america

On Ordering Pizza

A few centuries ago, when I began this blog, I touched up on a subject that intrigued many people: the pitfalls one must navigate when attempting to order pizza and, even worse, having that pizza be delivered to your doorstep.
I think it’s time to share that story, which has now many other sequels, all more hilarious (see: pull-your-hair-out frustrating) than the other.

Let’s go back to the Fall of 2012. Young, fresh, bright-eyed Beatriz had people over her 15m2 château (let’s call it Château Lopez, for old times’ sake). It was a lazy, rainy weekend afternoon when hunger stroke past lunch time.
“Man, you know what I haven’t had since we left the States?”, someone said. “Pizza!”
There was a murmur of agreement and mouths began to salivate thinking about that delicious smell of warm pizza wafting from that cardboard box. A vessel of joy in times of academic uncertainty.
“Let me go online and order it!”, I said, unaware of the horrors that would befall me.
There *was* an online system. But my street did not qualify for the area Pizza Hut…nor for the Domino’s Pizza. No Papa John’s on this side of the Pond. Weird, right? Let’s remember Château Lopez was in the thick of Rue de Rennes, a huge thoroughfare, very popular for its shops.

But we were not to be discouraged- oh no! We were young and wild and free and we were finna get that pizza.
I looked for the number, and to my horror, there was only some hotline that cost 10 cents per minute. But we’re all American passport holders, and we liberated this country once, so what were 10 cents to this beacon of freedom?
After ten minutes of being on hold, I decided the beacon of hope was to be shut off.
We found more numbers (at this point, we might as well have gone downtown and gotten pizza, but, freedom).
“No, we do not deliver to your street”, call after call.
What?
Defeated, we gave up. Pizza was not to be had.

No, no. Drivers No Work Tonight. 
Fast forward to 2014. Pizza craving struck again. I decided Pre-Historic pizza ordering services had to have changed. I tempted fate and tried ordering some pizza on the internet.
(If anyone cares to know, I preferred the online method because that way, I don’t have to deal with the straight up shitty customer service everywhere, plus I don’t know the word for “thick crust”).
Anyway, so I was about done- I had selected my order, and all I had to do now was give my address. Of course, it wasn’t just as as simple as that: I had to fill in the number, and then select my street from a pull-down menu.
My street was not on the list.
Puzzled, I looked for the neighborhood pizzeria numbers (shitty customer service it is!) and had the S.O. call, since he’s French and knows how to say “thick crust”.
Called the first one- nope. Two kilometers was too far for their driver. Called the second one: Nope. They had received so many orders that day that they decided their drivers were tired, even though closing time was 2 hours away. Called the third one: our street did not show up in their system and did not know how to get there. Eventually, after some cajoling, we had pizza!
Now all we had to explain was how to get to the apartment. That means we have to give the access code to the building, explain which door to take, what floor to go, and which door to knock on. A good minute or two are spent at this.
About an hour later, however, I should not have been so stunned that we received a phone call: “Yeah, hi, this is the delivery guy. What’s your access code and how do I get to the apartment?”.

No, You Shut Up!
If there is something I don’t do, it’s learning lessons. It’s like that cycle where you have to go through the same experience over and over again until you learn and you achieve enlightenment and spontaneously combust.
But I’d much prefer to watch the delivery dude combust.
Here’s what happened: In a moment of weakness, we decided pizza was what we wanted for dinner. We decided to call the people who so kindly sent someone to the Elephant Graveyard where we seem to live and placed our order: 2 pizzas and a bottle of Coke.
Again, address, code, door, blah, blah, blah…
One hour later: “Hello, hi, this is the delivery guy. Where is….?”
“We gave the information to the place”
“Well, they don’t communicate that to us”.
Ah.
Eventually, a lanky youth was standing in our doorstep, with…one pizza. No Coke.
Mon gars…

After explaining to him that we had ordered two, the kid sprung down the stairs screaming “IT’LL ONLY BE A MINUTE!” *THUD THUD THUD THUD*
Again, S.O. knows more than to order “thick crust” and so he called the pizzeria (*cough*dominosonavron*cough*) to inform them about the mishap. The man on the other end couldn’t care less and said “ok yeah”. Then he asked to please let their people know that, no matter how enthusiastic they are about pizza deliveries (ok, those might by my words), they should not scream in residential buildings at 11pm.
Little did we know this comment would lead to chaos just a few seconds later when the delivery boy knocked on our door.
A funny chain of events all began at around the same moment. Delivery Boy arrives, S.O. thanks him and advices him to “try to be a little bit more silent next time- the neighbors will get angry at us”, Delivery Boy’s phone goes off, echoing like hell, he picks it up and does that thing where people scream on the phone. After hanging up, he was ready for murder: “You don’t know what talking loud is- I can speak real loud!”. He was, of course, not whispering at this point.
Delivery Boy gets uppity, on my doorstep, and I’m real glad tipping is not a thing in this country.
You try enjoying pizza after that.

