Friday

The Hand of God

Here, folks, is a confession. It's shameful, but I'm about to tell you a shallow reason why I believe in God.

Back in Auckland, we had 12 days to sell Auntie Ruby, a first-class, maroon-red, manual transmission 1993 Toyota Corolla station wagon.

First we had to replace the windshield, or the "windscreen" as it is called in Britishy countries. Personally -- and I am saying this as a completely objective linguaphile -- I think "windshield" is the better word. It makes me feel like a road warrior, battling wind, bugs and loose roadkill with my SHIELD.

Plus American English is scientifically proven to be way cooler and more precise than British English. So it's like, duh.

But I had to remember I was in a Britishy country. So when I called about a billion glass replacement companies, I begrudgingly deferred to local asininities. When in Rome!

Windscreen replaced, we made gorgeous fliers and posted them in hostels all over the city. Twenty fliers and we only got one call from a Canadian dude who told us later that he bought a cheaper car. Two days later we saw him at a car auction; he waved awkwardly at us. We also met Mariana's co-worker at the auction. An older, wiser man, he told us we would never get the $2,500 NZD we were asking for Auntie Ruby (she had 400,000kms on her, old girl) and that we should lower our price to $1,000. Demoralized, and with less than a week before Mariana and I had to leave NZ, we had a few last-gasp options.

1) Another one of Mariana's coworkers expressed interest in the car, but he wasn't really answering her text messages.
2) The epitome of a used car salesman (missing teeth, missing buttons on a short-sleeved button-down Hawaiiian print shirt with stains aplenty) offered us $1,500 for Auntie Ruby. But when I called him later he didn't remember me and I couldn't understand him, he was either face-in-vomit drunk or I dialed the wrong country.
3) There were a few Chileans at our hostel -- I overheard them saying in Spanish that they were looking to buy a car and immediately tried to pimp Mariana into Spanishing her way into their hearts. But Argentinians and Chileans have strained relations so we left it at that.
4) And finally, we could sell Auntie Ruby for a pittance to a guy who specialized in buying cheaply from desperate backpackers.

Basically we were hopeless.

I tried posting an online ad and received mostly scammy emails. When things got desperate, though, I really wanted to believe Catherine from China would leave the money for me with a local shipping company if I would just wire her some money as a show of good faith.

The DAY before we were set to leave, we got a flat tire. Of course. That night we drank our anxiety away. The next morning at SEVEN-THIRTY AM I got a text message. Who the fuck is texting me this early? AND on the morning of a major hangover??

"Hana, is your car still for sale? I saw your ad on the internet and would like to come see it today. Let me know if that's okay. John."

Immediately
I sat straight up and fell back immediately as I banged the fuck out of my head on the bunk above me. It took me ten minutes to craft a response that was informative without a trace of my utter desperation. It turned out they lived in the same neighborhood and they could meet me in an hour!!! What were the chances?

Mariana and Gemma had last-minute administrative things they had to do, so I drove Auntie Ruby over to John alone. I was fucking terrified. I'm okay with driving a stick on the highway, but cities and towns where there's a lot of stop-and-go and, fuck me! hills and parallel parking! it's just too much for this little lady. So when I met up with John and his buddy after 4 stall-outs and 15 minutes to parallel park, I was sweaty and my adrenaline was pumping. I was completely out of control of my body, and probably my mind since the first thing I said to them was "Hey, we blew out a tire yesterday so we're willing to come down on price."

After a quick test-drive, John, his friend and I were talking outside when Gemma and Mariana came running toward us. In my head I was like, "Oh no, they're already looking way too eager." But -- discovery of discoveries -- it turns out pretty girls are the best way to sell a car.

John said, "Okay, let's get down to business. Let's talk about money." I held my breath. "Would you take $2,000?"

I shat myself. That was exactly what we paid for her, and exactly what we wanted. We sold Auntie Ruby exactly one hour before I had to leave for the airport. If that's not a textbook example of deus ex machina, I don't know what is. Shallow, but I really felt like I was touched by something transcendent and divine. I left New Zealand feeling blessed and in the presence of grace.

Not Grace Lee. I hate her. She's a bitch.

Sunday

Roadtrip Rehash

I'm overwhelmed. So much has happened and I had so little access to the internet. Here comes a month of happenings in bite-sized bullet points.

