I only have one funny story to share from my big trip around the world.
When I landed in Germany for Shannon’s wedding, I was hungry. I found a little bakery and bought some croissants filled with chocolate. I took a few bites and thought, “Something’s not right. It tastes funny. But maybe croissants just taste funny in Germany?”
That night I became very, very sick.
During her wedding I was still sick and spent most of the day in bed, a few steps away from a toilet. I watched most of the wedding reception through a window.
Two days later in Croatia, I was still sick. Meg said to me, “Jeffrey. You can’t plan our route based on where toilets are. You need to buy medicine.”
So I went to a pharmacy and nothing was in English. The woman behind the counter did not speak English. So, dear reader, how do you tell someone who does not speak English that you have diarrhea?
That’s right, like some fucked up game of charades I used my hands to gesture shit shooting out of my ass. And then I expressed relief on my face.
She smiled and I left the store with a small jar filled with little pills.
That night I took one. A short time later while on the toilet, I realized, to my utter horror, it was a laxative.
The good news was that whatever was in my body was gone by the morning. The bad news was that by the morning, when I woke up on the bathroom floor, I was a shriveled raisin and my butt hurt.
I went back to the pharmacy and I used my hands to gesture shit staying in my body. The same woman laughed like it was the funniest joke she’s seen since the breakup of Yugoslavia.
If you feel compelled to share this story, do it. You can even pretend that it happened to you.
Today I presented at WDCNZ 2011 in Wellington. The details of my presentation are below! I had a great time and if you were there I hope you enjoyed the day.
“CSS sucks! Can we please go back to intuitive tables?” – Anonymous developer
“Why does CSS make me want to kill myself? How do I make it OBEY me?” – Anonymous aspiring dictator
“I’m having a bad day. CSS ate my brains.” – Anonymous zombie
CSS may seem unreliable, but actually it’s just a bit dumb. We’ll take a look at the dumbest bits of CSS, and we’ll check out CSS’s optional, shiny new brain, SASS and Compass.
On 13 June I became a Kiwi. Here’s the document:
At the start of the ceremony there was a kapa haka for matariki, and after an hour it concluded with everyone singing the national anthem.
I’m so happy! When I first arrived in New Zealand seven years ago I never intended to stay for this long. It’s funny how life happens.
After two months of packing and unpacking my suitcase I’m back in Wellington. I spent seven weeks of summer in America.
While growing up, some of my friends had summer cottages along the lake and other friends drove to famous landmarks with their parents. My family drove to Florida every summer. Driving away from a hot summer towards an even hotter one makes as much sense as taking a hot bath in Death Valley. But July means summer vacation, free from the burden of school. It’s the only time a family can holiday together. By the time I was a teenager I hated it, so I avoided Orlando until this year.
Within a week of arriving in Chicago my family flew to Disney in Orlando, Florida and we spent ten days together. I was nervous. Before my nieces and nephews were born, I was the youngest boy in my family, the second youngest child in my extended family. I’ve never been around kids. Babies, yes, but they only dribble.
The first day at the Magic Kingdom was shocking. Everything seemed tiny, like I was walking through my primary school hallway and thinking were the lockers and chairs always this small? But the parks are made for little people, and it seemed like they had fun, I think. It’s hard to tell. Children are hard to read.
For example one day at Animal Kingdom it was around 37 °C (98 °F). To battle the heat we decided to go on a water ride. It was a large family raft, where everyone sits together, and as the raft floats down a river it’s squirted with water. But my niece didn’t want to go because she didn’t want to get wet. She was a little irritable from the heat. She lost the battle with her parents. She got wet. As the line was unusually short we wanted to go again but she fought and whined to stay off the ride.
At home my sister asked, “What was your favorite part of the theme park today?”
“The water ride,” she said.
My brother-in-law told me to practice safe sex.
New York was the same size. Most of my favorite spots were different. I stayed a few blocks away from Central Park with a friend I met in Wellington. Throughout my stay she was plagued with psoriasis, which made her itchier than a baby with chicken pox.
Her doctor asked for samples of everything her body secreted and excreted. Urine, saliva, feces. It was three days of planned meals and frequent visits to the toilet, to bag and tag her leftovers. She boxed her stuff to post to California, where her preferred doctor practiced.
On the way to the mailbox we were distracted by mannequins and shop windows along the avenue, so we ended up browsing merchandise with a box of excrement in tow. “Megan, I don’t think we should be carrying that through these stores,” I whispered.
She laughed, “Don’t worry Timmy. No one knows. It’s our little secret.”
She calls me Timmy because once upon a time she found me similar to the retarded South Park child in the wheelchair.
A few years ago, after a friend in Wellington drove through America, someone asked her to describe the states in one word. She picked consume. At the time I couldn’t see it, but because I returned to Wellington with two suitcases each weighing 25 kilograms (55 pounds), I can see her point.
Most tourists want to see Los Angeles or New York, skipping Chicago altogether. Big mistake. It’s clean. There’s a big frickin’ freshwater lake. It feels friendly.
My friends in the city showed me their favorite bits of their neighborhood, and their pride reminded me of the time Amber arrived in Wellington. I took her to all of my local spots and we had a great time. I still felt the same when I landed at the airport in Wellington. It’s good to be back.
At a birthday party I saw a guy drinking my favorite beer, a Sassy Red. I pointed and gave him an encouraging and approving nod of the head, and he said, “I know, right? It’s a great beer.”
“It’s one of my favorites,” I said.
“I know, right? Can you believe a girl saw it tonight and called it a sissy red?”
“She did? Why’d she do that?”
