Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Amari Szi Amari

Finals coming up!
Apparently "finals" is an American term. I forget this too often when I say things to friends like 'Oh, I have to study for finals' and they respond with things like, '...oh. Exams.' and I don't even think about it until much later.

Also, I realized that those of us from So Cal almost never forego fashion for functionality. Our weather is never harsh enough for us to think 'Hmm I'll wear the jacket that actually keeps me dry and warm.' We will mostly always go 'Well, this jacket is cute and will keep me dry if I keep out of the rain as much as possible, and it really won't rain for more than an hour, so yeah...' and because of this, we never really purchase functional clothing. Hence, it is extremely difficult to find functional clothing, and that is why I have come to New Zealand unprepared for this wet, cold lifestyle. It was pouring rain today and what did I go to school in? My snow jacket. Because I had nothing else that would successfully keep me dry and warm. Also, I lost my umbrella... I wore my polka-dotted rain boots, which got quite a few remarks about how 'cute' they were. Again, fashion before functionality. I can't say for sure yet, but it seems like the general rain boots worn here are gumboots- normal black boots.

I've been really happy with my friends and experiences. I still find myself in interesting situations and am always happy to be there, no matter what. Tonight was a night all on its own. It started with Nick, Jess's, Emma and my friend John doing chatroulette, which (in case you don't know) is the dirtiest random video chat website ever. You get randomly hooked up with someone else who has a webcam and the intention is to chat and get to know random people. However, the outcome is many, MANY men masturbating and demanding 'tits.' This proved hilarious for my group because we simply made them feel as uncomfortable as possible by calling them names, showing horribly lewd images, and Nick making funny faces at them. It was awesome. After that, I went for a swim at the lido center with John and nothing feels better than getting a good exercise.
Following this was the social Volleyball semi-finals which Manawatahi took part in. I'm not nearly good enough at volleyball to have put myself into the game, but I sat and cheered on the Māori club that has so graciously accepted me into their whanau.

Manawatahi on kiwiana day (I'm in there behind the girl in the Leopard shirt) performing 'Te Ahu A Turanga'

Though they lost, we had a grand old time. We played an informal game between ourselves and then played a good game of basketball. I partook in both of those and genuinely made a fool of myself, but played hard nonetheless. Worked up another sweat, and was running on no dinner. After that, John, Ariki, Iwi, Joey and Kendra were keen on going to a local pub to watch a rugby (league?) game between New South Wales and Queensland. I was taken along and had an entertaining time until I was too bloody exhausted and had the loungies pick me up.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Turn it Round

It's getting particularly frustrating when the languages I know are constantly being jumbled in my head.
Spanish and Māori are often trouble areas as words sound so similar, I'll start writing my Māori homework in Spanish. As well, I go to a Māori tutorial Monday nights where our tutor encourages us to learn Māori words through association with hand movements, or as she calls it, sign language. This proves problematic as well because I start to throw in my ASL hand movements with Māori words, which becomes even more bizarre.
It's entirely frustrating when I actually try to recall the Māori word for something and all that is ramming me inside of my head is the word in Spanish.

The other thing I noticed is American humor is entirely and utterly different from Kiwi humor. I find shows like Community and movies like Step Brothers as hilarious, but many others find it mundane and slapstick. I would never consider Community slapstick! Witty, clever, random- Yes. I recently remembered the beauty that is the Bud Light Real Men of Genius commercials and thought I'd share some with my Kiwi friends, but I thought against it because I figured it wasn't their type of humor. Tragic, I know, because the Real Men of Genius commercials are actually genius. There should be a commercial about Mr. Real Men of Genius Commercial Writer.

So, every week that I actually do my anthropology readings, I am constantly surprised. This week's reading discussed how Marriage Sex Manuals from the 1920s-1960s used cooking to maintain women's roles as household objects. One particular excerpt from a book called Technique of Marriage written by Mary Borden (1933) compares women leaving the kitchen to impending communistic doom. Should women leave their homes, it says, and work in "Quick-lunch counters," then home cooking will soon be lost forever and families will go to the local "communal dining hall" and be fed the same food all the time. Amazing. I love blatant, outrageous propaganda.

I'm currently in the process of making a short film about the meeting between a Mexican student and a Māori one. Each character regards the other as being of the same culture and awkwardness ensues when a hongi(touching of noses) is attempted. I'm not sure how successful it'll be (as I'm trying to avoid dialogue) and whether it'll even be interesting... But it's all I got for now so there it is.

