Enjoy Life

Went on FB for the first time in a while. Scrolled down the feed. Saw the word Kanye mentioned in 90% of posts. Exited FB in such a rush that I almost broke the charger.

Those who know why Kanye is in the news, please don’t tell me. Life is too short.

P.S. It’s 10:30 here and the conference is over. At least, for me. The rest of the participants are still out drinking, celebrating, and debating. I envy their resilience.

More Gender Differences

Women ask questions that are actual questions. Men ask questions that are anything but. Their questions are mile-long marketing pitches that have the most tenuous of connections to the talk and that aim to showcase the intelligence, extensive reading, and extreme profoundness of the person who is asking the fake question.

It took me a while to learn this strategy because I’m very literal and I tend to interpret the phrase “does anybody have any questions” as a clue to ask questions.

But I learned and now I can self-promote under the guise of asking questions with the best of them.

After the Talk

After the talk, I was ready to represent, so I dressed all Ukrainian and went shopping. The kids store has a selection of clothing for Klara’s new dolly, and I bought a whole wardrobe. These dolly clothes cost more than much of my wardrobe but I’m a former Soviet girl, and I couldn’t resist. I spent half an hour in my hotel room dressing and undressing dolly because it’s so much fun.

The Talk

My talk went great. This is an interdisciplinary conference but the constitutional scholar, the historian, the political scientist, and even the High Commissioner for the Spanish government on the issues of poverty and social inclusion (that’s his official title) understood what I was talking about and made great comments about it.

The government guy was actually a college professor until the new government was formed five minutes ago and he got appointed. It’s really great that the new government is appointing intellectuals to these jobs.

This is a great conference, and I am learning a lot from every talk I hear. If only there were more breaks, everything would be perfect.

Hispanic Voters

While Trump was enacting his anti-immigrant agenda, Latino voters seemed to have slowly warmed up to the president. In last week’s NPR/PBS/Marist poll, 41 percent of Hispanics approved of Trump’s performance (black Americans? 12 percent). This is no outlier. Another recent poll put Trump’s approval among Latinos at 35 percent. An average of both would put Trump—again, an overtly nativist president—within about 10 points of Barack Obama’s 49 percent approval among Hispanic at roughly the same time in his presidency.

This is surprising only to those with zero understanding of both Hispanics and immigrants. Anybody who thinks that immigrants will turn out in large numbers for the folks who put on the spectacle we have seen in the past several weeks is not dealing in reality.

You need to be at least a third-generation American to get it.

As for anti-immigrant agenda, again, it’s well-known that what most immigrants want the moment they get their passports is for the door to close very tight right behind them. Legalized immigrants don’t tend to want more immigration. It’s just a fact.

Plus, there are things specific to Hispanic communities that make them a very unlikely win for Democrats. I mean, gay rights, abortion, anti-religiousness, speech codes, racial justice, the PC culture – come on, are you kidding me?

I Like Germans

The stereotypes about Germans as gruff, grim, and humorless – did anybody else here have this stereotype or is it a Ukrainian thing? – was not borne out by reality. The Germans I’m meeting here are fun, chatty, kind, and playful. Of course, those who are Hispanists are impacted by the culture they study but everybody else is great, too.

I went carousing the streets at night the other day, and there were crowds of very drunk young people everywhere, but the town feels extremely safe. Of course, I got lost. A bunch of young men who spoke English like I speak German (I do a mean “Ich spreche nicht Deutsch” but that’s about it) were beyond nice and helpful, going out of their way in a literal sense to figure out what I wanted and how to help me.

It’s really funny that I never get the blank stares here when I say something to non-English-speaking Germans that I get every single fucking time I say anything in my very good if slightly accented English where I live. It’s so frustrating to get a completely incomprehending stare whenever I say something basic like, “And how is Jake doing? I haven’t seen him for a while” on the playground or at Klara’s school. The blank stare is not a linguistic phenomenon but a psychological one.

The only time I got the blank stare in Germany was when I got distracted and addressed the German host here in English. He speaks an amazing Spanish but has no English at all. Plus, he’d spent two days listening to me rattle on in Spanish and didn’t expect any other language to come out of me. As I said, the stare is an uncontrollable psychological phenomenon. People aren’t trying to be mean. It’s a completely automatic response, but God, is it ever annoying.

Neither does anybody here give me dirty looks, roll their eyes or scoff when I start stumbling on my sad little “Ich habe kleine. . . I mean, keine. . . I mean, algemeine,” like they do in the French-speaking Quebec.

In short, Germans are great.