Ralph Waldo Emerson

The health of the eye seems to demand a horizon.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Kiwi Christmas.

Ever more pics at http://www.flickr.com/photos/8151765@N03/?saved=1

Well there’s that then, my first Christmas away from home’s over and done with. And you know what? I had a blast. I’m currently wading into the job hunt to fund my next adventures as well as rooting around for auditions and free lance film jobs, so I’ll let you know what comes of that.

That being said, here’s a rough outline of how the Kiwi Christmas went down:

1. Carly Ann and I woke up early (of course, it was Christmas after all) and laid on our blow up mattress talking about what we’d be doing if we were celebrating at home.
2. I made some kick ass blueberry muffins while Carly Ann started working her magic on her traditional Puerto Rican food.
3. There are these popper things that everyone gets here that make a loud, well, pop, when you pull them open and inside there’s a really bad joke and a paper crown. You see people all over the city wandering around in these silly hats the whole week leading up to Christmas. An example of said bad joke: “What do you get when you cross a fish and two elephants? Swimming Trunks”. Yup, I told ya. Bad.
4. In an apparent move to embrace our changing interests, Santa put Mac’s Gold Malt Lager in each of our stockings. I admire his ability to adapt.
5. My amazing family sent along a box with all sorts of happy things to open on Christmas morning. Thanks guys!!!!
6. Then there was lots of movie watching, cooking, sitting around, greeting our French buddy Edward, going out to peek in on other people’s Christmases. The Kiwis were a bit down because they usually have sunny Christmas BBQs on the beach, but unfortunately it was dumping rain so instead we saw them carting tin foil covered plates between houses.
7. After our early dinner the weather decided to clear a bit so we went to walk around the bay and up onto the lookout point above the city. Along the way we came upon an epic rope swing, and I do mean epic. I’ve seen many a rope swing in my day, but I think this may be the best one I’ve ever been on. Anything that mixes a great ride with a very real fear for your life is definitely a good time…well that is until Carly Ann gave it a go and ended up doing a butt slide down the steep, rocky embankment. We’re worried she may be taken to a women’s clinic with all of her deep purple bruises.
8. As we carted Carly Ann back home to survey the damage, we came across a slightly scruffy looking 20-something-guy eating a sandwich in the park. If that doesn’t scream lonely backpacker I don’t know what does. Within a couple minutes he had joined the crew and was heading back with us for more card games and movie watching. It was straight up Dickens.

So that’s the short and long of it. I hope all your holidays are merry and good and that your New Year is as thrilling as an epic rope swing…unless of course your name is Carly Ann.

PS If you are female, see Enchanted. I saw it with the girls last night and totally loved it. If you’re male, I hope whatever woman you’re with has enough sense to leave you at home while she goes to see it. For both your sakes.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Wellington/FK Promo Video

So I took the ferry from the Picton to Wellington, the capital of New Zealand. I have to admit, the minute I landed I was about ready to turn around and head back to the South Island. To suddenly go from a place inhabited by more sheep than people to a huge city complete with sky scrapers and taxi drivers was a bit of a shock. Add to the fact that I was driving for the first time on the wrong side of the road in my boss' very nice SUV and I was a bit on sensory overload. Luckily I'm settling in and starting to really dig the busy, artsy scene here. Plus, random acquaintances I've met throughout my travels keep popping up, so that's good fun. I'm sure that soon I'll be sipping soy cappuccinos in my Ray Bans and skinny jeans with the best of them. While I work out being a Wellingtonian hipster, here's a link to a promo video I made for Flying Kiwi for ya--it's not the best quality since it's on the web, but it'll give you a good idea of what I've gotten to be a part of. Good times. http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=8679505182594571089

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Possum Aplenty

Alright, they're all bass ackwards, but I added some new pics: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8151765@N03/sets/72157603278592741/

Okay, made it to Sunny Nelson! Where, ironically enough, it’s currently rainy and drizzly. Ah, well, it gives me reason to sit down and update y’all with my current week’s adventures.

Flying Kiwi proved to be even more awesome the second time round. The group that I hopped on with was a whole mix of nationalities—we had representatives from Ireland, South Africa, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Holland, Belgium, France and even another American. The crew had already been traveling around together for a few weeks and so were an unstoppable force of good times and happy carousing. From watching shooting stars in our camp on the northern part of Lake Wanaka to cycle rides, rain drenched glacier walks and rugby lessons, I had an awesome week. Oh and I went skydiving. That was good fun too.

Thus far, the West Coast and Abel Tasman region are my favorite places in New Zealand. They’re everything you’ve dreamed NZ to be: rugged, full of crazy people and completely gorgeous. One of my favorite stops was the Bush Man Experience. A white bearded man, who in any other part of the world would be institutionalized, runs a cafe/museum whose decor is a lesson in the many uses of possum skin. Let’s just say the seat covers gave me the heebie jeebies. The specialty of the cafÈ is possum pies and the museum is chock full of hunting pictures and equipment. Yes, this man is the essential tourism entrepreneur, charging suckers like myself $5 so that we can observe his shotgun collection, feed his wild boar and then watch his special documentary on the Kiwi tradition of capturing live game. Any film that begins with "Danger Zone" throbbing beneath video of a shotgun-armed man in a helicopter taking aim at various wild game is automatically high on my must-see list, I tell you what.

I have to say, though, it is well worth your ticket to New Zealand to experience that movie. Apparently the NZ government paid hunters to "control" the deer population back in the 70s, up until one forward thinking hunter realized that there was a market for red deer meat in Germany. So the hunters became trappers, capturing live animals to bring back to a deer farm. Easy, right? Wrong. These trappers decided the best way to get live game was to jump from a helicopter onto the fleeing animal’s back, wrestle them to the ground and then hog tie them so that they can be carted away, ankle up, beneath the helicopter. I’m not kidding. Needless to say, the end of the film gives tribute to all the good men who gave their lives to the cause.

Anyhow, I put the link for more pictures up at the beginning of the post. There’s not too many, but that’ll give you an idea of some of the gorgeous places I’ve gotten to go through. I hope all your Xmas and Chanukah and New Years’ preparations are going well—and don’t you worry, I’ll have a permanent address soon so you can send me all the holiday gifts you want. Bank transfers are also appreciated. Seriously. Just pop in a few thousand, I won’t mind. Love and miss you guys!!!

Friday, December 7, 2007

All's well that ends well.

