The awkward conversation of money

chris - trujillo

LAST FRIDAY

Time is ticking on my WordPress account and I have to make a decision. Do I renew the subscription for another year? I know the answer, and it probably is ‘yes’.

Good. End of blog post. The end.

Cool. 

(attempts small talk)

Wonderful. Would you like a glass of Inca Kola? 

How are things your end? 

Okay. Well, it’s just that the price exchange is not favourable for Peru. We aren’t talking about a matter of $5 when buying a piece of technology. And when it comes to buying an upgrade to WordPress, you have to pay $120 Australian. That’s close to 300 Soles.

Is 300 Soles worth it? Well, yes, but I have to manage my money.

I never learned to manage my money well. And I’m not talking about while living in Peru. I’m talking about life in general.

My bank created an account for me when I was 10. It taught me with cartoon characters called ‘Dollarmites’ that it was important to save my money rather than to spend it at once. Then, that way, I could buy better things. The things I dreamed of when I was 10 were video games, and bikes, and all things Pokemon.

As an adult, up until last year, I could buy these things every week. I just couldn’t buy the more expensive things. But I didn’t really want them.

In a mining town my pay was good but not like that as a miner. I watched everyone around me take on loans to get houses and nice cars. They took on loans to get these things, but don’t seem to be affected by them. I guess I have a fear of loans. I feel if I cannot afford it, I cannot afford it.

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Some of my grand purchases this year: socks!

When I bought a year’s subscription to my blog last year, I saw it as an investment. I dreamed I would have a greater readership, of course.  I had a month to go until my first job (six weeks until my first pay check) with a lot of time on my hands.

At that stage I would retreat to the mall and hide in the Starbucks. I needed that experience to keep some sanity, to process my surroundings in a safe spot. Even though the flat white didn’t taste like a flat white, it was called a flat white.

Two months later when the remainder of my money wore thin, I received my first pay. And it was fantastic. I blogged about the Converse shoes I bought, and the nice shirt, and the expensive pair of black skinny jeans. The shoes wore out quickly for Converse, and still need repairs, and I rarely wear the shirt, and I live in the black jeans. I spent almost my entire pay at the mall that day when it was supposed to last a month. Within two weeks I realised I needed to buy a new phone, which cost the amount of my entire first pay check.

But since then I have been more careful with my pay. South America hasn’t been cocaine and orgies, booze and one night stands, or travelling every day to a world wonder. It’s been life. Buying food and paying rent, considering paying for a bus ticket or a taxi ride instead.

I’ve learned that everything here in Peru has different prices. There’s always a cheaper option if you’re willing to look for it. There’s always a compromise. I could go to the American style supermarket for my fruit, or go to the local markets or stores for my fruit. And trust me when I say these are REAL MARKETS, not like any market I’ve seen in Australia where the best ones seem to offer the same arts and crafty things.

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Markets. So many markets.

The trouble is that I don’t think blogging, and a reader’s accessibility to it, should be compromised. This have become my journal entry of my experience here, more than anything, and I think I need to do my best to uphold the integrity of it. After all, what am I doing here if I’m not going to write about it?

SUNDAY MORNING

WordPress keeps sending me emails, reminding me that I only have one month, one week, three days,  one day until my subscription and domain ‘Awkward Conversations With Burnzy’ runs out.

For some reason I keep procrastinating the renewal.

Then, I change my mind. Not a lot of people are reading this blog anyway, and certainly not strangers. They will find my blog regardless of whether or not I spend money on it. Really, in the end, my blog has become nothing more than a scrapbook. It’s a journal entry for me.

I don’t need to buy a subscription. I can write on here anyway.

MONDAY MORNING

I wake up on Monday morning and see an alert on my phone. WordPress has thanked me for renewing the subscription. “What?” I think, and check to see whether or not I have read the words right. It’s true. Somehow, my Australian account with a minus deficit has found the funds to pay WordPress.

