Tuesday

Taking the Plunge

My cupcakes -- it's happened. What everyone said would happen, happened.

No, I didn't try to perform a cutting-edge scientific experiment that would teleport me from one side of a room to another, only to have it go horribly wrong and turn me into a human fly. (It's interesting that so many of you thought this would happen to me. You guys are weird.)

Nor have I been kidnapped and sold into sex slavery as Mama Kim predicted would happen if I took a taxi by myself. (That's because every time I get into a cab I tell the driver, "I would not make a good sex slave, okay? I am really, really lazy in bed. So don't even think about it. Now please take me to the hospital.")

Nor have I become an alcoholic. The day I choose Jack and Coke over lasagna, that's the day you have an intervention.

Stop guessing already. You're really bad at this.

What's happened is -- drum roll, please -- I have fallen irrevocably, paralyzingly, prehistorically in love with someone. I hope he's not reading this, because I'm about to gush and he might start running for the hills if he realizes how much I am into him.

(This is a tangent, but why are people so turned off by people who like them a lot?)

It's not like I'm collecting his dead skin cells and replicating them in a petri dish. (Note to self: Don't do it, Hana. Your first intuition is correct -- that's fucking creepy. Plus, if you can't even teleport yourself without turning into a human fly, what makes you think you can clone him? You silly Korean.)

It's like, I-want-to-be-his-baby-factory serious. It's like, clean-his-poop-with-my-bare-hands-if-we-went-to-Mexico-and-he-got-Montezuma's-Revenge-and-pooped-all-over-the-bed-and-my-favorite-shoes serious. It's fucking lose-the-weight-and-keep-it-off-forever serious. Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?

You know you're in love when tastes are tastier, smells are smellier, colors colorier. When clich├ęs are reborn as the truest poetry and corny lovesongs sound like a chorus of angels. When his face is the only one you see when you lay down to sleep at night, his name the only one on your lips when you wake to God's glorious morning, and his presence a gift every golden moment in between.

It's not just because he's smoking hot. He's also the kindest soul I've ever met. He's funny, thoughtful, altruistic, attentive, curious, family-oriented, spiritual, physically active, German... (I would continue, but if he's reading this I don't want him to think I'm signed, sealed, and delivered. Patrick, if you're reading this, you still have to work for it, okay?)

Guess the fuck what? He also loves dogs, children and Christmas. $!@*#*! That's like, enough for me to claim him as my soulmate. It sounds like I'm joking, but I'm not. That's scary shit right there.

There was a time (not long ago) when fear would not let me fall this hard. I would bypass any situation that might cause me pain and began thinking that I might never fall in love again. But this one figured me out. He asked me if we could just cuddle one night. And I quote in a German accent, "I would like to sleep with you. Very chaste, maybe just some cuddling, if that's okay." WTF? All my defenses melted right there. He wouldn't let me keep him in the friend zone. He patiently presented himself to me slowly and respectfully.

I think he might be a serial killer.

In other (but still slightly related) news, I bungy-jumped off the Auckland Harbour Bridge a couple weeks ago. I remember standing at the edge and marvelling at the effect of so much fear on my body. My knees shook and swayed uncontrollably, like palm trees in a hurricane. Instead of bone and cartilage, they were composed entirely of Jell-O™. But I jumped, man. I let myself fall.


I'm letting myself fall in love. Because it's the most amazing feeling in the world. And if shit doesn't work out, I'll be absolutely devastated. But I'll be alive. Because I'm never bungy jumping again. That was fucking dangerous.

Your favorite ragamuffin,

Hana Bananamuffin




Monday

Always a Birthday Girl, Never the Bride

And now, a study of why I chose to leave New York, unarguably the best city in the world. I was having a late-night conversation with my BRME (best roommate ever) Mariana* about life and love and immigration policy when she asked me the question every traveler itches to ask other travelers: Why did you leave your home to come here?

