Temporada de agradecimientos

[English version: click here]

A pocos días de “Acción de Gracias” (Thanksgiving de acá en más), veo algunas personas haciendo su “lista de agradecimientos” (un item por día) en facebook y etcs por el estilo. Para mis queridos argentinos, Thanksgiving no es sólo un día para comer pavo hasta el hartazgo. Hay además un montón de guarniciones y postres. Era un chiste. Thanksgiving es (o debería ser) una fecha para ser agradecidos y valorar quienes somos y lo que tenemos. Me gusta esa idea; es un buen “ejercicio” enfocarse en lo bueno que nos rodea y estar agradecidos por eso (a quién le agradecemos es otra cuestión, y no me voy a meter eso ahora). Así que acá está mi lista de agradecimientos; estas son las cosas por las que yo estoy agradecida (el orden no denota importancia).

Estoy inmensamente agradecida por mi educación. En mi vida tuve acceso a muy buena educación en todos los niveles, y es difícil explicar lo muy importante que fue (y es) para mí. Y no sólo eso: fui a un secundario público y también a la universidad pública, así que estoy agradecida por no haber tenido que pagar por una educación de calidad. Siento que le debo algo al país (y no “alguito”; mucho) y espero algún día poder retribuirlo. Esta educación me abrió muchas puertas, entre ellas estar ahora en East Lansing continuando con mi aprendizaje. También estoy agradecida por la educación que estoy recibiendo en EE.UU., y por todo lo que estoy aprendiendo “informalmente” mientras estoy acá.

Y esa educación por la que tan agradecida estoy no hubiese sido posible sin el apoyo de mis viejos. Ellos siempre creen en mí, incluso en esos momentos en los que yo me siento un fracaso. Me dieron todas las oportunidades y siempre me alentaron, pase lo que pase. El estar en East Lansing es un gran ejemplo de esto: ninguno de los dos me dijo nunca que no lo hiciese o que me quedase “en casa” con ellos; esto era lo que yo quería, así que también se convirtió en su objetivo. Mis viejos son lo más, y no tengo palabras para agradecerles por tanto.

La rompen. Mis viejos la rompen.

También estoy agradecida por los amigos que tengo y por los que tuve. Pero sobre todo por los que tengo; estoy muy agradecida por tener amigos de fierro que están conmigo a pesar de la distancia y la diferencia horaria. También estoy agradecida por los amigos que hice acá, porque hacen que mi vida sea más llevadera, hasta “disfrutable”.

Ale (izq.) y Quique (der.)

Pau (izq.) y Ian (der.)

Dofi y yo en un muy aburrido laboratorio de química industrial.

Nico es otra razón para estar agradecida. Tuve la suerte de encontrar a alguien dispuesto a intentar una relación a distancia y pelearla para que funcione, para transformarla en una convivencia que vale la espera. Sí, claro, a veces me gustaría que fuese más romántico, o más ordenado. Sería feliz si lavase los platos que ensucia al desayunar o si no dejase su ropa tirada por toda la pieza. Recibir flores más seguido estaría bueno. Pero saben qué? Estoy hablando del tipo que caminaba hasta la biblioteca en el invierno de Chicago para chatear conmigo cuando todavía no tenía internet en su departamento. El mismo tipo que me va a buscar al laboratorio a medianoche cuando mis experimentos duran más de lo planeado. Sí, ese que me abraza dormido a la noche y me sorprende (esto me parece lo más tierno del mundo, pero no le digan que les conté, sí?). En serio quieren más? Vino conmigo cuando corrí mi primer 5K (en Thanksgiving del año pasado), y se puso contento por mí pese a que tuvo que esperarme en la calle cuando hacía mucho frío. Además me hace reir, Mucho. Y cocina como los dioses. Y me quiere y yo lo quiero a él. Y estoy agradecida por eso.

En el campus de Northwestern – Marzo 2009.

Y estoy agradecida por nuestras gatas, claro! Nos cambiaron la vida. Me hacen sentir como en casa, y me hacen compañía cuando trabajo (y cuando hago fiaca). Me encanta ver lo contento que Nico está con ellas, y aunque me queje, me encanta que duerman con nosotros (bueno, conmigo; en mi almohada la mayor parte del tiempo).

