crazy bendy but I would go back. My first class gives me a weeklong pass so hopefully I’ll go again. Then I visited the Evita Museum and ate lunch in their beautiful cafe. The museum is a little one sided as it’s run by her foundation but it’s in a beautiful home and really gives insight on the Argentine vision of Evita: she’s practically a goddess. Since I took a latin american history class at Penn, I had some context with which to view their version of history, which I was glad for. I’m now chilling until dinner and then heading out to see a jazz show at a bar.

ALSO: the context for all of these posts is that every activity I did was at the opportunity cost of Orange is the New Black. I started watching because Nextflix miraculously worked and I’m 8 episodes in and don’t want it to end. I’ve been planning my schedule around watching it and cannot recommend it enough! I’m waiting to go on an internet binge of articles about it till I finish but if you’ve read anything cool, send it my way.

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