Thursday, February 25, 2010

bruising and schmoozing

I had a crappy day. I am shooting/writing up fashion week and spent all day at the expo center, shooting and interviewing but mostly just standing in fucking line because I applied for a press credential too late. Live and learn. I have decided that I never want to shoot a big, corporate fashion event ever again. It was a lot of super pretentious people parading around, and instead of doing my usual "well aren't we special," I was ingratiating myself to them and taking their photos.

I was really excited about it at first, but today was so rough. I like pretty things as much as the next girl (and then some, even) but I don't think I want to put fashion on a pedestal. Expensive clothes should be a guilty pleasure, and not really advertised, particularly if you live in a city where people regularly knock on your day and ask you if have any old clothes to give them. Maybe that is just my neighborhood.

After that long day, I ran off to meet a guy who'd offered me a ride out to a fancy suburb of Buenos Aires to see this rock show. I posted on a message board to see if anyone wanted to go, and he said he did. I called him to set up a time and it turns out he is 65 years old. Why, why, why, as a 65-year-old man, would you think it is kosher to offer to take a 29-year-old woman to a PUNK ROCK SHOW? When I explained to him I didn't think he'd enjoy it, he was like, "No, it sounds fun. I'd really like to go." I didn't know how to say I didn't think that would be cool, so I just said...well, okay. If you're down, I'm down. I'm not ageist at all. My best friend here is 62. I don't go to punk rock shows with her, but hey, everyone is different. But I was also confused by it.

I thought maybe it would be cool. I showed up half an hour late because I don't have a watch and I assumed that fashion week was running on schedule, but it most certainly wasn't. We chatted pleasantly but a few moments into my return to non-bitter humanity with pizza and beer, I decided it was too late to go (it really was), and that I just wanted to go home instead. Also, I was really not entertained by the situation. I tried to be engaged, but he was just talking at me. I have noticed that Argentine men do that. They just talk, and talk, and talk, and you just sit there and smile. They like to talk about this country and the politics and such but they also do the Indian thing of talking about things they have no clue about with the utmost authority. For example, I saw these two guys jumping extremely high and doing tricks. They were wearing those jumpy-shoe things. It was pretty cool. I said, "Look at those guys jumping over there." And he said, with the utmost authority, "Ah, yes, they have a bungee board." What he meant was, a trampoline. I said, "No, they have special devices attached to them." And he tried to fucking argue with me! He couldn't even see them. I don't have patience for people like this. Particularly when they are more than twice my age. I then hated myself for not listening to my gut, because my gut tends to be ageist and racist and classist all those stereotypes that guts have. It is a lot of effort to be open-minded.

Working makes me feel better after social mishaps like that, even though it was all fine but skeezy in other ways. When I came home, I set to work processing my shitty photos that I shot from a mile away, and as I was walking down the stairs to put some water on for tea, I fucking slipped and fell and fucked my shit up bad. I am a bumbling fool who has broken her ankle walking before, but I have never fallen down stairs. It was scary. I thought I had broken something. And you know what? All I could think was, "Great, now I have to go back to fucking Fashion Week tomorrow with two broken fingers and a goddamn broken tailbone."

Nothing is actually broken, but I do have to go back to Fashion Week tomorrow. I think this is someone's way of laughing at me. You want it bad--like, real bad? Here, have a broken leg. That's right. Bet you don't think Fashion Week is such a hardship now, do you?

Friday, February 19, 2010

arbitrary sexual boundaries

Sex is all over the place here in Buenos Aires. It is light and cavalier and expected. I am just now beginning to understand how sexually Puritanical America is, where things are changing but anything sexual takes on various connotations ranging from clinical to taboo. Things are different here. I've been with a lot of guys, but to me the sex is a lot less interesting than the way guys open up to you right before, during, or after getting laid.

Last week I went on a lunch date with this older German guy. He tried to take me home after lunch. I was incredibly attracted to him. He was very well spoken and interesting, and he made me feel like a person. What was strange was that he was really interested in my sexual history. I deflected his questions because I didn't feel comfortable discussing it with him over our first date, in a quiet cafe where everyone could hear you. What was also strange was that he seemed turned on by how many people I've been with, something that I've been feeling kind of ashamed of lately. The whole experience made me feel like a blushing virgin or something. I felt like I should have been able to have this conversation with him, as an adult. But I couldn't. I just lacked the sexual vocabulary, and the wherewithal to talk about sex naturally.

