First Week Of The New Year

The first week of the new year has been pretty fun, I am happy to report. The weather has been good a lot of the time, I’ve hung out with some excellent people, I saw a great show for New Year’s Eve, work has calmed down a little bit, and I successfully made some dulce de leche without burning the house down or sustaining any personal injuries. I’m calling this a very good week indeed.

New Year’s Eve day I had to work, of course, but let me tell you something about work: it seems totally impossible and sometimes it kills me and I wonder what the hell I was doing, trying to do this job, and I get very nervous about some of the difficult conversations I have to have…but it’s going okay. The week from hell that was the week before Christmas has mellowed out a little and I’m not keeping myself up awake at night grinding my teeth with frustration and worry about what’s going to happen when I go in the next day. It’s been hard to be the only social worker there during a really difficult time of year and you’re never going to believe this but I’ve done it. I’m doing it. If I were able to stay longer I think I’d be able to do it more and better and with less need for deep yoga breaths and positive self-affirmation (“Your client is almost certainly not going to drop off the face of the earth over the weekend, your client is almost certainly not going to drop off the face of the earth over the weekend”).

Anyway, work. Right, I had to work on New Year’s Eve Day, which is not a big deal for Americans but about which various Kiwis seemed to be very sorry for me. I wore my Fat Freddy’s shirt in honor of the show I was seeing that night and made sure to work into every conversation that I was planning to go to said show. My dear Danica showed up at my house with a risotto baked in a heart shaped pan, for real, and I made my new favorite summer salad of mesclun and cucumbers and strawberries with balsamic vinaigrette and we spent a happy couple of hours talking about what happened in the old year and what we wanted to see happen in the new. Stormy texted us to ask what we were wearing even though he was out in the bush somewhere with his entire extended family, and we finally made it into town and into the big queue for the show, shivering and laughing and looking forward to a good time, where immediately some random girl wrapped her arms around me and asked me if I wanted to go traveling around the world with her. I texted David: “Some gorgeous girl is all up on me and it’s NOT EVEN MIDNIGHT. I think I win New Year’s!”

In passing, I would just like to say that I very often have gorgeous girls all up on me—gay men, lesbians, straight girls: they all love me when I go out. Only the het guys remain impervious to my dubious charms–and this show was no exception. There were probably about three thousand people there—pretty amazing considering that most of Wellington was spending New Year’s out of town—and I was surrounded by extremely great girls for much of the evening. We were very close to the stage for my beloved Ladi6—I have SUCH a crush on that woman, I can’t even talk about it—and then when it was time for Fat Freddy’s we got up into the very front row, just like last time. We were very squished and a bunch of mean people were pushing us so hard against the fence that the next day I had bruised ribs, but the bouncer near us was super nice and being able to bask directly and in a prolonged manner in the healing light of Dallas the lead singer’s astounding beauty and perfect voice made it all worth it. The friendly bouncer told me that the way I danced, I should be up there on stage with the band! and I was all YEAH TELL THE BAND THAT. I told Danica that I was pretty sure that what was going to happen at midnight was that the band would come down from the stage and give all of the girls in the front row midnight New Year’s Eve pashes, and she said she thought that would be a good idea, and I said that would be a really good idea, and I secretly hoped that my New Year’s midnight pash would be from Dallas himself because it’s been a long time since I got a New Year’s midnight pash, although I also secretly thought that the trumpet player in the sweater vest or possibly the backup singer with the Mohawk or maybe the trombonist in the excellent old-man checkers suit would also be acceptable. Midnight came and went, I am sorry to have to tell you, with absolutely no pashes from the band whatsoever but all the girls who were squished up with me against the stage gave me kisses and I reflected that there are probably a lot of people in the world who wish they were squished up against a stage with a lot of cool girls that they just met that night, so I was happy.

New Year’s Day I went to the beach with Danica and with my new friend Luis from Argentina who, sadly, has been deported from New Zealand and was having his last week in Wellington. It was a beautiful day and a beautiful walk down to Island Bay and while I was learning the words in Spanish for various creatures in the tide pools Danica yelled out that there was a swimming bunny and lo and behold there it was. I wish I had taken a picture of it so I could have sent it to my bunny-loving sister, but yeah: a bunny, on a leash, at the beach, swimming in the ocean. It’s always a good omen when you see something weird and amazing on the first day of the new year, don’t you think?

