Saturday, January 16, 2010

Welcome to the Working Week

So it's been a bit of time since I wrote, but fortunately that's because I have a new job! That's right, after three months without working, I am finally back at it. Although my new position is basically the opposite of serving food and wine at Aroma. I responded to a job ad on Craig's List a couple of days after New Year's and about two hours later someone called to see if I could start the next week. It seems I am the only person in Chile using Craig's List. So far both of the inquiries I've made (my apartment and now my job) worked out pretty much immediately.

So the thing about this job is that it is in Santiago. And yes, that is a completely different city. But I felt like I was getting nowhere in Valparaiso and part of me has been longing for a bit more city life. Valpo is lovely, but in a city of 500,000 you tend to see the same faces and go to the same places every day. So for the last week I have been commuting two and a half hours each way to work about three hours a day. It's totally ridiculous and totally exhausting.

The job is "curriculum manager" for a tutoring company based in the Las Condes neighborhood of Santiago. So it's teaching, or more precisely tutoring. The company currently works exclusively with clients of Korean descent. So it's definitely a niche market. Right now there is no office, so I am making house calls. Like I said, it is completely different. I don't know if I like the job yet. It has certainly given my days some much needed structure. But I am often gone for ten or twelve hours at a time. And so, I have decided to move to Santiago.

The idea of moving again makes me vaguely nauseous. Even though I don't have too much stuff here, the process of finding a new place and getting to know new roommates seems particularly exhausting. So if any of you out there on the Internet have some great tips on affordable shared apartments in Santiago (preferably on or near the Linea 1 metro) please share!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Resolutions: Dancing

I do not usually find myself making broad generalizations about Latin culture. I find Chilean culture with its particular eccentricities generally more notable, interesting and, at times, infuriating. However, I am prepared to say that Latin culture on the whole is much more enthusiastic about dancing than my own (that is, Irish-American from the northeast United States). While "going out" and "partying" in New York often involved some bopping around to music, here dancing is the goal, the focus of many evenings. And I'm not talking about goofy gyrations to Mary J. Blige or interpretive arm flailings to Tina Turner. This is the kind of dancing that requires a partner. And everyone seems to be able to do it but me.

I'm not going to outright blame my parents for this. They read this blog, for one thing. And for another, it is simply not within our cultural norm to rear children to know the difference between salsa, merengue and cumbia. That said, I have vowed to myself several times on the dance floors of Valparaiso that my children will not suffer the same fate. How do I get my hips to do that? And where exactly do I put my weight? How can one even begin at the ripe age of twenty-six to learn the whole system of dancing?

On New Year's Day I found myself once again surrounded by people eager to dance. And despite my pleas of being tired (I had only slept between the hours of 9am and 1:30pm) and hungover (I drank rum!), I was peer pressured into participating. Though I suspect that after seeing me dance, they would have let me stay home had there been more girls for partners. And although I think my dancing might have suffered a bit due to the extreme inebriation of my partner, the whole experience was enough to sign me up for a salsa lesson on the spot. Not that there are salsa lessons at this bar. Or even, anywhere else in the city as far as I know. But I couldn't help but look around and notice all the places other people's bodies were moving that mine wasn't.

This scenario has become such a source of distress and discomfort in my life that I have vowed that 2010 will be the year of the dance. That is, the year I learn to dance. No more to hover in the corner! No more to claim fatigue! Ask for me in December and they'll just shrug and gesture towards the dance floor. And there you'll see me shaking all the right parts at all the right times and twirling like a dervish. It is resolved.