I'll start first with Mariana's story. She's a 23 year-old Argentinian photographer and a spritely lass if I've ever met one. She sparkles Spanish bravado and Italian lustiness. Witty as she is pretty. You know this girl -- she's the girl fronting a tough exterior to hide the mushy, lovey interior of a sweet summer peach. She honestly admitted she came abroad for the wrong reasons, which was refreshing to hear because it seems like a lot of long-term travelers have a defensiveness surrounding their reasons for leaving home. The wrong reasons she gave went like this:

- getting much-needed breathing room from protective parents
- the hope that new scenery would answer essential questions about her life direction
- getting over a failed love experiment

As she listed off her reasons I felt my eyes grow bigger (a dead giveaway that an Asian is reeeeally listening to you). I realized that I left home for the same wrong reasons! We had done the adult version of running away from home!

My mainest reason for running away from home was all this undue pressure I was getting from my parents to grow up, find a career, "Get marry already!!" and give them grandbabies to spoil and love better than me. Truth be told, if I were more adult about it I probably would have told them to back off or lied and told them I was a lesbian or something. That would have been the adult way to go about it. But I didn't. Because even though I just turned twenty-mumble, I'm still a child and I still care what they think about me for some dumbass reason.

So here we are, Mariana and I, lounging in our tiny dorm room in pjs. And even though we both know we're in NZ for the wrong reasons, we have huge smiles on our faces because we found our right reasons right here.

One of those reasons -- I'm warning you, the corniness factor is about to hit the motherfucking roof -- is the friends we've made. I'm just going to list some of the girls here because later on I'll tell you about the hen night/birthday bash.

Stacey* is Canadian, and contrary to form, awesome. (You're an amazing human being, Stacey K. I don't care if you're Canadian. I'll shout my love for you from the mountaintops.) She's the squeaky cheese to my poutine. We were sitting and sewing the other day and even though we're shit at sewing and kept pricking ourselves and the conversation was regularly punctuated with "Shit!" "Fuck!" "Shit-eating, Cocksucking, Motherfucking Cunt!"s, I felt completely at peace and could imagine us doing the same thing as wizened old grannies.

Gemma* is a Scottish Jayne Mansfield. She's absolutely brilliant and somehow manages to walk the tightrope between high class and rough brass. I once saw her cleaning toilets in a cocktail dress. Okay, not once; she always wears a cocktail dress when she cleans. (I'll address hostel cleaning in a subsequent blog).

Rhona* is also Scottish, and what car enthusiasts would call a "sleeper." Her angelic aura belies a beast undercover. She's got eyes in the back of her head, she drinks like a fish, and her laugh is fucking infectious. She's a joy to be around and she knows a buttload about drugs. (Rhona is a pharmacist. I hope this teaches you not to make assumptions about people, because the fact that she's a pharmacist is not why she knows a lot about drugs. Just kidding. But I hope I confused you enough that you learned not to make assumptions about people.)

Sam* was my coworker, now my friend. She's a budding writer from Zimbabwe, and probably the most thoughtful person you'll ever meet. She made me a scrumptious spaghetti bolognese for lunch one day. Bitch knows how to make a motherfucker fall in LOVE!!

I don't know Lucy* that well, but she was the designated drink wench so she has a special place in my heart.

There was this one girl* whose name escapes me. I don't really know how she got there or who she was friends with, but she was really quiet and didn't start any fights so I'm just going to assume she was supposed to be there.

Last but certainly not least, Cheryl*, the beautiful bride. She's a natural born social worker. She goes from helping drug addicts at work to being a maternal figure to all of us at the hostel. If you need someone to pour your heart out to, Cheryl's the person you want. She's also one of those girls who always smells good. You know what I'm talking about.

So on top of some of the most kick-ass friends I have back at home, I've met these amazing cunts. (Sorry, the Scottish lasses have added the casual usage of the word "cunt" to my vernacular. Said in a Scottish accent, "cunt" has less teeth and sounds fun, flirty even. e.g. "You dirty cunt. What kind of trouble did you get into last night?" = "What did you do last night, my dear darling friend?")

Anyhoots, Cheryl, the cunt, got married last week! I know I promised you an inebriblog after the hen night/birthday bash, but I realized a few things the morning after, chiefly that it's fucking hard to find the willpower to blog when you'd rather pass out in the tv lounge, covered in your own vomit. Secondly, once you get to know me you realize -- I don't keep my promises. My promises are worth shit. Thirdly, I'm actually quite a private and prudish person and all of that fucking VANISHES with a shot of tequila. So if you want to know anything about the night, just check out the Facebook foto album of the same name as this blog post. That's all I remember of it anyway.