For a while I think WordPress is fucking with me  is showing the Christmas spirit. Maybe it has a ‘help a promising blogger’ (ha ha ha) Christmas sponsorship (*No offence WP. I’m a big fan. Love your work). 

I think there’s a mistake.

It’s been a Christmas miracle.

And it was a Christmas miracle in a way. Because on or around the same time that WordPress was about to cut me off after my card details bounced on their last attempt to renew, the company I haven’t worked for in 14 months gave me an unexpected payment.

I don’t know if you believe in anyone. The universe. God. American freedom. The Queen of England. David Bowie. Family. Communism. Your head-of-state. Vishnu. But I do believe in something, and I can’t but feel that something is sending me a message.

“Don’t give up. Keep writing. Keep sharing your writing. Someone will read it.”

My world you probably do not know

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1

The paperwork, the marking, the lesson planning, the outside-of-work requirements, the discipline restrictions, the limitations to resources. It all adds up to become a job you aren’t really paid to deal with.

Teaching English overseas seemed like the novelty I needed, a line on my bucket list I wanted to resolve instead of wondering about. I typed on Google about teaching and found a rip-off company dealing with high pressure tactics to get me to commit thousands of dollars for a TEFL course. I was interested in teaching in China but the company didn’t seem to think that was an option for me. It was basically the south east asian countries, or Peru.

I always wanted to learn Spanish.

 

2

 I try to reach out to people in this culture, but all that does is give you the chance to be misunderstood or misinterpreted. I am surrounded by different cultures and I have been in the middle of all this for 10 months. It has weighed me down for a while but I only realised yesterday.

My students are among the best English speakers I know, and so, I think in a way they have become my friends. Or I really want them to like me enough. I realised that today.

I had to go to a school function yesterday where at the end we were asked to dance. And honestly, I didn’t feel like it. I was tired, and sunburned, and embarrassed by the competitive volleyball game I had tried to compete in, and I didn’t feel like dancing even though I was pushed to do so. I wasn’t in the mood to dance surrounded by latinos, my students and their parents.

Today my students asked me three questions:

  1. Why weren’t you wearing a suit? All the other teachers were.
  2. Why weren’t you dancing yesterday?
  3. When were you going to upload that information about the dictator president, Luis Sanchez Cerro, who was assassinated in 1933? I need to study for my exam.

My replies to that were:

  1. I want to be different to everyone else. I want my inner light to shine. No, actually, I didn’t know. Nobody told me we had to wear suits to work today. I was very embarrassed.
  2. In my culture, if you don’t feel like dancing, then you don’t dance.
  3. I’m sorry. I meant to do that this weekend. I will do that tonight. Thank you for reminding me!

My internal reaction to my replies were:

  1. I imagine this student trying to justify why she no longer wears a school uniform or future work uniform by saying “I want my inner light to shine.” Smart one, dumb one.
  2. No reaction.
  3. Oh fuck! I have to do that.

 

Now I assume what you might be thinking. “Relax. Calm down. It will sort itself out.” But the more I try to let things go the worse things seem to be. The ex-pat life, especially in the professional work environment, can really burn you out.

 

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I found this drawing of me in a student’s notebook.

 

3

I am lucky in that I have a girlfriend here. She’s very supportive. Today she wrote “I am only a call away…or a taxi.”

I wonder how I got to be so lucky. I didn’t come here for a girlfriend. In fact, somehow I found myself in a relationship and was even disappointed that I couldn’t explore and use Tinder and take advantage of my strangeness here.

But now that seems like doing so would have wrecked me faster. We met through Tinder underneath the statue at the Plaza de Armas. A bunch of clowns (literally, clowns) were singing me a very belated happy birthday when she arrived. We walked to a pizza restaurant and I soon felt a refreshing feeling. We connected. She was Peruvian, but we connected. We loved or would love the same TV series, music, books. I had been on dates where they understood limited English, and here was this woman who had been been made to practice it since she was four. We understood each other.