“Because she’s a bitch.”
I met an American from Chicago this week, and we talked about the city and the experiences of moving to New Zealand. She said, “After telling someone I’m from Chicago, I hate when they say ‘from one windy city to another’ or something else about the wind.”
20 minutes later we were standing in a circle, with strangers. Someone asks her, “So where in the states are you from?”
“Chicago,” she said.
“From one windy city to another, eh?”
If you’re moving to Wellington from Chicago, expect a lot of wind talk. Whether you like it or not, it’s where our cultures try to connect.
Next Friday I’m flying to Chicago for a seven week holiday. If any of my kiwi friends want something from America, let me know. I have a large suitcase.
Last week Amber and I grabbed a weekend deal with Air New Zealand. For $190 they provided flights to Christchurch, accommodation and tickets to a polo match, which included lunch and wine.
Besides watching the polo, I:
- “bid” in my first charity auction, which raised money for the Ronald McDonald House
- played roulette in the Christchurch Casino, and walked away a winner
- drove along the Summit Road by Lyttelton
- walked through the Christchurch Art Gallery and smelled the roses in the botanic gardens
The polo started before noon and I was nervous. What was the etiquette? Was the match like the scene from Pretty Woman? Are we expected to stomp divots with hookers? Should we bring extra change to give to the poor, as if we were tossing stale bread to pigeons? Polo has that air about it.
When we arrived I snuck inside the marquee for reconnaissance. I registered our names and we were allocated seats for lunch, which was served after the second chukka.
Watching the game was fun because I’m scared of horses. When the polo “ponies” galloped past me, my heart skipped a beat. Horses are big.
During the fourth chukka a player was hit by a polo mallet. After he dismounted, his hands tried to catch the blood falling from his nose, without touching his nose. So I guess it was broken. He forgot his harden up pills at home so he was replaced with another player.
Last night was the New Zealand premiere of The Lovely Bones. We found a good spot along the red carpet outside the Embassy and waited for Peter Jackson and Susan Sarandon. It was my first movie premiere.
Sometimes living in New Zealand is exciting.
The end of the year is here. During the past two months I:
- celebrated Keith’s birthday in Martinborough
- ate Thanksgiving at C. & C.’s house with other members of my New Zealand family. So good! I had two helpings of turkey and two slices of pie for dessert. The evening ended with short blacks and port as the digestif
- joined a gym
And to briefly recap this year’s blogs I:
- broke a bone in January and pierced my ears in October with Amber
- travelled to Hawaii to see my parents, attended Mark and Jill’s wedding in Ireland, visited Sarah and John in London and backpacked my way through the South Island with Dan
- sold photographs at the New Zealand Affordable Art Show in Wellington. This was the first time I sold work to anonymous consumers
- modelled shirts for Webstock. This was the first time I modelled anything
This year has been better than average. I’ve snapped thousands of photos and some of them are worthy of the wall.
At the start of each year I make a list of achievable goals for the next 12 months. The list reminds me to think about the future and throughout the year I endeavour to achieve each goal. Ordered by the level of difficulty, here is a rough guess at the start of my 2010 list:
- fire a gun. I’ve never fired a gun. Apparently an American who hasn’t fired a gun “should be shot”
- travel to a new continent. This will either be South America, Africa or Antarctica
- place first in a poker tournament. This is difficult as it depends the level of skill in the tournament
- publish a short story. This goal is old, and never marked as achieved. Finishing stories is difficult for me
- gain five kilograms. Fat chance, I hope
I rarely achieve an entire list. Gaining five kilograms will be impossible. But damn it I’ll try!
I hope you make goals and think about the future. Life is too short to fart around.
A few things I should mention from the past two months.
- You should buy swag from the Webstock shop. They’re comfy and hip. And who’s modeling the men’s shirts?
- I sold work at the New Zealand Affordable Arts show in Wellington. There were 563 artists in the show and together we made $992,000
- I attended Mark and Jill’s wedding in Ireland last month. The wedding was beautiful and I am so happy they invited me
- Dan visited me for two weeks this month. We flew to Christchurch, hired1 a van, and drove around the South Island. Highlights include hot springs, glaciers, fjords, beaches and sheep
- Amber and I pierced our ears
It was great seeing Dan. We met at 15. He drove me to school in the morning. His car was a broken station wagon covered in bumper stickers, bonnet to boot.2 What I remember from English class is learning the word “dilatory” and thinking “that’s Dan.” Back then, he was always late.
Especially in the mornings, we usually left late for school. It made me nervous, you know, as we studied in a Catholic high school and God burns kids who are late to class. So on the drive I was usually uneasy.
Then he would stop for a bacon-filled bagel.3 Torture. When we parked I would run to class and he would saunter. He charmed the teachers with piety and respect, so they all adored him, like he was a joy to have in class.
My relationship with the faculty was strictly master/servant. Once my math teacher, Mr. Glennon, rummaged through my bag and took out my gym shoes. He opened the window and chucked them outside during an exam. The class stared. I think he was trying to break the tension. He looked me in the eyes, raised his arm and pointed at the window. He said, “Get your shoes.” The class snickered.
I dove through the window headfirst.
2. hood to trunk
3. I know I’m skinny, but his appetite is impressive. On our trip he ate all the time
I have three photographs in the New Zealand Affordable Art Show at the end of this month.
Each print is 50 centimeters square, framed and signed.
I wasn’t sure how to price them so I leaned more towards affordable. I’ve always wanted to exhibit my photographs so this opportunity is exciting. You can see more of my work on Flickr.
Wish me luck!
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