Estoy agradecida por mis sobrinos. Llegaron a mi vida cuando ya había perdido la esperanza de que hubiese bebés en la familia. Todavía me acuerdo de la primera vez que tuve a Joaquín en brazos, cuando tenía menos de un día. Ellos me hicieron descubrir algo en mí que no sabía que existía. Es increíble lo mucho que podés querer a alguien desde el momento en que lo ves por primera vez. Es increíble cuánto amor pueden dar. Simplemente, los amo.

Joaquín, mi sobrino mayor. Tenía 3 años en la foto. Ahora tiene 7.

Estoy agradecida por mi familia, que no es numerosa, y también por mi familia “extendida”. La familia de Nico ha sido una gran incorporación a mi familia; es muy lindo tener un poco de familia acá, y poder pasar Thanksgiving con ellos. La perspectiva de nuestra cena argentino-estadounidense me llena de alegría 🙂

Volviendo al aspecto educativo/laboral, estoy muy agradecida por mi director de tesis. Jim cree en mí y me alienta; ve un potencial en mí que yo soy incapaz de ver. Desde que empecé a trabajar en el grupo aprendí un montón, y sé que voy a seguir aprendiendo, y estoy agradecida por tener a Jim guiando el proceso. No, no soy chupamedias. Realmente agradezco el trabajar para él. También estoy agradecida por mis compañeros de labo. Al principio no era tan así, pero ahora puedo ver lo copadas que son las personas con las que trabajo. Me han ayudado un montón, y sé que me voy a seguir aprovechando de su buena onda por un algunos años más. Es lindo llegar al labo y que te saluden con una sonrisa; está bueno trabajar en un buen clima.

También agradezo por mis modelos a seguir. Son muchas las personas que han inspirado (y me inspiran) a ser mejor [esto es una obra es construcción]. Claramente estoy incluyendo a gente como Marie Curie en esta lista (sí, ella es mi heroína número 1), pero estoy aún más agradecida por la gente que conocí, con la que pude interactuar. Gente como profesores, compañeros de laboratorio, amigos. Algunos de ellos son modelos a seguir en muchos aspectos, y otros quizás sólo lo son por una cosa, pero todos ellos me inspiran. Está muy bueno tener gente a la que admirar y respetar.

También agradezco por mis alumnos, los argentinos y los gringos. Enseñando de aprende muchísimo! Ha habido buenos y malos momentos, pero en general disfruté y disfruto de la docencia, y sé que enseñar me ayuda a superarme y convertirme en una mejor docente.

Estoy agradecida porque soy más fuerte y valiente de lo que creo. Prueba de eso es que estoy acá. Pero hay también otras muchas cosas menores, y estoy orgullosa de ellas (aunque la mayoría del tiempo no lo recuerde). Fui valiente y me animé a correr, incluso a intentar una media maratón (y ya van a ver que no será la última). Fue valiente y me hice un tatuaje. Todos los días crezco un poquito, y sé que eso es en parte porque soy valiente. Incluso aunque me olvide y me crea cobarde, hay cierta fuerza adentro mío que me hace seguir adelante. Estoy realmente agradecida por eso.

Seguro que me olvido de algo. Seguro que en los próximos días se me ocurren varias cosas para agregar, pero por hoy basta.

Finalmente, si llegaste hasta acá leyendo, te agradezco por eso.

