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.

Cookie Monster + Cookie Hero = Cookie Contest

Today Buenos Aires has born witness to a Cookie Monster who was apparently left uninvited to Frank’s delectable invite. However, our top investigators (me) have now discovered the true nature of the beast.

Has Frank always been a Cookie Monster? Is it a sinister Mr. Hyde type character who comes out when the moon looks most like a round, unbitten cookie? Has Frank dabbled in the science of cookies too long and fallen prey to his own visionary yet immoral cookie experiments?

A shocked community asks in one united voice: WHO CAN SAVE US? One stands apart from the rest. He is Exnat, the Cookie Hero. He faces the Monster, challenging him to a COOKIE EATING CONTEST.

Is the MONSTER in hot milk or will Exnat’s eyes prove bigger than his cookie stomache?

Moving to Buenos Aires: Living Alone

For the first 18 years of my life I lived with my parents. After that I left for college and for the next 8 years I mostly with friends and, every odd summer or so, with my parents. When I came to Buenos Aires I lived with my friends Lysa and Juan for the first few months. Then I decided to move out into an apartment by myself.

 

I MOVED FROM HERE...

I MOVED FROM HERE…

I had never lived alone before and it was incredibly intimidating on a few fronts. However, as both of those facts made it more attractive, I decided that it was now or never. For a multitude of reasons ranging from economic solvency to fear of themselves many people never get the oppurtunity to live alone and I took it with gusto. I’m interested to hear what other solitary expats feel about living alone in Buenos Aires but this is my experience.

I was faced with two options. I could rent a fully furnished place for the prices you see on craigslist. That wasn’t going to happen. Or I could find a nonfurnished place that didn’t need a garantia because I didn’t have one. (I write about garantias over here.) Well, a coworker of mine was luckily vacating his apartment and I moved right in. It was one bedroom, one dining room, one kitchen and a den. Unfortunately they were all combined into the same room. There was also a bathroom. I should explain about the kitchen. It wasn’t really a kitchen. It was a “kitchenette” which is the what the foldaway bed is to a real bed.

...TO HERE

…TO HERE

My first problem was that I didn’t have anything. I didn’t have plates or silverware to eat the food that which I could not cook without pots and pans. I couldn’t even buy food in the meantime because I had no fridge. I ate a lot of empanadas for the first few weeks. I should also mention tha, while I had no sheets, bed, or lamp, I did have a futon which my friend Alexis had given me on her departure back to the States.

The lack of these items exposed other, more glaring issues like 1) I did not know how or where to get them and 2) I did not know how to ask. I was still at that stage where people think that because you speak like a 4 year old you must have the same needs and desires as a 4 year old. While this was actually true I had the additional “adult” responsibilities of being a consumer and buying my own toilet paper.

Starting from scratch and getting all the items to live in an apartment was very difficult for me. I don’t really know why it was so difficult but I think that I was so overwhelmed by other things that it was always impossible to get the bigger picture of what was going on, what I needed to do what I wanted to do. This was made much more difficult by the insane, nagging eternal question: “When are you going home?” I didn’t have any idea and my life was a constant weighing of things that would never have seemed like a big deal: should I buy chairs and a table if I’ll be here for a year? How many chairs? How big of a table? and so on. Even after a year and a half, with no immediate plans to return and an apartment full of everything I need, I still play this game: Should I buy a washing machine if I’ll only be here one more year?

KITCHENETTE

KITCHENETTE

... AND BATHROOM

… AND BATHROOM

So living alone not only brought up these very existential questions, it also isolated me from my friends and from an immediate social support network. Now if I were feeling down, or even just wanted to hang out, there wasn’t anyone automatically there. I would actually have to pick up the phone and call folks. This would have been great in a world where I already had a social network but, in retrospect, I was asking for trouble by doing it. This isolation was compounded by the fact that this was the first time I was living in a city anywhere close to as big and bustling as Buenos Aires.

Looking back a bit over a year later I’ve moved to a bigger and nicer place, am much better adjusted, and love not having to worry about other people’s dishes. I also love that I have my own furniture and can do whatever I want.  It makes me feel more solid, less transient. Living alone helped me in the long term, perhaps, but taking the plunge so soon, without having fully acclimatized set me back overall and made the integration process more difficult than it had to be.  If you are moving to Buenos Aires and you are deciding between the two and have never lived alone before, approach it with care. It’s not for the faint of heart.

NOW I LIVE HERE

NOW I LIVE HERE

So long and thanks for all the beer

There’s a tear in my beer

THERE’S A TEAR IN MY BEER

Last week a bunch of folks met at Antaires to wish Ken a safe and happy journey back to the States. The beer there is delicious and from 7-9pm there’s a 2 for 1 happy hour on pints. I thought I was being really smart by ordering lots of these but apparently I was even smarter because I didn’t pay for any of them. Thanks to whoever bought me the beer. I would have paid but I don’t remember the waiter ever coming round.

One of the things I do remember is how, when we first got there, we chose to sit down at the tall, little, circular tables. This confused the waitress who realized that those tables are really meant for 2 people who want to talk intimately, not 5 individuals who are set on each claiming their own table. She tried to explain this to us and Alan and I, thinking ourselves the most proficient in Spanish, tried to offer various explanations so that she’d leave us alone.

WAITRESS: You guys might be more comfortable at a single table, all seated together.
ME: We’re happy here. It’s all good. Thanks.
WAITRESS: At another table you could all sit together.
ME: Oh no, it’s ok. We each want our own table. We’re quite happy, thanks. Can I order 4 beers at once?
WAITRESS [looking distressed]: Well… would you like me to move all of these circular tables together so that you can talk to eachother?
ALAN: We’re expecting more people. That’s why we’re so spread out.
WAITRESS [Rallying]: If you’re expecting more people I can push some of those group tables all together.
ALAN: Actually, some of us smoke and we just want to be closer to the door.
WAITRESS: Oh, I understand, why didn’t you say so!!!

But the funny thing is that, while some of us smoked, that had nothing to do with the decision to sit there. I’m also unsure if the waitress ever believed that it did though she certainly acted that way. I suspect she was willing to give up on the 4 extra tables and save herself from the weirdness of people who don’t know what group tables are for. I think this happens a lot when you’re speaking a new language. For the life of me I can’t remember ever having an exchange like this in the States.