Saturday, March 29, 2003

two down, one to go
it's sunday. i'm back in sunny tauranga in the familiar confines of cyberzone, my favorite local internet cafe. i spent most of the week in murupara, completing week two of our rafting course. it sucked. one of the instructors, who does not work for adventure education, was a total sexist, nasty, nose-picking ass. and then there were the usual gripes about my classmates being their normal annoying, ass-headed, soft-cock, stuck up selves. next week MIGHT be an improvement because there will be fewer of us, but then my 20-year-old who i have a crush on won't be there ;) so will it really be better? heh.

but in better, less-whingy news, i went to the north island championships in gisborne this weekend. and i won!! i beat two fat maori blue belts (i think one was a red-tip!) to take gold. the tournament was just as disorganized as a state tournament stateside, but with fewer people. it was pretty lame. but it felt good to win. and win pretty solidly.

tuesday i'm off to murupara again. for my last week of it, thank god. i'm sorry this is so short, but i haven't been home in a week and i really want to go and not sit in front of a computer, so that's it for now. still love you tho!

ps when you start thinking of easter and easter eggs, remember me!! my birthday is coming up as well! heh heh.

Sunday, March 23, 2003

ok friends. in the morning i'm off to murupara for week number 2: rescue week. basically this is when we intentionally wrap our rafts around rocks and try to free them using an assortment of ropes and carabiners and pulleys and other gear. umm, did i ever tell you about that time i wrapped a canoe around a rock? i'm a pro already at this! heh.

actually, i'm writing to say goodbye for now. murupara=no internet. then i go straightaway to gisborne for the north island championships, so it'll be a while before i get back in touch. but please don't forget me and keep writing me emails and letters! send to me at my full name:
c/o Counter Mail
Books & More
17 Grey St.
New Zealand

Yes, there is no zip code, because as i've mentioned before, this is a small country.

love yous!

Saturday, March 22, 2003

it's sunday morning and i'm in tauranga, not at ricky's farm hunting feral pigs. the trip was postponed because one member of the party was not able to make it this weekend. that member of the party was andrew. my week in murupara interestingly has helped me get over this crush. actually, my week in murupara has convinced me of the necessity of birth control.

murupara is a hole of a town. it consists of a takeaway shop, a four square (a dairy or small nyc-type deli that sells some groceries and lotto tickets), a school, a fire station, a second hand shop, some abandoned storefronts, and some (not lots) of people who are not making enough money. to be self-centered for a moment, i can't believe i flew 12,000 miles away to live in a dive that i probably could have found in alabama. but to be less self-centered, murupara is probably a quintessential example of all that has gone wrong in the new zealand economic situation as of late. our tutor, ray, told us about how the school vans have been broken into, and gear stolen, and student's rooms broken into. it's just not a good place, and that is both sad and a bit scary.

my first night in murupara, i went for a jog, not out of masochism but because i have a taekwondo tournament this weekend and i want to be sure i'm fit enough to kick some kiwi ass. (the last thing my delicate american ego needs right now is for some kiwis to beat me in the ring.) two minutes in to my jog, i ran through a playground and a group of kids waved and said hello to me. i said hello back, trying to be friendly as kiwis are. then they started to come over to me and talk to me, asking me if i was maori, if i understood japanese, chinese, english, where i was from etc etc. now remember, i'm obviously going for a run here. in the middle of the conversation, after i've already unsuccessfully tried once to extricate myself from the situation, one girl puts her arm around another and says have you met so-and-so? she's my girlfriend. we're lezzies. honest to god that's what she said. honest to god she was 10 years old. at the moment, the thought that went through my minds was that if the so-and-so girl was a "lezzie", then she was bullied into it by the first girl. she hadn't said a word the entire time and there was kind of a look of blank terror on her face. i just kind of laughed, said nice to meet you, and again tried to excuse myself to continue my run. it worked, more or less, as they continued to shout at me as i ran away.

