July 2009


Every week I am basically granted a three-day weekend. I have no classes on Fridays. Obviously, this means Fridays should be set aside for work but inevitably and devoted to watching youtube videos and playing Bubbles.

This past weekend, of course, my three-day weekend was devoted to Queen Charlotte Sounds, a place renowned for its beauty or perhaps its remoteness or its remote beauty or something like one of those things that I just listed.

Anyway, long story short I hiked about 15 miles and also did a bit of sea kayaking, which looked something like this:

the face of an action sports superstar

the face of an action sports superstar

A couple was murdered by the driver of a water taxi in the Sounds a while ago. One of the people on the Sounds weekend with me assessed the situation thusly:

“No one would ever murder me, I’m so sweet!”

That’s but a taste of the weekend’s discussions.

It’s perhaps worth noting that I finally discovered who precisely my seven year-old New Media professor (who, it was recently revealed, is somewhere in the range of early-to-mid-thirties despite appearing to be about 25 at most (Flatmate Michelle: “25? I thought you said he was seven?” Me: “He’s a very old seven.”)) reminds me of. He is a careful balance between global sensation/podcast pioneer/possible the stupidest man in the world/definitely owner of the world’s roundest head/professional friend of comedy legend Ricky Gervais, Karl Pilkington

he famously claimed he could eat a knob at night

he famously claimed he "could eat a knob at night"

and everybody’s favorite completely incompetent fiction sports reporter, Alan Partridge

This was an important realization for me which also made it about 5000 times harder not to accidentally burst into laughter. If you don’t know Karl Pilkington, Google him to find some of the ridiculous stuff he’s said. Then imagine it being said in that grating, over-the-top Alan Partridge voice. Mixed with the awkward silences after his constant attempts at actual jokes (man am I ever pulling for those to succeed–I really do like the guy despite what these comments may suggest), it is nearly impossible for me not to laugh in that class.

This weekend and onward marks the beginning of my forced expulsion from my glorious if somewhat hermit-like lifestyle, wherein I have to spend several hours of specific days wandering aimlessly and exploring the town (since it’s taken me too long to make friends who would do this with me/would show me interesting places). If you have any doubts about the amazing and exciting things I am likely to find around good ol’ Wellington, let this wonderful image prove you wrong:

and that's just 2pm!

and that's just 2pm!

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The Upstairs Neighbors–who do exercise tapes at all hours of the day, leading us to believe they in fact are secretly keeping a pony or perhaps a mini-horse

(this is particularly exciting for me as Mom owns two miniature donkeys or “donks”

Pineapple and Scarlett, or as my sister calls them, Faticia and Anger Dart

Pineapple and Scarlett, or as my sister calls them, Faticia and Anger Dart

and it is a great dream of mine (for her) that we one day breed miniature mules)

This is quite a tangent. I’ll start again.

The Upstairs Neighbors and the Next Door Boys (who are in the habit of sending one flatmate to the curb while the others shout the grocery list from a window. On at least one occasion, they specifically requested “some drunk vodka”) have all been quarantined in their respective flats.

They have swine flu.

We learned today that if one flatmate gets the swine flu, everyone living in the flat is essentially quarantined in their own flat. Officials from the university are hired to go to classes on your behalf and do all your grocery shopping for you (very importantly meaning we wouldn’t have to haul a week’s worth of shopping up the perilous Adams Terrace hill).

So, obviously we’re spending a lot of time figuring out how to get one of us to contract the swine flu. We’re having a party on Saturday, and I’ve got my fingers crossed that one of the guests has the flu. At least two of the guests are my flatmates’ church friends, too–they’re around a giant group of people once EVERY WEEK. Surely one of them’s got something.

I’ve finally managed to find and attend all of my lectures and tutorials. The following facts about my professors/TAs are vitally important:

1) My New Media professor is roughly seven years old, from England, and glared at me when I made a small noise during a pause in the tutorial. Granted, the small noise was a result of me desperately trying to contain my laughter after he made an extremely odd joke which got no reaction from anyone in the room (it was one of those comically awkward silences), but it wasn’t obviously a stifled laugh. And he had to reel around quickly in his chair in order to glare at me. God, seven year-olds are sensitive.