Speaking of Māori culture, I recently went to Māori graduation, which was easily the best graduation I've ever been to. For each graduate that had family sitting in the audience, or even just a friend who cared enough, there was a song and/or haka done for their success. It was particularly exciting to hear the different hakas, waiatas (songs), and people coming together to express congratulations. Usually after the name was spoken, the family would begin singing or someone would start the haka and to some it may seem like this would take forever to get through a graduation, it made it 1002984029x more bearable. Instead of the typical name, name, name, name process, it was name, explosion, name, song, name, explosion, etc. Excitement the whole way through. I want to actually be Māori now to have a haka at my graduation, and to even have a graduation as light-hearted and involving as theirs was. I even did a haka with my fellow art students, which was exciting for me because I was actually doing what I'd been watching videos of for months before my arrival into this wonderful country. One thing I found exceptionally interesting was the fact that 10 years ago, Sir Mason Durie (a very influential and important Māori educator) claimed that by 2010 they were hoping to have 25 Māori doctorate graduates... and this year, they made it to 55. That made me really happy.

I can't think of anything else, but I'm sure that's a sufficient post for now.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Lost Coastlines

"How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on, when in your heart you begin to understand, there is no going back."
I have been thinking about this quote a lot lately and it seems to ring true. A little dramatic, maybe, but still. Whatever, going home is quite a way off so won't think about it now.

To finally update you on everything that has happened since April 7, I went to Tonga, had a weekend getaway to Taupo with the Loungies, and owned at uni.

The trip to Tonga was a non-stop adventure. From the night Zach and I checked into the hostel with an enormous kiwi bird attached to the roof of the building to the 11 hour long bus ride back to Palmy, it was the epitome of adventure. So, Zach and I check into the hostel near the airport (since we have an early flight and don't want to muck around with buses) and decide to walk around this middle-of-nowhere city in the middle of the night. We get some Mango Lassi and Naan at a randomly open Indian restaurant. Go back to the hostel where weird bathroom noises are abundant and pure, utter strangeness is everywhere. PS. the first time I walked into my dorm, there were two french girls in bed with their lacey underwear all over the floor. Definitely interesting.
We get to the airport at 5am, check in and watch the sunset from a window while waiting for a gate to appear for our flight on the notification board. Unfortunately, 2 minutes before boarding time, no gate shows up. But, there is another flight to Tonga at exactly the same time and that flight has a boarding gate, so we figure it's the same flight and we head to that gate. Once we get there, we see our flight has a gate, and it's on the completely other side of the airport. We walk back, about 15 minutes after initial boarding time ... and they haven't started boarding. Typical New Zealand.
Land in BEAUTIFUL Tonga to wonderful, warm humidity and clear, blue skies. The airport is about 5 minutes long and we have to be driven to the domestic airport, which was a decent drive away. The domestic airport was about 2 minutes long and we get there to find out our flight to the smaller island of Ha'apai has been cancelled because the only plane they have is broken. Zach and I settle for having to stay on the main island for a night and excitedly wait for a shuttle to pick us up, when the woman behind the desk comes out to us to tell us 'we found a 6 person plane and since I'm special, I get to pick who goes on it.. and I'm picking you two!' So, we get on a 6 seater plane and fly to Ha'apai! Scary? definitely. Awesome? No doubt about it. Zach says it was because I'm brown she liked us, but whatever it was, we were glad.
Land in Ha'apai to an airport that is half a minute long. We try to get a hold of our transportation guy, but he thinks we aren't coming anymore because our flight was cancelled and was off diving. The airport workers were leaving since our flight was the last, and they decide to just give us a ride on the back of their truck to where our guy was. We wait outside his office for about 5 minutes until he shows up and tells us to go to the local grocery store to get some food to munch on when we get to the (even smaller) island of Uoleva. The grocery store has close to no actual groceries in it, except for instant noodles, crackers, and corned beef.
We take a speed boat to Uoleva and our 'guide' lets us get off over a coral reef to snorkel for half an hour. We arrive on the island greeted by a one-armed man who owned the 'resort.' He wasn't expecting us, so there was no dinner, but we were quite happy with having a bonfire built on the beach and hearing stories in broken English from the one-armed man. We watched distant lightning storms dance on far waters and gazed at the endless starry sky above us. It was the most beautiful night.
The next four days consisted mainly of laying on the beach, swimming in the warm waters, laying in the hammock, eating green coconuts, and eating fresh fish/lobster for dinner. The woman who cooked for us was the daughter of the one-armed man and she had some fantastic stories to share as well. One day I decided to walk around the whole island, which was probably a mistake, but fun nonetheless. I found crabs and wild cows and a random rain storm. It was an extremely difficult walk and I was really hungry, but getting back to fish and lobster dinner made it well worth it. On the last night, however, Zach and I were staying up just talking, and it was pitch black because it was really cloudy. We were sitting under our porch and suddenly
When we went back to the main island, we waited in an empty airport from 6pm till 3am. We watched movies on my laptop and a woman who worked there (the only one at the time) brought us cardboard boxes to sleep on. Oh, Tonga. We finally got on our flight and made it back to Auckland where we had a hard time figuring out how to catch our Naked Bus back to Palmy. We had to catch a local bus to the Manukau City (Manukau City=South Auckland=Compton, apparently) and we waited again for the bus to come at 8:15am. The bus didn't get there till about 8:30, however, after we had more than convinced ourselves we were stranded in Auckland.
The bus was horrendously long, but as it turns out, my friend Marcus was on the same bus and we found this out in Rotorua where we spent the rest of the bus ride sharing lollies and stories of whatever. Made it back to Palmy alive.