I don’t know about you, but the last post left me feeling a bit unsatisfied. Things were crappy, loose ends left untied…and so this post comes to bring a nice happy ending to the story of Wanaka. (I know this one is anything but brief, but I had fun writing it. Also, I’m in the midst of reading Tolstoy, so you may find that my writing here edges on being annoyingly romanticized. Hence, if after reading a bit you feel you can’t get through it without a good chug of vodka, I leave you to find said drink and leave off reading until I’m back in a more satirical and brief mood)

After the little incident with the Germans there was a subtle yet unmistakable dampening to the morale of the American crew. No longer an unstoppable force of confident unity (not to mention endless boxes of wine), I found myself feeling somewhat agitated and unsettled among the crew I was running with. Even so, a trip out into the woods sounded real good and I was willing to look past some shortcomings in order to tramp around outside for a few days. So Tuesday we set out with bags full of trail mix and non-cotton clothing.

Yet backpacking is a funny thing, it has a tendency to bring out the strongest characteristics in people for better or for worse. As with my dad in Turkey, it was for the better. We saw each other, warts and all, and even in spite of some spats found even greater respect for one another in those hours of constant togetherness. As with the American crew, the experience just made me that much more certain that our tenure together was over. Not that they were bad people or any different than they had been, but I was different, and I knew that whatever bond had held us together was crumbling by the hour. By the third morning I grabbed my belongings and said farewell to that portion of my NZ travels.

There are times in life when you can’t help but feel like a badass. This was one of them. I left them all my food, took a carrot from the food sac and without a backward glance trudged thigh deep through glacial fed streams and out to start my next adventure. In a few hours I was back out on the dirt road hitching a ride with some rock climbers back into town and by 3pm had myself checked in to a cool hostel just outside of town. They could say whatever they liked about me, and perhaps they did, but the moment I felt those icy waters seeping into my Soloman shoes, I knew this was exactly where I wanted to be.

And so free now to enjoy Wanaka on my own terms, I went out last night to catch a French flick called Le Vie en Rose at this really cool little movie theater called "Paradiso" in town. It’s one of those places you can’t help but love. You walk in to a wall of fabulous scents as organic pizzas, wraps, soups and salads are being prepared for people to take in with them to the movie. The seats are a medley of couches, complete with crocheted cozies, and even an old yellow Beetle convertible set up to one side. At intermission (yes, there’s an intermission) you are met with the smells of freshly baked cookies, still warm from the oven and well worth the $3 charge. Mom: look into white chocolate ginger cookie recipes. I think I’m in love. Before the movie began I found myself a date. Mark’s a 70-something Englishman who comes to NZ each year to volunteer at various national parks, and he and I had a fabulous time discussing the film and reminiscing about the wonders of Le Bons Bay. Turns out he was the very Englishman that I had overheard my hosts saying would be arriving a few days after I was to leave the backpacker. Small world.

Anyhow, it was on the happy walk home that the bookend came to my Wanaka experience. Blinded by streetlights I could see the forms of people moving in my direction, but couldn’t make out who they were until I was suddenly in the midst of them and being clapped on the back. The Germans! Here they were! Two of them (including Chris, the one that had so verbally pummeled me) had walked past in an attempt to avoid me, but the third, Julia, was quite happy to see me. She and I had developed a common bond in spite of the past few days. The other guy in the party, Kerry, was completely ignorant of what had passed and was just as enthralled as ever by the fact that we have the same name. God bless him. And so the two of them looped their arms into mine and took me off with them to grab a beer. I’m sure the first two Germans were quite thrilled.

At first it was somewhat awkward. I chatted with Julia and Kerry as the two others cast me grumpy sideways glances. We talked a bit about everything, touching on the fact that I was now on my own, and after a bit my beer glass was empty and I started to say my good byes. "Wait", said Chris, grasping my arm, "I have something to say". Seeing as this was exactly how he had started our previous conversation, I was less than thrilled to hear what would follow.
But this time the conversation was quite different. By the end of it, he’d apologized for his assumptions and we’d even had an awkward hug. Hurrah for reconciliation. It’s nice to be able to take the Germans off the People Who Hate Me List.

So that’s the story of Wanaka. And now at 4 my bus will come and take me up the West Coast to hike a glacier, hunt for Kiwi birds and clamber about on pancake rocks. By next Saturday I’ll be in Nelson and by Christmas in Wellington to celebrate with Carly Ann at her flat. So if you’ve read this far into the post, I commend you. Now go bake yourself to a white chocolate chip ginger cookie and maybe some good strong Egg Nog.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Mauling the Messenger

I suppose in travel writing it's important to balance the good with the bad, so as to avoid portraying my life on the road as some idyllic jaunt from one grand adventure to the next. So, yeah, I went through a bit of a rough patch in the last few days. It's a long, complicated and confusing story so I'll spare you the gritty details; suffice it to say the happy hippie commune became a zone of cultural warfare. It was straight up WWII style, with the German Axis against the American Allies. For each of our own individual reasons, we found ourselves gravitating to one side or the other. It was getting utterly ridiculous, people making snide comments and avoiding eachother. I mostly just ignored the problem and tried to stay friends with everyone, but of course things never quite turn out the way you plan. The juant to Queenstown was supposed to be a fun escape, but while we were out having a blast, things in Wanaka were crumbling into a terrible mess.

I had begun receiving desperate texts from the young Kiwi girl in the house that the Germans were telling her we owed $120 to them and that she was going to have to pay it since we weren't around. I opted that we go back to Wanaka and clear up the mess, thinking Team America was all aboard. Plus, I considered myself a good diplomat between the two parties and envisioned myself confidently striding into the fray and sorting everything out no problem. Yup. I'm a moron.

So the minute we got into town the crew charged into the house to find Matt, the leader of the Axis team. Unfortunately the minute he and I began our little peace talks, the Allies un-allied themselves and disappeared. Long story short, I saw his side of things and paid him my $40 portion of the debt, but then had to sit through one of those "killing the messenger" routines where another very angry German threw some very creative broken-English insults at me while I made feeble attempts at defending myself. Unfortunately my guilt-switch operates at extraordinarily high levels, so when being accused of doing wrong I am prone to feel like a piece of crap no matter how valid the accusations really are. Add on top of that some translation issues as well as the complete disappearance of my US backup, my backbone went from granite to formica and I ended up shuffling out of the house feeling very confused and small. And for the first time in my 3 months here I started to think that home sounded really really good. But after leaving and having a good long sit in a nearby park, I collected myself and decided my role in the conflict was definitely over. Sure, there's now a couple Germans joining the Argentinian and Mag Pie on the life list of Those That Would Rather I Hadn't Been Born, but so it is.

