Allez les Lions! (Also, Vamos, vamos Argentina!)


Less than a year and a half ago, I boarded a plane in Dakar bound for New York. As I stepped off the collapsible staircase and through the door of the plane, I realized that I had effectively left Senegalese soil and I had to hold back tears. A few drops squeezed out despite my best efforts and as they slowly rolled down my cheeks, I imagined that I must look like a bad French new wave film.

Before I realized that the cabin crew was 100% American, I apologetically explained to the flight attendant whose eye I had accidentally caught, “Je pars…,” and then I trailed off sheepishly. She smiled at me with the truly soft and sympathetic look of someone who has borne witness to this scene a million times, and she said simply, “I know.” I am not sure she did actually know what I had said, but she knew what my tears meant. I am leaving. I don’t know when I’ll be back. And it feels like I’m leaving a bit of my heart behind.

I thought of that moment on Tuesday evening as I crossed over the East River from Manhattan into Brooklyn. The sun was setting, and New York was at its most beautiful. Earlier that morning I had been briefly and emotionally reunited with the country I hadn’t been ready to leave, and it was wonderful.

That’s all a very melodramatic way to say that I watched the Senegal v. Poland game from a Senegalese cafe in Crown Heights, and I ate Senegalese food for the first time since being in-country, and I heard Wolof and West African-accented French all around me, and when Senegal won I may as well have been in Dakar for all the joy in me and surrounding me.

I am so thankful that New York is a city where you can experience a little bit of the magic of every other country on earth. And it is especially magical at World Cup time.

I’m going back to the cafe on Sunday for the Senegal v. Japan game and what I hope is a repeat of the euphoria of victory. (I won’t even get into the sadness of the Argentina v. Croatia game. I’m hoping for a miraculous turnaround that allows Argentina to advance and Messi to stop looking so forlorn.)

As we go into the weekend, I leave you with a few moments of Team Senegal adorableness.

This is why I ride with Senegal, indeed.

Have a relaxing weekend


It’s been a while since I’ve checked in here. Every Friday, I mean to post a bunch of ever more belated links to tidbits of interest, but every Friday something gets in the way. This week, I break the cycle! Below, a slew of links that I’ve been stockpiling to share with you. Some of them may be rather old, but they are still quite interesting.

Have a lovely weekend and enjoy the World Cup, if you’re watching! Tomorrow at 9am I start my vigil in front of the TV with the Argentina-Iceland game, and before Tuesday at 11am I have to figure out where to view the Senegal games alongside Senegalese people (even though I watched no more than ten minutes of their soccer team while actually living there). Four years ago I was obsessed with Argentina; this year I’m rooting for Senegal first, Argentina second, and I couldn’t care less who comes in third. It’s silly, but it feels good.

Anyway, here are those links…

We have one man to blame for that annoying English grammar rule that prohibits ending sentences with prepositions.

Sample some entries in “The Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue,” a collection of 18th century working-class London slang.

The Romans would have called me a barbarian.

The obituary for a very unlikely sumo wrestling commentator.

Tales of another sufferfester (here’s the first one I posted about), this time an ocean kayaker. Fascinating to ponder why they do it, and what part of that impulse I have in me, albeit in relatively tiny amounts.

Towns to add to your France bucket list.

And Macron wants baguettes added to another kind of list. 

Terms of endearment from around the world. Some more adorable than others.

There is no cut-off age for learning a foreign language. Just do it.

“I’m not rude; I’m just French.” Hahahahahaha. Not the Onion.

The unspeakable linguistics of camp. 

A cheese-themed theme park. Be still my heart.

Speaking of cheese. “Camembert without Raw Milk? It’s Treason, Connoisseurs Cry.” I love how protective the French are of their gastronomy.

Finally, pix of beautiful Cuban cinemas. And here’s one of my favorites that wasn’t included in the article:



:( World Cup sadness

before the World Cup game at Porteno

Well, that was depressing. I watched the final World Cup game at a packed Argentine restaurant in Chelsea. After one brief moment of overwhelming elation when it appeared as though Argentina had scored what could be the Cup-winning goal – unwarranted, because it was invalidated as offside – Germany scored the only true goal of the game in the last minutes of extra time. The room I was in fell dead silent. The owner of the restaurant, who had been leading patrons in rowdy song just moments before, muted the TV’s. We somberly watched the Argentine players cry. I felt fairly awkward knowing I was surrounded by people whose disappointment and sadness knew no bounds, while mine would inevitably be forgotten within a day (though my pity for poor Messi lingers on).

One thing that, unfortunately, will not soon be forgotten as I’m sure it will be stuck in my head for weeks: a gleeful chant taunting arch-rival Brazil, which inexplicably was still considered relevant and applicable for the Germany game and hence was sung over and over and over again til I practically knew it by heart.

To wit:

So at least I learned some Spanish on Sunday.

The words:

Brasil, decime qué se siente tener en casa a tu papá.

Te juro que aunque pasen los años, nunca nos vamos a olvidar…

Que el Diego te gambeteó, que Cani te vacunó, que estás llorando desde Italia hasta hoy.

A Messi lo vas a ver, la Copa nos va a traer, Maradona es más grande que Pelé.

(Photo: before the game, when spirits still ran high.)

este fin de semana, vamos argentina!

Keep Calm Y Vamos Argentina

After Wednesday’s nail-biter between Argentina and the Netherlands that was pretty much the exact opposite of the Brazil-Germany game the day before, I am so excited to cheer on Argentina in the World Cup finals this weekend. (That sounds like I actually know something about soccer and/or have unearthed secret Argentine lineage that would warrant a true emotional stake in this game. I don’t, and I haven’t, sadly.)