so that was murupara. i have to go back there on tuesday, again for three nights, and then again the following week, for my last three nights. we use the motor camp there as a base for our whitewater rafting. the rafting is going pretty well and i'm starting to get the hang of it. it's kind of like canoeing, but with a large barge instead of a sleek canoe. it's good fun, as well. one part of the river has this rapid called jeff's joy, which is class IV, but downgraded to class III because of easy access points or what not. it is, in essence, a 20-foot waterfall. IT'S FUCKING AWESOME.

i suppose i've gone on long enough without mentioning the war in iraq. i don't really know what to say that others haven't already thought/said/protested for. i'm kind of glad i'm here, although at the same time, i'm getting tired of being picked on solely because i'm an american. and i'm getting tired of being the whipping post for all the kiwi frustrations over this war. i wouldn't mind it if people weren't so freaking ignorant to start with. they don't really understand anything or know anything about news and shit, but all they can say is americans are assholes (perhaps true, but let's not say it out of ignorance). criticism would be a lot more readily accepted if it didn't come out of ignorant heads. and for that, i kind of wish i were at home, because then i could have real discussions with people who know how to think and have a decent thought. but i'm here. trying my best to be a good ambassador for the states and also, in a small way, to verbally defend america, for what it's worth.

an interesting thing i heard but have not substantiated: iraq recently started trading oil in euros, not us dollars. an australian journalist theorizes that this is the reason for the war over oil, why the us wants to fight and germany and france do not. something to think and learn more about.

but i've been here long enough. i miss you guys a lot!!

Sunday, March 16, 2003

happy st. pat's day
it's st. pat's day here. but no green beer for me.

i'm actually in a bit of a funk. and terribly homesick because i got a kickass package from some friends today (thank you from the bottom of my heart!!!). tomorrow, i'm off to murupara to go rafting, and i'll be away until friday, so no emails (or updates) for a while. especially because straightaway when i get back, i should be off to ricky's (see previous post about birthday bash) farm for some pighunting. well, i won't be killing anything.

oh, and we just had the end of daylight savings time, so i think the time difference has been increased by one hour (or decreased, depending on which way you look at it).

Thursday, March 13, 2003

happy friday, to all my friends in thursday land.

last night i went to my friend ricky's 49th birthday celebration. for his birthday, i bought him a bottle of wild turkey bourbon, imported from kentucky! he likes bourbon, that ricky. well, he didn't open the bottle until i got there. and i had one shot, because i was driving, and within an hour, the whole thing was finished. i was amazed. this is not the first time i've seen this happen. i chalk it up to the drinking abilities of these kiwis (they WERE at the bar beforehand for a few hours, drinking pretty heavily), but i think it's also a measure of generosity.

but besides from the decadence and debauchery, last night was really nice. i really missed my classmates this week, even though i did have a fabulous time in tongariro.

tomorrow morning i'm off to the coromandel. i think i'm going to lounge on a beach, if the weather holds, and enjoy what may be one last nice summer weekend. i hope. in fact, i think that's what i'm going to do now!

really there's so much i could write about, and i keep meaning to, but then you wouldn't get emails.

love you!

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

okay, now i'm officially back at my "home" in mount maunganui and i found out that my dive trip this weekend has been canceled. i think this must be the work of god, in all seriousness, because i was picturing bad things happening this weekend. it's a long story, but you should be able to figure it out, if you care, if you have been keeping up. so for universal good, it's probably better that the trip was canceled. but this still leaves me with three days of nothing to do. so i might go off to the coromandel peninsula with this english guy i met on the northern circuit track. he's a nice guy, and i like to say i've picked him up, which i did and then drove him here, but it doesn't mean anything. :)

since i am back tonight, i am going to meet up with some classmates for a birthday celebration. i think it will be nice because he wasn't expecting me. the thing about birthdays is that they're not an excuse to drink, because we're all adults and we don't need excuses. it's just nice to celebrate another person's existence.