I guess the good that came of a rather crappy experience was that it made me reflect and take ownership of my actions. So, yeah, all a part of the journey. And now I'm heading up to Mt. Aspiring National Park for a few days of tramping and camping and hopefully appreciating the good with the bad.

Friday, November 30, 2007


Oh lord have mercy, I'm having fun. The American crew that I happened upon at the pseudo-hippie commune has been honed down and awesomed out. Yesterday Olivia and I spent the morning working exceptionally hard as extras in "Bride-Flight", some Dutch movie that's being filmed in a Queenstown winery. We left Wanaka at 5am with a few others that were doing the extra work and after the typical movie-set hours of eating and shuffling about found ourselves cast as vineyard workers on their smoke break. I have to give a big thank you to my tobacco-happy friends who so kindly assissted me in learning the art of smoking naturally in recent months (you know who you are). Your kind and patient assistance provided me with the opportunity to earn $120 for going through half a pack of herbal cigarettes and talking crap with my current best travel buddy. Now that is good stuff. With our wads of cash in hand, Olivia and I took off to Queenstown with nothing but our jackets and purses and no real plan of how long we'd stay or how we'd even get home. Travelling in South Island New Zealand gives you an incredible sense of security, though, and so such things tend to work out. I mean, you've essentially got all all the community of college minus the all night cram sessions.

So we wandered into a little park and proceeded to spend the afternoon collecting friends. Jeff and Jim (the other half of our US Team) had left Wanaka in the morning and happened to show up at the same park with similarly little on their agenda, then came Mark the English builder with his buddy's dog; a photographer; a juggler; some crazy kids who manipulated us into buying them KFC and lord knows how many others. 6 hours later we were all sun burned and happy and just as devoid of plans. And that's just how it goes here, things are slower, people aren't as busy and are up for anything, even just lazing about in a park for hours on end. Perhaps it also helps that many of us are jobless, homeless and kidless, but just let me idealize here.

So after a night of dancing; the crew and I decided Qtown was the place to be, at least for this week, and Olivia and I hitched a ride back to Wanaka to pack our stuff, say our goodbyes and head back to Qtown. The guys'll be there too and we're all itching for a couple days hiking in the woods as well as some good r&r on the beach. The Flying Kiwi bus picks me up next Saturday, and I'm quite certain I'll be able to occupy myself until then.

Friday, November 23, 2007

new pics/new digs

For more pics go to:

Alright, lemme give you the fly by: I had 5 freaking awesome, magic, sea air filled days at Le Bons Bay Backpackers; another night in Christchurch; a week out on the road and in the woods with Flying Kiwi Tours and now am chilling out in Wanaka before heading into a week of extra work on a film in Queenstown. Whew.

It feels like Le Bons Bay was months and months ago, but suffice it to say that I’m totally in love. It’s just one of those places that seems to be locked in its own awesome little world where neighbors help each other out, kids go outside to play for hours and people try to live a clean, self-sustaining life on their rolling acres of farmland. Weird. When Gary, the owner, asked if they’d be seeing me around again I thought he was joking. YES.

But after 5 days I had to pack up my stuff so I could get to Christchurch and hop on my Flying Kiwi bus. Without getting into the nitty gritty details, I worked out a deal with them where I get to travel around in exchange for some work. I’m not usually a bus tour type of girl, but I totally love their way of doing things. We camp out every night either in the bush or in designated camps, have communal cooking out of the kitchen rig attached to the back of the bus and have a stock of bikes on the top of the bus that we pull down every day or so. Nothing like flying down a mountain at top speeds in the rain when you know a nice warm bus will soon be rounding the corner to pack you up and take you to some cool new place. The people, too, are of a different variety. In order for things to work, everybody has to lend a hand, so people really man up and work together—particularly when we did the Routeburn track. The guides on the trip are both newbies and so when they bought our food I don’t think they were quite thinking straight (at least that’s what they told us afterwards). I mean honestly, who brings fresh eggs on a trek? And pancake mix? Really? You got a fold out griddle you want to whip out of your bag? Ray Jardine would be appalled. But even so, after a couple days of trekking and swallowing down meals of spaghetti and instant potatoes, the crew of hikers were inseparable…which in traveler terms means we will make every effort to make a solid Facebook group.

So after the bus passed through Queenstown and people went about their requisite sky diving and bungee jumping adventures, I said my goodbyes and got dropped off in Wanaka to wait for the next bus to pass through. I’d been hearing about Wanaka for a while, and so far it’s definitely lived up to the hype. After spending a couple days wandering around the hills with a German guy from the trip, Axel, he headed off back to Christchurch and I got myself a job of sorts. I don’t really know what to call the place I’m living and working in, it’s not really a house, though there are about 12 of us sleeping here on random mattresses and bunks. It’s called the “Old Gym” and apparently it was the place to be for pro skiers back in the 90s. In fact the gym equipment is still all laid out right next to the broken down indoor rock climbing wall.

Besides Fiona, there’s a whole eclectic assortment of characters living in the house that have proven extremely entertaining. Team America is four people strong, with Nicole the hippie, Olivia the ski bum, Jeff the cute college boy and me. We pulled together a white trash Thanksgiving that was far tastier than it had any right to be. That was mostly because Team Germany has a resident chef that threw a stunning homemade lasagna in with our frozen food assortment. We like him a lot. Team Taiwan unfortunately had to leave a couple days after I came, but their contributions in the fried rice category were much appreciated. We’re a happy little commune here on the outskirts of town and have had many good nights around the bonfire or out in town at one of the three local bars. And, as ever and always, the trampoline out back provides hours of entertainment. What is with this country and trampolines?

So that’s about it for now. I’ve been working my butt off the last couple days with the rest of the crew so that this next week we’ll be free to do extra work on a Dutch-New Zealand movie that’s filming right outside of Queenstown. I’m sure it’ll be my big break, the critics will be going bonkers over Vineyard worker #42, you just wait and see. Happy travels wherever you all are.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Life is Thoroughly Excellent.

