Elaborating struggles – Part 1

Dear readers,
I’d like for apologize for the inconsistency of my posting, and for the fact that recently I’ve been whining and complaining about personal stuff rather than posting constructive content. The truth is, a lot has been going on in my mind in the past month or so.
I haven’t really been stressed, but I’ve definitely been experience a certain level of frustration due to a couple of factors: my job situation, and my relationship with myself (which will be explored in a separate post).

I think I’ve mentioned that I have a job walking dogs which I love (when I tell people what I do, the most common response is, Wow, it must be your dream job – and it sure is). However most days when I get back home after work I feel like I’m 13 years old and I’m making pocket money by walking the neighbour’s dog after school. My employer has a long-term plan that sees me becoming a part of the business, being assigned my own area of the city, finding my own clients and making this a full-time occupation. This sounds good, however she made it very clear that it will take years before it happens, and in the meantime I’m making $100 a week that I have to decide if I want to spend on grocery or to pay our electricity bill.

Now, it’s not really about the money (although I do miss being financially independent), what I miss the most is stability.
I know what you’re thinking: What? Stability? You? The crazy head who moves to a different country every other year? The one whose ultimate dream is to live in a van?
Well, yes. I still want to live in every country in the world, but once I am in a country I do need stability. It stresses me out a lot not knowing when and where I’m going to work next, what hours I’m going to do, how much I’m going to get paid and when. As much as I love petting dogs, I don’t like having to call my employer every Sunday night to ask her for my schedule for the week. I never know what days I’m off, sometimes I plan my day and dogs get cancelled or added at the last minute, and on top of all this I don’t have a steady income.
I never thought I would say this, but I long for a routine. I’ve been carefree long enough. Now all I want is a fixed schedule, at least 30 hours of work a week, and decent money in my bank account.

Bottom line: I’M NEVER HAPPY. I know. And this would lead me to my second point – how I’m dealing with my messy self – but again this post would be too long. In the meantime I just wanted to throw some questions out there, which I’ve been mulling over for a while now, and I still haven’t found an answer to.

How the fuck do you deal with being constantly dissatisfied? Should you keep on hunting for more, or simply settle for what you have and accept that you don’t always get what you want in life? Is it ok to always feel like you could do better? I always thought that not feeling 100% fulfilled was a great prompt to push myself to look for more, but what if it means that I’m actually… Never happy?
Does any of this make any sense?

If anybody out there knows how to deal with all this, I’d very much appreciate some help. And thanks for bearing with me.

If you’re not happy, make a change

Today I had one of the best conversations of my life. (I love keeping track of them. Remember this?)

This afternoon I met up with a friend who’s been away in Europe for the past six weeks or so, so we had a lot of catching up to do. In spite of being someone I met randomly through basketball not even that long ago, she’s one of the few people that I immediately felt 100% relaxed and confident to open up to. I feel a strong connection to her even though I realise I only know her on a superficial level – or better, I know one part of her very well, but I don’t really know much about other aspects of her life or her past before New Zealand.
Anyway. She’s been going through some tough times recently, and this is what we talk about the most. Since I’m also not having the best of times, it’s great to have someone who totally gets me to share my troubles with. Although the origin of our distress is not the same, we can still relate to each other in terms of stress, frustration, and how we deal with them.

What I love about my friend is how she processes things. I also constantly overanalyse myself, but she does it in a more methodical, structured way. When she’s dealing with a problem that seems overwhelming at first, she deconstructs it in smaller parts and copes with each of them individually, overcoming them one by one. (For the records, I have no idea if this is actually how her mind works, this is just what I get from our conversations.) But this is super helpful for me as well, as I’m learning to apply the same strategy to my own problems, which now seem so much more manageable and less insurmountable.
Every time I’m with her, I’m learning something new about myself. Also, she’s made me a much better listener.
I hope I’m somehow helping her too.

Today I told her about my unstable work situation and how stressed I’ve been feeling. In return, she shared some of her recent development on getting over a breakup (by the way, I’m SO proud of her for being so strong and getting to where she is now).
Over our flat whites, we came to the conclusion that life is always going to be crappy. There is always going to be something wrong with it, something we don’t like, something we want to fix – and we are always going to look at other people’s lives and think, I wish I had that. But guess what? They are probably thinking the same about our life. Nobody’s life is perfect, and shit is always going to happen. What we can do is find a way to be ok with it no matter what.