  • Feb 2 - Gemma, Mariana and I fly down to Christchurch to meet up with Scott, Rhona and Jordan. The latter three already have a car so the first three (including me) have two days to rent/buy a car.
  • Feb 3 - It's common knowledge that the best way to start a car search is beer. Our interracial posse* obliges this wisdom with a moderate bar crawl through quaint and cozy Christchurch, quickly followed by a fiscally responsible walk to the nearest liquor store.
  • Feb 4 - We meet, fall in love with, and buy Auntie Ruby. The roadtrip begins! On to Lake Tekapo, where we sleep outside for the first time and the novelty of such an experience has us excited and feeling adventuresome.
  • Feb 5 - The novelty wears off as I realize we will have to put up and disassemble the tent every morning and night. We head to Mt. Cook, the highest mountain in New Zealand and the ideal training ground for mountain climbers gearing up for Everest. Irrelevant to our rag tag bunch, but a nice vista nonetheless. We camp by a river and I discover how much the sound of running water makes me want to pee in the most inconvenient hour of the night. I also discover I would rather stay awake all night thinking, "Shit I need to pee but it's so warm in this sleeping bag" than to get out and pee.
  • Feb 6 - We wake and sleep with the coming and going of the sun. We are very in tune with nature. We clean ourselves in the river, and Rhona sets up a small but chic beauty salon (basically she holds us by the ankles so we don't drift away in the current). We head to Omaru, where we hope to see little blue penguins and fail dramatically. So we head to the city of Dunedin. Heavily settled by the Scottish in the 1800s, the city is named after and modeled after the capital city of Scotland (Dunedin is the Scottish Gaelic translation of Edinburgh). It is more difficult, we learn, to find free camping in the middle of cities than it is in the country. So we do what any respectable roadtrippers would do -- we park illegally in the Dunedin Yacht Club parking lot and pray we don't get kicked out as we earnestly begin to get drunk. Mariana playfully challenges Jordan to swim across a channel, and I make everyone uncomfortable by saying, "No Jordan, don't do it. You're drunk. You will die."
  • Feb 7 - Nobody dies. But in the morning we are close to killing people. A triathlon is afoot, and that means our parking lot is full to capacity at 6 in the morning. These people are sadomasochists. Masochists because they destroy and punish their bodies; sadists because they wake us up at 6 in the morning. We mobilize, and after a hearty breakfast of instant noodles, we head to Baldwin Street, which is reputed to be the world's steepest street. We take a few funny pictures and head to an internet cafe where I chat with my beloved German. We decide to sneak the 6 of us into a motel room. I am the idiot that gets us caught. It's like how the Feds got Capone for tax evasion -- I got caught taking my laundry off the wash line. Pretty dumb for me to do laundry in this place, but I was running out of undies. Shoot me.
  • Shit I don't know if I'm getting the dates right.
  • Feb 8 - Curio Bay. We camp without paying, using our cars to block the tent from management's view. After a well-deserved nap, I walk down to the beach and find Mariana and Jordan taking pictures. I almost step on a sea lion, which is what they were photographing so intently. Jordan points to dolphins in the water, and to a man who is just chilling next to them. My eyes get wide and I suggest we go in, too. The water is freezing, but it's worth it...the dolphins come within three feet of us. Then the three of us go for some icecream when Jordan realizes his passport is missing. Total bummer! Couldn't happen to a nicer person. Jordan is my favorite American on the whole trip, and my official black friend*.
  • Feb 9 - It's been way too long since we had a bender, so we designate this day as bender day. We set up camp by Te Anau, the largest lake on the South Island. We bypass sign after sign with variations of "No Camping, " "Camping Prohibited," and "Absolutely No Overnight Stays." We drink wine and port mixed with Sprite. We get proper bent. We settle in for a nice sleep, and an hour later get kicked out by a local officer, who threatens us with a $450 fine and confiscation of all camping effects. We hate ourselves.