I could not have imagined a better series of days or kinder, more hospitable people. The Guy Fawkes holiday turned out to be a pyro maniac’s dream: a whole weekend of fireworks randomly going off all over the city. I spent mine with Pete and Elaine, a couple which had come through the restaurant a few weeks back. To be perfectly honest, I couldn’t even remember what they looked like. I just looked in my journal where I write down my contacts and saw “Come stay with us in Christchurch!” written under their names. I didn’t remember not liking them, so thought it was worth a shot.
So, Saturday afternoon a friendly woman shot up to my backpackers in a royal blue mini cooper at the scheduled time, said “Kari! Jump on in” and so I did. Before I knew it we were flying through the lovely countryside, passing quaint farms as we chatted away. The place we got to was anything but quaint. A gated drive flanked by statues of lions opened up to a very new, very modern home complete with purebred Doberman. I walked in the house and her 10 and 11-year-old girls grabbed my hands and gave me a tour of the indoor pool, movie room, 6 bedrooms and 6½ baths. As they demonstrated the fingerprint activated front door and magnetized doorframes, I realized Tekapo was a very long way away.
But the best part was definitely the 11 acres that surrounded the house. We bounded around on their trampoline (yes! Another trampoline!), went sailing through the air on their flying fox (a machine, not a mammal), fed their horses, rode their scooters, explored their various forts, went for a hay ride, drove a tractor, found a mama duck and her nest, swam in the pool, met Pete’s 3 kids, had dinner, greeted friends and family, drank a lot (the adults anyhow), set off fireworks and as they all partied on I struggled into Elaine’s massage room/my room and collapsed. Kiwis have endurance, my lord.
Monday morning we said our goodbyes, dropped the girls off at school and then Elaine returned me to my backpackers before speeding off in her hot little car. Some people have got this life thing down.
I had one more night in Christchurch before I was set to leave for a peninsula to the southeast called Akaroa so I spent the day exploring the museum, botanic gardens and art galleries. Absolutely gorgeous—made me fall in love with Christchurch. As did the further fireworks displays on the pier that night with a group of lively Germans and Dutch from my hostel.
And now I’m here on said peninsula at a place called Le Bon Bay Backpackers. I had seen the signs for the place in a couple of other hostels and heard nothing but sterling reports about people’s experiences there. The little town nearby was once a French settlement, and so the whole place is full of cheesy yet appealing wannabe French restaurants, hotels and businesses. The hostel owners told me to wait for them between Le Touriste Shoppe and Le Bon Café. Oui oui.
When the Norwegian manager, Masha, pulled up she informed me that just that morning not only had the owner’s mother had died, but two of their workers had had to leave and that their other worker, a young Japanese girl named Uri, was a sweet girl but a terrible worker. This was made somewhat awkward by the fact that she sat directly behind us.
And yet when Masha offered me a job in exchange for my accommodation and meals, I was very happy to say yes. I liked this woman in spite of her brassy social ineptness and Uri seemed like she needed a friend. Seeing the hostel sealed the deal—it’s a charming, warm place with chickens, cows, a pond, a great vegetable garden and…yes…a trampoline!! The owners and their children are really sweet and will definitely need a hand for the next week or so, so I’m more than willing to help out. Plus, they’re excellent chefs and so I’ll be getting to learn a lot as I help them prepare the lunches, coffees and immaculate dinners the hostel is famous for. The nearby beach (complete with green lipped mussels and nesting penguin), hiking trails and the guitar in the common room aren’t too shabby either. So looks like things are going more than okay. In fact, it would be tough to be any happier than I am right now :)

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Well here I am.

More pics @ http://www.flickr.com/photos/8151765@N03/?saved=1

Hey guys--just a quick update of the last few days events:

1) I left town, which was agreed upon by all parties involved. And no, mom, I was not "kicked out" of town...though I'm quite certain the magpie, my awful boss and the Argentinian were just as happy to see me go as I was to leave.

2) I hitched a ride with Anita, the new barmaid in Tekapo, in her semi-decrepit van to Mt. Cook. Along the way we squeezed in a stop at a salmon farm, downed more coffee than is advisable for human consumption and finally ended up at the foot of Mt. Cook in the midst of blustery rain and wind. Not to be deterred we went hiking about, snapping photos and feeling rather like Frodo was going to hop out and join us at any moment. But he didn't. So we headed back to the hostel to cook dinner with a strange guy from Holland who insisted on wearing one of those knit caps that are all strings and random doo dads for the entire evening, only removing it for a brief after dinner sauna.

3) Anita and I surmised that the best way to get to Timaru, the next stop on our journey, was to go straight back through Tekapo. After a somewhat awkward pee/coffee break wherein my boss pulled the tried and true Argentinian silent treatment on me, we jetted out of town and off to the bright lights of Timaru...aka a place 10x the size of Tekapo. Not hard to do.

4) And so after 2 days in a welcoming backpackers (where the husband and wife team seemed a little more welcoming of their young charges than is perhaps decent) I headed to Christchurch. Just got in actually, and am looking for accommodation for the evening before I head off to a friends' place for the weekend. Apparently it's Guy Fawkes this weekend, which is a New Zealand holiday. What it celebrates I'm not sure, and neither are the locals, whose only response to questions about the significance of the holiday is that it's an excuse to set off fireworks. Love their honesty in not knowing what the hell their holidays are actually about. Anyhow, a couple that came through the restaurant a few weeks back invited me to stay at their place for the weekend--apparently they don't exactly have a bed for me, but I'll get to be chucked in with the kids in the living room for a couple nights. Sounds like home.

I figure I'll hang out around here for a few days while plans come together for the next couple months--I'm either heading west or north depending on some random stuff that I'll fill you in on later. So that's life! Much love.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Camwon and Quitting

Well this has certainly been an eventful week. Let's start with the update from home--

Got to talk to Cameron (aka Camwon) online this morning!!! That was such a relief, I've been worrying about him all week and so fairly well berated him with questions. Since he's not a fully employed fireman yet, he's still working a regular job and so had to go check in at the office--quite a contrast to battle fires for a week and then have to wash up to sit behind a computer for the day. But he'll be back out in the field soon enough--he heads out tomorrow to continue fighting fires. Luckily the news reports say that the fires seem to be dying down as the Santa Ana winds let up, so that's a relief. As for my parents, last time I spoke with them they had a house full of little white poodly type dogs running about. My mother's friend, who boards dogs in her Fallbrook home, brought the entourage over. Dad, who has spent 12 years learning to love our current dog, is likely half praying to be evacuated so he can get away from the mongrels. Fortunately, it seems the fire to the north is beginning to abet and the crew will get to return home soon.