The trip to Taupo was equally as nice.
I suppose this trip requires an introduction to the loves of my life - Emma, Mike, (big) Jess, (little) Jess, and Nick.
Emma is the most upfront, sweetest, mom-like bitch in the world. She's got the fiercest look, the most photogenic face ever, and the things she says are as random as they are perfect.
Mike is my sassy gay friend. He stays up with me at night watching television shows on my laptop and we always, always have a good laugh. Not to mention, he's hot hot HOT.
Big Jess and Nick are lumped into one as they are THE couple. People talk about those couples that are perfect, but you never really see them... Nick and Jess are that couple. They've got true love and it's the kind that makes everyone else happy around them. Nick is a loyal, hilarious friend and Jess has a heart of fuckin' gold.
Little Jess is basically my girlfriend and I love her. She's innocent and bitchy at the same time, which makes hanging out with her awesome.
It started with a drive in a rented Air Force van to Taupo mostly in the night time. We got to Emma's bach and just lounged around, but got there kinda late in the evening so we went to bed soon after. The next day involved some more lounging, making pancakes on the most un-non-stick cooking devices ever, taking model photos and overall laugh-inducing activities. It was little Jess's birthday that day so the two Jesses, Nick and I went to Taupo's geothermal baths while Mike and Emma stayed at the bach to cook us dinner. The thermal baths were FANTASTIC, but full of creepy old men meandering in the waters like crocodiles on the hunt. In hopes of warding them off, little Jess and I started discussing our recent "sex change surgery" in hopes of convincing them they were actually checking out ex-men.
We went back to the bach to find the most amazing dinner prepared for us. It was a beautiful evening following a beautiful day and there was nothing more we could ask for. The night followed when little Jess's friends from high school came over to party with us in celebration. Little Jess and her friend Shaunnie, however, got drunk much too quick and the night ended early for them. The rest of us sat around finding forms of entertainment in burning cards, exchanging jokes and stories, and eating Jess's chocolate muffins given to her from her mother.
The next morning was perhaps most interesting for me as it was Anzac day, similar to the American Veterans day or Memorial day. Since New Zealand is so much smaller, the holiday is a much more celebrated event where those in the service gather at around 5.30 in the morning and march through town to a ceremony where they bring on the dawn with a speech and service about something to do with the Kiwis who served in WWI and WWII. It was bizarre for me to wake up (after 2 hours of sleep) and gather with a large group of military people as well as family members of said military people and possibly other randoms. We marched alongside Nick (who is in the Air Force) and somehow sat through the bizarre service held at Taupo's town center. The march was led by a bagpipe band, which I think says it all.
The rest of the day involved absolutely nothing except lounging around watching trashy American television. We drove home in the late afternoon and discovered the most amazing sunset that reflected beautifully on Lake Taupo. The drive back was full of singing along to old 90s music as well as Disney movies.
Definitely one of the best trips I've had in my life, and I can't wait to see what other experiences I have with these people I so dearly love!