Then last night these two boys tried to take me to a hotel. I met them in the Plaza Serrano with a friend. We'd only just gotten our beer when the blonde said to me, "You want to fuck me, don't you?" I don't remember what I said. I think I said he was too young for me--20 years old. (A total lie, because I love all men, young and old alike.) He was very good-looking and intense, and his straight-forward manner of speaking made me think he was probably a serial killer. His gaze made me uncomfortable, but I tried to laugh it off. I said, "What about my friend?" And he said, "No, she's not interested in sex, but you are. I can see it in your face."

This shocked me. Earlier in the evening my friend said that she hadn't been around any cocaine in Buenos Aires, and I said that it was offered to me constantly, and that half of the guys I've been with here have plied me with a little bit of coke. I don't know what about me resonates with these types of guys and situations that she's not getting into, but I would like to know. The 20-year-old then proceeded to ask me how I liked it and, thinking back to my lunch date with the German, I tried to not back down from the conversation, to use it as a learning experience to employ a sexual vocabulary. I am not good at talking about sex, and I am not good at expressing what I am into or not into. I guess I just don't really know. With every guy it is different, so it is hard for me to make generalizations. Like I don't want to ask a guy to go down on me if he gives lousy head--and I don't want to give instructions to a guy I'll never see again. But seeing as how we were in a noisy, crowded place, and I was sufficiently liquored up, we talked about sex for quite some time. That's when he popped the idea of a threesome.

I have never been with two guys once. Three yes, with another girl...but that was different. It was more of an orgiastic playtime situation. I imagine just being one girl with two guys is really intense. The idea of it appealed to me, but the way the blonde was looking at me really creeped me out. And when he proposed a hotel, I was like, okay, let's go. Why the fuck not.

But then this voice of responsibility suddenly appeared. I am trying to be more responsible, partially because I am all alone here with no one looking out for me, and partially because I am turning 30 next month and I am sick of people telling me I don't seem that old. I think I seem young because I am lost and naive and still don't seem to know better than a 23-year-old. So I am taking baby steps towards being more responsible. Like this week I bought a white shirt, even though I don't think I'm responsible enough to own white clothing. And then instead of getting in the cab with the boys, I suddenly sidestepped them and took a cab home.

You know, I didn't feel as good about myself as I thought I would. It would have been a memorable experience. And he was right--I really did want to fuck him.

Friday, February 12, 2010

the voices in my head say to chill the fuck out. oh, and i love you.

The 90-degree weather keeps on coming, and I am just cruising with it. Okay, so I allowed myself to suffer a bit, and then decided it was not getting me anywhere.

I thought about Detox Doc the other day, and how he would have coaxed me out of that bitter mood I was in. Sometimes you just resign yourself to a fate, you know? I had resigned myself to being lost and hot and miserable. I don't know why. But another take-away message from my State of New York-sponsored detox program is that guilt/suffering/certainties are gifts from Satan that you do not have to accept. So, no thanks, darling of the darkness: return to sender.

I slid into this world here with some totally random rules for myself that have been making my life unnecessarily difficult. Like I told myself I wouldn't socialize with English-speakers (so I could accelerate my Spanish learning), I wouldn't go out with boys (distractions!), and that I would really live within my means...a steady diet of cheese, salami, and sliced bread. I don't know why I thought I should come to Buenos Aires and live like a fucking nun. I guess that is just how I am. And every time I faltered on these rules, I would feel really bad about it. But then Detox Doc came to me in my insomniatic haze last night and spoke magical things to me, mainly calling me silly for placing these unrealistic--and sort of pointless--expectations on myself.

I sent him a Christmas postcard. But I don't think he got it. Out of the dozen postcards I sent, I have only heard that two made it through. One was to San Francisco and one was to Chicago. I think the NYC post office just dumped them in the East River, which sucks. They were damn good postcards, and rather expensive to send.

