Federico Aubele is an Argentinian singer-songwriter. He sings in both Spanish and English. And in this Tiny Desk Concert, he plays pretty guitar solos between songs which makes the three songs all seem like one long piece.
His guitar playing is clean and beautiful on the nylon string guitar. He plays in the quintessential “South American”/”classical” style [some might even call this Flamenco, Paul]. And his voice is low and deep but also expressive.
The three songs here are “Laberinto Del Ayer,” “This Song,” and “Somewhere Else.” They are each quite pretty and melancholy. And when he starts speaking in Spanish at the end of the third song, his voice is definitely enticing.
[READ: June 10, 2014] “A Sheltered Woman”
In this story, the second or third I’ve read by Yiyun Li, the main character is an older women who goes by the name of Auntie Mei. Auntie Mei is a first month nanny–she stays for only the first month, to make sure that the mother is breastfeeding correctly and that everyone is prepared to move on–her skills are very specific to the first month. And she is in very high demand among Chinese immigrants.
She has worked for 126 families in the last eleven years. And she never gets attached to any of the families–calling each mother Ma and each child The Baby.
With this new mother who, like all the other mothers is Chinese (but who wants to be called Chanel), Auntie Mei is having a bit of a hard time. The mother is disinterested in her baby, claims to have postpartum depression (Auntie Mei says “Don’t speak nonsense”) and even had a dream that she drowned her baby in the toilet. Mostly, Chanel is angry that her husband is not around–he has been away on business since the baby was born. We later learn about the strange details of their marriage.
Auntie Mei tries not to get involved. She keeps telling Chanel (and others in the story not to tell her details). She feeds Chanel a thick soup (designed for breastfeeding) and massages her breasts when she does not produce milk. But after a few days Chanel says she quits and leaves the baby entirely in Auntie Mei’s charge. Auntie Mei protests but she can’t allow the baby to die so she takes over. Chanel simply watches TV and complains–she won’t even go buy groceries.
In the meantime a Vietnamese man named Paul comes to Chanel’s house to fix the dishwasher. He and Auntie Mei start talking since there is no one else to talk to (and Paul talks a lot). Auntie Mei is wary of the man, but he is very kind. Soon Chanel starts teasing Auntie Mei that she’s going to be having an affair with Paul.
One day Paul take them grocery shopping because Auntie Mei doesn’t have a car. It is here that we learn a bit about each of them. Auntie Mei’s history is one of sadness and deprivation with the various matriarchs abandoning their children in some form or another. This seems to be why Auntie Mei is content to be detached in her job. Paul even wonders why she do this job if only to make so much money if she has nothing to spend it on (all of her jobs have rent and food included). We also learned that she has never had a baby herself which Chanel finds shocking, although auntie Mae says it’s just a calling for her like any other job.
By the end of the story Auntie Mei fears she is getting attached and we have to wonder if Auntie Mei’s life is one of pragmatism or escape.
I just saw Yiyun Li’s novel in the story the other day, although i don’t know if it has anything to do with this story.