but enough about that. the hike was just amazing. my pack was too heavy and by the end of the first day, i made a conscious effort to eat as much food as possible. this meant shoving trail mix (peanuts, raisins etc) down my gullet all day long, and eating more pasta than i needed for dinner, and then waking up and shoving more oatmeal than i wanted down my gullet. i may be the first person to GAIN weight on a three day tramp. and therein lies part of the problem. i planned to do the hike in four days, so brought enough food for five, but then ended up doing it in three. huh?

the walk itself was through some really intensely interesting terrain. much of it was volcanic, and you could see actual real lava flows and craters and explosion lakes, like they were straight out of textbooks. then there were stretches of tussock grass and other sub-alpine features. and even though i was following a group of other hikers (trailing far behind...), i never really saw them. so i had the security of people expecting me at the huts, but the lonesomeness i was looking for. i can't wait to get my pictures developed and share them. one of the things i am realizing that i love about new zealand is that the geology is so young. like i said, it's textbook, because erosion just hasn't had time to wear it away like it has in a lot of the states. and it's just a striking reminder of how awesome nature and all those forces are.

in other news, i went to the counter mail place to get my package that i was expecting, which was supposed to contain my long-awaited ipod. long story, but i broke it right before i left and a friend took care of getting it fixed for me and then sent it to me. instead of the package, i had a letter from the nz post waiting for me, telling me that i had to pay NZ$68 tax on it before they would send it to me. so, in essence, this means that i have to pay MORE tax on something i already owned and paid tax on, only because i had it mailed to me. but if i had brought it in my luggage, i was told, there wouldn't have been a problem. god almighty. and to make matters worse, i was on the phone with them for five minutes, waiting to give them my credit card number, but no one would answer. it just rang and rang and rang. this freaking god forsaken country.

also in other news, i made a decision about my future while i was tramping. and that decision was not to make a decision for a month. until my birthday, let's say, when i'll start looking at jobs, in nyc, baltimore, los angeles, new zealand, and wherever else the spirit moves me. this is really stressful and difficult and i don't want to ruin my time by obsessing about it or making any moves prematurely. so that's that.


Tuesday, March 11, 2003

I'M ALIVE. I'VE MADE IT OUT OF TONGARIRO ALIVE. no need to sound the alarms. i've had a great time. 50km in 3 days, 2 nights. my pack was too heavy. there were definitely times when i felt like giving up, but since i was in the middle of this volcanic landscape with no exit, i didn't. will update more later, and i know i owe a lot of emails. let me bathe first, eh?

however, since i've gotten here, and in the last three weeks, really, i've found out that three of my friends have gotten engaged. you know who you are. the thing is, the rest of the world doesn't necessarily, so suffice to say, congrats to you!! invite me to your weddings, damn it, and yes, i owe you emails and lots of other things i'm sure. if anyone else out there is dating and looking to get engaged, hold your breath, for it seems that once hap (that's me, diana) leaves the country, the diamonds come flying.

i love you guys! but i'm sore and i need to bathe, so off i go. mmmm, beer tonight!

Friday, March 07, 2003

a week's holiday
i'm officially on a week-long study break. i'm leaving tomorrow (sunday) to go south and do a four day hike through tongariro national park. it's supposed to be really cold (as in snow) but i'm looking forward to being alone and in awesome nature. next weekend, i'm going on that overnight diving trip with my instructor. tee hee.

so a momentary good-bye, as they do not have internet in the bush.

love you!

Sunday, March 02, 2003

a recap

here we are, well into my "sabbatical" in new zealand, and i thought i'd recap some things i wrote before i came. see how i've been doing.