In celebration of the footballers I have come to know and love – for their amazing skill, awesome technique and adorable camaraderie as much as for their remarkably good looks! – here are some hispanocentric links for your weekend reading. Though you should really just be watching the Cup.

So, let’s start with one about that: This makes my love for Argentina grow infinitely.

And another: Gooooooooaaaaaallllllll!

And finish it off with something completely unrelated that I’ve never thought about before: language isolation among indigenous language-speaking Mexican immigrants to the United States.

Happy weekend!

have a good weekend!

Screen Shot 2014-07-04 at 4.00.20 PM

Fireworks are one of my favorite things and I am so excited to see them tonight! Though I am less excited about the thunderstorm that may or may not precede and possibly ruin the festivities.

A blustery day off like this one calls for an indoor adventure so I’m about to head six blocks away to the Brooklyn Museum to see the new summer exhibits. Ai Weiwei and “Art and Civil Rights in the 60’s” both look  great.

Tomorrow I will be heading about six blocks in the opposite direction to a soccer-specific sports bar that is screening the Argentina-Belgium World Cup game. I can’t be bothered this weekend to head out to Soho at 9:30am just to watch with Argentines. Haha, I almost wrote “other Argentines” before realizing I am not at all Argentine so that would be a completely inaccurate statement.

Hope your weekends are spectacular and dry, unless you’re headed to a water park or something. 🙂

weekend weekend weekend yay!

happy jumping dog

I can’t wait for this weekend! I’m heading back to Novecento early Saturday morning for more World Cup watching – this time Argentina v. Iran. To ensure we get seats, we’re arriving an hour ahead of opening time and two hours ahead of the game. Waiting around outside with the rowdy crowd will either be a fun adventure or a big pain in the butt depending on the temperature outside. As for the rest of the weekend, that will be filled with apartment hunting (terrible!), apartment cleaning (horrible!), and hanging out, which is still better than what I did last Saturday so I’ll happily take it!

I’ll leave you with this fascinating article I just read in the New York Times, about how people make moral judgments differently depending on whether the scenario is presented in their native or a foreign language. The reason for the discrepancy, the author posits, “is reminiscent of Nelson Mandela’s advice about negotiation: ‘If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.'”

Eeenteresting. And now I’m off to start the weekend – have a good one!

(Photo: Emery Way)

World Cup: rooting for the wish-it-were-my-home team

Watching the Argentina v Bosnia-Herzegovina gameAfter a highly unpleasant Friday and Saturday (which did end in good news, at least), Sunday was a breath of fresh air. Spent Father’s Day in Princeton with my family, the highlight of which was taking selfies with my two year-old niece. Then headed back to the city for the Argentina v. Bosnia-Herzegovina World Cup game at Novecento, an Argentine bar and restaurant in Soho.

Watching the Argentina v Bosnia-Herzegovina game

After waiting outside for more than an hour, my friend Lisa and I managed to snag a table and immediately made friends with a guy named Pablo who was decked out in an Argentina jersey and whose parents are from Mendoza. I told him I was here not because I am Argentine myself but because I had been to Argentina for a measly two weeks in February, loved every second of it, and just wanted to be amongst Argentines again. Even though I felt a little foolish admitting I was a wannabe, he approved and we got along great.

Watching the Argentina v Bosnia-Herzegovina game

The game was awesome in that BIH scored against themselves within 3 minutes, and Argentina held the lead for the rest of the game. The adorable, bedimpled, cartoon-like elfin cutie Lionel Messi scored a goal in the second half, and then BIH scored a goal towards the end, and then there was a nail-biting ten minutes of praying the game would not be tied up and go into overtime. It didn’t, and everyone was joyous.

Watching the Argentina v Bosnia-Herzegovina game

Being amongst people whose country you are deeply enamored of, while they are winning their beloved game and everyone is best friends with everyone else, is a pretty amazing thing. I knew that if I went it would reaffirm my commitment to learn French and Spanish and that it would motivate me to pick up where I left off about a month ago. And it did. I went home and watched an episode of Destinos, the telenovela for Spanish novices that is actually quite engaging in a strange and silly way.

Additional delights of Sunday at Novecento: I ate a huge hunk of lomo, or beef tenderloin, my steak of choice in Buenos Aires. I admired legions of handsome Argentine men both in the bar and on the soccer field. And I decided there would be worse things you could do than making Argentina your adopted homeland and blowing all your vacation funds visiting on a yearly basis. Thinking perhaps next February will find me hang-gliding in Cordoba or hiking in Patagonia…

¿Quién sabe lo que nos depara el futuro?

[I cheated and did that in Google Translate so I have no idea if it is nonsense or not.]

One thing I do know: next Saturday will find me back at Novecento for brunch and the Argentina v. Iran game. Vamos vamos Argentina!

Watching the Argentina v Bosnia-Herzegovina gameThat’s me in the foreground and my new buddy Pablo behind me. The fuzzy focus captures my warm fuzzy feeling. 🙂

i could actually skip this weekend


I have an unpleasant experience ahead of me tonight and tomorrow morning and I would love it to just be Sunday already. I’m going to attempt to soldier through with transporting thoughts of tropical paradises, gluttonous feasts, and rent-stabilized penthouse apartments.

It was pointed out to me this week that when bad things happen I immediately throw up my hands and assume I can’t /won’t cope, when actually I have muddled through difficulties of similar scale quite capably for many years. So I guess that in addition to trying desperately to go to my happy place, I could also remind myself of my resilience whenever I find myself catastrophizing about what I have to go through this weekend.

May the next 24 hours go very, very quickly. And here’s to Sunday!… when I will be over the hump, a Father’s Day picnic is to be had, and a World Cup game full of delightfully well-formed Argentines is to be watched.

(Photo: Antoine Hubert)