Posted in Castellano | 1 Comment

Gratitude Season

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I’ve seen some people posting their “gratitude list” on facebook and what not. For my Argentinean crew, Thanksgiving isn’t just about eating as much turkey as you possibly can. There are lots of sides, too. Just kidding. Thanksgiving is (or should be) about being thankful and appreciating what we are and what we have. I like the idea, it’s a good “exercise” to focus on the good stuff and be thankful for that. So, here’s my list; these are the things I’m thankful for (in no particular order).
I am immensely thankful for my education. I’ve had access to very high-quality education at all levels, and I can hardly describe how important that is to me. Even better, I mostly went to public schools, so I am also thankful for not having had to pay for that awesome education. I am in debt with my country and I hope I’ll be able to repay it. My education has given me several opportunities, like being here in East Lansing learning even more. I am also thankful for my American education. And for all the informal learning that has happened thanks to it.
I would have not been able to pursue my education without my parents unconditional support. They’ve always believed in me, even when I was ready to call myself a failure. They’ve given me every opportunity they could afford (and I’m not only talking about money), and they’ve always encouraged me to go after my goals/dreams, no matter what. My being in EL is a great example of that: not even once they told me to back out or stay home with them; if this was what I wanted, then it would become their dream as well. Words are not enough to tell how thankful I am for my kick-ass parents.

kick-ass parents, heck yes

I am also thankful for my friends. For all of them, those whom I completely lost touch with and those still around. Specially the latter I am very very thankful for having such awesome friends that are there for me despite the distance and the time zones (I’ve blogged about them before, so I won’t repeat myself now). And I am also thankful for the friends I’ve made here, because they make life far from home more enjoyable.

Ale (left) and Quique (right)

Pau (left) and Iani (right)

Dofi and I (in a very boring chemical engineering lab)

Nico is another great reason to be thankful for. I’ve been lucky to find a guy willing to try a long-distance relationship and really make it work, to turn it into a domestic partnership that is worth the wait. Yes, of course I sometimes wish he was more romantic, or more organized. I’d be ecstatic if he were to do his dishes after breakfast or not to leave his clothes scattered around the bedroom floor. Getting flowers more often would be nice. But you know what? We are talking about the guy that would walk to the library in the Chicagoan winter to chat with me before he got internet at his new place. The same guy that will pick me up from the lab around midnight when my experiments take for ever. Yes, the one that will hug me when he’s asleep and surprise me in the middle of the night (I find this beyond cute, but don’t tell him I told you, okay?). You want more, you say? He came with me when I ran my first 5K, last Thanksgiving, and he was happy for me even though he had to wait for me when it was freezing cold. And he makes me laugh. A lot. And he makes really good food. And I love him and he loves me. I am thankful for that.

NU campus (Evanston, IL) – March 2009

And I’m thankful for our cats, of course! They have changed our lives in so many ways… they make me feel at home all the time, and they keep me company when I work (and when I watch movies too). I love seeing how happy Nico is with them, and even though I complain about it, I love that they sleep with us (mostly with me; mostly on my pillow).
I am thankful for my nephews. They came to my life when I had already given up my hopes of having babies in the family. I still remember the first time I held Joaquín in my arms, when he was less than 24 hours old. They have shown me a part of me I didn’t know was there. It is amazing how much you can love someone right the moment you meet them. It is amazing how much love they can give. I simply love them.

Joaquín, my oldest nephew. He was 3 then, he’s 7 now.

I am thankful for my family, which is small, and my extended family as well. Nico’s family has been a great addition to mine. It’s specially nice to have family here and be able to spend Thanksgiving with them. I am looking forward to our Argentinean-American dinner 🙂
Back to the education/work aspect, I am seriously thankful for my advisor. Jim encourages me and believes in me; he sees the potential I can’t see in me. I’ve learned a lot since I joined the group, and I know that I’ll continue to learn, and it is thanks to Jim’s guidance. No, I’m not being a brown-noser. I am truly thankful for working for him. And I am also thankful for my lab mates. I wasn’t so much at first, but now I can appreciate the great people I get to work with. They have helped me a lot so far, and I know I’ll abuse their kindness for some more years. It is nice to get to work and be greeted with a smile; it’s nice to work in a friendly environment.
I am thankful for my role models. Several people have inspired me to become a better version of myself [work still in progress]. Of course I’m including people like Marie Curie (oh, yes, she’s probably my #1 hero), but I am more thankful for those people I got to meet and interact with. People like some of my professors, my lab mates, my friends. Some of them are role models in many aspects, some of them maybe in only one thing, but all of them are an inspiration for me. It’s great to have people around you can look up to.
I am thankful for my students, the Argentinean and the American ones. You can learn so much by teaching! There have been ups and downs, but overall I’ve enjoyed teaching all of them, and I know they have helped me become a better teacher.
I am thankful because I’m braver and stronger than I think. Proof of that is that I’m here. But there are many other smaller things, and I am proud of them (although I tend to forget about them). I was brave enough to take up running, and even attempt a half marathon (it won’t be the last one, you’ll see). I was bold enough to get a tattoo. Every day I grow a bit more, and I know that it is in part because I am brave. Even when I forget and I think I’m weak, there’s some strength inside me that keeps me going. I am very thankful for that.
I’m probably forgetting something. I’m sure I’ll come up with more ideas in the next few days, but this will do for today.
Finally, If you’ve read all this, I am thankful for that.
What are you thankful for?
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Long-Distance Relationships