Lately, the most normal (happy) I feel is when we’re with each other. We are watching LOST on Netflix. I’ve already seen it four times and she flinches heavily when she is shocked. She doesn’t like watching physical injuries or pain. She almost always predicts correctly what’s going to happen, but now it’s in the third season she is getting confused. She always asks me what’s going to happen next. I don’t tell her, but to throw her off the correct guesses I’ve started lying.

In the room I rent, with my Netflix, and with a Papa John’s pizza we get by delivery on cheap Thursday night deals, I feel at my most normal.

 

4

My waistline was almost 34 inches at the end of my last relationship. Six months later, when going through a modelling phases, I was 32 inches.  That was just before I left Mount Isa, Queensland, 10 months ago. Then at the beginning of the year I was 30 inches, and a couple of weeks ago I realised I had been 28 inches for some time. I had to buy new pants.

When I’m stressed I forget to eat.

After skipping so many meals and when my gums started bleeding too often I knew I needed to eat properly, and eat more vegetables. I bought a lunchbox and packed the fruits, and vegetables, and sandwiches, and biscuits, every day. On Sunday evenings I would cook enough spaghetti to last four days and overload it with about five or six different types of vegetables. I would try to drink more water. I would prepare my oats, yogurt and bananas, and let it soak in the fridge overnight so I could quickly eat it for breakfast.

I feel much better for it. And I was probably saving a little bit of money.

 

5

I’ve always been a writer. It is my identity. It’s literally my reason to exist. I will write a book. It used to be about fame. Now it’s about identity, but I’m not quite sure it’s of anything specific, about actually being fucking understood. When people read ‘me’, it’s like I have been adjusted; revalued; subjectified. Until then there’s a disengagement. Then there’s a respect. They’ve seen my heart. It’s not a bad one.

Lately I have wondered about the book I will write. In my mind it was going to be a work of genius and now I think I will compromise with a self-published version of something that nobody will read.

I barely have a following on social media, which means these days I don’t have the message or voice to appeal to a million readers.

Yet it didn’t matter. I always had a fundamental belief in my words. And soon others felt that too.

A strange thing has happened recently. I have felt insecure about my writing. It’s happening while surrounded by Spanish speakers, by well educated students who know English as a second language. I am conscious of how I say my words, and using conjunctions at the beginning of the sentences. And as it continues I feel my voice is slowly being choked shut, my accent slowing down just so I can be understood barely.

10 years ago I could only write in a notebook. Now I think with the computer keys. Two months ago I ran out of my Microsoft Word subscription. I can’t afford to renew it. I get paid in Soles. The American dollar is worth 3.3 times the Soles.

“That’s it,” I finally thought. “You can’t go on like this. You need your typing fix. You need to vent.” But for some reason, even though I was saying “shut up and take my money” to Microsoft by continuously offering my credit card details, the company continually rejected it. I’m not sure if it was because my new location doesn’t fit in with the company’s knowledge of me.

“Yo Vivo en Peru  ahora.”

 

6

We are only interested in our surroundings. Our surroundings affect us. Your mental horizon stretches to places that directly affect you. We can ignore globalisation if we don’t know what lies on the other end. That’s why we care about Hollywood. That’s why we don’t focus on train crash deaths in India.

Latin America. I didn’t know much about it to be honest. To be honest I still don’t. I only know a portion and it’s called Peru. Within months I have learned that the greatly outnumbered Francisco Pizarro conquered the mighty Incan empire with roughly 200 men in 1532. He brought along four brothers (there was a fourth brother that didn’t carry the ‘Pizarro’ name), and with their help he abducted the Inca Atahualpa, who had just won a civil war against his brother Huascar.

I have learned of Argentine protector Jose de San Martin and Venezuelan liberator Simon Bolivar and their separate pushes to make South America independent from Portugal and Spain.