my manifesto

i am taking a break from american culture more or less
from the fast life in new york city check
from some friendships check
from my family check
from my baggage more or less
from my screwups check
from my career check
from boys fat chance

i will go and have fun check
sleep plenty check
rejuvenate my spirit and my faith in and relationship with God more or less
i will learn more about this world, about New Zealand, about nature, scuba diving, sea kayaking, whitewater rafting and ropes check
i will live simply for five months more or less
i will communicate with my past solely through email and letters -- and an occasional phone call more phone calls than i anticipated
i will start my novel or memoirs or screenplay or all of the above not yet
i will find out who my real friends are not yet
i will have regular bowel movements CHECK!
i will exercise regularly and hopefully get to do taekwondo check
i will keep abreast of current events not really
i will speak out against war in iraq not really
i will drive at least once check
i will go camping check
i will drink beer but will not puke on myself in the bathtubcheck
i will make new friends check
i will try to let go of anger and bitterness and be filled with compassion and love more or less
i will be honest more or less
i will communicate openly check
i will renew my faith in the goodness of people check
i will make new friends and great memories check
i will make a decision on what i want to do with my life in september 2003 working on it
i will work on summer camp program and fulfill my obligations check

when i return i think i will try to live in one place for three years. i will enjoy mom's cooking. i will be more forgiving and understanding and less self-centered. i will be less frivolous. i will not be afraid of commitment and love and loss of control. i will not frown upon relationships, i will be open to God. i will trust in God and believe He has control and that the promise of good things is true working on it

and maybe, just maybe, i'll give this journalism thing a shot. and maybe i won't be afraid of freelancing. i will pray more. i will love my friends more. i will try to establish a community and go to church. i will act like a grown-up in life and responsibility but i will laugh as a child laughs -- quickly, easily, loudly. i will throw my head back and gawk at the tall buildings again. i will work at camp, be a good program director, leader, and friend. i will drive cross-country, visit friends, have fun, learn to surf, and drive back. i will dream, i will cry, i will scream. i will live. i hope so

and i will stop writing such cheesy shit. good god i hope so

things i'm looking forward to, in no particular order
1.) summer check
2.) being outdoors check
3.) using my hands and my body, instead of my brain and my fingers, typing away at a keyboard check
4.) the new friendships i will make check
5.) the things i will learn check
6.) plastic money check
7.) reading for fun CHECK
8.) reading on the beach not so much
9.) half flush toilets -- for lighter loads; they "just make sense" check, except in older houses
10.) cheap internet cafes more so in australia than here
11.) kiwi accents actually, they're hard to understand

things i'm going to miss, in no particular order
1.) drinking coffee, reading the paper and having the breakfast specials at veselka check
2.) standing at the end of my street and seeing all the lights strung from the stores check
3.) walking down the street with my head flung back and my mouth wide open, looking at the tall buildings and lights check
4.) mcsorley's old ale house and tommy, who always gets me a table CHECK
5.) you check
6.) the subway, even though it smells and never runs right and the workers almost striked check
7.) 24-hour delis, even though my waistline might be better off not so much
8.) the nyu taekwondo team check
9.) my itty bitty car not so much, since i've found a new one ;)
9a.) driving on the right side of the road well, every once in a while i do it here anyways...
9b.) cars with steering wheels on the left side of the car check
9c.) driving not really, since i'm doing it here
10.) being able to call friends at any moment; the time difference will be prohibitive check
11.) 110V current not a big deal
12.) my dsl connection check
13.) mom's cooking check
14.) paquito's burritos check
15.) the new season of the dead zone, a television show check
16.) working check
17.) my apartment, or having an apartment; little miss from short hills is living in a hostel for a few weeks boarding isn't so bad
18.) my cell phone check
19.) being within driving distance of camp glen spey check
20.) the kids i tutor for citysquash, the most kick-ass squash/enrichment program in nyc check
21.) we are scientists shows check
22.) eastern standard time not really ;)
23.) north longitude check
24.) american journalism

things i'm not going to miss, in no particular order
1.) homework and all nighters
2.) american self-righteousness
3.) george w. bush
4.) my baggage, and i mean that in the figurative sense
5.) my family...ok, just my brothers
6.) dog shit on the sidewalks
7.) the lack of view ... i'll be just blocks from the beach
8.) american accents
9.) american guinness
10.) the cost of living in nyc
11.) mice in my apartment
12.) winter
13.) paper money -- money down under is made out of plastic, no joke
14.) crowded subways
15.) pushy crowds
16.) radio stations -- why do they all suck in nyc?
17.) paying the electricity bill
18.) american journalism

monday mayhem
we were supposed to go diving today, but again, we were rained out. another classroom day. third in a row. no wonder everyone was kind of in a bad mood. i know i was. the academic stuff isn't very challenging, and i know i can go in cold and pass the tests. and the physical stuff, while not necessarily challenging, is fun and different and exciting. and most importantly, active. today was also an evaluation day. that was probably kind of bad given that everyone was in a bad mood.