I’ve been in several long-distance relationships since January 2009. Hold your judgment, please. This doesn’t mean I’m terribly promiscuous. It just means I live abroad.

Nico and I met in Buenos Aires in August/September of 2008. After going out/dating for ~6 months he came back to Michigan, and I went to Gainesville, FL, for my REU. So our long-distance thing began as a “domestic” one, with both of us living in the same country. It wasn’t easy, but at least we met in Chicago after 2 months. After I went back home, he visited in July (2009), I went to Chicago in January (2010), he visited again in April (2010) and then I moved in July (2010). So we were in a long-distance relationship for a year and a half. Was it hard? Hell, yes it was. But it was totally worth it, and I cherish those times, hard as they were. We did it because we had a plan, we knew that in a not-so-distant future we would be together. The thought of that future carried us through those rough months.

What are my other long-distance relationships, then? Those with my family and friends. Specially with my friends: those are the hardest ones, because there isn’t a solid plan we can hold on to (and just the thought of it makes me cry. It hurts that much).

My mom and I email each other almost on a regular basis, and we talk on the phone (almost) every week. Ours is by far the most stable long-distance relationship I have now. And it’s also true that my mom will always be my mom, despite time and distance.

I have several friends I’m not going to give up on. We chat, we talk on the phone, we text (I’ll be forever grateful to whoever invented WhatsApp). And even though they’re (or I am) far away, they still feel close.

You know, living abroad puts things into perspective. In the 24 years I lived in Argentina I made several friends and acquaintances. Some of them didn’t mean much, some of them were important in one way or another, but most of them weren’t part of my life when I left. And even among those who were, only some of them are still around. Those are the ones that really matter.  Don’t get me wrong: I’m grateful for every friend I’ve made, and I wouldn’t turn my back on them if I were to meet them again. It’s just that some friendships need that daily interaction to survive. Unfortunately, that is very hard to do when you’re in a different country. Those friendships that can survive and thrive despite the distance are the most valuable ones to me, because they are the only ones I can afford. I suck at keeping in touch, I’m a horrible pen-pal, But I love my friends to pieces, and that won’t change just because we go some days (or weeks) without talking. Those who share this feeling are the ones that matter the most. And I’m sure they know who they are.

In case the words “true love” convey a different picture, let me remind you that “love” applies to friends and family.

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On Marriage

(This could probably be titled “On being an adult”, but I’ve lost count of how many of my posts could be titled that way)

I spent Thursday and Friday in bed, feeling crappy and bored. I also felt quite guilty for not being in the lab, for not working out, etc. I guess it was good to listen to everyone else and just stay home getting better. Now it’s Sunday, it’s cold, I’m feeling better and I’m going for a run in a couple of hours (will I regret it afterwards? hopefully not).

But I digress (surprise!). The point is that while in bed, I watched a ton of questionable movies. In my defense, I watched “The King’s Speech” for a second time (great movie). One of those questionable movies was “Leap Year“. I didn’t particularly like it, but it did its job; I just wanted something stupid enough that would keep me entertained without making me think much nor making me feel embarrassed. You’ve seen this story before: cute upper-class girl, in a serious stable relationship with a successful not-that-good-looking guy (a cardiac surgeon in this case, but it could have been a cook, or a lawyer, or…). Suddenly, she meets this über handsome guy, and against all odds they fall in love and live happily ever after. Nothing new there. The only interesting thing (and the reason I’m writing all this) is because when her boyfriend fails to propose, she decides to propose to him. In a country like the US, where proposals are a big deal, and everyone squeaks at the sight of a big rock and asks to hear “the story” of the proposal (if you don’t live here, you’ve seen this in several movies), the idea of a woman proposing to her guy sounded quite out-of-place to me. What did I do, then? I googled. And I found this great post (and great comments!).