Ta, you fabulous cunts! I miss you! Yes, you. I know exactly who you are. I know a thing or two about IP addresses.

Banana

*names mispronounced to protect the innocent people who would probably be mad if they knew I was writing about them and then probably wouldn't tell me things in confidence anymore, but in a few weeks will probably forget about it and start telling me things again until the next time their private lives and thoughts are broadcast on the interweb, at which point the cycle will repeat itself.

Saturday

Poopscapades in ... Pooping

Being a lady is tough when you´re traveling. You have to carry so much around with you, makeup, shoes, boobs. The heaviest thing? Your dignity. Dignity really prevents you from doing a lot of the shit you really want to do. Like hooking up with that skeezy Frenchman who really looks like he would know what to do with you in bed. Or on the other hand, it really fucks with your self-esteem when you lose some. Like when you hook up with that skeezy Frenchman and find out later you have gonneria. (There´s a reason why I don´t know how to spell it. My dignity is intact, thank you.)

I have trouble pooping. It´s not like I´m constipated or anything (thanks for saving my heiny from hemorrhoids, Metamucil! (there´s a joke here but you have to work for it)). I have no problems talking about poop, but I squeam to think about drafting a duplex and then watching helplessly as another architect presents his blueprints right after me. Whyyy?? Everyone presents blueprints, what´s wrong with me?!

I´m a girl. That´s what´s wrong with me. Society makes women feel like their assholes are entrance-only. Women don´t fart and they certainly don´t poop.

Clearly, ¨Society¨ has never spent a Beerfest weekend with me.

I know some women who are so cool about it. They actually believe it´s natural and nothing to be ashamed of. These are also the sort of women who say things like, ¨I don´t like to plan my life that far in advance. I prefer to live in the moment,¨ when you ask them shit like, ¨What are your plans for the weekend?¨ Bougie assholes.

Corporate pooping is like espionage. It´s clandestine. When I worked in an office in NY, there were two bathrooms for women. One was for smaller transactions and the other was for major business deals. If you saw a co-worker in the poop bathroom, you knew why they were there. No one wants to stick around and apply lip gloss or check for boogers in the poop bathroom.

One time I went in -- my straits dire -- and found both stalls occupied. I should have left immediately and come back later, but I hesitated (a combination of classic Libra indecisiveness and near-explosive street meat exodus). I pretended to wash my hands. I prayed to God, ¨Please, God. Open up a stall for me before I coat myself in Hana chocolate.¨

The clouds parted. I saw my coworker Jean* come out. Poor thing had that deer-in-headlights look that says, ¨Oh shit. You just heard me poop and now we have to be nonchalant about it.¨

I must say, we were two cool customers. I pushed her the fuck aside and made sure she had nothing to be embarrassed about. In comparison.

In New Zealand they call the bathroom ¨the toilet.¨ To Americans, the word ¨toilet¨ refers literally to the human waste receptacle; it sounds uncouth. Like noodles on a chalkboard.

I just started working for an environmental organization here that treats wastewater and monitors pollution. I don´t know why that´s relevant. Oh yes, we´re talking about poop.

Anyway, it was my first day and I was answering phones. (Shit, I forgot to give you some backstory. My brother from another mother Simeon* got fired from a job because his accent was too thick for Kiwis to understand. He´s from around Newcastle in the UK, methinks. He was selling health services to the hearing impaired over the phone. I shit you not. Why anyone would try to sell things to the hearing impaired over the phone is beyond me.) Keeping Simeon´s story in mind, I answered the phones with a Kiwi accent.

Okay, that was pretty irrelevant. But what comes now is relevant. I took a bathroom break, and because I was in the mood to adopt Kiwi ways, I asked where the toilet was. ¨I have to use the toilet,¨ I said. And then I burst into the kind of giggles that made everyone around me feel really awkward and fear for my sanity and their safety. It also clearly demarcated the time that I went into the toilet. So I felt like I couldn´t poop because when I came out, everyone would know the weird American had just pooped. So I waited. And I walked home. And the clouds parted for me once again.