i guess there's not really that much to say. i've got some time to kill and have been catching up on some news, particularly the selection for the world trade center site. i just read fountainhead recently, too, so this is interesting. anyhow, i don't really have anything to say about it, or much in general actually.

oh wait. yesterday, 6:30 am, i get a phone call. freaked out the people i'm boarding with who only expect 6:30 am phone calls when one of their children is in a horrible car accident. but it turns out it's from this guy in my course who we left at a bar the previous night. he was pretty wasted. he was slightly more sober when he called, but he was somehow stranded over in tauranga, his car over by me at the mount, and he needed a ride. that was the excitement for the day.

tomorrow we are doing our night dives. ooh, scary. i'm afraid of the dark and of deep water, so this will be interesting.

and two people in my life, on two different continents, seem to be suffering from a stomach bug, rendering them perpetually bent over a garbage can or similar receptacle, yakking their brains out. interesting. not.

and thus concludes the most boring entry of my life.

Saturday, March 01, 2003

the weekend update
random bits: one day we were joking about driving and i pulled out the old line "where'd you get your license? a cracker jack box?" i didn't think my kiwi classmates would get it, since they don't have cracker jack here, but actually, they have their own version of the joke, and it involves a corn flakes box. similarly, when you make a joke about wheaties (such as, you are strong, you must have eaten your wheaties this morning), the kiwi version involves weet-bix (pronounced "wheat-a-bix"; i know, go figure). believe you me, friends, wheaties are much tastier. weet-bix is like giant shredded wheat but drier.

it's saturday here, the first of march. it has been raining for ten days, but today we have gotten a reprieve. not in time for my hike. gosh, i was soaked to my underwear. i drove 30 minutes to go hiking in the kaimai (pronounced: car-mys) mountains. not five minutes into this hike i wanted to do, i came upon a stream. except that after 10 straight days of rain, it was like a gushing river. and as full of bravado and chutzpah i may be, i was not stupid enough to ford that raging stream by myself. that's how bad movies start. so i turned around and hiked up this hill that led to an outlook over sentinel rock. when i got there, i could barely see 20 feet (i sort of expected it) so i dropped trou and had a wee instead. i wasn't worried that someone would sneak up on me. most kiwis have sense enough to not go hiking, in the rain, after 10 consecutive days of rain.

speaking of bladder issues, we were at the lakes diving on tuesday and i REALLY had to pee. waiting was out of the question, and i've tried to pee in the bush with my wetsuit pulled down but let me tell you, it's not a pretty sight. so i just swam into the lake, with my wetsuit down around my knees, and used the very large toilet that was at my disposal. unfortunately, there were people at the shore, and they knew exactly what i was doing (mostly because i announced it...). one of these people was andrew, my instructor, and i just decided to make fun of myself first and declared that i had indeed scraped the bottom of the barrel of shame. and how could i do this, what kind of girl did my mother raise?

on thursday, when i was out on the piss, we ran into my taekwondo coach at this bar. he works for a security company and was there doing the security thing. he bought me and a friend a shot of tequila each. this is a small fucking town.

thursday was also when two of my classmates discovered my feelings for our scuba instructor. being boys, they had no idea. i actually told one of them because he was offering another guy to me. the second guy found out because the first has a big mouth. anyhow, my point here is that i think classroom dynamics are going to start to change. it's a good thing i start kayaking soon. oh andrew, how i will miss thee. :)

i guess that's it for now.