I probably spent more time reading the post and comments than actually paying attention to the movie. It certainly got me thinking; one (out of many) thing that surprised me about Americans is their attitude towards marriage, proposals and all that. Among the married people I know back home there are no “proposal stories”, no big rings (you don’t want to be such an easy target, believe me), nothing of that sort. Usually people decide to get married because they’ve been in a serious stable relationship for a reasonable amount of time and decide it’s time to take the next step. Some couples “get engaged” (and this is something several teenagers do, not because they’re getting married, but just because they’re “more serious” than the average teen couple), which means they exchange engagement bands and at some point later on, there’s a wedding and all that. We have  words for “fiancé” and “fiancée” (and they’re in Spanish, not in French!), but no one uses them; you either have a boyfriend or a husband.

(In case you’re wondering, I’m writing all this because I know Nico won’t read it)

People here have a hard time understanding that Nico and I are neither married nor engaged. When people ask me, I tell them I’m “married for most practical purposes: we have a joint back account, we live together and we have two cats”, but I try to make it clear that I’m not married and that Nico is my boyfriend (why? I don’t know). Conversely, what he does is just tell people he’s married, and then explain if necessary.

Some years ago, I was quite anti-marriage. I saw no point in it (and part of me still does). I mean, why do we need to get married? Aren’t we serious enough already? I guess it doesn’t make such a difference in Argentina, but here it does. So I’m hesitant now. Should we just do the paperwork and be done with it? I don’t want a big ring (seriously, I don’t even like most of them), I don’t need a “story” to tell people (the story of how we met and ended up in East Lansing is good enough). Actually, there’s a part of me that doesn’t even want to tell people if we do it. Of course I’d love a nice party (who doesn’t like parties, after all?), but that has to be in Argentina (if we weren’t sure, Nico’s mom made that very clear), and it will take a lot of time and money, and we have none of those now. That’ll have to wait.

What does this have to do with the post I read and all that? Well, that post and all those comments were quite reassuring. Reading about other women that either didn’t get engaged, or propose to their men, or didn’t want a ring, etc, made me feel better about the whole thing. It taught me something: we aren’t the only non-traditional couple out there. You don’t “have to” get engaged, he doesn’t have to ask your parents’ permission (regardless of what you see on pinterest) and you don’t need a big rock and a cute out-of-pinterest proposal story to tell your acquaintances. Didn’t I know that already? Yes, but my experience here was making me forget it. And sometimes it gets hard to deal with the stereotypes and all that.

So I guess we’ll remain happily non-married for a while.

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I’ve always been a writer!

I've always been a writer!

My mom sent me this picture last Saturday. I just love it!

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Business Casual

I’ve already blogged about being an adult (or not) and coming to terms with it (definitely not), so this shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. But this is a more graphic description, or at least it was a very concrete experience for me. And before you run away from me, completely horrified, just a heads-up: I’m not going to talk about anything like gray hairs or saggy body parts (come on! I’m not 27 yet!!). You’re welcome.

Monday morning I’m flying to Niskayuna, NY (yeah, Google Maps saved me; I had no idea where that was either). I’m going to a networking event or something like that, hosted by GE. It’s a three-day thing, and I’m curious about it; hopefully it will be somewhat fun and interesting. I’ve known about this since late July, and several emails have gone back and forth about plane tickets, paperwork (yes, I had more paperwork because I’m not a US citizen, you got that right), schedules, etc. But the worst of all emails came 10 days ago; among other specifics regarding the workshop, it said “dress code is business casual”. I have a confession to make: I had to google “business casual” to make sure I knew what it was. Yeah, I was on the right track. Then I realized I had nothing business casual to wear. Honestly. Okay, yes, I have the dress I wore for my 2nd year oral exam, back in March, but it is a light fabric, and it’s getting cold around here. And even if we count that, I still didn’t have enough outfits for three days. Does it sound stupid and frivolous to you? You are probably right, but that doesn’t change the fact that you can’t show up at a “networking event” (or whatever they call it) wearing jeans and a Chemistry Department hoodie. Yeah, I own a MSU chemistry department hoodie, and I actually love it, thank you for asking.