I came upon a public toilet. It was like a mini-brick house for my pooping pleasure. A sign from God. Here´s a foto for your enlightenment.


Look at the image of the woman. Look at what broad shoulders she has! What a confident stance. This is not a squeamish woman. This is a woman who shamelessly poops in public. This is the kind of woman I aspire to be someday.

Yours pooply,

Hanana

*names changed to protect the innocent

Tuesday

Walking is Hard

Like most countries with a strong British influence, New Zealand is a left-hand traffic country.* Before I came here I thought, how quaint. It will take me a bit of time to adapt but I'm sure by the time I come back to the States I will think it's weird to drive on the right side. WRONG. I almost die every day.

It's a fundamental culture clash. Cars are coming at you from the opposite direction that they've been coming at you your entire life. You feel like their sole purpose is to murder you at high speed.

Here's an example. You're driving to the petrol station when your favorite Taylor Swift song comes on the radio. You're distracted for ONE SECOND when you pump up the volume and tweak with the levels for a premium Swift experience and BAM!!! You're motherfuckin' DEAD. Sorry, Taylor Swift doesn't play in heaven cuz she's still alive and you're motherfuckin' dead.

You think I exaggerate. You try making a right turn in a left-hand traffic country when it's pitch black out and raining. Come talk to me then. Oh wait, that's right. You won't be able to. Because you'll be DEAD.

And that's just driving. Walking is something else altogether. In NY, drivers are super afraid of hitting pedestrians. In Auckland, if you made the decision to walk or ride a bike, you made your bed and you're probably going to die in it.

Two things happen to me when I'm about to cross the street here. The first is I suppress a fart, because I fart when I'm nervous. Totes kidding? The second is severe performance anxiety.

Perform poorly as a thespian, you get bad reviews, the show closes. Perform poorly as a lesbian, nobody knows what that means except for this hilarious woman and other lesbians around the world. Perform poorly as a pedestrian, you're roadkill with no one to blame but the sociocultural phenomenon that makes Kiwis value a driver's right of way over a pedestrian's.

I had a nightmare that I was waiting to cross the street, but I was naked and Liam Gallagher was there and he handed me a miniature chalkboard and said, "Here, solve this differential equation while crossing the street or me mate's gonna shoot your mum in the face and Oasis will get back together."

Okay, no, I didn't have that nightmare. But what a great illustration of my fear of street-crossing.

Last night I walked to a discount liquor barn with two ladies from the hostel. We each got a box of vodka (cuz we'z classy bitchez) and started walking back. One of the girls dropped her box of vodka in the street and got hit by a car while trying to retrieve it.

Okay, no, she didn't. But she easily could have. And the New Zealand authorities would have had to call her parents and tell them their daughter was killed and this is what was in her possession at the time: a BOX of VODKA.

I just thought that was funny.

Ciao bellisimi,

The Great Hanini

*Apparently, in olden British times people used to ride horses and carry swords on their left hip. Other people started getting super pissed off whenever they were walking down the road and their head got chopped off or they got slightly dinged on the forehead, so the knightly/chivalrous thing for the horse riders to do was to stop doing that and switch to the left.

The US used to be a left-hand traffic country until 1776, when we split with the Brits and distanced ourselves from their uncoolness for raping our natural resources and taxing us without representation.

Some people say driving on the left is actually safer than driving on the right, as most humans are right-eye dominant, and driving on the left allows you to monitor oncoming traffic better. I say those people can go fuck themselves because they're idiots and they deserve to die.

Okay, no they don't. But wouldn't it be awesome if a whole group of urban planners, traffic engineers and automotive manufacturing executives just up and died at the exact same time and a crackpot team of special ops were put on the case and the whole investigation lead back to this blog and I was arrested for wishing ill on these by-and-large innocent people living workaday lives? No, it wouldn't be awesome. Because killing people sucks big-time and I'd feel downright conflicted about my newly-discovered telekinetic powers when really I should be overjoyed about my newly-discovered telekinetic powers.

Hmm. This gives me an idea...