As for life in New Zealand: I've put in my two weeks notice and am continuing along on my travels!! In a two month span I have taken and quit my first official, government taxed job. I had planned to stay here through the New Year, but got a case of itchy feet and so decided it was time to get moving. I'll be sad to leave the buddies I've made here--especially Alica, the other waitress at Pepes. We definitely have had a blast working together and can work up tips like nobody's business (though in New Zealand that amounts to about $15 a night tops. Ah, silly non-tipping countries). And despite how much it sucks cleaning at the Godley, I'll really miss Jeanette and the two Brazilian boys whose flirtations have gotten more and more creative over the past couple weeks. Despite their rather loose grasp of English, mischievous winks and grins are fairly universal. I was really worried that my boss at Pepes would explode when I told her I was leaving and had a whole heroic speech planned out in my head, but she seemed less than surprised...though based on my somewhat forgetful tendencies perhaps I was proving myself more of a liability than an asset :) I mean, I'm great at the chatting part of waitressing, but who can remember to close up the tills every single night? I mean honestly. Perhaps I will conveniently forget to put down her number as a reference on my resume...

Oh! And the Argentinian finally responded to me! Sure, it was with an exasperated, "Will you chut up??" but hey, it's progress. I responded with a very mature, "Or perhaps you should shut up, you are just a chatterbox". That's called wit my friends.

Okay, so that's it from here. I'll let you know how the final two weeks go--though I'm quite certain I haven't a chance of living up to the reputation left in the wake of Jenny from Colorado. Here in Tekapo it's about 7:1 men to women, and let's just say she made full use of her ratio. Some come here for clarity, others for chlamydia, as I like to say. And don't worry dad, I've gotten quite a bit of clarity here.

Hope all's well! Don't go setting any fires!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

San Diego

Looks like things are getting pretty bad back at home. My brother Cameron and a good family friend, Aaron, are graduating from fire academy in November, so the two of them have spent the last few days helping fight the fires. They were on the Ramona fire but yesterday got moved down near the border to fight the Harris fire. I'm really proud of him but really worried too. As is his wife, Julie, who's holding down the fort at home along with her relatives that have been evacuated from around the country.

My parents have been sending me updates and I talk to them as much as possible. Apparently my house is right in the midst of a safe area, so they're safe for now. If you look at the google map, my parents live right between Fallbrook and Vista. I know it's kinda hard to find with all those little icons, but just look in the northern part of the map whre there's that nice open patch. That's home.
View Larger Map They've been really lucky so far, plus my dad is a part of the Vista Fire Board, so not only is he very familiar with the evacuation routes, he also gets a steady stream of updates from the fire chief. Here's one of the updates my mom sent:

"It's 6:30 and still dark as the sky is full of dense smoke. There is no breeze so hopefully the winds will not be as strong as predicted. We are still here as are the neighbors. The fires seem to be all around but not actually endangering us here. Down by the border where Cameron is picked up a couple of new fires in the night and it was very windy there all night. What he will be doing will be a bit safer. The water truck won't be right on the fire line. Will fill you in more as the sun comes up enough to see and get the updates."

I just found out from my parents that one of my mom's friends who evacuated from Fallbrook will be crashing with them for a while--along with her 6 dogs. While mom's really excited, I think dad just got a fast pass to his own personal hell.

Thanks everyone for your concern, I'll keep you posted as I get more news from home.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

No More Malibu

So I woke up this morning and hopped online to see what was happening in the world. Lo and behold, my school is right up close to the latest batch of Malibu wildfires. This happens quite a bit in Malibu, so though somewhat concerned, I just think about how many times I sat in my dorm room enjoying a day off from classes while friends and family called in hysterics wondering if I was about to be burned alive. Hopefully the same luck will continue with this one--and in the mean time we can enjoy the melodrama of yellow journalism that only a fire in Malibu can incur.
Check out the articles Wells so expertly found:

And of course, this article deals with our most pressing concern (check out the comments on the end)

And Pepperdine people, don't pull a Brooks...and you theater kids know what I mean.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Throwing down the gauntlet.

Alright, kids, 2 weeks in and the Honeymoon period is over. We're talking The Real World: Tekapo, only with slightly less attractive people. Though I can't write up every crazy thing I've heard and experienced in this town (yet), I can fill you in on my own two personal battles.

The first is with a freaking magpie.

Alright, so that may not seem particularly juicy, but honestly this little thing has it out for me. Every time I go for a hike the nasty rat with wings decides to dive bomb me. I had never before experienced the fury of a magpie, let alone a Kiwi one, so didn't know that it's perfectly normal for them to come screaching down like a fury sent from the heavens and attempt to penetrate your skull with their sharp little beak. Didn't get the memo. So as I'm ambling along on my walk the other day, all hell broke loose. The avian kamikaze comes screaming down on me and so of course my reaction is to scream right back...and flail my arms...and yell curse words at it. I really hope no children were nearby because as this thing made repeated attempts on my life, I yelled out some words that may or may not be more common in the sailor vernacular. The best part was that I had put my rain jacket on over my bag, so when I tried to whip out the purse to use as a flail I ended up just yanking my jacket over my eyes and running blind down the path. Oh god I hope I was alone.

Anyhow, long story short I returned with an improvised shiv (though there isn't really any other kind I suppose) and a fist full of rocks. The little blighter didn't make a return appearance, it knew I meant business. I'm about to set out on my next hike and believe you me, el pavo is going down.

Ah, speaking of Spanish. So the roommate that I hadn't yet spoken to a few posts ago has yet to utter more than 3 connected words to me. At first I thought the poor thing was shy, now I realize she loathes me. Yup. I got a magpie and an Argentinian on my closest enemies list.

I started testing the waters with simple things like: "Hey, do you know where the phone is?" Her response: "Yes" and exit. Ah, good, good to know. I thought it was weird, but again, thought she just wasn't much of a chatter box or was perhaps comotose...that is until I saw her working her magic at lunch the following day. You'd think the girl was doing a stand up act as she chattered away with my fellow coworkers. Then, at home, she and Ness nearly tore apart the Woman's Weekly magazine as they discussed Angelina's scrawny ass.

Alright, tactic 2: confrontation. "Did I do something to offend you? Why won't you talk to me?" Silence. "If we're going to live together, you have to at least be polite to me." Not even an eyebrow. Oooh, she was cold. But doesn't know who she's dealing with.