Feeling sorry for myself wouldn’t help, so this morning I went shopping. I didn’t enjoy it. There I was, trying to find a pair of shoes I could walk with (heels are not for me), while the cuttest, comfiest (is that even a word??) running shoes were linning up to tempt me. I resisted, and was rewarded: I’m actually happy with my shoes. They are like flats on a wedge, tall enough to make me look professional, but not so much that I’d show the world how clumsy I am. Since they are black, they’ll go with almost anything, and I may even wear them again after this workshop; and they are cute and fun enough for me to like them. Great.

Should I talk about the ridiculous number of sweaters, knit tops, blouses, skirts, pants, that I tried on? Let’s take the pants out of the list: I looked at many, but all of them were too long for this shortie. I only tried a pair and bought it. They are okay, and I hope I’ll wear them again at some conference or something like that. Skirts? tons of them, and most of those wouldn’t fit because of my generous thighs and/or hips. Or I’d get them past my hips, and then they would look baggy on my waist (if you know me, this won’t shock you: I have wide hips and a fairly small waist). I finally found two skirts that will do the job. The tops gave me a hard time, and I ended up buying only one thing (and hoping I would find something decent in my closet). While all this was taking place, I saw several cute, comfy sweaters, full of cozy fall spirit. I bought one. What were you expecting? I was quite focused, but I’m not a saint! I can’t wait to wear that sweater with jeans and my Converse sneakers.

Back at my place, I tried everything on again, plus some stuff from my closet, trying to find three decent outfits. I did it (yay!), but I couldn’t help feeling that the person in the mirror was someone else. She looked cute and professional and put together, but also so far from me! I like wearing sweatpants to the lab sometimes (hey! don’t roll your eyes at me, it’s like wearing your PJs to work!), my idea of footwear are sneakers or running shoes (or very-low heeled boots in the winter), and I have a shirt that says “self-rescuing princess” that I wear with pride. And my chem dept hoodie. And many other things.

I am a big proponent of looking good and taking care of your image. What I’m not a big proponent of is the “grown up look”. I like my jeans! I sometimes complain because it’s not advisable to wear cute clothes to the lab, so the gems of my wardrobe are seldom worn, but I like it at the same time. It’s nice to know that your experiments won’t look down at your old clothes. I try to look slightly better when I have to teach (I still think I will pass for a 19-year-old if I don’t make a slight effort; the truth is, my students usually wear make up and better clothes than I do), but I never go beyond nicer jeans and sweaters (or even hoodies, okay?).

So, all this makes me wonder whether I don’t use the lab as an excuse. I see what other girls/women wear to work; not every respectable chemist wears sweatpants every day. Sure, I’m not going to wear my best clothes to the lab, because I certainly do not want to spill acid on them (this has happened to some of my jeans in the past), but maybe I should make an effort to look slightly more like a grown up?

And anyways, when do you become a grown up? I’m almost 27 now, which means I’m much closer to 30 than to 20 (sad, I guess). But I’m still in school! (and I always use it as an excuse). What defines what an adult is? clothes? make up? or is it about the way you conduct yourself? And if we take that criterion, should I consider myself an adult? And if I am an adult, what should I do about it? And we can go on and on like that.

The thing is, the Dani I know, the one I’ve known for quite a while, does not wear business casual attires. She is sitting on her couch wearing an oversized hoodie, with a blanket and a cat on her legs. And she is quite paranoid about all this business casual thing. Will everyone else look as grey and serious and professional as she will? Will they look more at ease in those clothes than she does? Will everyone know she’s faking right away?

I guess I’ll take it as just another adventure. Almost as a game: “let’s play adults today!”. Hopefully, only the real experts will notice my bluff, and they will be kind enough not to call me out.