  • Feb 10 - We drive to Milford Sound, which is one of the world's top travel destinations. It is a fjord, and, if I didn't plagiarize Wikipedia, I wouldn't know a fjord is a long narrow inlet with steep sides, created in a valley carved by glacial activity. I would think it was a Ford manufactured in Sweden. And then I would be really confused...and ANGRY!!! Anyway, the boys find a secret path to glacial caves and pools where the water is so clear and delicious. (Yes, I drank it. Ask my brother, I tend to drink water from nature and regret it later.) They jump off a small cliff into the freezing glacial water, and I go in like a true lady -- bitching and moaning the whole way. Once in, and once I get over the feeling that I am swallowing my own heart, I taunt Gemma, Mariana and Rhona to get in. I say, and regret saying later, "Come on ladies, get in! It's a once in a lifetime opportunity!!" (I regret saying it later because "It's a once in a lifetime opportunity" comes back to haunt me whenever I am not in the mood to do some life-threatening activity. Which happens quite often when you're backpacking without health insurance.) The ladies get in and our posse takes a group photo of a lifetime.
  • Feb 11 - We're in Queenstown, which is the adventure/adrenaline capital of New Zealand. Where people go bungy jumping on their lunch break. Where men scream like little girls and women grow hairs on their chest. Where it is not embarrassing to say, "Hey, I just played a mean game of frisbee golf." When we arrive, Scott, Jordan and I are starving so we head to world famous Ferg Burger, where they serve burgers the size of your head. We don't know the area, so we head in the general direction of town. Jordan says, "Wouldn't it be funny if Ferg Burger was just like, right in front of us?" And I laugh, see a flash of red and scream "IT IS!! IT'S RIGHT THERE!" The boys politely remind me of my volume control issues while rubbing their ears and we walk at a brisker pace toward MEAT. A few minutes later, we have the juicy flame-grilled monster-burgers in our hands. And WHAT a letdown. We decide to drink our disappointment away. Rhona joins us, Mariana and Gemma decide to stay back at camp. We have a kick ass night starting at Winnie's with live music and ending with Scott playing Jordan's wingman. Ten million assholes ask to take pictures with Jordan because they think he looks exactly like Bob Marley. Meanwhile, Rhona and I entertain bartenders and get free cocktails.
  • Feb 12 - A repeat of last night, except this time with Gemma and Mariana. Scott, Rhona and Jordan prefer to stay in, nurse their hangovers. I prefer to delay my hangover. We start at Winnie's again, where 2-for-1 Happy Hour has us quadruple fisting. A few drinks and the girls are flirt-masters, immediately getting 2 questionably European boys to buy them a couple games of pool while juggling a couple of hirsute Australians. I text Jordan, "You left me alone with lunatics." He joins the fun. We all end the night memorably, but I don't remember much. Rhona had given us 3 sleeping pills out of the goodness of her heart, knowing we would have to sleep in the car that night. We take them and conk the fuck out.
  • Feb 13 - The Valentine's bouquet I ordered is delivered to Patrick in cold, snowy Germany. I am warm and happy all day, despite a major hangover and fuzzy aftereffects of the sleeping pill. I can't even watch tv without throwing up when I take Nyquil, what makes me think I can handle a sleeping pill? The 6 of us spend the day as zombies in Queenstown. Later we drop off Jordan at the airport. He goes back to Auckland to get a new passport.
  • Feb 14 - Valentine's Day. Sigh. Missing Patrick. We meet up with Rachel (our friend from Oaklands) who is now running a beautiful hostel in Wanaka. Wanaka is Diet Queenstown, a smaller version of the same thrill-seeking idea. We shower, do laundry, cook in a KITCHEN, poop comfortably -- sigh -- civilization can be paradise.
  • Feb 15 - Scott, Rhona and Mariana go skydiving over Lake Wanaka. I take tons of pictures as their official Asian friend. Later we camp in a place infested with sandflies. Sandflies are hellish mozzies the size of gnats. They hurt you when they bite. Bastards deserve to die in battery acid.
  • Feb 16 - We wake up at 5:30am to catch the sunrise over Lake Matheson. It is breathtaking but we are exhausted. We decide to skip over perhaps the biggest and most beautiful natural attraction in New Zealand, the Franz Josef Glacier.
  • Feb 17 - Hamner Springs is a resort town built around natural hot pools. We go there to relax and splash about for a bit, but mostly to shower.
  • Feb 18 - In Kaikoura we get delicious fish & chips, and Scott and Rhona get a flat tire. Boo. Here they split with us and go back north, as they have already been to Nelson and that's where Auntie Ruby's girls are going. We have a sad goodbye with them, but we know we will see them back in Auckland.
