THERE MUST BE A BETTER WAY!

Daily Creativity

A BEAST OF A PROJECT

THE DAILY DRAW: A BEAST OF A PROJECT

Starting January 1, Jeremy the Artist and I made a pact to draw every day and post it on the Daily Draw Tumblr for one year. Some folks have joined us for part of this year. As Jeremy reminds me when I miss a series, it’s a beast of a project but, if you can’t get better without practice it’s essential to show up and work every day just as you would at any other job you take seriously.

I feel like, in the spirit of the Artists Way, writers have been onto this for some time and a lot of people journal every day. I know I have. It’s tiring to fill journals only to store them in the upper reaches of my closet, taking them out only when I move to another apartment.

THERE MUST BE A BETTER WAY!

THERE MUST BE A BETTER WAY!

So I’ve tried a few different programs for typing my words into the computer. I’ve settled on FocusWriter, an excellent fullscreen writing app, but I wanted all my posts in the same location and also available on any computer. Then I remembered this excellent website Annette had recommended to me called 750 Words.

750 Words Screenshot

750 WORDS in classic green on black

750 Words is a free web app that does everything I need a daily journal to do including providing a customizable, full screen distraction-free interface. It tracks your days and you can access your stats of how often you wrote. You can also see what other users made their goal for the day and month. If you ever get sick of th site, you can easily export your posts. One of these months I’m going to do the challenge where if you write 750 words every day for the month your name is put on the Wall of Amazingness. It’s not without risk because if you miss a day during the month you go on the Wall of Shame until you successfully complete a month of writing every day. I love the idea of taking a person’s goals seriously and adding consequences, however trivial they may be.

SUNSET OVER BUENOS AIRES

Ex Exnat

SUNSET OVER BUENOS AIRES

SUNSET OVER BUENOS AIRES

Friends, Portenos, Expats: Lend me your ears.
I come not to praise exnat, but to bury it.

That’s right, after months of not posting, it’s time to put a fork in this little blog: it’s done.

My first blog, triptrap, was the travel blog I wrote in until I arrived in Buenos Aires and was written from the point of view of a traveler. As obvious as this might seem, it’s worth mentioning because when I ceased to be a traveller, when I began to feel at home, I needed something else.  Here I was in a home. Not my home, rather I was a semipermanent visitor in someone else’s home. With this newfound existential angst I needed a new blog and here exnat was born.

I loved writing this blog and I loved the comments I received and the community I became a part of. I also loved plunging the depths of the expat psyche. It’s been lovely but all good things must come to an end.

But don’t worry, I will still be writing a blog.  The difference is that this will be a blog about a real passion of mine: games. I’m just starting it and it’s called twoifiplay.  While I’ll probably write about expat things every so often, it’s really an opportunity for me to share interesting games with people who might not otherwise come into contact with them.

So for those who update your blog subscriptions, I’ll be seeing you soon.  And for those who don’t, goodbye and it’s been pleasant.

Besos,
Nathan

Dungeon Dorks and the expat hierarchy

Monsters in Buenos Aires
So I was checking out this forum on Buenos Aires Expats and came across some guy starting up a Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) game.

This was apparently his second post and he wrote:

Hi all,

I’m starting a D&D group (preferably in English) to meet in about a month. If anyone is interested, I’ve set up a website at http://dnd.meetup.com/1024/ to discuss it. And if you have questions, as I’m sure some of you will, please feel free to contact me via the Contact Me link on that page.

Thanks for your interest.

D&D is a game where you play out the role of a mythical character like the elves and warriors and stuff. It’s like Lord of the Rings meets choose your own adventure except the possabilities are endless. I used to play this game with my older brothers. I always used to be a halfling thief and most of what I did was get sent upstairs to get them drinks and snacks. I was 10 years old and it was awesome.

I mean, one of the best ways you can get introduced into a place is to go with what you know. If you like to draw, find the local artists. If you like to play polo, join the local polo club. But what if what you know is something fairly unknown in where you are? A better idea would have been to try to find local gamers and access the city that way.

But even more interesting was a comment on the post. This other guy had commented 204 times so he probably sets a lot of the tone over on BA expats. He wrote:

Not sure if you’ll thank me again for my interest but I find your interest in that game rather surprising. There you are in that beautiful country and you want to play D&D.

I saw this text on your page “Also, if anyone has suggestions for a good, safe first meeting location, I’m all ears!”, if you’re looking for a safe place to meet people then I’ll go ahead and suggest Villa Lugano, it’s a beautiful part of town where you’ll feel right at home.

Best of luck

What a jerk! The tone of this comment raises the ambivilence that expats play in eachothers lives. From what I understand, this forum is for expats trying to network with other expats to share experiences, solve problems, and hang out at the monthly dinners. Why then is someone so entrenched in the community so negative? Are there levels or circles of expats and this guy somehow broke the rules? Is this newcomer not “cool” enough to comment on an expat forum? It’s funny how you can travel 10,000 miles and still feel like you’re back in high school.

What little girls are made of

PART THE FIRST: WHEREIN BROWNIES ARE OBTAINED

Today I went to an expat blogging meetup that was in a cookie factory called Sugar and Spice. Frank, who owns this gingerbread house of a store, was very generous and hospitable to invite us. And the spread was delectable.