My life hasn’t exactly been a stroll in the park since moving here. Sure, I’ve been enjoying the crap out of it for the most part, but there have been times of discomfort and frustration (especially lately). Not having a stable job is being really difficult for me to handle. Before leaving for New Zealand, Giac and I both knew that it would have been easier for him to find a job than for me, but one thing is to know it, another is to experience it. I’m not gonna lie, I’m struggling with this worse than I’d expected. And because of how I am, the moment something goes slightly wrong, I immediately enlarge it to the extreme, until everything is wrong and I hate my life.

And my automatic reaction has been to blame it on New Zealand (see: my latest post. Lesson learned: never publish a blog post when you’re grumpy). But this has nothing to do with New Zealand. I had problems in London too. I had problems in Italy, in Edinburgh – I had different problems, but I still had them in every single place I’ve lived.
So I’m taking my friend’s piece of advice and detach my problems from this place, and delve into my own self instead. I’m focusing on the positives, on all the good things I have, on what I’ve achieved rather than on what I’m lacking.
I freaking love this country for so many reasons, which outweigh the reasons why I dislike it by far, and the last thing I want is to start associating New Zealand to bad, negative memories, to the point where I will start counting the days until I can leave. I know I will one day move somewhere else, but I want it to be because I’ve got to a point where I’m satisfied with my experience here, and not beacuse I am bloody miserable.
And as Giac says, we are in a position where the moment we are not happy we can leave, like, tomorrow. That’s quite a privilege. We can’t really complain about anything. (In fact, this post is becoming the epitome of what I hate: First World white girls whining about First World white girls’ problems). So I’ll cut it short and conclude by saying that I’m working on finding a safe space within myself where I can be ok no matter what.

(Also, I’m glad I got to write something to push my latest post further down the timeline as I’m applying for writing jobs and I can’t link my blog for reference if the first thing my potential employers are gonna see is a post where I say the world fuck fourteen times.)

It’s not all puppies and sunshine

I’m sick as a result of walking dogs in the storm for two days, so you can imagine my level of grumpiness. I hate this weather like I hardly hate anything else, so I thought I’d break it to you: there are also a bunch of things I don’t like about New Zealand.

  • The weather
    Well, this relates to Wellington in particular. Wellington is a lovely city, but like most of the lovely cities I’ve visited/lived in (I’m talking to you, Edinburgh), the reason so it is so lovely is that it has to make up for the shitty weather. I can’t even begin to describe how strong the wind is here. Unless you’ve experienced it yourself, you wouldn’t understand how it feels to try and maintain an erect posture while walking against the wind. Northerly, Southerly, the fuck you know where it comes from, this fucking wind makes it hard to breathe (literally). You can’t either open your car door, or prevent it from swinging wide open right against the car parked next to yours. Sometimes blasts are so strong that the whole house shakes.
    Now, add rain to the wind and you have a fucking storm. This makes it impossible to start walking from point A and reach point B not looking like a psycho-schizo who just stuck their fingers in an electrical socket. I mean all this is great if you are in the windmill business, BUT I JUST NEED TO BE IN A WARM SUNNY PLACE FOR A WHILE OK.

                                                               Before and after

 

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  • Living in an igloo
    I know what you’re about to say: But surely you can just stay nice and cosy inside. NO YOU CAN’T. Because for some reason unknown to me and to probably every other human beings in their right mind, house heating is not a thing in New Zealand. DON’T EVEN ASK. This is probably the thing I hate the most. New Zealand is not the tropics. It’s a fucking cold country. Why on earth would you think that you don’t need fucking radiators? People get by with electrical heaters which are 1. expensive 2. not efficient and 3. fucking lame. I’ve been wearing my ski attire inside for the past couple of months and I still feel the chill inside my bones. I have been constantly cold for the past 12 months (as summer didn’t really happen) and will be for the next six months (as we are going home for Christmas) and I’m not happy about it.