  • Feb 19 - Gemma, Mariana and I do a bad thing. We camp in a Christian campground and leave without paying. We're criminals. We drive all day as penance. Then we take a 3-hour tour, a 3-hour tour. Okay, a 3-hour ferry from Picton to Wellington and sleep in the car on top of Mt. Victoria.
  • Feb 20 - We shower in the public pool, and the girls are appalled at all the naked flesh in the locker room. Meanwhile, I'm used to it. Koreans go to public baths from a very young age -- I've probably seen every woman at my church naked. Big ass, old ass, bony ass, saggy boobs, one boob bigger than the other, just one boob, no biggie. After the carnal parade, we have brunch in Wellington, New Zealand's self-proclaimed cultural capital. I order eggs but wish I had ordered a savory muffin. I still think about this on March 29, 2010.
  • Feb 21 - Mariana's birthday! We drive to the Tongariro Crossing, New Zealand's most spectacular one-day tramp. The walk goes over volcanic Tongariro, and takes about 8 hours if you're taking it EASY!! Poor Gemma wears the shittiest shoes, and nobody wears enough sunscreen. As we're ascending the mount, we pass by three rugged-looking butch women (our foils, we: flimsy tank tops and shorts, they: cargo pants with lots of zippers and huge backpacks) who basically tell us we will either die of thirst because we are not carrying enough water or exposure because we are not wearing the right clothes. We go ahead anyway. And at the end of it all, we are rewarded with the knowledge that we are tougher than those rugged-looking butches. And we are alive. Thank God. We go to Burger King to celebrate being alive on Mariana's birthday.
  • Feb 22 - We camp in Taupo, by chance in the same place Patrick and I did. I pee in New Zealand's biggest lake. Then Gemma and I witness an old lady fall, and for some reason, we don't get up to help her. Mariana chastises us as we spout excuses. (My excuse was that she fell SOOOOOOOO SLOOOOOOOWLY that I thought she would be able to stop it. But she didn't. And so it took me a couple seconds to actually register that she fell. I know, it's bogus, but it's like, once you pass the threshold of time to help, you feel awkward going to help. You know what I mean? AND, usually when I fall, which happens a lot, I don't want anyone to help me because it just adds to the embarrassment. You can see I still feel bad about this on March 29, 2010.)
  • Feb 23 - We stop in Napier, which besides being in the heart of the wine region of New Zealand, is known for its art deco designs. Girlie, I know, but fuck you, I'm allowed. We indulge in our girliness by getting ice cream and doing a wee bit of shopping. Then I book tickets back home on March 11 and to Munich to see Patrick on March 25!!! (I am writing this in Patrick's wintergarden right now!! I still can't believe I'm here...but that's for another post).
  • Feb 24 - We camp in the East Cape, which is the easternmost part of New Zealand. It is the first large land mass to have New Year's! We try to wake up for the sunrise but without Rhona it is just impossible.
  • Feb 25 - We drive to Tauranga, another city on the coast with another famous mountain on its coastline. Many things happen here. First, we fall in love with the city. It's got a great vibe and a pumping nightlife. Second, we get pulled over THREE TIMES, and each time we almost shit ourselves because we're moving from places we thought we could spend the night and therefore started drinking but kept getting moved for one reason or another.
  • Feb 26 - From Tauranga we drive to the Coromandel peninsula, which is known for its stunning beaches. We camp in the parking lot of Cathedral Cove (another place that has a sign saying "Camping PROHIBITED") but this time we decide not to put up the tent so we can look up at the starry night sky. Gemma and I take protection -- her a screwdriver and me a knife -- just in case someone up and decides to rape us. (Someone did rape us, and it was Nature.) An hour after we finally fall asleep, it starts raining hardcore and we move everything to the car where we fall asleep, wet and cold.
  • Feb 27 - We spend the day frolicking on the beach at Cathedral Cove and decide to head back to Auckland. On the way we discover a crack in the windshield. Something to worry about since we will only have about 12 days to sell Auntie Ruby before Mariana and I have to leave. And Oaklands is full so I send a panicked text to my angel Sam. She graciously lets us stay at her place.
I want to keep going, but there's really too much. I'll save the rest of my time in New Zealand for another post.

