Note to self. Don’t buy meat-based comestibles at midnight from restaurants that are about to close after perhaps fifteen hours of trading. This may make for Bad Times. Of course, I knew this, but the fourth beer is very frequently enough to roll back a substantial amount of hard-won prior education. The rest of the night was spent alternately trudging to the bathroom and barfing out my window, plus, on a few exciting occasions, juggling the two needs simultaneously. Oh yes. Circus illness. If you’ve ever had to co-ordinate a dual auto-evacuation you will know how carefully managed this needs to be. If I closed my eyes, I could have been back in Bolivia…the whirring of the fan becoming the beat of a chopper’s blades…The Doors playing as a forest caught fire. When I opened them again, I was for once glad the bathrooms here are so small, because you can actually sit on the toilet and lean over the sink at the same time. The next couple of days were a write-off: the brief amount of time I spent out of bad was in dragging myself down to the corner shop at crawl-pace, eating the only thing I could stomach (watermelon), and walking like it was my second day in prison. So, the happy-to-be-back-in-BA post that I was supposed to write a few days back got rather de-prioritised, hence the radio silence that has set in since then.
Aside from those few days, the past month in BA has been pretty much what I wanted it to be. I could perhaps sum it up best by means of a real Homer Simpson moment: looking down while typing to realise I had a bunch of granola gummed together in my chest hair. Ladies, form an orderly queue to the left. You may infer from this that a) I’ve been mostly sitting around writing, b) I’ve not left the house that much, and c) the climate does not require me to wear anything more than shorts. Heat is my friend – that wonderful ability to sit in your own skin at any hour of the day or night.
The heat is thick, close, like it’s dancing with you to a slow song and wants to give you the mother of all hickeys. I sit and type late into the nights, by the burn of an old orange 40-watt tungsten globe, the open door and window funnelling a breeze, but even the movement of fingers on keyboard enough to keep my arms and shoulders damp. Moving up one set of stairs to the roof brings a full fresh sheen of moisture to my face. It’s these long sweaty nights that have me always craving another longneck. The glass in my hands, the cool press of it against my forehead. The chilly condensation building up to mimic my skin. The hiss of it opening, and the sweet-bitter bliss of that first long pull. I sound like a VB ad. But seriously – beer. Every time I eat I crave a beer. When I walk in hot and sticky in the afternoon I crave a beer. Even writing this post is making me want a beer. It’s ironic that I came to the home of cocaine in order to get hooked on booze.
The days are clear and green-gold through the canopy of leaves outside my window. Sitting around writing, with nothing else I have to do, has been a pretty wonderful way of passing time. I’ve also been hanging out a lot with my favourite Spanish teacher, the girl I mentioned some time ago. This has been a surprise – when I headed off for my month of adventuring I had resigned myself to that being the end of that. But she was still here when I got back, and happy to see me, though she reminds me daily that she’s not my girlfriend. Which is ok by me, in this relationship-loathing stage of life. Her name is Nora, she’s a dance teacher, and she’s ridiculously cute. This all makes a good incentive to study, and accordingly my Spanish is astronomically improved. She likes to get stoned and talk to me about metaphysics and religion and the changing states of matter and energy. Try that as a test of your second-language comprehension, especially on a two-roach handicap.
I’m living in another idiosyncratic house: a long open-roofed courtyard with a series of rooms opening off it, and a series of couples popping in and out of them as though it were Hobbiton, or some sort of Cuckoo Clock of Sickening Domestication. There’s a French girl with a Mexican boyfriend, a local guy with a Chilean girl, and a severely ex-pat Australian with a Peruvian girl. Down the back is an adjoined house where the Argentine who owns the place lives with his French girlfriend. The only singles are me and another French dude called Julien. who spend half our time getting drunk, making loud noises, and generally bitching about how incredibly lame couples are. He spends the other half of his time talking smoochily on Skype to his girlfriend back in France, and I spend the other half of mine with my most assuredly non-girlfriend. “Stop kissing me,” she tells me, “I’m not your girlfriend.” Five minutes later she comes over and starts kissing me.
Julien is the Frenchiest Frenchman ever (sorry Phill): he’s perennially drinking white wine, with a cigarette hanging out of the corner of his mouth, swearing at lines of code on his laptop. He speaks perfect English, excellent Spanish, and excellent German. The three French people stand around and casually speak fluent Spanish among themselves, not bothering with their mother tongue. I feel incredibly inferior, and once again curse our mono-cultural society. I speak categorically the worst Spanish of everyone in the house, and am always being brought up to speed. Speaking the best English feels more does like a character flaw to be confessed to rather than some sort of achievement.
A couple of good things on the literary front: a newly revised version of the Jimmy Cuzco poem that I posted a couple of months ago on this blog has been accepted by HEAT, which is pretty much my favourite of what I regard as the ‘establishment’ journals in Australia. So I’m pretty stoked about that. And a poem called ‘Coffee’ has been picked up by Famous Reporter, which is another publication I admire. It was my attempt to write a break-up poem that was more interesting than the average break-up poem. I might post it here if people are interested.
I have read back over this post and declare it to be informative, rather than especially interesting. But there should be more interesting stuff coming shortly. Better stories, amusing things, and essay-ish things on a few issues that have been on my mind, should all hit this page before too long. As long as I stay away from midnight empanadas. Pray for me.
PS: The truth of the above statement (“should hit this page before too long”) is also dependent on another factor. If anyone has tried to visit Wordplay lately you will have noticed that you can’t. This, I’m told, is because the site is cactus. Which means that we have to build it again. All of it. From the ground up. If anyone knows where to access firearms, my preferred option is to shoot myself in the face. In which case, no more blog posts. Let me know.