skiMe most days

  • Basically, New Zealand is like Europe 30 years ago
    I know this is probably just me being a spoiled First World country brat, but most of the commodities I’m used to are yet to reach this side of the world. Health and safety regulations, mobile phone plans, free WiFi, people calling you rather than replying to emails…
    Not to mention that it’s SO hard to find nice, good quality gear and clothes over here. I’m big on hiking/sport equipment, and all you can get in New Zealand is lousy, cheap, non-ethical crap from the Warehouse.
    And if you’re hoping to find relief in online shopping…
  • Good luck finding a company that ships all the way over here
    Nobody gives a shit about New Zealand. Amazon NZ doesn’t exist, and its replacement is TradeMe, the lame Kiwi version where everything you want to buy is fucking expensive. Because guess what:
  • Everything is fucking expensive
    When you can’t grow/produce/build stuff on land, you have to import it, and that makes it really expensive. The worst part for me is that greens, fruits and veggies are so freaking pricy. Along with the lack of heating, this is definitely on the Top Three of things that annoy me. A vegan, plant-based diet has always been the cheapest option anywhere else I’ve lived, while here is pretty much as costly as eating meat and cheese, and as we currently live on a part-time income it breaks my heart every time I pay $5.99 for a bell pepper. But I’m trying to find a balance between living on bread and canned fruit and actually eating what makes me feel good.
    (This was also my biggest struggle when we were living in a van. I’ll talk about this in a separate post.)

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    You can always go to the farmers market, but organic produce will still cost you an arm and a leg

  • We are far away from everything
    This is something I knew but didn’t fully realise until I moved here. New Zealand is fucking far away from fucking everything. Even Australia is 5 hours away on a plane. I miss my friends and family like crazy and it kills me that I can’t just jump on a plane and go home and visit them for a weekend.
  • You can’t get coffee after 4pm
    Coffee is big in New Zealand. However, the heat dies down in the early afternoon and cafes close at 4pm, and after then if you want to meet up with a friend you’ll have to find an alternative drink to chat over.
  • Everything is slow
    Although I do appreciate the Kiwi chillaxed lifestyle, it really bothers me in situations where you need to get things done. It takes forever to get email replies (I’m getting rejected for jobs that I applied for five months ago), organising get-togethers always involves people confirming and never showing up, and just in general everything takes longer than people from the Northern Hemisphere are used to. Don’t get me wrong, I like the fact that people are never in a rush (that’s what I found sad about London), but sometimes you just want to pay for your groceries without the cashier asking you about your life story and showing you pictures of their granddaughter.
  • Earthquakes
    The first thing I see when I walk into my house and the last thing I see when I leave it is my earthquake kit patiently waiting in the hallway. Now you can imagine how relaxing that is. Everybody knows that an earthquake is going to happen at some point in the near future, and to me this feels like living with the infamous sword of Damocles hanging above my head. It’s just a matter of hoping you’re not in the wrong place at the wrong time.

quakeOur livingroom after the Kaikoura earthquake

  • It’s fucking hard to get a job
    Number three of the Top Three things I hate is how hard it has been for me to find a job. I pretty much gave up on the idea of getting into Publishing (partly because of the fact that no one ever replied to my emails). I’ve worked in a couple of cafes and I’m now walking dogs which I love but I can’t help but feeling torn between being grateful that I get paid for petting puppies and the frustration of being 31 years old and not having a job that gives me benefits/holidays/sick leave etc.

 

As you can probably tell, im not having the best of days. Also, I think I’ve broken the record for the amount of times I said fuck in one single post. I apologise, but I thought it’d be just fair to make it clear that New Zealand is not this magical happy place that I’m constantly praising in my IG feed. There are things that bother me on different levels – and I’m not gonna lie, some of them I really struggle with. Overall it’s been ok down under so far, but it’s definitely not all puppies and sunshine – quite literally, in my case.

Kiwiversary

I can’t believe we’ve been down under for an entire year already. But yep, this time last year we were dragging ourselves off a plane coming from the other side of the world, not sure what day it was or who we were. We landed in Auckland, survived security, rented a car, drove to our friends’ place and passed out in the front seats while waiting for them to come home.
It was the beginning of a new adventure.

FullSizeRender (36)The day we left

FullSizeRender (38)Some days (??) later

So 365 days later, here’s a list of things I like about New Zealand.

(I started writing this on New Year’s Eve, seven months ago. We went to the waterfront to celebrate, along with pretty much the entire city. I’m not big on NYE (I would much rather spend it with tea and Scrabble, and a handful of friends than outside in the cold), and as probably most of you I’m used to NYE celebrations starting at the stroke of midnight. This time round, that’s when they ended. I was at home at 00.27, in bed at 00.43. This made me want to write a list of things I like about this country.)