So now when I return home she gets to hear all about my day. As she sits silently, avoiding eye contact, I fill her in on how I'm doing, how work was. If she's chatting online with her Australian boyfriend (who I found out about through the town informant aka Ness), I empathize with her about how hard it is to be away from people you care about. It's like having one of those voice recorder diaries, I'm totally loving it. I even use a bit of my Spanish on her now and then for kicks. It's better than therapy and cheaper too, I tell you what. Perhaps it also helps that I feel that if it came down to it, I definitely could take her in a brawl. I mean sure she has the height factor, but I'm a bit scrappier. Plus I've been getting good training with the magpie.

Anyway, so that's some of the excitement here. If you think of any other good tactics for magpies or Argentinians please let me know.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Holy crud, it's snowing! For reals! Had a great, busy night at the Pepes'. A couple of the guys from my hostel in Geraldine dropped in, and by the time we closed up Pepe's we had quite a merry crew to wander to the pub with. (Geraldine, btw, was a worthwhile little trip that was about as evenetful as a geriatric hospital...except less jello). It's one of the bartenders last nights in Tekapo so they were throwing him a bit of a party. Lots of pool, laughter and all that good stuff, but the very best part was that by the time I left the bar, big fluffy flakes of snow were drifting about. Sure, my little denim jacket is hardly suitable for this kind of weather, but I don't much care. It's snowing and that's awesome. In fact, as I'm writing this I can look out to the one lone street lamp and see the little flakes lazily dropping to the pavement. Add that to the fact that I've had a bit too much wine, and this is a glorious night. Good lord it's cold.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Well stomp on frogs and shove a crowbar up my nose!

Alright kids, get scrubbed up and put on your Sunday best, I'm headed into town! Doesn't get more exciting than a town trip for those of us living in what is essentially a well-appointed truck stop. This little venture has required a week of planning, and all just so I can get to a place that has a branch of my bank. Since there's only one commuter type bus coming in and out of Tekapo each day, I'm spending the night in Geraldine, whose star attraction is "the world's largest jumper at 'The Giant Jersey'". Count me in.

Friday, October 12, 2007


Hellooooo! Yes, I'm alive. I apologize to those of you who thought otherwise, but I did make it to Lake Tekapo in one piece...though barely. I hopped off the boss in the midst of a raging storm. The driver said, "You sure this is your stop? I can keep driving". Always a good sign.

Long story short, the waitressing job is awesome and I really enjoy running around and chatting with the customers. I get to tend the bar and am learning to make coffee, too, so finally am getting that "experience" thing every place in big cities seems to require.
My coworker is a really fun Australian girl who's travelling with her boyfriend. They've been wandering the world and working as they go for about 2 years now. She's helped me out a ton so far--from warning me about the scuzzy men of the town to lending me dvds to making light of the craziness of our boss. Ah, yes, the boss, she's a bit of loose cannon. She's only 26 and has been running this restaurant for 5 years, so I think the burden of obligation is just a bit rough sometimes...or at least that's what I'm telling myself. The most entertaining of her antics, however, comes when attractive guys come in the bar. Suddenly the hardened overseer is a giggly girl who bristles if any other female comes within 10 feet of her prey. It's like a real life nature program.

I've also taken on a job in the mornings, yup, I'm a regular blue-collar working girl. I'm a room attendant at The Godley Hotel, which means I'm the one calling out "Housekeeping!" as I shuffle down the hall with my cleaning accoutrements. Unfortunately no one's ever in their rooms so I can't say "You want me fluff your pillow" but one day...one day... Not that these pillows would benefit much from a fluffing. The place was built in the 60s and most of the rooms have not been altered one bit since. It's kind of entertaining to observe where people over the decades have walked on the orange shag carpet. Under the furniture there's still a good inch of shag, while the trail from the door to the bathroom is just a few bare threads grasping at one another. My supervisor, Jeneatte, is one of my favorite people. As I'm scrubbing out the toilet bowl she'll sweep in, discuss our star signs, talk about her ex-husband a bit, mention the awesomeness of the resort she worked on in Australia, take "only a half puff" of her cigarette, notice that I haven't restocked the soap and yell I'm trying to kill her, then waltz out to find Paul the handyman and bother him a bit. We're buds.

As far as living goes, I started out living in my boss' roommate's home office. It was a bit awkward, made even more so by the fact that he began referring to me as his office girl...great. Now, though, I found a fabulous place to stay. It's a big yellow house with three cats, a trampoline and an awesome little woman named Ness. Our third roommate returned from a trip to Australia two days ago, but she has yet to speak to me, so not sure what to make of her. It's a happy, warm little house with hiking trails right out the back door. The views here are absolutely stunning and so whenever I get off work and the sun is shining, I just set out to explore. But, honestly, the selling point of this place was the trampoline. How cool is that. One of the cooks at Pepes (nicknamed Crimi because he's an ex-criminal)is good friends with Ness and so we're both trying to talk her into buying a jacuzzi. He says, knowing her, she just might do it.

So, yeah, life in a small town is proving itself to be quite entertaining. It's nice to set down for a while and get to know people--when you're just passing through it can get a bit lonely. I'm also beginning to realize that this is a way of life that can go on for as long as you want it to...there will always be a job to make a bit of cash and always a country in need of exploration. So who knows, perhaps I'll come home in a year, but perhaps not. I'm just gonna play it by ear. If you want to come travelling with me for a bit, just let me know. It's quite a liberating experience...and how else would I have ever known the true insanity of Lake Tekapo? Much love to all.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Gatherer

Despite my urban surroundings, I have been learning very primal lessons as I embark on a life of financial independence.

Always before my grocery allowance held quite a comfortable sum, making for a diet of brilliant organic veggies, fruit and staples that I could purchase without a moments' hesitation. But now, out on my own, I suddenly had the overwhelming realization that I'm poor as dirt and have no income to speak of--oh except for the 30 bucks I got for cleaning the hostel yesterday, my what 15 girls can do to a restroom. The rest of my funds have been making a hasty exit out of my bank account to lord knows where.