Two weeks later S.O. received a text message: “Following the incident on x day, enjoy a 50% discount on your next offer”.
The offer was, of course, nearly expired by the time we received it.

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Guilt

(I’m not exactly well-versed in political theories or diplomatic tactics. I’m a regular citizen, like most of the world.) 

To explain the pain one feels for their native land is hard to explain. It’s a pain that needs to be experienced in order to be understood. It’s like heartbreak- if you’ve never gone through it, you can’t fully understand it.
This is the pain that I, my family, my friends, and the Venezuelan diaspora feel each day. We are here, but our minds and our hearts are elsewhere. They are home, with our families, with our friends, with the people that couldn’t get out and refuse to get out, because it is their God-given right to live and thrive in their homeland.

About a year ago I wrote THIS post about the situation my native country, Venezuela, was going through. I’m sad to say, things have not gotten any better. In fact, they’ve gotten worse. A lot.

But should you need me to backtrack, let me break it down for you: Venezuela (Veh-neh-zoo-eh-luh) is located on the northern coast of South America.

Hi!

The capital city is Caracas, which is my hometown. It’s actually pretty close to the US. It takes the same amount of time to get to Caracas from Miami, as it does from Miami to Boston. This puts us closer to the States than Iraq, Iran, Russia, and all those other crazies who seem to be a constant threat to national security.  Also, we’re fucking rich in oil. Yep. We have more oil than the Saudis. Your car runs on Venezuelan oil. All your gasoline-powered stuff runs on Venezuelan oil, most likely.
Oh, and that chocolate? Venezuelan cocoa, baby. Miss Universe? We got it down pack- we’re the country with the most crowns. You’re welcome.

But today, people have gone from saying “Ah! Venezuelaaa!”, with a smile on their faces, to “Ay, Venezuela…”, their faces now showing worry and, dare I say it? Pity.

How is it possible that greed and avarice can take up so much strength that people are willing to stay put in power? How is it possible that even though they are fully conscious of what they are doing, they can go out and show their faces and act like all is well? How can they mock us so openly, limiting our rights, goods, resources, and freedoms while they travel around the world, live a life of extensive luxury, and turn a blind eye to the problems they are propagating with their hateful discourse?
In Spanish, we have a word for it: descaro.
Cynism.

Genesis Carmona, a student, was shot during one of the protests. She did not survive the attack.

But the one thought I struggle with every day is “why don’t I just go over there?” Why don’t I just book myself a one-way flight to Caracas, to go for a cause I believe in and support with all my energy? Guilt eats at me.
I could easily fly to Colombia, and cross the border from Cúcuta to San Cristobal. I could go via Panama, via Peru. But I don’t. Why? Because I am a coward. Because I have grown soft and comfortable in my suburbian home. Because I have landed a job I wanted, because I am able to travel freely, because I can sleep soundly at night without the worry that our house will be broken-into.
Because I’m a coward.
Because I don’t have half the strength these people have.
I have only lived their oppression from afar. I have been angered, but at a distance. I have not felt the abuses myself, save for maybe once or twice (and yes, those times were at the now-closed Venezuelan consulate in Miami.)
These people back home are abused, harassed, belittled, controlled, and mocked every day of their life.

Every day there are tweets and messages: so and so got arrested for protesting in X place, so and so was mugged by the National Guard; a special-needs citizen was beaten up until he passed out by, again, our brave and respectful National Guard. Sometimes, those who are “detained” are never found alive again.

precio

Before going to bed, I “make my rounds”. I send messages to my friends in the barricades around Caracas, where they have learned to mix different ingredients such as drenching towels in vinegar, or mixing Maalox and water, to fight the effects of the tear gas they are attacked with every day.
I make sure they’ve not been detained. I don’t even ask if they’re ok. They’re not. This beautiful city that is home to a UNESCO World Heritage site is now a war zone, and no one is ever “OK” in a warzone.

Student-built barricades in Caracas.

But then, to have the “government” come out and call these fighters names, to say they are fascists, communists, niñitos de papá y mamá, to see them say they want “peace” when they themselves are the ones that launch attacks on the citizens, and say they are backed up by the CIA and the FBI is, even if ridiculous, infuriating. To add insult to injury, the Venezuelan government is closely allied to the Cuban government. Cuban troops roam freely around the country, “enforcing the law”.

Recovering from tear gas

Think about how bad do things have to be, and how desperate do you have to feel, to be to really put your life on the line? To feel that facing an armed and blood-thirsty “National Guard” is the only way out?

Protester being dragged by the law enforcement.