Chile defeated Peru in the War of the Pacific, and took the resource rich territory to the south, therefore landlocking Bolivia. Countries like Great Britain greatly benefited from this, and a few rich Peruvian families also became rich from the foreign investment. Those rich families controlled all of politics, including Manuel Candamo, who died while president in 1904. Then in order, the Peruvian presidents were Jose Pardo Y Barreda (1904-1908 and from a rich family), and Augusto Leguia (1908-1912 and also from a rich family), who became a dictator for 11 years from 1919, and extended the presidential terms to five years so he could be in legitimate power for longer. I did not check any of these names or dates, and I believe I can list the next eight presidents, or even more (except the short term acting ones) without checking.

I know more Peruvian history than I know Australian history. But every time I get asked by colleagues if I am taking Spanish lessons, or how the Spanish is going, I feel a squirm in the guts. I spend so much time being surrounded by Spanish and a world that is not my own, that I don’t have the mental energy to give any more than I already do.

People here are like that. They live in their world and all they see is a stranger who cannot speak their language. It doesn’t matter that I am learning their history. It’s a lonely feeling. I feel that I can’t talk about anything except work with colleagues, and I find it hard to connect with people without fucking it up or without it feeling awkward. My colleagues make plans to do things together, to have ice-cream or beer, and I feel continuously left out. It feels the same with home, in Australia, where I catch up with everything that is going on on Facebook, because that’s part of my world too. But the longer I go living here, the harder it is to connect with my family and old friends. And maybe they find it harder to connect too.

People are fine to like things or publicly comment on Facebook, but find it harder to message privately one on one. It feels people subconsciously require more of an audience. Does a message really exist if only one other is able to read it?

We broadcast now.

 

7

Last week in Australia it was ‘R U OK Day’ and I didn’t realise. A friend I hadn’t heard of for yonks sent me a message asking how I was, and I was stoked. I replied eagerly checking how he was too. And then about an hour later I learned it was ‘R U OK Day’ and I was deflated. It was like getting a letter as a kid and finding out it was really only an overdue library bill (remember those?).

“That’s not a real letter!” I’d think.

 

8

I’m sure I convey a message that things are great living as an ex-pat in Peru. My most popular blogs are when I visit the places that you have heard of, like Machu Picchu. When I post filtered photos exploring jungles and markets in Cusco and colonial houses in Lima and Incan ruins I seem to get a reaction. Yet there’s more to life living as an expat than seeing the exotic locations. I could have just travelled across South America for six weeks, and maybe in hindsight I should have done that. It would have been easier. The novelty always would have existed day-to-day.

9

I’ve reached the stage where I don’t exactly miss Australia. Sure, I would like Mum to send me some canned beetroot and Tim Tams and even Vegemite. I don’t even like Vegemite. I just want my colleagues and students to taste it. I want another sense as evidence to say “hey! This is where I’m from. This is what I connect to. This is my identity.”

But other than that I don’t miss the land down under. This place has become my home. I walked pass the statue in the Plaza De Armas in Trujillo and it was such a recognised subject in my mind that I wondered what I would do without seeing it once a week.

This place has become mi casa. It’s just I haven’t received a sense of ownership, and I probably never will. That’s fair enough. I’m a guest here, but while this is the case it means I’m second-rate. I just don’t want to lose myself being so.

The person within; the limits beyond

Toffee and Chris

I panted, jogging in the dark back to the house, holding a can of tuna and a chocolate bar. A Peruvian singer croons in my earphones and I cannot understand him. My left hand stinks of garlic.

I had done a quick shop run when I realised I had forgotten the tuna for my garlic rice and I only spoke in Spanish. I walked into the store.

“Hola.”

“Hola.” 

“Puedo por favor tener atun?” I said, proud of myself for trying a different phrase. (Can I please have tuna?”)

“Atun?” the shopkeeper reached for the cans behind him. I was a little disappointed that he didn’t seem to register my new phrase.

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The school where I did my Spanish lessons.

“Puedo por favor tener atun?” I repeated, just to ensure he heard(Can I please have tuna?).

Yeah, he got it. “Atun?” he said, moving his hand around the different brands.