So rather than pilfer away my money on food that I "want" to eat, I have instead emerged as an avid hunter/gatherer. The office fridge has become my prime hunting grounds, full of leftovers from various functions from this last week. At first the game was plentiful, sandwiches and apples plus the odd juice box. Now, however, the reserves are dwindling, leaving me with Ritz crackers (onion flavor), week and half old hummus, a cookie assortment and 2 year old jelly beans. Though I sometimes give in and buy a random soup or alcoholic beverage, I make up for those splurges by swallowing down yet another breakfast of cookies dipped in tea and patting myself on the back for not spending on such extravagences as nutritious food.

Despite my creativity, I know these gathering grounds will not hold me much longer--nor the waist of my pants. Luckily I will be migrating on Wednesday and hopefully will find a bounty of leftover salads and fruits at Pepe's Pizza, the site of my waitressing gig for the next few months. That is if I don't have a heart attack first.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

22 going on 5

I had my best night thus far last night.

After the last film of the day I was in a bit of a mood and so slipped out of the cinema for a walk. Like a good brooding artist, I stopped in a bar for a G&T and proceeded to scare off any potential company by hunching over my journal and writing inspired phrases...or at least doodling with a very serious looking black pen. Once I'd downed the last bit of my drink I disappeared into the night, imagining myself to be independent and mysterious as opposed to lonely and in a bad mood. Under the full moon I charged through the streets with a million a-typical metaphors running through my head...when suddenly I came across the playground.

Not just a playground, but the playground. The one that I'd walked past a dozen times over the last couple of weeks. It was only finished a week ago and it's not just a playground, it's a masterpiece. It's got an obstacle course full of ropes and pullies and ladders and equipment like you've never seen before. It even has cushy undergirding so that when you do a face plant, which you're bound to do, you are met with a forgiving, pliable pillow as opposed to a mouthful of loose gravel. Makes the wood chips and splintered beams I got as a kid look like an outdoor torture chamber.

The place is always packed full of little cretins exhausting themselves through a series of spins and cables and it never seemed quite appropriate for me to chuck one of them off so I could have a go. But now the playground was empty, the moon was full and my G&T had set about dampening what little will power I possess. And so for the next hour I romped about a playground in the midst of downtown Auckland all by myself.

Well almost by myself. There were the cars that slowed and pedestrians that gawked as an apparently fully grown woman set about spinning herself silly on the merry go round, but I didn't really care. I was having a blast. By the end of it my pulse was racing and whatever foul mood had been festering must have been launched off the other side of the see saw.

So yes, I can travel half way across the world and trek about mountains and sip mixed drinks and go out for fancy dinners, but by far the best time I've had in a long time is to play on the playground of all playgrounds. Hurrah for cheap thrills.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

And now for something completely different.

I've either made a really good decision or a rather hasty one.

So I've come to find a nice rhythm to my life in Auckland. Despite working hours on end in the office, I cut out each night around 7 or 8 and meet up with Carly Ann and do a bit of wandering. Our m.o. has been to find restuarants where we cannot read the menu and see what happens. There's a thriving Asian population in Auckland, so from Korean food to Japanese to Malyasian, this has proven quite an entertaining experience. So far the point at something on the menu and see what comes out method has proven successful, but then again I hear there a lot of strange things that taste like chicken...so let's just hope that was chicken. Then we set to crisscrossing up and down the city streets, popping in and out of the bars and such. We've met some really awesome people, but of course there are always the jerks, like the guys that were yelling disgusting cat calls at poor Carly Ann as we walked down one street. Luckily I was there to protect her from the onslaught; I threw her behind me and with every ounce of righteous anger I could muster I flipped them the bird and directed her down another street. It was quite haughty and intimidating, I assure you. I know I might not come off as a bad ass in normal circumstance, but when Mama Kari gets angry there is hell is to pay.

So in between working and fighting the objectification of women I have decided on that escape route that I told you I was cooking up in the last post.

I'm moving to the South Island. Yeehaw! Turns out there's a little town on Lake Tekapo that needs a waitress asap. It's a gorgeous place, here' the link if you feel like checking it out http://www.laketekapountouched.co.nz (you'll have to copy paste because I don't know how to make it a link). So I'm heading down on Oct. 3 to Christchurch and then bussing out to the place where I'll be spending the next three months. Though the town's population ebbs and flows with tourists, there area about 250 locals. Yup. 250. That was about the size of my humanities class at Pepperdine. So hopefully they'll like their 251st member, or else my 3 months of frolicking through glacial fields may turn into my own personal hell. We shall see! But despite a bit of wariness, I can hardly wait to hop on a plane and see me some mountains. Good or bad, this experience should be quite entertaining.

Before that happens, I'm going to have a week full of documentaries. From welcoming filmmakers to hosting a q&a session to seeing as many films as I possibly can, I'm quite looking forward to the week ahead. And hopefully it will be fodder for some good blog posts. Carly Ann's leaving for Wellington tonight, so we're spending our Sunday soaking up sunshine and hunting down a tasty brunch. Hope all's well on the homefront!

Monday, September 17, 2007


I wish I could tell you how exciting I'm being, how I'm kicking ass and taking names, and yet it seems my epic Kiwi romp has stalled out before I even got out of the driveway.

Yup, as I sat with my butt bound to a chair editing video for the 4th straight 10 hour work day, I realized that the cool job that I was all excited about in the last post is actually the very desk job that I was running from back at home...not only that, I'm volunteering to do it. Certainly it's ideal as far as desk jobs go; I have great coworkers, I get to work with documentary films all day, I'm in a cool part of the city. In all practical terms, I should contentedly be plugging away and thanking my lucky stars at the opportunity I have to establish contacts and have a routine...but a comfortable, urbane lifestyle is not why I came here.

I came to breathe fresh air, to run around in rugged, exotic wilderness, to get grimy and dirty and exhaust myself in the effort. Hell, if I'm going to be working for free I may as well do it in a place with a view.

So here's what I'm thinking--I'm going to finish out this documentary film festival because 1) I said I would and 2) it'll be cool to see the films and meet the filmmakers--but then I'm cutting lose and wandering free.

So what's the escape plan? Well I've spent the morning applying to various short term jobs that include cool people and beautiful places and less than 1.5 million neighbors. Even if I don't get those jobs, my plan b is to just throw on my backpack and bike about north island until I get somewhere cool and stay for a bit. No matter what, I'm saying no thank you to 10 hours a day at a computer and hello to doing what I want with my life.