2) My TV Studies professor looks like a cross between hilarious comedian Tig Notaro

most famous for being on a show I dont like at all (I love Tig, though)

most famous for being on a show I don't like at all (I love Tig, though)

and the Artful Dodger

which is to say: vaguely cockney and from the 18th century

which is to say: vaguely cockney and from the 18th century

She’s also worn the same shirt every lecture. It features what I believe to be one of the crows from the old Kia Ora ads:

It’s a little weird.

3) Similarly, my TA for the TV Studies class looks like a cross between Jonah from Sumer Heights High

though obviously Jamie is my favorite

though obviously Ja'mie is my favorite

and Mr. Bobinksy from Coraline

less blue, though. Obviously

less blue, though. Obviously

4) New Zealanders don’t know how to pronounce the name “Carrie.” I am 100% serious. I was asked how to pronounce my name or if someone was using the correct pronunciation three times in one hour today.

Aislinn, one of the people who ran my orientation, literally went down my street knocking on doors until she got to my flat to beg me to go on some sort of “weekend outing” with the orientation group. Something I’d specifically chosen not to do. But I’m a coward and I can’t stick to my guns (especially not when a very nice person has embarrassed herself several times over to convince me to do something), so it looks like I’ll get to spend time with the oh-so-wonderful orientation group this weekend.

Next time you hear from me, don’t be surprised if I’m full of sullen, seething rage.

ETA: This entry is all about friends. For more information on friends and friendship, please refer to the video below:

Recently I’ve found opportunities to weasel my way into outings to some movies showing during the New Zealand International Film Festival with my flatmates and their friends.

And it’s occurred to me what a boon it is that I’ve got flatmates, particularly flatmates that I get along with.

Because I don’t remember how to make friends or even really meet people in a general sense at all.

I grew up in a relatively small community next to good ol’ Austin, Texas. I had the same group of friends when I was 18 and getting ready to leave for good ol’ Austin College that I had when I was 10 and getting ready to leave elementary school.

I've been friends with the lady on the far left since I was about six.

I've been friends with the lady on the far left since I was about six.

And even then, good ol’ Austin College does the best job it can of setting up little play dates for incoming freshmen for the first month or so.

I met each of these people through artificial school-enforced meetings

I met each of these people through artificial school-enforced meetings

So I can’t remember the last time I was stuck in a situation where I was expected to introduce myself to strangers and make friends using nothing but my oh-so-stunning personality.

Two things that seem very strange to me:

1) Making chatty conversation with unsuspecting strangers whose only crime was being in my immediate vicinity.

My chronic nervousness when speaking to strangers is generally overcome by desperate attempts to make other people laugh–I become very uncomfortable when other people aren’t laughing very quickly. To that end, it’s very unfortunate that, for the most part, I don’t seem to be particularly funny. Everything I say to a new person either tends to be too safe and therefore boring and unfunny or relies too much on other people having the same sense of humor as me (which, as far as strangers go, they almost invariably don’t) and as a result seems very odd.

But I’m too bored and uncomfortable with normal small talk. So I doubt I’ll ever work on that issue.

2) Transitioning from “person who is sometimes okay to talk to in X situation” to “person I am willing to call to invite for an evening out or over for dinner and movie watching or whatever it is that people who have friends do.”

I’m not comfortable with being the person to initiate communication (seems a bit desperate, doesn’t it? Initiating friendships? Especially when you are, in fact, desperate for social contact) and you really can’t rely on other people to make themselves your friends FOR you (NB: this is completely different in every way from asking all of your friends to make contact with a stranger on the internet on your behalf in an attempt to make new friends. Obviously, that is very different and TOTALLY ACCEPTABLE and NOT AT ALL WEIRD IN ANY WAY). I have a lot of acquaintances, friends of friends, boy/girlfriends of friends, etc. who I get along with very well but don’t really spend any time with outside of situations where random chance throws us together.

Being me, I turned to Google, Our Dear and Glorious Leader, for advice on the whole friend-getting situation. I was given the following pieces of advice:

1) You don’t have to be a superstar to be fun. You don’t even have to do cartwheels.

2) Buy an above ground swimming pool.

3) Talk to older people, maybe even your own folks. They will be less likely to ridicule you.