Real (the brand), Por Favor,” I said. “Y Sublime (brand of chocolate).”

Extremo? (largest size)”

Extrema negra (dark), por favor.” I gave him a 20 soles note, and I said “Buenas Noches,” and he said “Ciao!

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…..

And as I jog past the gym I haven’t been to for weeks, in my blue Llama wool jumper, I think, “wow, I really like this person I am becoming.”

When I try to speak in Spanish my voice takes on a humble tone. It’s almost babyish, or apologetic, and it’s something that I like about myself. “I don’t know everything,” my tone suggests when I speak to anyone in the few heavily Aussie accented Spanish. “Please like me! Please like my words.”

I really want to learn Spanish. I mean, I really want to learn. I didn’t have such a strong desire to do so three weeks ago. But I feel really disadvantaged without it. The faster I learn it the happier I can be in Peru.

…..

The only thing that has let me down my entire life are other people’s expectations and inadequacies, and allowing those to control me. My limitations should never be a sense of shame.

What ‘Despacito’ means to me

The song Despacito is a source of inspiration to me, and the other night I heard it played on a pan flute.

Last year I entered a modelling competition. The competitors had to practice how we would arrive on the stage and in what order, and with which movements. This is how I knew the song Despacito. It was the song being played during our routine.

The moments walking on the catwalk to a full room of supporters was one of those powerful moments I will always remember. I was the least toned among the competitors and it felt embarrassing competing among them for four days in Cairns, and when I returned home I promised myself I would work hard so I could compete in the future.

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For months I ate a strict protein based diet, quit alcohol, and trained at the PCYC gym six days a week. It seems to be mandatory for V-Hits to be played in any gym and Despacito seemed to be airing the most.

When I would hear the familiar “Sí, sabes que ya llevo un rato mirándote
Tengo que bailar contigo hoy” while lacking motivation, or struggling with weights, I would flash back to the catwalk. I remembered what I needed to do.

The gym was important to me because it helped me focus mentally, and it reminded me I could care for myself. When I moved to Trujillo, Peru, I joined a gym and it’s one of the best things I’ve done here. It gave me a sense of control that I really didn’t have with many other things.

Despacito has become a siren to me when I’m in a foreign country surrounded by different music and language. Sometimes it plays in a taxi, or at a shopping centre, or on a friend’s phone. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not my favourite song. I don’t listen to it frequently. For example, I’m listening to Amy Shark and Dope Lemon on repeat (and tried The Wombat’s new album that just came out but I’m just not a fan). But Despacito is about hearing something familiar tied to my past memories. It’s an encouragement. It reminds me that I have a wonderful future, and that I have to take care of it.

The other night a busker visited the hostel my friends and I were drinking at, and he played the song on a pan flute. My phone was dead so I’m using Lutie’s video that he’s been kind enough to share.

 

I hope you have a song that encourages you as well.

Missing family in a foreign country

 

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A very old and outdated pic with the bros and sis. 

It has been more than three years since I have seen my family. Part of the reason for that is the isolation and the expense that comes living in rural Australia.

It’s also partly my fault given that my own mum wanted to see me before I flew from Brisbane to Peru. I thought it would make it harder seeing her before I left for South America.

I missed my family anyway. Not at first but as the weeks become months I find myself reflecting more on what has shaped my attitudes and values.

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Christmas photos are always weird when it comes to Aaron and I (I’m the one without the knife). 

I have barely spoken to my sister for a while but she made me a playlist for Christmas which I listen to often. And she said that I had always influenced her musical tastes with all the mix CDs I used to make her (think Christian rock metal like TFK and Stryper and Switchfoot, combined with Guitar Hero playlists, and songs used for TV shows. As the years went on these were more likely to be British rock lists. The Who’s Baba O’Riley would have made an appearance, as would have The Clash and The Wombats).

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Another old pic. This one is of my sister owning me at ice-skating. Go, Little Lion Girl! 