Anyhow. I'm relaxing my rules, relaxing myself, and all is so much better when I'm not constantly berating myself for being a failure. Okay, so I'm not exactly a huge success story. Living off your savings in a country with a favorable exchange rate is not go-getter material, particularly if you're not even 30 years old. But the phantom Detox Doc said to me last night, "Who are you comparing yourself with?" And I was know, my friend Playboy who is like an international telecommunications consultant and just bought a fucking Ducati. In New York City. And then there's Girlfriend, who is moving in with her girlfriend, and finishing up her fifth year in her secure and satisfying teaching career. Or, Christ, my little brother, who owns his own place in Chicago and regularly makes payments to his 401K. I guess I'm just jealous of people who don't go through life feeling like they're constantly walking on the wrong side of the street.

But I have other heroes too. Like you and you and you. Let me digress for a second.

For a hot minute I was sure I was going to marry this Straightedge Vegan I met in Chicago. And barring the obvious inherent WTF? in that imaginary coupling, there is the feeling that when you make open-and-shut decisions like that in your life, you miss out on a lot of the tortuous angst that makes you the well-rounded, articulate individual who can get along at most dinner parties. What is a cocktail hour if we can't discuss some sort of existential crisis? My whole life seems to be about toeing the lines between creativity and criminality. I think that is why I don't have any friends who are doctors, lawyers, or accountants. I like to start with people from the netherworld of "Okay, people, where the hell are we and where are we going?" If both of these premises are understood, I really don't know where to go from there.

There are people in my life like Playboy and Girlfriend and Little Brother who have more solid ground than I do, but the reason why we can still relate is that they are constantly changing their footing. We are all antsy in our own ways. Some people are accepting--of their jobs, their cities, their friends, their lovers. They are into settling down in some ways. And then there are those of us who don't know the meaning of settling down, no matter how secure they may be. I am in awe of people who can commit to their careers, their partners, and their cities. But I know they have a lot to do with people like me who can't commit to a damn thing. This great American travel writer once said, "You can't shoot a cannon from a raft," or something like that. And it's so true...! But if you did try it, it would certainly be a hell of a ride.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

summer of sweat

Self-pity isn't attractive on anyone, and I think I got it all out of my system. Geez, sorry again for that terrible last absolution post! Confession, blogging, same difference? Ugh.

Anyhow, things have been rolling along here in Buenos Fucken' Aires. It finally stopped raining for a minute and today I strolled around and was struck by how normal everything feels here. I am sweaty in February, still don't know anyone here, and have just gotten used to going for a walk with a map and a dictionary. Okay, so I don't usually take the dictionary with me. But I should.

My folks got me on video chat again yesterday. I have talked to them more since I moved than ever before. I am online all the time now, toiling around with my little projects. They caught me in a bad mood yesterday. I was chasing down a paycheck that should have come in September and was all bitter about it. It's hard enough for me to get assignments, and it turns out it's even harder for me to get paid for them. Me Ma said to me, "Well, you've chosen a very difficult line of work." This just killed me. Maybe I just hear criticism and head-shaking in everything she says to me, but it came across as, "Jesus H Christ, you are so stupid. You could have done any number of things that would have paid you. I seem to remember you actually having a salary at one point. Why the hell you feel the need to make everything so difficult is just beyond my comprehension."

She didn't say it. There's definitely a part of her and Dad that think that, which is why I try to avoid bitching about these kinds of difficulties. But like I said, they caught me in a bad spot, and as soon as we started to talk about, I felt like a complete asshole. Like here I am trying to "make it as a writer," whatever the hell that means. I don't know the first thing about the business, other than that I need to be writing ten times more than I am, selling five times more, and collecting checks in a timely fashion. I feel a kinship with the people peddling crap like four pairs of socks and a plastic binder, or the people trying to pass along badly photocopied fliers for lawyers, call girls and chemistry lessons on the street corners. I used to look at them and think, "There's got to be a more efficient way to do this," and I would sidestep them precipitously. But lately I think, "God, I know what that feels like." You don't know who wants to buy your crap, and so you just do what you know how to do, which is to ask every goddamn person who wants it within reach. Lately I buy the lighters and tissues from the wanderers and I take every flyer that someone hands me and I look at it. I wonder if this is working.