I’ve also been instructed to never talk about the weather. Normally, I’d ignore this advice as I talk about the weather with actual friends, but they cited a Tom Waits song as evidence as to why this was a bad idea. I’m certainly not going to refute a man who sings exclusively in a werwolf language of his own devising:

It is entirely possible that my obsession with old time-y leaves me with two friend options:

weird old man

weird old man

or

incredibly annoying hipster

incredibly annoying hipster

or wherever the twain shall meet. So, something like

member of a barbershop quartet

member of a barbershop quartet

which, let’s face it, is basically the perfect ideal.

Today was my birthday.

(That’s the 16th, so it’s tomorrow for you–BE SURE TO CELEBRATE ACCORDINGLY.)

Not just any ol’ birthday, either. My 21st birthday. The one where you’re supposed to invite all your friends out on the town to watch you get drunk. It should probably look a little like this:

laid back. mind on my money and my money on my mind.

laid back. mind on my money and my money on my mind.

But I don’t have any friends in New Zealand. I’m getting to be friends with my flatmates. But neither of them are really the “out on the town” type.

But they are sweet. As evidenced by the sumptuous feast they provided me with this early afternoon after I woke up and showered:

deeee-lish

deeee-lish

They had work to do, but I found a friend to invite to the feast:

what a pal!

what a pal!

Eventually another old friend joined us:

I seriously think I may be losing my mind

I seriously think I may be losing my mind

By the way, Internet, if you were looking for something relatively free to get me, here’s a hint:

It’s no secret that I am semi-infatuated with the guy who runs UkuleleHunt.com, seen here being fantastic

So anyone who wanted to go ahead and formally introduce us would be much appreciated. Elementary school-style notes that say “Carrie likes you do you like her? Please tick one, yes or no” are acceptable.

If I can’t celebrate my birthday with the sort of traditional drunken debauchery that I barely enjoy anyway, the least I can do is regress back to a child-like state. Done and done.

Today was supposed to be my first day of lectures (my exciting upper-level New Media class that I was shocked to be allowed into at all) but naturally, it being me, things didn’t go so well.

I got lost. Very, very lost. The lecture hall was hidden in an underground dungeon. Which I couldn’t find because I got very, very lost. And didn’t realize that I was on the wrong side of the road. Because Austin College barely takes up a city block (and that’s including dorms) and the idea that I might have my classes in a building ACROSS THE STREET was mind-boggling to me.

I missed the entire lecture. I was busy searching for the dungeon the entire time.

The map of the campus looked a lot like this:

I still havent found that elusive Tyson building

I still haven't found that elusive "Tyson" building

I did eventually find the room:

I DID have to slay some demons with that sword along the way, but they were all inner-demons

I had to slay some demons along the way, but they were inner-demons

Naturally, with ten minutes left before the class ended, I decided the best course of action was to stand in the hall and fret about what I was going to do next. And fret I did, until the class ended and I decided I was too much of a nervous little coward to approach the professor to get a course outline, explain myself, beg for forgiveness, and do whatever possible to prove that, despite the fact that it took me over an hour to find a single room, I’m not a COMPLETE idiot.

I jolted up the stairs and went home. Thankfully, on the way I ran into one of my flatmates, who assured me that the course outline would be online so I would be free to wallow in terror and self-pity without having to worry about anyone else finding out about what a complete fool I am.

Three somewhat lighter notes:

1) I have discovered where (allegedly) there is a comic book store in town. Thursday or perhaps Friday I will investigate. This is of the utmost importance, as I have convinced myself that the final volume of Scott Pilgrim is due out this year. (It’s probably not.) It’s also significantly more comfortable to be in a city when you know it’s got a respectable comic book store. That said, I’ve only confirmed that it was still in existence as of 2004. It COULD be gone now.

1a) If you haven’t read any of the Scott Pilgrim series, get on it:

look for it in the best comics ever section

look for it in the "best comics ever" section

It’s about a guy (Scott Pilgrim) who wants to date a girl, but must first defeat her seven evil ex-boyfriends in battle. It’s filled to the brim with super-hip video game references, etc. but at its core is an earnest emotional story. It’s the Spaced of the comic book world.

1a-a) If you’ve never seen Spaced, then I don’t know what to tell you. The whole thing’s probably on youtube. Search for it. Before there was Hot Fuzz or Shaun of the Dead, there was Spaced. It featured my favorite female TV character of all time (beating out Elaine AND Lucille Bluth AND Liz Lemon), Daisy Steiner. There’s a link to a clip in the sidebar. Simply put: a fantastic show.