But her musical tastes have grown in the late teens and so I listen to her music she chose for me, and I’m proud to now be influenced by her. She stumbled onto a song that I listened to in one of my earliest memories in life. In my memory I’m in the bathtub in the last days of my parents’ relationship and the song ‘You Can Call Me Al’ is playing. I never could figure out the name of the song.

I read this and wonder how I relate to my experience living in Peru – besides recording the fact I miss my family in a foreign country. I suppose it comes back to language.

I exaggerate when I say that I haven’t seen any of my family in three years. Before I flew from Brisbane I saw my cousin Mekaela. It’s only when I hugged her that I realised it had been so long since I had seen her or anyone else. She reads my blog but that’s not why I say what I’m about to say. She’s an inspiration in that she’s independent, younger, has the same resources I do (not many) and has already traveled and worked overseas. She lived in Brazil a while and so was able to give me some advice while we drank expensive inner-city coffee.

“It will take three months living in a foreign country before you know basic Spanish. That may not seem like a long time but it will be,” she said.

It’s nearly the three month milestone and I wonder how many words I have learned. There’s not many. It’s enough to get me by awkwardly in an American style supermarket or the restaurants, as long as the conversation doesn’t deviate from the regular pattern.

“Hamburguesa Y papas fritas. Y Cafe Con Leche. Por Favor.”

“Nombre?”

“Que? Ah. Si. Burnzy. Gracias, Senora.”

“Gracias.”

But the other night leaving a restaurant something happened that deviated from the norm. The waitress chased me down the street to try to explain something about the two 5 soles coins I handed her. I asked if she wanted more money. “Mas Soles?”

“No. fsakldjfs winaosidnfds oiansdfsdf  ionasdf alns lkasdfask.”

“Ah. No comprende.”

“sisdifklfnds flkandfkldsfn oiandflkdsnf landfklsnnd.”

Luckily there was a Google translator handy so that eventually she could explain to me the coins I gave her were fake. I had spare coins fortunately. Yet the coins looked so convincing. “A foreigner giving fake coins is bad,” the waitress warned before she left.

I’ve wondered why it is that my cousin could learn so much in three months compared to me. And my Mum explained a possibility.

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A cousin, and my very beautiful and young mum hold fat-baby me. 

“Maybe it’s because she was on her own in a foreign country and didn’t have anyone to speak English with,” she said. “And you have housemates you speak English to all the time.”

And there’s truth to that.

Nuestra casa

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The entrance of the apartment. 

Peru has a lot of culture.

I’m sure that it does anyway.

Yesterday I ate KFC and binge watched Gossip Girl. Today I watched movies and ran to buy ice-cream. Tonight I’m finishing this draft listening to Friends.

Yes. All this culture is incredible.

I’ve been in the mountains over the Christmas season and when I returned to the beach town Huanchaco (where I intend on staying while teaching) my housemates (introduced here) had secured an apartment to live in.

And it is great. My room is near the garage out the back, and I love being the recluse. Living the dream would be for a sibling to be rich and successful with a mansion and a huge family. I’d be the cool uncle living under the pool table.

The lounge room and kitchen is huge, and we have a large TV to watch Netflix on (courtesy of housemate Amy. And it’s Canadian Netflix. Not that piece of crap Netflix they gave Australians in the hope they would pirate less).

While I rested in my room for the first time I realised that I was more relaxed than I had been in…a while. It’s the first bedroom I’ve really felt at home in for three years (how many bedrooms have I had in in that time? I count five, but it could actually be more). I had my own space and the apartment was a safe space. The outside world was Peru, with its cultural differences and language barrier.

What I wouldn’t give right now for a book in English. Even an e-book.

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Clown decorations in the house. 

A few days ago I realised I felt a type of restriction in the world around me, and a big part of that is the language. I need to know more Spanish because without it the conversations can’t move beyond a ‘I will have fries with that’ or ‘another coffee please’. Even asking how much those fries and coffee is has their limitations when I fumble with the change. It’s embarrassing and sometimes stressful.