Monday

Read the one below this first

So we've been camping outside (illegally most of the time) and sometimes sleeping in Auntie Ruby. My body is so pain, as Mama Kim would say. But it's worth it. You would not believe the spectrum of blue in the water here. We've swum in chasms formed by glacial waterfalls, we've swum with the dolphins without paying a penny, my pals just finished their 15,000ft skydive, I almost stepped on a sea lion that looked like a boulder...it's been a great trip. I have lovely friends here who have me laughing stitches open every day.

But I can't stop thinking about Patrick and how much funner everything would be with him here. I miss him, and although I've never been much of a Valentine's Day celebrant, this one (our first and hopefully not last) is tough because we're apart and I want to do so much for him. Valentine's Day reminds us that Love is about red hearts and roses -- about reminding our lovers how much we still desire them. But Love is grander than that, more gruesome as well. It's about staying true for the long haul, it's tears, it's pain, it's the small things, it's hard work, it's waiting, it's growing together and apart and together again, it's sacrifice, it's valuing someone else's happiness above your own. How can a card or flowers compare with that? Chocolates, maybe...

Tonight I pitch my tent with the girls. I look up to the breathtaking South Island starry night sky. And I fall asleep chuckling softly, thinking of the time I left fresh laundry on the bed, went to the bathroom for a tissue, and walked in on Patrick folding my underwear.

Pitching a Tent on Valentine's

Sorry I haven't been around in a while. Let me fill you in on what you've been missing. First, I need to apologize because I've been homeless for about 2 or 3 weeks now and I have no concept of time. Second, I'm waiting for a few friends to do their skydive so I might cut out in a bit to take pictures for them. (I know my place as the only Asian in this circle of friends.) Third, I like making lists.

A few weeks ago, Mariana, Gemma and I took a short plane ride to Christchurch to meet up with the Scottish (Scott and Rhona have been together for 8.5 years) and Jordan (Bob Marley from North Carolina). We were not organized. The girls brought no toiletries, our stove was confiscated at the airport, and we only had one fork and knife between us. Plus we had to buy or rent a car, but we couldn't really afford to do either.

So we bought a car anyway.

Her name is Auntie Ruby. Can't really tell you why we named her that, but just trust that it's a good story.

She's a Toyota Corolla station wagon (thing is, in NZ station wagons are considered cool, as opposed to America where even suburban moms find them repressive and ugly). She's manual, which means every time I try to drive her I figuratively shit bricks and literally become constipated from all the anxiety.

We found her at a backpacker car lot. These are cars that backpackers abuse for a short time and sell to desperate backpackers who -- for financial reasons -- have no choice but to be willingly raped. Willingly raped. Not an oxymoron.

Anyway, I saw her, spoke with the past owners, kicked the tires a little bit, turned on the car, turned it off, stroked my chin as I looked under the hood, pretended to say something knowledgable about the engine to Mariana, offered them $500NZ below their asking price, and shook hands on $300 below.

Didn't even take the girl out for a test drive. Pretty dumb.

But that's why they call it dumb luck because she runs like a motherfuckin' beeeeeaaaute. Sometimes you just have to take that leap of faith over Risk Canyon and trust that you will land on solid ground. The reward for faith is feeling like you tapped the spiritual realm. The reward for preparation is great as well, but the downside is you have only yourself to blame if soup hits the fan.

Oh shit I gotta go snap-snap, brb.

Thursday

Keeping It Clean

A while back I said I would address hostel cleaning. I will do that now and throw in some travel tips for good measure.

International Travel Tip #1 - You can find free accommodation anywhere in the world. Just offer to clean for a couple hours in exchange. That's what I did when I first got to Auckland. I used the money I would have spent on a room on far better causes, like getting drunk and going bungy jumping.

International Travel Tip #2 - Cleaning is hard work. Respect your cleaners. They don't inhale chemicals for fun like you and I. Stop pooping in the shower or behind the toilet. It's not funny and we know who you are. You're either a frat boy or really old.

That's not a travel tip. That's a life tip.

International Travel Tip #2 - When you clean in a hostel, you get tons of free stuff. Not because you're stealing, no no no. Because people don't plan out their toiletry needs well, and you reap the benefits of that. I have enough shampoo stockpiled to last me until menopause. I have two hairdryers I don't really use but carry around anyway. I have two bottles of nail polish remover, three bottles of body lotion, eye makeup remover, fancy face wash, sunscreen, toothpaste, tanning oil, cranberry tablets for urinary tract health, etc. etc.

