I moved to Buenos Aires about a week before my 61st birthday. My pension from The Hearst Corporation is just big enough for me to live here independently, comfortably. I had been to Buenos Aires a few times before, on vacation and only for a few days, and liked it. There are many other places in the world where I could live, but I like cities, I like not having to drive a car, I like living in a non-anglophone culture and having to learn another language (and that the language is Spanish, which I studied in school, gives me a fighting chance, although it is still very, very difficult). A major factor in my choice to live here is the availability of medical care. Coverage is universal, but I'm told that the public staff and facilities are not the best and was advised to buy additional coverage. I have signed up with Hospital Alemán, mainly because it is close by where I live but also because it has a good reputation. It costs about US$3000 per year and covers everything. I don't know what the same coverage would cost in the U.S.--$10,000 a year? I plan to be here until I am at least 65 and qualify for Medicare in the States. The best possible outcome is that I would pay Hospital Alemán US$12,000 over the next four years and receive an annual check-up and a pair of glasses. If, however, I should be hospitalized or have surgery, it is nice to know I won't be bankrupted (again).
The city is full of mysteries. The weather, so far, has been delightful. I found a nice though noisy furnished apartment in Palermo that I could afford. Food is not as inexpensive as I had hoped it would be, and restaurants have become unaffordable to some of the natives. What I understand from my porteño friends is that, lately, the economy has been growing at a fast rate but inflation is wiping out a lot of the gains. When I was here last, about 20 months ago, the dollar was worth 3 pesos and now it is worth close to 4. The recent death of Nestor Kirchner adds another element of instability to the country. A recent study showed that a proposed law that sets aside 10% of a business's profits for employees is supported by 70% of the populace. I am generally left-wing in my views, but this sounds like suicide to me when Argentina is only beginning to emerge from its pariah status in the international business community. Profit-sharing, of course, is not a new idea, and it has advantages in terms of retaining employees and providing incentives; but it strikes me as incredibly naive of the people to believe, and irresponsible of the legislature to propose, that the blunt instrument of the law can craft a bill that could manage all kinds of businesses in the same way. But Argentina is famous for committing economic suicide. I should be glad, because if it didn't, I wouldn't be able to afford to live here; but I'm not glad; I'd like to see Argentina regain its footing and I think it will, simply because the people are well educated (despite what I said about their naiveté) and want to see their society function properly.
Rage fuels my creativity. I write nearly every day, even if it's just a scrawl in a journal. I do it to preserve my identity as a writer. I try to write stories and poems that I would like to read. I recently (10/22/10) sent four poems to Poetry magazine (which has very kindly created a way to submit work via the Internet) and I thought, Damn, those are nice poems. One is a ballade, and it is written with "poetic diction" (I employ the intimate form of the second-person singular), which is a huge turn-off to some readers--don't ask me why. The same readers may also be fans of Hart Crane (oof!) who, despite his ultimate failure of coherence, at least had the guts to write: "And Thee, across the harbor, silver-paced. . . ."
Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island.
Ursula K. LeGuin, the Earthsea books.
Jane Austen, all her novels.
Wm. Shakespeare, plays and poems.
Wallace Stevens, Harmonium and Ideas of Order
Robert Frost, Complete Poems
W. B. Yeats, especially Last Poems
Rohinton Mistry, A Fine Balance
Thomas Hardy, Complete Poems
G. M. Hopkins, Poems
Emily Dickinson, selected poems
Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse
Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
Thanks for the comment on "Prurient," Daniel. Best wishes.
Loved reading your "About Me".
Daniel, thanks for commenting on Mother Tongue! I appreciate it.