I hope it is. When there's no security, I guess, all we can do is hope. And try to stay out of grim situations as best as possible.

Friday, February 5, 2010

evolution of a hangover

Last night was a night that seemed totally fine. But the more I thought about it, the more unsavory it seems. This is happening to me a lot lately and I need to P&D (process and dissect, as the SF contingency would say) it to see what the fuck is going on.

This morning it took me about two hours to get home from last night's adventure zone. I asked a boy for the wrong bus, he put me on it going in the wrong direction, and then I ended up walking almost an hour even still. At first I felt fine. But then I started thinking, and this is how it went:

9 am: That was fun. I love boys.

9:30 am: I probably drank too much last night.

10 am: I can't believe that guy wanted to do anal this morning.

10:15 am: Why does every guy in Palermo roll with so much blow?

10:20 am: This happened a few weeks ago, too.

10:21 am: That's kind of gross. Meh.

10:37 am: I wonder if that guy thinks I'm some kind of coke whore, or if this is just the MO around here. Kind of seems like it. Is it the scene or is it me? I really can't tell.

10:59 am: You know, the night started out with me being on a sort of date with that other guy. He was sweet. I don't even remember how the second guy entered the picture. I know I wasn't rude about it. We parted amicably. But he probably thinks I am the worst person ever.

11 am: I am the worst person ever.

Does this mean that I think too much (in retrospect), or not enough (before doing something)? I tried to be gentle with myself this morning. I told myself that I am probably more lonely than I realize, and that I should stay out of Palermo. That, and maybe I should think about moving back to Soberland. This kind of shit never happens there.

I felt strangely absolved when Boy A (the boy with whom the evening had originated) called me out over gchat on me switching horses mid-race. He told me he still wanted to hang out again, that he was into "non-exclusive relations" but didn't want to end up playing wingman for me all the time. I found every element of this exchange very confusing. It all seems very contradictory.

And now I am out of cigarettes and it is pouring rain again.

Monday, February 1, 2010


It has been an eventful two weeks.

I met my Little Brother in Lima, where transit strikes canceled our first set of plans. This wasn't such a big deal. We managed to make it to Machu Picchu, despite some serious train problems, and then once we got there, we were stranded in the town of Aguas Calientes for almost a week with about 2,000 others. It was a really intense week--a slow roller coaster ride, to borrow a choice phrase from my friend Chris. Every day we got up hoping to figure out what the hell was going on, sort of hoping we could get out and continue on our journey to Lake Titicaca. But that couldn't and didn't happen. We were finally airlifted out on a helicopter on the sixth day.

So much went on that it's hard to figure out where to begin. There was a weird breaking off into tiny communities of nations: the Argentineans, the Brasilians, the Canadians, the Japanese, the Chileans, the Australians, the Americans. There was the animosity that developed as nation-centric rumors of corruption and bribery rippled through the town. And then there was the underlying panic concerning shortages of food, water, and level-headedness. But nobody really knew what was going on. With no organized way to disseminate information, everything was just hearsay. On the other hand, the stranded tourists were mostly 20-something backpackers, so every night was kind of a party. It was a very strange dynamic--something like Lord of the Flies meets Woodstock.

In the midst of all this, you'd think I would have some very interesting things to rant and rave about. Like how cool it was to ride in a Peruvian military copter over the Sacred Valley. Or what it was like to live in limbo for a week in such an international community. Or how the guy from the U.S. embassy in Lima sent out to mitigate Argentinean-American conflict looked kind of like Orlando Bloom. And I do...but somehow the biggest thing standing out in my mind from this hugely dramatic experience is that when I finally got to check my email somewhere around Day 4, I'd received a 30-word email from a boy I met in Uruguay just before New Year's, which sent me into a complete state of ecstasy despite the tenuous circumstances. And this, instead of all the other tremendously more interesting things that happened this week, is all I really want to think about.

I'm just as fucked up as so many of us in this regard. More than natural disasters and states of emergency, what fascinates and excites us the most is the possibility that there could be someone out there who finds us as appealing as we find them. And this is where the real excitement begins.