This is a man full of cookies
TOO MANY COOKIES
For me the most interesting thing was that he chose to have his Buenos Aires blogging meet up at 10:30am till 12:30pm on a Thursday. This is highly convenient if I, like most expats, roll out of bed at 11am in time to arrive fashionably late for some milk and cookies for breakfast. As it so happens I have a job and it was fairly inconvenient. Unless I wanted to take a day off work and eat desserts. So personally I was ambivalent but I think that the sheer audacity of the planning speaks to the fluidity of the expat schedule (or lack thereof). It also could have been that the store was small and Frank didn’t want 50 people all crowding in to get free samples. As it was: GOOD JOB FRANK FOR A PERFECT EVENT! He also promised to be hosting a wine and savory cookie event very soon. Please email him with questions as to the particulars. We hope it will be soon. Frank was so kind and gracious that he gave us all little gift bags with delicious brownies, which leads me to the second part of my post.

PART, THE SECOND: WHEREIN THE BROWNIES ARE EATEN

The six brownies were immaculately wrapped in a beautiful orange cardboard case with a ribbon running all through it. Much of the food experience is presentation and let me tell you, had the King of Argentina himself walked in through the door at that moment I would have felt proud to give him part of one of my brownies. But he didn’t and after work I gave the woman at the art store one of the brownies and, in turn, she gave me lots of little 10% off coupons and a kiss on the cheek. I hopped on my bike and headed to painting class.

Image of Nathan and Diva
I SLYLY PUT THE MOVES ON DIVA

My painting teacher has been talking about folks bringing in food since we began the class. Last week someone bit and brought in 3 bottles of “expensive” wine ($4US = expensive). It was lovely and to return the favor I decided to cut up The other 5 into fourths and for my classmates.

Everyone was very appreciative until one girl, not knowing who brought them, said “This is all fine and good but these brownies aren’t really something Argentine.” As if the nationality of the food somehow had some relevance. I said “Hey man, this is cultural exchange.” And the teacher said, “What do you want him to do, make a locro?”

The box it came in was orange and beautiful and the girl liked it. At the end of the class, after she’d taken the last bite of the American cookie, I gave it to her.

goodbye

dear readers,

this blog is now closed. due to the recent snow, the plea bargain, and my lack of sleep my attorney’s have advised me not to comment. however, to give a little hinty-hint it’s got to do with the NEW BLOG that i’ve got going on. this NEW BLOG is not about travelling and is about being an expat in buenos aires. I highly recommend the NEW BLOG. Please update links where applicable. Etc, et al.

Lots of love,
Nathan

PS.
NEW BLOG

exnat begins

no sugar tonight in my coffee
no sugar tonight in my tea
no sugar to stand beside me
no sugar to run with me

Welcome to exnat, the blog about MY experiences as an expat in Buenos Aires. In November 2005 I arrived with a 30L backpack and a plan to stay 3 days before heading on to Montevideo. A year and half later I have an apartment full of my furniture and am no closer to Uruguay than I was when I arrived. What makes this city so irresistable? What has turned a one night stand with Buenos Aires into a relationship? Why am I happy to have a 9am-6pm job where I stare at a screen all day? What’s it like to learn Spanish through trial and error? Who is the president of Argentina? These are the mysteries I intend to explore in this here blog.

So buckle up. We’re going for a ride…

Now wait a month for the next post.

how people find my blog

I just put a statcounter on this blog. A lot of people come across blogs because they typed some words into google and google spits out some relevant sites. Well, statcounter can tell you what people typed in that brought them to your blog. This is mine:

Let’s just comment on these:

  • There is no real schedule for lanchas in Iquitos. You just head to the docks and see which boat is leaving.
  • The halter should fit snugly. The plow should have two blades.
  • Don’t eat sardines in Peru. Period.
  • This is the only thing on the list that my blog actually addresses. Yes, you should have said yes.

one year later…

It’s been about a year and a half since I left the states and about a year since I’ve been silent on this blog. It hasn’t been intentional… But the fact is that it’s super super hard to write when you know the folks you’re around. Not just because they might read it and judge you for it but also cause you feel like you’re spilling intimate secrets. It’s ugly to spill your guts out for all to see but i’m also scared to sanitize all, focusing only on lowest common denomenator, the pithy messages that tell little about my own life and experiences.

But I think that now it’s time to start writing again. In about 3 weeks I’ll go home and I want to document as much as I can.

RESTING

This blog is not dead. Ony resting. It’ll probably wake up on Friday, October 21 (at which point i will have both a laptop and a camera).

thanks for reading,
nathan

First Entry

I’ve just finished setting up the blog. I’m hoping it’s readable and will end up looking OK. It’s good to have it out of the way. I still have some things to do for the school. Then I also have to move out and clean the apartment.

I’ve been debating whether or not to invest in some more memory, batteries, and a portable harddrive to for my camera. On the one hand there’s no sense in going halfway. On the other, I firmly believe that I will either lose or break the camera within a few months.

It’s funny leaving a place. For a little while I was just overwhelmed with stress. I felt like I had lots of things to do but I had to keep entertaining people instead of actually doing work. It’s weird. Only a week and a half or so and then it’s VROOOM.

I’m leaving on a jet plane…

don’t know when I’ll be back again…

anyways, I hope that I can update this every so often and that when I do it’ll be worth reading.