I’m already counting the days until I get to wear sweatpants again.

Posted in adult or not, Ramblings | 1 Comment

Peanut Butter

Let me talk (write) about something more American than Uncle Sam himself: Peanut Butter. Yes, I will be singing its praises. Yes, me, an Argentinean, straight from Dulce-de-Lecheland, writing about how great PB is. Hopefully you feel curious now, don’t you? Keep reading, then.

I can’t even remember when did I make the “peanut butter = USA” association, but it’s been in my head ever since. In 1999, when I visited the US for the first time, almost the first thing I wanted to do (and I did it in my very first day here) was try peanut butter. We bought a jar of it (I have no idea which brand it was), I tried less than a spoonful of it (no toast, no jelly, no banana, nothing) and decided it was no worth the whole spoonful. [In case you’re wondering why did I think that PB out of the jar was a good idea, that’s what we do when we pig out on dulce de leche. I can eat several spoonfuls of it. The guilt kicks in before I can feel it’s too sweet]

So after my 10-day vacation in the US, I went back to Buenos Aires convinced that PB was an American mistake. And I didn’t think much more about that. And ten years went by. I still had dulce de leche in my life, so I didn’t need much more.

In 2009 I came back, this time for 2.5 months. The day we got to Gainesville, FL, our “driver” (he was a graduate student at UF, and his advisor sent him to pick us up at the Orlando airport) took us to Publix for some grocery shopping (if you don’t know what Publix is, you’ve probably never bought groceries in FL). As a welcome present, he got us a jar of Jif PB. Yucks! It was so salty! Much saltier than my memory of PB! I decided I didn’t like PB, it was just a bad American idea.

When I went back home, I had to take PB for a friend of mine. She liked it (specially when combined with dulce de leche, which I have to admit is a great, as well as liver-killing, combination). It was around that time when Nico and I began the argument “PB: yay or nay”. He was all for the yay; he said that not many things can beat a good toast with PB and berry preserves. I didn’t know then how right he was.

Luckily, I didn’t have to wait another ten years to give PB another chance. Nico was right: Jif is on the yucky side. I got to try good PB and learned to love it. Is it an acquired taste? For sure. Is that something bad? Not at all. Does this mean I don’t like dulce de leche anymore? WHAT??!! First of all, they don’t compare; dulce de leche is a dessert in itself, while PB is more versatile. And keep in mind that for me, dulce de leche is not only delicious: it tastes like home. So let’s just not mix things here, okay? I’m talking about how I learned to love PB. Dulce de Leche is in another (higher) level. And it will forever be.

So, what have I learned about PB? It’s delicious, and it lets you make lunch in 5 minutes. This is probably one of the biggest signs of my americanization. No only I really enjoy PB; I have packed a PB sandwich for my dinner tomorrow (we can discuss why do I have to have dinner at work on another post. No, I’m not a workaholic, thank you very much). Let me repeat this, in case you’ve missed it: I’m having a PB sandwich for dinner tomorrow, and it’s not a punishment, it’s not my last resort; I decided it was a great idea, because it’s like having a treat for dinner. Yes, PB has made it to the “treat” category.

I remember watching several movies where people would have a PB (+ something) sandwich for lunch. I think that in Dan in real life they make PB & J and also PB and banana sandwiches when packing lunch. I was dumbfounded: sweet for lunch? That sounded more like a breakfast food to me! (think about it: in this country, people have omelettes for breakfast, when those are clearly a lunch food, and then have PB&J for lunch, which is a breakfast food! nonsensical). It took me almost two years of living here and seeing people have PB sandwiches for lunch to come to terms with it. From that to embracing PB sandwiches there was only a small step. And I took it. There is no coming back now. I’ve americanized myself a bit more. Good thing I still have my accent to tell the world that even though I’m a white-bottomed, PB-sandwich-eating person, I am not from here. But I’m sure some could be fooled if I don’t talk while I take my PB on whole wheat sandwich out of my lunch bag. Can a foreigner get more American than that? Oh, yeah, sometimes I do that while wearing my MSU hoodie. If I looked any younger I’d pass for an undergrad. Shame on me.

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