I wanted to have Argentinian food for Luis’ last day here so he said he’d make empanadas, which made my mouth water immediately since it’s been over two years since I had South American food, and I said that I would try to make dulce de leche to make galletas. We had this conversation via text and he was all “Are you SURE? When did you learn how to make it?” and I was all “Never! But how hard could it be?” Cut to me in my kitchen at midnight on a school night, standing over the stove trying to gauge how best to get the boiling hot cans of condensed milk out of the pot without giving myself some very serious and very sugary burns. “Lo siento que no puedo textir bueno en espanol pero eso dulce de leche? Es tan dificil,” I texted Luis, attempting to spread hot molten sorta homemade caramel onto very thin cookies without getting all over everything. They came out kind of messy and I had to scrub some dulce de leche out of the carpet but shave me bald and call me drafty, people: I made galletas mostly from scratch and the next time I see you I will make you some too, assuming you don’t mind a little caramel on every single surface of your house. The dinner turned out very well and I ate as many empanadas as I could hold and I made my summer salad again and it would have all been perfect if it hadn’t meant that Luis was really leaving, after all.

I went out with various friends on Friday and Saturday night even though town was pretty quiet and I’ve booked the bar at which I’m having my own leaving do in just about a month, and today I thought I was going to go to Castle Point with a bunch of friends but it fell through at the last minute so I went bikini shopping in town instead. Did you know that there are no plain black bikinis in Wellington left, now that everyone has gone on their Christmas beach holiday? Did you know there are possibly no plain black bikinis left in New Zealand? Well, I know it, and I know that going to Rarotonga in my old suit that I bought last year and which doesn’t fit anymore is going to be very sad indeed, but what else am I supposed to do? Venture into the realm of a colored bikini? Fortunately Sylvia was there to wipe my tears in the dressing room and while I was out I ran into about eighteen people I knew and invited them all to my leaving do and that was pretty exciting except for the fact that it’s a leaving do and I go to those all the time but this time it’s my leaving do and I am still in denial about the whole thing but I can’t be in denial too much longer because all the good venues will be taken and I’m certainly not leaving without a party, you know?

Other stuff has happened in this first week of 2008—I cleaned my room, wondered seriously if we have fleas in the house, read an awesome set of short stories by Shirley Jackson, reconfirmed my love for zucchini kebabs, bought a very cute new going-out top that recalls the glory days when I actually had a bustline worth speaking of and is a great color for me, randomly shared a cab into town with a Dutch guy, had several very excellent walks in the sun, decided that eating meat four times in one week is way too much for me, and fell even more in love with Wellington—but I have work in the morning and A. is due home any minute and I need to watch the Outrageous Fortune Christmas special before I go to bed because I plan to dream about Van and Munter tonight and the details are none of your business. So I will just say that you know, it’s been a good year so far, 2008, and I hope it stays that way, for you and me both.


  1. I remember when you weren’t sure where you would choose to live, and I am SO glad you chose Wellington…it seems so you. And I can’t believe its almost time for you to leave already. Will I see you up in Auckland before you leave?

  2. A swimming bunny on the first day of the new year….a wonderful omen, I think!
    Happy New Year, Chiara. Thanks for sharing your adventures with us all.

  3. Strawberries + balsamic vinegar in any form = pure delicious love. You win at so much more than New Year, lady!

  4. Buy some black undies and call it a bikini. Who’s to know? Who cares if they do?

  5. A word of warning! Amy’s suggestion (although commendable in its lateral-ness!) may have a small problem… I’d imagine that the dies used in Bikinis might be different to those used in “normal” underwear – I’m just worried that a dip in some Chlorinated water could result in colour fade (and more importantly!) an element of see-throughness!!!

    Just trying to protect your dignity! :)

  6. The success of underwear-as-swimsuit does of course depend on the qualities of the individual garments, but the same is true of “real” swimsuits, as many women have found to their sudden horror.

    I have actually employed this exact technique (including the black-ness and the Rarotonga-ness), although in my case it was more of an ad-hoc piece-by-piece substitution technique so as not to have to put on not-quite-dry swimsuit components [*]. Dragonfish sports bra, Moontide pants, for those anxious to effect an exact duplication. Buy Kiwi Made, etc etc.

    [*] (And why does one find that so unpleasant, anyway, given that the whole thing is about to get wet ?).