2) I accidentally referred to the money as “pounds” today. Thankfully the only people around to hear and mock me were my flatmates. For the record, New Zealand uses the guinea, but it is referred to as the dollar. So it’s not like I have to change the thing I say to refer to money. I’m just confused by anything non-green meant to be exchanged for goods and services.

3) Some bits of important lingo you should pick up should you choose to pretend you are a New Zealander for some reason (POUND is not one of them):

a. dick – the most common insult used by every New Zealander I have met thus far. America hosts a bevy of insults, but over here people seem to stick to this one.

b. sorted – whenever anything is finished, it’s sorted. i.e. after paying for groceries at the supermarket but before heading home, one might say: “Right. Shopping: sorted.”

c. good-o – good job. I don’t understand this one at all.

Right. Blog entry: sorted.

Well, hardly a day later and I’m already significantly more used to scaling the yeti-infested hill of Adams Terrace.

Yesterday, I looked like this when I got home:

I lost all my hair in the walk up.

I lost all my hair in the walk up.

Today I looked significantly less like I was about to boil over, ruining a delicious meal and making a mess of the stove in one fell swoop.

Though, obviously both were better than the other day when I looked like this:

fun fact: the character of Carrie Griffin is based on the classic cartoon Droopy Dog

fun fact: the character of Carrie Griffin is based on the classic cartoon Droopy Dog

Both flatmates are back now and they’re both fantastic. Though one is very, very upset about the season finale of Torchwood.

Yesterday was the exciting and more importantly free trip to the Weta Workshop mini-museum. No one’s allowed in the actual Weta Workshop. Not even the employees, which frankly I found a bit curious.

It was a very exciting life moment for me as I got to see the zombie baby from Braindead:

It’s Peter Jackson’s second movie ever and along with Bad Taste (and obviously the Evil Dead movies), it was something that inspired a couple of my friends and I to start making incredibly gory movies in our spare time. Seeing something do-able and fun in film was a big deal for me and of course spurred on my interest in the medium. It was also really, really violent but in a fun way, which is obviously always great.

Thankfully, I also found the street that hosts a variety of what my flatmates refer to as “transvestite hookers.” Prostitution is legal in New Zealand. I doubt these things are reservable via the internet, but please keep in mind my birthday is Thursday. If possible, I think you know what to get me.

Obviously, I’ll specifically want a zombie prostitute so I can have a zombie baby, thus coming full circle. Please try to keep up.

There’s no heating in this flat.

And no insulation. It’s an old building from a time when I guess people didn’t think before constructing a building that the people inside might be freezing cold and somewhat damp.

What I’m trying to say is: I’m living in a medieval castle. It’s cold year round, which is all well and good for the summer months or when you’ve just gotten back from a really intense joust and have worked up a pretty good sweat, but is less good in the winter months (remember: your summers are now my winters) especially when you didn’t have any room when you were packing for your tapestries. I knew I was forgetting something.

So, when I’m sitting around and want to be warm, or more importantly, when I’m struggling to get to sleep but can’t seem to stop shivering, I turn to a newfound friend that I didn’t think existed outside of the 1950s:

The hot water bottle.

Apparently New Zealand slang for hot water bottle (yes, there is New Zealand slang for “hot water bottle”) is “hottie.” Given that a “hottie” is something you sleep with to keep warm at night, this phrase is rife with Three’s Company-esque comic confusion potential.

I sleep with this:

woman sleeps with hottie

woman sleeps with hottie

not this:

woman sleeps with hottie

woman sleeps with hottie

There is almost no way to keep the whole of your body warm. Besides desperately covering your body in every available clothing item.

Or, of course, walking up the digustingly giant hill that is Adams Terrace.

For the record, Adams Terrace is apparently a very exciting street to live on. As far as I can tell, this is because it’s happily situated half way between the university and downtown.

Again, it’s important to note that the university is further up the hill (up a near-vertical set of stairs), and the only way to get back to the flat from downtown is to climb a comically steep hill. Imagine this:

just teeming with yeti

just teeming with yeti

but with more yeti roaming around.

Anyway, I get the privilege of seeing a minimum of four hipsters walking by every day (always going down, never going up). I’ve fallen prey to the most exciting of all sports: staring at your neighbors from your window.

Yesterday, the neighbor across the street actually may have caught on. When I was having dinner, she aggressively closed all of her curtains.

Hipsters need their privacy.

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