International Travel Tip #3 - You don't need to pack a rain poncho. Don't waste your life like that.

To be continued...I promise.

Money Doesn't Make Cents

Maybe a lot of you have experienced this -- growing up you saw your parents struggling to pay the mortgage, feed you, clothe you, send you to rehab, whatever. These experiences planted a seed in you, the idea that financial security is the key to happiness.

You think I'm going to say "Bullshit." But no. Your parents are always fucking right.

But here's where I whisper a tiny tiny "Bullshit."

Ask any of them and they'll say the most fun they had in their lives was when they were young and dumb and broke.

Here's where I "coughBullshitcough."

Reminiscence is looking back at the past through rose-colored glasses.

That nearly career-ending incident where you were bitching about your boss via email and accidentally CC'd your boss? Or how about the time you farted poop during sex with the hottest girl you will ever get to have sex with? Or the absolute betrayal you felt when you saw your best friend making out with your boyfriend in the middle of what was supposed to be your engagement party? Give it 30 years and it all seems HILARIOUS!

I digress. And I don't remember what my point was so I'll stop here.

I'd rather YouTube-karaoke anyway.

Wednesday

I'm just a dog that eats poop

Mama Kim misses me. She has two pet names for me: honeypig (ggool-dwaeji) and dog-that-eats-poop (ddong-gangaji). I prefer honeypig. She knows this, so she mostly calls me dog-that-eats-poop.

I called her the other day and I don't know if it's just one of those mother-daughter things but, by coincidence we both started crying at the same time. We spent two minutes just crying like babies to each other.

Dudes, I'm homesick. I miss New York. I miss New Jersey. I even miss Mama Kim.

I miss you guys -- I miss how you used to buy me drinks all night. Remember how you used to do that? Can we get back to that when I come home?

I don't know when I'm coming home. I sometimes dread calling my parents because their first question after "Who is this?" is always "When you come home? We miss you lot." I use diversionary tactics to avoid answering, e.g. "APPA! David just told me he's gay!!" (David's my baby brother. He's not gay, but he accessorizes well and he can quote from The Notebook like nobody's business.)

Some things I'm considering for the future:

1) going to Australia for a few months before heading to Korea to teach Engrish;
2) going home to live with my parents (aigo -- a Korean expression of anguish); or
3) going to Germany to live in Patrick's pocket.

Some things I'll be doing in the immediate future:

1) eating dinner;
2) going on a Skype date with Patrick (it's really precious -- I get all dressed up and do my hair and makeup and even spray perfume on my crotch) (kidding! I can't afford perfume right now) (also I feel I should add that my crotch smells like heaven, with or without perfume); and
3) flying to Christchurch on Tuesday to roadtrip around the south island for a monthish with the best group of cunts this side of the equator.

I'll have internet access intermittently for the next month. Please send me e-Valentines. Let me know you still love me. I'm needy like that.

Too Little, Not Too Late

Do you ever wonder "What the fuck am I doing with my life?" I do. Constantly.

Sometimes I'll go on Facebook and stalk people who seem to have found their calling. I'm so happy for these people, but at the same time, incredibly envious.

I have a sneaking suspicion, though, that I don't always have the full story and everyone envies someone for something. I'm learning that the trick is being happy with what you've got. Don't get me wrong, feeling fulfilled doesn't mean you stop striving for more...it just means you're not miserable on the way there.

Here's an exercise: instead of measuring your wealth by your career prospects, real estate holdings and stock portfolio (or lack thereof), measure it by the friends who would help you move apartments and family members who would give you a kidney. Numbers don't matter. If you have even one friend or family member who would do these things, you're blessed. That person is your treasure.

Now, the following is sick and I apologize, but sometimes it takes a mite of the macabre to understand something so beyond everyday comprehension.

Imagine a normal day. You wake up a little later than usual because you pressed the snooze button a couple times. You turn on the tv to find out that everyone you love has been killed in a horrifying natural disaster.

Gone.









The iPhone you left in the cab last night, the missed deadline, the guy who won't call you back, the car you rear-ended, the shoes you covet but can't afford, the annoying neighbor, the procrastination, the coverletters that aren't getting you job interviews.


Meaningless.