Thursday

Stereotypes

I'm going to write a sitcom pilot called "Hostel Takeover" or "Hostel Territory" or some such punny thing. I envision it being something like Fawlty Towers meets Melrose Place. Basically, lots of miscommunication and lots of vengeful sex meet to make Primetime gold.

I'm not exactly a pro hosteller, but I've stayed at quite a few and I'm starting to notice a pattern.

There's the popular guy (popular because he's perfected the art of persuasion (in case you came here to learn something today, all it takes is a small amount of peer pressure and a large handle of vodka)); the weirdo who smells like mothballs cooked in concentrated scalp oil (whenever s/he enters the common room, everyone scatters); the hostel ho (self-explanatory); the hostel Mommy (also self-explanatory, that's weird); the coma victim (it's a sign of the apocalypse if you see this person awake); the interminable cold/flu sufferer (often British); and the German (often interchangeable with the weirdo (sorry Germans, you're a lovely people but you kind of scare me with your dark abyssiness)).

Guess which one I am? The answer will be revealed next week, after I get my first abortion in Auckland.

Just kidding. Obvi. They don't just hand out abortions like candy here. I have to wait at least 6 weeks for an appointment. The upside is, it only costs $25! We Americans need to get on that socialized medicine bandwagon ASAP.

Anyhoots, I was making a puttanesca in the hostel kitchen the other day when this German girl came up to me and said, "Wowww, an American who can cook!" like I was a manatee knitting a tea cozy. Then she said, "But you're not really American, are you?" I didn't know whether to feel flattered or slap the shit out of her doughy Deutsch-face. Yes the fuck I am American. But she was trying to be nice, so I said "Thanks," because I'm American, and Americans are polite as shit.

Guys, listen up. There's a stereotype out there about us. Besides being geopolitically ig'nant, we don't know how to cook because we eat McDonald's everyday.

Mmm. McDonald's.

If you're going to travel and you want to meet and befriend the locals, learn a few simple recipes. Stop embarrassing yourself. Because you're not just you, you're us (US) too.

Toodles,

Hanny

Friday

Racism and Rape, Redux

I'm a really positive person but I tend to worry. A lot. Before my trip I was worried something would go wrong with my visa. During my flight I worried that the airline would lose my luggage. Now that I'm here, I'm worried I will get raped and die. But that's why I'm here. Not to get raped and die -- duh -- but to get over all the worrying about getting raped and dying, Lyme's Disease, hidden costs of common consumer goods, etc. etc.

Fortunately, the universe is teaching me a couple things:
- LAX to AUK: I expected to be seated next to a giant with tiny hands and smelly pits. Instead, I got a three-seater to myself and slept like a horse-tranquilized log-baby. Yay no jet lag!
- Even though I predicted and prepared for these things to happen, my baggage was never lost, my box of American tampons never stolen. (Why did I pack American tampons? Doesn't New Zealand have menstruating women? I'm glad you asked. Yes, there are menstruating women here. But they seem to be subsisting on applicator-less tampons, and I'm not at that Europeanish level of intimacy with myself.)
- I found a super cheap hostel with a decent rating. I expected bedbugs and Japanese tourists galore. I don't know which would have been worse. (Just kidding! Bedbugs are clearly much worse. And there are no Japanese here either, so, double score!) Instead, I pay $10 a day for a rousing group of alcoholic Scots (redundant?) and a Canadian or two here and there.

Lesson learned? Expect the absolute worst and the universe will always always gift you with something a little less worse! (i.e. Canadians = a little less worse than bedbug-infested Japanese tourists.)

In all seriousness:
  1. I love Canadians. And bedbugs.
  2. The air here is delicious.
  3. The sky is closer to the earth here, and moves faster than what humans should consider normal.
  4. The stars are brighter.
  5. The cheese is cheesier.

This place isn't paradise, but it would be...if you were here with me.

Love love love,

Hana

Wednesday

Preamble to My Walkabout

No, I didn't fall into a rabbit hole in the space-time continuum -- although that would be super cool and totally unexpected. No, it's just that New Zealand is 16 hours ahead of you knuckleheads in New York. Thus, I am blogging from the future.