And so…for a moment, I feel safe in the apartment with my housemates (who either don’t drink much or are cutting out for a month. To be honest, I am relieved as I consider doing the same).

I have moved around a lot and often my mind reflects on the past and on the future and so I never quite settle into where I am. It’s occurred to me that I can stop living from a suitcase for once, if I allow myself to. I can actually make a life for myself in Peru, and not use it as a travel holiday or a transition to avoid living. I can create hobbies not for self-improvement or to prove how much of an adventure I am on. I could do things that extend on who I am like learning to cook rice (ha ha ha, I already bought a pack), or learn Spanish with commitment, or work at a nearby bar. I already have a membership at a gym although I have slacked off lately. In fact, I can go right now, if I allow myself to (I won’t because I’ve never quite recovered from eating guinea pig nine days ago).

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When I wrote that I wished I could read an e-book it occurred to me that I could. It’s actually news to me that I can download e-reader programs on my Iphone until I realised that is what housemates were doing (Housemates. Holy crap my life is a Big Brother episode). It only took a minute to download the program and find old books I had on file from almost three years ago. I have my entire Princess of Mars series (a collection by the author of Tarzan. They made the first book into a Disney film called John Carter and it’s about aliens on Mars, and flying ships).

There’s my embarrassing books as well, such as ‘the shy man’s guide to personal and dating success’, and Holly Madison’s memoir of life in the Playboy Mansion.

But yes! I also have a modern Sherlock  Holmes adventure (The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz. I recommend this), Gone Girl, and (alright!) Charles Bukowski’s Post Office. That’s getting another read tonight because I miss his beautiful meanings hidden among the angry, bitter cynicism of the lower class American working life.

Life is grand. XOXO.

Burnzy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finding myself (without trying to)

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Lately the days have remained the same. We wake gradually with hangovers, and in the afternoon we wander the beach, or sometimes nap. I go to the gym, and eventually go have dinner and very likely drink.

I feel my character is being tested much the same as it was when I lived in outback Queensland. Life becomes emotional, or doesn’t so much, and we must find a way to be able to express ourselves.

Character develops by how we express ourselves but in Peru, living overseas without anyone to judge us, well…doing so never seemed so unimportant. But it is. It’s never been so important.

I talk about how I spend my money, I talk about how I drink, I talk about how I treat my friends and family. I talk about sex, or my decisions regarding it. And let me begin there. In a blog post I wrote in late November, On Trying To Be That Foreign Gentleman, I wrote that I didn’t want to come here and use people. And in a way, I was thinking about one night stands.

(I was sick of easiness and compromise,” I wrote. “And I just wanted those fairytales I used to believe in (we all know the ones), and that’s why I chose Peru.”)

But as time goes on and I feel that familiar tension, almost a constant anger in my muscles, a current of adrenaline in my bones that never goes away, ever, and see people around me enjoying themselves, I wonder why I just bind myself to self imposed and self righteous rules. I’m young, I’m in a foreign country, I’m single and I’m surrounded by beautiful women. Why should I overthink this?

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Because it hasn’t made me happier yet.

I explained this pressure to a friend, and she said that she felt that same pressure when she lived overseas, but she still had an unhappy time. And the more I thought about it, this confusion on my own part isn’t going to go away no matter what I do. I’m doing the right thing for me, not for anybody else, but because I am who I am. My character, who I am, what I do, is simply being tested. It’s easy to commit to some manifesto when it’s convenient, harder when it feels like you’re losing for it. And I’m glad I realised this on my own, because it’s such a relevant time. This confusion I feel won’t disappear with a quick fix or ego boost, I just have to ride it, feel it, let it sort out on its own now certain I have no agenda believing this.

There’s no ignoring that roar of sexual frustration, but given I was a very late starter anyway, I’m used to it, and it simply made me more creative. In a twisted way I enjoy it, or I harness it anyway. I jog a lot and listen to music. It requires the need within myself to drink less (and spend less because of it) because that just makes me feel more extreme.