  • People are nice
    When I first heard that Kiwis are nice, I thought I’d already seen it all in the UK. British people are pretty nice (at least compared to where I come from). Turns out, you know nothing Brits! On this side of the world you get upgraded to a whole new level of niceness. People will go out of their way and help you even if they don’t know you. They’d do something kind to you just for the sake of it.
    When we overheated Shelby and we had to cool it down on the side of the road, countless passerbys stopped to check if we were ok. A lady I just met gave me a pot of beans after I mentioned I wanted to started my own vegetable garden. One morning we were parked outside a French bakery and this dude gave us croissants for free. Things like these have never happened to me anywhere else.
  • Landscapes
    If you like sightseeing, New Zealand is your guy. It’s incredible how varied, Instagram-worthy, crazy beautiful sceneries this country has to offer. We see breathtaking landscapes every day – and we haven’t even been to the South Island yet! I love that in Wellington you don’t have to drive for hours to go for a hike or see the ocean: we have it all right here where we live.

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(Check out my Instagram for more!)

  • Coffee culture
    Kiwis take their coffee very seriously (for some reason). But I’ll give it to them, New Zealand coffee is hands down the best coffee I’ve ever had.

 

  • Feeling safe
    One of the reasons we picked New Zealand over Australia was the lack of deadly animals (although let me tell ya, they have pretty chunky spiders down here too).
    After living in London, where I used to walk home with my house keys between my fingers, I’m glad I now live in a place where I can forget my front door wide open for the whole day and nothing happens.
    This is a country where chillaxing is a national sport and Jaffa cakes make it to the news. Kiwis don’t really have to worry about anything. New Zealand is so far away from the rest of the world that it’s often not even included in maps or weather reports. The national football team rules unbeaten simply because they still have to find another football team that can be bothered to travel all the way here to play, so I feel like I’m not going to lose my sleep over the fear that some terrorist will ever come all the way over here to blow things up.

FullSizeRender (33)Guess who ended up being hoovered

  • Housing
    Although us buying a house is still out of the picture, in Wellington we can afford to rent a house (not a flat) with a garden with a part-time income. In your face, London housing market.

FullSizeRender (41)Not our house

  • Enough room to spread your arms
    Crowded places are a thing of the past. Whether I’m hiking in the middle of nowhere or I’m taking a stroll in Wellington CBD, the amount of people I meet is pretty much the same. (Ok not really. But I never have to elbow my way through a crowd of tourists to get from point A to point B.) I yet have to experience the level of packed-ness that had become a daily occurrence in London. At events advertised as “the biggest, largest, unmissable, must-go” you can expect 200 people max. I freaking love this (although I will admit sometimes I wish I could be right in the middle of Oxford Circus for like 30 seconds just to remember what it feels like).
  • Flip flops
    Although I’m more of a shoe person (my feet are always cold), I love the fact that it is acceptable to take off your shoes in public and even walk around barefoot. Suns out, feets out!

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  • Zero Waste
    And finally to the point that I hold the dearest: my Zero Waste dream finally became reality.
    Every time I talk to my parents back home in Italy, I realise I’m very fortunate to live in a city that offers so many resources to live waste-free: op shops, bulk food stores, tool libraries, swap markets… Not every country/city has those, and it does make a big difference in terms of people can do as individuals to reduce the amount of waste they produce.

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And that’s it! Happy first anniversary, New Zealand, and to many more years to come!

To the Bone – Review

I finally watched To the Bone and I’m going to be honest with you, I don’t really understand what all the fuss is about. There are tons of movies about eating disorders out there already, none of which people seem to be talking about. What’s so special about this one? I’ve watched dozens of them and To the Bone probably makes it to the Top 5 but it’s definitely not the one that touched me the most at all.

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The biggest polemic seems to be about the movie supporting the philosophy that you have to be skinny to have an eating disorder. It’s true that the majority of the inpatients in Ellen’s treatment centre are portrayed as underweight, pale, sick-looking girls – and this is by any means not an accurate picture of what eating disorders look like, for they come in all shapes and sizes (you don’t even need to be skinny to be anorexic, for that matter).
However, it’s worth noticing that other types of eating disorders are also mentioned, such as bulimia and BED (binge eating disorder). I’m going to take a wild guess and argue that the director might have chosen to not dwell too much upon those because they didn’t affect her personally (as far as I know, she only struggled with anorexia).
On the same note I would also like to say that I did appreciate the fact that one of the patients is a boy, which shows that eating disorders, although being typically prevalent in females, can also affects males.