There's a great Op-ed in the NYTimes by Nicholas Kristof. I will never be able to explain this as well as he can, but basically he says that doing good things for others makes you feel good. Generosity has a selfish benefit; ain't nothing wrong with that. Check it -- Mama Kim cuts her own hair and uses the money she would spend on a monthly haircut to sponsor children through World Vision. In the beginning she looked like Bruce Lee, but now she's a pro and looks tres chic. People stop her all the time to ask her where she gets her hair done. Her pride is doubled and her smile shows it.

I'm not saying you have to donate (although if you want to and you're just not sure where to, this site will help you), I'm saying the key to happiness is cherishing your life and loved ones more than anything else.

I'm saying reevaluate your shit.

Stop asking "What the fuck am I doing with my life?" and start living it. Meanwhile, I'll try to take my own advice.

Saturday

Happy Returns


Y'all, I just had the happiest month of my life.

I know it seems like I exaggerate sometimes but I'm just a passionate person, so while these superlatives may seem grandiose to you, they are quite genuine from me.

Anyhootenanny, my beloved boyfriend came back to New Zealand to spend Christmas and New Year's with me. I was a nervous Nancy when I went to pick him up at the airport. I had the sort of panic (not that this has ever happened to me) that one gets when one goes shopping alone and, boldly tries on a dress which is slightly smaller than one's usual size because it was on sale and, after deciding with a critical eye that the dress simply does not suit, realizes that it was a very bad idea to zip it up all the way. The panic really sets in when one realizes:

  1. one cannot stop breathing long enough,
  2. thinking thin thoughts won't make one's hips slimmer, and
  3. dislocating a shoulder is painful and doesn't guarantee success.

The panic then deepens when one begins to debate the merit of calling a salesperson for help, thereby exposing one's sweaty, red-faced state, hairy armpits and mismatched underwear OR ripping the dress and evading the real or imagined "Haha, you're fatter than you think" smirk from women waiting in line for the dressing room. That sort of panic.

Or, to simplify, you can imagine the sort of panic you would feel if you left your firstborn infant son on the ground, walked 100 feet away to get some diapers from the car and saw a dingo charging toward him or a dub step-blasting, neon yellow Hummer backing up in his direct path. Point is, I was really fucking panicked, okay?

I just kept thinking stupid thoughts like, "What if he thinks I'm fat?" or "This visit is months in the making, I have so many hopes riding on this. Fuck I hope we don't bump foreheads when we kiss the first time because that would just ruin evvverything," or "How am I going to fart or poop while he's here? What if I do a bang-up job of holding my farts all day but I end up farting non-stop in my sleep? What if I become so constipated that I need to go to the hospital?"

Well good news, pals. After this heaven-sent month I no longer have any of these fears. First of all, he says he doesn't think I'm fat. I'm pretty sure he's not lying because Germans are commonly known to be brutally honest. Secondly, we didn't bump heads. We bumped noses...but it was kind of cute. Thirdly, I got so drunk on New Year's that I threw up multiple times while it was still daylight and he carried me to the bathroom, whence I requested he depart -- and even though I had a suspicion he hadn't really left (I think because he was worried I would pass out and crack my skull open), I was drunk enough not to really give a damn and so let loose, wiped, and passed out. If he heard what I think he heard, then we're way past the point of trivial things like the fact that I'm human.

I apologize for my crudeness. I joke because Patrick's gone now and my sadness is unbearable. I can't sleep because I keep searching for him in my sleep. I can't focus on conversations because I keep thinking of all the small but hugely significant ways he showed me his love. I can't bring myself to throw away the garbage in my room because it has garbage that he left behind.

OMG is that like a Freudian thing? Am I afraid he'll leave me behind like so much garbage?

I apologize for the self-psychoanalysis. I'm just madly in love with a man who flew to the farthest reach of the planet to be with me. How romantic is that?! But now I have a whole new set of reasonable fears. Like what if he breaks up with me or cheats on me? I know I shouldn't think about such things, but it's hard not to be afraid of losing something that precious and rare.

New Zealand has some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. Patrick and I drove around the North Island to take in all the breathtaking views. There were tropical flowers, crystal blue waters and sunsets that made you think the sun was melting into the ocean.

And yet...the most beautiful thing I can remember from the trip is his green-brown eyes and how they looked into me when I looked into them.