Customized Newspaper

Finally, NYTimes allows one to customize the app. I’m glad I didn’t cancel my subscription. Now my paper has zero (zeee-row!) Trump, no identity screechers, no mentions of racismsexismwhitesupremacy, and no opinion columns.

And it turns out that it can be a great paper. I read very good pieces about architecture, surveillance capitalism, automation and the future of work, travel, and cooking. Every time I open the app, I squint because I don’t want even a glimpse of the severely idiotic front page, and press the FOR YOU tab. That tab is like a haven of normalcy I created for myself inside the paper.

By the way, I highly recommend Glenn Gerstel’s article “I Work for N.S.A. We Cannot Afford to Lose the Digital Revolution. Technology is about to upend our entire national security infrastructure.” The entire “Privacy Project” at NYTimes kicks ass.


Graciela’s favorite color was lilac. Everything had to be lilac. If not, then it had to be olive. But usually lilac.

She loved posting weather updates on Facebook. I’d never seen anybody so obsessed with weather updates.

She loved Schweppes but spent many years convinced it was unavailable anywhere except for Argentina.

She loved parrilladas.

She used to be obsessed with mate but since David’s Tea was founded, it’s been fruity teas, all of the time. She had a whole collection.

She loved Luisa Valenzuela, which I don’t get because Valenzuela seems like such a mediocre writer.

She despised Borges but her greatest resentment was against people who assumed that every Argentinean had to be a Borges fan.

She spoke more languages fluently than me.

She loved the voceo and lunfardo.

She wasn’t into fĂștbol a whole lot although she obviously supported the national team. Instead, she loved Formula 1, for which I ridiculed her brutally. We had an Argentinean way of interacting, which is based on demonstrating love through being as verbally abusive as possible.

I called her El Buho (the Owl) because she had big round eyes but mostly because she hated the nickname. She called me La Gorda, her very blond daughter La Negra, and an indigenous looking friend Cara de Chola, so it’s not like I was particularly insensitive.

She disliked Mexicans and Colombians. Mexicans for being mopey, depressive and grandiose, and Colombians for being prim and never using any swear words.

She loved shawls. It’s a shared interest we had.

She was generous to the point of ridiculousness with her money. I constantly had to drag her – sometimes physically – away from some con artist with a sob story who was trying to scam her. She was a victim of more scams one would think humanly possible.

She had a weird attachment to the Tweety Bird. Which I think is some sort of a cartoon character. Once her car was stolen, and she called to tell me but it took me forever to understand what happened because all she could talk about was a Tweety Bird windshield ornament that had been in the car.

She really loved all-inclusive Caribbean resorts. Especially the one where airplanes go right over the heads of the sunbathers on the beach. I can never remember its name.

Her dream was to be a flight attendant but she never got a chance to try.

She was allergic to white wine.

She had a sippy cup for me at her house because she knew I can’t drink anything without spilling.

She left academia by choice, and it was a great choice for her. I wish she could accept that it wouldn’t be for me.

She loved.

She was.

She left.

After the Funeral

The funeral was horrible. It wasn’t a funeral but a cremation service. It was nicely organized and all but still horrible. At least, cremations are better managed – and yes, it sounds bas but I don’t know how else to put it – in North America than in Ukraine.

In Ukraine, you say your goodbyes to the body, and then this big oven opens and the body rolls in there right in front of you. Very insensitive, like everything in my country.

Graciela’s first husband (the abusive one) was there. It’s the right thing because he’d supported her like nobody else in the final months but he’s still annoying as fuck. I’m weeping over the body, and he approaches and exclaims, “what, you didn’t recognize me? You don’t remember who I am?” And no I didn’t. The last time I’d seen him was in 2003, and he was threatening to beat me up for ruining his marriage. Which is ok, I’m over it, but I didn’t particularly try to retain his facial features. Of course, it’s not like he could ruin the funeral experience because you can’t make it much worse than what it is.

Death sucks.