If you’re not aware of the situation, which I find hard to believe, I invite you to read this entry by a fellow blogger, who was an English teacher in a city called Barquisimeto. Read her ordeal.
I invite you to watch these videos done by a field journalist.
I invite you to read articles by CNN, Reuters, the New York Times, and the countless other articles you find on the internet (checking the legitimacy of their source, of course).

I left Venezuela fourteen years ago. I have not been back in eight years, and the pain is still latent.

If you feel compelled to help us, share the information you receive through social media. It’s the most we can do from far away. The world needs to know about us.

Venezuela, fuerza.

The twerking sensation that’s sweeping the nation!

The world of unemployment has made Triki a very dull and boring creature. I spend my days editing pictures, negatively criticizing my work, and browsing any and all websites hoping to find a job that remotely interests me.

It’s this grand fareniente that has enabled me to observe a little closely the world around me back at home. I think more anthropologists should focus their energies on suburbia than remote African tribes. What goes on here is pretty interesting (see: terrible) because it’s a microcosm of our society as a whole.

Or, I mean, I could be wrong.

(Or I could be totally right. All comments and opinions welcomed).

I was trying to steer clear, to not hop on the Miley Cyrus bandwagon of “OMG what a train wrecckkk!” but alas, I got me a ticket with a window seat (I have to see the wing when there is turbulence- don’t judge) and I’m jumping right in.

The thing that bothers me about the situation is not this girl herself. Nope. It’s not her hair, it’s not that she (tried to) twerk onstage, blah blah blah. What bothers me is us.

Us? But why!? We are above reproach! Look at us condeming this fool to hell because she’s doing what we expected her to do from day one anyway!
Oh noooeeeezzzz!!
But yes! This is exactly what’s wrong! We are a mass of disillusioned, hypocritical, brain dead beings! (Did I sound too harsh? Yay!)

Why is this so shocking? Are you telling me this little 20-year-old wearing high-wasted pleather panties and bra made you blush with her silly moves? Really?

In a world where we idolize sex symbols and we ourselves leave very little to the imagination (that’s right, I’ve seen those #workout pictures on instagram) we’re going to grab onto this all-too-easy scapegoat?

That’s some bullshit.

We all expected this girl to become a trainwreck- it seems to be the normal path for children who are exposed to excess at a very young age (remember Lindsey? Demi? Brinety?) and now, we’ve created little monsters out of them by supporting the very institutions that enable them to become the laughingstock of our society.

Why is all of this so shocking anyway? Because the media says it.

It’s the MTV Music Awards! Didn’t Li’l Kim wear some crazy get-up in ’99 where her whole boob was showing? (I remember this because I was 11, and all I wanted to see was the Backstreet Boys), didn’t Britney kiss Madonna? Didn’t Christina Aguilera too? How come they only latched onto Britney? Because she was far more popular, because magazines and journals knew that they would reach a wider audience by focusing on Britney and not the other hot chick on the other side of Madonna. It’s “shocking” because the bold black lettering says it is. And because we don’t stop to question or to even think.

We all knew what we’re getting ourselves into when we gather ‘round the TV to see all these entertainers. It’s the perversion that we have as human beings that makes us watch this, seek the weakest link and then run with it.

I saw Rihanna judging. But who is she to judge?

Furthermore, who are we to judge? We glorify ourselves and our sex appeal via Instagram, Vine, Facebook- our outlets are endless and yet we focus on one single little event because hey! We haven’t had any “shocking” events recently.
(Yes, each word is a different link).

When Janet Jackson had her infamous “wardrobe malfunction”, I think we failed to ask the right questions. Instead of instating that 2-second delay for live TV, why don’t we direct our attention at the fact that, ahem, someone was grabbing her breast when this whole ordeal occurred? Hm?

We complain so much about women being objects but then again, we glorify and we are entertained by the fact that it is a common occurrence. 
I was reading an article that, though very eloquent, it failed to convey a strong message. It talked about racism and how black women were used onstage as objects. This was touched upon by someone from some place in Cyberspace called Big Tittie Committee, or something like that. Um. Hi, let me dust my graduate linguistics degree and simply say that by using the word “tittie”, the author is now placing herself (or himself, we never know anymore!) in a sexual context. By introducing yourself into this universe, and producing work that comes from this very source, you become them. Your arguments against misogynistic attitudes should now be taken a little bit less seriously, thanks to this.
But then again, it’s the little details that are overlooked. 

 Maybe when we stop putting others onstage to give us a freak show so we can then judge them, we can evolve as a society. It’s not racism, it’s not (over)sexualization, it’s that we let ourselves be led on. 

As a whole, we are the ones who truly give importance to things, that’s why we are targeted. When the media says jump, instead of asking “how high?” we should look at them closely, and question them.

So, how about we put a nail on this coffin and move on? This is not worth keeping up to then have it be forgotten in about a week or so.

Right, Occupiers?