It’s been one hell of a week. What battles have you won recently?
(photo via The Acid Sweat Lodge)
This is something like exactly a year ago, during this exact period, procrastinating like I am doing exactly now. I remember that day pretty well. It doesn’t feel like it was that long ago. Only today I have a different room and a different bed in a different house, and I realize a year is kind of a long time when you’re young and it’s only when you get old that years don’t feel like much of anything anymore.
It’s cool that I can still wear that skirt, though.
Yesterday at school, I had the great pleasure (ahem) of having yet another drawn-out discussion about national identity with one of my more hardcore left-wing friends. This dude, whose parents are from Morocco but who’s been raised in Belgium (and who, for the record, is very nice and smart and always brings up interesting points), could not for the life of him fathom the fact that neither my brother or I think that we’ll ever consider ourselves Belgian, let alone feel more Belgian than Venezuelan, even if we end up living here the rest of our lives. Through his discourse, I could sense he was somehow implying that me and my brother are perpetuating what he considers a communitarian attitude (WTF), and that we’re somehow shitting ourselves about our identity because there is no way that living in a country for so long will not make you feel like you’re more from said country than from where you were born.
While I do agree that it’s nearly impossible to live years and years in a certain place without somewhat assimilating the local culture and customs, I believe identity is something within you, something that is determined during your childhood and formative years and cannot be erased or exchanged by simply swapping countries. I think about this a lot when I see fellow Venezuelans moving to Spain, to the US and Germany, to places where national identity is present and strong (unlike Belgium, where national identity is diffuse at best). Some Venezuelans tend to see these cultures as more honorable and becoming than our turbulent “Third-World” roots, which they don’t hesitate to belittle (“Yeah, I was born in Venezuela and lived there until now, but my grandfather and Dad are Italian so therefore I’m actually European”). On the other side of the coin, people abroad don’t take your nationality seriously if you’re not wearing a poncho and a straw hat. To my leftist, “socially-conscious” acquaintances, the fact that I like art and fashion and don’t participate in their every rally against whatever social injustice they’re decrying makes me yet another inconsiderate bourgeois sheep. Politically speaking, I’m no extremist: I deplore the backwardness of the right, but I’m also extremely aware of the perils of the far left. It might be weak-spined of me, but I often have a very hard time positioning myself on controversial issues, precisely because I don’t like blindly adhering to whatever point of view that’s . But that’s a tale for another summer.
I see why it’s normal to think that I don’t consider myself more Venezuelan than anything else: I’ve lived abroad for a substantial part of my youth and probably won’t ever live in Venezuela again, I can’t for the life of me dance salsa or reggaeton, and I probably feel more comfortable expressing myself in English than in Spanish. And yeah, I know living elsewhere has changed me, and that essentially I’m as much of a foreigner back home as I am a foreigner abroad. But I could never define myself as anything other than Venezuelan. My parents have raised me in a Venezuelan home, with Venezuelan food and music and traditions, and whenever I see a fellow Venezuelan I can’t but want to reach out to them (which certainly doesn’t happen with Americans or Belgians). The affinity I feel for my compatriots is undeniable; it’s a bond that spawns from shared experience and love for our beautiful, amazing country, a country that is tragically disintegrating without us being able to do much other that watch and wait for the worst.
In today’s world, I think identity is a subject that’s becoming increasingly irrelevant. But I do hope that, no matter where I end up living, I won’t lose sight of where I’m truly from and of all the experiences that have made me who I am. And that I won’t be beyond teaching my future kiddies their fair share of Venezuelan songs and slang.
Oh, and since I did say this was a mostly serious post: on the subject of culture and identity (heehee) I rediscovered the amazing Face Transformer!
East-Asian and dude me! Yikes on that last one!
It certainly feels like cows are fluttering behind my eyelids. This is one of those moments when the fact that time is going by so fast simultaneously thrills (vacations! boyfriend! fun!) and terrifies (exams! so little time to study! no more vacations) little old me. And in short, I’m neglecting sleep in favor of King of the Hill & R. Crumb’s illustrated Book of Genesis, and health in favor of cigarettes and prosciutto & truffle oil pizza.
Don’t be surprised if next time you see me I’m an amorphous grey blob with sunken eyes and exposed nipples, calling you “sug’” and inserting the phrase “I’ll tell you what” at the end of every sentence.
Here in Belgium there has been a sudden drop in temperatures which I don’t think anybody saw coming. I know, I know, all I seem to rant about is the weather, but honestly this year has given me so much to whine about! I mean, it’s mid-May and everybody’s going back to their winter coats! I think I’ve just been anticipating warm weather so anxiously that the weather gods decided to go ahead and have a laugh at my expense, making sure my radiator breaks down in the process and that there’s always a shortage of warm water in my bathroom. Gee, thanks a lot.
Anyway, lately I’ve been shamelessly excited about nail polish and photocopying jewelry. Maybe next I should try to cover my jewelry in nail polish before photocopying it? LOL NOT.
I need to get a hobby.
I spent a pretty hazy weekend, hungover beyond recognition after a week immersed in schoolwork. I think I still have a lot to discover about middle grounds, but you know how great that first beer feels and then you just can’t stop and then you’ve slept until 4pm and yikes it’s Mother’s Day! But at least no cigarettes and no alcohol this weekend, and I’m keeping up with my driving lessons and whatnot, exciting!
But I am feeling tired and burnt-out, I have all these personal projects that are obviously not getting done by themselves, and yet all I can do is let the drool hang off my chin while I browse endlessly on Etsy (is it a crime that I’ve only just discovered it?)
Here is a Sunday tune for you, in hoping that summer won’t take thaaat long to come knocking at our doorsteps.
A few highlights from what’s been an otherwise stressful week:
Pizza! Twice today! And a Claudia Kishi side-ponytail!!
Konono no 1 on Friday! So good! More Konono goodness here!
Hank Hill throwing my boyfriend the side-eye. Don’t ask me why, but he deserved it!
So not that much to tell right now, but I’ll take what I can get dammit! Exams season is just around the corner, so you know. I gotta make use of exclamation marks while I’m a it.