My Exile Lifestyle: Excerpt from Argentina

As I come to the end of my time in Iceland, I’m also coming to the end of a project that I’ve been spending a good deal of time on, my new book, My Exile Lifestyle.

Today I want to share a brief excerpt from the book, and announce the launch date, July 1.

If you want to be among the first who are able to snag a copy of the book, you can snag a copy here.

Either way, enjoy!


10.01.2009 — Notebook Entry — My Apartment, Buenos Aires, Argentina

There’s a beeping in the hallway as I lay facedown, naked on my queen-sized bed.

Queen-sized. That was an important detail when I was looking for a place to rent. And I’ll bet if the queen ever found out that her name was being placed on something larger-than-average she’d throw a queen-sized tantrum. Such is the vanity of royalty.

This is the second day in which I’ve awoken, ready to jump-start my day, only to come up short immediately after going through my morning information-gathering routine.

The email is now checked, the new blog post has been advertised. The news has been read, the shower taken. And here I lay, listening to this damn beeping that I’m pretty sure is the result of a faulty elevator, trying to convince myself that I’m in the right mood — the right mindset — to write this ebook that I’ve got outlined and ready.

All it will take is a little brute force; a little applied torque in the wrists so they can tippity-type away at the keyboard and make it say the right things. Clarify the opinions I’ve been ranting about for the past several months and put them into an easy-to-digest, bento-box format.

The hardest part about traveling so far has been the loneliness.

I didn’t think it would be a problem — the hardest part for me about living with someone else has always been the lack of alone time — but there’s a difference between “being alone” and “being lonely.” I’m much more aware of that difference now.

I get excited every time I run out of water. An excuse to walk down the street to the store! Joy! I mentally jump up-and-down, like a dog who has just heard the word ‘walk’ spelled out by his master.

I recognize this feeling, and I know I feel it because it’s a chance, though slim, that I might meet someone. That somebody in that grocery store (the main chain is called ‘Disco’ here, which I imagine leads to many disappointed 70’s dance enthusiasts) will see me and want to connect enough that they will take the time to break through the language barrier. Or maybe they’ll speak English! They’ll tell me if I was right in my assertion about what kind of milk is fat free and how the cartons of orange juice are supposed to be opened. Saved!

And this person will be a girl, because it’s much easier for a guy to survive with one friend when that friend is a girl. And she’ll be artsy and have a lot of friends and will know of the more interesting things to do around town and she won’t have heard of the music I listen to, but I’ll make her a mix CD and she’ll love it. Just love it. We’ll fall for each other and the sex will be great and we’ll spend just enough time together that there’s no pressure and still things to do when we want to do them.

We’ll fall for each other and be best friends who keep in touch long after I leave and she’ll know if she wants to come visit me she’s more than welcome and I’ll know that I have a place to crash in Buenos Aires and there won’t be any tears when I leave because we’ll both know that life is a celebration and this is just the last bite of one slice of cake. The party is far from over and there’s plenty of cake left.

But, of course, that’s just naive fantasy. In all likelihood things will progress as they have been progressing. I’ll continue to hang out with the same crowd (mostly expats from English-speaking countries) and continue to have the same sporadic, exciting situations, punctuated by the hum-drum, exciting-on-paper lifestyle that someone like me lives when most of their friends exist only on the computer, several time zones away. Always in a new environment, never a part of it. Always meeting people, seldom making connections. The food is different, the language is incomprehensible, but the biggest change is a lack of physical connections.

No matter how clever emoticons get, there’s something patently unsatisfying about an e-hug. An e-kiss.


Update: February 10, 2017

This book was the first narrative work I ever wrote, and it took ages, but was such a valuable experience.

I still have people mentioning it to me, that they picked it up the other day and enjoyed it, and I have to struggle not to be embarrassed, knowing that I write so much more skillfully now, that I didn’t know what I was doing then.

My theory, though, the one that keeps me from going insane, having all my old work still available, is that people being able to see the progression is valuable, and something that I may have said at some point in the past may be valuable to someone, today. Even if it’s no longer my best work, it’s still wonderful to be able to reach people with the right words at the right time, regardless of the delivery mechanism.

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