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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Summer

  • 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.

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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.

I was that prick

WELL. I ran my half marathon. And I wasn’t ready. But I did it. And I freaking smashed it.
I know. I was that prick.

I honestly don’t know how I did it, and I’m not gonna lie it wasn’t easy. I did not enjoy that. In fact, after I passed 14km, I hated every minute of it. But being there, surrounded by all those other runners, being cheered by strangers along the way, I guess that’s what pushed me.

I started way too fast. But I’d decided not to check my watch for a while because that’s how I trick my mind to run past the first 2 or 3km, so when I do check I can tell myself that I’ve already gone past the 1km mark (I don’t know). So I couldn’t tell how fast I was going.
After about 2km I bumped into the 1h 50min pace team, who were going pretty much at my same pace, so I orbited around them until about 8km, when I thought I could go a bit faster and so I did. That was obviously a mistake, because on the way back my legs started to hurt and I had to slow down, and the pace team caught up with me and took over.
From 14km to 17km it was pure pain. My chest hurt (see: costochondritis) and I could feel blisters forming on my feet. 18km lasted forever. But once I hit 19km, I told myself I’d basically made it. So I pushed it. I forced myself to ignore the pain and to keep on going. I sped up until I realised even if I started walking at that point I would have still made it under two hours. But being the competitive fuckhead that I am, I thought maybe I could even break my PR. So I literally ran as fast as I could (which wasn’t very fast at all at that point), and I crossed the finish line at 1h 49mins.

When I finished my first half marathon, I was tired but I remember thinking I could have run another few kms. When I finished this half marathon, I thought I was going to pass out. I was knackered and when I got home I took a 2 hour nap and then went to bed at 10pm and slept for 13 hours. This was two days ago and I did absolutely nothing since. I pulled a muscle in my thigh, and I have two black nails and a blister on every toe.
I really don’t know how I did it. But I did it. And yes, I am that prick. But I don’t remember ever being as happy as when I finally saw the finish line two days ago, and I’m totally happy about being that prick.

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I’m running a half marathon tomorrow

I’m running a half marathon tomorrow, and I’m not ready for it. I try not to talk about it because I’m afraid I’ll keep on telling people I’m not ready and then I’ll somehow manage to finish it in under two hours and I would have sounded like that prick in school who says they haven’t studied before an exam and they still get top marks. You know who I’m talking about.

But this time, I really am not ready. When I started training, I was super motivated. I’d go running three times a week, two short runs (5 or 6km) and a longer one (10 or 12 km, 14 even a couple of times), plus I’d go for a long run over the weekend (I got up to 18km).
But then I caught a virus called costochondritis, which is an inflammation of the cartilage in your rib cage. This made me feel very tired and groggy, but mostly it meant that it hurt every time I took a deep breath. (Sometimes it hurt randomly. I would just be sitting there and suddenly feel like a needle was being pushed through my ribcage.) I played a couple of basketball games before I found out about the virus, and I would run out of breath immediately, panting like the wolf on top of the hill in The Sword in the Stone, and my chest would hurt like fuck.

When you have costochondritis there’s nothing you can do about it except taking Ibuprofen and resting. My doctor urged me to avoid any kind of exercise until I felt like the pain had disappeared. I obviously didn’t, as I got diagnosed right before setting off for a basketball tournament where I played seven games in two days (and almost died).
But after that, I did rest for two whole weeks, meaning I didn’t run at all and pretty much reset all my training up to that point.

In the past couple of weeks I (sort of) managed to get back on track and the longest I run was 16km. But I still feel terrified about tomorrow.

Last time I run a half marathon, I remember feeling extremely fit and good. You could have told me to go and run around the park at any given time and I would have been able to do it without batting an eyelid. I trained so much for that race, and was very careful about getting enough sleep and eating properly, and I remember having such a great time during the race itself.

Now, I feel shit. I can picture myself at the race tomorrow hating every single minute of it. My diet has changed drastically since moving to New Zealand because I simply can’t afford the amount of smoothies and fruit and veggies that I’d normally eat (thank you, island economy), so I’m basically living on cereals, bread and peanut butter, which I know is not what works best for my body.

So given the circumstances, I’ve been trying to embrace the Kiwi spirit and telling myself that I probably deserve a medal just for trying. After all, I don’t have to win this race. I just have to survive it. It’s not my fault if I got a stupid cartilage inflammation. I should be happy that I’m back on my feet and even if I’ll have to walk (possible) or if I struggle with the weather (likely) of if I don’t have fun (certain), it doesn’t matter, as long as I somehow make it to the finish line.

I’m still hoping I can be that prick, though.

Might as well do this

Just thought I’d shared a few of the reasons why I haven’t shaved in a while.

Disclaimer: if you like shaving, by all means do it. Also I’m not saying I’ll never remove my body hair again. These are just some reasons why I’m not doing it right now.

  1. It’s time consuming
    Every time I’m sitting there running an epilator up and down my calves, I can’t help but thinking about all the things I could be doing instead (never mind if that means hours of YouTube watching, at least that’s not painful).
  2. It’s painful
    Have you ever tried to epilate your pit hair? Or your bikini line? YEAH. Oh, why don’t I shave instead, you ask? Well, you see…
  3. RASHES
    I have sensitive skin, and no matter how careful I am, every time I shave I get a rash. Especially on my armpits and down there. It hurts as fuck, it’s itchy when it grows back, and I always, always have to deal with ingrown hairs. Plus:
  4. It doesn’t last
    I don’t know if this is just me, but if I start shaving, there’s no going back. I have to shave every day. Everywhere. And it never turns out as smooth as silky as you would expect. So fuck it.
  5. I don’t want to
    Bottom line, I just can’t be bothered. My life is still the same. Nobody seems to care. So again, fuck it.

Remember that being hairy doesn’t make you less beautiful or less feminine. IT. DOES. NOT. Fuck that. Women have hairs. Get over it.

Also, it’s not  “unhygienic”. I’m tired of people thinking that not shaving is synonym to not taking care of yourself. I still shower, wash my hair, clip my nails and brush my teeth. Plus the amount of sweat your body produced is not related to the amount of hair in your pits, so not shaving will not make you smell worse.

Overall, I’m now totally ok with having hairy legs and pits. This is just how I am. I don’t really care about what other people think. If they consider my body hair offensive, it’s their problem, not mine.