I’ve been settling in to my flat on the wonderfully winding Montgomery Ave that runs alongside the river Leith. Technically, I have waterfront property.
Upon moving into the flat, one of the first things I saw was a dead bird under my window. So it goes. I also have some lovely plants around my door. And I can’t touch my couches with bare skin lest I break out into a rash. Little touches like these add character.
As a sort of cherry-on-top design flourish, I would love to put up this sign
If you happen to ever find yourself living on or around Castle Street, the prime grocery store is New World.To get there, you take a gorgeous and calming walk through some botanical gardens (also a very nice jogging route). At New World grocery, feel free to pick up as many darned groceries as you please because, guess what, you can take home a piled-high, sideways-lilting trolley for free and the store will come to your house later to pick it up! Shove your shopping cart whilst traversing residential areas and you too can look like a homeless person! A very well-fed homeless person. With 2 ply toilet paper.
What shall I eat for this meal? 94% of the time the answer will be “cereal” or “toast” or “avocado.” Dad offered to buy me a cookbook for kids. Father, that is very kind of you to offer, but I think a book like that is a bit above my mental cooking age. Is there any such thing as a cookbook for fetuses? I mean, my cooking skills are on par with K Stew’s emoting skills. I can look at all the delectable dishes I collect on Pinterest, but let’s be honest, if I see a preparation time over 5 minutes, I’ll avoid it like the plague. Plus, I’m afraid of stoves. Last night I had a dream that I found a lunchbox with food inside that my mum made.
On my way back from a second, trolley-free trip to New World, I saw people walking towards me on the sidewalk. My social skills had been wilting over the last couple of days, and I kinda panicked. My internal thought-process went something like this:
Anti-social Me: Quick! Dart down this side alley!
Obedient Me: Ok!
Sensible Me: Never been here before.
Prideful Me: Well, can’t turn back now. We’d look stupid to those perfectly normal strangers who are just walking along, minding their own business.
Adventurous Me: Let’s explore! Take a new route home!
Optimistic Me: Yeah, I’m sure it’ll lead right back to our street.
And that’s the beginning of the story of how I almost, but not quite, became very, but not totally, lost in my own neighborhood.
Until mid-February, I’m living here alone. I know you’re not supposed to tell strangers that you’re all alone or vulnerable (lessons learned from Taken), so here’s an added warning to all you would-be hooligans: Other than my charming personality and 2ply toilet paper, I have no valuables. I also did karate. Once. And I have long fingernails. Please no burglar.
Actually, I was a little paranoid during my initial days. When walking home and getting out my key I’d furtively check my surroundings and look up just in case there were sky ninjas. Sleeping that first night was also a bit difficult, knowing I was the only soul on the whole street. My mother bought me a giant penguin and I’m not ashamed to say I cuddled the shit outta that thing. He’s very soft. Tactile-and-cathartic-therapy-session type softness.
I’m not exactly homesick, but I have noticed that I gravitate toward things that remind me of home: I’ve gone to Starbucks, I spray Ocean Febreeze around my flat (to take care of moldy old people stench), and I’ve been watching a show filmed/set in the Pacific Northwest, Twin Peaks. I’ve been watching this series on Netflix, which doesn’t really work outside of the US. However, I think Netflix is one the world’s greatest inventions (right up there with laughter, milk, and Furbies), and I have “homework” to do here for 8 months (I love that media majors can list movie/TV-watching under “homework”) and where there is a will there is a way. The following information will be infinitely helpful to any fellow Netflix addicts. How to use Netflix outside the US: Use a VPN server such as Hide My Ass. Great name. And I’m about 80% sure that it’s legal. When setting up the VPN (you’ll need one of the faster servers if you want to stream video), ignore words like “kernel” (I don’t think they’re talking about corn) and just revert back to the push-OK/I agree-whenever-a-new-window-pops-up. Hide My Ass costs about $8 a month and has been working swimmingly. I can sit alone in my bed watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer and dining on wine and cheese because I like to mix classy with non-classy.
On my first day living alone I talked to 6 human beings (7 if I count myself), 1 bird, and 3 insects (probably more appropriate for me to say that I screamed at the insects). I must say, during the initial days I was a wee bit starved for human contact. I even went on Omegle, which was a terrible idea. Here are some conversation snippets:
Stranger: ASL? *(I learned that this means that the random stranger with whom you are chatting wants to know your age, sex, and the language you speak. Instead of partaking in some interesting conversation, we’re turning this into a creepy dating type site. Awesome.)
You: 697, Undecided, Klingon. And yourself?
-Your conversational partner has disconnected.
You: 19, not with you, English.
-Your conversational partner has disconnected.
In the end, I find myself somewhat starved for decent conversation as well as starved for decent food. How am I going to survive alone? I am under the impression that the general successful just-moved-out person is about 20-years-old. I vacillate between 4 and 80 – rolling on the floor, practicing velociraptor noises, and watching Disney movies one second; and antique shopping, glasses + reading + curled in a chair eschewing the party lifestyle, and listening to Sinatra the next. One thing is for certain: My time in New Zealand will be a time of personal growth.