Some people made a point that To the Bone might be triggering to people who have suffered from an ED, are in recovery, or have an actual ED at present. I totally get this, however I would respond that if you are struggling with a disordered eating mentality you don’t need to watch To the Bone to find out new “tricks” on how to purge or chew & spit. You probably know them all already. I’ve had an ED before YouTube and I didn’t need anybody to tell me how to skip meals. At the same time though, I do agree that if you’re not 100% recovered it’s probably not going to be easy to watch a film about somebody starving themselves.

Another big argument against To the Bone is that it’s not representative of eating disorders among women of colour. Watching the trailer it’s definitely easy to think, Great, another film about a rich white girl struggling with a rich girl’s problem (read more about whitewashing here).
Well, what can I say? That’s true. The only black person in the movie is one of the patients (oh, and the nurse), which is only a secondary character and has maybe two lines at most. And I admit among all the films I watched, not one was about a woman of colour struggling with an eating disorder. They were all white, and preferably loaded. However, I’m sure there are also lots of white girls who cannot afford treatment as well as black girls who can afford treatment –and I’m saying this from the point of view of the white young woman I am (who could afford treatment).
Overall, I do agree that non-white women should be included and represented more in general really, not just with regards to eating disorders. However (and I’m ready to get shit for this), this is probably not relevant to the director’own experience. I’m not trying to defend her or anything, all I’m trying to say is: Marti Noxon is a well-off white woman so that’s what she chose to represent.

Certainly To The Bone depicts a very thin slice of the whole picture, but at the end of the day we should also remember that this is not a documentary on eating disorders.
When you tell a story, you need to narrow it down to a specific subject. If it’s your story, it’s going to be about you. You can’t be all races, all genders, all social statuses and all religions, and you can’t have all the eating disorders.
(Also, good luck putting something on the internet and not offending anyone. I’m probably offending a whole bunch of people myself right now, which is why I’m glad nobody really reads my blog).
So the best approach is probably to take it for what it is: somebody’s personal experience.

Having said all that, I’ll conclude by saying that I didn’t really like it.
I do believe eating disorders deserve more attention, and I’m sure it’s hard to make a responsible movie about EDs without glamorising being thin and turning anorexia into a white girls’ problem; but as I mentioned earlier I’ve watched a bunch of other films about eating disorders and there are quite a few that do a much better job at denouncing such a delicate topic in a more comprehensive way.

 

One year later

Exactly one year ago today, Giac and I left London to embark in possibly the biggest adventure of our life. Coincidentally, it was also the day Britain voted to leave the EU. We weren’t envisioning Europe to fuck itself up so much in the last 12 months, but we knew that leaving at that particular moment in time for us was the best decision we could make.

One year ago I wrote this post expressing all my thoughts, fears and expectations for this new chapter of my life about to unfold.

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So many things have changed in the past year. I grew up in ways I never thought were possible. I’ve been working really hard towards self-improvement and I’m getting closer and closer to the best version of myself I could possibly be.

So here’s what I’ve learned.

  1. Travelling is life
    Moving around is one of the most important parts of my life. You learn so much from travelling. I love meeting new people, discovering new cultures and exploring new places. I love New Zealand but I’m already getting itchy feet and planning my next destination.
  2. I like old stuff
    One of the things I miss the most about Europe is the history. I often find myself dreaming about my lunch break trips to the British Museum, where I could walk in for free and admire two million year old rocks. The oldest thing at Te Papa is a piece of fabric from the 16th Pfft.
  3. People are awesome
    I met so many incredible people in New Zealand. All my new friends are extremely inspiring, smart, talented, awesome people that make me want to be a better person. I can’t believe how quickly I connected with them, immediately relating at a deep level and talking about real shit (aka, not the weather) from the very first time we met.
  4. You got this
    Everywhere I go, anyone I talk to, I always receive an immense amount of support. Kiwis are always so excited about hearing about you! This means I became more confident in my abilities and I’m no longer ashamed of being honest about what I like, what I’m good at, and where I want to get in life.
  5. You’re never done learning
    As I mentioned earlier, I’ve grown so much since leaving London, and I’m constantly learning new skills and gaining more knowledge about things I’m passionate about. This is because of all the above. School didn’t teach me anything compared to what I’ve learned on the road. Now I know what I’m interested about and I’m taking classes, teaching myself or absorbing information from the people around me. It’s awesome.