I've just gotta wait a month to do it. humph.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Auckland=Hells yes

In recent news:
1) I arrived.
2) I met up with my buddy, Carly Ann. Just for a little context, you'll see her pictured to the right.
3) I got a job...make that jobs. As in two.
4) I have an agent
5) I am learning...emphasis on learning...to love rugby
6) I have yet to figure out how to get a plain cup o' joe

Yup, nearly 48 hours after landing in Auckland it looks like I may actually survive.

First of all, the people here are incredibly, genuinely nice. Here I am in the largest city in the country, the economic capital of commerce, and it seems no one's in a big rush. They all have time to chat and joke and they don't even mug you. From the dude that sold me my Vodafone minutes to the coffee shop workers at the mall this morning, everyone seems to take a genuine interest in others' well being. It's weird.

As for me getting a job, I personally use that term very loosely. I know most people think of a job as an entity in which you "make money" and/or receive a "paycheck", but you see, most of my experience with working has involved free labor, scholarships or under the table cash benefits. In fact, thinking back on the jobs I've held, only one has officially led to government taxation. So this whole going out and finding a place that will actually pay me under governmental standards is a bit of a new concept for me.

So new, in fact, that my two "jobs" don't really involve a pay check.

But wait, they're still cool, so I had an appointment yesterday at 11am to meet with one of the co-directors of the DocsNZ international documentary film festival. The festival starts at the end of the month and I just lucked out by arriving in the midst of all the preparation and planning...in other words they needed a willing slave and I don't have a lot else going on, scratch that, nothing else going on, so it seemed a perfect fit.

So I walk into the office and right away the boss guy seemed cool. I come to find out that this office is an entertainment-one-stop-shop. All family run, he's an entertainment lawyer/documentary film dude/actor/producer/etc. whose sister (two doors down) is a talent agent and other sister does some kind of film development. It was all explained to me, but between jet lag and pure information overload, I just nodded my head a lot as I was pulled from one office to the next.

7 hours later I stumbled out of my interview with acting representation, an internship with the immensely well connected boss man (that hopefully will turn into a paying job very soon) and an afternoon spent crawling beneath computer monitors and editing equipment in an attempt to prove my technical abilities (which are, admittedly, wanting).

So fighting through jet lag I wandered into downtown Auckland, a typical big city downtown except for 1) it's kinda small and pretty friendly and 2) you can base jump from their tallest building, the Sky Tower.

Soon I had a resume submitted to "job" #2: working as a receptionist at a chill downtown hostel in exchange for accommodation, free laundry and internet. Seemed like a pretty sweet deal to me, plus as receptionist I'll get to meet everyone coming and going from the place and therefore scope out who'd be fun to hang out with. Yup, I'm that much of a nerd that I got a job partly so that I can make friends. I'd be ashamed if I weren't convinced that it's damn brilliant.

But that job won't start for a couple days, so I trundled the 45 minutes back to my current lodge that's definitely more oriented to an older crowd...you know...people in their 30s. Eek. This morning I woke up at jet-lag-o'clock and wandered into the common room to watch the tube. By 6:45 I was joined by Brandon and Roy, a tiler and a retiree who were up early to watch rugby. Yup, turns out I'm here just in time for the Rugby World Cup, but of course you already knew that, I'm sure.

I am pretty ignorant when it comes to sports. Okay, half the time I'm not sure which way the team should be running or if the ball was a home run or out of bounds or whatever, but lets face it; there's little better than experiencing a game with someone who really loves it. If their team kicks ass, it's great, if they get slaughtered, it's hilarious, but in that kind of internalized I-probably-shouldn't-say-anything-right-now kind of way.

And so with great anticipation and much fan fare, the game commenced...for 20+ minutes. Lots of slow-mos and fast action replays, countless flags waved from all different angles, and of course those money shots of burly, beautiful men destroying one another on the field. That poor man who does the lawn must live in his own personal hell...grow the lawn, trim the lawn, Miracle-grow the lawn, love the lawn, have a bunch of oversized dudes pummel and destroy the lawn...repeat.

So we're watching rugby and it's the match between Britain and South Africa. Before the game even starts I realize I really like rugby, but mostly due to the aesthetic nature of the players. But once it started, try as I might, I could not grasp what, if any, rules there are to this incredibly full-contact sport. Honestly, it seemed that it was a free for all: grab the ball and run until someone destroys you, then chuck it to the next poor soul who will inevitably also be pummeled...leading me to wonder why the hell you'd ever want to pick up the ball. But they do it, again and again, and once in a while the ref will tweet his little whistle and say some guy didn't pummel correctly. I mean really, who comes up with the rules for destroying another human being? But no matter how little I understood of this testosterone riddled game, it was a good deal of fun to watch Roy shout at the players as he sipped his chamomile tea. Good morning.

(New Zealand's rugby team: the All Blacks. A docile bunch)

Well, I've bombarded you with quite enough vignettes and updates for the time being, but all in all I've been having a good deal of fun here with the Kiwis. Hopefully I'll soon be able to make a break from the city for a bit of nature. With how much there is to see and do, I'm quite glad that I have a whole year to explore.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Rip Roaring and Ready to GO!!!!!

Alright people, this is it. I'm headed for New Zealand in 0-2 days. 10:53pm Tuesday, September 11 I'm flying quite a bit west and a whole lot south over the Pacific, to a land where sheep outnumber people and wild, uncultivated land is in vast supply. I've got my work visa that's good for a whole year, my camera, some editing equipment and absolutely no plans. Certainly I have some vague concept of things I'd like to do while I'm there, but honestly I'm hopping on the ride wherever it may take me...yeehaw and all that.

So, this blog is half forum where I can regale you with stories of New Zealand's treasures and half a way for you to make sure I haven't gotten eaten by a shark or frozen on some glacier or something. If that happens, I'll be sure to write all about it...just you sit tight.

Seeing as I've just graduated from University, I'm still in the philosophical, introspective mode. But don't you worry, even in my youth I am exceedingly aware of my ignorance, so instead of piddling around with my own trite philosophical ponderings, I'll be reading the Grandfather of Badass: Ralph Waldo Emerson. I've got the Penguin Classics Selected Essays, so if you feel like reading it along with me please do. If not, don't you worry, I'll pepper in some of the best quotes along the way so you can at least pretend that you've read his work.

So that's that. I really love hearing from you guys, so please, if you feel like dropping me a line at any point along the way, feel free. And while you shiver in the snow/and/or the Southern California slight dip in temperatures, you can warm up with thoughts of me basking in the rays of My Endless Summer...or laugh at me while I attempt to navigate through my first year of true independence. We shall see.