I have spent money upgrading this blog (the link is now simply ‘awkwardconversationswithburnzy.com) meaning I can add videos soon. My justification was this blog has to become a hobby, and I would have spent that money drinking anyway. I want to go to the gym more, and work harder, and I certainly have that energy.

I realised about a year ago that because I’m such a passionate person, I have a need to be absolutely consumed by something if I don’t want to be driven mad by my mind or send the people around me crazy. This in the past had usually been video games, or Doctor Who, and as I grew older it became my work. I find myself in South America having a lot of time on my hands on a Christmas break, conscious that my money is running out, otherwise I would surf.

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It’s never been more important to keep myself occupied. It only makes me a stronger and better person. I left Mount Isa like this, in my own terms, but not realising that I would have to continue to do so when I moved to Peru. But here I am.

I want to set myself a few goals. First, I don’t want to post photos of myself on here or on Instagram for a month. I can use that time to focus on pictures of other people instead. And secondly, I don’t want to drink until Wednesday (that’s only three days). Don’t get me wrong, I know these goals are a crutch to help me self-improve, to trick myself into feeling better about myself, to concentrate on the illusion that I need to be better, but it’s better than drifting in my heart and in my mind.

I know it seems I make things hard for myself, but that’s who I am. And if you know me well you’ll see the benefits to having done that. You’d be amazed if you knew who I was once, to the man I am now.

Life was gonna be this way / da da da da

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The top of the apartment that we’re going to be getting. 

Five of us have found an apartment house to live in in Huanchaco, a beach town near where we work. Halfway between Trujillo and Huanchaco is the Chan Chan (world heritage listed ruins!).

The place we are getting is a lovely four bedroom place relatively close to the beach. Amy, Nicola, Adriaan, Lutti and I have the makings of a sit-com. Three South Africans, a Canadian, and an Australian share a house together for six months. What can go wrong? How many seasons will we get before God cancels on us?

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We inspected the place and discussed at the bar whether we would take it. Adriaan decided he will sleep in the lounge room but it turns out he’s not allowed to do that.

After discussing prices and house rules we had to determine which Friends characters we were.

Adriaan is Chandler, apparently, but I’m not sure why. Probably because he’s the smart arse. Amy wants to be Rachel but the boys and I think she should be Monica. She is the leader of the group. Nicola is without a doubt, Phoebe (she gets the best lines). Lutti is Joey apparently (dammit), and they all made me Ross. Ross! (outraged and gobsmacked expression).

“Why are you Joey?” I asked Lutti this morning over panqueques.

“I say stupid shit and I shag,” he said. “Facts of life. You cannot deny that.”

“How come I’m Ross?”

“You’re deep and in six seasons you’ll probably have six divorces.”

….

Personally I prefer to think that we’re in a How I Met Your Mother arrangement. Except they reckon I’m Ted. Ted! Preferable to Ross, but I’m not Ted, thank you. Sure I like museums and mock outrage, and I was the one that bought the guide books and the fanny pack, and the architecture of the churches in Trujillo is fascinating considering the clearly defined Middle Eastern influences and sure I take forever to get to the point of a story…okay, point conceded. And maybe I’m a little chuffed come to think of it.

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Lutti, me, and Amy. 

Lutti gets to be Barney, sonovabitch. As if. When is the last time Lutti has worn a suit. I love suits. I wear suits. My Instagram proves it. The only thing he’s been doing lately is enforcing the bro code. Adriaan is Marshall, which is cool but I suspect it’s because he’s a giant. There’s some debate as to who the girls are, because Amy is Canadian, like Robin, and Nicola may well be teaching kindergarteners (like Lilly), but I can imagine Nicola smoking cigars with Lutti, and brawling in Canadian bars.

Okay, I’ve spent way too much time analysing this, but mainly because I’m so excited to live with the others and be part of some group adventure. I’m keen to step back, watch, wait, and witness what happens next in our life.

And if nobody will write a TV series about us, I will write about it. Da da da da….